(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 23, 2017, Iran's Mehdi Taremi (R) celebrates with his teammates Sardar Azmoun (C) and Alireza Jahan Bakhsh after scoring a goal during the World Cup 2018 Asia qualifying football match between Qatar and Iran at the Jassim Bin Hamad stadium in Doha. / AFP PHOTO / Karim JAAFAR
(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 23, 2017, Iran's Mehdi Taremi (R) celebrates with his teammates Sardar Azmoun (C) and Alireza Jahan Bakhsh after scoring a goal during the World Cup 2018 Asia qualifying football match between Qatar and Iran at the Jassim Bin Hamad stadium in Doha. / AFP PHOTO / Karim JAAFAR

Iran lose Nike boot deal over Trump sanctions

US sporting goods giant Nike confirmed Monday it had stopped supplying Iran's football team with boots ahead of the World Cup due to sanctions.

A statement from Nike said the company was forbidden from supplying kit to the Iranian team as it prepares for its opening World Cup game.

"US sanctions mean that, as a US company, Nike cannot supply shoes to players in the Iranian National team at this time," Nike said.

"Sanctions applicable to NIKE have been in place for many years and are enforceable by law."

( Iran's Mehdi Taremi (R) celebrates with his teammates Sardar Azmoun (C) and Alireza Jahan Bakhsh after scoring a goal during the World Cup 2018 Asia qualifying against Qatar. Iran has lost its boot supplier in Nike.
( Iran's Mehdi Taremi (R) celebrates with his teammates Sardar Azmoun (C) and Alireza Jahan Bakhsh after scoring a goal during the World Cup 2018 Asia qualifying against Qatar. Iran has lost its boot supplier in Nike.

 

An ESPN report from Moscow said the Nike decision had left Iranian football officials baffled, noting that the US company had supplied the team at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when similar sanctions were in effect.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz expressed frustration at the decision. "Players get used to their sports equipment, and it's not right to change them a week before such important matches," ESPN quoted Queiroz as saying.

The ESPN report said Iran's players had responded to the decision by asking non-Iranian players on their club teams to loan them boots, while others had bought their own from stores.

 

SALAH IN DOUBT FOR OPENER

Mohamed Salah will be given until the last moment to prove he's fit to play in Egypt's World Cup opener against Uruguay on Friday. Salah injured his left shoulder on May 26 in the Champions League final. "Maybe he could start on the bench, but a final decision has not been made yet," the Pharaohs' team doctor, Mohamed Abouelela, told The Associated Press on Monday.

Salah jogged for about 30 minutes on Monday as his teammates trained on the same pitch in Grozny for the match in Ekaterinburg.

 

Mohamed Salah is up against it to be fit for the World Cup opener.
Mohamed Salah is up against it to be fit for the World Cup opener.

 

"He is doing (physiotherapy) sessions on his shoulder and working out in the gym," squad executive director Eihab Leheita said. "We hope he will be with us for the Uruguay match." Leheita said a physiotherapist from the medical staff of Salah's Liverpool club was at Grozny to help, and denied the English club was pressuring the Egyptians not to play Salah before he is fully fit.

"We will not pressure Mohamed. At the end, he is our son," Leheita said. After Uruguay, Egypt takes host Russia on June 19 and Saudi Arabia on June 25. It's Egypt first World Cup since 1990.

Three World Cup stars quit following violent attack on club

Three Portugal stars currently in Russia getting ready for the World Cup have told their club Sporting Portugal they will break their contracts, the club said on Monday.

The move is part of a continuing meltdown after the players were attacked and in some cases savagely beaten at their own training ground by a 50-strong gang of masked fans in mid-May.

William Carvalho, Gelson Martins and Bruno Fernandes sent separate messages to the club, commonly known as Sporting Lisbon, saying they had a 'valid motive' to free themselves from contracts.

Portugal's William Carvalho, in action against Tunisia, has quit his club team Sporting Lisbon after a violent attack on the team.
Portugal's William Carvalho, in action against Tunisia, has quit his club team Sporting Lisbon after a violent attack on the team.

Other players who graced the green and white hooped shirts of Sporting had already informed the club of their intention to leave including captain and goalkeeper Rui Patricio and young hope Daniel Podence. The club's coach Jorge Jesus also quit.

Twenty-three people were remanded in custody following the attack on Sporting's Alcochete training base in the Lisbon suburbs.

The incident came in the build-up to the Portuguese Cup final, which Sporting lost 2-1 to unfancied Aves to complete a miserable end to the season.

Sporting finished third in the table following a defeat at Maritimo in their final game of the season to miss out on a place in the Champions League qualifying rounds.

 

 

Croatia's midfielder Luka Modric has taken out the award as Croatia’s best player for the sixth year in a row. / AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE
Croatia's midfielder Luka Modric has taken out the award as Croatia’s best player for the sixth year in a row. / AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE

 

 

World Cup win would crown Modric's career

Croatia international Luka Modric says that after winning multiple titles with Real Madrid the last challenge he faces is to help his country make a good showing in the 2018 World Cup, Croatian news agency Hina reported Monday.

"A great result with the national team is the only thing I still want to achieve," the midfielder said Sunday night as he accepted the award as Croatia's best player for the sixth consecutive year.

He said that the squad's first objective is to make it out of the group stage and into the round of 16, "since we haven't achieved that since 1998." "But I believe we will achieve it in Russia," Modric added.

The team left Zagreb early Monday for the town of Zelenogorsk - about 60km from St. Petersburg - which will be their home during the World Cup in Russia. Croatia begin their Group D campaign against Nigeria on June 16 before matches with Argentina and Iceland.

 

 

Brilliant Belgium rip into Costa Rica

A powerful brace from Romelu Lukaku and a glittering performance from Eden Hazard saw Belgium beat Costa Rica 4-1 in Brussels in their final World Cup warm up on Monday.

But Belgium fans will have watched in horror as Hazard, showing great form lately, limped off in the 70th minute.

 

Belgium's forward Romelu Lukaku (L) celebrates with teammate Belgium's forward Dries Mertens (R) after scoring a goal during the international friendly football match against Costa Rica.
Belgium's forward Romelu Lukaku (L) celebrates with teammate Belgium's forward Dries Mertens (R) after scoring a goal during the international friendly football match against Costa Rica.

 

His teammates later dispelled any fears of lasting damage to the diminutive Chelsea forward.

"I'm not too worried about Eden, he's a tough guy. He gets kicked all the time, bur soon gets over it," said Lukaku after the game.

Coach Roberto Martinez's multi-talented Red Devils were just too much for Costa Rica, who opened brightly and even took the lead through Brian Ruiz with a slick finish after some early pressure from the visitors.

 

 

 

International friendly results

Belgium 4 (Mertens 31, R Lukaku 42, 50, Batshuayi 64) Costa Rica 1 (Ruiz 24)

Played on Sunday Austria 0 Brazil 3 (Jesus 36, Neymar 63, Coutinho 69)

Played on Saturday France 1 (Mbappe 78) USA 1 (Green 44)

Tunisia 0 Spain 1 (Aspas 84)

Denmark 2 (Y Poulsen 71, Eriksen 74) Mexico 0

Sweden 0 Peru 0

Serbia 5 (Mitrovic 4, 23, 68, Ljajic 19, Ivanovic 42) Bolivia 1 (Campos 48)

Finland 2 (Uronen 7, Yaghoubi 75) Belarus 0

Estonia 1 (Purje 76) Morocco 3 (Belhanda 11, Ziyech 38 pen, En-Nesyri 72)

Hungary 1 (Sainsbury 89 og) Australia 2 (Arzani 74, Kadar 90+1 og)

Latvia 1 (Ikaunieks 90+3) Azerbaijan 3 (Medvedev 20, Imamverdiyev 57, 63)

Played on Friday Poland 2 (Lewandowski 30, Zielinski 34) Chile 2 (Valdes 39, Albornoz 56)

Germany 2 (Werner 8, Om Hawsawi 43 og) Saudi Arabia 1 (Al-Jassim 84)

Switzerland 2 (Rodriguez 42 pen, Seferovic 82) Japan 0

Croatia 2 (Perisic 63, Kramaric 78) Senegal 1 (Sarr 48)

Iran 1 (Ansarifard 88) Lithuania 0

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Virgin plane bound for Proserpine involved in near miss

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