Monaco, Aug 31(AP/UNB) — Croatia captain Luka Modric has been voted the best player in Europe last season, edging former Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah for the UEFA award.
Modric helped Madrid to win a third straight Champions League title, and fourth in five seasons, before leading his country to the World Cup final. Croatia lost 4-2 against France.
Voting was by Champions League coaches and invited journalists across Europe.
"It's an incredible moment for me and I feel excited and proud to have won this great award," Modric said.
Ronaldo, who joined Juventus in the offseason, was the only nominee to skip the annual awards ceremony held during the Champions League draw in Monaco.
"Ronaldo's decision not to attend tonight's event must be respected. It is a personal and private decision," Juventus CEO Giuseppe Marotta said.
Madrid swept the overall election for best player in last season's Champions League after goalkeeper Keylor Navas, defender Sergio Ramos, midfielder Modric and forward Ronaldo won the individual positional prizes.
Returning with his trophy to his seat behind Salah, Ramos tapped the left shoulder of the Egyptian. Salah left the Champions League final in tears after the same shoulder was injured in a tackle by Ramos.
The best women's player award was won by Pernille Harder of Denmark and Wolfsburg.
David Beckham received the annual President's Award for his achievements on and off the field, including his charity foundation working with the United Nations agency for children, UNICEF.
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star "uses the power of football to help the disadvantaged," UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said.
"It is one of my proudest things to be involved in an organization that does so much to help children around the world," Beckham said on stage.
Monaco, Aug 31(AP/UNB) — Cristiano Ronaldo is going back to Manchester United and Paul Pogba will return to Juventus after the storied teams were drawn together at the Champions League group stage on Thursday.
After winning four titles at Real Madrid, and one with United, Ronaldo aims to end Juventus' 23-year wait for a third European title.
Pogba played for Juventus in its 2015 final loss against Barcelona and won four straight Italian titles before moving back to Manchester — where he was first recruited as a teenager — for a then-world record fee in 2016.
Valencia and outsider Young Boys, Swiss champion for the first time in 32 years, are also in Group H with United and Juventus.
"We cannot hide the fact that we are among the favorites this year," Juventus CEO Giuseppe Marotta said.
Three-time defending champion Real Madrid will start its quest for a record-extending 14th European title in Group G with Roma, CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen.
Barcelona heads a tough-looking Group B with Tottenham, plus former champions PSV Eindhoven and Inter Milan.
Three more former European champions Bayern Munich, Benfica, Ajax are together with underdog AEK Athens in Group E.
Liverpool, the runner-up last season, was the toughest third-seeded team and landed with Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli, and Red Star Belgrade in Group C.
"I expected a difficult group, we have a difficult group and that's what the Champions League is all about," Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp said.
English champion Manchester City got a favorable draw in Group F with Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon and Hoffenheim.
Atletico Madrid, whose Metropolitano stadium hosts the final on June 1, is grouped with Borussia Dortmund, Monaco and Club Brugge in Group A.
Lokomotiv Moscow, seeded in the top pot as Russia's champion, will play Porto, Schalke and Galatasaray in Group D.
The 32 teams will share 1.95 billion euros ($2.28 billion) in prize money from UEFA with the winner likely to top 100 million euros ($117 million) for the first time..
Games kick off on Sept. 18, and two teams from each group advance to the Round of 16 in February.
There were 13 former champions in a draw that included three teams — Hoffenheim, Red Star and Young Boys — making their group-stage debuts in the 27-season Champions League era. Red Star won the old European Cup in 1991, one year before the format changed.
Teams from the same country could not be drawn together Thursday, and teams from Ukraine and Russia were also kept apart due to ongoing political tensions.
This season kicks off a new three-year cycle of broadcasting and sponsor deals that have raised prize money to record levels. All 32 teams get a basic 15.25 million euros ($17.8 million) just for being in the draw.
UEFA will also allocate 30 percent of the total to reward teams for their storied history in European competitions and results over the past 10 years.
Real Madrid is guaranteed to earn at least 50 million euros ($59 million), plus a share of Spanish TV rights money and results bonuses.
UEFA pays 2.7 million euros ($3.2 million) per group-stage win and 900,000 euros ($1.05 million) for a draw. More fees are earned for reaching each subsequent round.
Dhaka, Aug 31 (UNB) - The preparations of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) are going on in full swing to smoothly arrange the 12th edition of the SAFF Championship, now known as SAFF Suzuki Cup, which will kick off at Bangabandhu National Stadium (BNS) here on September 4.
LOC Chairman and Senior Vice-president of the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) Abdus Salam Murshedy on Friday said, “We have lapses in some areas of our preparations, including the renovation of seats at the stadium with a capacity of 23,000 audience. But we hope to successfully hold the event with our best efforts.”
The LOC chairman was talking to reporters at a press conference at the BFF House.
Of the participating nations, Sri Lanka are already in the capital after their FIFA Friendly match against Bangladesh at Sheikh Kamal Stadium in Nilphamari on August 28 which they won 1-0, arriving here on August 26.
Bhutan and Nepal are scheduled to arrive here on September 2 while India and the Maldives on September 3. The schedule of Pakistan’s arrival is yet to be confirmed.
Abahani Club playground, Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club playground, Dhanmondi, Navy playground and ABPN playground have been designated for team practice.
The participating teams will stay at three hotels -- The Westin, FARS Hotel and Hotel Purbani.
Tickets -- Tk 100 for VIP Box, Tk 50 and Tk 20 for galleries -- for the tournament will be available at the BFF House, BNS and Dhaka Metropolitan Football League Committee office from Saturday.
Salam Murshedy expressed optimism to revive their glory of Bangladesh football through a successful campaign in the tournament, though the hosts had no much sounding achievement in recent times.
“I hope Bangladesh will play the final. We need only a winning start to bring back our football loving-people to the stadium as I believe football is still a popular game in Bangladesh,” he added.
Bangladesh have been seeded in the Group A to play against Bhutan, Pakistan and Nepal on September 4, 6 and 8 in the group stage matches respectively. Nepal will face Pakistan in the biennial tournament opener.
Defending champions India will face Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the Group B matches on September 5 and 9.
On completion of the group stage battles, top two teams from each group will qualify for the semifinals to play on September 12 before the final on September 15.
This is the third time -- after 2003 and 2009 -- Bangladesh is going to host the event since its inception in 1993.
Bangladesh tasted title once in 2003 when they defeated the Maldives 1(5)-1(3) in the final in penalty shootout at home.
New York, Aug 30 (AP/UNB) — It's all about the tutu for Serena Williams at the U.S. Open.
Just days after French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli said her black catsuit with clot-preventing compression tights "will no longer be accepted," Williams chose a one-armed black tutu-style dress by Off-White's Virgil Abloh to take on Magda Linette at the Open. She won.
Perhaps her sparkly shoes emblazoned with her name and "queen" also helped.
On Wednesday night, playing against Carina Witthoeft, Williams was in another tutu dress that's part of her new collaboration with Nike and Abloh, who is also men's artistic director for Louis Vuitton. Anna Wintour looked pleased as she watched Williams beat Witthoeft.
The Queen Collection is inspired by Williams' love of dance. She paired the black look with a leather biker jacket. The dresses have sheer panels on one shoulder and long sleeves on the other. Williams tugged hard on the sleeve as her Wednesday match began.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner wore compression fishnets with her tutu looks to guard against blood clots, a problem she battled soon after giving birth last September.
Retail, prices range from $130 to $900 for various pieces in the new collab.
New York, Aug 30 (AP/UNB) — Andy Murray complained at the U.S. Open that his opponent might have flouted the rules during their 10-minute heat break Wednesday in what became a second-round loss for the 2012 champion.
Murray also said after he was beaten by No. 31 seed Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 that the tournament did not do a good enough job of making clear exactly what is allowed and what isn't during the time away from the court. The U.S. Tennis Association decided on the fly to allow rest periods in men's matches for the first time in U.S. Open history as the temperature soared past 95 degrees (33 Celsius) this week.
While the women's rules already call for a break if the conditions are too extreme, there is no such provision for the men. But on Tuesday, the USTA offered men a chance to rest after the third set if they want, then applied that rule on Wednesday, too.
"I went for a shower. He was having an ice bath," Murray said about Verdasco. "When I came out of the shower ... one of the Spanish doubles players was in there chatting to him, and you're not allowed to speak to your coach. I went and told the supervisor. I said, 'What are you guys doing? I mean, there's clear rules here and you're allowing this to take place. I don't get it.'"
The USTA said players were not allowed to consult coaches during the heat breaks.
Verdasco said that's not what he was doing. He said he was chatting with another player and that player's coach.
"I didn't talk one word with my coach or any one member of my team," said Verdasco, who had been 1-13 against Murray head-to-head entering this match. "I know exactly the rule, and I don't want to be the one breaking it."
But Murray was upset that there wasn't better policing of players while they were off the court.
"This is one of the biggest events in the world. If you have rules like that, you need to stick with them, because one player getting to speak to the coach and the other not is not fair," said the three-time major champion and former No. 1.
"I shouldn't be in that position, in the middle of a match at a Slam, having to make sure they're doing their job," he said.
Murray also said he was never given a complete written list of the relevant rules.
"The players and teams should know. I'm not blaming Fernando and his team. They probably weren't aware that that was the rules. They certainly weren't trying to break any rules. It shouldn't be for the player that's competing against him to have to go to the supervisor," Murray said. "If I hadn't said anything, they would have been chatting, chatting about the match, giving tactics and stuff."
This was Murray's first major tournament in more than a year. After Wimbledon in 2017, he shut himself down for the rest of the season because of an injured hip, then eventually had an operation in January.
He returned to the tour this June, shortly before Wimbledon, but decided his body wasn't ready for best-of-five-set matches. So his Grand Slam return came at Flushing Meadows, instead, and lasted just two matches.
"Some of the tennis I played today was some of the best I've played since I had the surgery or since I came back," Murray said. "But there were also periods in the match, especially in the first set, where I really didn't play particularly well. ... There were too many ups and downs for my liking."