Former World Cup winner Ronaldinho Gaucho moved a step closer to ending his Paraguayan ordeal on Friday.
This came about when prosecutors said they would not oppose a “conditional suspension” of the case that would allow him to return to Brazil.
The twice World Player of the Year was arrested on March 6 along with his brother and business manager Roberto Assis after they tried to enter Paraguay with adulterated Paraguayan passports.
They were held in jail for 32 days before being conditionally released on April 7 after paying 1.6 million dollars in bail.
Ronaldinho, the former FC Barcelona, Paris St-Germain (PSG) and Flamengo player who turned 40 while in jail, has been held under house arrest in a Paraguayan hotel for four months since.
A document seen by Reuters on Friday, and also reported in Paraguayan and Brazilian media, seemed to exonerate both men.
According to it, prosecutors in the case said they found “no elements to prove that Ronaldo de Assis Moreira had a direct participation in obtaining the irregular documents.”
They have recommended that Ronaldinho be released after paying a 90,000 dollars fine and identifying a fixed abode in Brazil.
He would also have to present himself to Brazilian authorities every three months.
Officials asked for a two-year suspended sentence and a 110,000 dollars fine for his brother Roberto but agreed to let him leave Paraguay.
They said that while Ronaldinho was unaware he was using an adulterated passport, Roberto knew.
Both men have said they were innocent and their lawyer has always mantained their detention was “arbitrary, abusive and illegal.”
The judge is expected to set a date for the hearing next week.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)
Barca president Bartomeu says he won’t go to war anymore with Messi
FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says he does not wish to have any more disputes with club captain Lionel Messi.
This was after the Argentina captain reluctantly opted to stay at the club this month after failing to force through a move.
“I won’t get into any conflict with him. He’s our captain and the leader of our team,” Bartomeu said before the team’s 1-0 friendly win over Elche on Saturday.
“I couldn’t let him leave the club. He is the best player of all time and the team needs him. Having Messi is a guarantee of success.”
Messi had complained earlier this month that Bartomeu had not fulfilled a promise to allow him to break his contract unilaterally and leave the club without a transfer fee.
He had also lashed out at the president’s leadership.
But Bartomeu chose not to fire back against Barca’s all-time top goalscorer.
Instead, he praised Messi for turning a page and performing well in the team’s pre-season matches, including scoring twice in a 3-1 win over Girona last week.
“We have seen him do his talking on the pitch and we have moved on from the saga,” Bartomeu added.
“We should congratulate ourselves for getting Messi to stay with us and for how he has behaved in the last few days. The best player in the world should stay at our home.”
Bartomeu has been in the firing line ever since Barca’s historic 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals last month.
He came under renewed pressure after a campaign group gathered over 20,000 signatures from members to force a vote of no-confidence against him.
In compliance with the club’s statutes, Barca are currently validating the votes and if over 16,520 are approved, then a referendum will be held in the next three months.
Two-thirds of 150,000 members are needed to vote against Bartomeu to force his dismissal.
Yet Bartomeu, who will be leaving the role after elections in March regardless of what happens with the motion of censure, ruled out resigning.
“The board and I will keep working to ensure we have the most competitive team possible,” he said.
“We will speak again after validating the votes, but right now no one wants to quit. The club won’t stop and we will keep working, we have lots of issues to sort out.”
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Pirlo says Suarez unlikely to join Juventus after all
Juventus are unlikely to sign FC Barcelona and Uruguay forward Luis Suarez afterall, coach Andrea Pirlo said on Saturday as he prepared for the start of the new Serie A season.
Pirlo, who replaced Maurizio Sarri last month in spite of having no senior coaching experience, will make his debut at home to Sampdoria on Sunday.
He said Juventus needed a centre-forward but that there was not enough time for Suarez to obtain an Italian passport.
Juventus have already used up their limit of two non-EU signings following the arrival of Brazilian midfielder Arthur and United States international Weston McKinnie.
They will only be able to add Suarez if he can obtain an EU passport.
“We’re all waiting for a centre-forward. There is still a long way to go in the transfer window. So, we’re calm and happy, we’re not in a hurry,” said Pirlo.
“Suarez is difficult because it takes a long time to get the passport. So, it’s unlikely that it could be him”.
Although Suarez is eligible for Italian naturalisation as his wife is a citizen of the country, the process usually takes several years.
This is a detail overlooked in much of the speculation linking him to the Serie A champions over the last month.
Pirlo said Cristiano Ronaldo and Dejan Kulusevski would share the role against Sampdoria.
“Neither Kulusevski nor Ronaldo will start in the classic centre-forward position. They will try to move according to what the other does,” said Pirlo.
“There will be rotations to allow as many people as possible to arrive in the area.”
The 41-year-old said he was relaxed ahead of the new season where he would be expected, at the minimum, to bring Juventus a tenth successive Serie A title.
“After a month of Juve I have no doubts, but many certainties,” he said. “I have fitted in well, now the pitch will do the talking.”
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Anambra FA Caretaker Committee enrolls club owners in health insurance scheme
The Caretaker Committee of Anambra State Football Association (AnSFA) has commenced the enrollment of club owners in the state into a health insurance scheme.
Emeka Okeke, Chairman of AnSFA Caretaker Committee, said on Saturday in Awka that the programme was part of the support provided for grassroots football development.
He added that it would also enhance their beneficiaries’ access to affordable health care.
“The enrollment is in fulfilment of my promise at a meeting with the club owners.”
Okeke had promised that the caretaker committee would do all that was possible to provide an enabling environment for them to thrive.
Anayo Obiako, proprietor of Awka City FC, said he was happy that for the first time, club owners in Anambra were enjoying a welfare programme courtesy of the FA.
Obiako, who described it as a promise kept, said it would help many of them to enjoy free medical services especially now that the cost of healthcare services was high.
“This is a welcome development. We are happy. Normally we should pay something to access services, but the FA caretaker committee is doing that on our behalf.
“For many years, we have been working and paying all the necessary fees to enable us participate in FA programmes, but we never enjoyed any benefit. So, this AnSFA caretaker committee is doing well,” he said.
Also speaking, Ikenna Osueke, proprietor of Ozalla FC, said the programme would ensure adequate protection of the lives of beneficiaries.
Osueke said it was a huge addition to football development in the state.
Dozie Okpalaugo, coordinator of the AnSFA programme, said no fewer than 30 club owners would be captured in the first phase.
Okpalaugo said with just 1,000 Naira monthly and an annual 12,000 Naira premium, the enrollees would be able to access medical services in about 350 hospitals across the state.
“It covers a number of medical conditions, including malaria and minor surgery, Okpalaugo, who is the Senior Special Adviser to Gov. Willie Obiano on Health Scheme and Pension Matters, said.
He therefore urged the enrollees to take advantage of the gesture, assuring that the Anambra Health Insurance Scheme would ensure that health care providers render the expected services.
Edited By: Abiodun Esan and Olawale Alabi)
Sustain Ihedioha’s blueprint on sports development, administrator urges Imo governor
A seasoned sports administrator, Fan Ndubuoke, has appealed to Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo to sustain his predecessor’s blueprint on sports development.
Ndubuoke, the immediate past Chairman of Imo Sports Commission, made the appeal during an interaction with members of the state chapter of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), on Friday in Owerri.
He said that Uzodinma’s predecessor, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, had a clear vision on sports development.
Ndubuoke called on Uzodinma to implement some lofty policies of Ihedioha’s administration on sports development.
He said that Ihedioha’s administration established Imo Sports Commission aimed at eliminating bureaucratic bottlenecks associated with the `old order’.
He urged the governor not to allow politics to kill sports in Imo, in the interest of the people.
On the crisis in Heartland FC of Owerri, Ndubuoke said that the problem was traceable to greed and selfishness.
Ndubuoke, a former Heartland FC Chairman, said he ran the club with N8 million monthly subventions and won trophies for the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that state government has yet to register Heartland FC players for the new season as directed by League Management Company, due to the crisis.
The state Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr Dan Ogu, had recently announced the dissolution of Heartland FC’s Interim Management Board but the board Chairman, Babatunde Ezekwem, claimed that the commissioner lacked powers to dissolve the board.
According to Ndubuoke, the Ezekwem-led board ought to cease to be when the government established the sports commission through a law.
“The Interim Management Board was a child of circumstance; it was introduced when the government was waiting to perfect the law establishing the sports commission,” he said.
Ndubuoke, who expressed worry at the crisis, warned that it might lead to a setback for the club, if not urgently tackled.
According to the sports administrator, the way to sports development in Imo is through the sports commission.
He urged Imo Football Association to play a ‘fatherly’ role in resolving the crisis.
“I call on the FA Chairman in Imo, Mr Amanze Uchegbulam, to caution some of his members on the roles they are playing in the crisis in Heartland FC,” he said.
He also urged SWAN members not to be biased in reporting sports activities and the crisis in the club.
“You should use your various media to educate and inform the public properly; I beg you to be impartial and productive in your job,” he said. |
Edited By: Celine-Damilola Oyewole/Ijeoma Popoola