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Sarpreet Singh makes Bundesliga debut for Bayern Munich

On July 1st, 2019, Wellington Phoenix starlet Sarpreet Singh made the big European transfer he would’ve only ever dreamed of.

German giants Bayern Munich came calling and on Saturday, Singh made his official top tier debut for ‘Die Roten’ in their 6-1 win over Werder Bremen.

Singh was a late substitute for Philippe Coutinho, who scored a hattrick. Coutinho is most well-known for his tenure at Liverpool, where he made over 150 appearances.

Coutinho is currently on loan at Bayern from arguably the biggest club in the world, Barcelona.

The mere fact that Singh, who played in a loss to NPL Victorian side Bentleigh Greens whilst at the Phoenix, replaced Coutinho is absolutely astonishing.

From the semi-professional grounds of Kingston Heath Soccer Complex to the 75,000 capacity Allianz Arena in Munich, Singh has come a very long way in record time.

And he still has plenty of time on his hands. At just 20 years of age, Singh has already accomplished so much, but still has plenty of potential to realise.

Following the abrupt sacking of Niko Kovac, Bayern have scored 25 goals from eight games, with a win/loss record of 6-2 in all competitions.

Hans-Dieter Flick, the interim head coach of Bayern, has allowed many of the club’s youth players opportunities in the first team following good runs of form in the third tier with the club’s reserves team.

Kovac, during his time as coach, took Singh along with the senior side in their pre-season tour.

Despite this amazing opportunity, Singh was expected to see out the season in the reserves.

But nine scoring involvements from 13 appearances has impressed Flick, giving him the nod for a senior debut.

Despite only being on the field for a mere ten minutes, Singh was lively and was able to win a corner. It’s not much, but it’s certainly enough of a platform for him to launch off.

Singh also created a little bit of history by stepping out onto Allianz Arena. He became the first Kiwi player to play in the Bundesliga since New Zealand footballing legend Wynton Rufer.

Funnily enough, Rufer spent the majority of his playing career at Werder Bremen, the same club Singh made his debut against at the weekend.

Sarpreet’s Bundesliga debut is another sign that the A-League, for all its criticism of bringing in too many marquees and older players, is doing a marvellous job at developing youngsters and nurturing them for the roads that lie ahead.

Over the years, we’ve seen many players struggle to forge successful careers outside of Australia and New Zealand, with many being forced to return to try and recapture their best form.

There have always been players that have been very solid players in lower European tiers, such as Carl Valeri who played in Serie B and C during his time in Italy.

But not many have been able to take Europe by the scruff of the neck and establish themselves as high-quality players who can make it alongside the ‘big boys’. Brighton pair Aaron Mooy and Mat Ryan are two of the best we’ve seen in the last 5-10 years.

Robbie Kruse is another example of this. He was a superstar of the A-League prior to making the move to Fortuna Dusseldorf in Germany in 2011. He would proceed to jump from club to club whilst in Germany, struggling to establish himself as a regular.

21 appearances between 2013 and 2017 during his time at Bayer Leverkusen sums up Kruse’s fortunes whilst in Europe.

His best stint came at VFL Bochum, who are a second-tier side. Between 2017 and 2019, he made 42 appearances and was a constant member of their first team.

He then moved back to Australia to join the Melbourne Victory at the start of the current A-League campaign.

Perth Glory star Chris Ikonomidis is in a similar boat. Despite being seven years Kruse’s junior, Ikonomidis seems to be following in the Victory star’s footsteps ever so slightly.

He made the move to Italian giants Lazio as a teenager, which on paper, would be a dream move for any aspiring junior.

He was subsequently loaned out three times before moving permanently from Rome back to Australia, where he joined the Perth Glory.

Ikonomidis has plenty of time on his side and hopefully, we haven’t seen the best of him just yet and he can one day, return to the big leagues and make his mark.

The same can be said for Sarpreet Singh. He has a lot of work to do to become a first team regular in the coming years at Bayern. But his Bundesliga debut can hopefully be the catalyst for his development into becoming that player.

Caelum Ferrarese is a Senior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on micro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions at grassroots level.

DAZN to exit deals as Twitch launches sports category

DAZN is set to exit multiple soccer broadcasting deals, while Twitch has launched a sports category and partnered with several elite soccer clubs.

UK sports streaming service DAZN is set to exit multiple soccer broadcasting deals, while Twitch has launched a sports category and partnered with several elite soccer clubs.

SportsPro has reported that DAZN will end its contract to broadcast the UEFA Champions league in Asia.

DAZN owns the rights from 2018 to 2021 for the Champions League and Europa League for Japan, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

Bloomberg reported that COVID-19 and the major changes to the schedule caused by the pandemic are the main reasons for DAZN seeking to back out of the agreement.

DAZN only ever launched a platform in Japan. The company ended up sublicensing the rights to other providers for the other nations. Both Bloomberg and SportsPro suggested that DAZN has made a loss on this broadcasting deal.

DAZN has also exited its deal to broadcast Serie A in Brazil, SportBusiness has reported that the streaming service has cancelled the arrangement despite there being another year left on the agreement.

The English Premier League, Ligue 1 and Major League Soccer are also broadcasted by DAZN in Brazil.

Meanwhile Twitch, a live video streaming service known for Esports and gaming, has signed strategic partnerships with Real Madrid, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, and Arsenal.

Each club will have their own channel and create content for the platform such as streaming press conferences, friendlies, or youth matches.

Twitch also created a new sports category, meaning users will be able to find all of the sports streams in one section on Twitch.

These elite European football clubs are not the only sports teams or organisations to have deals with Twitch. Some English Premier League games were streamed on the platform last month, while the Ultimate Fighting Championship, National Hockey League and National Basketball Association were also broadcast on Twitch.

Twitch also has deals with England’s Rugby Football League and America’s National Women’s Soccer League.

These sporting organisations provide a range of content for the platform – whether it be live games or reruns of famous matches such as the NBA’s ‘Top Ten Games of the Season’.

Football players across Australia to #PlayinPurple for pancreatic cancer

Football players in Australia will be pulling on their purple socks next month to help raise awareness for pancreatic cancer.

The #PlayinPurple campaign was started by Isabella Di Manno in 2015, after the death of her fiancée’s mother due to the illness.

Pancreatic cancer is projected to claim more lives than breast and prostate cancer with around 80 percent of diagnosed patients to die within a year.

In 2019, over 3500 players around the nation wore purple socks to raise awareness for the disease, with the campaign raising funds for research, improving diagnosis and treatment.

“The campaign continues to grow from strength to strength each year, drawing much needed attention to pancreatic cancer,” Di Manno said.

“It’s wonderful to see the participation grow across clubs, codes and regions and reading the testimonials and talking to players, it’s clear the campaign unities communities through active participation and acts as a positive talking point between people who might not necessarily know the outcomes of pancreatic cancer.”

Avner Foundation CEO Michelle Stewart added: “We are excited to see playing fields Australia-wide turned purple for pancreatic cancer, and awareness on this scale is exactly what we need to help shine a light on this disease.

“This campaign is a wonderful opportunity to increase engagement between clubs, players and the community, all participating for a very important cause – pancreatic cancer awareness.”

The campaign has been supported by Football NSW since its inception, with CEO Stuart Hodge proud to promote the cause.

“Football NSW are proud to be supporting a wonderful community initiative, combining the wonderful code of football with truly ground-breaking campaigns such as the: #PlayinPurple – Football socks campaign for the Avner Panceatic Cancer Foundation.

“We kindly encourage our football family to do their bit in getting behind this amazing initiative.”

The Manly Warringah Football Association and Sutherland Shire Football Association have also thrown its support behind the initiative.

“The Manly Warringah Football Association is proud to support Purple Sock Day to help raise awareness for pancreatic cancer. Grassroots football plays an important role in our Community and we encourage as many teams and clubs as possible to get behind the #PlayinPurple campaign,” MWFA CEO David Mason said.

“Pancreatic cancer is on the rise and SSFA is proud to support this important awareness-raising initiative again in 2020. The spirit of sportsmanship is wonderful as local football fields become awash with purple socks, and I encourage associations across the state to participate,” claimed SSFA General Manager Jeff Stewart.

More information about the campaign can be found here.

J. League and La Liga extend partnership

J. League and La Liga have signed an agreement to extend their strategic partnership for another three years, lasting until June 2023.

J. League and La Liga have signed an agreement to extend their strategic partnership for another three years.

It was originally signed in 2017 and the extension will see it continue from July 2020 until June 2023.

The memorandum of understanding between the leagues has seen institutional visits from league representatives and the sharing of industry expertise. The Meiji Yasuda J. League World Challenge was also held in July 2017 between Kashima Antlers and Sevilla FC.

The leagues said that going into the future they will looking to go further with their digital actions.

Collaboration will also transpire in other areas such as eSports and audio-visual piracy. Seminars and workshops will be held on areas such as governance, management and finance.

Another key area of the partnership is working on social responsibility and cooperation to carry out communications to deter racism, violence and discrimination.

Exchanges of coaches and youth players are also expected to occur.

“Our MOU with the J. League was the first that La Liga signed in Asia and we are delighted to continue growing with them. Spain and Japan are countries with a long history of friendship and exchanges, and football, as an important part of both cultures, has an important role to play in continuing this relationship,” President of La Liga, Javier Tebas said about the partnership.

J. League also clarified that players of the same nationality as a partner league do not count as foreign players. However, this regulation does not apply to strategic partner leagues, so players with a Spanish nationality will be unable to use this regulation.

“We are very pleased to continue our strategic partnership with La Liga to continue to deepen our exchanges and challenge our issues. While the world is in midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, we will strive to strengthen our partnership and make our way to go through this difficult situation together,” J. League Chairman, Mitsuru Murai said in statement.

Meanwhile, a J2 League match between Omiya Ardija and Avispa Fukuoka has been cancelled following a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Avispa Fukuoka.

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