Iker Casillas Confirms Run for Spanish Football Federation Presidency

?Spain icon Iker Casillas has confirmed that he intends to run for presidency at the Spanish football association’s (RFEF) next election.

The 38-year-old goalkeeper is yet to officially retire from competitive action and remains on the books at Porto. However, he has not played since April 2019 after suffering a heart attack during training.

Since the incident, Casillas has worked as part of Porto’s backroom staff to prepare him for life after football, while there has been speculation for some time that he would seek to run for the RFEF presidency.

On Monday, the ex-Real Madrid stopper took to ?Twitter to confirm his candidacy.

“Yes, I will stand for presidency of the Spanish FA when elections are called,” he wrote. “Together we will put our federation at the level of the best football in the world.

I have informed the president of my Club, FC Porto, of this decision, to whom I can only express my deepest gratitude.

Iker Casillas

“We are working with the utmost respect in our candidacy. More than 23,000 voters await us in fair and transparent elections. 139 assembly members will decide.”

While he did not officially confirm his retirement, it certainly appears as though Casillas has informed Porto that he does not intend to return to football again, and he may have played his last match.

Casillas will now run against current RFEF president Luis Rubiales in the elections, but no date has been set just yet. Rubiales is eager to bring the elections forward to avoid clashing with the Olympic games in Tokyo, but this is yet to be confirmed.

Luis Rubiales

Rubiales has been in the position since May 2018, and he wasted little time making his mark as one of his first actions was to relieve Julen Lopetegui of his duties as Spain manager just days before the 2018 World Cup after it emerged he had been negotiating with ?Real Madrid.

Casillas would certainly be a popular appointment. The former Real star made 167 appearances for the Spanish national team during his career, winning the 2010 World Cup and the European Championships in both 2008 and 2012.

For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!


Steve Bruce Challenges Joelinton to Learn & Improve After Yet Another Goalless Showing

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has admitted that big-money summer striker Joelinton must improve his performances and score goals after another laboured display against Arsenal.

The Brazilian was again ineffective in the Magpies’ heavy 4-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium, a result which has seen Bruce’s side drop down to 13th in the Premier League table, just seven points above the relegation zone.

Stephen Bruce

Newcastle had their chances against the Gunners – taking ten shots in total – but registered just two shot on targets, with Joelinton often found wanting positionally.

That lack of on-field intelligence, as well as his abysmal record of just one Premier League goal, has now led Bruce to publicly criticise his performance levels, with the former Sunderland boss admitting that things must improve.

“Joelinton has got to learn and improve. He has to be in the box more often,” Bruce said after the game, as quoted by The Ch?r?onicle.

“We have to keep reminding him to get in the box and be more selfish. Strikers are judged on goals. He played well, led the line well but he’s got one goal all season in Premier League.”

Joelinton is not the only one guilty of profligacy in front of goal for the Magpies, with ?Newcastle currently ranking equal-bottom of the goalscoring charts in the Premier League this season.

The Magpies have scored just 24 goals in the league so far – exactly half of which have been netted by defenders – and the lack of creativity up front has led to a backlash from large pockets of supporters.

But while the service up to Joelinton has been far from desirable, the 23-year-old has to take a significant portion of the blame himself, having scored just once despite taking 40 shots in the Premier League since the beginning of the campaign – starting 25 games in that time.

With the Brazilian well and truly out of form, Bruce may look to his bench for attacking reinforcements. However, ?Andy Carroll has suffered with injuries all season long, while Dwight Gayle and Yoshinori Muto have both failed to impress on Tyneside this term as well.


Fran Kirby Explains Viral Illness Is the Reason Behind Frustrating Chelsea Layoff

Chelsea Women forward Fran Kirby has explained that a condition known as pericarditis affecting the heart and chest is the reason for her ongoing layoff since November, although 26-year-old England international is starting to prepare herself to return to training.

Pericarditis is usually the result of a viral infection and causes inflammation of the fluid-filled sac that surrounds the heart. Symptoms will often include chest pain, shortness of breath, fever, nausea and weakness, which resulted in Kirby sleeping for up to 15 hours a day early on.

Fran Kirby

The player was diagnosed shortly after Chelsea’s WSL win over Manchester United in November, a game in which she appeared from the bench, and has been taking anti-inflammatory medication to correct the problem since.

By her own admission, Kirby is now feeling ‘100 times better’ than when she first started suffering with the symptoms, which had come as a disappointing setback because she was otherwise free of injuries after a difficult struggle with fitness.

“When I became ill the frustration went away as I didn’t even have the energy to be frustrated, I had no emotion as I was too tired. It took over my life in a negative way, I couldn’t even get up to make food,” the 2017/18 PFA Player’s Player of the Year told Chelsea’s official website.

At the worst of it, Kirby explained that she was unable to even hold conversations with other people because her ill health was ‘constantly’ taking her full attention.

Fran Kirby

“Now I am coming to the other end of it, I am back around the girls more, I have the energy to come in or go to the pool when they are doing recovery,” she said.

As yet, there is no set time frame for when fans might see Kirby back in action for Chelsea or England, with this still a ‘day-by-day process’ as she fully recovers.

“I am getting there,” she said. “I have more energy and less symptoms but I need to go slowly as if I come back too soon it could be another three weeks out.”

When Kirby is able to make her return, she will bolster an already fearsome attacking unit that features Sam Kerr, Bethany England, Ji So-yun, Guro Reiten and Erin Cuthbert.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!


Euro 2020: Germany – Profiling Die Mannschaft Head Coach Joachim Löw

?Joachim Löw will lead Germany at a seventh major international tournament at Euro 2020 this summer – his eighth if you include the 2017 Confederations Cup – in his 15th year at the helm of the national team.

Löw never played senior international football for West Germany, as it was then known, during his own career. His rather modest days as a player as an attack-minded midfielder peaked with three spells at Freiburg, then in 2.Bundesliga, in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s.

His foray into playing at a higher level was ultimately limited to brief spells as a fringe player at Stuttgart and Eintracht Frankfurt. By the age of 29, Löw had traded Germany for lower league football in Switzerland, which is where he soon landed his first job in coaching.

Teams Managed

Germany's coach Joachim Loew smiles prio

?FC Frauenfeld ?1994 – 1995
?VfB Stuttgart ?1996 – 1998
?Fenerbahce 1998 – 1999?
?Karlsruher 1999 – 2000?
?Adanaspor ?2000 – 2001
?Tirol Innsbruck ?2001 – 2002
?Austria Wien ?2003 – 2004
Germany? 2006 – present?

International management is where Löw has ultimately thrived, but he spent more than a decade in various jobs in Switzerland, Germany, Turkey and Austria before he landed a role with the German national team in 2004 as an assistant coach in Jurgen Klinsmann’s staff.

That was part of a German reboot after a general decline and a disastrous Euro 2004, with Löw brought on board several years after meeting Klinsmann on a coaching course.

Löw got his first job in 1992 at Swiss club Winterthur, where he coached the youth team. That led to a player-manager gig at Frauenfeld in 1994, followed by an assistant’s job back home in Germany at former club Stuttgart.

Löw was handed the Stuttgart reins in 1996 and in 1998 was hired by Fenerbahce. He spent the next few seasons jumping around short stays at Karslruher, Adanaspor, Tirol Innsbruck and Austria Wien, before the call came from Klinsmann in 2004 to join him in the Germany setup.

Coaching Achievements

Joachim Loew

?DFB Pokal ?1996/97
?Austrian Bundesliga ?2001/02
?Austrian Supercup ?2003
?World Cup ?2014
?FIFA World Coach of the Year 2014?
?Confederations Cup ?2017

The 2014 World Cup is by the far the crown jewel of Löw’s personal trophy collection, but he did enjoy degrees of success at several of his club sides in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

At Stuttgart, Löw was in charge as the club won the DFB Pokal in 1997, while his team were beaten finalists against Chelsea in the 1998 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final.

Löw took over at Tirol Innsbruck in October 2001 and led the already reigning Austrian champions to a third straight ?Bundesliga title that season, but lost his job when the club went bankrupt and was dissolved. Austrian Supercup success came with Austria Wien in 2003.

Having taken over from Klinsmann after the 2006 World Cup, Löw took Germany to the final of Euro 2008 and back-to-back semi-finals at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, before 2014 glory. Germany also reached the semis at Euro 2016 and won the 2017 Confederations Cup.

Euro 2020 Qualifying Record


?Netherlands 2-3 Germany Sané, Gnabry, Schulz?
?Belarus 0-2 Germany ?Sané, Reus
Germany 8-0 Estonia? Reus (2), Gnabry (2), Goretzka, Gündo?an, Wener, Sané?
Germany 2-4 Netherlands? Gnabry, Kroos?
?Northern Ireland 0-2 Germany ?Halstenberg, Gnabry
?Estonia 0-3 Germany ?Gündo?an (2), Werner
Germany 4-0 Belarus? ?Ginter, Goretzka, Kroos (2)
?Germany 6-1 Northern Ireland ?Gnabry (3), Goretzka (2), Brandt

Germany qualified for their 13th European Championship by finishing top of Group C, securing their place with a game to spare after hammering Belarus in the penultimate round of fixtures. It made them one of the last automatic qualifiers to make it.

Löw’s team won seven of their eight qualifiers, only dropping points in a home defeat by the Netherlands midway through the campaign, while German players accounted for six of the nine highest scoring players in the group – not even including rising star Timo Werner.

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!


Barcelona ‘Flatly Denies’ Hiring Company to Troll Own Players & Club Legends Online

?Barcelona have released a statement to deny allegations of contracting a company to create social media posts that attack the reputations of its own stars, legends and those in contention for the club presidency online.

SER Catalunya sensationally reported that Barcelona used the services of I3 Ventures to create posts across various Facebook and Twitter pages that protect the reputation of current president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the current board. 

However, more shockingly, pages – supposedly under I3 Ventures’ control – have also been found to be attacking current players such as Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique, former club greats like Xavi Hernandez and Pep Guardiola and possible future presidential candidates Victor Font and Joan Laporta.

?SER Catalunya claims to have had ‘access’ to two reports prepared by I3 Venture, which detail the ‘impact and evolution’ of six of their accounts, and a specific ‘action plan’ against the possibility of Font running for the club presidency in 2021.

One example post from the account ‘Alter Sports’ – which has 26k Facebook followers – shared by SER shows current ?Manchester City manager Guardiola behind the wheel of a car, with the caption: “this guy has crashed four luxury cars in four years Manchester, Guardiola doesn’t know how to win the ?Champions League or drive without Messi. Guardiola at the wheel, constant danger.”

Other posts criticise defender Pique (often touted as a future club president) for his involvement with the Davis Cup tennis tournament (a frequent hot-button topic) and Messi over his contract renewal. Meanwhile, former stars Xavi and Carles Puyol have also been the subjects of disparaging posts, which appear to seek to generate controversy and foster negative opinion.

Beyond club players, past and present, ex-presidents and possible future rivals for the club’s top job in the next elections such as Font, Joan Laporta and Agustí Benedito have been targeted, along with political organisations such as the Catalan movement Tsunami Democratic. 

It is alleged that ?Barcelona paid just under €1m – ‘divided into six different invoices’ for the services.

Font has called on the board of directors to ‘offer an explanation’ for the ‘extremely worrying’ situation, while Benedito, another touted presidential candidate, has confirmed his intention to take legal action against incumbent Bartomeu.

??Madrid-based ?I3 Ventures has since denied working on Barcelona’s behalf to discredit certain individuals, calling SER’s allegations ‘absolutely false’. They also deny authorship of several pages identified in the report – including ‘Alter Sports’ – while claiming their role is related to ‘tracking and monitoring’ of social and digital channels.

?Barcelona released their own statement, with a five-point response, on Monday afternoon.

It reads: “FC Barcelona flatly denies any relationship and, even more, the contracting of services linked to social network accounts that have spread negative or disparaging messages in relation to any person, entity or organization that has or has had a relationship with the Club. 

“1. It strongly denies any relationship and, even more, the contracting of services linked to social network accounts that have spread negative or disparaging messages in relation to any person, entity or organization that has or has had a relationship with the Club.

“2.- I3 Ventures, provider of the Club, has no link to these accounts and, if any type of relationship is demonstrated, the Club would immediately terminate its contractual relationship and take appropriate legal action in defence of its legitimate interests.

“3.- Likewise, FC Barcelona confirms that it has contracted social network monitoring services in order to be aware of both positive and negative messages, of which the Entity is the object.

“4.- With the hiring of these services, the Club ensures to protect and preserve its reputation, as well as that of those linked to the Club (sponsors, players, managers, partners, peñistas …), to the extent that the protection This reputation is a fundamental element and an indispensable obligation for those who work for the Entity.

“5.- The Club requires the immediate rectification of the information disseminated and reserves the right to take appropriate legal action against those who continue to involve the Club in this type of practice.”