The Chicago Journal

FC Barcelona appears clear of refereeing controversy

FC BarcelonaFC Barcelona, the Catalan soccer powerhouse, has previously been accused of misbehavior by Spanish authorities.

Former club presidents Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu were accused of taking bribes from the former vice president of the referees committee.

Yet, new information in the sports scandal indicated that Spanish officials found no proof of repeated payments.

What happened?

Cheating in athletics has always been condemned, no matter the nation.

FC Barcelona was accused of bribing José Maria Enriquez Negreira, vice president of Spain’s officiating committee, in order to benefit the squad.

The following declaration was made:

“Through presidents [Sandro] Rosell and [Josep] Bartomeu, Barcelona reached and maintained a strictly confidential verbal agreement with the defendant Negreira, so that, in his capacity as vice president of the refereeing committee and in exchange for money, he would carry out actions aimed at favoring Barcelona in the decision making of the referees in the matches played by the club, and thus in the results of the competitions.”

The former presidents & payments

Sandro Rosell was the president of FC Barcelona from 2010 to 2014, when Josep Bartomeu took charge.

Bartomeu remained in charge of the sporting superpower until 2020, when he resigned, and Joan Laporta replaced him in 2021.

The cash was sent to Negreira’s firm, Dasnil 96 SL, according to Barcelona.

They were apparently created for “technical reporting on refereing,” assuming that such services were common in the game.

Laporta, president from 2003 to 2010, would be called to testify.

He, on the other hand, denied that Barcelona had bribed the authorities.

“Barca have never bought referees nor influence,” said Laporta. “That was never the intention, and that has to be clear.”

“The facts contradict those that are trying to tell a different story.”

Meanwhile, Negreira issued his own comment, saying:

“FC Barcelona considered that the team was harmed and other teams were favored. This is a personal hypothesis, nobody has told me directly.”

“My obligation was to give my opinion about the matches in terms of arbitration and the players. Technical advice.”

“What FC Barcelona wanted was to make sure that no decisions were made against the club, that everything was neutral.”

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Investigations and charges

In 2018, José Maria Enriquez Negreira stepped down as deputy president of Spain’s referees committee.

Despite the fact that he has been out of job for years, he was the only target of a tax office probe for payments from Barcelona totaling roughly €1.4 million ($1.51 million) between 2016 and 2018.

Prosecutors indicted Rossell and Bartomeu, as well as ex-FC Barcelona officials Oscar Gau and Albert Soler, after scrutinizing payments from 2014 to 2018.

Yet, after a three-year wait, La Liga president Javier Tebas ruled that FC Barcelona will not face sporting sanctions.

He did, however, agree to return to the subject when the legal proceedings were concluded.

The Spanish Football Association and La Liga have presented UEFA with the necessary papers and information.

Individuals may decide to take action as a result of the outcome.

FIFA might just get involved.

The latest development

The FC Barcelona money-laundering probe is progressing.

The newest results, according to EFE, suggest that the club’s €7.5 million ($8.1 million) payments to Negreira had no impact on on-field decisions.

The allegations include a failure to explain and document the millions of euros handed to Negreira’s business interests, implying that the club continued to pay for illicit services.

The allegations are a significant win for FC Barcelona after the charges earlier this year turned the club on its head.

The club has remained silent on the subject, preferring to concentrate on external probes and internal operations.

After acquiring all of the essential proof and information, Joan Laporta intended to talk with the press.

According to Laport, Barca will soon give intelligence that is ready to strike and protect.

A former La Liga referee also testified on Barcelona’s side, alleging that Negreira never asked him to influence decisions in favor of the Catalan club.

Indonesian soccer derby loss leads to stampede and 174 people dead, nearly 200 injured

What should have been a party night during an Indonesian soccer match on Saturday night has turned into pure chaos.

A derby between Persebaya Surabaya and Arema FC ended in violence, tear gas and death.

What happened?

Persebaya Surabaya was at Arema’s home on Saturday for the derby.

The organizers locked up the visitors’ supporters to avoid fights and filled the entire stadium with Arema fans: 42,000 of them.

The match ended with a 2-3 defeat in favor of the visitors, fueling the fury of the spectators who flocked to the field.

The situation escalated, and fans threw objects at players and officials and demanded answers.

Violence escalated and five police cars were overturned, set on fire and damaged.

Riot police responded to the situation with tear gas, which FIFA has banned from soccer stadiums.

The action only caused panic, and hundreds of spectators rushed to the nearest exit door to avoid the tear gas.

The situation triggered a stampede in which 34 people were almost immediately trampled to death or suffocated.

More deaths

The stampede was responsible for only a small fraction of the game’s casualties.

At least 174 people were killed, including children and two police officers, and another 180 were injured, police said.

They also said that if several people are in critical condition, the death toll will most likely rise.

Save Our Soccer, an Indonesian soccer watchdog, has provided data showing that at least 86 soccer fans have died since 1995, most of them in brawls.

Soccer brawls in Indonesia

Soccer is the most popular sport in Indonesia and fans feel very connected to their clubs.

Sometimes fanaticism leads to violence and vandalism, often outside the stadium.

One of the most popular matchups is between Persija Jakarta and Persib Bandung.

The club’s fans have faced off against each other in several matches over the years, sometimes resulting in death.

In 2018, Persib Bandung fans beat a Persija Jakarta supporter to death. On the international stage, the aggression is equally strong.

In the 2019 qualifiers for the upcoming FIFA World Cup, clashes erupted between supporters of historic rivals Indonesia and Malaysia.

In September 2019, Malaysian fans were threatened and thrown with bullets during a game in Jakarta.

The visiting Malaysian Minister of Sports had to be evacuated from the stadium after the outbreak of violence.

In November 2019, fans launched rockets and bottles at another match in Kuala Lumpur.

In another game that year, after losing in the final of the Southeast Asian Under-22 Games in Vietnam, Indonesian fans began to insult, harass, and send death threats to Vietnamese players and their families.

In June 2022, two Persib Bandung fans died while trying to enter the stadium to watch the President Cup.

The already distraught fans became more aggressive when the officials on the ground refused to let them into the already packed stadium.

The government’s response

After the events, Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed his deepest regret and ordered an investigation into the dead.

Widodo has also ordered the suspension of the soccer league until they conduct a safety reassessment and strengthen safety.

The president shared the hope that the tragedy would be the last soccer tragedy in the country.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Football Association has banned Arema from organizing soccer matches for the rest of the season.

Human rights group Amnesty International has asked the country to investigate the use of tear gas in the stadium and ensure that those who break the rule are brought to justice.


What happened at Indonesia’s deadly soccer match?

Indonesia football tragedy: at least 174 killed derby match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya

A heated match rewards the Portland Timbers with a win over Austin FC

On Wednesday night, the Portland Timbers continued their momentum with a thrilling win over Austin FC. 

Last weekend, the Timbers won the Cascadia Cup before heading to Texas. 

In the Q2 stadium, the guests managed to knock off the Western Conference runners-up. 

The lineup

Coach Giovanni Savarese fielded the same XI that beat the Seattle Sounders last week. 

The roster included: Aljaz Ivacic, Santiago Moreno, Bill Tuiloma, Dario Zuparic, Zac McGraw, Claudio Bravo, Diego Chara, Eryk Williamson, Sebastian Blanco, Dairon Asprilla, and Yimmi Chara.

Meanwhile, David Bingham, Pablo Bonilla, Larrys Mabiala, JoseCarlos Van Rankin, David Ayala, Marvin Loria, Christhian Paredes, Jaroslaw Niezgoda, and Tiega Ikoba were on the bench. 

The game 

The first half of the duel was one of the most heated the Portland Timbers have had this season as Austin kept the defense on edge. 

While the home side unfortunately converted their chances, the Timbers were not without their misfortunes. 

Portland had the opportunity to take the lead in a counterattack that worried home fans. 

The visitors finally got their breakthrough with a free kick from Eryk Williamson, which hit Bill Tuiloma and opened the way.

In the second half, Austin maintained his momentum when a corner led to a near chance that the Timbers were lucky enough to escape in a fight. 

Despite dominating the game, Portland won when center-back Zac McGraw found the back of the net after bouncing off Austin’s goalkeeper. 

Seven minutes later, Austin pulled one out and slashed the Timbers’ lead by one with a header from Ivacic. 

However, Portland rallied to maintain its lead, and the final whistle confirmed that the Timbers had taken all three points. 

Aftermath and remaining matches 

The Portland Timbers took a win in their biggest win of the season.

Although the Seattle Sounders were their biggest rivals and gave them one of the toughest matches to secure their first Cascadia Cup since 2017, Austin FC’s quality was unmatched by the Sounders. 

The Timbers are currently seventh above the playoff line with five games left in the campaign. 

They are just three points behind Nashville SC and Real Salt Lake (fifth and sixth in the standings) and five points behind Minnesota United FC in third place. 

Portland’s next two games are at home, where they will play against Atlanta United FC on September 4 and Minnesota on September 10 September.

The team then travels to Columbus Crew SC, the Eastern Conference opponent, before playing their last home game against LAFC.

The Portland Timbers end their campaign on October 9 when they travel to Salt Lake City.


Match recap & highlights: Austin FC 1 – 2 Portland Timbers

The Timbers shock Austin FC with a 2-1 road victory

English Soccer League, The Premier League, Will Only Take the Knee on Occasions

In 2020, the murder of George Floyd sparked protests in all sectors, including sports.

Since 2020, footballers from all over Europe (especially England) have started kneeling before kick-off.

Although opinions were divided, clubs and leagues overseas continued to exercise.

The English Premier League recently announced that the anti-racism gesture will no longer be used as often in the 2022/2023 season.

The decision

On Wednesday, the English Premier League announced that the move would be limited to a few games next season.

The decision came from the matches between the league and the captains after consulting their respective teams.

“We have decided to select significant moments to take the knee during the season to highlight our unity against all forms of racism,” said the Premier League captains.

“In doing so, we continue to show solidarity for a common cause.”

Official statement

“The players have decided to use specific moments during the upcoming campaign to take the knee, to amplify the message that racism has no place in football or society,” the statement read.

“The Premier League supports the players’ decision and, alongside the clubs, will use these opportunities to elevate anti-racism messaging as part of the League’s No Room for Racism Action Plan.”

“Players will take the knee during the opening match round of the season, dedicated No Room for Racism match rounds in October and March, Boxing Day fixtures following the conclusion of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Premier League matches on the final day of the season and The FA Cup and EFL Cup Finals.”

Early plans

Kneeling is a June 2020 player-led initiative to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

The gesture sparked criticism from fans and politicians, such as British Interior Minister Priti Patel, who accused the England national team of participating in “gestural politics” during Euro 2020 matches.

Patel said the fans were right to whistle in June 2021, “That’s a choice for them, quite frankly.”

The English League

The English Premier League begins the 2022/2023 season on August 5, with Arsenal meeting Crystal Palace in a London derby.

Tony Burnett, CEO of the anti-racism group, gave way and released a statement that said:

“Taking the knee is a gesture that has been driven by the players. Players have been doing it to highlight the fight for racial equality, and for that, it has certainly kept the spotlight on the issues football and wider society still faces.”

“The purpose of symbols and gestures is to use platforms to highlight to those with power that they need to act. Those gestures and symbols will inevitably change over time.”

“The point is not the symbols and gestures themselves, but what they signify.”

“We shouldn’t be talking about whether players kneel. We should be talking about why they kneel. We should be talking about the inequality and discrimination that the gesture highlights.”


What’s taking the knee and why is it important?

English Premier League teams to stop taking the knee before every match

Premier League players won’t take a knee before every match

Angel City FC and Tigres Femenil Sign a Historic Two-Year Partnership to Improve Women’s Soccer

The latest addition to the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), Angel City Football Club, recently announced a unique partnership to promote the development of women’s soccer across the United States and Mexico. 

With three wins out of four games, the newest soccer club in the women’s league has been making history, but they took it one step further with a two-year partnership with Tigres Femenil of Mexico’s Liga MX. Their partnership will be the first of its kind between the two clubs in the most prominent women’s soccer leagues.

“We are thrilled to enter into this two-year partnership with Tigres and host the team in Los Angeles for our first-ever international friendly match,” said Angel City President and co-founder Julie Uhrman. “Angel City has always set our sights toward becoming part of the international soccer community to collaborate with and shine a light on the power of women’s soccer and women’s sports overall. This partnership with Tigres is an important milestone in our club’s history, and we are excited to engage with our fans and community, as well as in Mexico and beyond.”

The two club’s partnerships will have two friendly matches, with the first on August ten at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. The second game will be played in Monterrey, Mexico, at the Estadio Universitario in 2023.

Apart from the friendly games, the clubs will also engage ideas on the best practices in the sport and business and social responsibility issues. The partnership will also focus on community-impact events featuring fans, civic organizations, and soccer clubs in the two cities.

“For us, it is an honor to make this alliance with Angel City FC, a young franchise with a huge push with which we have found similar objectives in the search to continue promoting women’s football to another level,” said Mauricio Culebro, President of Tigres. “We want to turn Tigres into one of the most renowned teams at an international level, and this type of alliance allows us to get closer to that goal.”

Angel City FC is the latest team to debut in 2022 as part of the NWSL expansion team, while Tigres Femenil was established in 2017, one of the pioneering teams in Mexico to kick off their women’s league.