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Silvio Berlusconi, former AC Milan owner, dies aged 86

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Silvio Berlusconi, former AC Milan owner, dies aged 86

The former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and AC Milan owner has died aged 86.

The media tycoon, who led three governments between 1994 and 2011 and whose Forza Italia party is a junior partner in Italy’s ruling coalition, had been diagnosed with leukaemia some time ago.

Berlusconi was one of Italy’s most flamboyant politicians, making a comeback in 2017 despite a career tainted by sex scandals, allegations of corruption and a tax fraud conviction.

He died at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, where he had spent six weeks this spring undergoing treatment for a lung infection linked to a chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia before being readmitted.

Born in Milan in 1936 to a middle-class family, Berlusconi began his business career in property development before going on to found Mediaset, Italy’s largest commercial broadcaster. He also owned AC Milan football club between 1986 and 2017.

Forza Italia was founded in 1993. A year later, Berlusconi was the first prime minister to be elected without previously having held a government office. His second term in office, between 2001 and 2006, was the longest served by any Italian leader since the second world war. He returned to power in 2008 but was forced to resign in 2011 amid an acute debt crisis.

Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud in late 2012, for which he served his year-long sentence doing part-time community service at a residential home in Milan. His ban on running for office was lifted in time for the general elections in 2018, when Forza Italia ran in coalition with the League and Brothers of Italy but fell short of the 40% required to govern.

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In 2019, Berlusconi won a seat in the European parliament, and in general elections in October 2022 his party returned to power in a coalition led by Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy. Berlusconi was also elected as a senator.

Meloni said on Monday: “Silvio Berlusconi was above all a fighter. He was a man who was never afraid to stand up for his convictions, and it was exactly that courage and determination that made him one of the most influential men in the history of Italy.”

The two had recently disagreed over the war in Ukraine, with Berlusconi announcing that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, had sent him bottles of vodka for his birthday. On Monday, the Russian embassy in Rome described Berlusconi as a great statesman and visionary, while Putin said he was a “dear person, a true friend”.

Matteo Salvini, the deputy prime minister, described Berlusconi as “a great friend and a great Italian man”.

Silvio Berlusconi with the AC Milan players Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten in 1990 with the European Cup. Photograph: Imago/Shutterstock
Nicknamed Il Cavaliere (the knight), Berlusconi was often considered the “kingmaker” in Italian politics. In 2016, he had surgery to replace a faulty aortic valve, and was admitted to hospital with Covid in September 2020. He had lingering complications related to the virus, an experience he described as “the worst of my life”.

He married twice, and was in a relationship with Francesca Pascale, 37, for seven years before a relationship with 33-year-old Marta Fascina, an MP with Forza Italia with whom he had a “symbolic marriage” in March 2022. He is survived by five children.

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Italy’s defence minister, Guido Crosetto, described Berlusconi’s death as “a great, enormous pain”. “He leaves a huge void because he was great. An era is over, an era is closing. I loved him very much. Goodbye Silvio.”

His rivals, too, united in paying tribute. One of the first to react was the former European Commission president Romano Prodi, perhaps Berlusconi’s bitterest political foe.

“We represented different and opposing worlds, but our rivalry never turned into sentiments of animosity on a personal level, and the debate remained within the sphere of mutual respect,” Prodi said.

The secretary of the centre-left Democratic party, Elly Schlein, expressed her party’s “deepest condolences”.

“Everything has divided us and divides us from his political vision, but the human respect to a person who was a protagonist of our country’s history remains,” she said. “Deepest condolences from the Democratic party.’’

Italy’s former prime minister Matteo Renzi described Berlusconi as a history-maker. “Many loved him, many hated him; today everyone must recognise that his impact on political life but also on economic, sporting and television life was unprecedented.”

The world of sport also paid tribute. “I have lost my brilliant friend,” said the former football coach Arrigo Sacchi, whose Milan team won the Champions League in consecutive years.

Berlusconi left AC Milan ownership in 2017 and bought the Monza football club, taking it from Italy’s second division to the top flight. A statement from Monza said: “Forever with us. A void that can never be filled. Thanks for everything, president.”

Berlusconi’s body would be transferred to his home at Villa San Martino in Arcore, north of Milan, sources said. His funeral is likely to take place at Milan Cathedral.

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Additional reports from www.theguardian.com

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Euro 2024: UEFA told to ‘blacklist’ referee Zwayer after England’s win over Netherlands

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UEFA told to ‘blacklist’ referee Zwayer after England’s win over Netherlands

Former Netherlands striker, Pierre van Hooijdonk has called on UEFA to ‘blacklist’ referee, Felix Zwayer following England’s recent Euro 2024 semi-final win over Netherlands.

England will face Spain in the Euro 2024 final on Sunday in Berlin after Ollie Watkins’ 90th minute winner sealed a 2-1 victory for Gareth Southgate’s side.

The Three Lions were gifted a penalty in the first half of the match when Denzel Dumfries attempted to block Harry Kane’s shot, judged to have clipped the England captain in the process.

A VAR review resulted in referee Zwayer overturning his original decision and awarded England a penalty which Kane converted.

However, Van Hooijdonk wants Zwayer to be banned from major matches in the future.

“They [England] can thank Felix Zwayer. He really needs to be blacklisted. Terrible,” van Hooijdonk told NOS.

“Also in the second half. A duel with Cody Gakpo where he simply blew his whistle again, ten meters from the linesman. Those are moments that were crucial in this match.”

He added, “We can talk about it at length, but if you’re going to award a penalty for this. Then you could end up with eight of them on the spot in the final. Really terrible.”

 

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Van de Beek joins Girona from Man Utd

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Van de Beek joins Girona from Man Utd

Donny van de Beek has completed a permanent move to LaLiga side Girona from Manchester United.

The Dutchman struggled in his four years at Old Trafford after he moved to the club from Ajax in a £39m deal in September 2020.

Man Utd are understood to have received a fixed fee of £500k from Girona for the 27-year-old, while bonuses could increase this to an eventual £7.6m (€9.1m), as well as a sizeable share of any sell-on.

Van de Beek made 62 appearances for Man Utd in all competitions and scored just twice.

Source: Sky Sport

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Athletic president: We don’t need to sell Williams

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Athletic president: We don't need to sell Williams

Athletic Bilbao’s president has hit out at the “bombardment” of transfer questions made to Nico Williams, adding the Spanish club can safely keep players such as the Spanish winger.

Williams has shone for Spain at Euro 2024 but has faced lots of speculation over his future at Athletic.

“Nico is a footballer very committed to Athletic Club, who has been subjected to an excessive and uncontrolled bombardment of questions while at the Euro Cup. The Spanish Federation has not known how to protect him,” said Athletic president Jon Uriarte.

“Athletic aims for the maximum, without limits,” he added. “We are showing that we have a winning project for footballers and coaches.

“We have renewed the contracts of players who are playing in the Euro Cup, such as Unai Simón or Dani Vivian, and coveted players such as Benat Prados, Oihan Sancet, Julen Aggirezabala or Aitor Paredes have also signed for several seasons, to give some examples.

“Athletic Club is economically, socially and sportingly capable of keeping footballers of the calibre of those named in its structure, including Nico Williams.”

Source: Sky Sport

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Man Utd agree deal for Zirkzee

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Man Utd agree deal for Zirkzee

Manchester United have agreed a deal to sign Bologna forward Joshua Zirkzee.

The fee is understood to be just over £35m (€42.5m) – above the £33.6m (€40m) release clause.

However, it is in exchange for more favorable payment terms.

It means United will not pay a lump sum up-front but pay over a three-year period.

Personal terms are agreed.

Zirkzee is expected to have a medical this week before signing a five-year contract with the option of a further year.

Source: Sky Sport

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Chelsea not interested in signing Olmo

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Chelsea not interested in signing Olmo

Chelsea have no interest in triggering Dani Olmo’s release clause at RB Leipzig.

The club are happy with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Christopher Nkunku and Cole Palmer as attacking-midfield options, Sky Sports News understands.

Olmo’s £50m release clause at the German club reportedly expires next week.

He has been sensational for Spain during their march to the Euro 2024 final, scoring in the semi-final victory over France last night.

Source: Sky Sport

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Darwin Núñez, Uruguay players jump in stands after Copa loss

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Darwin Núñez, Uruguay players jump in stands after Copa loss

Darwin Núñez and about a dozen Uruguay teammates went into the stands as fans brawled at Bank of America Stadium following Uruguay’s 1-0 loss to Colombia in a Copa América semifinal on Wednesday night before security personnel stepped in to restore order.

After Colombia sealed a 1-0 victory in Charlotte, North Carolina, videos on social media showed Uruguay players climbing into the stands and exchanging blows with opposition fans.

South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL, which organizes the Copa, said it is investigating the incident and issued the following statement after the game: “CONMEBOL strongly condemns any act of violence that affects football.

“Our work is based on the conviction that soccer connects and unites us through its positive values.”

Uruguay’s Nunez and Ronald Araujo were among the players at the forefront of the melee. Captain Jose Maria Gimenez said the players were trying to defend their families.

“Let me say something before they cut you off because they won’t let us speak into the microphone, they don’t want me to say anything about what’s going on but this is a disaster,” Gimenez said on the official broadcast. “Please be careful, our families are in the stands, there are little newborn babies. It was a disaster; there was no police and we had to defend our families.

“This is the fault of two or three people who had a few too many drinks and don’t know how to drink.”

Players and staff from both Colombia and Uruguay were also involved in a confrontation on the field after the final whistle.

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“I thought that the incident ended with some argument on the midfield and when I saw that happening I went to the locker room,” Uruguay coach Marcelo Bielsa said in a press conference.

“I thought that they were thanking the fans for their support. But then I learned that there were some problems over there unfortunately.”

Jefferson Lerma’s first-half header gave Colombia a place in Sunday’s final against Argentina. Uruguay will play Canada in the third-place playoff.

Source: ESPN

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