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Euro 2016: O’Neill ready for emotional game

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill says his players are desperate to prolong their Euro 2016 adventure by beating Wales on Saturday.

The nations clash in the last 16 at the Parc des Princes in what is being dubbed as a huge British-style cup-tie.

“We don’t want this to end. The players want more,” O’Neill said on Friday.

“The prize is massive for both teams. We are playing for a place in the quarter-finals and we have to make sure it is us going through.”

Northern Ireland are one place above their opponents in the Fifa rankings, but Wales are the favourites having topped their group ahead of England.

O’Neill’s men lost two of their three games and went through as one of the best third-placed teams in the group stage.

“We are happy with that position,” added O’Neill.

“Wales are picking a team of Premier League players while we have a mix of Premier League and Championship players.

“I don’t think that will play a huge factor. It’s an opportunity for our players to show what they’re capable of.”

NI prepared for Bale threat

O’Neill said his side would be well prepared to try to deal with the threat posed by Real Madrid star Gareth Bale.

“He is a huge player for Wales, but I have had that task before having been up against Cristiano Ronaldo before, and here Robert Lewandowski of Poland.

“We have been extremely strong defensively and played Germany who are full of world class players,

“I don’t think we will have a tougher game than we did here on Tuesday night.

“We will be ready to deal with Gareth Bale. We know his threat at set pieces, his running power, pace and goal threat.”

Game will be highly-charged says O’Neill

O’Neill predicted a highly-charged emotional encounter, adding his players fully understood the significance of Saturday’s game.

“Particularly in our last two games, you cannot question the heart of the team from the first minute until the last,” the manager added.

“You cannot play without emotion and it will be a big part of the game.

“We came into the tournament with the goal of coming out of our group, which we have managed to do.

“The players deserve an enormous amount of credit for that.

“Now, when you look at the draw, it is easy to get carried away, but we recognise the size of our task on Saturday.

“The players want to be here as long as possible and will do everything they can to do that.”

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Juventus and France midfielder Paul Pogba is reportedly a target for Manchester United

British football clubs could find it more difficult to buy summer targets after the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, an expert has warned.

Transfer fees and wages may rise, said Simon Chadwick, professor of sports enterprise at Salford University.

“Clubs could suddenly find players are much more expensive because the pound is worth less,” he told BBC Sport.

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke said the decision could have “quite an impact on English football”.

He said the full impact of leaving the EU might not be known for two years.

“It would be a shame if some of the great European players can’t come here but I don’t think that will happen. Whether the total number reduces will depend on the terms of the exit,” said Dyke.

“My personal view has always been that the decline in the number of English players in Premier League first teams – we’re down to about 30% now – is a shame. If it increases the number of English players, that is to be welcomed. But you don’t want to lose the best European players coming here.”

The decision could give homegrown youngsters a better chance of breaking into the first teams of top clubs, said Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association.

“These youngsters are not always having a chance. They are connected to clubs from the age of eight and then joining at 16 and some 500 out of 600 are out of the game by the time they are 21,” said Taylor.

How might Brexit affect football?

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The BBC’s Chris Morris looks at how leaving the EU might impact the Premier League

Players’ wages, the staging of big events and the Premier League brand could all be affected, according to Chadwick.

“Our sport for several decades has been underpinned by European Union legislation. We are going to have to think about new rules and new ways of doing things through a period of uncertainty and I think incredible instability, and that could last anything up to five, possibly 10 years.” he said.

“The most immediate impact in the short term will be upon this transfer window. What we’ve seen over the last few hours is the pound plummeting in value by as much as 10% at certain stages.”

Players could be more reluctant to move to clubs in the UK if the value of their potential salaries has fallen, added Chadwick.

However, the Premier League said it would continue to be a “hugely successful sporting competition that has strong domestic and global appeal” regardless of the referendum result.

“Given the uncertain nature of what the political and regulatory landscape might be following the ‘Leave’ vote, there is little point second guessing the implications until there is greater clarity,” a spokesman said.

“Clearly, we will continue to work with Government and other bodies whatever the outcome of any process.”

Analysis carried out by the BBC in March on the fallout from Brexit

What about work permits?

Some Leave campaigners argued that a post-Brexit UK could lower freedom-of-movement restrictions on the rest of the world.

Analysis carried out by the BBC in March of squads in the first two tiers in England and the Scottish Premiership revealed 332 players would fail to meet the current standards.

Scottish club Hamilton Academical admitted it may have to change its recruitment policy, with manager Martin Canning indicating seven or eight of his squad could be affected.

However, the rules could be watered down to make it easier for non-EU players to come to the UK – as is the case with Norway and Switzerland.

“The work the BBC did earlier in the year identified players like N’Golo Kante at Leicester, who would currently fail work permit regulations,” said Chadwick.

“There will need to be a process of negotiation and this may take a year, two years, who knows, before we get to a system of how we will deal with overseas players.

“The summer of transfer activity that we are used to, the kind of rumours of big signings, we should expect a period of restrained activity until the players, the agents, their clubs, the Premier League, and everyone involved in football, are sure about what’s going to happen.”

Taylor said the work permit process was “evolving” and that the domestic game would continue to be attractive to overseas players.

“The feeling is that football is above such matters and will cope with it. Football is not just about Europe. The European federation is of massive influence but football is a world game. It is a global game and we are a global village,” he said.

The focus of European football will be on Wembley Stadium in four years’ time

Any other implications?

Chadwick said there could be a knock-on effect for events such as Euro 2020, with the semi-finals and finals due to be played at Wembley in London and potentially involving European Union nations.

“Here are two sets of foreign workers who come to this country to ply their trade and they are going to be awarded prize money. Because they are not British citizens, what kind of tax arrangements will be put in place for these players?” added Chadwick.

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The knockout stage of Euro 2016 starts on Saturday – but who do you think have been the most impressive players so far?

By Friday morning more than 131,000 people had selected their best XI from a long-list of the star performers in the group stage.

And here is your team of the tournament so far, slotted into what was overwhelmingly the most popular formation – 4-4-2.

It was an extremely close-run thing in several positions – Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern, currently without a club – was selected 33,000 times, 1,000 more than Germany’s Manuel Neuer.

Germany’s Jerome Boateng was the most popular pick in the centre of defence with 55% of people naming him. Italy’s Leonardo Bonucci was second, just ahead of Azzurri and Juventus team-mate Giorgio Chiellini.

England midfielder Eric Dier and Croatia’s impressive wide man Ivan Perisic were extremely unlucky to miss out – both just 1,000 selections shy of Germany’s Toni Kroos.

But by far the most popular pick was Gareth Bale, selected in 95% of teams, followed by France’s West Ham forward Dimitri Payet, who appeared in 88% of your selections.

Three players from the home nations made it into the XI – and all are back in action over the next few days.

But who would you pick for their crucial fixtures?


Pick the XI that you think can take Wales far at Euro 2016 – and then share it with your friends using our team selector.

Northern Ireland

Step into Michael O’Neill’s shoes and pick your XI as Northern Ireland bid to go far at Euro 2016 – and then share it with your friends using our team selector.


Who do you think should start? It’s crunch time at Euro 2016 so pick your XI – and then share it with your friends using our team selector.

Create leagues and play against your friends in BBC Sport’s new Euro 2016 Predictor game

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Sadio Mane scored 15 goals for Southampton last season

Liverpool have made Southampton striker Sadio Mane a prime summer transfer target in a £30m move.

Manager Jurgen Klopp wants the 24-year-old Senegalese to add to Liverpool’s attacking resources and is willing to make him one of the biggest signings in the club’s history to do it.

Liverpool and Southampton will continue to hold talks over a deal with the fee a potential sticking point. The Saints are likely to want around £40m for a player who scored 11 goals in 37 Premier League games last season.

This is around £10m more than the top end of Liverpool’s price range so there is still more negotiating to be done before any deal can be concluded. Southampton are also in the process of appointing a new manager after the departure of Ronald Koeman to Everton, which may also delay progress on the move.

Klopp was impressed by Mane, who was heavily linked with Manchester United during Louis van Gaal’s time at Old Trafford, when he scored twice as Southampton came from 2-0 down to beat Liverpool 3-2 at St Mary’s on 20 March.

Alongside England striker Daniel Sturridge and Belgium youngster Divock Origi, Mane would add pace and a goalscoring threat. Liverpool would be likely to seek to recoup much of the money by the sale of Christian Benteke, who struggled last season after his £32m switch from Aston Villa.

If he makes the move, Mane will be treading a well-worn path between Southampton and Liverpool. Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert and Nathaniel Clyne have all moved to Anfield since the summer of 2014.

It would give Saints a handsome profit on a player they bought from Salzburg for £10m two years ago and make him the third biggest signing in Liverpool’s history behind Benteke and Andy Carroll, who came from Newcastle United in a £35m deal.

Southampton have also sold midfield man Victor Wanyama to Tottenham for £11m at the start of what could be another summer of transition at St Mary’s.

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What impact would a British exit from the European Union have on the Premier League?

Would it mean that more British footballers had the chance to play in the competition and would it make it harder for European players to be signed by English clubs?

The BBC’s Europe correspondent Chris Morris looks into the situation in response to a question from a listener to Radio 4’s PM programme, Simon Warner.

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Pictures released of 72 England fans suspected of Euro 2016 violence
Composite of half of the 72 England football fans suspected of being involved in violence in Marseille,Image copyright PA
Image caption Police are hoping to identify these men suspecting of being involved in the Marseille disorder

Pictures have been released of 72 England football fans suspected of having been involved in “highly organised” violence in Marseille.

Police are hoping to identify the men involved in the clashes ahead of and during England’s Euro 2016 1-1 draw with Russia earlier this month.

The UK Football Policing Unit also urged people to hand in any photos or video of fighting in the French city.

Fourteen England fans were taken to hospital, two of whom remain there.

During the violent scenes, Russian fans attacked England supporters, throwing chairs and beer bottles.

One of them, Stewart Gray, 47, from Leicester, was found injured near the Rue Forte Notre Dame area on the afternoon of Saturday 11 June.

Police said he recently opened his eyes after being in a coma, but they have no footage showing how he came to be injured.

He was wearing a blue T-shirt and was part of a group of fans who had gathered in the city centre at about 2.30pm local tim), police added.

Iron bars

Detective Superintendent Andy Barnes said: “We are aware that there were people in the apartment above the incident who we would like to speak to as witnesses.

“They were seen to be taking video footage and this could be crucial evidence.”

Andrew Bache, 51, from Portsmouth, suffered a cardiac arrest, extensive brain injuries and a lung infection after being set upon by Russians armed with iron bars.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Fans could face a football banning order if found to have attacked others

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Roberts, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said: “The violence in Marseille was highly organised and those involved appeared determined to carry out sustained attacks at a level of aggression I have not encountered in the past 10 years.

“We are very aware that this involved a small minority of English supporters.

“Investigations will continue and these fans could be subject to a football banning order on their return to the UK.”

‘Missile thrown’

Earlier, Joe Pizarro, 34, from Kennington, south London, was given a five-year football banning order at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court.

Footage taken by French police during the fighting in Marseille appeared to show him throwing a missile.

DS Barnes said: “By acting quickly we have prevented this man from travelling back to France to cause more trouble.

“What’s more, he will not be able to cause trouble at games in the UK either.”

Image copyright BBC Sport
Image caption Clashes broke out at the end of the match between England and Russia
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some Russia supporters had smuggled in flares which they set off after the final whistle

Six England fans, aged 20 to 41, received jail sentences ranging from one to three months in relation to disorder surrounding the England-Russia game.

After the clashes, French police blamed 150 “well-trained” Russian hooligans for the violence.

As a result, 20 Russian fans were deported, and three were jailed for up to two years and banned from re-entering France for two years.

Russia was also hit with a fine and a suspended disqualification from the tournament. The team has since been eliminated after failing to win any of their three group games.

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