Switzerland, June 28(AP/UNB) — AC Milan's decision to voluntarily remove itself from next season's Europa League to pay for UEFA financial fair play breaches received the consent of the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Friday.
UEFA had already fined Milan 12 million euros ($13.5 million) of Europa League prize money in the case, which included a CAS ruling to overturn a ban from last season's Europa League.
Milan hopes this wipes the slate clean ahead of ongoing monitoring of its often troubled finances.
CAS said it will invite UEFA's cub financial control body "to issue a procedural order acknowledging the outcome of the present arbitration(s) and terminating the proceedings relating to the 2016/2017/2018 monitoring period, which have become moot."
Although Milan is a seven-time European champion, its finances have taken a hit during a six-year failure to qualify for the Champions League.
While Milan's finances now will not formally be examined by UEFA next season, the Rossoneri's books will still come under scrutiny as soon as they qualify for Europe again.
Milan could have expected at least 15 million euros ($17 million) from UEFA just for entering the Europa League, and close to 50 million euros ($57 million) for winning it.
By withdrawing, it increases the likelihood that Milan will have to sell some of its top players to balance its books ahead of an anticipated return to Europe in 2020-21. There are already reports that 20-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma could be sold to Paris Saint-Germain for 50 million euros ($57 million).
The agreement also reflects an improved relationship with Milan forged by Ivan Gazidis, the club's new CEO, who had to forfeit his seat on the UEFA executive committee to make the move from Arsenal to Milan at the end of last year.
Milan finished fifth in Serie A last month, missing out on the Champions League places by one point.
While UEFA made no immediate announcement, the move should open the way for Roma to enter the group phase of the Europa League.
Roma, which finished sixth in Serie A, had been slated to play Europa League qualifying beginning in late July.
Torino, which finished seventh, takes Roma's spot in the qualifying rounds.
Milan failed to advance from the group stage of the Europa League last season.
Madrid, June 28 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos admits that he may have to move in order to get the game time he is looking for.
The 22-year-old is currently starring for the Spain Under-21 side in Italy, but has struggled to make an impact since joining Real Madrid from Betis in 2017.
His first season saw him make just four league starts and although he started 12 league games last season, only two of those were following Zinedine Zidane's return as coach and the pair are thought to enjoy a difficult relationship.
With Madrid having spent over 300 million euros on new signings already this summer, the club aim to capitalize on Ceballos' performances in the European Under-21 tournament to sell him at a high price and although the midfielder would rather stay at the club, speaking on Spanish radio, he admitted he may have to move.
"I don't want them to sell me," Ceballos said on 'Onda Cero' adding that "I want to enjoy myself and feel important wherever I play."
"I think I have a lot of good football in me and I think next season is going to be my best," he said.
Ceballos said he was enjoying playing in the Under-21's after another difficult campaign with his club.
"I play to enjoy myself and to show what I can do. I know it wasn't my best season, but I was really hoping things would work out here (in Italy)," he admitted.
Spain will play Germany in the Under-21 final on Sunday and Ceballos admitted it "could be the most important game of my life."
The Hague, June 28 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Champions League winners Liverpool have attracted Dutch defending prospect Sepp van den Berg from PEC Zwolle, both clubs announced on Thursday.
The 17-year-old defender finalized terms on a long-term contract with the Reds after an agreement was reached with the Eredivisie club on a transfer fee of around 2 million euros (2.3 million U.S. dollars), which could rise to 7 million euros including bonuses.
Van den Berg made his debut for PEC Zwolle at the age of 16 and played 15 matches in the Dutch top flight last season. He is a regular in the Dutch U-19 team. Dutch top club PSV and German giants Bayern Munich also had interest in signing Van den Berg.
In Liverpool, Van de Berg will train with compatriots Georginio Wijnaldum and Virgil van Dijk.
"I am really excited," Van den Berg said on the website of Liverpool. "I think this is the best place for me to grow and I hope to play a lot of games here."
Paris, Jun 28 (AP/UNB) — The United States has its ranking and its trophies, and that's all the motivation France needs.
The Americans face the French on Friday night at the Women's World Cup, a match that's been described as a final in the quarterfinals. It really has it all: The defending champions against the upstart hosts. The City of Lights. A sellout crowd.
"They've got a great trophy cabinet and we still have everything to prove," French captain Amandine Henry said.
The only downside? The country is in the midst of a heat wave and temperatures are expected to soar into the 90s, although a 9 p.m. local time start should bring some cooling.
Les Bleues, ranked No. 4 in the world, finished atop its group before overcoming a determined challenge from Brazil on Sunday night to reach the quarterfinals.
France also reached the quarterfinals at the 2015 World Cup in Canada but fell to Germany on penalties after a 1-1 draw. The team's best finish at the tournament was fourth in 2011 after losing 2-1 in the third-place match to Sweden. France had lost 3-1 in the semifinals to the Americans.
But France has seen its profile rise considerably in recent years, coinciding with the growth of its domestic professional league. Seven players on France's roster play for Lyon, which routed Barcelona 4-1 to win the women's Champions League for the fourth straight year and sixth time overall.
"From where we were four years ago, and where France was four years ago, I think both of us are much stronger teams. I think just the women's game in general has grown tremendously," U.S. star Megan Rapinoe said. "I guess the task for each team is to be the team that is growing as fast as the game is, keeping up on that and even being the one that is pushing the game forward."
France is seeking to become the first nation to simultaneously hold the men's and women's World Cup trophies. The men won last year in Russia.
The United States already has three World Cup trophies, most of any nation. The Americans emphatically beat Japan 5-2 to win in Canada, highlighted by Carli Lloyd's hat trick.
Vying for a fourth title in France, the United States faced a physical knockout-round opener against Spain.
Rapinoe scored on a pair of penalty kicks for the 2-1 victory in Reims on Monday night, although the game-winner in the 75th minute was the result of what many thought was at best minimal contact between Spain's Virginia Torrecilla and Rose Lavelle. The foul was confirmed after video review.
"Yes, they do have some shortcomings, but so does every team in this tournament," French coach Corinne Diacre said. "Spain played very well indeed. But we know the United States will be difficult opposition."
Until Jennifer Hermoso scored for Spain, the United States had not conceded a goal in eight straight competitive matches dating to the 2016 Olympics, outscoring opponents 44-0. It was the first goal the United States had allowed this year since a 5-3 win over Australia in an April friendly.
The Americans have played the French 23 times, with France winning just three. But the last three matches have tilted toward France, with two wins and a draw. The last meeting was a friendly in January, when Kadidiatou Diani — who wasn't named to France's World Cup roster — scored twice in a 3-1 victory.
"It's impossible to have any pressure. Quite the opposite, in fact. It's additional motivation for us. We're coming up against the best team in the world. So the only pressure we have is to have a good performance," Diacre said.
The game Friday night doesn't come without controversy for the U.S. team, which often finds itself the center of attention.
Rapinoe was caught on video earlier this year using an expletive in explaining that she would not visit the White House if the team wins the World Cup. It got the attention of President Donald Trump, who called her out on social media.
On Thursday, the day before the match, she said she stood by her comments, except the coarse language. She even suggested the uproar might help her team.
"I think, if anything, it just fires everybody up a little bit more," she said.
Bologna, Jun 28 (AP/UNB) — Defending champion Germany will again meet Spain in the Under-21 European Championship final after both won their semifinals on Thursday.
Luca Waldschmidt and Nadiem Amiri scored late as Germany came from behind to beat Romania 4-2, while Spain routed France 4-1.
Spain lost 1-0 to Germany in the 2017 final and will now have its chance for revenge in Udine on June 30.
In the first semifinal, in Bologna, Amiri gave Germany the lead in the 21st minute after racing from inside his own half but George Puscas leveled from the spot following a foul by Timo Baumgartl on Ianis Hagi.
And Romania, which was making only its second appearance in the competition, took the lead on the stroke of halftime when Puscas headed in.
Germany leveled shortly after the break when Waldschmidt converted a spot kick after Hagi was penalized for pulling on Mahmoud Dahoud's shirt.
As the match appeared headed for extra time Germany scored after Amiri backheeled a free kick into Waldschmidt's path and the Freiburg forward fired into the bottom right corner.
It got worse for Romania as defender Alex Pascanu was sent off for a last-man foul on Lukas Nmecha and Amiri sealed the match with another free kick.
There was also a penalty for each side in Reggio Emilia.
Jean-Philippe Mateta gave France the lead from the spot in the 16th after Junior Firpo pushed over Jeff Reine-Adelaide.
But Marc Roca equalized when he tapped in a rebound and Mikel Oyarzabal fired Spain in front with a penalty in first-half stoppage time after being tripped by Ibrahima Konate.
Dani Olmo extended Spain's advantage immediately after the break and substitute Borja Mayoral scored four minutes after coming off the bench.