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Messi in Miami shirt seems ‘strange’ – Barca president



Barcelona president Joan Laporta has told ESPN it is a “strange feeling” to see Lionel Messi in an Inter Miami CF shirt, but he wishes the forward the best in MLS.

Messi, 36, left Barca for Paris Saint-Germain two years ago, but the Catalan side attempted to re-sign him earlier this summer when his contract with the French side expired.

Saudi Arabian team Al-Hilal also offered Messi a contract, but the Argentina international opted to join Inter Miami, where he has scored three goals in his first two appearances.

“It’s a strange feeling,” Laporta told ESPN of watching Messi play in the United States. “We identify Messi with Barcelona. That’s the way I think most supporters see Messi, because most of his career has been at Barca.

“But we respect his decision and we wish the best for him. We want the best for our players. He came to Barcelona as a kid, 14-years-old, and he spent 20 years with us. I hope he can be very happy in Miami.”

Messi has already been joined in Miami by former Barca teammates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, while Luis Suarez has also been linked, although sources have told ESPN the Uruguay striker will remain at Gremio until at least the end of the year.

Laporta said he understood Messi’s decision to take on a new challenge in the U.S., even if Barca had cleared his possible return with LaLiga financially.

“It was very close,” the Barca chief added. “We had to manage our financial fair play situation so we needed time. At the end, we reached an agreement with LaLiga that authorised us to add him to the squad.

“But Leo was coming from a situation in Paris where he was under a lot of pressure. His father told me that he needed a place where he won’t be under pressure and at Barca that would not be the case because of the meaning of the return of our hero.”

During his 21 years at Barca, Messi became the club’s record appearance holder and top scorer, scoring 672 times in 778 games. He won four Champions Leagues, 11 LaLiga titles and won the Ballon d’Or on seven occasions.

“In Miami, it is different for him, it’s a new league for him, one that is improving and Messi can help with the developing of the league,” added Laporta.

“With Busquets and Jordi Alba as well, maybe Luis Suarez. It will be very attractive for the fans in the United States. So he preferred to go to Miami. We respected it and understood his decision.”

Messi has made a fast start to life in South Florida, scoring the game-winning free kick on his debut against Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup and then adding a brace in a 4-0 win over Atlanta United FC on Tuesday.

In California, meanwhile, Barca finally kicked off their preseason with a 5-3 defeat against Arsenal at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood as part of the Soccer Champions Tour they are taking part in.

Their opening game against Juventus in Santa Clara was postponed last weekend because of a stomach bug which spread across the squad.

They are back in action on Saturday when they play the Clasico against Real Madrid in Dallas before closing their trip against AC Milan in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

“We lost against Arsenal, but it’s preseason and we will get better,” Laporta said. “I hope against Madrid and in our last game in the U.S. we can be better.

“This tournament is fantastic. There are full stadiums, the fans are great and everything is so well organised. Last night we played in front of 70,000 with people coming from abroad to watch us.

“And training is also going great. The facilities in Los Angeles are perfect for us. We just had the problem with the viral infection, but we feel thankful to be here.”

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Delta, Lagos Make The List As Karate Federation Releases Names Of Talent Discovered At Youth Games




The Karate Federation of Nigeria has just released a 12-man list of talent discovered at the recently concluded 7th National Youth Games in Asaba, Delta State.

According to the document signed by Javan Bernard for the Secretary General of the Karate Federation of Nigeria, and sighted by Sports Marketing International, only six states out of the good numbers of states that participated in the karate event of the games made the list with Delta State having the highest numbers of athletes, followed by Lagos, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Anambra, Edo and Oyo State.

From Delta are Eteimo Victory (-47kg), Ehiozube Jennifer (+47kg), Ehiozube Joshua (-50kg) and Oba Emmanuel (+50kg), Team Lagos have Akorede Elizabeth Gbemisola (-47kg) and Alabi Sherif Adigun (+50kg). Team Edo have Jimoh Bright (+50kg).

Others are Mariam Gimba (-47kg) and Ngodoo Stefanie (+47kg) from the FCT. Team Anambra have Goodluck Chukwuemeka Njoku (-50kg) and Collins Chiagozie Ndikwe (-50kg), while Team Oyo have only Vincent Like (-50kg).

It would be recalled that while speaking with journalists in Asaba during the youth games, Minister of Sports Development, John Enoh reiterated that his tenure in the ministry would focus on giving the young talents the attention they deserved, adding that one of his administration’s focuses is unearthing and also supporting young talents, who will transition into elite stars in the future.

He said athletes discovered at the Asaba 2023 would be groomed and monitored for them to be stars in their respective sports while noting that the country must ensure that there is no void in the continuum of progress when current elites begin to draw closer to the twilight of their careers.

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U.S. court to hear arguments over Ronaldo rape case settlement




A U.S. appeals court plans to hear Wednesday from lawyers trying to revive a woman’s bid to force Cristiano Ronaldo to pay millions more than the $375,000 in hush money he paid her after she claimed he raped her in Las Vegas in 2009.

An attorney for the woman is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the dismissal of the case in June 2022 and reopen the civil lawsuit she first filed in Nevada in 2018.

The appeal argues the federal court judge in Nevada erred in repeatedly rejecting the woman’s attempts to unseal and include as evidence the confidentiality agreement she signed in 2010 in accepting payments from Ronaldo.

A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based appellate court isn’t expected to issue an immediate ruling after it’s scheduled to question attorneys for Ronaldo and his accuser, Kathryn Mayorga, during oral arguments Wednesday at a special sitting at the law school on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Mayorga gave consent through her lawyers, including Leslie Mark Stovall, to make her name public.

Ronaldo is one of the most recognizable and richest athletes in the world. He is the captain of Portugal’s national soccer team and has played for the Spanish team Real Madrid, Manchester United in England and the Italian club Juventus. He joined Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr at the start of the year after ending his second stint at Manchester United.

Las Vegas police reopened a rape investigation after Mayorga’s lawsuit was filed, but Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson decided in 2019 not to pursue criminal charges. He said too much time had passed and evidence failed to show that Mayorga’s accusation could be proved to a jury.

Mayorga, a former teacher and model from the Las Vegas area, was 25 when she met Ronaldo at a nightclub in 2009 and went with him and other people to his hotel suite. She alleges in her lawsuit filed almost a decade later that Ronaldo, then 24, sexually assaulted her in a bedroom. Ronaldo, through his lawyers, maintained the sex was consensual. The two reached a confidentiality agreement in 2010 under which Stovall acknowledged that Mayorga received $375,000.

In dismissing the case last year, U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey in Las Vegas took the unusual step of levying a $335,000 fine against Mayorga’s lead lawyer, Stovall, for acting in “bad faith” in filing the case on his client’s behalf. Stovall’s appeal on Mayorga’s behalf, filed in March calls Dorsey’s ruling “a manifest abuse of discretion,” seeks to open the records and revive the case.

It alleges Mayorga wasn’t bound by the confidentiality agreement because Ronaldo or his associates violated it before a German news outlet, Der Spiegel, published an article in April 2017 titled “Cristiano Ronaldo’s Secret” based on documents obtained from what court filings called “whistleblower portal Football Leaks.” Ronaldo’s lawyers argued — and the judge agreed — the “Football Leaks” documents and the confidentiality agreement are the product of privileged attorney-client discussions, there is no guarantee they are authentic and can’t be considered as evidence.

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Ten Hag: I’m responsible for latest defeat; there are no excuses again




Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has said everyone at the club is sticking “together” following their 3-2 loss to Galatasaray in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The defeat was United’s sixth in their last 10 games in all competitions — a torrid run of form has left them bottom of Champions League Group A and 10th in the Premier League.

“Last season was brilliant, terrific, more than we can expect, but also in this project there would be gaps and this moment is a very difficult period,” Ten Hag told a postmatch news conference.

“We are fighting together, we will stick together, we are behind each other; me, the directors and team all together, we will fight. We know we will do better and together we will come out.

“I am responsible for this team, this result, together with my squad. We have to do better but also I have seen a team with great spirit, and also one backed by the crowd from the start to the end. In the end the fans are disappointed as we are. But the good thing from this team is every time they find the energy.”

Goalkeeper André Onana made a sloppy pass to Galatasaray forward Mauro Icardi that led to Casemiro giving away a penalty and being sent off. The error comes after a rough start to life at Old Trafford, coming after a mistake in their previous Champions League defeat allowed Bayern Munich to open the scoring.

“We are happy with our goalkeeping group,” Ten Hag said. “Last season, Andre was in a final in the Champions League and can be one of the best goalkeepers in the world. We have seen already his great capabilities and also his personality. He will make a mistake and bounce back, and will do so again, I am sure,” he said.

“There are no excuses. Maybe we’re unbalanced [on the] left side but we still can’t make the errors we are and we have to do better, simple as that.”

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