Gareth Southgate Urges England Fans to Be Sympathetic Towards Declan Rice Following Pro-IRA Comment

​England manager Gareth Southgate has asked fans to be sympathetic towards midfielder Declan Rice, after the 20-year-old was found to have posted a pro-IRA comment on Instagram in the past.

Rice, who recently confirmed his decision to represent England over the Republic of Ireland, has apologised for the comment, which he made in 2015, and Southgate has now called for fans to accept his apology and move on.

Speaking ahead of Friday’s clash with the Czech Republic, Southgate insisted that the ​West Ham United wonderkid should not be judged for the comment. He is quoted by ​The Sun as saying: “I’ll go and just make sure he knows that firstly, that he’s OK and that he’s supported.

“I understand that it’s not a situation that should just be dismissed but equally the context, the period of time that’s passed and his age at the time is all relevant in how we should deal with it. That is the perils of social media for any of us with kids. You just don’t know what that interaction might be.

“When they’re socialising with friends, you’re a bit braver in some of your comments or a bit less thoughtful in some of your comments, so I think for all young people that is a danger. There are so many positive things about social media, but, as we know, there are lots of negatives.

Declan Rice,Philip Billing

“I think he’s explained how he views the world today and it’s difficult to know without speaking to him what the context of that was. It would be easy to comment on something without having all of the background and context of it.

“He’s apologised. It’s not representative of what he believes and feels, and his views.

“And outside of that, the obvious point is that this was when he was 15 or 16 when he was engaged in a social conversation with friends.

“I think any of us at that age, in those sorts of situations have probably said things, discussed things, written things, that might not look the way that’d we’d want them to several years later, so I don’t think he can say or do any more than he’s said at this point in time.

“I think people understand; most people will have children of those sorts of ages and people are still maturing at that age.

“You’re in conversations with friends that, you can get giddy and you can say things that maybe you don’t even know enough about or you don’t understand the context. So I think our fans and our public will recognise that fact.”


UEFA Consider Introducing Cap on Cost of Away Tickets in Champions League Next Season

​UEFA could introduce a cap on the price of away tickets in the Champions League next season, after a host of top clubs expressed their dismay at high costs.

A potential cap on ticket prices has long been discussed, with many fans finding themselves simply unable to afford the cost of a European ticket, which can often be around £100.

News of this potential action comes from the ​Daily Mail, who note that clubs have begun to put pressure on UEFA after prices for upcoming Champions League ties were revealed.

FC Barcelona v Olympique Lyonnais - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg

​Barcelona have decided to charge ​Manchester United fans £102 for a ticket to the second leg of their ​Champions League tie, ​prompting the Red Devils to charge Spanish fans the same fee for the first leg in order to use the money to subsidise supporters’ trips to the Camp Nou.

​Tottenham Hotspur will also charge ​Manchester City fans £60 for a ticket to their quarter-final clash, which is twice the cost of a ticket to the same fixture in the ​Premier League.

Clubs in the English top flight agreed to cap away tickets at £30 this season, and they have called for UEFA to follow suit and implement a similar limit in European football.

UEFA have set up a group to investigate the cost of away tickets this season, including representatives from the likes of ​Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and ​Liverpool, and they will soon report their findings to UEFA’s Club Competition Committee, which could lead to a cap being introduced in May’s Executive Committee meeting.


United have already subsidised the cost of fans’ tickets for games against both Valencia and Sevilla in recent years, and will now do so again for the trip to Barcelona on 16 April.

Fans will now have to pay £75 for a ticket, with United covering the additional £27 difference. Barcelona will also be implementing a similar procedure to subsidise their fans’ costs for the trip to Old Trafford, despite originally agreeing to the £102 charge for United supporters.


Gareth Bale Surprisingly Reveals He Idolised Two Arsenal Stars Growing Up

​Former Tottenham star Gareth Bale has revealed that he counted Arsenal stars Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp as two of his favourite players growing up, as well as Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs, who is now his manager for Wales.

Bale made 253 appearances for Tottenham between 2007 and 2013, developing from a young left back into one of the best forwards in the world, and earning himself a €90m move to Real Madrid in the process. 

Gareth Bale

In what is likely to be a less than popular admission from a man still highly thought of by the ​Spurs faithful, however, the 29-year-old has said he once had an admiration for their North London rivals. 

He said on ​​BT Sport’s ‘What I Wore’ series: “I used to watch ​Arsenal a lot.

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“I used to really enjoying watching Henry, and I used to like watching Dennis Bergkamp as well. Tottenham fans wouldn’t be happy that I’m holding this.

“Giggs was a massive influence. He was my hero growing up, obviously being Welsh, left-footed, I looked up to him a lot, I used to enjoy watching him play.

“Like all kids do, they want to be a player, I used to shout that I was Giggs, but I didn’t have quite the hairy chest!”

Ryan Giggs,Gareth Bale

Bale has starred under ​Manchester United legend Giggs on the international stage, but wasn’t risked for the 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago at the Cardiff City Stadium on Wednesday, which came courtesy of a stoppage time winner from ​Liverpool’s Ben Woodburn. 


Liverpool Added to Growing List of Clubs Tracking Chelsea Youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi

Liverpool are the latest club being linked with a move for teenage Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi. The player is already of serious interest to Bayern Munich, while Borussia Dortmund have also been rumoured this week to be eyeing the starlet.

Bayern tried and failed to sign Hudson-Odoi in January, bidding up to £35m, and are expected to return with a fresh offer in summer. Dortmund, meanwhile, have been tipped to begin pursuit of the 18-year-old should Jadon Sancho be sold, potentially to Manchester United.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

But fresh gossip has also now put Liverpool in the mix for Hudson-Odoi’s coveted signature.

According to SportBild, the Reds are keeping an eye on the 2017 Under-17 World Cup winner.

Bayern are still thought to be favourites to win the race, with SportBild claiming Hudson-Odoi is still interested in making the switch to Bavaria. But there has apparently been progress in any negotiations between Bayern and Chelsea, who understandably don’t want to sell.

As things stand, Hudson-Odoi will be out of contract at Chelsea and a free agent in 2020.

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For now, Liverpool appear to be very much the passive character in this story, but the Reds are certainly no stranger to snapping up Chelsea talent after signing Dominic Solanke in 2017.

But if the Merseysiders are to dip into the transfer market this summer, the Liverpool Echo suggests that the outlay will be minimal compared to the vast spending of recent years.

That means speculation linking the Reds to the likes of Juventus forward Paulo Dybala and Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt is unlikely to become reality, as the aim this summer is only to ‘fine tune’ the existing squad after investing £250m on new players since January 2018.

The local newspaper even quotes Jurgen Klopp recently speaking about not repeating the £170m spend of last summer when Alisson, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri arrived.

“For sure there’s no need for that level,” the manager said.

Only time will tell whether a move for Hudson-Odoi would fit into that ‘fine tune’ category.


Barcelona Superstar Lionel Messi Suffers Injury Scare on International Duty With Argentina

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has been carrying a small muscle injury while away on international duty with Argentina, limiting his ability to train, although it is not expected to keep the five-time Ballon d’Or winner out of his country’s clash with Venezuela on Friday night.

Messi has played virtually every minute for Barça in February and March, only missing a portion of the Copa del Rey Clásico against Real Madrid during that time. He also hasn’t missed a single La Liga or Champions League game since nursing a broken arm in early November.

According to SPORT, the minor injury that has kept him out of some Argentina training is a result of the ‘overload’ of matches he has played in recent months. But it is the cause of no real concern, much to the relief of Barça fans.

It is said that the final decision over whether Messi plays against Venezuela in Madrid, an international friendly rather than a qualifier of any kind, will fall to the player himself. A second friendly against Morocco will be played next Tuesday.

This is the first time that Messi has been in the Argentina squad since the disappointment of last summer’s World Cup when La Albiceleste could only scrape through the group stage before conceding four goals against France in the first knockout round.


The 31-year-old has been in fine form at club level this season. His recent hat-trick against Real Betis, for which he was applauded by the opposing fans, took his goal tally for the season to 39, while his 21 assists mean he has had a direct hand in 60 total goals in 2018/19.