Berlin, Jul 27 (AP/UNB) — The president of Germany's football federation conceded he made mistakes in handling a controversy over Mesut Ozil's photo with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but strongly rejected accusations of racism on Thursday.
Ozil announced his retirement from Germany's national team on Sunday. He criticized the federation (DFB), president Reinhard Grindel, fans and media for what he regarded as racism in treating people with Turkish roots. He defended the pre-World Cup meeting with Erdogan, who draws widespread criticism in Germany for being increasingly authoritarian.
Ozil was particularly scathing about Grindel, who accused him and teammate Ilkay Gundogan of allowing themselves to be "exploited" by Erdogan for political purposes. After Germany's embarrassing first-round exit from the World Cup, Grindel called for Ozil to provide an "answer" on the photo.
The Arsenal star said Grindel was "patronizing," blasted what he called his "incompetence," and asserted that "in the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose."
In his first personal response, Grindel said in a written statement he regretted the federation's criticism of the photo "was abused for racist slogans."
"In retrospect, I as president should have said unambiguously what is self-evident for me personally and for us all as a federation: Every form of racist hostility is intolerable and unacceptable."
Grindel pushed back against being linked with racism, writing: "I reject this emphatically, for the federation and for myself personally."
Grindel's statement didn't address his own future. The 56-year-old former lawmaker with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party became DFB president in 2016.
He has faced calls to resign in recent days from critics who fault his crisis management. No senior German football officials have resigned over the World Cup debacle.
He did, however, say the DFB must "develop further" its work on integration and underlined the importance of winning the right to host the 2024 European Championship. Germany and Turkey are bidding for the tournament and UEFA's executive committee will choose the host in September.
"The tournament could tell a new football tale, bring children to clubs, bring people even closer together — with and without immigrant roots," Grindel wrote. "United by football."
Meanwhile, Germany's parliament speaker added his voice to criticism of how the DFB handled the Ozil case.
"I still don't understand why people at the DFB allowed such an affair of state to be made out of such an ill-advised photo action," Wolfgang Schaeuble told the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland newspaper group. "It's a shame."
Milan, Jul 27 (AP/UNB) — Cristiano Ronaldo will likely make his Juventus debut at Chievo Verona as the Bianconeri kick off their attempt to win a record-extending eighth league title at the Stadio Bentegodi.
The 2018-19 Serie A fixtures were announced on Thursday. Juventus signed Ronaldo from Real Madrid earlier this month for 112 million euros ($131.5 million).
The season starts on Aug. 18 and the first weekend also sees Napoli visit Lazio. Juve's first home match is against Lazio the following weekend.
AC Milan hosts Genoa and Inter Milan visits Sassuolo in the opening weekend, while Roma travels to Torino.
Napoli, which finished second in an exciting title race last season, has a new coach in Carlo Ancelotti.
It has a tough start to the season. After Lazio, Napoli plays AC Milan, Sampdoria, Fiorentina, Torino, Parma and Juventus.
The weekend Napoli visits Juventus also sees Roma host Lazio in the capital derby.
The first Milan derby will be in the weekend of Oct. 21, in week 9, while the first Derby d'Italia between Juventus and Inter is in week 15 in Turin.
Juventus then immediately plays another derby match, at city rival Torino.
Juventus has a tough finish to the season, with the reverse fixtures against Inter and Torino as well as matches against Fiorentina, Roma and Atalanta in its final six games. Massimiliano Allegri's side ends the season away at Sampdoria.
Napoli visits Bologna on the final day, on May 26, the weekend after hosting Inter.
For the first time, all 10 teams will play on Dec. 26.
Portland, Jul 27 (AP/UNB) — Brazilian winger Malcom has signed a five-year contract with Barcelona before being presented Thursday during the Spanish club's preseason tour in the United States.
Malcom says he hopes "to follow in the footsteps of the great Brazilians who have played at this club." They include Neymar and Ronaldinho.
Malcom's presentation was held at Nike's headquarters in Portland, Oregon.
Five-time European champion Barcelona paid Bordeaux a transfer fee of 41 million euros ($47.7 million) for the 21-year-old Malcom, who scored 23 goals in 96 games for the French club.
After passing medical tests in Spain, Malcom flew to join his new teammates as they prepare to play Tottenham on Sunday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
Dhaka, July 26 (UNB) – Bangladesh National Football team, now preparing for the next-month’s Asian Games in Indonesia, played to a 1-1 draw with Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club at BKSP ground in Savar Thursday afternoon.
Biplu put Bangladesh team ahead in the very 3rd minute (1-0) while Sheikh Jamal DC leveled the margin in the 52nd minute by a suicidal by Rahmat Miah of the national team (1-1).
Paris, Jul 25 (AP/UNB) — France striker Kylian Mbappe has revealed he played the World Cup semifinals and final with a back injury he hid from his rivals.
In an interview with France Football magazine, Mbappe says he displaced three vertebrae in his back during the tournament in Russia three days before France defeated Belgium 1-0 in the semifinals. France won the World Cup with a 4-2 victory over Croatia in the final.
"It was essential not to alert our opponents, otherwise they could have taken advantage of that and targeted this sensitive area," said Mbappe, who scored four goals in the tournament including one in the final. "That's the reason why with the staff and the players we kept it hidden, even for the final."
The 19-year-old Mbappe was one of the stars of the tournament and picked up the award for the best young player at the World Cup. He became the youngest player to score two goals in a World Cup game since Pele in 1958, and also became the first teenager since Pele to score in a World Cup final.
Mbappe, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain in the French league, also told the magazine he hopes he can be a contender for the Golden Ball award alongside his PSG teammate Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane.