Feb 252016

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Dynamo Kiev 1-3 Man City: Manuel Pellegrini justifies FA Cup decision

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini said his decision to prioritise the Champions League over the FA Cup was vindicated by the win at Dynamo Kiev.

Pellegrini was criticised for playing a weakened side in Sunday’s 5-1 fifth-round defeat at Chelsea, but they won Wednesday’s last-16 first-leg tie 3-1.

“Having just 13 fit outfield players – it was a key decision to rest the team in the [FA Cup] game,” said Pellegrini.

“It was important for the way we had to play this game with lots of intensity.”

Pellegrini made 10 changes as he went with his strongest available line-up in Kiev.

Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure scored for City, while England keeper Joe Hart, who also missed the FA Cup tie, superbly saved an effort from Kiev scorer Vitaliy Buyalsky.

Chilean Pellegrini added: “In this profession you always get criticism when you don’t win, but for the manager it is important to take the right decision.

“I always try to respect all the competitions but unfortunately we couldn’t continue in the FA Cup.”

City still have work to do

City are favourites to progress to the quarter-finals for the first time but Pellegrini, who will be replaced as manager by Pep Guardiola at the end of the season, warned that the tie was far from over.

“I’m very happy. It’s a very good result,” he said.

“I think the worst thing we can do is to think that because we won 3-1 away the game at home is finished.”

He added: “We played very well, created a lot of chances and we pressed very well.”

‘Good start to a big week’

City centre-back Vincent Kompany hopes the result will give his side confidence as they prepare to face Liverpool in the League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.

“It was a great result, especially away from home, and we couldn’t have hoped for better,” he said.

“We will take a lot of positives out of the game and it’s a good start to a big week for us.”

Listen: Pellegrini has ‘never given the kids a chance’

Sergio Aguero switched his attentions to the League Cup final after the win over Dynamo Kiev

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Feb 252016

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Fifa so far: Who could ‘like’ this?

Outgoing Fifa president Sepp Blatter and suspended Uefa boss Michel Platini have had bans from all football-related activities upheld.

But the suspensions have been reduced from eight to six years by Fifa’s appeals committee.

Both were found guilty of breaches surrounding a £1.3m ($2m) “disloyal payment” to Platini.

They both deny any wrongdoing and have said they will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Blatter and Platini said the payment honoured a verbal or gentleman’s agreement made in 1998 for work carried out by the Frenchman when he was a technical advisor for Blatter.

Blatter, 79, added in a statement that he was “very disappointed by the appeal committee of Fifa”.

Platini, 60, said it was “insulting and shameful” and a “political decision”.

The committee said “activities and services rendered to Fifa, Uefa and football” was a mitigating factor.

Fifa’s presidential election is due to take place on Friday to find Swiss Blatter’s replacement.

Fifa boss since 1998, Blatter had already announced he was quitting after reports emerged he was under investigation in the United States.

Platini had been tipped as a future leader of football’s world governing body and is a three-time European Footballer of the Year.

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Blatter and Platini bans in 60 seconds

He is also a former captain of France and has been in charge of Uefa – European football’s governing body – since 2007.

In a statement released after the announcement, Platini said the accusations were without foundation and completely made up “beyond reality”.

He said the communication of the decision was done with “an unbearable arrogance” and that Friday’s congress would be remembered in history with the “mark of illegitimacy”.

“I am the victim of a system which has only had one goal – to stop me standing for the president of Fifa,” Platini added.

The decision not to overturn the suspensions follows a 12-year ban imposed on Jerome Valcke, who was sacked as secretary general of world football’s governing body last month.

Valcke, the man responsible for running Fifa’s day-to-day administration, was found guilty of misconduct over the sale of World Cup tickets, abuse of travel expenses, attempting to sell TV rights below their market value and destruction of evidence.

He also denies wrongdoing.

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Feb 252016
Prince Ali is one of five contenders to become the new head of world football’s governing body

Friday’s Fifa presidential election will go ahead as planned after candidate Prince Ali bin al-Hussein lost a bid to have it suspended.

Prince Ali, 40, is unhappy with voting arrangements but the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) rejected his case.

The Jordanian wanted transparent voting booths to ensure the election, to find Sepp Blatter’s successor, is fair.

“I have done all I can. I regret that the system let us down,” he said.

“It is now imperative that voters abide by the ban on mobile phones and cameras in the voting booth.

“I look forward to Friday’s vote and remain as committed as ever to the goal of reforming Fifa.”

World football’s election commission rejected Prince Ali’s original request to suspend it if it could not “ensure that the vote is conducted in secret” and Cas ratified that decision on Wednesday.

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Take a tour around the new Fifa museum with Richard Conway

Ali wants to ensure delegates do not photograph their ballot papers when they choose the next president, claiming they could be put under pressure to produce evidence of their vote to interested parties.

Prince Ali is one of five contenders looking to succeed the Swiss, who is stepping down at world football’s governing body after 18 years.

He is up against:

  • South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale
  • Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa
  • Former Fifa deputy general secretary Jerome Champagne
  • Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino

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