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International Football

Morocco held to goalless draw by Peru in Madrid

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International Friendly – Morocco v Peru – Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain – March 28, 2023 Morocco’s Sofiane Boufal in action with Peru’s Luis Advincula REUTERS/Susana Vera

World Cup semi-finalists Morocco were held to a 0-0 draw by Peru in a friendly at Atletico Madrid’s Metropolitano Stadium on Tuesday.

The stalemate came after Morocco beat Brazil 2-1 in a friendly in Tangier on Saturday in their first game after their heroics at the World Cup in Qatar, where they became the first African and Arab country to reach the final four.

It was a contest played at a furious pace, with Morocco constantly on the attack and Peru looking for chances on the counter, but spoilt by frequent stoppages.

Hakim Ziyech went closest for Morocco with two good first-half chances and another 15 minutes from fulltime, which shaved the outside of the post.

The match was preceded by a clash between Spanish police and Peru players at the squad’s hotel in Madrid on Monday after fans gathered outside to greet the team, according to players and video shared on social media.

The altercation broke out when hundreds of fans approached the team’s hotel after the squad had wrapped up a training session. In videos shared widely on social media, midfielder Yoshimar Yotun can be seen arguing with a policeman who then pushed him. Other players and police then became involved.

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Also on Monday, a 27-year-old worker at a Madrid hotel hosting the Morocco team was arrested for an alleged hate crime after posting derogatory comments on Islam and racist slurs against the players on social media.

A waiter at the Spanish capital’s five-star Eurostars Hotel Tower asked players to take photographs with him. He then uploaded the images to Instagram with xenophobic insults and tagged the Moroccan team’s account, with the post quickly receiving over 70,000 views.

The man was due to appear before a judge shortly, police said.

-Reuters

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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International Football

Two Moroccan football players lost at sea, says club official

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Abdellatif Akhrif, IRT player reported missing off the coast of M'diq this Saturday, July 6, 2024. © COPYRIGHT: IRT

Two Moroccan players from top-flight soccer side Ittihad Tanger have been missing at sea since Saturday after strong currents drifted their small yacht, a club official said on Sunday.

They were in a group of five players from the club who went cruising off the northern city of Tangier when strong currents and heavy winds drifted their yacht away as they were swimming in deep waters, club deputy president Anass Mrabet told Reuters.

“Three players have already been rescued on Saturday, while research is still ongoing for the missing Salman Harraq and Abdellatif Akhrif,” he said.

The players did not have buoys on them when they jumped from the small yacht to swim, he said citing recounts by rescued players.

While Akhrif, 24, is already a full member of the squad, Harraq, 18, was about to move up to the senior team this year, Mrabet added.

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Ittihad Tanger have been in the Moroccan top flight since 2015 and won the league title for the first and only time in their history in the 2017-18 season. However, they have struggled in the lower half of the standings in recent years.

-Reuters

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International Football

FIFA launches ‘Football Manager’ World Cup with $100,000 in prize money

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FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development and former soccer manager Arsene Wenger speaks during the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

FIFA will host its first ever FIFAe World Cup of Football Manager this year to crown the best virtual manager on the highly-popular video game, world soccer’s governing body said on Thursday.

FIFA is partnering with Sports Interactive, the developers of the game that has sold millions of copies and has also been used by several football clubs to scout players and opponents thanks to its extensive database.

Players will compete for $100,000 in prize money in the final event from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.

“This competition requires participants to demonstrate a profound understanding of football strategy and tactics,” said former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is the ambassador for the esports event.

“Success demands not only mastery of game mechanics but also in-depth football knowledge, making this format a fascinating blend.”

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FIFA said in the inaugural year of the event, selected member associations will be invited to be represented at the final event.

Member associations from all six confederations are expected to be invited while players can sign up on FIFA’s website.

-Reuters

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Former Italy international Roberto Baggio robbed at gunpoint

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Former Italy international Roberto Baggio was assaulted and robbed at gunpoint at his home in northern Italy while watching his country’s match against Spain in the Euro 2024 tournament on Thursday, local police said.

Burglars broke into Baggio’s house near Vicenza, hit him on the head with a gun butt and locked him and his family in a room while they stole jewellery, watches and cash, daily Il Corriere della Sera reported. It said he suffered a deep wound.

“Luckily, the violence I suffered only resulted in a few stitches, bruises and a lot of fear. Now it is to overcome the fear,” Baggio was quoted as saying by Italian news agency ANSA.

Baggio, 57, played for clubs including Juventus (JUVE.MI), opens new tab, AC Milan and Inter Milan. He also played 56 times for Italy, scoring 27 goals, and is widely seen as one of his country’s all-time greats.

After the robbery, Baggio, widely known as the “divine ponytail”, was treated at a local hospital where he received stitches for the head wound, Italian media reported.

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Italy lost to Spain 1-0 on Thursday and now must avoid defeat by Croatia to guarantee progression in the tournament.

-Reuters

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