FA launch investigation after six fans arrested during Chelsea win

The Football Association have reportedly launched an investigation after six fans were arrested for homophobic chanting during Chelsea’s win over Preston last month.

The Championship side travelled to Stamford Bridge for the FA Cup third round clash at the start of January. But the Blues’ dominant 4-0 win was marred by the use of the ‘Chelsea Rent Boy’ chant by Preston supporters.

The chant was classified as a homophobic hate crime by the Crown Prosecution Service at the start of 2022. A Liverpool fan was fined £500 and denied entry to the 2022 FA Cup final after being caught singing the chant.

The FA has the ability to charge and sanction clubs if their supporters are heard chanting homophobic songs. Despite that, the chant has continued to be heard, most recently during Chelsea’s win over Preston.

According to the Mirror, the FA have launched an investigation into that incident, which remains ongoing. If that investigation results in Preston being charged and found guilty, the Championship side face a huge fine.

Wolves became the first club to be fined for homophobic chanting last July, with Leeds also sanctioned a month later for the same offence. Both clubs were also placed into an action plan to deal with homophobic abuse by the commission which rendered the judgements.

The news of the FA’s investigation comes after Preston confirmed six supporters had been arrested specifically for homophobic chanting at Stamford Bridge. The Championship club warned they would continue to take “serious action” against abusive fans.

Chelsea’s LGBT+ supporters group Chelsea Pride have welcomed the news of the FA’s investigation, which comes at the start of FootballvHomophobia’s Month of Action. The group insisted that a stand needs to be taken to stamp homophobia out of the game.

Thiago Silva’s wife watches son play for Chelsea U15 after apologizing for outburst after Wolves defeat

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Thiago Silva’s wife was fully behind Chelsea as she supported her son at a youth match on Wednesday evening – despite her recent comments causing a stir.

Belle Silva cheered on her eldest son Isago as his U15s team won a youth match, posting stories on Instagram saying ‘come on Chelsea’ and ‘we won’ with a blue heart emoji.

Understandably, it meant she missed the senior team’s 3-1 win at Aston Villa in the FA Cup – where Mauricio Pochettino dropped Thiago Silva.

After Chelsea’s 4-2 defeat by Wolves on Sunday at Stamford Bridge, Silva appeared to cal for Pochettino’s head by posting on X: “It’s time to change. If you wait any longer it will be too late.”

She has since apologised, blaming her ‘outburst’ on being ‘passionate’ and ‘saddened by defeats’.

“I’m sorry that my personal outburst as a passionate Chelsea fan has caused such an impact. I’m passionate about the team, I thrive on victories and I’m saddened by defeats,” she wrote on X.

“We all want the same thing, a winning team, come on Chelsea!!”

Pochettino revealed at his press conference on Tuesday that Chelsea centre-back Silva spoke to him personally after Isabelle’s social media post in a bid to ensure there was no tension between the pair.

Pochettino refused to discuss the nature of their conversation, describing it as a ‘private’ matter that was handled before training.

“He came today to talk with me,” he said. “I am not going to talk in the way we were talking. The important thing is he came and wanted to talk with me.

“He knows me after more than 10 years, who I am, we are a very strong coaching staff and the way we operate. Of course he came to talk. We talked. It was private. And that’s it.”

Asked why he dropped Silva for the match at Villa, Pochettino hit back with a spiky response.

“Why the question?,” he responded to ITV’s Gabriel Clarke. “I am professional and a coach and I always pick my players because of performance and balance.

“I think I understand the question but I want to be calm because I need to be professional and I always make my decisions because of the professional side.”

Photo Credit: X

Club manager confirms summer move for Chelsea target

Brentford boss Thomas Frank has told Danish outlet Tipsbladet that striker Ivan Toney is almost certain to leave the club this summer.

Toney, 27, has been linked with most of the Premier League’s top clubs, including Arsenal and Chelsea, and is about to move into the final year of his contract.

Brentford will demand a huge transfer fee for the England international, though perhaps won’t get the £100m that Frank believes the striker is worth.

“It is relatively obvious that Ivan Toney will probably be sold this summer,” Frank said. “We also know what he is worth.

“I don’t think there are many strikers in the world who are better than him right now.

“He is a really skilled striker who is in his prime football age. Personally, as a coach, I would prefer to keep Toney but one day it could be fun to see him on a top team.

“This winter we actually had no offers for him, but it will surprise me if there aren’t a lot of clubs that will be interested in him.”

Revealed: Why Chelsea star Enzo Fernandez wants to remain at Stamford Bridge

The agent of Chelsea midfielder Enzo Fernandez has denied reports that the player regrets signing an eight-year contract with the Premier League club.

Fernandez moved to Chelsea from Benfica a year ago in a deal worth £107m. He was handed a deal through to 2031 to spread the cost of his contract across a longer period under profit and sustainability rules.

Reports in The Athletic earlier this week suggested some players were unhappy and didn’t like the direction the club was going in, though no individuals were named.

“The player has no intention of leaving,” Uriel Perez told Diario AS. “The Chelsea hierarchy were very clear with this project.

“It’s a plan that was always going to be difficult at the beginning because new and young players were going to arrive. But when the pieces of the team all fit together, Chelsea are going to move forward.

“Enzo’s desire is to be on the team and win trophies. We have not met with any clubs or even tried to talk to any clubs, that’s not true.

“We know what the player’s desire is. Obviously he would like Chelsea to be in a better position [in the league] but that will be achieved with hard work.”

The 23-year-old was on the scoresheet on Wednesday night as Chelsea won 3-1 at Aston Villa in the FA Cup fourth round replay.

Official: Former Man United star joins South Korean club, says “I’ve always wanted different challenges…in my career”

Former Manchester United and England midfielder Jesse Lingard joined South Korean side FC Seoul on a two-year deal on Thursday, making him the best-known foreign player ever signed by a K League club.

The 31-year-old, a World Cup semifinalist with England and Europa League, League Cup and FA Cup winner with United, has been a free agent since he left Nottingham Forest at the end of last season.

“I’ve always wanted different challenges and to create new memories in my career, and I believe being in South Korea is the perfect place for that,” Lingard said in video released by the club.

FC Seoul, who play at the Seoul World Cup Stadium, are one of the best supported clubs in the K League and have won the title six times, most recently in 2016.

Photo Credit: X

Chelsea captain Ben Chilwell reveals players’ mood before Blues away win at Aston Villa

Chelsea skipper Ben Chilwell says tonight’s result and performance was ‘needed’ and said the changing room were confident before the game that they’d get through.

He told ITV’s coverage: “It was exactly the reaction we wanted and needed. It wasn’t about wanting a reaction. We needed it. Fair play to all of the boys.”

“We wanted that pressure. We thrived off it. The confidence before the game in the changing room was the best I have seen it – the togetherness.

“We delivered on the pitch today.

“As a club, the players, manager, the staff, the fans everyone involved in the club. It wasn’t just the manager. Everyone associated with the club needed that today.”

Photo Credit: ChelseaFC/ X

Chelsea Player Ratings vs Aston Villa: Enzo Fernandez, Gusto, Jackson, others shine in Blues away win

Chelsea took an early lead through Conor Gallagher’s thumping effort after just 11 minutes on the clock.

Nicolas Jackson made it 2-0 Chelsea midway through the first half following a rampant start from Mauricio Pochettino’s men.

Early in the second half, Enzo Fernandez scored a stunning free-kick to make it 3-0 as the Blues run riot at Villa Park.

Villa got a late consolation through Diaby, which was more than they deserved on the night.

GK Djordje Petrovic, 7: Alive and alert with two routine saves as Villa pressed for a quickfire leveller, but otherwise faced nothing of note until he had to flick John McGinn’s shot over in first-half stoppage time. Booked for time wasting as the Blues managed the second period astutely, until Diaby’s last-action consolation.

DF Malo Gusto, 8: Caught the eye throughout with his energy on the right flank. Never in any danger defensively and always willing to lend support in attack, most notably when he slung in a fine assist for Jackson to double the Blues’ lead.

DF Axel Disasi, 7: A change of defensive partner as Benoit Badiashile replaced Thiago Silva, but Disasi was unperturbed. Untroubled in the air and calm on the deck, the two Frenchmen were expertly shielded by their midfield enforcers throughout — although he did make one key late block to deny McGinn.

DF Benoit Badiashile, 7: Like Disasi, could count the benefits of the spadework put in by Caicedo and Fernández, and rarely looked flustered as a result — even if he was occasionally wasteful with forward balls.

DF Ben Chilwell, 7: Named captain with Silva confined to the bench. Rose to the challenge of shackling the in-form Leon Bailey in a defensive sense, and always looked to get forward to lend his support in attack.

MF Conor Gallagher, 8: Steered in a brilliant first-time finish to break the deadlock, giving Martínez no chance with his effort into the top corner. The headline moment in a performance otherwise built on sweat-soaked endeavour and insightful reading of the play.

MF Moises Caicedo, 8: Guts and glory in equal measure. A constant comfort blanket for his defence and an astute interchangeability with Fernández laid the foundations for Chelsea’s unexpectedly straightforward progress.

MF Enzo Fernández, 9: Key role in Gallagher’s opener, first hustling Boubacar Kamara down an alley and then sparking the attack, later followed by a sensational free kick. His name-pointing celebration — not to mention a sublime all-round display — served a reminder of his enormous talent.

FW Noni Madueke, 8: A terror for the Villa defence throughout, embarking on a number of high-speed, slaloming runs into dangerous areas. Provided much of the energy and ambition so lacking in the Blues’ attack of late.

FW Nicolas Jackson, 8: Making his first start since December following Senegal’s AFCON exit, the 22-year-old added real menace to Chelsea’s attack, playing a part in the first and clinically nodding in their second. Also put in an admirable defensive shift.

FW Cole Palmer, 7: Constantly fell below the hosts’ radar, popping up all over the forward line and giving the Villa defence a permanent headache. Will rue his missed opportunities to get on the scoresheet, but can be happy with his shift.

Substitutes
FW Raheem Sterling, N/R: Handed the final 15 minutes in place of the livewire Madueke, by which point his job was largely one of defensive backup.

DF Thiago Silva, N/R: Dropped to the bench after the Blues’ recent flood of concessions, the veteran entered the fray for the final 10 minutes to close out the win.

DF Alfie Gilchrist, N/R: The young boyhood Blue continued his education with a taste of a the last moments of a huge win.

FW Christopher Nkunku, N/R: Dropped for the returning Jackson, but handed a late cameo for the closing exchanges.

Nigeria defeats South Africa to qualify for AFCON final, Jose Peseiro says “the team fought well”

William Troost-Ekong put Nigeria into the lead from the penalty spot midway through the second half, before South Africa earned a spot-kick of their own in the final minute of the 90 and it was converted by Teboho Mokoena.

The penalty had been awarded after Victor Osimhen thought he had scored to put Nigeria 2-0 ahead but the referee was called over to the pitch-side monitor by the Video Assistant Referee and instead awarded a penalty to South Africa for an earlier foul

South Africa lost defender Grant Kekana to a red card in extra time as Nigeria put them under constant pressure, and then lost their nerve too in the shootout as Nwabali saved from Mokoena and Evidence Makgopa.

“It was a very good victory against a very good team, the most organised team at the tournament. We deserved to win, but they [South Africa] deserved to win too,” Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro told reporters.

“We were better in the penalty shootout, so my players deserve it. The team fought well.”

Nwabali plays his club football in South Africa at topflight side Chippa United and was a surprise pick for the tournament having only won a single cap prior to the start of 2024 in a 4-0 loss to Mexico nearly three years ago.

But he has been a revelation having only conceded two goals in his side’s six games and earned them a first final place since they lifted the Cup of Nations trophy in 2013.

South Africa will rue missed chances in the 90 minutes, not least in the dying seconds when right back Khuliso Mudau fired over the bar with the goal gaping, but must now settle for a place in the bronze-medal match on Saturday.

It is a seventh win for Nigeria in 16 continental semifinals after they had advanced from only one of their previous six, seen as something of a curse for the side.

Napoli striker Osimhen won his side a penalty as he went down under the challenge of Mothobi Mvala, in what was an easy decision for Egyptian referee Amin Omar.

Troost-Ekong held his nerve to send his spot-kick down the middle of the goal to put them ahead in the 67th minute.

Nigeria thought they had a second on 85 minutes through Osimhen, but as they celebrated, VAR alerted the on-field referee to an earlier foul on Tau in the Nigerian box.

Nigeria’s effort was chalked off and South Africa were awarded a penalty after a review, which Mokoena fired home before Mudau fluffed his golden chance to win it and the game went to extra time and penalties.

“Football can be hard when you see the performance of my team, and then there is penalties and you lose the game and are not in the final. It is hard to accept that, we played a very good game,” South Africa coach Hugo Broos said.

“It is a big disappointment, but I am very proud of my players. I think everyone now knows South Africa as a good team, and that is important.”

Three-time winners Nigeria were given a scare but reached the Africa Cup of Nations final after goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali saved two penalties in the shootout to guide his side to a 4-2 victory over South Africa following a 1-1 draw on Wednesday.

Nigeria had lost five of their previous six semifinals at the continental finals but survived some nervous moments to book a place in Sunday’s decider against hosts Ivory Coast, following their 1-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo in Wednesday’s other semifinal.

Photo Credit: TotalAFCON2023/ X

Karim Benzema involved in another fallout at Al-Ittihad, ‘storms out of training’

Karim Benzema reportedly walked out of an Al-Ittihad training session after refusing to follow his manager’s orders.

Marcelo Gallardo had ordered the Frenchman to train alone but the striker refused and stormed out and, as a result, has been left out of the squad to take on Al-Tai in Wednesday night’s Saudi Pro League clash. Benzema was pictured training at the club’s facilities on Tuesday, but only with the injured players.

Benzema’s relationship with his employers has broken down in recent weeks with the forward failing to return to training on time – later reporting 17 days late, leaving the club ‘furious’, reports Marca.

One source stated that Al-Ittihad couldn’t even establish contact with their player for 10 days whilst he enjoyed a holiday in Mauritius. He was later excluded from the club’s training camp after failing to impress Gallardo. The club’s hierarchy held crunch talks with Benzema just months after he joined from Real Madrid.

There was talk of the Ballon d’Or winner being moved on, potentially to a different Saudi outfit, but he ended up staying put. Benzema penned a lucrative deal back in the summer, which earns him an annual sum of £86million as the league’s chiefs look to improve their domestic scene.

Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea were among those linked with a move in January when it looked as if he could cut short his time in Saudi. A rumoured move to Lyon in his native France also fell through.

Benzema reportedly remains unsettled in Saudi and he could yet seek a move back to Europe. Already Jordan Henderson has decided to quit the Middle Eastern league after terminating his deal, which freed him up to join Ajax.