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 By the Gazette Editorial Board

President Sisi's keenness on receiving all members of the Egyptian team and coaching staff that will compete in the 2018 Football World Cup which starts in Russia on Thursday is the latest and highest-level indication of the care given by the state to youth and sports activities. The timing of the President Sisi’s meeting with the team is quite significant as it took place with the 2018 World Cup only a few days away and the Pharaohs are readying to face Uruguay on Friday. Signaling to them the state’s profound support and estimation is indeed an important factor in encouraging the team to bolster their enthusiasm for producing such an honourable performance that would fulfill the hopes of their fans and re-asserts the competitiveness of Egyptian football players at all Arab, African, European and international levels.

 

While winning higher international recognition and medals is naturally a common objective of all nations that compete in world games, the range of state care and sponsorship points to the extent of interest in promoting sports activities as one of the areas for building a healthy society at both physical and moral levels. Needless to say, sporting and sports competitions constitute highly-influential areas where human societies can cultivate such desirable values as seriousness, fair play and dedication.

 

It was therefore a commendable move by some children magazines, especially including Al-Azhar’s Nour, and TV programmes to devote their cover stories and prime time content to the Pharaohs, especially including Mohamad Salah, bringing under focus his personality traits of seriousness in training and his firm resolve to keep advancing his professional performance. Nour’s editor has indicated in published statements that the magazine is keen on presenting Mo Salah as a model in motivating young people to achieve distinction.

 

Also reflecting the national attitude of lending all forms of support to the team representing Egypt in the world tournament is the decision by the national carrier EgyptAir to operate as many as 19 additional flights as of today and for four days to carry Egyptian fans to Russian cities. Preparations have also been actively under way to facilitate the travel arrangements and procedures for an estimated number of more than 3,500 Egyptian fans to Russian destinations where the national team will play matches with other Group 'A' contenders. There, the real fight will begin to bring joy and gratification to the millions of fans in Egypt and also to firmly establish the competitiveness and professional fineness of Egyptian football players.

LONDON, June 9, 2018 (News Wires) -The English FA, Premier League and English Football League announced on Friday that they would implement a two-week, mid-season break in February from the 2019-20 season onwards.

Premier League matches will still be played every weekend over the period, the FA said in a statement http://www.thefa.com/news/2018/jun/08/mid-season-break-confirmed-080618, with five games being held on the first weekend and five on the second.

As a result, FA Cup fifth-round matches will be moved to mid-week and fifth-round replays will be replaced by games which end in a draw going to extra-time and penalties.

"This is a significant moment for English football and one that we believe will greatly benefit both club and country," said FA Chief Executive Martin Glenn.

"It's no secret that we have a very congested fixture calendar and over recent years we have been working with the whole game to find a solution."

The introduction of a winter break brings the English fixture calendar more in line with the top leagues in Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

The lack of a break in England has long been a bone of contention among top-flight managers, with many drawing a parallel between the demands of playing without a break and the country's struggles at international tournaments.

"Today's announcement proves that football can come together for the good of the game," Glenn added. "We have also found a way to give the players a much needed mid-season break, whilst keeping the much-loved Christmas schedule in place.

"As we head into summer international tournaments in the future we are sure that this mid-season break will prove to be a valuable addition for our players."

 

MADRID, April 30,2018 (News Wires) — Unbeaten Barcelona added to its domestic dominance by winning the Spanish league title for the third time in the last four seasons on Sunday.

Lionel Messi claimed a hat trick and Philippe Coutinho also scored to give Barcelona a 4-2 win at Deportivo La Coruna as the Catalan club took an insurmountable 11-point lead over Atletico Madrid.

Third-place Real Madrid is 15 points behind Barcelona.

It was Barcelona's seventh league title in 10 seasons and 25th overall. Madrid, last year's champion, leads with 33 La Liga trophies.

Barcelona has also thrived in the Copa del Rey, the country's second-most important club competition, winning it for the last four seasons.

Barcelona's next goal is to try to finish the league unbeaten, something which has never happened in the competition's current format.

"It's been an almost perfect season for us in the league," midfielder Sergio Busquets said.

Andres Iniesta, who last week announced he won't return for a 17th season with the club, started from the bench because of a small muscle problem. He entered the match close to the end to applause from most of the crowd at Riazor Stadium.

Iniesta and Messi each have won nine Spanish league titles.

Sunday's result relegated Clarence Seedorf's Deportivo.

The hosts paid tribute to Barcelona even before the match started with its squad lining up outside the tunnel and applauding their rivals as they entered the field. Most of the opposing fans at Riazor also applauded Barcelona's players.

Coutinho opened the scoring in the seventh minute with a well-placed shot into the top corner after a pass by Ousmane Dembele, and Messi added to the lead in the 38th with a strike from near the far post after a perfect cross by Luiz Suarez.

Deportivo pulled one closer with a goal by Lucas Perez in the 40th and equalized with Emre Colak's shot from inside the area in the 64th.

Messi put Barcelona ahead in the 82nd from close range after exchanging passes with Suarez inside the area, then sealed the victory in a breakaway in the 85th.

Messi has 32 league goals, leaving him with eight more than Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for top scorer.

It has been yet another disappointing coaching stint for Seedorf, the former Dutch midfielder who earned only two victories in 13 matches since arriving to try to save Deportivo from relegation. The team has lost six times and drawn five under his command, returning to the second division for the first time since 2013-14.

"We didn't reach our goal," Seedorf said. "Now the future is open. We'll see what happens."

Seedorf was a star with the Dutch national team for more than a decade and a prominent player for Ajax, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan. But he has achieved lackluster results in his coaching attempts, including at AC Milan in 2014.

ATLETICO STAYS SECOND

Atletico's depleted team defeated Alaves 1-0 to strengthen its grip on second place.

Kevin Gameiro converted a second-half penalty kick to secure the away victory for Atletico, which rested most of its regular starters ahead of Thursday's return leg against Arsenal in the Europa League semifinals.

The result gave Atletico a four-point gap to third-place Real Madrid, which has a game in hand.

Gameiro scored the 78th-minute winner from the spot less than 10 minutes after Fernando Torres had his penalty kick saved by Alaves goalkeeper Axel Werner.

Atletico forward Angel Correa was sent off with a second yellow card in second-half injury time.

VALENCIA DRAWS

Fourth-place Valencia still has to secure its Champions League spot after a 0-0 home draw against Eibar.

Valencia, winless in four matches, has an 11-point lead over fifth-place Real Betis, which has four games left and hosts last-place Malaga on Monday.

GETAFE MOVES UP

Getafe moved to the final qualification spot for the Europa League with a 1-1 home draw against Girona.

The result left Getafe in seventh place, one point in front of Sevilla.

Girona, also in the fight for a spot in Europe's second-tier club competition, stayed ninth. It has the same 48 points as Sevilla, which has a game in hand.

LONDON, April 26, 2018 — Antoine Griezmann scored late for 10-man Atletico Madrid to draw at Arsenal 1-1 in the first leg of their Europa League semifinal on Thursday.

Griezmann's 82nd-minute equalizer following some clumsy defending from Laurent Koscielny was against the run of play but was reward for the team's stout defending in the aftermath of Sime Vrsaljko's early sending off. With the away goal, Atletico has to be considered the favorite to progress to the final on May 16 in the French city of Lyon.

The second leg is in the Spanish capital next Thursday. The winner looks like it will play Marseille, which beat Salzburg 2-0 in their first leg with goals from Florian Thauvin and Clinton N'Jie.

 

LONDON, April 24, 2018 (News Wires) — Arsenal hopes midfielder Mohamed Elneny will play again this season after damaging left ankle ligaments.

The Egypt international fell awkwardly while competing for the ball with Mark Noble last Sunday in the English Premier League game against West Ham. Elneny was carried off on a stretcher.

Arsenal's last possible game of the season is the Europa League final on May 16.

"We are hoping Mo will be available for Arsenal again this season and we are keeping in regular contact with the Egyptian Football Association," the Europa League semifinalists said on Monday.

Egypt has qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1990.

LONDON, April 22, 2018 (Reuters) - Manchester United inflicted yet more FA Cup semi-final misery on Tottenham Hotspur as they recovered from a poor start to win 2-1 at a packed Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham, playing on the ground which has been their temporary home all season, got off to a dream start when Dele Alli scored from close range but Alexis Sanchez equalised with a header and Ander Herrera fired United's winner midway through the second half.

While United can look forward to the prospect of finishing the season with some silverware, Tottenham must pick themselves up after an eighth successive FA Cup semi-final loss.

Standing between United and a record-equalling 13th FA Cup triumph will be Chelsea or Southampton, who play on Sunday.

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