• MATCHDAY: Chelsea hosts Brighton, Schalke could be relegated
    The Canadian Press

    MATCHDAY: Chelsea hosts Brighton, Schalke could be relegated

    A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Tuesday: ENGLAND Chelsea can climb above Leicester and West Ham and into third place in the Premier League with a win against Brighton at Stamford Bridge. The race for Champions League qualification has been muddied, however, by the creation of a breakaway Super League that contains six English teams — including Chelsea — as signatories. If the Super League is launched as early as next season, finishing in the Premier League's top four this season is irrelevant for Chelsea as the London club would not be involved in the Champions League. Brighton is six points clear of the relegation zone with two games in hand over Fulham, which is in third-to-last place. GERMANY Schalke will drop out of the Bundesliga for the first time since 1991 if it loses at Arminia Bielefeld. The former Champions League contender has been stuck at the bottom of the table all season and relegation could soon be confirmed. Bayern Munich can cruise closer to a ninth consecutive title as it hosts Bayer Leverkusen. Second-placed Leipzig is seven points behind as it visits Cologne. Eintracht Frankfurt is still on track to qualify for the Champions League in fourth but its campaign is in danger of faltering after back-to-back losses. Hosting Augsburg offers a chance for Frankfurt to recover its momentum. FRANCE First-division Montpellier and second-tier front-runner Toulouse look to avoid slipping up at fourth-tier sides and reach the French Cup semifinals. Montpellier is eighth in Ligue 1 and chasing a Europa League spot while Toulouse is on course for promotion to the top flight. Both sides have won the cup, with Montpellier raising it for the second time in 1990 when former France coach Laurent Blanc was among the scorers. Toulouse's only success dates to 1957. Toulouse is at Rumilly Vallieres while Montpellier makes a 100-mile (160-kilometre) trip to Canet-en-Roussillon, which caused a big upset by knocking out Marseille. ITALY Fiorentina is in a training retreat ahead of the match at Hellas Verona after a poor run of results that has left it perilously close to the relegation zone. Fiorentina has won only one of its past eight matches and the 3-1 defeat to Sassuolo on Saturday left it just five points above the bottom three. The club announced after the match that it was imposing a media silence and the team went into a training retreat on Sunday. Verona has lost five of its past six matches to see its European dreams vanish but it remains comfortably mid-table. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press

  • Column: Only thing 'Super' about new league is the ca$h
    The Canadian Press

    Column: Only thing 'Super' about new league is the ca$h

    After decades of trying and throwing enough cash at the problem to fund a space program, Americans still stink at soccer. But nobody plays smash-and-grab better than we do. So it’s hardly coincidence that plans for a 20-team European Super League, a discussion that went nowhere for years, were finally made public now that a growing number of U.S. owners hold the reins to some of the most legendary clubs over there. Never mind that the proposal would hollow out Europe’s domestic leagues, destroy fan loyalties generations in the making, or drive a stake through the heart of the game’s enduring myth — that any team can rise or fall based solely on merit. The guys behind the Super League are betting only suckers still care about that stuff. “By bringing together the best clubs and best players in the world,” the group said in a statement Sunday, “the Super League will deliver excitement and drama never before seen in football.” Please. This scheme is not about staging grand competitions — soccer already provides those in abundance — it’s a cash grab. It’s about cost-certainty, sharing anticipated sky-high TV revenue, and essentially being guaranteed to turn a profit. It would adopt the “closed-league” model that governs and enriches all the major pro sports in North America, including Major League Soccer; that is, once you’re in the club, no matter how lousy your team might be in any given season or seasons, no need to sweat getting dropped — the formal term is “relegated” — to a lower league. The spot is yours forever. That’s why the late Art Modell, who owned the Cleveland Browns at the time, pulled then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue aside before introducing him at his first NFL meeting. He didn’t want the league’s new boss to get any fancy ideas about tinkering with the cash flow. “We’re 26 Republicans,” Modell explained cheerily, “who happen to vote socialist on football.” Of the dozen current teams already signed up for the Super League, four are owned by Americans: English Premier League giants Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal; and Italy’s Serie A club AC Milan. That’s no coincidence, either. Over the past five years, rich American owners have surpassed their Chinese counterparts in the boardrooms of European clubs. The Yanks now hold major stakes in one-fifth of the 60 teams playing top-flight soccer in the United Kingdom, Italy and France, according to data from KPMG Football Benchmark. The reason for the accelerating U.S. involvement is simple: NFL, NBA, MLB and even NHL and MLS teams are comparatively very expensive already and boast boom-time valuations. The Super League is attractive precisely because owners of those teams will get in at the ground floor of what looks like a very lucrative skyscraper. According to the group’s announcement, founding clubs will divide a $4 billion-plus (about 3.5 billion euros) startup fund — roughly $400 million per team — backed by debt-financing from JP Morgan Chase. There’s no need, however, for fans of the beautiful game to start hyperventilating yet. Right now, despite plans to start as early as this summer, the Super League is no more than a mission statement. It’s still trying to lure three more permanent members into signing up, and their first-choice members — Paris St. German of France’s Ligue 1, as well Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund of Germany’s Bundesliga — have distanced themselves from the proposal. The Super League also hasn’t provided any details on how it would select a rotating cast of five teams annually to fill out the 20-team enterprise. Just as menacingly, fans across the continent and the game’s European establishment have already begun pushing back. Both sides have lawyered up as threats are being volleyed back and forth. Aleksander Ceferin, the president of European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, likened the proposal to “spitting in football fans’ faces” and with backing from FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, warned that players on Super League teams might be barred from the World Cup. The pandemic devastated sports teams worldwide and resulted in losses — especially to the elite clubs — of hundreds of millions of dollars. And to be sure, European soccer could benefit from some reform. But the proposed Super League is not about saving anything more than the fat-cat owners’ already outsized slice of a pie that was more than a century in the making. ___ Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Jim Litke, The Associated Press

  • Canada's Jonathan David back training with Lille after recovering from ankle injury
    The Canadian Press

    Canada's Jonathan David back training with Lille after recovering from ankle injury

    LILLE, France — Canadian striker Jonathan David, injured in a Ligue 1 game April 3, returned to training with Lille on Wednesday. The 21-year-old from Ottawa was hurt after scoring in Lille's 1-0 win over defending French champion Paris Saint-Germain in a top-of-the-table clash. His club said at the time that David would be sidelined for several weeks after rupturing the lateral ligament in his right ankle. Lille announced his return to training in a social media post. The Canadian international has scored 10 goals this season for Lille. He has 11 goals in 12 appearances for Canada, whose next matches are World Cup qualifiers June 5 and 8 against Aruba and Suriname. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 14, 2021 The Canadian Press

  • Canadian striker Jonathan David sidelined for several weeks with ankle injury
    The Canadian Press

    Canadian striker Jonathan David sidelined for several weeks with ankle injury

    LILLE, France — Canadian international striker Jonathan David will be out for several weeks after rupturing the lateral ligament in his right ankle playing for Lille. The 21-year-old from Ottawa went off after scoring the winner Saturday in Lille's 1-0 win over defending champion Paris Saint-Germain in a top-of-the-table Ligue 1 clash. David scored his 10th of the season in the 20th minute with a slightly deflected strike that had PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas going the wrong way. The Canadian exited 15 minutes later after a challenge from an opponent, with Lille offering the medical update Monday. David has 11 goals in 12 appearances for Canada, whose next matches are World Cup qualifiers June 5 and 8 against Aruba and Suriname. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2021 The Canadian Press