Real Madrid star breaks down in tears, bemoans racist abuse in Spain

Brazil’s Vinícius Júnior broke down in tears at Monday’s news conference as he admitted he has “less will to play” because of racist abuse directed toward him in Spain.

The Real Madrid forward, however, said he is not considering leaving LaLiga despite the racist chants he has heard by opposing fans since he arrived at Madrid more than five years ago.

“I’ve been here for a long time watching this and I feel more and more sad,” Vinícius said. “I have less and less will to play. With each complaint made I feel worse, but I have to appear here and show my face.

“I have asked for help from UEFA, FIFA, CONMEBOL, CBF they can fight against that. The problem that exists in Spain is that racism is not a crime.”

Vinícius spoke in Madrid ahead of Brazil’s international friendly against Spain, a game organised by the two federations to raise awareness of racism.

“I am sure that Spain is not a racist country, but there are many racists and many of them are in the stadiums,” he said. “We have to change because many of them don’t know what racism is. At 23 years old I have to teach many Spaniards what racism is.”

Vinícius has been a leading voice in the fight against racism. Last year the Vinícius Júnior law was passed in Brazil to combat racism at sporting events.

“Playing football is important, but the fight against racism is very important,” he said. “Let people of colour have a normal life. If this were the case, I would go to my club’s games focused only on playing. The only thing I want is to continue playing and for everyone to have a normal life.

“Of course, because there are so many people in football, so many better players than me that have passed through here, and I want to make sure that people in the world can evolve and improve. And that we can have equality.

“That in the very near future we can have fewer cases of racism, and that Black people can have a normal life like everyone else. I want to keep fighting for that. Even because, as I said before, if it was just for me, I would have given up, because I stay at home, where no one will swear at me, I go to the games with my head centred on the game so that I can do the best for my team.

“It’s not always possible, so I have to concentrate hard every day,” he added before breaking down in tears and getting the applause of people at the news conference.

Vinícius then spoke about the media’s approach to reporting on the abuse he has suffered.

“I think they have to talk less about everything I do wrong on the pitch, that of course I have to evolve and improve, but I’m only 23 and it’s a natural process,” he said.

“I left Brazil very young and haven’t been able to learn many things. I’m studying. I’m 23 and I’m still studying. Why can’t they, the reporters here, who are older than me, study and see what’s really going on? I’m getting sadder and sadder, I feel less and less like playing. But I’m going to keep fighting.

“Above all, I get [strength] from my family, from the fans and from those people who give me messages of encouragement to continue fighting for those who need it.”

LaLiga has filed numerous complaints in Spanish courts over alleged racist and hate insults directed at Vinícius, but many have been shelved.

Arrests have been made by Spanish police regarding racist episodes over the past year.

“The lack of punishment is what frustrates me the most, that nothing happens to all those people that do that,” Vinícius said.

Vinícius, who has a contract with Real Madrid until June 2027, is determined to continue playing in Spain.

“I have never thought about leaving LaLiga because otherwise I would give the racists what they want,” he said.

“I am going to continue in the best club in the world, scoring many goals so that they continue to see me. Racists are a minority. As I am a daring player, who plays for Madrid and we win many titles, it is very complicated. I’m going to continue because the president supports me, the club supports me and I’m going to continue to win many things.”

Photo Credit: CBF_Futebol/ X

Manchester City star accuses Pep Guardiola of telling “lies”

Joao Cancelo has reportedly delivered an explosive rant against his parent club Manchester City, in which he accuses manager Pep Guardiola of telling ‘lies’.

The Portuguese international is currently on a season-long loan at Barcelona, after spending the second-half of last year at Bayern Munich.

Reports had suggested that Guardiola was unhappy with Cancelo’s reaction to being dropped from City’s starting XI during their Treble winning season.

However, in an interview with Portuguese publication A Bola, the 29-year-old has taken exceptions to Guardiola’s claims.

He said: “Lies were told! I’ve never been a bad team-mate for them and you can ask either (Nathan) Ake or Rico (Lewis). I don’t have any superiority or inferiority complex towards them, but that’s the manager’s opinion.

“I stayed because it’s not true. I think Man City were a bit ungrateful to me when they said that, because I was a very important player in the years I was there.

“I never failed in my commitment to the club, to the fans and I always gave everything. I remember a time when I was robbed and attacked and the next day I was playing at the Emirates against Arsenal.

“These are things you don’t forget, I left my wife and daughter alone at home, terrified. People will only remember this because Mister Guardiola has much more power than me when he says something and I prefer to keep to myself.”

Cancelo insisted that he ‘wishes’ everything goes well at Man City but also adds that he made the right choice to leave on loan in January 2023 – despite missing out on the Treble.

He said: “Certain things dictated that I was loaned last year to Bayern Munich. I have no regrets, even if City won the Champions League. I feel like I made the right choice, that I went to a club that really wanted me, even before renewing my contract. It was a club that gave me a lot in the six months I was there.”

After his time with Bayern Munich, he joined Barcelona on loan where he has taken on a lower salary given the club’s financial issues.

Cancelo will return to Man City this summer though it appears likely that he will leave the club.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has revealed their plans to keep Cancelo next season, though the club’s financial situation could pose an obstacle.

Photo Credit: FCBarcelona/ X

Emotional Endrick reacts to his first international goal as Brazil defeat England at Wembley

Brazil’s 17-year-old prodigy Endrick admitted he was almost overcome by emotion after the Real Madrid-bound forward became the youngest men’s player to score an international goal at Wembley.

Endrick, who will move from Palmeiras to Madrid at the end of the season when he turns 18, struck in the 80th minute, nine minutes after coming on as a substitute, to give Brazil a 1-0 win over England in a friendly on Saturday.

“My family is here, my girlfriend, my agents. I am not much of a crier, I am holding myself, but this is something unique and I am very happy,” he said.

Based on his second half cameo, Madrid has secured another major talent for the future.

Coming on for Rodrygo in the 71st minute, Endrick wasted little time to make his mark, firing into an empty net after Vinícius Júnior was denied by England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Endrick could not hide his delight as he raced away in celebration and dropped to his knees, even though he did have to wait for VAR to confirm the goal following a check for offside.

It was his first senior goal for Brazil and, at the age of 17 years, 246 days, a record for an international game at Wembley, according to statistician Opta.

He might have scored another, but could not beat Pickford with a late chance.

“All of this affected me a little at the end, the chance I had at the end. I will not lie,” Endrick said. “I was just thinking about scoring. I could only think about that. I couldn’t think about the match any longer.”

Brazil coach Dorival Junior, who was taking charge of the national team for the first time, said Endrick has all the tools to become a global star.

“If he keeps up the attitude he has shown up to now, he will be a very important name in Brazilian football and world football,” Dorival said.

He said he opted to bring Endrick off the bench rather than the more experienced Richarlison because the Tottenham Hotspur player was still recovering his form after an injury.

Endrick’s one goal was enough to win the match and end England’s 21-game unbeaten streak at the national stadium.

“We know he’s a dangerous player. He’s managed to follow in for the goal,” England manager Gareth Southgate said. “We should have defended the goal better than we did. It’s a brilliant moment for him.

Madrid secured a deal for Endrick in December 2022 when he was just 16 but already tipped to be one of Brazil’s next stars. Brazilian media said the transfer was worth nearly €60 million ($64 million).

He will be 18 in July.

Last year, he helped Palmeiras win the Brazilian league from 12 points behind Botafogo at one stage.

He will join other Brazil stars at Madrid such as Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo.

Photo Credit: CBF_Futebol/ X

(Watch Highlights) Super Eagles beat Black Stars

Nigeria bounced back from last month’s painful Africa Cup of Nations final defeat by edging out 10-man Ghana in a high-profile friendly contest on Friday.

Playing their first match since throwing away a first-half lead to lose 2-1 against hosts Ivory Coast in the AFCON showpiece back in February, the Super Eagles defeated their West African rivals 2-1 in Marrakesh to boost interim boss and Nigeria legend Finidi George’s hopes of getting the vacant manager’s job on a full-time basis.

Rangers forward Cyriel Dessers gave dominant Nigeria – missing the likes of attacking talisman Victor Osimhen due to injury – a deserved advantage from the penalty spot after Ghana were penalised for handball, with Jerome Opoku later sent off in confusing circumstances to give the Black Stars a mountain to climb in their first game following another dismal AFCON campaign that led to Chris Hughton being sacked after a second successive group stage exit.

However, there were still plenty of positives to be taken by returning Ghana coach Otto Addo, who despite their numerical disadvantage saw his depleted and experimental side – without West Ham’s Mohammed Kudus and Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey, among others – battle bravely and push hard for an equaliser.

Bournemouth’s Antoine Semenyo spurned a number of chances including a missed close-range header before substitute Ademola Lookman rifled in a late second for Nigeria to continue his fine run of form at international level.

Spirited Ghana did get a goal that their efforts deserved late into second-half stoppage time, when Crystal Palace stalwart Jordan Ayew sent Stanley Nwabali the wrong way from 12 yards after a clumsy foul by Bright Osayi-Samuel on Semenyo.

However, it proved to be only a mere consolation as Nwabali held a last-gasp effort from range from Semenyo to secure a morale-boosting win for Nigeria in the latest edition of the so-called ‘Jollof Derby’, with Mali up next in another Marrakesh friendly on Tuesday evening as preparations continue for the return of World Cup qualifying in the summer.

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Tension at Anfield as Real Madrid monitor Liverpool star

Liverpool risk losing Trent Alexander-Arnold to Real Madrid especially with the reports circulating in England if the Anfield club do not begin contract talks soon.

Alexander-Arnold has been one of the shining lights of the mega-successful Jurgen Klopp reign. The 25-year-old has been one of the Premier League’s chief creators over the last five years despite spending most of his Liverpool career at right-back.

Real Madrid are reportedly monitoring Alexander-Arnold’s contract situation at Liverpool with the defender set to enter his final season at Anfield.

Alexander-Arnold’s deal expires in the summer of 2025 and it is claimed that there have not yet been any talks with the England star over an extension.

He penned his latest Liverpool contract in 2021, a four-year agreement that has cemented him as one of the club’s key players. But reports suggest that there have been no discussions over extending his stay with his boyhood team.

According to journalist Fabrizio Romano, Spanish giants Real Madrid have been keeping tabs on the supposed lack of progress on a new deal. Liverpool have not indicated any desire to sell the player but Los Blancos might fancy their chances if no negotiations take place between now and the start of next season.

Revealed: Why Real Madrid may call off move for Chelsea, PSG target

Real Madrid are reportedly long-term admirers of Lille centre-back Leny Yoro and have been receiving positive reports about his progress but there’s a debate within the club over whether to try and sign him in this summer’s transfer window.

Yoro, 18, has a contract at Lille until June 2025 and a number of top European clubs are monitoring his situation with an eye to a deal.

Madrid’s priority signings for the 2024-25 season are the arrival of Kylian Mbappé from Paris Saint-Germain and bringing in Bayern Munich left-back Alphonso Davies.

According to ESPN, some at Madrid believe they should wait another year before investing the €50 million ($54.3m) which Lille expect to receive for the teenager should they allow him to move on.

Others argue that it’s worth moving for him now, believing that if Madrid don’t do so this summer, the defender will end up joining another club.

The report adds that Madrid would be best-positioned to sign Yoro if they opted to push for his signature, but said that PSG and Chelsea are also keen.

Yoro’s agent, Jorge Mendes, has an excellent relationship with PSG’s sporting director Luis Campos.

Yoro has reportedly been in contact with at least two players from the Madrid first team in recent months to get an idea of what awaits him at the Bernabeu if a deal comes to fruition.

Madrid have four senior central defenders in their squad: Éder Militão, Antonio Rüdiger, David Alaba and Nacho Fernandez.

Yoro would fit into the club’s long-standing policy of signing outstanding young prospects from Europe and around the world, such as Vinícius Júnior, Eduardo Camavinga, Rodrygo Goes and Endrick.

However, there is no consensus within the club on his signing as Madrid’s initial plan had been to delay the rebuild of the centre of defence until the summer of 2025.

Alaba and Rudiger are both 31, while Militao is just 26.

Madrid are also concerned about the prospect of a bidding war for Yoro’s signature, which would raise the potential cost of a deal.

Photo Credit:losclive/ X

“I was one hour away from Chelsea transfer with a plane waiting – then deal was called off”

West Ham United midfielder Edson Alvarez has revealed that he was close to signing for Chelsea, and even had a plan waiting for him, before he joined the Hammers from Ajax last summer.

The Mexican international joined the Hammers from Ajax in a £35m deal last summer.

However, a year prior, Alvarez came close to joining Chelsea in the first transfer window of Todd Boehly’s reign as Chelsea owner.

Speaking in an interview with Caliente TV, the 26-year-old, who replaced Declan Rice at the heart of the West Ham midfield, said: “In year three [at Ajax], I had to go to Chelsea, the plane was waiting for me at the airport – then Ajax told me, ‘You know what: you’re not going’.”

“Whether people believe it or not, it doesn’t make any difference to me, I’m the one who is here and the one who is living it. I was an hour away from getting on the plane and going to sign for Chelsea.”

“Ajax told me: ‘You’re not going’. So, you’re not leaving, what do you do? There’s no way you’re leaving.”

Alvarez has impressed at the heart of West Ham’s midfield, making 35 appearances so far for David Moyes ‘ men.

“I was one hour away from Chelsea transfer with a plane waiting – then deal was called off”

“I was one hour away from Chelsea transfer with a plane waiting – then deal was called off”

Photo Credit: EdsonAlvarez19/ X

Revealed: Why Thomas Partey snubbed call-up to Ghana national team

Thomas Partey has turned down a call-up to the Ghanaian national team as he continues to manage his workload after an extensive injury lay-off.

Partey started all three opening games of the Premier League season for Arsenal but has been hampered by various injuries since then.

The 30-year-old suffered a groin injury before having to undergo surgery on a serious thigh problem in November.

The midfielder was scheduled to return in early February but suffered a setback with the same injury.

Partey returned for his first minutes as a substitute in the 6-0 thumping of Sheffield United in early March but has played just 276 minutes of league football this season.

The Black Stars had called up the Arsenal player for their upcoming friendlies against Nigeria and Uganda but Partey is understood, according to the Metro, to have recused himself from national team selection as he attempts to reach full fitness.

He is not the only Gunners player to be staying in north London over the international break, with Takehiro Tomiyasu, who has not played a minute for Arsenal since last month’s Asian Cup, not called up to the Japan squad.

Footballer dies after playing in top-flight match

A footballer has died from a suspected heart attack hours after he played in a top-flight match, with tributes pouring in from his club and fans.

Youssouf Keira, a centre-back for Guinean Ligue 1 club ASM Sangaredi, was found dead at his home in the early hours of Sunday.

The rising star had helped his team, which is based in the capital of Conakry, to remain undefeated all season.

But their winning streak, which lasted for nearly a year, was ended on Saturday evening when they lost 3-2 to Milo FC.

His club said he had done ‘everything possible’ during the match and had been ‘determined’ to achieve his goals alongside his team.

Tragically, at around 4am on Sunday, Keira was found unresponsive, with local media reporting that he suffered a heart attack.

His club was among those to pay tribute to the star player, describing his death as an ‘immense national loss’.

Former boss of the governing body of Guinean football, Mamadou Antonio Souaré, paid a heartfelt tribute, saying: ‘It is with great sadness that I have just learned the death of player Youssouf Keira following a cardiac arrest.

“AS Minors de Sangaredi loses a great defender who was promoted to a bright future.

“All my condolences to his biological family, to the Sangaredi Minors Sports Association as well as to the great Guinean football family.

“Rest in peace the warrior Youssouf Keira ‘Varane’!”

The Guinean FA announced: ‘It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of the ASM Sangaredi player Youssouf Keira.

“It took place this Sunday, March 17 2024.

“We offer our sincerest condolences to his grieving family, the club’s board and players, and the entire football family.

“May his soul rest in peace.”

ASM Sangaredi are fourth in Guinea’s top league, which comprises of 14 clubs, and sit five points behind leaders Hafia.

Chelsea star rebukes fan for criticizing Raheem Sterling over his awful performance vs Leicester

Raheem Sterling’s penalty miss against Leicester is still generating furore as Noni Madueke hit back at a Chelsea fan on social media after he told the Blues star to apologise for his awful performance in the FA Cup.

Chelsea have reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup after beating 10-man Leicester City 4-2 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

However, the game is not one Sterling will want to look back on after the England international missed countless chances and was relentlessly booed by his own supporters before being subbed off for Madueke in the 86th minute.

The worst moment came in the first-half when he won a spot-kick and then took the ball off regular penalty taker Cole Palmer, only for his tame effort to be easily saved by Jakub Stolarczyk.

This could have been a very costly moment after Leicester came from 2-0 down to level the match, but injury time goals from Carney Chukwuemeka and Madueke saved Sterling’s blushes.

Afterwards, the 29-year-old posted an apology to fans on social media for the penalty miss, though many of his teammates were quick to rush to his defence.

Madueke was one of them, replying to his fellow winger with: “Bro no need to apologise… we appreciate you g.”

Some fans disagreed with the 22-year-old however, claiming that Sterling ‘needed’ to apologise for his errors, but Madueke wasn’t having any of it.

He responded to one by saying: ‘Be quiet man, people like you are the issue.’

It is not the first time that Madueke has hit out at a fan on social media, having previously told a supporter to ‘stay in your lane’ after he criticised the former PSV star’s performance in the win over Leeds in February.

As mentioned, Chelsea’s players have rallied around Sterling following the game, with Chukwuemeka later telling Standard Sport: “Raheem is an experienced player who has had an amazing career.

“We know what a great footballer he is. He has had goals, assists and won so many penalties this season. It happens at the end of the day, he is human and players miss chances.

“He had an off day and for sure we stick behind him. Let’s not forget, he got an assist for Cole’s goal.

“For us youngsters – especially for me, Noni and Cole – Raheem has helped us a lot since we came here.

“He is always on us showing what we can do well and what to improve on. He is always on us, inside and outside football, Raheem is a big part of what we do. He is like my big brother.”