Tottenham say Rudiger abuse investigation ´inconclusive´ as club uses lip-readers to assess video fo

Tottenham say the findings of their initial investigation into alleged racial abuse aimed at Antonio Rudiger are “inconclusive” as the club calls in lip-readers to assess CCTV footage.

Rudiger told Chelsea club captain Cesar Azpilicueta that he was subjected to racist chants during their 2-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.

The Germany international was allegedly targeted shortly after Spurs’ Son Heung-min had been sent off for kicking out at his opponent.

Referee Anthony Taylor called for an announcement to be made over the stadium’s public address system to warn fans against making abusive chants.

In a statement issued on Monday, Spurs said: “We are able to track every fan via the cameras and have spent many hours reviewing CCTV footage. We have engaged lip-readers to study the footage and contacted Chelsea for further information from their players.

“We have also taken statements from other parties present at the time. The police will be reviewing our evidence alongside us. Please be assured we shall be exhaustively investigating this matter.

“This club has a proud track record of anti-racism work across all our communities and we are determined to ensure that we conduct a thorough investigation. Any fan found to be guilty will receive a lifetime ban.

“At this time however we should point out that our findings are inconclusive and would ask that comment is reserved until the facts are established.”

The stadium announcement was repeated three times during the match, leading to speculation that racist abuse continued after the first warning.

Spurs say the confusion came about as Taylor implemented UEFA anti-discrimination protocols, rather than those outlined by the Premier League.

“When the incident was conveyed to the referee Anthony Taylor, he took the decision to call for the implementation of Stage 1 of the UEFA protocol – rather than the Premier League protocol – and asked for an announcement to be made, as well as requesting a further announcement which created a misconception that any issue was on-going,” the club said.

“The Premier League protocol differs from UEFA protocol in that it does not call for an announcement rather that the individual(s) be dealt with by the Safety Team in the first instance.

“We have asked that the Premier League clarifies the position regarding the use of these protocols to all stakeholders going forward.”

Mbappe not looking to oust Neymar as Paris Saint-Germain´s star man

Kylian Mbappe has told Neymar he will never attempt to replace him as Paris Saint-Germain’s main man.

With Neymar having struggled with injuries during his time in Paris, Mbappe has often established himself as the key player in PSG’s attack since his move from Monaco in 2017.

The 21-year-old scored 39 goals across all competitions last season and already has 18 to his name this campaign.

However, Mbappe insists he is not wishing to take any limelight away from Neymar, who has been in fine form for Thomas Tuchel’s side when fit this season.

“When I arrived in Paris, there was no debate. It was him [Neymar], the superstar, whom I had come to help a little,” Mbappe told France Football.

“He gets injured, [Brazil go out of] the World Cup and I win it. And there begins to come out of stories about our alleged rivalry, about my willingness to take his place. 

“I was shocked to hear all of this. When I came back in August 2018, the first thing I did was go and catch Neymar to tell him: ‘Don’t worry, I won’t be walking on your flower beds here. I assure you that I do not want to take your place, you can keep it. I’m always here to help you.’”

Mbappe may not be aiming to compete with Neymar, but he is looking to get the better of another superstar.

Lionel Messi won a record sixth Ballon d’Or this year, and Mbappe has set his sights on finishing as the top scorer in Europe, though he acknowledged it will be tough to outdo the Barcelona forward.

“Rather than putting my head down and waiting quietly for the end of the season, I tried to outdo myself,” Mbappe said.

“I then realised that I could try to seek this title of best European scorer. But, opposite, there was Messi. I’d score two, he’d score three; I’d score three, he’d score four! 

“It was so crazy that I talked about it with Ousmane [Dembele]. ‘It is not possible, does he do it on purpose? He looks at the number of goals I score?’ ‘Of course he’s looking at you!’

“I said to myself: Yes, Messi is watching me. It is flattering to see that such a player does not neglect you.”

Vicente Boluda to challenge Perez for Real Madrid presidency

Former Real Madrid president Vicente Boluda has announced he will stand against Florentino Perez in the next elections.

The Valencian businessman, a member of the club since 1998 and briefly president in 2009, intends to run against the incumbent Perez in 2021.

Perez, who took over from Boluda in 2009 after the latter had taken office temporarily following Ramon Calderon’s resignation, was re-elected unopposed for a new four-year term in 2017.

“Real Madrid have a president who is doing really well,” Boluda said at a business event in Valencia on Monday, according to Cadena SER.

“It’s another thing that, next year, there will be new elections and I want there to be elections, and for that there have to be two candidates and one has to be different to the one that’s there.

“I will present myself [as a candidate].”

Boluda, who stated Madrid need three major signings, added that the president of the club can “go to any country and they treat you like you’re the president of the government. It multiplies everything, for the good and the bad.”

Meanwhile, Perez has issued a call to Madrid fans to get behind the team for 2020 as the club looks to establish itself as “the most loved and admired sporting institution in the world”.

“As we all know, Real Madrid is a universal feeling that unites millions of people around the world,” he said via the club’s website. “To our members and fans, I wish you a happy holiday season in the company of your families and loved ones.

“For this new year, I ask for health, work and happiness for everyone. We want the year 2020 to be a year of success and titles for our football and basketball teams. We will always keep in mind our motto of never giving up and we will continue working with the same enthusiasm so that Real Madrid continues to be the most loved and admired sporting institution in the world.”

Madrid are two points behind LaLiga leaders Barcelona heading into 2020, while they have reached the last 16 of the Champions League, where they will face Premier League champions Manchester City.

Espanyol sack Machin after Leganes loss

Espanyol have sacked head coach Pablo Machin in the wake of Sunday’s LaLiga defeat to fellow strugglers Leganes.

A comfortable 2-0 loss at Butarque left Espanyol bottom of the table, five points adrift of safety approaching the midway point of the season.

In a statement released on Monday, the club said: “Espanyol reports that Pablo Machin has been relieved of his responsibilities as head coach of the men’s first team.

“The club has made the decision as a result of the first team’s sporting performance and with the clear intention of changing the team’s situation in LaLiga.”

“Coaches Jordi Guerrero, Jordi Balcells and Carles Martinez have also left.

“Espanyol thanks Pablo Machin and his technical staff for their application during these months of work and wishes them every personal and professional success.”

Machin was appointed in October to replace David Gallego but managed just one win in 10 league games, although he did lead them to the last 32 of the Europa League, where they will face Premier League side Wolves.

Their first match of the new year will be the derby with Barcelona on January 4.

We´ll see about Inter move, says Barcelona star Vidal

Arturo Vidal insists he is “calm and happy” about his Barcelona future despite refusing to rule out a possible move to Inter in the transfer window.

The midfielder stated in October that he was not happy to be a back-up to Ernesto Valverde’s first team and would have to assess his options if his role did not change.

Vidal reportedly stormed out of training after being told he would not be in the first XI for the Clasico on December 18, although he then marked only his fourth LaLiga start of the season against Deportivo Alaves on Saturday with a goal.

Inter are said to be interested in a January deal for the 32-year-old, who previously enjoyed huge success under Antonio Conte at Juventus, but he is not prepared to rush into any decision.

Speaking after leaving for his native Chile for a short Christmas break, Vidal told reporters about a possible Inter deal: “My representative is who has to see that, but I’m calm and happy at Barcelona. When I return, we’ll see. Now I want to be with my family, and after that return and take a decision.

“I’m not the one who makes the decision to play or not – that’s the coach. But people see that, so that makes me calm, and I’ll continue taking advantage of all my opportunities and continue scoring, which is what I like to do.

“I hope to lift the trophies that lie ahead of us at the end of the season.”

Vidal has only started six games in all competitions for Barca in 2019-20, with Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, Arthur and recently Ivan Rakitic preferred in central midfield.

Rakitic’s future is also in doubt, but Barca will reportedly only sell a midfielder if a significant offer is made and the player requests a move.

Barca’s next game is a league trip to city rivals Espanyol on January 4, before the newly expanded Supercopa de Espana begins with a semi-final against Atletico Madrid on January 9.

Arteta offers Arsenal squad ´clean slate´ as Ljungberg remains on staff

Arsenal’s players will have a “clean slate” under Mikel Arteta, who has confirmed Freddie Ljungberg will remain at the club as part of the coaching staff.

After watching Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Everton from the stands, Arteta will take charge of his first game on Thursday, as the Gunners travel to Bournemouth.

Ljungberg was instead at the helm at the weekend, the interim boss picking a youthful, inexperienced line-up for the game at Goodison Park.

Mesut Ozil was left out of the squad due to injury, though Ljungberg confirmed the ex-Germany international would not have been selected anyway due to his reaction to being substituted during the loss to Manchester City.

However, Ozil – and the rest of his team-mates – will get the chance to enjoy a fresh start under Arteta, who has left his role as Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City to return to Emirates Stadium.

“My job started straight after the game, so I had to pick the players up first of all mentally and then put them in the work frame that I want,” he said.

“With me, they have a clean slate. I told them that. You’re not going to be judged on things you’ve done in the past, whether they are negative or positive.

“This is evolving every day and I’m expecting you to perform and be in the right mindset every single day for me. If you do that, you’ll have a chance to play. If you don’t, you won’t.”

The new head coach will lean on Ljungberg for assistance after the pair held discussions at the weekend.

“I spoke to Freddie after the game. I told him my idea and the people I wanted to bring to form my coaching staff, their roles and responsibilities of each of them,” Arteta said.

“I wanted to know what he was feeling, I wanted to know what he had in mind, what his expectations were. We talked and we made a decision that the best thing was for him to stay with us.

“I think he can be very available. I think he knows the players, he knows the situation, he knows the history of where we’re coming from and also his knowledge of the game is going to really help us to be better.”

Arsenal announced on Monday that Ozil will be available to face Bournemouth, while Hector Bellerin and Dani Ceballos are both back in full training.

Mourinho pledges support to authorities as FA investigate Rudiger claims

Jose Mourinho will support any decision the authorities make in to try to tackle racism as the Football Association (FA) confirmed it is looking into Antonio Rudiger’s allegations he was abused during Chelsea’s Premier League match with Tottenham.

Chelsea were 2-0 winners in a heated London derby on Sunday, though the result was overshadowed by an incident in the second half.

Rudiger, who was involved in a tussle that saw Son Heung-min sent off after a VAR check, reported to Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta that he had been targeted by racist chants soon after.

Frank Lampard later confirmed both Rudiger and Azpilicueta had discussed the incident with Premier League officials, while Spurs have launched their own investigation.

Mourinho says he will give his full support to any new procedures introduced, such as allowing players to walk off the pitch if they are racially abused.

“[I’m] totally against racism in society and obviously against racism in my football world,” the Tottenham boss told a news conference.

“I feel sorry every time something happens and I will always support any decision authorities make to that.

“It’s happening before, and what I fear is that it’s going to happen again in the future. That’s the problem.

“What I see is an evolution in the protocol I think that’s fine. At the minute they have the freedom to go to the referee to their managers, this is one step.

“One Tottenham fan is not Tottenham fans. Tottenham fans at least since I’m here, phenomenal supporting the team, respecting opponents.

“I’d ask them to be exactly the same, and look to the guy to the left and right, and to listen to guy behind me and in front of me and if anyone has any little manifestation to kill it immediately, that’s only thing I can ask for.”

On Monday, the FA confirmed it had opened an investigation.

“Following the incident in the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea on Sunday 22 December, we are working with the match officials, the clubs and the relevant authorities to fully establish the facts and take the appropriate steps,” a tweet from the official FA Spokesperson account read.

Guardiola concerned racism in football will never be eradicated

Pep Guardiola fears racism will never be eradicated from football, though says clubs, players, managers and authorities must continue to fight the problem.

The latest in a long line of examples of racism in the game occurred on Sunday, when Antonio Rudiger alleged he was abused during Chelsea’s 2-0 Premier League win at Tottenham.

A Manchester City supporter was arrested after he was seen to be racially abusing Manchester United players this month.

Guardiola is concerned the issue will ever be stamped out in football or society in general, but it must be tackled on a daily basis.

“I don’t think so. We have to fight but it will take time, a lot of time, to eradicate it,” he told a news conference.

“I think it was a problem which has happened for decades, centuries. But now it’s visualised more because the media is more up front and close to the problem.

“I think it’s happened a long time, we just have to fight again and again. The little kids, in the schools, on the streets.”

Asked if he would support his players walking off the pitch should they receive racist abuse, Guardiola said: “Of course my players support the initiative and what happened you have to battle day by day.

“It’s not about one club or one person. It’s about the football world, one vision. 

“It’s a battle you have to fight in the schools, especially, in the families at home to try to make a better society in the future.

“It’s a battle day by day. All of the initiatives we are going to support and have been supportive.”



Guardiola not thinking about a new Man City contract

Pep Guardiola insists it is too early for him to be thinking about signing another contract with Manchester City.

Guardiola’s current deal expires at the end of the 2020-21 season, though reports – which Guardiola has denied – have claimed there is a clause which would allow him to leave at the end of the current campaign.

City have won the Premier League twice in his three full seasons at the club, but sit 11 points behind leaders Liverpool in third spot.

Guardiola claimed he is happy at the club, though stated talk of a new deal is premature.

“I have been here already four seasons at the end of this year and at the end of next year it will be five because I want to be here until then,” Guardiola told a news conference.

“So it’s a long time. Look what happens, clubs sack their managers week by week. I have answered this many times. I am incredibly good here.

“To sign a contract I need to see how this works and if I deserve it. The level, we increased a lot in the last years and the expectations are higher, we have to see if we can handle it.

“It’s not just my decision, the club didn’t talk. Now it’s a little bit of a break with the family for Christmas, then we prepare for Wolves, then we can think about the future.”

Guardiola lost his assistant Mikel Arteta last week, with the Spaniard being appointed as Arsenal’s head coach.

“I’ve said many times lately, he’s now the manager of Arsenal,” Guardiola said when asked how City had adapted without his compatriot.

“We have prepared the last two games without him, tried to readjust how we’ve worked for the last three-and-a-half years, try to adjust the people to do the job he has been doing and work a little bit harder, that’s all.”

City play Wolves on Friday, before welcoming Sheffield United to the Etihad Stadium less than 48 hours later, much to Guardiola’s frustration.

“I don’t know exactly [what the minimum time between games should be] but what I know is less than 48 hours is not the perfect time,” Guardiola said.

“But all of the time in this country, Christmas time is like this. So we adapt, no problem.”

Spurs appeal against Son red card

Tottenham have appealed against Son Heung-min’s red card in the damaging 2-0 Premier League defeat to Chelsea, boss Jose Mourinho has confirmed.

Forward Son was given his marching orders for kicking out at Blues defender Antonio Rudiger at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.

The 62nd-minute dismissal in the London derby followed a VAR intervention due to Son’s reaction in retaliation to a challenge by Rudiger. 

Mourinho stated after the game he felt the officials had got the decision wrong and the Portuguese said Spurs have challenged the decision to dismiss the South Korea international, who had a red card for a foul on Everton’s Andre Gomes overturned earlier this season.

Explaining why Spurs have appealed, Mourinho said: “I hope Son is not punished five times. 

“One time was the foul that Rudiger did on him. The second is to be sent off. 

“So I think to be punished twice is enough.”

While Son’s availability over the next three matches remains in doubt, Mourinho has been handed a boost with Erik Lamela back training.

The Argentina winger has been absent for the past two months with a hamstring injury.

Spurs are seventh in the Premier League, six points adrift of Chelsea in the battle to qualify for the Champions League.