There is never a dull moment in European soccer and while Villarreal CF were winning their first major silverware on Wednesday night in Gdansk, Poland, with the UEFA Europa League, a number of high-profile clubs across the continent were taking big decisions and parting ways with successful coaches.
Inter Milan and Antonio Conte are no more while Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane have also gone their separate ways, but you might have also missed some other stories while this was going on with Paris Saint-Germain announcing a groundbreaking new collaboration, Zlatan Ibrahimovic picking up a fine and three Super League breakaway clubs sticking to their guns.
All that and more in this week’s under-the-radar news.
French giants PSG have announced that they have teamed up with Dutch start-up KLABU via their charity-focused Endowment Fund to provide access to sport in refugee camps. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is backing the proposal that will see sport facilities constructed to host youths living in and around refugee camps and a mobile sports library that will travel from camp to camp.
PSG will be the first club to open sports facilities in refugee camps when the project launches this autumn and will provide support through social enterprise, creating kits “for the world to wear.” The project has been two years in the making and will officially launch at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh with an initial goal to reach 10,000 refugees through access to sport facilities in a safe environment.
“PSG is proud to be able to support such an honorable cause,” chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi said. “Access to sport should be a basic right for any child around the world, regardless of background or circumstance. Together with KLABU, UNHCR and other partners, we hope to give a portion of the 80 million who are fleeing from challenging circumstances a sense of relief and belonging.”
It was a busy week for PSG as they also teamed up with Fanatics to announce the opening of a permanent retail store at Westfield Century City Mall in Los Angeles as part of the French capital club’s expansion into the U.S and North America.
Ibrahimovic fined for betting links
The Sweden international has been fined $61,000 for violation of UEFA Disciplinary Regulations against financial interests in betting companies and the Chairman of the UEFA Appeals Body also issued the 39-year-old with a directive aimed at ending the link with AC Milan also receiving a $30,500 fine and a warning.
UEFA also indicated that they have rejected an appeal from Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela against his 10-match UEFA ban for racism.
Juve, Barca, Real stand by Super League
The Italian and Spanish giants released a joint statement on Wednesday reaffirming that they have no intention of walking away from the Super League: “Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid wish to express their absolute rejection of the insistent coercion that UEFA has been maintaining towards three of the most relevant institutions in the history of football,” it read.
“Instead of exploring ways of modernizing football through open dialogue, UEFA expects us to withdraw the ongoing court proceedings that question their monopoly over European football. Either we reform football or we will have to watch its inevitable downfall.”
Paratici leaves Juve
The Italians also announced the departure of chief football officer Fabio Paratici after an 11-year stint in a move that is expected to pave the way for Massimiliano Allegri to return to Juventus Stadium.
Gattuso takes Viola post
No sooner had he left SSC Napoli, Gennaro Gattuso found himself back in work with Fiorentina as the former Italy international was confirmed as 2021-22 coach by owner Rocco Commisso after a tumultuous 20-21 ended with them 13th in the Serie A table after Cesare Prandelli’s failed return.
Valencia bring in Bordalas
Valencia CF have a new coach in Jose Bordalas after the 57-year-old arrived from Getafe to take on his task of rebuilding Los Che after a disappointing campaign which saw them finish 13th in the table with Voro once again filling in as interim boss.
The popular Spaniard has extended his Real Betis contract for one more season until 2022 which will mean that he is playing past his 40th birthday in July and potentially beyond after teammate Andres Guardado recently joked with CBS Sports that Joaquin might play until he is 50.
De Zerbi joins Shakhtar
After three years with Sassuolo in Serie A, the Italian has been appointed as the Ukrainian giants’ new coach as they seek to win back their domestic title from Dynamo Kyiv and Mircea Lucescu after the failure of Luis Castro’s reign.