Category Archives: Football

(JN) Na bola com mulheres bonitas – Nuno Melo

(JN) “Falamos de forma individual com todas as operadoras para que deixem de focar nas raparigas que podem ser consideradas atraentes. É trazer uma carga sexista desnecessária ao futebol”. O pedido mais idiota do fenómeno desportivo universal foi feito assim, pelo dirigente da FIFA Federico Addiechi. Se há certeza dos nossos tempos é que a imaginação delirante do “politicamente correto” consegue ser estupidamente infinita, mesmo na crença estranha de um mundo virtualmente assético e assexuado.

E se o jogo for de futebol feminino? E se se der o caso de as jogadoras, a começar, serem realmente bonitas? Não sendo olhar pecado – por este caminho, já não é certeza -, será que o italiano responsável pelo programa de diversidade da FIFA reparou alguma vez na sueca Josefine Oqvist, na brasileira Laisa Andrioli, na australiana Ellyse Perry, na americana Hope Solo ou na francesa Corine Franco, só para ter em conta alguns, poucos, exemplos ? Fazer o quê? Filmar poucochinho em campo, para que não se notem? E depois o quê? Não focar entre os adeptos os feios, os negros, os brancos, os amarelos, os coxos? É que onde acaba o sexismo também pode haver quem ache que começa a discriminação.

Dito isto, lá em Zurique, na sede da FIFA, não terão mesmo nada melhor com que se entreter? É que assim de repente, antes do pecado da beleza, expurgada das bancadas para uma espécie de “buraco negro” das teleobjetivas, há certamente outros assuntos que beneficiariam muito do zelo crítico e censório da FIFA. A tendência para uma certa prodigalidade nos gastos, os representantes corrompidos por causa das escolhas para a realização de campeonatos, os processos judiciais e detenções por fraude, extorsão e lavagem de dinheiro, o pagamento de 71 milhões de euros durante cinco anos a Joseph Blatter, Jerôme Valcke e Markus Kattner, até as campanhas descaradas de Michel Platini – inabilitado depois de receber de Blatter dois milhões de francos suíços – contra Cristiano Ronaldo, escolhido várias vezes com toda a justiça melhor jogador do Mundo, a contragosto do francês. Grande Cristiano…

Já agora, conviria que a FIFA se recordasse que durante muito tempo a atenção prestada às mulheres ajudou precisamente a mostrar que o futebol não é um desporto de homens apenas. Num estádio de futebol cabem todos. E na verdade, nas alegrias do fenómeno desportivo, todas as pessoas são bonitas. Deixem-nas lá em paz.

EURODEPUTADO

(Economist) France’s victorious footballers do Emmanuel Macron a favour

(Economist) “Democratic heroes”, he believes, bring out the best in the French

WHEN Emmanuel Macron was a child, growing up in the northern French town of Amiens, he was a fervent supporter of a southern club, Olympique de Marseille. In 1993, the year they won the European Champions League, the club’s captain was a certain Didier Deschamps. On July 15th, under torrential rain after France’s victory at the World Cup final, it was as president that Mr Macron clasped in a tight embrace the same Mr Deschamps, captain of the French team that won the World Cup back in 1998, and now manager of the French champions.

Today France welcomes home Les Bleus, their national team, after a 4-2 defeat of Croatia in Moscow. A million people descended last night on Paris as the sun began to set, chanting, rocking Metro carriages, clambering onto bus shelters and up lamp posts, and setting off flares and firecrackers. The capital’s arteries emptied of cars and turned into a flag-waving, chanting human flow.

The team will this afternoon parade down the Champs-Elysées (past a station that the Paris Metro briefly renamed “Deschamps-Elysées”) in an open-top bus, to a reception hosted by Mr Macron at the presidential palace. They have warmed hearts and made history. Mr Deschamps has become only the third person to win the World Cup as both player and manager. Kylian Mbappé, a striker who grew up in the Paris banlieue of Bondy, is only the second teenager, after Pelé, to score a goal in the World Cup final.

Football for Mr Macron, who did not conceal his joy in the presidential box during the match, is more than just a sport. A left-back when he played as a student, he enjoys the game, and took his presidential campaign to Sarcelles, a Paris banlieue, where he kicked a ball about with youngsters. Yet football matters to him for other reasons too, and not least because, although he will doubtless be accused of exploiting victory for political ends, he may well get a poll bounce as the country’s mood lifts. In 1998 the sitting president, Jacques Chirac, saw his popularity leap from 45% in June to 59% in August after France’s victory. It remained above 50%, amid a broad economic recovery, for the next 18 months.

One reason this victory suits Mr Macron is that, at a time when the president is accused by his detractors of contempt for those less fortunate than him, and of a drift to the political right, football in France represents the sort of social mobility that he approves of. Sport, he said on a trip to Marseille during the election campaign last year, “kills house arrest” for those living in the country’s banlieues. Greater Paris, ringed by brutalist housing estates where many families of immigrant origin live, has a thriving network of after-school amateur football clubs that has become a giant talent pool for the national team. Training and talent are central to Mr Macron’s vision of how to combat poverty, and football offers a potent symbol of this.

A second reason is that the team itself has become a classy advertisement for France. In 1998 the country was still so unsure about its multicultural identity that the team was tagged “black, blanc, beur” in reference to its multiracial make-up. At the tournament in South Africa eight years ago, the French side, made up of supersized egos, went on strike during a training session, and later departed in disgrace after crashing out of the tournament. This year Mr Deschamps has forged a side of likeable team players, who were as boisterous in the dressing-room after the match as they were disciplined, focused and ruthless during the tournament. Mr Mbappé has spoken of wanting “to give everything to France”. Antoine Griezmann, another goalscorer, tweeted simply, “CHAMPIONS DU MONDE. Vive la France!”.

Mr Macron, who will have enjoyed the symbolism of victory in Russia, which he suspected of trying to hack his election campaign, has a final reason for embracing this team. This is to do with what he calls “democratic heroes”. From the president’s speech at Johnny Hallyday’s funeral, to that during the entry of Simone Veil to the Panthéon, Mr Macron regards the celebration of the lives of popular, or historic, figures as a chance to try to bring out the best in the French. Liberal democracies, he has argued, faced with the dark menace of nationalism, need heroes if they are to rouse a positive national spirit and defeat the “sad passions” fanned by populists. In the 23 players and their manager who brought home the World Cup, the luckiest man in French politics has found his heroes.

(BBG) Cristiano Ronaldo’s Move to Italy Is a Big Score for Jeep

(BBG) Italy’s Juventus Football Club SpA is paying a total of more than $130 million to nab star player Cristiano Ronaldo from Spanish soccer giant Real Madrid Football Club. The Italian team won’t be the only one trying to cash in on the Portuguese footballer’s fame.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, whose Jeep logo is plastered across the chests of Juventus’ black-and-white-striped jerseys, could get a huge advertising boost in the deal. If Ronaldo can lead Juventus to the UEFA Champions League finals, the media exposure for that one year will be worth about $58.3 million, according to Eric Smallwood, president of Apex Marketing Group Inc. That would be quite a return on the $20 million Fiat Chrysler pays each year for its Juventus sponsorship, according to SportsPro.

Jeep, which makes the iconic Jeep Wrangler, is the crown jewel in Fiat Chrysler’s stable of auto brands. The company forecasts global sales of 1.9 million this year, more than double the 730,000 sold five years ago. Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne wants to bump that to 3.3 millionby 2022, a goal Ronaldo could aid, especially with Hispanic soccer fans, said Chris Chaney, senior vice president at San Diego-based brand consultancy Strategic Vision.

“I can see the fit and where it will help strengthen things,” Chaney said. “The freedom and the adventure, the openness that Jeep represents, it’s appealing to everybody, but it’s particularly appealing to Hispanic new-car buyers.”

Both Turin-based Juventus and Fiat Chrysler are controlled by Italy’s Agnelli family. A spokesman for Fiat Chrysler declined to comment on the value of the soccer deals.

The Agnelli family, which has owned Juventus for more than 90 years, controls Ferrari NV and Fiat Chrysler through its holding company, Exor NV, which owns 64 percent of Juventus. Andrea Agnelli, the cousin of Exor CEO John Elkann, has been chairman of Juventus since 2010. Beyond Jeep, Juventus sponsors such as Adidas, Allianz and Samsung are poised to benefit from Ronaldo’s move.

Juventus in January 2017 presented a new branding strategy to expand revenue from sales of merchandising internationally. Its efforts come as some of its rivals have been sold to Chinese investors, highlighting the value of Italian soccer teams. Juventus, winner of a record seven consecutive Serie A championships, has seen its share pricerise about 35 percent since talk of a deal for the star player surfaced last week.

Ronaldo scored 451 goals in 438 games since he joined Real Madrid in 2009, helping the club to win four Champions League titles, and La Liga, Spain’s top soccer division, twice. Also the UEFA Champions League’s all-time top scorer, Ronaldo earned $61 million dollars in salary and bonuses last year, plus an extra $47 million via endorsements, according to Forbes, making him the third-highest paid athlete in the world behind FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi and American boxer Floyd Mayweather.

His value to marketers is compounded by his huge presence on social media. He has 74.5 million followers on Twitter, compared with 6 million for Juventus and less than 1 million for Jeep. On Instagram, he has 134 million followers, compared with about 10 million for Juventus.

(BBG) Ronaldo Bid Reports Send Juventus Shares to Four-Month High

(BBG) Shares of Juventus Football Club SpA surged following reports the Italian soccer club is poised to sign five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.

Current club Real Madrid would consider a fee of about 100 million euros ($117 million) for its record goal-scorer, a fraction of his 1 billion-euro release clause, Spanish sports website Marca reported. The 33-year-old agreed to accept a 30 million-euro salary from Juventus, Spanish newspaper As reported, saying the clubs still need to reach a transfer agreement.

Juventus shares rose as much as 9.7 percent in Milan, the biggest intraday rally since a crucial Champions League winin March for the team that would later crash out in a quarter-final defeat at the hands of its Spanish rival, sealed by a penalty goal from Ronaldo. The stock has climbed 23 percent in the last five days as speculation of a possible transfer gathered pace.

While a fee of the reported amount may seem high for a player in the twilight of his career, it would be a coup for the Turin-based side known as “la Vecchia Signora,” or The Old Lady, given Ronaldo’s global brand appeal as well as his on-field talent.

Ronaldo is a “marketer’s dream” who would entice fresh revenue to Juventus through sponsorships, full stadiums and potential broadcasting rights, Robert Wilson, a lecturer in sports business management at Sheffield Hallam University in the north of England, said by email.

The fee would top the 80 million pounds ($105.8 million) Real Madrid paid Manchester United for the Portuguese star in 2009.

Also the UEFA Champions League’s all-time top scorer, Ronaldo earned $61 million dollars in salary and bonuses last year, plus an extra $47 million via endorsements, according to Forbes, making him the third-highest paid athlete in the world behind FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi and American boxer Floyd Mayweather.

His most recent exploits came at the World Cup in Russia, where he scored a breathtaking hat-trick against Spain in the group stage before Portugal was eliminated by Uruguay in the first knock-out round.

A spokesman for Juventus declined to comment and Real Madrid didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.

(S-E) Fiat factory workers are angry at Juventus signing Cristiano Ronaldo

(S-EThey are angry that the company, which owns shares in Juventus, have the money to sign Cristiano but not to increase their worker’s wages

After Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo were knocked out of the World Cup by Uruguay, the striker has been the main focus in the media after being linked with a Real Madrid exit. In the last few days the idea he could end up at Juventus is gathering pace and they’ve moved ahead of other teams such as Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.

However, there’s a problem emerging for the Italian side. The car manufacturing giant FIAT owns 29.18% of the Agnelli family’s businesses via Exor N.V., who own the majority of the shares – 63.77% – in Juventus. In fact, Juventus’ current president, Andrea Agnelli, was one of the founding members in the mentioned company, which also includes Ferrari and The Economist Group.

Juventus are willing to pay €100m in transfer fees plus another €120m in wages across his four seasons at the club. This investment of €220m is in order to finally win the Champions League again. However this huge quantity of money has generated a problem for the workers at the FIAT car manufacturing plant. “After Higuain, now Cristiano Ronaldo is coming? It’s embarrassing. The workers at FIAT haven’t had a wage increase in ten years. With Cristiano’s wages, you could give every worker a €200 pay rise. In these ten years we’ve lost 10.7% due to inflation that we’ve never gotten back. And now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, FCA, is spending €126m annualy in sponsorship, of which €26.5 is for Juventus,” criticised Gerardo Giannone of the DER agency.

(Economist) Why so many World Cup sponsors are from China

(Economist) Many Western companies have withdrawn their support

CHINA’S footballers have only qualified once for the finals of the men’s World Cup and that appearance—in South Korea and Japan in 2002—was forgettable. The Chinese team failed to score a goal and conceded nine, crashing out of the tournament at the group stage. But even though China is sitting out the current tournament in Russia, it is still having a considerable impact. Seven of the 19 corporate sponsors are Chinese. Why so many?

The World Cup is the marquee tournament for FIFA, the Zurich-based multi-billion-dollar enterprise that governs world football. It is hard to overstate how closely FIFA’s business model is tied to the quadrennial event, which is its primary source of revenue. FIFA booked $5.4bn in revenue for the four-year business cycle ending with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, thanks largely to the television rights and corporate sponsorships that are the cornerstones of its balance sheet. The former brought in $2.4bn in revenue and the latter $1.6bn during that cycle, helping to offset the $2bn operational costs related to the staging of the tournament. The World Cup is one of the world’s most-watched television events, so big companies have traditionally relished the platform it offers their brands, and competed fiercely for the sponsorship slots on offer.

That has changed. In 2015 American prosecutors indicted some 40 individuals and entities associated with FIFA on a broad range of corruption charges, including racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracy. The charges stoked long-bubbling concerns among the organisation’s corporate partners about whether their associations with FIFA exposed them to reputational and financial jeopardy. Companies such as Emirates, Continental, Johnson & Johnson and Sony refused to renew their sponsorship contracts when they expired. Few lined up to take their places. Of the 34 sponsorship slots on offer for the tournament in Russia, only 19 have been filled, a stark change from 2014 when sponsorship packages were sold out long before kick-off. (It should be acknowledged, though, that the corporate world might have reacted differently if the 2018 World Cup had been scheduled for, say, Portugal and Spain, rather than a Russia increasingly mistrusted by the West.) FIFA’s only new deals since the scandal broke have been with companies from Russia, Qatar (which hosts the tournament in 2022) and China, whose businesses seem to be less concerned about being associated with FIFA. Among those Chinese companies are Vivo, a mobile-phone company; Hisense, an electronics manufacturer; Yadea, an electric-scooter company; Mengniu, China’s second-largest dairy company; and Dalian Wanda, a conglomerate with interests in property and cinemas.

Around one in five Chinese people watched the 2014 tournament on television, but football’s popularity in the Middle Kingdom has not previously translated into large numbers of Chinese sponsors of the World Cup. Only one Chinese company sponsored the 2014 tournament, so the change with this year is notable. The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, an avid football fan, has made no secret of his wish for his country to qualify for another World Cup, host the tournament and eventually even win it. According to Nielsen, a research firm, the presence of Chinese sponsors at this tournament “can be seen as the country’s corporations rowing behind the national effort to develop the game and attract the World Cup”. They are speaking to FIFA in a language it understands: money.

(GUA) US, Canada and Mexico beat Morocco in vote to host 2026 World Cup

(GUA)

Delegates of Canada, Mexico and the United States celebrate after winning a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
 Delegates of Canada, Mexico and the United States celebrate after winning a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup. Photograph: Pavel Golovkin/AP

The 2026 World Cup will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico after they beat Morocco by a margin of 69 votes to host the tournament which will be expanded to 48 teams for the first time.

The Moroccan bid used its final address to Fifa congress to point out the country has a ban on weapons and would not hike up ticket prices to increase profit, a thinly veiled swipe at its rivals. But it was not enough to sway the room as it lost the vote, with the United 2026 bid receiving 134 votes to its 65.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The U.S., together with Mexico and Canada, just got the World Cup. Congratulations – a great deal of hard work!

The United States-led bid was judged by a Fifa taskforce to be vastly superior to its north African rivals on technical grounds, with a total of 23 stadiums, already built or under construction, at its disposal. Morocco, while enticing some federations with its commitment to fan engagement in a footballing nation, would have had to build or renovate all of the 14 stadiums in its bid book.

That difference – alongside the promise of £4bn in extra profit for the federations – was enough to convince some undecided voters to side with the United 2026 campaign, which opened its final 15-minute pitch by handing the stage to Alphonso Davies, a 17-year-old Canadian born in a Liberian refugee camp in Ghana. “In Canada, they’ve welcomed me and I know they’ll welcome you,” he said.

Of 211 federations, 203 submitted a vote. That number accounted for the four bidding nations who were ineligible, plus three American-governed territories who abstained because of a perceived conflict of interest plus Ghana, who did not attend congress after corruption allegations. The way the federations voted was made public for the first time, perhaps the most surprising revelation being Russia voting for the United 2026 bid despite political tensions between the nations.

The Fifa heirarchy, including the president, Gianni Infantino, preferred the North American bid which has promised to generate around an $11bn (£8.24bn) profit for Fifa compared to the projected $5.7bn (£4.48bn) a Morocco World Cup would raise. The Moroccans had been keen to emphasise its more fan-friendly pricing in contrast with the United 2026 bid which stated an average ticket price of $431 (£322), a significant increase on the Brazil and Russia World Cups.

It was the first World Cup vote since 2010, when the FA suffered humiliation after Russia won the right to host the 2018 tournament. Allegations of corruption immediately followed that vote with Qatar securing the 2022 event. The prospect of a more controversy-free World Cup also swayed Fifa in favour of the United 2026 bid.

Infantino took the opportunity to claim the Fifa landscape has drastically changed since he succeeded Sepp Blatter. “It was clinically dead when I took over two years ago,” he said. “Now it is alive. There are no longer additional costs in the balance sheet.”

Proceedings at congress, held at Moscow’s Expocentre on the outskirts of the city centre, came to an unexpected halt halfway through as Infantino announced the arrival of Vladimir Putin. Most of the hall rose to their feet to greet the arrival of the Russian president but the FA delegation, led by the chief executive, Martin Glenn, remained seated. Putin offered little alternative to David Gill, the English Fifa council member, but to shake his hand as he made his way along the line of those on the stage.

Eight years ago when Russia was awarded the 2018 World Cup in Zurich, Putin spoke mainly in English as he thanked the audience “from the bottom of my heart”. He struck a different, more serious tone this time round although he was full of praise for Infantino, calling him a “good front man and true fighter”. Infantino responded in kind, thanking Putin “on behalf of the entire world of football … from the bottom of our heart a big thank you for your engagement, for your passion, for really making us feel part of the same team”.

Putin closed his speech by saying in English: “Welcome to Russia.”

+++ P.O. (BBG) FIFA’s New Competition Will Destroy World Soccer: Alex Webb

P.O.

…In my opinion, and i agree with the Author, there is already too much discrimination between the rich and the poor Soccer Clubs.

…With this new proposed competition it will be the end of World Soccer as we know it.

…Between corruption and these idiotic measures one doesn’t know what is Fifa’s rationale anymore…

…Unless it is to perpetuate the “cosy club” in power there.

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

(BBG) Another big pot for champions will worsen the divide between rich and poor clubs.

FIFA seems to be on the cusp of creating an oligopoly which could destroy club soccer around the world.

Two years after assuming the chairmanship of the sport’s global governing body, Gianni Infantino is seeking to create a new competition which will see the world’s top clubs compete for a $1.9 billion prize pot.

It risks exacerbating the wealth gap between the world’s biggest and smallest clubs to such an extent that the trend of recent years, where just a handful of clubs have any realistic chance of winning a title, is sure to get even more acute.

It’s unclear how entirely the league will be structured, but the Financial Times has reported that it will consist of 24 club teams competing in a tournament once every four years, which will be held in one region or country. It is likely that the top-performing teams from the continental tournaments (the respective Champions Leagues in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa) will then get a chance to compete for the global trophy.

The plan doesn’t have a straight shot to fruition. The Spanish are dead set against it, and controversy has prompted FIFA to delay the approval vote.

But were it to be realized, it would give the richest clubs a chance to become yet richer, giving them more financial clout to secure the world’s best players and qualify for the top prizes, and so on. England’s Premier League is instructive. English clubs competing in the Champions League, Europe’s top club competition, generated sales averaging 398 million pounds in the 2015-2016 season, according to consultancy Deloitte. The average Premier League club that didn’t participate in a European competition posted revenue of just 110 million pounds.

The ramification of that financial dominance is reflected in who has won England’s Premier League title. There are 20 clubs in the league at any one time, but just six teams have won it since its inception in 1992. With the exception of a single win each by Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City, the only winners have been Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Under Infantino’s new plan, the 24 teams from around the world that would compete would all receive some extra revenue, while the teams that get stuck in domestic leagues would receive no money. The 24 would also benefit from greater global exposure, letting them secure additional sponsorship and retail income.

It could be yet worse for non-European leagues. Competitions outside the region, including the continental ones, are significantly less lucrative. The handful of teams who qualify for Infantino’s championship would therefore benefit significantly from the vastly expanded income, which should translate into substantial dominance at home.

The logic from the FIFA side is clear. The organization secures a major payday once every four years from the World Cup, and so the timing of this new tournament could even out those peaks and troughs.

But at what cost? Not only could it create a further imbalance in the club game, the current plan will also see private companies take a 49 percent stake in the new venture, according to the FT. FIFA is, ostensibly at least, a nonprofit which aims to reinvest all surplus revenue back into the game. That’s all well and good if you agree with the premise of the tournament, but given its effect, the added factor of handing over so much power to private investors whose primary motive is profit rather than the good of the game is troubling.

When considered holistically, global soccer is a huge business. But individually, even the biggest clubs are really little more than SMEs: Manchester United’s 2017 revenue was 581 million pounds. FIFA has to ask itself: Is its primary motive to make a handful of clubs richer, or supporting the sport itself? This proposal achieves the former at the expense of the latter.

(ECO) O Sporting é o novo BES? – Editorial

(ECO) O Sporting já bateu no fundo? Não, ainda não, mas corre o risco de se transformar no novo BES. Mas, neste caso, não haverá um ‘Bom Sporting’ ou um ‘Mau Sporting’. Simplesmente, não haverá Sporting.

Uma crise sem precedentes, um nível de violência que chocou o país, suspeitas de jogos comprados, indícios de corrupção. O Sporting bateu no fundo? Não, ainda não. Quando se vê um histórico do clube como José Maria Ricciardi, sem meias-palavras, a pedir a demissão imediata do presidente do clube, Bruno de Carvalho, a alertar para os riscos que o clube está a atravessar do ponto de vista económico e financeiro, rapidamente vem à memória o que aconteceu no BES, os seus avisos, à data isolados dentro da família, e depois a queda de um grupo que parecia indestrutível. O Sporting é o novo BES? Já estivemos mais longe.

O que se passa no Sporting nos últimos meses de forma pública e notória – e podemos imaginar hoje o que já se passava nos gabinetes – permite dizer sem arriscar muito que o que está em causa é mesmo a sobrevivência de um clube histórico. Para lá das dimensões judiciais na sequência do inacreditável ato de violência de que foram alvo os jogadores e o treinador do clube, há uma dimensão empresarial que é absolutamente crítica para o Sporting ultrapassar esta crise. E tendo em conta que Bruno de Carvalho continua agarrado ao poder – tal como estava Ricardo Salgado no BES -, parece que quer ser responsável por uma última decisão: a falência do Sporting. Recorde-se, o Sporting quer adiar um reembolso do empréstimo obrigacionista de 2015, no valor de 30 milhões de euros, previsto para de 25 de maio, para novembro, e tem uma assembleia geral de obrigacionistas no próximo dia 20… Se não for aprovado, o risco de ‘default’ é enorme. Talvez se perceba melhor, agora, porque é que o BCP e o Novo Banco decidiram ‘perdoar’ 94,5 milhões de euros de dívida. Para tentar receber algum a prazo, coisa que, agora, parece mais distante.

Agora, em vez de apresentar já a demissão ou, no mínimo, acelerar a convocatória de eleições, quer reunir a assembleia geral para discutir o estado do clube. Mesmo? Há dúvidas? Há dois riscos evidentes para uma ‘besização’ do Sporting, um primeiro imediato e outro a prazo, e cada dia que passa aproxima o clube do abismo:

  1. Em primeiro lugar, a falência económica e financeira, na sequência de um possível (mais do que provável) pedido de rescisão dos contratos dos melhores jogadores por justa causa. Seria um rombo ingerível, e neste quadro, é no mínimo questionável perceber quem é que estará disponível para investir em obrigações da SAD do clube, desta vez são 15 milhões de euros, que vão ser emitidas nas próximas semanas. A NOS, o principal patrocinador, mantém para já os contratos, mas Miguel Almeida já deixou avisos.
  2. Em segundo lugar, os casos judiciais conhecidos nos últimos dias sobre as suspeitas de compra de resultados nas modalidades ditas amadoras e também no futebol podem ter consequências desportivas gravíssimas, eventualmente até à descida de divisão.

O Sporting parece, por estes dias, bloqueado numa crise institucional, porque está refém de um presidente, mas poderá ultrapassar esta fase se Bruno de Carvalho sair já, antes que o clube caia na crise financeira. Esta é a linha vermelha para evitar uma catástrofe. É ‘só’ isto que está em causa. Mais do que procurar novos candidatos à presidência do clube, o Sporting e os seus órgãos sociais têm de demitir Bruno de Carvalho com caráter de urgência, sob pena de virem a lamentar o que não fizeram. Porque aqui não haverá um ‘Mau Sporting’ e um ‘Bom Sporting’. Nem vão aparecer fundos americanos ou asiáticos para tomarem conta do clube. Simplesmente, não haverá Sporting.

(OBS) O Futebol já não é deste mundo – Rui Ramos

(OBS) O futebol tornou-se um mundo aparte, onde as leis e as regras não se aplicam. É por isso que, por vezes, parece que Alvalade fica na Venezuela e Alcochete na Síria.

Deve ter sido por volta de 1949, numa palestra radiofónica, que o capitão Jorge Botelho Moniz avançou esta tese (cito de memória): se em 1910 já houvesse um campeonato de futebol, como havia nos anos 40, nunca teria acontecido a revolução republicana em Lisboa. O seu raciocínio era este: em 1910, o republicanismo na capital arrastava para comícios, discussões e zaragatas o tipo de pessoas – caixeiros do comércio, trabalhadores das oficinas e serviços urbanos, empregados de escritório, etc. – que, trinta anos depois, iam aos estádios e discutiam e brigavam, não por causa da monarquia e da república, mas por causa do Benfica e do Sporting.

Esta teoria seria perfilhada muito seriamente pela oposição anti-salazarista, que sempre viu no futebol, ao lado do fado e de Fátima (os três F), um dos instrumentos da ditadura para distrair as massas dos seus deveres revolucionários. A multidão lisboeta que a 1 de Maio de 1974 saiu à rua a vitoriar o MFA, ainda umas semanas antes, a 31 de Março, festejara entusiasticamente Marcello Caetano no estádio de Alvalade, durante um Sporting-Benfica. Tinha sido preciso um golpe militar para quebrar o encanto.

Esta semana, não sei o que diria o capitão Botelho Moniz. A sua teoria está confirmada, no sentido em que é à volta dos clubes que as pessoas se permitem hoje em dia experimentar emoções fortes, como o tribalismo e o facciosismo outrora associado à política, à religião ou à aldeia no tempo das lutas de varapau. Mas precisamente por disso, aconteceu algo não previsto na teoria: o futebol tornou-se também uma das vias pela qual, contra a educação e a propaganda dos regimes em que vivemos, esses instintos fatais arranjaram modo de persistir e de regressar. De modo que é agora por causa do futebol que estamos à beira, não digo de uma revolução, mas de alguma comoção de Estado.

Ainda não tivemos uma guerra com pretexto num jogo de futebol, como as Honduras e El Salvador em Julho de 1969, mas já temos “terrorismo”, como se viu no assalto militarizado às instalações do Sporting em Alcochete. É nas claques do futebol que aqueles que gostariam de ser guerreiros de uma tribo do Amazonas hoje encontram a sua floresta. É também no futebol, que políticos de segunda linha, empresários suburbanos, ou advogados anónimos têm a sua oportunidade de fazerem de Césares com os seus circos.

A mania de ver no futebol uma espécie de nova religião não ajuda, porque manifestamente inibe as autoridades. Todos receiam mexer no novo ópio do povo. Assume-se, por isso, que nada pode acontecer a um clube de futebol, aos seus dirigentes e adeptos. É essa impunidade que explica como, de repente, temos demagogos a presidir a clubes, mafias a organizar jogos, e adeptos que são terroristas. Há obviamente, em qualquer sociedade, por mais bem formada, gente cuja vocação é ser demagogo, mafioso, ou terrorista. Se não fosse no futebol, seria em outra coisa qualquer. A questão está na possibilidade que o futebol lhes dá para serem tudo isso impunemente. Por isso, parece por vezes que Alvalade fica na Venezuela e Alcochete na Síria.

O futebol tornou-se um mundo aparte, onde as leis e as regras não se aplicam. Há quem, por essa razão, queira agora mudar Portugal, o mundo e a natureza humana. Não digo que não desse jeito. Mas antes disso, experimentem este remédio mais simples: sujeitem o futebol à lei, com todo o rigor. A primeira vez que um clube fosse dissolvido por dívidas, despromovido por batota, ou banido por causa da violência dos seus adeptos, fosse esse clube grande ou pequeno, voltaríamos talvez a ter apenas um desporto.

(OBS) Agora o futebol quer chamar a polícia? – Miguel Pinheiro

(OBS) É o novo mantra da intelligentsia futebolística: “À Justiça o que é da Justiça, ao desporto o que é do desporto”. É só mais uma forma de cobardia: ninguém tem coragem de enfrentar clubes e adeptos.

Não se deixem enganar: o que aconteceu esta terça-feira em Alcochete não é só um caso de polícia. Foi comovente ver como toda a gente, de políticos a dirigentes desportivos, falou sobre as agressões aos jogadores do Sporting com as mãos a segurar o Código Penal. Parecem tão sérios, não parecem? Mas essa é apenas uma forma cobarde de evitar tomar decisões difíceis; e é uma forma de entregar um tema incómodo às secretarias dos tribunais, onde ficarão durante anos antes que alguém entre na cadeia.

Eis o novo mantra da nossa intelligentsia futebolística: “À Justiça o que é da Justiça, ao desporto o que é do desporto”. Onde é que já ouvimos isto? Claro que a Justiça tem que fazer o que costuma fazer. Mas o desporto, e quem manda no desporto — sendo que quem manda no desporto adora aparecer nas televisões a dizer que manda no desporto –, fica apenas a assistir, de camarote, à longa liturgia de detenções, acusações, julgamentos e recursos de um ou dois (ou vinte) adeptos violentos, como se não precisasse de fazer mais nada?

Depois da invasão do centro de treinos de Alcochete por um bando de encapuzados, formou-se uma interminável fila de nulidades retóricas. O secretário de Estado do Desporto apareceu nas televisões, muito cheio de si e empertigado, a declarar que os agressores “não são adeptos do desporto”, mas “criminosos”. A Liga de futebol profissional repetiu a mesma coisa, quase palavra por palavra, num comunicado onde escrevia que “os executores destes comportamentos não são adeptos de futebol, mas sim criminosos”. A Federação Portuguesa de Futebol, toda ela impotência, limitou-se a pedir que “as autoridades públicas não olhem a recursos para levar perante a justiça os responsáveis por atos criminosos que não podem deixar de ser punidos”. Pedro Proença, presidente da Liga, afirmou, contristado, que “o futebol não é isto”. E o inamovível Bruno de Carvalho disse à Sporting TV, com a tranquilidade de quem fuma um charuto, que “isto é um caso de polícia, não é desportivo”.

“Não são adeptos do desporto”? Claro que são. “Não é um caso desportivo”? Claro que é. “O futebol não é isto”? Claro que é. O ponto, aliás, está precisamente aí: o que está em causa neste momento é aquilo em que se transformou o futebol português — numa república independente onde não há lei nem punição, onde só há deslumbramento e subserviência.

Basta olhar para a nossa classe política: o primeiro-ministro e os ministros aparecem, inchados, nas bancadas presidenciais dos estádios; os deputados, submissos, recebem os presidentes dos clubes no parlamento; os presidentes de câmara, solícitos, entregam as sedes dos municípios às equipas que vencem campeonatos; os políticos no activo, excitados, participam em debates na televisão que competem com circos.

E basta olhar para as autoridades: os adeptos em viagem na autoestrada destroem estações de serviço sem que haja detenções; a Segunda Circular é transformada num enorme parque de estacionamento em dias de jogo sem que haja multas; as claques lançam petardos sem que haja sanção.

Durante anos e décadas, os evidentes crimes que existem no mundo do futebol foram escondidos e protegidos por políticos engravatados, por responsáveis engravatados e por comentadores engravatados. Hoje, quando tudo se tornou insustentável, estão a tremer de medo, como sempre. Incapazes de enfrentar clubes e adeptos, fazem de conta que não é nada com eles e dizem, virginais, que o melhor é chamar a polícia. Agora é que querem chamar a polícia?

+++ (Metro) Liverpool ‘begin talks’ over £87 million deal for Portuguese superstar Bruno Fernandes – Reds transfer news

(Metro) PLUS… Trent Alexander-Arnold set for new contract AND a place in England’s World Cup squad.

Bruno Fernandes of Sporting CP competes for the ball against Atletico Madrid (Image: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno)
 

Liverpool will look to unleash a brand new midfield on the Premier League by pairing Naby Keita with £87 million Sporting Lisbon man Bruno Fernandes.

Fernandes, 23, has been in red hot form for the Europa League quarter-finalists netting 13 goals with 18 assists this season report The Metro,

They cite sources in Portugal who believe Jurgen Klopp has been mightily impressed with the international midfielder – who has been capped four times by Fernando Santos’ side.

And they say the Reds have already begun talks to bring him over to Anfield this summer to partner Keita.

The energetic player only signed from Sampdoria in the summer.

Trent Alexander-Arnold set for new contract AND a place in England’s World Cup squad

Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Milner show their appreciation to the fans (Image: Andrew Powell)

Liverpool are set to reward Trent Alexander-Arnold with a quick-fire contract upgrade after his breakthrough season at Anfield.

It’s believed talks will place in the summer to fast-track the defender onto a better deal after making huge strides this season.

And there’s more good news for the Reds starlet, with Gareth Southgate now certain to include him in his squad for the World Cup in Russia this summer.

The 19-year-old full-back committed his future to Liverpool last summer signing a long-term deal.

Fans vote unanimously for one club who has best home AND away support

Liverpool fans hold up banners and scarfs prior to Champions League match against Manchester City(Image: Getty Images Europe)

A poll of over 4000 fans of top-flight teams have voted Liverpool as the best home and away supporters in the Premier League.

The research conducted by Sky Sports said the majority of fans asked claimed that the Reds are the loudest both at Anfield and on the road.

 According to the results, Jurgen Klopp’s men topped the table followed by Newcastle and Crystal Palace as the noisiest home fans.

In fourth place were Liverpool’s rivals Man United, whose 75,000 seater Old Trafford produces a hefty racket with Stoke City propping up the top five.

(BBC) Cristiano Ronaldo bicycle kick: Night Juventus Stadium rose to applaud Real Madrid forward

(BBC

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo flew through the air to score a sensational bicycle kick against Juventus

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane’s reaction said it all.

Hand to his head, a look of disbelief on his face at what he had just seen, he turned and bellowed his approval. As a player, the Frenchman scored plenty of stunning goals himself in Turin – but what he had just witnessed from Cristiano Ronaldo was special.

Ronaldo’s second goal for the Spanish giants in their 3-0 Champions League quarter-final first-leg victory at Juventus was one of the great strikes – the 33-year-old Portuguese rising almost unnaturally high before acrobatically firing the ball into the corner of the net with an incredible bicycle kick.

Seconds after the ball hit the net, the Juve fans followed Zidane’s lead, rising to applaud the man who has, in all likelihood, ended their interest in the Champions League for this season.

BBC Radio 5 live’s Pat Nevin, who was at the game, was equally stunned. “When the ball comes across to him you think: ‘Oh, you’re not going to try an overhead kick.’ And then, bang! Oh wow! Just see it, watch it,” said the former Scotland winger.

“It is unnatural. People are talking about how Ronaldo is getting a bit older now – but there is nothing wrong with that body if he can do that sort of thing. The timing of it is extraordinary, the imagination to do it is extraordinary.

“A lot of the Juventus fans stayed behind to applaud Ronaldo. To turn around this coliseum to his side – wow. Call it genius if you like.

“It is one of the great goals you will see in football.”

Ronaldo’s goalscoring stats…

Cristiano Ronaldo scores a bicycle kick for Real Madrid against Juventus
Another view…
  • Ronaldo has scored 19 goals in his past nine games for Real – 25 in his past 13 for club and country.
  • He has scored 39 goals in 36 games for Real this season – more goals than anyone else who plays in one of Europe’s top five leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain).
  • The Portuguese has scored in his past 10 Champions League games – all nine this season and last year’s final – netting 16 times in that run.
  • Ronaldo is the Champions League’s all-time top scorer with 119 – 19 clear of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
  • He has scored nine of his past 11 shots on target against legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
  • Ronaldo has scored the first Real Madrid goal of a Champions League game in 10 of the past 14 games.
  • He has scored 22 goals in Champions League quarter-finals, one more than Juventus. Only five teams, including Real Madrid, have scored more.
  • Ronaldo has either scored (14) or assisted (three) 68% of Real’s 25 Champions League goals this season.
  • He has scored in each of his six games against Juventus – nine goals in total. No player has more against a single opponent in the Champions League.

Ronaldo on Ronaldo – ‘My best ever goal’

“Obviously people are talking about the second goal, it was amazing, probably the best of my career,” Ronaldo said after the game.

“It was spectacular. I jumped very high and it’s a goal that will live long in the memory.

“I’ve been looking to do it for a while, but it depends on the circumstances of the game. It just came to me to give it a go, you always have to try it. I tried it today and it came off”.

Speaking about receiving a standing ovation, he added: “It was one of the most poignant moments of the night. To receive applause from a stadium like this, which has been graced by great players, is a unique experience.

“When I was a kid, I liked Juventus and the fact that their fans have clapped me will stay with me.”

‘One of the great goals’

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo looked like he could not quite believe what happened

“It is one of those ones where you just say: ‘Oh, you’re just egging it up a bit, you’re exaggerating for pure commentary purposes,'” said Nevin.

“No, absolutely no. That is one of the great goals you will see… I was going to say Champions League football, but, basically, football.

“Talking about how high his foot is, when he goes for the kick there Mattia de Sciglio is jumping up to head the ball and Ronaldo’s foot is above his head. It has to be seven and a half feet.

“I would love to be able to tell you how to score a goal like that, but I never have. But if you don’t practise that and you try it in a game you can break your back. You need technique to get up and hit it – but you need to be able to land properly as well. He has all this in his mind and computes it in a millisecond. It is special.

“He knows how to time his form, usually when Real are looking to win something, like the Champions League. He also wants to win that Ballon d’Or. Normal humans don’t think along those lines on a football pitch, they think about how to win a game. But he is so far ahead.”

BBC World Service’s John Bennett said: “I don’t think he has scored a better goal than that.

“I remember the Porto one [for Manchester United in 2009]. It is how you judge great goals. The technique for that overhead kick makes it the greatest goal Ronaldo has ever scored.”

‘A Playstation goal’ – what they said

Gianluigi Buffon and Cristiano Ronaldo
Gianluigi Buffon was beaten twice by another legend of the modern game at Juventus Stadium

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon: “Ronaldo is an extraordinary champion. Together with Lionel Messi, he is the only one that punctuates his team’s most important victories, and is to be compared to [Diego] Maradona and Pele.”

Juve defender Andrea Barzagli: “Cristiano made up the second goal. It’s a Playstation goal. When you come up against one of the best in the world like Ronaldo, you need to be perfect. If you give him any space, he’ll punish you. He scored a goal that will go down in history – and unfortunately it was against us.”

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri: “I don’t know if Cristiano’s goal is the best in the history of football, but it’s certainly an extraordinary goal. You can only congratulate him for what he’s doing at present.”

Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane: “Cristiano Ronaldo is different. He’s a different player to everyone else and he always has this desire to do something extraordinary in the Champions League. He never rests on his laurels.

“His overhead kick was remarkable, yet he missed two much easier chances. That’s football.”

‘What planet did you come from?’ – How Europe reacted

Newspapers
European papers reacted to the goal on Wednesday. The goal” – Marca, “Artwork” – Corriere dello Sport, “CR Wow”- La Gazzetta dello Sport, “What planet did you come from? – AS, “Is the greatest!” – Abola, “On another planet” – L’Equipe

‘Ronaldo can now leave Earth’ – social media reaction

Stoke striker Peter Crouch, who scored a famous bicycle kick of his own for Liverpool against Galatasaray, tweeted: “There is only a few of us who can do that.”

BBC Match of the Day presenter and former England captain Gary Lineker, tweeted: “Seen a lot of great goals in my time but that is absolutely breathtaking from Ronaldo.”

Former England striker, Michael Owen tweeted: “OMG. Please, if you do one thing tonight make sure you see Ronaldo’s second goal. His first was awesome. I’ve no words to describe his second.”

Former Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa tweeted: “Ronaldo can now leave Earth and play with Martians. He has done everything here.”

Ex-England and Manchster defender Rio Ferdinand tweeted: “The opposing fans in the stadium applauding the great Cristiano after the bicycle kick and rightly so. Keeps on upping the ante – relentless.”

NBA start LeBron James on Instagram: “Are You Not Entertained!?!?! That’s just not even fair. Nasty!!”

LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahmovic, who scored a 30-yard overhead kick against England in 2012, said: “It was a nice goal, but he should try it from 40 metres.”

What you said on #bbcfootball…

Ed: I’ve always said Ronaldo’s the best ever. He can score any type of goal and he’d arguably be the top scorer in every major league.

Josh: Is there anything Cristiano Ronaldo can’t do? Not content with just being a goal machine he’s gone and scored arguably the greatest goal in the history of the Champions League too… Wow, I have actually ran out of superlatives to describe this man!!!

Simon: Yeah, Ronaldo is good, but has he ever scored on a rainy night in Sto- oh, he actually has…

Fabian: Dear ladies and gentlemen, if you ever had doubts that Ronaldo wasn’t the best player ever; please think again! WHAT A PLAYER!

‘My goal was better…’

Zinedine Zidane's stunning goal was at Glasgow's Hampden Park
Zinedine Zidane’s stunning goal was at Glasgow’s Hampden Park

His manager may have been impressed by Ronaldo’s goal, but we will leave the final say to Zidane, who also scored one of the great Champions League goals – a magnificent volley in the 2002 final for Real against Bayer Leverkusen.

Which goal was better he was asked…

“Oh mine! Definitely mine.”

(GUA) Inside the Sporting Lisbon academy, where Ballon d’Or winners are made

(GUA) Sporting have developed Cristiano Ronaldo, Luís Figo and eight of the 11 players who started for Portugal in the Euro 2016 final

Cristiano Ronaldo, Luís Figo and Nuno Valente all passed through the Sporting academy.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Luís Figo and Nuno Valente all passed through the Sporting academy. Photograph: Torsten Silz/AFP/Getty Images

“Effort, Dedication, Devotion, Glory.” Those are the first and last words the young hopefuls see as they enter and leave the Sporting Clube de Portugal academy. I had visited Benfica’s €15m complex the night before and was immediately struck by the contrasting values at this rural complex in Alcochete. Perhaps it was the €0.40 coffee served to me in the clubhouse by a bronzed pensioner who was wearing a permanent scowl. Without extravagances, this is a place for football.

As coaches gathered around a portable TV to watch Primeira Liga highlights and plan what the evening would have in store, I couldn’t help but daydream about the players who had walked these corridors and slept in the rooms next door, back when they owned nothing more than a pocketful of ambition. Sporting have produced Portugal’s two most capped players, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luís Figo, both of whom have won the Ballon d’Or, the Champions League and a shedload of leagues and cups. There are signed pictures and murals of the pair plastered all around the facilities.

“Listen to me,” says Miguel Miranda, the goalkeeping coordinator at the academy. “Messi is a freak, a one-off and clearly the best ever, but what Cristiano has done to be anywhere near his levels speak volumes about the man. He came here from an island with nothing: a skinny boy with many bad habits who liked to run at defenders. Now he is a complete player: a beast. We use him as an example in every room here: from the gymnasium, to the psychology classrooms and the dressing rooms. He sacrificed himself to get everything he has now.”

While wandering around the six training pitches and talking to Miranda, I notice a theme: the ball is continuously zipped out to wingers who are encouraged to drive at isolated full-backs. “Cristiano, Figo, Nani, Quaresma – we’ve always specialised in wingers here,” he says. “Coaches limit touches for central players, who are encouraged to spread the ball wide into wingers, who have unlimited touches to create chances from wide.” Miranda says the country’s top wingers make their way to Alcochete as the academy has a history of producing “free-range players, not battery-caged ones”.

“Ten of our boys were in Portugal’s 23-man squad that won Euro 2016. Of the eight from here who started in the final, five are attackers. The other two came on as wingers! We like the boys to be free to express themselves on the pitch. We love creative kids.”

Sporting became the first Portuguese club to open an academy in 2002. Like both Benfica and Porto, a 4-3-3 template runs through the veins of the youth system. Yet, all of their coaches take “field trips” to different football cultures, such as Barcelona’s La Masia, Ajax’s De Toekomst and various hotbeds of youth talent in South America, to see how things are done elsewhere and absorb knowledge from other philosophies.

Three Sporting academy graduates – Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and João Mário – in action for Portugal at Euro 2016.
Pinterest
Three Sporting academy graduates – Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and João Mário – in action for Portugal at Euro 2016. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters

After witnessing an Under-16 player fail to control three 20-yard passes in a row just minutes after he had beaten three opponents and finished from 25 yards, I joke with Miranda that I cannot work out if he is the best or worst player I have ever seen. “He’s gone,” says Miranda with a cutting frown. “Look at his skin. Look at his legs. He’s finished. I’m serious. We do physical examinations on the boys every three months. This boy isn’t at the levels he needs to be and he’s finished maturing. We check players’ skin for acne, knees and other joints for growth.”

“If a player isn’t performing at the standard we require for their age and their body has stopped developing, then we will release them. We prefer skinny, awkward teens to the finished product at 15. Again, here, Cristiano is the perfect example. We don’t want them to be professional at 14. We want them to be professional at 20.”

Aurélio Pereira, the club’s long-serving director of youth recruitment, has overseen the discovery of Figo, Paulo Futre, Simão Sabrosa, João Moutinho, Cedric, Ricardo Quaresma and Nani, among others, but Ronaldo is the real darling for the club. The 70-year-old’s eyes light up when he reminisces about Ronaldo tying weights to his legs and racing past traffic in the streets outside the academy to gain strength and speed.

“As soon as we make contact with a player coming from far away, our objective is to bring them over to the Sporting Academy,” says Pereira. “We are responsible for a massive change in the lives of young players who could become greats one day. We find the strong and weak points of each individual and change their training to reflect that.”

Sporting insist they are interested in developing people, not just players. Eric Dier, who spent eight with the club before signing for Tottenham, has testified to that. “They pride themselves on bringing you up as a polite and respectful person. They would never get angry with you if you missed a pass but they would do if you were disrespectful to someone. There was no shouting. A good player for them was someone who could understand when they made a mistake and correct it for themselves.

“When I first came to England to play I saw coaches having a go at players when they made mistakes. They would literally be talking them through the game. In Portugal the coach would sit on the bench and not say a word. We’d just play. It was a matter of us making mistakes and learning from them by ourselves. You understand the game a lot better that way. For me, the sign of a bad player is someone who makes the same mistake twice.”

Miranda is adamant that making each player happy in his day-to-day life matters to the club. “Correct diets and sleeping patterns are of high importance here and having the correct lifestyle has an enormous effect on performance. When players perform well on the pitch, they find everything else easier, eventually becoming content with life’s challenges. The development of humans is of great importance.”

Ronaldo’s success tells its own story and so too does that of Figo, who has gone on to prosper in multiple avenues. He is fluent in five languages, runs bars and restaurants around Portugal, works for the Stop TB Partnership to serve people affected by tuberculosis, is on the board of a charity run by Internazionale, and even ran to be Fifa president.

As I said “boa noite” to the still scowling waiter at the end of the night and made my way out of the academy, I walked past a shirt signed by Ronaldo and the other youth graduates who helped Portugal win Euro 2016. The Ballon d’Or winners, European champions and professionals spread around the world are all a testament to the “effort, dedication, devotion, glory” motto that was instilled in them here.

(Independent) Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo to build children’s hospital in Chile

(Independent) The 32-year-old also recently raised £600,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation by selling his 2013 Ballon d’Or.

Cristiano Ronaldo is to build a children’s hospital in Chile, according to his lawyers.

The Real Madrid forward is joining Italian businessman Alessandro Proto in the venture in the Chilean capital of Santiago, with work due to be completed in 2020.

The paediatric hospital is reportedly just the first to be built in an initiative which will see many more built across South America.

“Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo will build a paediatric hospital in Santiago Chile, in 2020,” announced an official statement from New York-based law firm Brafman & Associates.

“Cristiano, up to now the only player in the history to have won the ‘The Best FIFA Award’ for the best player in the world, and Alessandro is very happy with this initiative.”

Ronaldo, who was recently named as the winner of the Ballon d’Or for a record fifth time, is the world’s highest-paid footballer according Forbes and the venture is just the latest as part of his humanitarian work.

The 32-year-old is an ambassador for Save the Children, Unicef and World Vision and earlier this year raised £600,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation when he sold his 2013 Ballon d’Or trophy.

O.P. (DN) Costa faz acordos de cooperação no país onde Ronaldo é “deus”

O.P.

…Um País que tem um “Deus” pode muito…

…E seguramente pode muito mais do que os outros que não têm nenhum…

…O Senhor Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro é:

   PRT Order of Prince Henry – Officer BAR.png Grande-Oficial da Ordem do Infante D. Henrique de Portugal (7 de Janeiro de 2014)

   PRT Order of Prince Henry – Officer BAR.png Oficial da Ordem do Infante D.      Henrique de Portugal (5 de Julho de 2004)

   PRT Ordem de Nossa Senhora da Conceicao de Vila Vicosa Cavaleiro ribbon.svg     Medalha de Mérito da Ordem de Nossa Senhora da Conceição de Vila Viçosa de      Portugal (30 de Agosto de 2006)

   e

   Melhor jogador do mundo pela FIFA: 2008, 2016, 2017
   Ballon d’Or: 2008, 2016,
   Bola de Ouro da FIFA: 2013, 2014
   Melhor Jogador da UEFA na Europa: 2013–14, 2015–16, 2016–17
   Melhor Jogador de Clubes da UEFA: 2007–08
   Bota de Ouro da UEFA: 2007–08, 2010–11, 2013–14, 2014–15
   Equipa do Ano da UEFA: 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
   Prémio FIFA Ferenc Puskás: 2009
   Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year – Jogador do Ano no Manchester United: 2003–04, 2006–07, 2007–08
   Melhor jogador jovem do mundo pela FIFPro: 2004, 2005
   Equipa do Euro: 2004, 2012, 2016
   Trofeo Bravo: 2004
   Futebolista Português do Ano: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
   Jogador do Mês na Premier League: Novembro de 2006, Dezembro de 2006,           Janeiro de 2008, Março de 2008
   Equipa do Ano pela PFA: 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09
   FIFPro World XI: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
   Futebolista do Ano pela FWA: 2006–07, 2007–08
   Futebolista do Ano pela PFA: 2006–07, 2007–08
   Futebolista Jovem do Ano pela PFA: 2006–07
   Barclays Player of the Season: 2006–07, 2007–08
   Avançado do ano da UEFA: 2007–08
   Jogador do ano da UEFA: 2007–08
   Barclays Merit Award: 2007–08
   Melhor jogador do mundo pela FIFPro: 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016
   Melhor jogador do mundo pela revista World Soccer: 2008, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016
   Onze d’Or: 2008, 2013
   Bola de Ouro do Campeonato do Mundo de Clubes: 2016
   Bola de Prata do Campeonato do Mundo de Clubes: 2008, 2014
   Prémio Arco-íris 2010 (pelo seu contributo na luta contra a homofobia)
   Não-fumador do Ano de 2010
   Troféu Pichichi: 2010–11, 2013–14, 2014–15
   Troféu Alfredo Di Stéfano: 2011–12, 2012–13, 2013–14, 2015–16
   Troféu EFE: 2012–13
   Jogador mais valioso da La Liga de 2012–13
   Melhor jogador da La Liga de 2013–14
   Melhor avançado da La Liga de 2013–14
   Melhor golo da La Liga de 2013–14
   Melhor Atleta masculino da temporada – Prémio Laureus: 2014
   Melhor atleta eleito pela ESPY Awards: 2014
   Homem do jogo da Supertaça da UEFA: 2014
   Equipa ideal UEFA Champions League: 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2010–11,         2011–12, 2012–13, 2013–14,2015–16, 2016-17
   Quinas de Ouro 2015 de melhor jogador português da história, pela Federação     Portuguesa de Futebol
   Bota de Prata da Euro 2016
   Melhor avançado do mundo de 2016 (Goal.com)
   Melhor jogador do ano de 2016 (Marca)

   Melhor marcador
   Campeonato Europeu de Futebol de 2012: 3 golos em 5 jogos
   Campeonato do Mundo de Clubes da FIFA de 2016: 4 golos em 2 jogos
   Liga dos Campeões da UEFA de 2016–17: 12 golos em 12 jogos
   Liga dos Campeões da UEFA de 2015–16: 16 golos em 12 jogos
   Liga dos Campeões da UEFA de 2014–15: 10 golos em 12 jogos
   Liga dos Campeões da UEFA de 2013–14: 17 golos em 11 jogos
   Liga dos Campeões da UEFA de 2012–13: 12 golos em 12 jogos
   Liga dos Campeões da UEFA de 2007–08: 8 golos em 11 jogos
   Supercopa da UEFA de 2014: 2 golos em 1 jogos
   La Liga de 2014–15: 48 golos em 35 jogos
   La Liga de 2013–14: 31 golos em 30 jogos
   La Liga de 2010–11: 40 golos em 36 jogos
   Premier League de 2007–08: 31 golos em 34 jogos
   Copa del Rey de 2010–11: 7 golos em 8 jogos
   Supercopa da Espanha de 2012: 2 golos em 2 jogos
   World Football Challenge de 2011: 4 golos e 3 jogos
   International Champions Cup de 2013: 3 golos em 3 jogos
   Maior marcador da história em Competições Europeias: 107 golos
   Maior marcador numa edição da Liga dos Campeões da UEFA: 17 golos em 11         jogos, 2013-14
   Maior marcador da história da Liga dos Campeões da UEFA: 101 golos
   Maior marcador da história do Real Madrid: 409 golos em 398 jogos
   Maior marcador da história da seleção portuguesa: 79 golos em 147 jogos

   Dizem me que o Cristiano Ronaldo está entre as dez pessoas com maior            reconhecimento mundial.

…Uma coisa é certa:

…Portugal nunca teve ninguém nem nada assim…

…Há que saber aproveitar tal facto…

…É “common sense” puro…

…E os invejosos e com dores nalgum lado…que se calem para todo o sempre!

…O Cristiano Ronaldo devia ser nomeado Embaixador Permanente e Extraordinário    de Portugal, ou posto semelhante.

…E já agora não se preocupem com o vencimento que ele não aceitar receber…

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

(DN)

Costa esteve ontem com aluos do Liceu Sadiki, em Tunes, onde falou do português

Na Tunísia, à margem da 4ª Cimeira Luso-Tunisina, o primeiro-ministro afirmou a vontade de “reforçar relações” entre os dois países.

No primeiro de dois dias de visita à Tunísia, as atenções estavam viradas para a Cimeira Luso-Tunisina – a quarta desde a assinatura do Tratado de Amizade, Boa Vizinhança e Cooperação, firmado durante a governação de Durão Barroso -, com a assinatura de protocolos em áreas como a segurança e a proteção civil, mas, em Tunes, terá sido a passagem pelo Liceu Sadiki aquela que mais marcas deixou no primeiro-ministro.

No país com o qual Portugal celebra, por estes dias, os 60 anos do estabelecimento de relações diplomáticas, há apenas 171 portugueses registados na embaixada como residentes, mas, no liceu em que José Paulo Santos é professor, na capital, já existem cerca de quatro dezenas de estudantes tunisinos que optam pela aprendizagem do português – que é ensinada desde o final de 2016.

“Nós estamos a desenvolver, na Tunísia, informação sobre a língua e a cultura portuguesas”, diz o professor, que, durante perto de meia hora, acompanhou António Costa numa sessão de perguntas e respostas entre o chefe de Governo e os jovens alunos.

“Muitas das palavras que vão aprender são de origem árabe. Em regra, todas as palavras começadas por “al”, palavras como Alentejo ou Algarve têm origem árabe”, explicou o primeiro-ministro, respondendo a um aluno que quis saber se a presença da civilização árabe ainda resiste em Portugal. Pouco antes, já António Costa tinha deixado a garantia de que também os jovens alunos são “bem-vindos” ao território português, dando conta do acordo de cooperação assinado entre os dois países, no domínio do Ensino Superior, e que irá permitir “maiores facilidades” para os tunisinos frequentarem as universidades portuguesas – juntando-se ao que António Costa diz serem as “facilidades” que Portugal oferece “no regime de concessão de vistos” para a entrada de estudantes provenientes das Tunísia.

Mas, se essas são dimensões que o Governo português quer ver aprofundadas, outra existe que, aparentemente, muito está a fazer pela amizade entre os dois países: Cristiano Ronaldo. E se, no início da conversa com os alunos, António Costa tinha, desde logo – e antes de abordado o assunto -, deixado claro que não era o jogador português, mas sim o governante, que estava na sala de aula a responder às questões, pouco depois voltou a ser Ronaldo a dominar a conversa.

“Pode, por favor, fazer uma visita com ele à Tunísia?”, perguntou um dos alunos, com o primeiro-ministro, sem deixar qualquer promessa, a afirmar que o jogador poderia estar presente no momento em que for agendado um jogo da seleção nacional portuguesa com a seleção da Tunísia.

“Vocês não podem imaginar o que é o impacto que Cristiano Ronaldo tem Tunísia. Ele é amado aqui. Se viesse cá era um deus”, diz-nos no final da aula o professor José Paulo Santos, que sublinha, no entanto, que, quando chegou ao país da África do Norte, percebeu que os tunisinos “pouco ou nada sabiam” sobre Portugal, “nem mesmo a capital”.

Depois da passagem pelo Liceu Sadiki – e no mesmo dia em que teve um breve encontro à porta fechada com o presidente da Assembleia dos Representantes do Povo, em Tunes, António Costa, acompanhado de perto pelo ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros, Augusto Santos Silva, pelo ministro da Economia, Caldeira Cabral, e pelo titular da pasta da Administração Interna, Eduardo Cabrita, assinou, durante 4.ª Cimeira Luso-Tunisina, quatro acordos de cooperação nas áreas da Proteção Civil, dos Transportes, do Emprego e Formação Profissional e do Ensino Superior e Investigação Científica.

“Não somos só bons vizinhos da Tunísia. Somos, em cada dia que passa, amigos mais fortes da Tunísia”, sublinhou, no final do encontro, António Costa, lado a lado com o primeiro-ministro tunisino, Youssef Chahed, com o líder do Governo português a salientar que as exportações para a Tunísia “têm aumentado significativamente” e que Portugal é “um dos poucos países europeus com investimento estrangeiro tunisino” no seu país.

Ouvido à margem da cimeira sobre os acordos de cooperação, o ministro da Administração Interna, Eduardo Cabrita, deu conta de que foi assinado um protocolo de “partilha de experiências” na área da Proteção Civil, que terá em conta a “preparação de resposta a catástrofes” e a “preparação comum para zonas de risco”, como é o caso do Mediterrâneo.

(EM) Un multimillonario israelí desembarca en el Atlético

(EM

Imagen del Wanda Metropolitano, en el día de su inauguración el 16 de septiembre. JAVIER BARBANCHO

El Consejo de Administración aprueba una ampliación de capital a través de la cual entra en el club Idan Ofer

Se hará con el 15% de la institución, necesitada de liquidez por el desembolso realizado en el Wanda

«Vamos locos». Un directivo del Atlético de Madrid resoplaba por teléfono a media tarde de este miércoles. El trayecto en coche separaba una reunión de un café, metáfora de otra reunión. Están siendo días, semanas, meses, intensísimos en los despachos del Calderón. Las tensiones de tesorería que ha generado la construcción del Wanda (un eufemismo como otro cualquiera para decir que los 310 millones empleados han dejado tiritando la cuenta del banco), unidas a los 30 millones que se pierden si no se pasa en Champions la fase de grupos, necesitan liquidez para mantener el pulso.

A última hora de la tarde, varios medios israelíes destapaban lo que el Atlético lleva perfilando meses como una de las medidas para paliar ese déficit. Contaban que un empresario de ese país, que atiende por Idan Ofer y cuya fortuna ronda los 2.300 millones, va a entrar, a través de su conglomerado de empresas (Quantum Pacific), en el mosaico accionarial del Atlético.

Después, este periódico pudo confirmar que el movimiento se concreta en una ampliación de capital, aprobada este mismo miércoles por el Consejo de Administración, a través de la cual la institución obtendrá esa necesaria liquidez en sus cuentas. Fueron unos intermediarios internacionales -que se dedican a poner en contacto a empresas con intereses comunes- quienes presentaron hace meses al consejero delegado del club, Miguel Ángel Gil, y a Idan Ofer. Tras varias reuniones, ha cristalizado un acuerdo que se firmará en los próximos días y que será presentado más adelante. Porque esa es otra…

Acto institucional

La trepidante tarde del Atlético se vio agitada porque, paralelamente a todo esto, desde el club se enviaba un e-mail a los medios de comunicación con un texto misterioso en el que se convocaba para el jueves «a un importante acto institucional para el club que contará con la presencia de Enrique Cerezo, el presidente, y una representación de la primera plantilla». No había más detalles. Luego se supo que lo que se dará a conocer a mediodía no tiene que ver con esta ampliación de capital, sino con un nuevo patrocinador, que tampoco viene mal.

Ninguno de los actuales accionistas va a vender su parte. Al tratarse de una ampliación, los porcentajes de Miguel Ángel Gil y Enrique Cerezo se diluirán, pero sólo hasta el 65% del capital resultante, con lo que mantienen el control. Ambos viajaron hace dos semanas a China para explicarle a Wang Jianlin, dueño del grupo Wanda, la operación. No hubo mucho que explicar porque esta maniobra repite, casi punto por punto, la última ampliación de capital, de febrero de 2015, en la que, mediante la emisión de 750.000 nuevas acciones -cada una costaba 61,9 euros- el Atlético ingresó más de 46 millones de euros y el grupo Wanda se quedó con el 20% del club.

Ahora, con el club revalorizado desde entonces, por un porcentaje inferior (el 15%) el conglomerado israelí pagará más. Concretamente, 50 millones en dinero contante y sonante cuando se firme la ampliación y otros 50 a medio plazo mediante varios patrocinios. Las nuevas acciones serán sólo para Ofer porque el resto de accionistas mayoritarios se han comprometido a no acudir a esta ampliación. Sí lo pueden hacer, si les da el dinero, los minoritarios. Todo irá a las arcas del club.

Es el primer paso de un paquete de medidas que tendrán su segundo y su tercer -pasos-. El segundo, por orden cronológico, va a ser vender a uno o dos jugadores en enero. Los nombres: Vietto, Gameiro, Gaitán, etc… Esperan en el club obtener unos 40 millones. Y el tercer paso, para el que ya hay negociaciones, será vender los terrenos del Calderón. El Atlético ha delegado la venta en una prestigiosa consultora, y esta vez los cálculos hablan de entre 150 y 200 millones. Sumando, más o menos, sale lo que ha costado el Wanda.

(Reuters) Cristiano Ronaldo retains FIFA award for world’s best player

(Reuters) Real Madrid’s Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo was crowned the best soccer player in the world for the second year running at FIFA’s The Best awards gala on Monday.

The four-time Ballon d‘Or winner won a La Liga and Champions League double with the Madrid club this year, striking twice against Juventus in the European Cup final to help Real become the first team to retain the trophy in its current format.

Barcelona’s Argentina forward Lionel Messi, who has won the Ballon d‘or five times, and Paris St Germain’s Brazil forward Neymar were runners up for the award voted for by national team coaches and captains plus the media and fans.

The Best FIFA Men’s Player award and the Ballon d‘or, which is voted for only by the media, are now separate awards.

Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane won the manager of the year trophy for his part in the club’s success.

Five Real players were named in the best XI of the year, with Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos joining Ronaldo, while Messi, Neymar, Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Dani Alves (PSG), Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan) and Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) were also selected.

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud won the Puskas Award for the best goal of the year, which was the Frenchman’s scorpion kick against Crystal Palace, and Buffon was declared best goalkeeper.

The Netherlands’ Lieke Martens won best female player of the year, while the Dutch women’s national team coach Sarina Weigman was voted best manager after the team’s triumph at Euro 2017.

(AP) Portugal beats Switzerland 2-0 to earn World Cup berth

(AP)

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A year after winning the European Championship, Portugal has set its sights on another trophy after sealing its place at the 2018 World Cup with a 2-0 victory over Switzerland on Tuesday.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s team got the win it needed in the showdown against the Swiss at a packed Stadium of Light.

Both teams finished with 27 points, but Euro 2016 winner Portugal had a better goal difference.

“Just like we did at the Euros, we are going to try to win the World Cup as well,” Portugal midfielder Bernardo Silva said.

Switzerland, which had led Group B since the first round, will have to go through a playoff to try to make it to the tournament in Russia.

The Swiss arrived with a three-point lead over Portugal and needed at least a draw to earn the automatic World Cup berth.

“It was a game between two very good teams, it’s not a surprise that we ended with the same number of points,” Portugal midfielder Joao Mario said. “Fortunately, we were able to end up with the victory. It was well-deserved.”

An own-goal by Swiss defender Johan Djourou before halftime and a goal by forward by Andre Silva early in the second half were enough to give Portugal its ninth straight victory since an opening 2-0 loss to the Swiss in Basel last year.

“We weren’t perfect the entire 90 minutes,” said Portugal coach Fernando Santos, who was celebrating his 63rd birthday on Tuesday. “But we got the win and made it to Russia. I always believed that we could do it. I had faith in my players and I’m glad that they gave me this gift today.”

Switzerland had won all of its nine qualifiers until Tuesday’s setback.

Portugal was in control but hadn’t been able to create many scoring chances until Djourou found his own net while trying to clear a cross from the left by Eliseu in the 41st minute. The ball touched Djourou’s right foot after getting past a defender and then Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer.

Silva added to the lead in the 57th with a shot into the open net after picking up a cross from the right by Bernardo Silva.

It was only the second time Ronaldo failed to score in this qualifying campaign. The Real Madrid star ended with 15 goals, one less than Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who scored a record-setting 16th on Sunday.

The result maintained Portugal’s seven-game winning streak at home.

Among those in the crowd at the Stadium of Light was Madonna.

___

FINAL WIN

Hungary secured third place with a 1-0 win over the Faeroe Islands, with Daniel Bode scoring the winner in the 81st minute in Budapest.

Hungary ended with 13 points, 14 less than Portugal and Switzerland.

Despite the loss, fourth-place Faeroe Islands ended with its best qualifying campaign ever with nine points, two more than it achieved ahead of the 2002 World Cup.

___

AVOIDING LAST PLACE

Forward Valerijs Sabala scored a goal in each half to help Latvia defeat Andorra 4-0 in the match between teams at the bottom of the group.

The victory gave Latvia seven points, three more than last-place Andorra.

The result ended Latvia’s seven-game losing streak in qualifiers at home.

(BBG) Ronaldo Hawks 500-1 Leverage Derivatives That Regulators Loathe

(BBG) Last month, Cristiano Ronaldo sent a short message to his 59 million Twitter followers.

“Happy with my new partnership with @EXNESS,” the Real Madrid striker and world’s most famous soccer star wrote. He also retweeted a statementfrom a firm called Exness Group, in which he praised how it “gives back to the world,” offers the “highest quality of services” and fosters a “socially conscious culture.”

European regulators may disagree. Ronaldo’s new partner, an online brokerage based in Cyprus, deals in contracts for difference, or CFDs, complex derivatives that officials across the continent are seeking to curb because of the risks they pose to retail investors. Exness offers leverage, or borrowed funds, of as much as 500 times traders’ deposits, a feature that rule-makers say helps people lose money on market bets they don’t understand.

Real Madrid and Ronaldo, who has 21 million more Twitter followers than U.S. President Donald Trump, aren’t alone in signing deals with CFD firms. Some of the biggest soccer clubs in Europe have links to brokerages similar to Exness, ranging from Real Madrid rival Atletico de Madrid to Manchester City and Liverpool in England, even as regulators impose advertising bans and consider capping the risks CFD investors can take.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Source: NurPhoto via Getty Images

“One has to question the legitimacy, credibility and morality of teams endorsing products around which there are some serious regulatory misgivings,” said Simon Chadwick, a professor of sports enterprise at the University of Salford in Manchester. “Clubs and players need to become more mindful of the ramifications their commercial partnerships can have.”

Read more: Why ’contracts for difference’ are under scrutiny – a Q&A explainer

Pedro Corrales Alvarez, a spokesman for Real Madrid, declined to comment. An official at Ronaldo’s firm referred inquiries to Marisa Mendes, who didn’t respond to emailed questions. Exness said in a statement that arrangements between brokerages and top-tier soccer clubs are common and that the firm includes appropriate warnings in its customer marketing. Its sponsorship strategy, it said, “aligns our business with organizations and individuals that stand for excellence, fair play and being the best in what they do.”

Opaque Speculation

CFDs, called “a volatile form of gambling” by an Irish judge in 2014, make up one of the last bastions of opaque, lightly regulated financial speculation in Europe. The contracts, which allow investors to bet on the direction of stocks, bonds, currencies and commodities without buying the underlying assets, aren’t traded on public exchanges and are largely prohibited for retail customers in the U.S. They’ve surged in popularity across Europe since 2010, triggering concerns of regulators, who say customers don’t grasp the risks involved.

While London-based companies have long dominated the CFD market in Europe, a different kind of player is attracting attention. These are small, privately held firms that offer high-risk trading not available elsewhere. They often get a license from regulators in Cyprus, a European Union nation of about 1 million people.

Exness is a case in point. It was founded in 2008 by Chief Executive Officer Petr Valov, 32, and Igor Lychagov, 35, who listed their nationalities and residences as Russian in 2014. Both now have Cypriot citizenship as well and home addresses in Limassol, on the Mediterranean island’s south shore, a recent filing in Cyprus shows.

The firm offers traders in the EU leverage of as much as 500 times their deposits, many multiples of what some regulators say is appropriate for retail investors. Some customers outside the EU can access what Exness says on its website is “unlimited leverage.’’

Regulators from the Central Bank of Ireland to Polish markets watchdog KNF are now circling the CFD industry, and several countries have imposed leverage caps, limits on client losses and marketing restrictions. Cyprus introduced rules last year requiring CFD firms to offer a default leverage amount of no more than 50 times and limit client losses. Still, investors can get more if they ask for it and pass a firm’s “appropriateness test,” according to a statement from the regulator, known as CySEC, which declined to comment further.

The European Securities and Markets Authority said it’s concerned that those local measures don’t go far enough and is considering EU-wide rules for the derivatives.

“It remains a lightly regulated, highly nontransparent pool of speculative investments, leveraging upon the weaknesses of those who don’t truly understand the risks they’re taking,’’ said Shaen Corbet, a former CFD trader who teaches finance at Dublin City University.

‘Not Appropriate’

In Spain’s soccer-obsessed capital, markets regulator Comision Nacional Del Mercado de Valores imposed advertising restrictions on CFDs in March. Ads must warn of the derivatives’ complexity and disclose that the agency believes they’re “not appropriate” for retail investors. Neither Real Madrid nor Ronaldo mentioned those concerns in their statements announcing the deals, though the Exness website carries this disclaimer: “Trading CFDs and generally leveraged products involves substantial risk of loss and you may lose all of your invested capital.”

CFD users in Spain lose money 82 percent of the time, according to a study by the regulator that found about 31,000 traders in the country lost 142 million euros ($170 million) over a 21-month period ended in September 2016, including transaction costs. Other regulators have reported a similar percentage of losing bets.

“This is like a casino, and it looks very dangerous,” Patricia Suarez, president of the Association of Financial Users in Madrid, which campaigns against abusive banking products, said of CFD trading. “If I were Cristiano Ronaldo, I would be very careful about promoting this.”

One reason for the losses, regulators say, is the borrowed funds that CFD firms offer investors to magnify their bets. The leverage allows customers to deposit a small percentage of the total value of their trades. The CFD firm funds the remainder of the bet at a specified rate of interest. Trading this way can result in inflated profits, but the client can lose more than his deposit if the market moves even slightly in the wrong direction.

Margin Call

A trade can work like this: A client with $1,000 in his account bets the euro is going to gain against the U.S. dollar. The CFD firm offers leverage of 400 times, which turns the client’s deposit into a notional bet of $400,000. If the euro climbs 0.1 percent, the trader gains $400. If the currency falls the same amount, he loses $400, or 40 percent of his deposit. But if the euro drops 1 percent, the investor loses his $1,000 and ends up owing $3,000.

Most CFD firms will make a margin call after a 40 percent loss and ask for more funds or wind down a trade, according to people familiar with the industry. Sometimes, though, events move too quickly and traders can wind up owing money. When that happens, a firm is more likely to forgive some of the debt and encourage an investor to resume trading than it is to go to court, the people said.

Exness said in its statement that it offers what it calls “negative balance protection,” which ensures that customers can’t lose more money than they have in their account. It also said it conducts “appropriateness” tests to determine how much leverage to offer.

“Exness complies fully with the new and evolving regulations in the jurisdictions that it operates and have adjusted our leverage policy in line with recent guidelines,” the company said. “We take the financial security of our clients very seriously.”

‘Relentless Passion’

Ronaldo stands front and center in a group of grinning Real Madrid players on the homepage of Exness’s website. In the upper-right-hand corner is the team’s emblem, adorned with the jeweled crown that shows the patronage the club received from Spain’s King Alfonso XIII in the early 20th century. The words over Ronaldo’s head: “Connected by a relentless passion to be the best in our fields.”

Sponsorship deals with Real Madrid can be expensive. Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, reportedly pays the club tens of millions of euros a year to emblazon its logo on players’ jerseys. Ronaldo, a four-time winner of the Ballon d’Or trophy for the world’s best soccer player, earned $35 million from endorsements last year, according to Forbes.

Exness may have plenty of cash to spend. The firm has almost 50,000 monthly users, compared with just a few hundred in 2010, and monthly trading volume hit a record $314 billion this year, according to its website. Clients’ funds have soared to $42 million, while the firm’s own funds have almost doubled in two years to $152 million, company documents show.

Liberty Reserve

Exness has come a long way since its early days, when it processed some transactions through money-transfer firm Liberty Reserve SA. Federal prosecutors in New York alleged in 2013 that Liberty, based in Costa Rica, enabled criminals to launder more than $6 billion in proceeds from crimes ranging from narcotics trafficking to child pornography. The firm was shut down that year. Exness, which wasn’t accused of any wrongdoing, was one of Liberty’s most active users, moving about $249 million through its platform, the court filings allege.

The company said in its statement that it ended its commercial relationship with Liberty about five years ago and that its dealings with the company were in good faith.

“At the time, it was a well-known payment company with over a million customers and used by many of our competitors including other prominent EU licensed forex operators,” the company said. “Exness was not aware of the activities later discovered by law enforcement, nor has it had any U.S. clients.”

Exness said it doesn’t accept payments from anonymous users and follows anti-money-laundering processes to identify customers and mitigate risk. Co-founders Valov and Lychagov declined through a company spokesman to comment.

‘Typical Gambler’

Because many CFD traders don’t remain active for long, mass marketing is vital for recruiting new customers, and soccer fans are an ideal target.

“There is a correlation between the profile of a typical gambler and the kinds of associations we see either through shirt sponsorships or partnerships,’’ said Chadwick, the University of Salford professor. “You could sponsor the Royal Ballet, but people going to watch the Royal Ballet aren’t predisposed necessarily toward gambling.”

Other CFD firms share that view. Atletico Madrid is sponsored by Plus500 Ltd., a publicly traded brokerage that had to freeze its accounts temporarily in 2015 after U.K. regulators ordered a review of its anti-money-laundering controls.

FC Barcelona had a partnership until June with IronFX Global Ltd., a CFD firm that paid Cypriot regulators 335,000 euros in 2015 to settle allegations it had violated market regulations. Club captain Andres Iniesta announced a partnership in July with UFX.com, a brokerage licensed in Cyprus and the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu that offers leverage of 400 times, its website shows.

Italy’s Juventus FC is the official partner of 24option.com, another CFD firm. Cyprus fined its owner, Rodeler Ltd., 156,000 euros last year for noncompliance with anti-money-laundering rules and other regulations.

Arsenal Partner

In the U.K., one of the world’s biggest CFD markets, Liverpool has a relationship with Cypriot-registered Instaforex, which offers leverage of 1,000 times and the chance to win a Lamborghini. Manchester City has a partnership with itrader.com, an online brokerage owned by a firm offering leverage of 500 times. Arsenal’s “trading partner’’ is Markets.com, an online brokerage also overseen in Cyprus that offers leverage of as much as 300 times.

A spokesman for Arsenal said the club has enjoyed a “successful partnership’’ with the firm since 2014 and recently renewed its deal. Juventus partner 24option.com and Iniesta partner UFX.com both said they comply with the strictest rules set by regulators.

“Publicity by celebrities exists in all sectors, like watches, cars and shaving products, and ultimately, if the product isn’t good enough, a famous face won’t be enough to succeed in promoting it,” Dennis de Jong, managing director of UFX.com, said in an email.

Spokesmen for the other teams and brokerages either declined to comment or didn’t respond to inquiries.

French Crackdown

The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority said last year that it’s considering a cap on leverage, banning the bonuses that some firms offer to encourage clients to open accounts and introducing more disclosure requirements. A spokesman for the regulator, which reiterated its concerns in June, declined to comment.

France has already taken action. Some of the biggest soccer clubs there, including Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco, had deals with Cypriot CFD firms. Those ended after the French highlighted them at a March 2016 press conference. The country also curbed non-print advertising of the derivatives late last year.

“Many investors, reassured by the trustworthy appearance of these companies’ websites with their EU authorizations or sponsorship deals with major football teams, allowed themselves to be tempted,” Marielle Cohen-Branche, ombudsman for the French regulator, wrote in her annual report in February.

Spanish regulators may have a tougher time. They’ll have to compete with the local obsession about whether Ronaldo can help his club retain its titles.

“I don’t think fans would be surprised or bothered by the Exness partnership,” said Dae Hee Kwak, a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan. “Ronaldo and Real Madrid have nothing to lose.”