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FIFA Infantino Condemns ‘Abhorrent’ Racism During Games In Italy, England

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FIFA president Gianni Infantino called for worldwide stadium bans for fans and “automatic forfeits” for teams whose supporters hurl “abhorrent” abuse, following racist incidents in Italy and England on Saturday.

The head of football’s world governing body said there was no place for discrimination of any kind in the sport or wider society.

“The events that took place in Udine and Sheffield on Saturday are totally abhorrent and completely unacceptable,” he said in a statement.

“The players affected by Saturday’s events have my undivided support.”

Fans aimed monkey chants at AC Milan and France goalkeeper Mike Maignan during Milan’s dramatic 3-2 win at Udinese, with the game temporarily halted.

READ ALSO: Ronaldo, Messi, Bellingham Make 2023 FIFA FIFPro Team Shortlist [FULL LIST]

Support from Mbappe –

In a strongly worded statement on X, formerly Twitter, the France team said: “You have all our support Mike Maignan. The FFF (French federation) totally condemns all racist acts.”

France captain Kylian Mbappe also offered his backing to his international teammate.

“You are very far from being alone Mike Maignan, we are all with you,” wrote the Paris Saint-Germain star.

“Still the same problems and still NO solution. Enough is enough!!!!! NO TO RACISM” he posted on X.

Coventry midfielder Kasey Palmer accused Sheffield Wednesday fans of doing the same to him during their English Championship clash, which his team won 2-1 on Saturday.

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“We need all the relevant stakeholders to take action, starting with education in schools so that future generations understand that this is not part of football or society,” Infantino said.

“As well as the three-step process (match stopped, match re-stopped, match abandoned), we have to implement an automatic forfeit for the team whose fans have committed racism and caused the match to be abandoned as well as worldwide stadium bans and criminal charges for racists.

“FIFA and football shows full solidarity to victims of racism and any form of discrimination. Once and for all: No to racism! No to any form of discrimination!”

At Udinese, referee Fabio Maresca stopped play during the first half and a livid Maignan stormed down the tunnel with his teammates.

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“They’re ignorant people…. You can be booed or whistled when you’re away from home, that’s normal, but what happened today has no place in football,” Maignan told Sky Sports.

Play resumed after about five minutes.

Italy, a country governed by a coalition led by the far-right Brothers of Italy party, is rife with fascist football fan groups, in particular among the hardcore “ultras” who make most of the atmosphere at stadiums.

Last week Lazio were hit with a one-match stand closure after supporters directed monkey chants at Romelu Lukaku during their team’s Italian Cup win over local rivals Roma.

In Sheffield, Palmer labelled the abuse “abhorrent and wholly unacceptable”, with the match paused as the referee spoke to both managers on the touchline.

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In a statement, Sheffield Wednesday said they were “shocked and saddened by the racist gesture from the stands” reported by Palmer.

“Both clubs roundly condemn any form of discrimination and abuse, and underline that there is no place for this kind of behaviour in football or our wider society,” it added.

“We will work together with the relevant authorities and anyone proven to be culpable will face the strictest possible sanctions from both Sheffield Wednesday and the law.”

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Nigeria’s Basketball Team Withdraws From Afrobasket Qualifiers Over Lack Of Funds

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Nigeria’s basketball team popularly called the D’Tigers has withdrawn from the Afrobasket qualifiers window over lack of funds.

D’tigers made this announcement on Wednesday evening after it complained of not getting funding from the Federal Government.

The PUNCH reports that President Bola Tinubu, in January, cleared the outstanding payment that FG owed the Super Eagles and other sporting teams of the country.

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According to a statement on the X handle of Tinubu’s Media Centre, on Sunday, the payment entails the clearing of the senior national team coach salaries running up to 15 months, payments of allowances and promises due to the senior national teams, females, and Under-20 national team.

The statement reads, “President @officialABAT has approved the payment of N12 billion outstanding backlog for Nigeria’s National teams of various sports, which includes Super Eagles and others.

“The payment entails the clearing of the senior national team coach salaries running up to 15 months, payments of allowances and promises due to the senior national teams, females, and Under-20 national team.”

However, D’Tigers on its X handle wrote, “Despite several 2020 Olympians committing, D’Tigers forfeit this AfroBasket Qualifiers window due to lack of funds from the government.”

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Recall that in 2022, former President, Muhammadu Buhari, approved the withdrawal of Nigeria from international basketball competitions for two years.

A statement issued by the then Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Ismaila Abubakar, said the presidential directive followed the intractable crisis that has dogged and crippled the development of basketball in the country in form of the leadership crisis at the Nigeria Basketball Federation.

The statement said the decision to withdraw the country was made to concentrate efforts by the government towards revamping the sport from the grassroots as well as domestic leagues which have become moribund.

The sports ministry also said an Interim Management Committee will also be set up to oversee the management and development of the domestic basketball leagues in the country to further address other related issues around the development and advancement of the game in the country and to utilise the period of break to address all contentious issues among stakeholders.

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FULL LIST: AFCON 2025 Preliminary Draw

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The preliminary draw for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations has been held today at the Confederations of African Football headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.

The draw followed the conclusion of the 34th edition of the competition hosted by Ivory Coast.

The preliminary draw had the eight lowest-ranked teams according to the FIFA ranking: Somalia, Djibouti, Sao Tome, Chad, Mauritius, South Sudan, Liberia and Eswatini.

The teams will play on home and away basis during the FIFA Window of March 18 to March 26.

READ ALSO: FULL LIST: CAF AFCON Starting XI

Explainer: Guidelines To Actualise Guinness World…
Below is the full list of the AFCON preliminary draw:

Somalisa Vs Eswatini

Sao Tome Vs South Sudan

Chad Vs Mauritius

Djibouti Vs Liberia

The just concluded 2023 AFCON was held in Côte d’Ivoire and won by the host team, the Elephants.

They defeated the Super Eagles of Nigeria 2-1 in the final of the tournament.

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Emerse Fae Confirmed As Cote d’Ivoire Head Coach After AFCON Triumph

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Emerse Fae was on Monday rewarded for guiding Ivory Coast to the African Cup of Nations title as interim coach by being given the job full-time.

“Emerse was until now interim coach and has just been confirmed today as full coach,” the Ivoirian federation boss Idriss Diallo said.

The Elephants were facing elimination when they fired veteran French coach Jean-Louis Gasset in January after winning just one of their three group games.

The next day, results fell the hosts’ way and they squeezed through as the last of the four best third-placed teams. Fae, a former Ivorian international who had never coached before, took over.

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Fae oversaw an incredible turnaround.

In the last 16, the Ivorians came from behind to beat holders Senegal on penalties. Then, playing much of the match with 10 men, they came from behind to beat Mali in extra time in the quarter-finals.

After beating the Democratic Republic of Congo 1-0 in the last four, they came from behind once more to beat Nigeria 2-1 in the final and lift the trophy.

 

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