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FIFA threatens not to broadcast women’s World Cup in Europe

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FIFA has threatened not to broadcast the 2023 women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this summer, to five big European countries due to disagreements on media rights.

“The offers from broadcasters, mainly in the ‘Big 5’ European countries, are still very disappointing and simply not acceptable,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in a statement.

Infantino didn’t name the countries, but according to dpa information, Germany is among them.

Germany’s defeat to England at the women’s Euro 2022 final was the most watched programme on German television in 2022, with 17,952 million viewers.

He said that “should the offers continue not to be fair (towards women and women’s football), we will be forced not to broadcast the FIFA Women’s World Cup into the ‘Big 5′ European countries.”

FIFA said the viewing figures of the women’s World Cup are 50 to 60 per cent of the men’s tournament, yet the broadcasters’ offers in the major European countries for the women’s event are 20 to 100 per cent lower.

Infantino added that the time difference between Europe and the two host countries shouldn’t be an excuse.

“It doesn’t make any economic sense because the viewing figures are there.

“Maybe, because it is in Australia and New Zealand, it’s not played on prime-time in Europe, but still, it is played at 9am or 10am, so it is quite a reasonable time,” he said.

Infantino said that FIFA “did our part” by raising the prize money to $152 million, three times the amount paid in 2019 and 10 times more than in 2015.

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Aruna lose to Freitas, exit ITTF World Cup

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Quadri Aruna, Nigeria’s top table tennis player, has exited the International Table Tennis (ITTF) World Cup after losing by 1-3 (12-10, 11-9, 11-9, 3-11) to Portuguese Marcos Freitas in the group stage.

The Men’s singles game on Wednesday at the Galaxy Arena, Macao, China, saw the Portuguese claim the first three sets but a comeback from the Nigerian in the last set was not enough to scale over the line.
Aruna had started his campaign at the World Cup on a good note with a 4-0 (11-6, 11-4, 11-6, 11-6) convincing win over Puerto Rico’s Daniel Gonzalez to set the final group 15 tie against Freitas.

Aruna occupied the top spot in the group as Freitas had earlier beaten Gonzalez 4-0 (17-15, 11-7, 11-7, 11-1), but the Nigerian had more points than the Portuguese and was rated number one in the group.

The tie between Aruna and Freitas decides the winner of the group and who will then advance to the knockout of the competition.

With Aruna falling short, Freitas will face Tomokazu Harimoto of Japan in the Round of 16 on Thursday.

The tournament which began on Monday will end on April 21.

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Man Utd speak to Garnacho over social media activity

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Manchester United have spoken to Alejandro Garnacho after the winger liked social media posts criticising manager Erik ten Hag over his handling of the player.

The Argentina international, taken off at half-time in their 2-2 draw at Bournemouth on Saturday, liked two messages on X (formerly Twitter), by United fan and YouTuber Mark Goldbridge.

One post accused Ten Hag of “throwing (Garnacho) under the bus” because of comments the United boss made about the 19-year-old’s performance.

The other said Garnacho “had a poor first half but taking him off at halftime and holding him up as the problem is a joke.”

Garnacho swiftly “unliked” both messages, an action the club believes shows contrition, and a United source told the PA news agency the matter had been dealt with internally.

The teenager has become a key player for United this season, scoring nine goals and providing four assists in 42 games.

The incident follows one in September when Jadon Sancho said on X that he had been made a “scapegoat” after being left out of the squad for the Arsenal match, with Ten Hag saying he had trained poorly. Sancho said he would “not allow people saying things that (are) completely untrue”, interpreted as accusing Ten Hag of misrepresenting reasons why he was not on the side.

The 24-year-old was banished from the first team before being loaned to Borussia Dortmund in January.

Ten Hag’s position has come under renewed pressure after the draw against Bournemouth, which left United seventh in the Premier League table, 13 points off the top four.

The FA Cup is the only silverware that United can win this season — they take on second-tier side Coventry in the semi-final at Wembley on Sunday

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Awoniyi close to return — Nuno

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Nottingham Forest’s battle for survival is threatening to go down to the wire as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side prepare for a crunch clash this weekend.

The Reds have five games left to beat the drop, starting with a trip to face relegation rivals Everton on Sunday. They will go into that match at Goodison Park on the back of a frustrating 2-2 draw at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Nuno will face some big decisions when it comes to his team selection against the Toffees with key stars Taiwo Awoniyi, Anthony Elanga and Willy Boly all out injured.

Nigerian striker Awoniyi, who is out with a thigh injury, has already missed a chunk of the season after sustaining a groin surgery in a bid to solve a longstanding problem

He made his comeback in January but Nuno had talked about managing him carefully as he struggled to return to full sharpness.

He suffered a problem in the build-up to the draw with Luton Town, which was due to rule him out for a few weeks. The initial diagnosis suggested it was difficult to put an exact timeframe on how long he could be out for, but it was believed he could be absent from anywhere between two to five weeks.

He underwent a scan last week, which Forest hoped would provide clarity on when the striker could return.

However, Nuno remains optimistic his star striker will still have a part to play in the run-in.

“He is starting his individual programme,” Nuno said last Thursday. “I don’t have an exact timeline for when he is going to return but it is closer. Hopefully he can still help us this season.”

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