Madrid, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — A 16-year-old forward born in Guinea-Bissau has become the next promising soccer star in Spain.
Ansu Fati, who made his debut with Barcelona this season, has quickly attracted everyone's attention and is already touted by many as the next big thing for the Spanish national team.
Fati played his first match with Spain's under-21 squad on Tuesday and the next day shared front-page headlines with the senior squad, which had sealed its place in the 2020 European Championship on the same night.
"I'll never forget this moment," said Fati, who recently gained his Spanish citizenship. "I truly enjoyed it."
There is already talk he could be part of the main Spain squad at Euro 2020, or at least make it to the Olympic team for the Tokyo Games.
"It's extraordinary what has been happening to this kid at this age," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "We are all thrilled with him."
The Spanish soccer federation moved quickly to make sure Fati was eligible to play for Spain following his rapid rise with the Catalan club. He has been living in Spain since a young age but reportedly also could have chosen to play for Portugal.
Fati played his first professional match less than two months ago, coming off the bench in Barcelona's 5-2 victory over Real Betis in the Spanish league. In his following game, Fati became the club's youngest player to score in the Spanish league, and then was also the youngest to score at Camp Nou. Fati later played in the Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund, becoming Barcelona's youngest player to appear in a UEFA competition.
Fati has racked up nearly 240 minutes in six appearances with the Catalan club so far, most of them coming off the bench.
He was brought up from Barcelona's academy to the main team after a wave of injuries to players in the senior squad at the beginning of the season, including Lionel Messi.
"Ansu Fati caught my attention the first time I saw him practicing," Messi said. "But this takes time, he is only 16 and shouldn't be taking on the responsibility that people want him to have. He has the potential to become a very important player, but it takes time and he needs help."
Fati has great skills and moves that make him especially dangerous in one-on-one situations. The speedy forward has impressed the most with his maturity on the field, though, not showing signs he has been affected by the pressure to which he has been exposed to since starting to play professionally.
Fati, whose full name is Anssumane Fati Vieira, moved to Spain with his family at an early age and joined Barcelona's academy when he was 10. There he was a teammate of Japanese teenager Takefusa Kubo, who is playing for Mallorca on a loan from Real Madrid.
Fati played only about 10 minutes off the bench in Spain's 2-0 win over Montenegro in qualifying for the 2021 Under-21 European Championship on Tuesday, but it was enough for him to get a glimpse of what could lie ahead.
"It's time to keep working so I can keep having more opportunities," he said on Instagram, where he has already gained nearly 1.8 million followers in the few months since his professional debut.
Dhaka, Oct 17 (UNB)- FIFA President Gianni Infantino has insisted that football remains the number one sport in Bangladesh, and is hopeful of a bright future for ‘the beautiful game’ in the country that matches up to its enormous popularity.
Concluding a day-long stay in the capital as part of his ‘Goodwill tour’ through Asia, the boss of world football’s governing body held a press conference Thursday at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, where he appreciated football’s enduring popularity in the country.
“I thought I came to a country which knows something about football,” Infantino said in his prepared statement. “But I found that the country is not just only playing football, not only have passion for football, they are living football. ‘Living Football’ is the motto of new FIFA.”
“I have discussed about the future of Bangladesh football with the Prime Minister at her office. Also I held discussions about the future and development of football in the country and in the region with Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) Chief and other officials,” added the Swiss-Italian, who took over the reins of world football in 2016.
Asked about his plans or suggestions for Bangladesh football’s development, Infantino replied, “We have a few plans for Bangladesh’s football. I discussed with the Prime Minister about new infrastructure, new stadiums and more competitions for men and women. Women are doing incredibly well worldwide as well as in Bangladesh. I am happy seeing the improvement.”
Taking a half-joking dig at cricket, the other great passion for the country’s sports lovers, the 49-year-old FIFA head declared: “I don’t believe cricket is the number one sport in Bangladesh. Football is the number one sport of Bangladesh. Cricket is a boring game…”
That prompted some laughter in the room, although it was probably understandable for an Italian. Moving on to the importance of club football, Infantino suggested some plans for the development of football in Bangladesh.
“People play cricket because there are so many opportunities, competitions. People need enough opportunities to play football. The federation, the government and businesses have to invest in football. People need more clubs, more club-competitions. If people get these opportunities, they will obviously come to football,” explained Infantino.
Coming to the game itself, he appreciated Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuiyan and Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury, who is half-Bangladeshi, and shared his views against racism on the occasion.
BFF President Kazi Salahuddin, who is also currently serving as president of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF), BFF Senior Vice-President Abdus Salam Murshedy, Vice-President Kazi Nabil Ahmed MP, Women’s Wing Chairperson as well as FIFA council member Mahfuza Akhter Kiron, General Secretary Md Abu Nayeem Shohag and other BFF Executive Committee members and officials were also present on the occasion.
Earlier, a five-member FIFA delegation led by Infantino arrived in Dhaka in just before dawn on Thursday, responding to an invitation of the BFF.
Accompanying Infantino are FIFA Deputy Secretary General (Football) Mattias Grafstrom, Chief of Communications Onofre Costa, Director of Member Associations (Asia and Oceania) Sanjeevan Balasingam, and President’s Office Manager Federico Raviglione.
Official engagements started with a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office in the morning.
The FIFA president expressed his observations on the improved performances of Bangladeshi football teams, including the senior men’s side and girls at junior level, to the Prime Minister and assured that they will continue their support to Bangladesh for the promotion of its football.
The Prime Minister relayed to the delegation that her government is constructing 492 mini-stadiums at sub-district levels across the country for the promotion of games and sports.
She said primary school-level sports competitions are arranged for both boys and girls in Bangladesh, so that more and more children become interested in games and sports.
PM's Private Industry and Investment Adviser and Chairman of Abahani KC Salman F Rahman, State Minister for Youth and Sports Zahid Ahsan Russell, BFF President Kazi Md Salahuddin, Senior Vice President Abdus Salam Murshedy MP and Vice President Kazi Nabil Ahmed, were present on the occasion.
They then visited the BFF office and artificial turf in Motijheel, where they also held a meeting with the executive committee of BFF.
The delegation left Dhaka at 5 pm.
Infantino is the third consecutive FIFA President to visit Bangladesh, following his predecessors Sepp Blatter and Joao Havelange.
Dhaka, Oct 17 (UNB) - Bangladesh U-16 Football team will play Faroe Islands U-16 Football team in their second match of the four-team UEFA Assist Under-16 Development Tournament at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Friday (Oct 18).
The match will kick-off at 4 pm (BdST).
In the day’s other match, the Maldives will play against Cambodia at the same venue at 7 pm.
Bangladesh will meet the Maldives on October 20 in their remaining league games at the same venue.
Earlier, Bangladesh U-16s made a good start in the league-basis meet beating Cambodia U-16s by 2-0 goals in their first match while Faroe Islands outplayed Maldives 10-3 in the opening match of the tournament on Wednesday.
Earlier, Bangladesh ended third in the last edition of the UEFA assist football development tournament in 2018 held in Thailand.
The Bangladeshi boys conceded a 10-0 goals defeat against Maldives in their first match, played a 1-1 draw against hosts Thailand in the 2nd match and conceded 0-4 goals defeat against Cyprus in the 3rd and last match.
UEFA, European football’s governing body, has set up the development tournaments to offer young footballing talents an additional opportunity to play competitive international matches.
Rome, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — UEFA has been asked to consider moving this season's Champions League final out of Istanbul because of Turkey's military action in Syria.
UEFA declined to comment Wednesday about a letter sent from the Italian sports minister questioning if it was appropriate to continue letting Turkey host the biggest club game in world soccer in May.
"We know well that the seriousness of what is happening in Syria will not be resolved with this act but we are all aware of the importance (political, media, economic, cultural) that belongs to one of the most important sporting events in the world," the letter states, according to Italian news agency ANSA.
The Ataturk Olympic Stadium was picked by UEFA last year over the Stadium of Light in Lisbon, Portugal.
UEFA vice president Michele Uva told an Italian radio station it was "absolutely premature to talk about sanctions," though the situation would be evaluated by the European soccer body's executive committee. It next meets on Dec. 4.
Istanbul already hosted the UEFA Super Cup this season. Champions League winner Liverpool beat Chelsea, the Europa League title holder, in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw.
Since Turkey began a military offensive in northeast Syria last week, national team athletes from the country have made salute gestures at sports events.
UEFA asked its investigators on Tuesday to assess if the Turkish soccer federation should be charged in a disciplinary case. Salutes made by Turkey players after European Championship qualifying games against Albania and France in the past week could breach rules prohibiting political statements at stadiums.
Sofia, Oct 17 (AP/UNB) — Bulgarian police arrested six soccer fans Wednesday and identified 15 people linked to making racist gestures, including Nazi salutes, during a European Championship qualifying match against England.
Bulgarian fans also directed monkey noises at England's black players during the match, which was halted twice in an effort to stop the racist abuse. England won the match 6-0.
"Six people have been arrested during the operation of the Sofia police department after establishing they are the perpetrators of disorderly acts," the Ministry of Interior said in a statement. "Due to the immediate action taken by Sofia police, 15 participants in the illegal activity have been identified. For nine of those there is information collected, including expert facial recognition."
The ministry said the evidence collected will be handed to the prosecutor's office in Sofia.
"We do not tolerate such behavior," Sofia police department senior commissioner Georgi Hadzhiev said in the statement. "Everyone who violated the public order will be called in, some of them have been arrested and action will be taken against them."
In the fallout from Monday's game, the president of the country's soccer federation has resigned and the Bulgarian special police forces have raided the federation offices.