LIONEL MESSI BANNED FOR FOUR INTERNATIONALS BY FIFA FOR VERBALLY ABUSING OFFICIAL IN ARGENTINA WIN

The Argentine Football Association says it intends to appeal after Lionel Messi was banned for four international matches by FIFA for verbally abusing an assistant referee against Chile.

Television pictures showed Messi responding angrily late in Thursday’s World Cup Qualifier when the assistant flagged him for a foul.

The 29-year-old, who scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for the hosts, was seen waving his arms and shouting insults at the official.

FIFA intervened when the incident was not initially reported by the Brazilian referee after the crucial match in Buenos Aires.

The Barcelona forward has now been punished, with his international suspension beginning on Tuesday in Bolivia.

A statement from FIFA said: “Footballer Lionel Messi has been found guilty of violating article 57 of the FIFA disciplinary code for having directed insulting words at an assistant referee.”

“As a result, Lionel Messi will be suspended for four official matches and sanctioned with a fine of CHF 10,000 (£8,100).”

It included that the suspension was “in line with the FIFA disciplinary committee’s previous rulings in similar cases”.

Argentina team secretary Jorge Miadosqui immediately confirmed that the AFA would appeal the ban, which came just hours ahead of the World Cup qualifier with Bolivia.

“The federation will appeal as it should,” he said. “We feel powerless, surprised. I’m angry, Messi is sad, like us. He could have played, he travelled to play [against Bolivia], he should have played.”

Messi is additionally set to miss the qualifiers away to Uruguay in August, at home to Venezuela the following month and at home to Peru in October, which means he will only be able to return for Argentina’s final qualifying match away to Ecuador.

Argentina are third in the South American qualifying group, with only the top four guaranteed a place in Russia 2018 and just three points separating second-placed Uruguay and Chile in sixth.

Source: http://www.skysports.com

TONY BELLEW DISMISSES A VERBAL ATTACK FROM DILLIAN WHYTE

Tony Bellew has laughed off Dillian Whyte’s description of him as a “fake heavyweight” by conceding he is “fat,” yet has no interest in fighting the Brixton man.

The Merseysider is considering his future plans after a stunning triumph over David Haye this month and has recommended he will stay at heavyweight.

Whyte was umimpressed with Bellew’s triumph, telling the WBC cruiserweight champion that he did not belong in the top division, and ‘The Bomber’ has issued a dismissive reaction.

“I am a fat heavyweight, not fake,” Bellew told Sky Sports. “That’s the first part, instead of fake.”

“Thank you very much for the publicity, but I refuse to give it back.”

WBC champion Deontay Wilder and WBO title holder Joseph Parker are on a shortlist of possible opponents for Bellew, while a rematch with Haye is another option after both British rivals recover from their injuries.

However, the 34-year-old has ruled out Whyte, who is expected to fight on the Kell Brook-Errol Spence Jr undercard on May 27.

Bellew stated: “All I will say is, why I am going to go from fighting the former undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world, the former heavyweight champion of the world, to fighting someone who got knocked out for a British title?”

Source: http://www.skysports.com

PHILIPPE COUTINHO NOT WORRIED ABOUT EVERTON OVERHAULING LIVERPOOL

Philippe Coutinho insists Liverpool are not worried about being overhauled by Everton in the race for the top four, ahead of the Merseyside derby live on Sky Sports on Saturday.

Everton, who are presently three places behind Liverpool in the Premier League table, can cut the gap between the teams to three points with a win at Anfield this end of the week.

Led by the League’s top scorer Romelu Lukaku, Everton have been in prolific form in recent weeks with 17 goals over their past six games.

In any case, Coutinho, who is currently on international duty with Brazil, says Liverpool will be determined to show they are still the team to beat on Merseyside.

“I don’t think about [Everton’s form] or worry about that,” he insisted. “Right now, Liverpool is higher in the league, that’s the reality and that’s all we have to think about.”

“We will be ready. The derby is a very special match for everyone, the fans and the players.”

“We know what it means. The people of Liverpool live this match with so much emotion and this time it is even more because Everton have improved so much in recent weeks.”

“We know it won’t be easy, but we know we have to win, for our fans, for our morale and for everybody.”

Source: http://www.skysports.com

ANTHONY MARTIAL PLEDGES FUTURE TO MANCHESTER UNITED

Anthony Martial has insisted that he wants to stay at Manchester United because of the passion of the club’s fans.

The Frenchman was connected with a loan move to Sevilla in the January transfer window after a lack of first-team opportunities toward the begin of the season under Jose Mourinho.

But the forward has been used more with United battling it out in the Premier League and Europa League and has revealed his bond with supporters.

The 21-year-old told Inside United magazine: “For me, what’s really special here is the supporters. They’ve been really outstanding with me.”

“I think that’s what goes a long way to making me feel at home and at ease, and makes me really keen to stay here at the club.”

Martial has netted seven times this season and has praised the team’s fans for their patience.

“In France, even if you’re one of the best players around, they might begin to boo and jeer you if you go a couple of games without scoring. But here it’s just the opposite, they’ll try to cheer you on so you might be able to score, and so then you grow in confidence.”

“I think it’s just a different mentality. That’s why I like the fans here so much.”

He added: “I do get messages sent to me by lots of fans and I try to reply to them from time to time. I don’t go on social media that often, though I do try to respond now and again.”

“And in the street, there are always those who shout things like ‘Keep going!’ and ‘I hope you score!’, nice messages of encouragement. It always does you good to hear them.”

Mourinho’s side return to Premier League action at home to West Bromwich Albion on April 1.

Source: http://www.skysports.com

SIR BRADLEY WIGGINS DESCRIBES ALLEGATIONS OF WRONGDOING AS ‘WORST THING TO BE ACCUSED OF’

Sir Bradley Wiggins has described the allegations of wrongdoing against him and Team Sky as the “worst thing to be accused of”.

Wiggins retired from cycling at the end of last year after nearly 20 years in the sport, winning five Olympic gold medals and the 2012 Tour de France.

The Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee was told toward the begin of March by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) chief executive Nicole Sapstead that its investigation into Team Sky had been hampered by a lack of records.

UKAD is investigating allegations that a package sent to the team, and used to treat Wiggins, contained the banned substance triamcinolone.

General manager of Team Sky Sir Dave Brailsford admitted earlier this month that they had made mistakes in relation to anti-doping and testing practices, though refuted “untrue” implications made because of them.

“It’s been horrible,” Wiggins told Soccer AM. “Fortunately there is an investigation going on, it’s the worst thing to be accused of when you’re a man of my integrity, what I believe anyway and what I’ve done to get to where I am today.”

“But there is an investigation and obviously I can’t say too much, because that will run its course and then I’ll have my say.”

“Of course I’ll have my say, there’s a lot to say and it’s going to shock a few people.”

Source: http://www.skysports.com

ANDER HERRERA SAYS: ‘GENIUS’ ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC ‘ANNOYING’ AT TIMES

Ander Herrera has named Zlatan Ibrahimovic a “genius” but revealed the Manchester United striker’s competitiveness is “annoying” at times.

Ibrahimovic’s capacity to transfer his prolific goalscoring form from France – where he scored 44 goals in his last season at Paris Saint-Germain – to English football was questioned ahead of last summer’s switch to Old Trafford.

However, a sensational debut season for United – which has yielded 26 goals, two of which sealing Community Shield and EFL Cup glory – has silenced his doubters.

“He is a genius,” United team-mate Herrera told Marca. “He can say that he will score 30 goals and that he is the best because he can get away with it.”

“He is so good that he can do that.”

Ibrahimovic’s goalscoring exploits have been matched just by his unwavering confidence in his own capacity, with the Swede claiming to have foreseen the success he has brought to United.

The unrivalled willingness to satisfy his own prophecy and prove his doubters wrong continues to play a vital role for Jose Mourinho’s men, in spite of the fact that, as Herrera includes, this drive can become disappointing.

“Ibrahimovic can be very annoying,” the Spaniard said. “He can be very annoying because he wants to win it all, even at football-tennis.”

Source: http://www.skysports.com

ARSENE WENGER REVEALS LUIS SUAREZ ‘AGREEMENT’ WITH ARSENAL IN 2013

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says that there was an “agreement” in place to sign Luis Suarez in 2013.

It was reported that the Gunners tried to sign Suarez by bidding £1 over his £40,000,000 release clause.

Liverpool owner John Henry later revealed that Suarez did in fact have a £40m release clause, yet the club opted not to sell the striker.

And Wenger has recommended Suarez almost joined the Gunners.

He told beINSports: “He was very close [to signing for Arsenal]. We had an agreement with the player. We had been wrongly advised that he had a clause, with a minimal clause, but we had an agreement with the player. You can ask him.”

“I’m convinced he wanted to join us, then they kept him one more year, improved his contract and promised to sell him the year later to a club abroad.”

Suarez stayed with Liverpool for another season before joining Barcelona in a deal worth £75m.

Source: http://www.skysports.com

RAY WILKINS SAYS: CHELSEA WILL ONLY NEED ‘A FEW ADDITIONS’ IN THE SUMMER

Chelsea will only need “a few additions” in the summer as they prepare to return to the Champions League again next season, says Ray Wilkins.

Antonio Conte’s side are 10 points clear of Tottenham at the top of the Premier League, and stay on course to win a league and cup double in the Italian’s first season at the club.

Wilkins, a former player and coach at Stamford Bridge, told Premier League Daily that he expects the Blues to clinch the title, but does not trust they need to alter the squad drastically if they are to potentially defend the Premier League and compete in Europe again next season.

“They’ll be delighted to be in that Champions League, they would have missed it immensely this season,” Wilkins said.

“It really depends on Diego Costa, to a large degree, who they are going to get in to replace him if he decides to go to China, which has already been mooted this season.”

“It will be very interesting, I’m sure Antonio will have a few names up his sleeve that he would like to bring in. Defensively they have spoken about bringing added players in.”

“But at this moment in time they just need a few additions to keep themselves bubbling along – they are all young enough and they all look absolutely superb at the moment.”

Source: http://www.skysports.com

LINARES VS CROLLA II: ANTHONY CROLLA SAYS THAT HE WILL RESPOND TO EVERYTHING JORGE LINARES THROWS AT HIM

Anthony Crolla has warned Jorge Linares that he will “have an answer” to everything thrown at him by the WBA champion in their rematch.

The Mancunian suffered a points defeat to Linares last September and will attempt to regain the WBA lightweight belt in their second fight at Manchester Arena on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports.

Linares has shown his searing hand speed in recent recordings on social media, yet Crolla is confident his game-plan can nullify the three-weight world champion.

“I’m not going to lie, I can’t compete with flashy padwork like that – I can’t do that,” Crolla told Sky Sports News HQ.

“There is other things to my game that I feel will go well against that, will have the answer to it.”

“I’ve got to be cutting off the ring quicker this time, I’ve got to respond myself in bunches a little bit more. There is so many obstacles that are going to be put in front of me from Jorge Linares, but I believe I will have an answer for every one of them.”

Following their exciting first fight, Crolla is bracing himself for another gruelling battle when he resumes hostilities with Linares.

“It might go early, it might go inside the distance, but I’m prepared for 12 very hard rounds,” he said.

“There are going to come times in the fight when it’s not going to go my way, when I’m going to have to weather a storm and I’ve got to bite down on that gumshield, but that is something I’m willing to do. I’m willing to dig deeper than ever before.”

“If it has to get into a dogfight, I don’t mind, whatever it might be. I think there is going to be a bit of everything in this fight, a bit of boxing, a bit of a chess match, but I definitely see a good fight.”

“It was one of the fights of the year last time. I can certainly see us both being even better this time.”

Source: http://www.skysports.com

FA TO PAY TRIBUTE TO VICTIMS OF LONDON ATTACK AT WEMBLEY ON SUNDAY

The Football Association have expressed their sympathies and say they will pay tribute to those included in Wednesday’s incident in central London at Wembley stadium this Sunday.

There have been various fatalities in what police have described as ‘a terrorist attack’ in Westminster with at least one police officer and three others having lost their lives.

FA chairman Greg Clarke is in Germany for the friendly match in Dortmund and says that there will be a tribute before the World Cup qualifier in the capital this end of the week.

He stated: “Our thoughts are with all of those who have been affected by this terrible incident.”

“We will be recognising the bravery of the security services and all those involved at the England v Lithuania match on Sunday.”

Sky Germany sources have said there are no plans for a minute’s silence before Wednesday night’s match at the Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund.

Source: http://www.skysports.com