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Milan banned from 2019-20 Europa League for FFP breach



 AC Milan have been banned from the 2019-20 Europa League competition for breaching UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, sport’s highest court CAS said on Friday.

The seven-times European champions finished fifth in Serie A last season to qualify for Europe’s second-tier competition.

Milan’s ban means AS Roma, who came sixth in the standings, move up to the Europa League group stage while their place in the qualifying rounds is taken by seventh-placed Torino.

“CAS has issued a consent award embodying the agreement reached between AC Milan and UEFA concerning breaches of the FFP regulations by the Italian club,” the Court of Arbitration for Sport said in a statement.

Under UEFA regulations any club spending more than the revenue they generate may face sanctions, including a possible ban from the competitions run by the European governing body.

In April, Milan were reported by UEFA investigators over an alleged new breach of the break-even rule in its most recent monitoring period and the case was passed to its financial adjudicators.

UEFA said the referral was not connected to a previous case against Milan which saw the club banned and reprieved on appeal.

Milan were given a one-season suspension from European football in June last year after UEFA ruled that the club had not complied with FFP rules for the previous monitoring period.

Milan appealed to CAS which overturned the ban the following month, accepting the club’s argument that its finances had improved after an ownership change.

Milan were then able to take part in last season’s Europa League, which they exited in the group stage, while UEFA was ordered by CAS to find an alternative punishment.

Edited by Silas Nwoha


City view of Milan, Italy




Photo taken on May 25 , 2020 shows a city view of Milan, Italy. (Xinhua)

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Inter Milan players all test negative for coronavirus



Inter Milan’s entire first team squad have given negative results in testing for the coronavirus, the Serie A club said on Friday as they prepared to resume training.

Nearly all Serie A clubs have re-started training on an individual basis this week following a two-month stoppage due to the coronavirus pandemic and all players and staff are subject to testing.

Sampdoria said previously they had found three new positive cases, Fiorentina reported six positive tests —- three players and three back-up staff —- and Torino one.

FC Internazionale Milan announces that all the medical tests the first team underwent were negative,” the club said in a statement. “Optional individual training sessions will begin this afternoon.”

“The club maintains the utmost attention to the preventive measures for the health of the players and all members of the club, in compliance with all government guidelines and the protection of public health.”

The players underwent both swab and antibody testing.

Although training is underway, it is not certain government will give permission for Serie A to restart this season and it is currently reviewing the Italian football federation’s medical protocol.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)

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Dybala stunner sends Juve top with behind-closed-doors’ win over Inter Milan



A wonderful winning goal from substitute Paulo Dybala sent Juventus back to the top of Serie A with a 2-0 victory over title rivals Inter Milan on Sunday.

Juve, who opened the scoring at an empty Allianz Stadium through Aaron Ramsey, lead on 63 points, one point ahead of Lazio and nine clear of Inter Milan in third.

Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan side however have a game in hand.

Ramsey fired home the first goal from close range soon after the break and was also involved in the second.

Juventus’s Argentine forward Dybala exchanged passes with the Wales international on the edge of the area before dribbling around defender Ashley Young.

He showed great invention to find the bottom corner with the outside of his boot.

The game was played without fans present after the Italian government ordered that all matches are held behind closed doors until April 3.

“This is an important victory, but there are still 12 games to go. So, it’s a long road ahead,” coach Maurizio Sarri said. “`This was far more what I wanted to see from my Juventus.

“We had seemed a little empty and flat recently. So, we had to choose players who could guarantee more energy, both physical and psychological.

“That’s the sensation we got in training from these players, but that could change in a couple of weeks.”

Inter Milan goalkeeper Samir Handanovic returned from injury and they were grateful to have the Slovenian back as he blocked a Matthijs De Ligt header early.

He also showed quick reactions to palm away a Blaise Matuidi drive inside the opening 15 minutes.

The hosts had the better chances in a lively first half, but Marcelo Brozovic forced Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny into a sharp save with a powerful drive before the break.

Juventus made the breakthrough 10 minutes into the second half when Matuidi’s cut-back was taken off the toe of Cristiano Ronaldo by Inter Milan defender Alessandro Bastoni.

The ball fell into the path of Ramsey who drilled a shot home via a deflection.

Dybala was surprisingly dropped to the bench but made a huge impact after his introduction, controlling a long pass with his first touch before playing a one-two with Ramsey.

He danced past Young and prodded in with a deft finish after 67 minutes.

Ronaldo aimed to make his mark on his 1,000th official game as he chased a Serie A record of scoring in 12 straight games.

He came close in stoppage time as his shot swerved narrowly wide before he dragged a low effort beyond the far post.

The game marked Conte’s return to Turin after spells with Juventus as a player and coach.

But it was not a happy one as his side fell to their second defeat of the season against the Italian champions.

“The difference between us and Juventus, not counting the game in hand with Sampdoria, is six points,” Conte said. “That’s the two defeats, at San Siro and here.

“We tried to stay in their slipstream, but must learn from defeat and take the lessons of comparison to grow in terms of character, quality and strength.

“It’s a loss that must help us to grow and understand how far away we are.”


Edited By: Olawale Alabi)

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Inter Milan CEO says Serie A risks not finishing due to coronavirus



The Serie A season runs the risk of not finishing if more matches are postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak, Inter Milan’s chief executive Giuseppe Marotta said on Sunday.

Inter Milan’s match at Juventus, which was to have been played late on Sunday, was one of five which were postponed by Serie A on Saturday.

The games, all in regions where sports events have been banned by the government, had been due to be played behind closed doors.

Italy has registered more than 1,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the contagion came to light in wealthy northern regions on Feb. 20 and at least 29 people have died.

Inter Milan’s match at home to Sampdoria was one of four which were postponed last Sunday.

Marotta said a crowded fixture list meant they were running out of dates to reschedule the games.

The Serie A league called an emergency meeting for Wednesday to discuss the consequences of the government measures and the rescheduling of matches.

“If more matches are called off then, yes, we run that risk,” Marotta told Gazzetta dello Sport when asked if the championship might not finish.

He added that, because some matches had been postponed and others had not, the “balance of the championship has been altered’’.

“It’s a distorted tournament. You just need to think of injuries and suspensions. And there is the psychological aspect when you look at the standings.”

Third-placed Inter Milan’s two postponements have caused them to drop eight points behind leaders Lazio who have played and won two games during the same period.

Lazio’s matches —- away to Genoa last Sunday and at home to Bologna on Saturday —- were in regions unaffected by coronavirus.

“I am worried about Inter Milan’s game against Sassuolo next Sunday,” added Marotta.

“How do we deal with that? We can’t play behind closed doors because it will be absurd to use a measure one week that we didn’t use the week before… I can’t see a solution.”

Serie A president Paolo Dal Pino, while reacting, told the ANSA news agency that “Marotta represents the needs of Inter Milan.

“I protect the general interests of the entire Serie A which unfortunately suffers daily conflicts of interest linked to each team.

“I have to promote the Italian league and its image in the world; broadcasting matches in empty stadiums would have been a bad business card for the country.”

The Serie A season is scheduled to run until May 24, with Euro 2020 due to start on June 12.

Four Italian sides —- Juventus, Napoli, Atalanta and Inter Milan —- are still involved in European competition.

In one of the two matches played on Sunday, supporters of Bergamo-based Atalanta were screened for possible symptoms of the virus as they entered the stadium for a match away to Lecce.


Edited By: Olawale Alabi)

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New Croatian president Milanovic, promises to fight corruption



Former Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, on Tuesday promised to tackle corruption as he was inaugurated as the country’s new President.

He replaces the conservative Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.

In his inaugural speech, Milanovic urged all Croatian parties to work together against the corruption affecting all spheres of life, including efforts to tackle the problem of climate change.

“I believe there is only one proper way, full and active support for the scientific community and for independent judiciary and media.

“But scientists, the judiciary and the media must continuously work on developing mechanisms against dishonesty and corruption within their own ranks,” he said.

Milanovic, 53, served a full term as Prime Minister until Jan. 2016. After his Social Democrats (SDP), lost in parliamentary elections, he quit as the party Chief and largely left politics.

He was given only a slim chance of stopping Grabar-Kitarovic, of the governing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), when he announced that he would run for president in the December 22 election.

Milanovic capitalized on his rival’s blunders and the declining popularity of the HDZ to win both in the first round and the run-off.

A politician who never shied away from clashing with political opponents, promised even before the elections that he would not co-exist peacefully with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

That could further aggravate Plenkovic’s position ahead of parliamentary elections in 2020.

Apart from the HDZ dropping below the SDP in surveys, he is also under pressure within the party and faces a challenge for leadership at the party congress in March.

The post of the president is largely ceremonial in Croatia, but has a say in defense and diplomacy.

Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Emmanuel Yashim

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Social Democrat Milanovic to take over as Croatia’s president



Former Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic on Tuesday took over from outgoing conservative Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic as President.

Milanovic, 53, served a full term as Prime Minister until January 2016. After his Social Democrats (SDP) lost in parliamentary elections, he quit as party Chief and left politics.

He was given only a slim chance of stopping Grabar-Kitarovic of the governing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) when he announced that he would run for president in the Dec. 22 election.

He, however, capitalised on his rival’s blunders and the declining popularity of the HDZ to win both in the first round and the run-off.

A politician, who never shied away from clashing with political opponents, promised even before the elections that he would not co-exist peacefully with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

He said he could further aggravate Plenkovic’s position ahead of 2020 parliamentary elections.

Apart from the HDZ dropping below the SDP in surveys, he is also under pressure within the party and faces a challenge for leadership at the party congress in August.

The post of the president is largely ceremonial in Croatia, but has a say in defense and diplomacy.

Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Ese E. Ekama

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Ronaldo penalty earns Juve draw at 10-man Milan



A stoppage-time Cristiano Ronaldo penalty rescued a 1-1 draw for Juventus at 10-man AC Milan on Thursday in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final.

Ante Rebic’s volley gave the hosts a deserved lead after 61 minutes, following a string of good saves from veteran Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

But Stefano Pioli’s side were reduced to 10 men for the final 18 minutes when defender Theo Hernandez was shown a second yellow card for a rash challenge on Paulo Dybala.

Juventus were awarded a penalty in the dying minutes following a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review, which showed that a Ronaldo scissor kick had struck the arm of Milan defender Davide Calabria.

The Portuguese forward smashed the spot-kick into the roof of the net to earn his side a draw ahead of the second leg in Turin on March 4.

Napoli defeated Inter Milan 1-0 in the first leg of the other semi-final in Milan on Wednesday.

Edited By: Felix Ajide


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Ibrahimovic renews his acquaintance with the Milan derby



After an absence of seven-and-a-half years and at the age of 38, Zlatan Ibrahimovic will renew his acquaintance with the Milan derby on Sunday where he could help deliver a blow to rivals Inter Milan’s Serie A title challenge.

Juve, chasing a ninth successive title, are three points clear of Inter and visit Verona on Saturday while third-placed Lazio are away to Parma on Sunday.

Ibrahimovic, one of more than three dozen players to have played on both sides in the Derby della Madonnina, missed Milan’s 1-1 draw with Verona on Sunday with flu but the club’s chief football officer Zvonimir Boban has guaranteed that he will be fit for Sunday.

Ibrahimovic knows all about the pressures of the fixture, having played in it six times for Inter Milan between 2006 and 2009, where he was on the winning side four times and scored twice.

After an unhappy season at Barcelona, he joined Milan.

His first derby on the other side of the fence was arguably his most memorable as he scored the only goal and claimed revenge on Inter defender Marco Materazzi for an incident four years earlier.

“Everyone was against me and this motivated me. I won a penalty, and who fouled me? Materazzi. 1-0 Milan,” he said in an interview with the Italian edition of GQ magazine in December.

“In the second half, I hit (Materazzi) with a Taekwondo move, I sent him to the hospital,” added Ibrahimovic, who was still simmering over a tackle by Materazzi on him in 2006 when he played for Juventus. 

“What goes around comes around.”

Despite Ibrahimovic’s comment, Materazzi did not suffer serious injury and played for Inter two weeks later.

Overall, Ibrahimovic played five times in the fixture for Milan and his final appearance, in May 2012, was bittersweet. 

He scored twice but Milan lost 4-2, ending their hopes of winning the title that season. They have not won a major trophy since.

Inter have won the last three matches between the sides and have not lost to Milan in Serie A for over four years, although they were beaten in the Coppa Italia in the 2017-18 season.

Milan suffered a dire season before Ibrahimovic agreed to return for a second stint and were thumped 5-0 by Atalanta in the last game before his arrival. 

They have won five and drawn two of their seven games since.

“Zlatan has a special personality. He has a special professionalism. He entered the locker room with a special humility,” said Boban.

“Knowing the force of the impact he can have, it wasn’t so easy. But he understood the atmosphere inside the changing room, the delicacy of the moment.”

Edited By: Tajudeen Atitebi

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Inter Milan held again after their on-loan player scores against them



Second-placed Inter Milan were held to a third successive 1-1 draw on Sunday in their Serie A match against Cagliari.

But their misery came from within somehow, after Radja Nainggolan, a player they loaned to Cagliari for this season, scored a second-half equaliser for the Sardinian side.

The fiercely competitive Belgian, who was told by Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte that there was no place for him this season, stunned the San Siro with a 78th minute goal.

It canceled out Lautaro Martinez’s first half opener for Inter Milan.

Martinez was sent off in stoppage time for his furious reaction after being given a yellow card for a foul.

He had to be ushered away by team mates as he continued to remonstrate with the referee.

The game ended in chaotic scenes as Inter Milan staff, including Conte, surrounded the referee to protest, with a livid Conte refusing to give any interviews.

Chinese-owned Inter Milan have 48 points from 21 games, three behind Juventus who were away to Napoli later on Sunday, and three more than third-placed Lazio who meet AS Roma.

“On the one hand, I’m sorry I scored. I have a lot of respect for Inter Milan, their fans and my team mates,” said Nainggolan.

“But, on the other hand, I’m happy. They treated me a little badly, as if I were a little player.”

Inter Milan’s players wore shirts with their names written in Chinese characters to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

With a midfield depleted by injuries and suspensions, Inter Milan gave Ashley Young his debut.

The former Manchester United player set up their goal in the 29th minute with a cross which Martinez met with a powerful header.

Cagliari protested that Martinez had pushed a defender and VAR officials finally confirmed the goal after a two-minute delay.

Alessio Cragno saved another Martinez effort with his feet but Inter Milan did not have it all their own way.

Goalkeeper Samir Handanovic had to palm away a looping header from Paolo Farago before half-time.

Stefano Sensi was also twice close for Inter Milan in the second half.

But they failed to add a second goal and paid the price when Joao Pedro pulled back the ball from near the corner and it ran on to Nainggolan.

His low drive from 25 metres took a deflection and went in off the foot of the post.

Romelu Lukaku was centimetres away from putting Inter Milan back in front, but their frustration boiled over in stoppage time with Martinez’s red card.

“We certainly didn’t draw because of the referee,” said Handanovic, the Inter Milan captain.

“We only complained because their forwards were given fouls and ours weren’t. We should have finished off the match, and then we wouldn’t be talking about all this.”

Edited By: Olawale Alabi)

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