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Barça boss Xavi admits media negativity is affecting his players



Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández says the negativity around the team has affected performances after his side came back from a goal down to beat Alavés 2-1 on Sunday at the Olympic Stadium.

Barça had lost two of their last three games prior to Alavés’ visit and were whistled off at half-time after Samu Omorodion gave the visitors a surprise lead after just 17 seconds.

Robert Lewandowski scored twice in the second half to keep Barça within four points of LaLiga leaders Girona, but the win did little to ease the pressure on Xavi’s under-performing team.

Xavi said his players have been affected by the negativity directed towards them from the media. Getty
“We started on the back foot,” Xavi said in his post-game news conference. “[Ilkay] Gündogan lost a ball he would not normally lose and there is a transition. We can’t allow these mistakes. It is unacceptable.

“We are gifting teams too many things. We have dropped points at Mallorca, Granada… We are giving too much away and it’s generating an insecurity among the players that is not good.

“At half-time, I told them to stay calm and that if we played our football, we would come back. The players were more tense than normal because of everything being generated around the team. And it is not fair.

“It is not fair because there have been injuries and players coming back. We have to be self-critical as well, but it’s normal that we don’t see the players at their best because they don’t feel liberated.”

After defeat to Real Madrid, a narrow win over Real Sociedad and a loss Shakhtar Donestsk in midweek, Barça have been subjected to intense criticism in the media. Xavi said that has hit the younger players epecially hard.

“Without doubt what the media say affects how the team plays,” he added. “The [media] create situations and scenarios that, for me, are not real. And it affects, without any doubt, the team.

“It happened to me as a player and it’s happening to my players. There is a negativity which is not good or positive at all.

“Above all, it affects the youngest players. You see [Iñigo] Martínez, Lewandowski, [João] Cancelo and Gundogan, it does not affect them. But we have a lot of youngsters and we have to protect them and give them confidence.

“[The performances] are our fault, of course, but the youngsters feel a tension that a month ago didn’t exist. It is a difficult situation that we have to manage, but it’s hard, especially after conceding an early goal.”

Samu, on loan at Alavés from Atlético Madrid, should have added to his opening goal. He missed three more big chances in the first-half before Barça turned things around after the break.

Lewandowski’s brilliant header from a Jules Koundé cross levelled the scores, with the Polish striker then netting the winner from the penalty spot in the 78th minute after substitute Ferran Torres had been fouled.

“I am sad,” Alavés coach Luis García said. “The key is the first half. We have to score two or three and not doing so changes the game. I am proud of the team, but we should have had a bigger lead at half.time.

“There is a big difference between the two sets of players and from there, individually, they can beat you. If you are not perfect in every aspect of the game, they beat you.”

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Elegbeleye: NPFL Broadcast Rights still Available, No Exclusivity




Companies seeking to acquire Broadcast rights of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) have been invited to approach the league body with offers for negotiation.

Chairman of the NPFL, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye on Wednesday clarified that the adopted marketing approach of the board is for non-exclusivity which has not foreclosed the signing up of more rights holders.

Elegbeleye described as shocking, claims by an individual alleging that there was an offer for $11m dollars to the NPFL for the rights before the StarTimes deal was executed.

“For the avoidance of doubt and for public records, the NPFL and StarTimes deal took months to conclude and all through the duration of our negotiations, nobody approached us with any offer”, explained the NPFL Chairman.

He further narrated efforts of the defunct Interim Management Committee (IMC) to attract a Broadcast partner including getting the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to broker a meeting with Supersport which at the end didn’t express interest in taking up the offer.

“The NPFL has an office in Abuja and the facilitator of the said $11m offer knows this place and has contacts of the NFF President. We are still very much open to negotiating as our deal with StarTimes provides for a third-party investor. 

“Let the person please come to our office or to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) because we are still open for more partnerships in the Broadcast space”.

The NPFL boss explained that the unbundling of the broadcast bouquet has made it possible to accommodate multiple partners

“It is obvious that we have unbundled the broadcast products and segmented the number of matches any rights owner can show every matchday. So there is still a window to accommodate genuine interests in our league broadcast partnership”, declared Elegbeleye, who also is the NFF’s Second Vice President.

Faulting claims that the League fail foul of the Public Procurement Act which governs sales of government assets in the country, the former member of the Federal House of Representatives, said, “The NPFL is incorporated as a private company limited by guarantee at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and is not captured in government funding.

“We do not receive funding from the Government but run our programme from money generated through sponsorships and we operate a transparent system that accounts for sponsors/investors’ funds to maintain the integrity of the league.

“In any case, we have made sufficient noise right from the inception of the IMC and we were able to have the very successful Super 6 on television, so there’s no person in the industry who is not aware that the League hasn’t been on television for the past six years. Where were they”? he retorted.

So far, the NPFL has secured two Broadcast Partners in Propel Sports Africa (PSA) for the Over The Top (OTT) platform and StarTimes for the Direct To Home (DTH) cable platform.

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Euro 2024 switches to chipped ball for VAR offside decisions




UEFA will introduce connected technology into the Adidas FUSSBALLLIEBE ball for Euro 2024 to improve the accuracy of semi-automated offside VAR decisions, as well as provide additional tracking data for players.

The same technology was used by FIFA at the World Cup in the Adidas Al Rihla ball, and it was able to conclusively prove that Cristiano Ronaldo did not make any contact for Portugal’s opener in their 2-0 win over Uruguay.

UEFA’s semi-automated offside system being used in the Champions League does not have a chip inside the ball, meaning Artificial Intelligence (AI) alone has to make up for any issues in accurately detecting the kick-point for offside.

Semi-automated offside uses a series of cameras in the stadium roof to track all 22 players on the pitch and map their position, so the VAR does not need to manually create the offside lines. A sensor is in the centre of the Adidas ball, recording data 500 times a second to detect when the ball has been kicked. It is intended to be quicker, more accurate and provide a 3D visualisation of the decision.

VAR drama explained: Why Rashford was sent off, handball penalties, possible offside
5dDale Johnson

Serie A is the only other major league to use semi-automated offside, without a chipped ball, while LaLiga has confirmed it plans to introduce it next season and Premier League clubs are expected to hold a vote in March after continuing trials through this campaign.

While Adidas provides the official ball for both FIFA and UEFA, Puma is the supplier for LaLiga and Serie A, with Nike for the Premier League, Derbystar for the Bundesliga and Kipsta in Ligue 1.

The time needed to make a VAR offside decision should be reduced from an average of 70 seconds to 25, while fans inside the stadiums and viewers watching on television will be provided with a 3D animation to clearly show the offside.

Clubs in England’s top flight rejected a proposal to introduce the technology at the start of this season, unconvinced it was the right time. But the Premier League has suffered a series of offside errors this calendar year, although semiautomated offside would not have prevented the failure to correct Luis Díaz’s wrongly disallowed goal for Liverpool against Tottenham Hotspur as that was a communication error.

However, tracking the ball would have enabled the VAR to make a decision on Anthony Gordon’s offside position for his winning goal for Newcastle United against Arsenal.

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New World TV secures three-year CAF media rights deal




The Tongo-based satellite TV network, New World TV has signed a three-year agreement with the governing body of football in the Sub-Saharan African region, the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

All CAF competitions in 46 sub-Saharan African countries from 2023 to 2025 will have paid and free-to-air broadcast rights covered by this esteemed pact signed between two entities.

The media portfolio of the broadcasting company will include the 13 competitions, along with the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), which will be broadcast by New World TV. The competitions will be shown in different languages for the viewers such as French, English, Portuguese, and African languages such as Lingala, Wolof, Bambara, Swahili, and Ewe.

Louis Biyao, New World TV spokesperson, said, “This is the first time that an African company has obtained exclusive rights to broadcast AFCON competitions. The New World TV group achieved a feat by winning this contract against other large African and international companies, demonstrating its expertise acquired over the last two years with the broadcasting rights for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, UEFA competitions, the English FA Cup, Bundesliga, the Spanish Cup, and the Italian Cup.”

The New World TV has always shown its keen interest in broadcasting football games in the African region, as acquiring the rights of Bundesliga, the German top-tier football league, UEFA competitions and FIFA World Cup 2022 is a huge testimony of it.

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