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Klinsmann includes detained midfielder Son in South Korea squad

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South Korean national soccer team's new head coach Juergen Klinsmann speaks upon his arrival at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, March 8, 2023. REUTERS/Kim Soo-hyeon/File Photo

South Korea coach Juergen Klinsmann has included Son Jun-ho in his squad for this month’s friendly matches against Peru and El Salvador despite the midfielder’s ongoing detention in China in connection with a bribery case in Liaoning province.

Son, who plays his club football for Chinese Super League side Shandong Taishan, was listed in the 23-man squad for the games, which will see the Koreans face Peru in Busan on June 16 before playing El Salvador four days later in Daejon.

“Obviously we are all shocked of the situation of Jun-ho and he has our total support,” Klinsmann told a press conference in Seoul on Monday.

“We hope every day something happens but it’s not in our hands.

“I know the (Korea Football Association) and our people went to China and we will try to get him out of there and try to get him home. But it’s not in our hands.

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“He’s on that list in case something happens, he’s right with us. We’re looking after him, he’s getting our support. We don’t know his state of mind, we don’t know what physical state he is but I think he deserves all the support from us.

“He’s been outstanding in the two games against Colombia and against Uruguay and we miss him. We really hope and we pray that he can get him released.”

China’s foreign ministry previously said Son, who featured three times at the World Cup in Qatar last year, is suspected of taking bribes from non-state workers and has been detained by the public security department in Liaoning province.

He was selected by Klinsmann for the German’s first two games in charge of the national team in March, when the Koreans drew 2-2 with Colombia before losing 2-1 against Uruguay, and has played 20 times for South Korea.

-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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