Ronaldo a no show in Korea – Do players truly care for pre-season trips?

Imagine being a soccer fan in South Korea.

You have your local sides such as Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Seoul FC and Suwon Samsung Bluewings. But you prefer the higher quality leagues of Europe.

Your national team’s stars play there, including Heung Min-Son, Lee Jae-sung and Hwang Hee-chan. You dream of one day, seeing some of the world’s best play live.

Then, Italian champions Juventus are announced as the headline pre-season tournament side. You’d be pretty darn excited wouldn’t you?

Australian soccer fans would be over the moon if Juventus came Down Under for a few pre-season friendlies.

Understandably, you want tickets to see one of the greatest clubs in world football strut their stuff.

Paulo Dybala, Miralem Pjanic, Giorgio Chiellini and Cristiano Ronaldo, just to name a few, will be kicking about in your own backyard.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Usually, this is where you’d see the phrase, ‘If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.”

The only difference this time is that in this instance, it shouldn’t be.

We’ve seen international superstars play pre-season matches across the globe before. English clubs Arsenal, Manchester United and Leeds United sent strong squads to their respective tours.

Granted, younger and lesser-known players were given priority but these stars such as Paul Pogba, Mesut Ozil and Pablo Hernandez still played in front of fans who paid their dues.

Heck, even Real Madrid took new star signing Eden Hazard on their tour of the United States.

They understood and respected how far some fans go for their teams, and that some fans can’t travel to watch league or cup fixtures. They tried giving them lifelong memories.

Autographs, selfies and just the experience of having your heroes out there will do that for fans of these clubs.

Juventus, however and specifically Ronaldo, didn’t seem to care.

Not only was Ronaldo barely sighted during signing and photograph sessions with fans, he didn’t even play!

Imagine taking one the most highly decorated and talented footballers to a country filled with passionate soccer fans, for him to sit on the bench. That’s ludicrous enough.

Now imagine paying to see this match with the promise that he’d be out there playing. That’s where the line is drawn.

Understandably, fans are suing as a result of not getting what they were promised.

The event has gone from a harmless, pre-season friendly to a dumpster fire that the Italian giants have only themselves to blame.

But this begs the question. Do some players genuinely care for their pre-season tours?

Combined with this Ronaldo incident, Arsenal skipper Laurent Koscielny refused to travel with the squad on the Gunners’ trip across the United States.

It is becoming increasingly commonplace in the elite world of soccer and only time will tell if it becomes an unfortunately commonality.

We understand that some players may not want to risk injury and that’s fine. Ruben Loftus-Cheek of Chelsea injured his Achilles tendon during a friendly match and is set for a huge stint on the sidelines.

He is one of many examples where a player jeopardises the side after an injury during a non-competitive fixture.

If clubs and/or the players themselves come out and say that they don’t want to risk injuries to their stars, that’s totally acceptable.

But don’t give fans hope for it to be taken away when they least expect it.

Imagine the uproar if Paul Pogba didn’t play any minutes for Manchester United in the Australian tour. Fans would be left feeling totally ripped off, right?

That’s how all South Korean soccer fans feel right now. Trust me, it’s not an enviable feeling.


City Football Group expands to India

City Football Group (CFG) have officially welcomed Indian Super League side Mumbai City as a new member of sister clubs around the world.

The owners of Premier League champions and powerhouse Manchester City have now added to their global partnerships with clubs.

Representatives of CFG was recently in India to undertake a trophy tour and have confirmed their deal with Mumbai City. This new acquisition has meant that CFG have taken a majority 65 per cent share in the top-flight Indian club.

The other 35 per cent of the club has gone to former co-owners – Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor and chartered accountant Bimal Parekh.

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This new agreement sees Mumbai City become CFG’s eighth club, who only just recently purchased third-tier Chinese club Sichuan Jiuniu FC.

Mumbai has joined English Premier League’s (EPL) Manchester City FC, A-League’s Melbourne City FC, Major League Soccer’s (MLS) New York City FC, J-League’s Yokohama F. Marinos, Uruguayan Primera División’s Club Atlético Torque and La Liga 2’s Girona FC as all the clubs as part of CFG so far.

“We believe that this investment will deliver transformative benefits to Mumbai City FC, to City Football Group and to Indian Football as a whole,” said CFG Chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak.

“City Football Group is committed to the future of football in India and to the potential for Mumbai City FC within that future.

“We are very much looking forward to playing an active role in Mumbai City FC’s fan and local communities, and working with our co-owners to further develop the club as quickly as possible.”

It’s an opportunity now for Indian football to grow as a result of this partnership, which will give Mumbai some added exposure as one of CFG’s new partners.

In conjunction with this announcement, CFG has also moved Damian Willoughby from his role as Senior Vice President of Partnerships to become CFG India Chief Executive. He will be relocated from Singapore to Mumbai in the coming weeks.

The purchase has come in the same week that CFG announced a US$500 million equity investment from Silicon Valley firm Silver Lake in a deal that sees the group now valued at US$4.8 billion.

Football Queensland appoint Jacqui Hurford as State Referee Manager

Football Queensland (FQ) have announced the appointment of Jacqui Hurford as the new State Referee Manager.

As part of the 2020-2022 Strategic Plan for football in Queensland, the appointment of Hurford as State Referee Manager is one of the key initiatives already into affect along with others that are set to be launched in the coming months concentrating on improving recruitment, retention and support for referees in the state.

FQ’s General Manager of Operations Murray Bird spoke about how Hurford’s appointment will help shape the future of refereeing, by building on the number of quality referees and coaches across the state.

“I am delighted to welcome Jacqui to the Football Queensland team; she will bring a wealth of knowledge as a former international FIFA referee, and from her current roles as instructor/assessor for FFA and AFC and Westfield W-League Referee Coach,” Bird said.

“Jacqui’s appointment aligns with a focus on bettering the experience for all involved in the game as outlined in FQ’s strategic plan, and will see her take on a community-focused leadership role.

“We intend to double the number of registered referees by 2022, which will require ongoing consultation and collaboration with regional referee coordinators to ensure we recruit and retain officials to serve and enhance the game.

“We also want to increase the number of women and girls officiating across the state, and Jacqui is a great example for women and girls getting into the game.”

Hurford spoke about the role she will play with the challenges and opportunities she’ll take out of it.

“Football Queensland’s commitment to significant reform in the referee space was something that attracted me to this role,” she said.

“There is a shortage of match officials across the state and I understand that addressing this and driving participation and retention of referees will be a key focus of the position.

“FQ will be employing referee coaches for the NPL/FQPL/NPLW in the coming weeks. My role will entail working closely with those appointments to improve officiating standards in the state’s premier leagues.

“I will also be working hard on bridging the gap between the referee community and FQ’s member clubs and zones.

“We all need to work together and referees are an important piece in unifying the game to ensure that Queensland remains a leader in officiating both nationally and internationally.”

Hurford will officially take her position from Thursday the 9th of January 2020.

Source: https://footballqueensland.com.au/2019/11/29/football-queensland-state-referee-manager-appointed/ 

Football Victoria reveal NPL fixture

Football Victoria (FV) have released the 2020 NPL Victoria fixture for the men’s competition.

The season will open with a clash between 2019 finalists Oakleigh Cannons FC and last year’s runner up Avondale FC.

Also round 1 will open with the traditional derby as South Melbourne FC will host 2019 premiers Heidelberg United FC at Lakeside Stadium in a first-round derby.

Eastern Lions SC and St Albans Saints SC are the two sides who have been promoted to the top tier of Victorian football for 2020. They will both start with home encounters in the opening round.

FV CEO Peter Filopoulos claimed he was looking forward to the start of next year’s competition with the introduction of two new clubs and several strong NPL clubs hoping to improve on last season.

“The NPL in Victoria is clearly a destination competition in Australia which delivers a very high standard of football week-in week-out,” Mr Filopoulos said.

“The competition’s popularity went to another level last year with all games live-streamed and averaging around 30,000 viewers per round. The triple-header Grand Final event also drew more than 110,000 viewers on that one day alone,” he said.

The first-round fixtures are listed below:

Oakleigh Cannons FC v Avondale FC – Thursday 13th February, 7:45pm at Jack Edwards Reserve

South Melbourne FC v Heidelberg United FC – Friday 14th February, 7:30pm at Lakeside Stadium

Port Melbourne Sharks SC v Melbourne Knights FC – Friday 14th February, 7:45pm at JL Murphy Reserve – SS Anderson Oval

Dandenong Thunder FC v Dandenong City SC – Saturday 15th February, 7:00pm at George Andrews Reserve

Hume City FC v Altona Magic SC – Saturday 15th February, 8:00pm at ABD Stadium Broadmeadows Valley Park

Eastern Lions SC v Bentleigh Greens SC – Sunday 16th February, 3:00pm at Gardiners Creek Reserve

St Albans Saints SC v Green Gully SC – Sunday 16th February, 5:00pm at Churchill Reserve

The U20s fixture for the men was also released alongside the senior draw.

Both of the full draws can be viewed here.





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