U.S. men's national team goalkeeper Zack Steffen won his debut with Manchester City on Thursday as the club eliminated Bournemouth from the EFL Cup.
GENEVA — UEFA will let Champions League group-stage games be played deep into January to complete any fixtures postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.UEFA ratified emergency competition rules Thursday that allow for seven extra weeks to make up games beyond the scheduled sixth and final round of fixtures on Dec. 9.Any game which cannot be played by Jan. 28 will be forfeited as a 3-0 loss by the team responsible for the failure. The same rules apply to the Europa League.Several clubs whose players tested positive for COVID-19 and had squads isolated in quarantine have forfeited games in recent weeks during the tightly scheduled qualifying rounds when there was little chance to reschedule games. The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld UEFA's decisions.However, those games were also not part of UEFA's broadcasting deals worth more than 3.25 billion euros ($3.8 billion dollars) for its club competitions each season. Broadcasters are due rebates from UEFA totalling 575 million euros ($680 million) for pandemic disruption and fewer knockout games last season.The draw for the first knockout round in both competitions is set to be held Dec. 14 at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. But since the knockout stages don't begin until mid-February, UEFA will allow time to reschedule games.UEFA also detailed how compensation could be paid to a home team if a group-stage game must be played in a neutral country because of travel restrictions imposed by the away team’s home nation.The compensation could amount to 10% of the fixed starting fee that UEFA pays to each club that qualifies -- equivalent to 1.45 million euros ($1.7 million) in the Champions League, and 275,000 euros ($320,000) in the Europa League.___More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsGraham Dunbar, The Associated Press
BELLINZONA, Switzerland — The nine-day trial of Qatari soccer executive Nasser al-Khelaifi and former FIFA official Jérôme Valcke ended Thursday, with Switzerland’s federal criminal court saying a verdict will be announced Oct. 30.Al-Khelaifi is accused of giving Valcke the use of a luxury villa on an Italian island in connection with the bidding for lucrative World Cup broadcasting rights. Prosecutors have asked for Al-Khelaifi to get a 28-month sentence, with all but four months suspended, for inciting Valcke as FIFA’s then-secretary general to commit “aggravated criminal mismanagement.”Al-Khelaifi, the president of Paris Saint-Germain, denies providing Valcke use of a villa in Sardinia around the time in 2014 that FIFA sealed a $480 million World Cup deal with Doha-based broadcaster BeIN Media Group he also led. The deal for the 2026 and 2030 tournaments was a record for the Middle East and north Africa.“The complete acquittal of Mr. Al-Khelaifi has been demanded today, and emphatically so,” his lawyer in Switzerland, Marc Bonnant, said Thursday in a statement.Valcke denies charges of mismanagement and -- in a separate matter not involving Al-Khelaifi -- bribery and falsifying documents.Those charges relate to Valcke taking kickbacks totalling 1.25 million euros ($1.48 million) linked to World Cup rights in Greece and Italy, which Valcke allegedly booked to his private company as loans.Prosecutors asked for a three-year sentence, partially suspended, for Valcke and 30 months for Dinos Deris, a marketing executive based in Athens. Deris did not attend the trial citing health reasons. They deny wrongdoing.The first completed trial hearing in Switzerland’s investigation of international soccer comes almost six years after FIFA asked federal prosecutors to look for suspected money laundering in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests, won by Russia and Qatar.Prosecutors have opened at least 25 criminal proceedings, and investigations are ongoing against former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, former UEFA president Michel Platini, and Valcke’s former deputy, Markus Kattner.___More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsThe Associated Press