Mourinho handed one-year suspended prison sentence and €2m fine in tax evasion case

Jose Mourinho has accepted a one-year suspended jail sentence after being accused of defrauding the Spanish Tax Office of €3.3million (£2.9m) of earnings while in charge at Real Madrid, according to El Mundo .

The Manchester United boss, who spent three years in the Spanish capital, was accused of using offshore company accounts in Ireland, the British Virgin Islands and New Zealand to conceal income from image rights in 2011.

Spanish news outlet  El Mundo  claims Mourinho reached a deal with tax authorities, with two six-month suspended prison sentences.

Mourinho will not be spending time in prison, however, as Spanish law states ‘that a sentence of under two years for a first offence can be served on probation’.

The Office of the Prosecutor and the State Lawyers will ‘communicate in the next few days’ and ‘that they have already closed a compliance agreement’ according to the reports.

“I did not answer, I did not argue. I paid and signed with the state that I am in compliance and the case is closed,” Mourinho is quoted to have said in November 2017, after a court appearance in Pozuelo de Alarcon:

Mourinho is not the first high-profile name to be accused of tax evasion by the Spanish authorities, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi also falling foul of the rules previously.

Ronaldo, who left La Liga for Serie A in the summer,  is alleged to have defrauded the Spanish Treasury of €14.7m (£13m/$16.6m) in taxes between 2011 and 2014 by concealing income earned from his image rights. 

Messi was found guilty of defrauding the Spanish Treasury to the tune of €4.1m (£3m/£4.6m) between 2007 and 2009 and had his 21-month jail sentence changed to a fine of €252,000 (£226,000/$291,000) by the Spanish courts. His father Jorge had to pay €180,000 (£161,000/$208,000).

The Argentine was also fined €2m (1.78m/$2.3m) with his father paying €1m (£900,000/$1.15m). The pair in 2013 paid a “corrective” sum of €5m (£4.5m/$5.7m) to cover the unpaid tax plus interest.

Alexis Sanchez was also caught in a tax scandal , accepting a 16-month prison sentence for committing tax fraud during his time at Barcelona. The United winger was accused of defrauding the treasury of €1m (£900,000/$1.15m) between 2012 and 2013, relating to income from his image rights.

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‘A limit we will not cross’ – DFL chief rules out overseas Bundesliga matches

Germany Football League managing director Christian Seifert has ruled out Bundesliga matches being played abroad in the United States.

A Liga fixture could take place in the USA during the second half of the 2018-19 season after a 15-year promotional agreement was struck with Relevent Sports.

The Spanish Footballers’ Association have  reacted angrily against the announcement, however, threatening to strike if the match goes ahead.

But despite the commercial attraction to hosting a game in an untapped market such as the US, German officials view the move as a “lack of respect”.

“We will never play a league game outside of Germany,” DFL chief Seifert told Die Zeit . “That’s a limit we will not cross.

“An official league game, which is about points that decide promotion, relegation or participation in the international competition, abroad, is, in my view, a lack of respect for their fans, the players and in the end also Major League Soccer.

“You do not need help from overseas to promote football in this way.”

Relevent Sports’ chairman Charlie Stillitano is also the brains behind the International Champions Cup, the annual multi-country pre-season event.

The tournament has given Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund exposure to the United States market.

But Seifert does not feel the Bundesliga needs to sell its soul and has rejected suggestions they could follow the Liga model and have staggered kick-off times.

“You can rule out that there are as many kick-off times as there are games, as is the case in Spain,” he added.

Relevent are keen on ensuring that next year’s La Liga fixture includes “one of the top five or six teams” but it remains to be seen if the arrangement will lead to an overseas game.

Stillitano has confirmed no decision has been reached but has indicated that appropriate fixtures are being considered.

“We are working with [La Liga] right now and nothing’s been decided. We just have to find the right game in the calendar and we want to do it this season,” he explained .

“The other part will be that we want it to be that there’s not a cup game [in the week between] so there’s a little bit of rest for the players.

“We’re trying to respect the game, we are trying to respect the players. We know it’s a new thing and obviously in Europe, outside of the Champions League, you are not travelling great distances and this would be a big trip without question.”

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What is the UEFA Nations League? Europe’s plan to transform international football explained

Major changes are coming to international football in Europe, with the UEFA Nations League kicking off on September 6.

UEFA has devised a plan to make friendlies between national teams largely a thing of the past from 2018, replacing those matches with a brand-new competition.

The idea is to create a more regular schedule of competitive games in which teams can improve and develop ahead of European Championships and World Cups.

The new competition will also hold four qualification spots for the European Championship, with that tournament having now expanded to 24 teams.

It will be called the UEFA Nations League and on paper, its structure can be rather daunting to get your head around.

Fortunately, Goal is here to explain how the format works.

What is the UEFA Nations League?

*Embed only* Nations League 2018

As the name suggests, the UEFA Nations League is a league competition for UEFA’s 55 members. It will consist of four different divisions (called ‘Leagues’) and three stages.

In the first year, the four leagues will be decided on team strength according to UEFA’s coefficients, which are essentially their version of FIFA’s world rankings.

UEFA confirmed the overall composition of the inaugural Nations League on October 11, 2017.

League A contains the 12 highest ranked teams and League B features the next 12. League C is comprised of the following 15 teams and League D is made up by the final 16.

The likes of Germany, Spain, France and England are all in League A, with Iceland perhaps one of the more surprising participants.

League B contains the second tier teams, such as Wales, Russia and the Republic of Ireland. Scotland are in League C along with the likes of Greece, Serbia and Hungary.

League D is populated by nations such as the Faroe Islands, Andorra, San Marino and new teams such as Kosovo and Gibraltar.

Within those leagues, the teams will then be split up further into groups, with the draw scheduled to take place on January 24. You can see the seeding divisions in the tables above.

In Leagues A and B, there will be four groups of three teams each. In League C, there will be one three-team group and three four-team groups. In League D, there will be four groups of four teams each.

The first stage will be group play, which will take place across three consecutive international breaks in September, October and November 2018.

The countries in three-team groups will play four games each, while countries in four-team groups will play six games – both in the normal home-and-away format.

Still with us?

UEFA Nations League Groups

The draw for the inaugural Nations League took place on January 24 in Lausanne Switzerland and it threw up some interesting groups.

World champions Germany are along with France and rivals Netherlands in Group 1, while England have been drawn with Spain and Croatia in Group 4.

European champions Portugal will take on Italy and Poland in Group 3, while Belgium are joined by Switzerland and Iceland in Group 2.

You can see the draw in full below.

So, what happens once the groups have been played?

In League A, the winners of each of the four groups will advance to the ‘Final Four’ competition, which will take place in June 2019.

The Final Four will consist of two one-leg semi-finals decided by a random draw and the final, with all three matches taking place in a neutral host country.

The winner of the final is, of course, the first UEFA Nations League champion.

For everyone else, there is promotion and relegation to worry about.

The teams that finish bottom of their group in Leagues A, B and C are relegated and replaced by the teams that finish top of the groups in the League below.

Here’s a handy graphic from UEFA to illustrate how all the movement will work:

UEFA Nations League

What about EURO 2020 qualification?

Eden Hazard Belgium 2018

That brings us on to the extra European Championship qualification spots, which is where it really gets complicated.

To further incentivise teams to take the Nations League seriously, four ‘second-chance’ places at the finals of the continent’s biggest international competition will be up for grabs.

Now that the Euros will be contested by 24 teams, the top two teams from each of the 10 regular qualification groups will secure a place at the finals.

The only play-offs that will be played on top of that for the final four spots will be filled with teams who qualify through the Nations League.

One qualification spot will be awarded to each League, giving one of the lowest-ranked teams on the continent a rare chance to go to a European Championship through League D.

It will work like this: by default, the winner of each League’s four groups will go into the play-offs.

The four group winners from each League will play semi-finals and a final much like the Final Four, with the winner of each League’s mini-tournament qualifying for Euro 2020.

Where it gets messy is if some of the group winners in each League have already qualified for the Euros through the normal qualification process – which they inevitably will have.

Their place in the play-offs will then be allocated to the next-best team in that League as a whole. How that team will be selected is not entirely clear, but it will presumably be based on points and then the normal set of tiebreakers.

If there is not enough unqualified teams in a League – again, this is very likely in League A – to fill the four-team play-off mini-tournament, teams from the League below will slide up to complete the field.

These teams will have not qualified for their own League’s play-offs, though, so as not to punish the best teams in the League below by moving them up to a harder competition.

For example, if there are only three unqualified teams for the League A play-offs, the fifth-best unqualified team in League B will join the League A play-offs – not any of the top four.

The introduction of the Nations League will see Euro 2020 qualification condensed into a period between March and November 2019, while the play-offs will be played in March 2020.

So when is all this happening?

Luka Modric Croatia 2018

Let’s map it out step by step.

The Nations League group stage will be played across three international breaks between September and November 2018.

Euro 2020 qualifying will then take place between March and November 2019, with the Nations League Final Four also coming in the middle of that in June 2019.

UEFA Nations League

The Euro 2020 qualification play-offs are set for March 2020, and Euro 2020 itself – to be played across the continent – will begin three months later.

None of this will require the international schedule to be changed; UEFA’s new structure fits into FIFA’s existing international windows.

How can I watch the Nations League?

Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal

All of England’s qualifying matches through the 2018-2022 cycle – in both UEFA and FIFA competitions – will be broadcast live on ITV in the UK.

England’s Nations League matches, however, will be available to watch on Sky Sports, who also hold the exclusive rights to the rest of the teams competing as well as the Final Four.

In the US, ESPN has snapped up everything for the next cycle – Euro 2020 and its qualifiers, the Nations League and the European qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.

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Betting: How many English teams will qualify from their Champions League groups?

The Champions League draw has been made for the 2018-19 group stages and there are plenty of different markets available to punters ahead of the action getting underway.

One of the specials available with bet365 is how many Premier League teams progress to the knockout stages.

Last term, England’s top flight had five teams at the group stage thanks to Manchester United winning the Europa League and each of them secured a spot in the last 16.

Mohamed Salah, Virgil Van Dijk - Liverpool

This season there are four Premier League sides hunting European glory and bet365 offer 11/8 (2.38) that Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United qualify courtesy of a top two finish in their respective groups.

In the last 10 Champions League seasons, four have seen every English representative that has made the competition proper emerge from their group.

In 2016-17 just one English side failed to make it to the knockout stages as Tottenham finished behind Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen, dropping into the Europa League as a result.

Leicester City and Arsenal won their groups and Manchester City finished second to Barcelona. Half of the previous 10 Champions League seasons have seen three English teams make the last 16. A repeat of that is favourite in this market at 6/5 (2.20) with bet365.

Champions League Winner odds post draw

While all four sides are odds on to progress, Manchester United (4/11 to qualify), Tottenham (1/2) face tricky looking groups while Liverpool (1/4) and outright favourites Manchester City (1/40) are expected to have an easier route to the knockout phase.

Backing only two of the four English teams to qualify pays 4/1 (5.0). That has only happened once in the last decade and came courtesy of the 2012-13 season.

Only one Premier League side to make the last 16 pays 40/1 (41.0) and a clean sweep of English failures is priced at 150/1 (151.0).

In terms of the winner, bet365 make Pep Guardiola’s side their frontrunners at 9/2 (5.50) followed by Barcelona (6/1), Juventus (13/2), Paris Saint-Germain (7/1) and holders Real Madrid who are 9/1 (10.0) to win a fourth straight European title.

Betting Banner - Best BetCheck out the latest Champions League odds at bet365

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‘Ozil controversy will have no influence on Euro 2024 bid’ – German FA president

German FA president Reinhard Grindel says he is confident that the recent controversy stemming from Mesut Ozil’s racism allegations will not impact Germany’s Euro 2024 bid.

Ozil quit the national team in the wake of this summer’s World Cup disaster that saw Germany fall in the group stage. The Arsenal star cited “racism and disrespect” as the reason behind his international retirement while adding that he felt he had been made a scapegoat for Germany’s failures.

Prior to the World Cup, Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan, both German internationals of Turkish descent, came under fire for taking a photo with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Gundogan has since said that he and Ozil were singled out following Germany’s defeat and that “the line to racism was partially crossed”.

Ozil was also critical of Grindel, saying that, in the FA president’s eyes, the midfielder is “German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose”.

Grindel continues to deny the accusations as Germany faces competition from Turkey to host Euro 2024.

“Everyone in the DFB and in UEFA knows me very well,” Grindel said, according to Sky Sports.”I have very deep trust that they can put this into perspective, so I think there will be no influence on the bidding process.”

Grindel added that his criticism of the photograph stemmed from personal beliefs rather than Ozil’s background.

“In the end, it has nothing to do with whether a player of ours has a migration background or not,” Grindel said.

“If a German player would, in an election campaign, make a photo with, let’s say, a far right-wing politician in Germany, we would have the same debate and we in the DFB would react in the same way.

“We stand at the DFB for values: respect, tolerance, fair play, freedom of speech and freedom of press. This picture with Erdogan upset our fans, because their President Erdogan doesn’t stand for those values.”

UEFA is set to announce the host of Euro 2024 in Nyon, Switzerland on September 27.

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