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Uruguay soccer leaders quit in fan violence crisis

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — Uruguayan soccer has lost its leadership with little more than two months before its national team is to compete in the World Cup.

The entire executive committee of the Uruguayan Football Association quit Monday in a crisis that also involves President Jose Mujica and the football players union.

“It seems nonsensical to me that the executive committee resigns two months before the World Cup, because the big loser here could be the national team,” Edgar Welker, vice president of the Penarol soccer team, told The Associated Press.

Uruguay’s clubs will try to designate a temporary committee to lead the country’s soccer until the end of the World Cup, Welker said, adding that the crisis should not affect the leadership of the national team’s coach, Oscar Washington Tabarez.

The crisis blew up when Mujica abruptly withdrew police protection Thursday from the home stadiums of Penarol and Nacional, the most popular teams in Uruguay, after Nacional fans injured 40 police officers in postgame violence the night before.

“We Uruguayans cannot continue in this irrationality, accepting human stupidity. We need to react urgently,” the president said.

Uruguay’s soccer federation and its clubs decided to play Saturday’s games anyway, but the players pulled out Sunday, saying they wouldn’t be safe without police in the stadiums.

After all five leaders of the federation’s executive committee quit Monday, the country’s leading newspaper, El Pais, raised the question of whether the development could threaten Uruguay’s participation in the World Cup, which begins June 13 in Brazil.

Citing unidentified sources, El Pais suggested that FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, could be investigating the resignations and could suspend Uruguay from the tournament if it determined Mujica put political pressure on the committee.

FIFA rules are designed to protect soccer from political intervention. To make governments back down in conflicts over the sport, FIFA can threaten suspension from international football matches and meetings.

The body’s media department said FIFA had no comment on the situation in Uruguay.

Welker said the government had nothing to do with the resignation of Uruguayan Football Association President Sebastian Bauza and the other executives.

“I don’t see a government move behind this, nothing of the sort,” he said.

Francisco Figueredo, executive secretary of the South American Football Confederation, told the AP in Asuncion, Paraguay, that neither his group nor FIFA was investigating the Uruguayan crisis.

“Neither is Uruguay’s participation in the World Cup at risk, because the selection (national team) has nothing to do with police, nor violent fans,” he said.


Associated Press writers Graham Dunbar in Geneva and Pedro Servin in Paraguay contributed to this report.

After police officer’s death, Greek soccer fans will need a state-issued QR code to attend games


ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek authorities launched a ban on paper tickets for all league soccer matches on Tuesday as part of an effort to crack down on the violence that has plagued the sport for decades.

Under new rules, fans will only be allowed into stadiums using their cellphones and displaying a government-issued QR code so they can be identified and attendance bans can be enforced.

Stadiums have been closed to spectators for two months so security measures could be overhauled following the death of a police officer who was hit by a flare during a fan riot in Athens in December.

Starting Tuesday, fans will have to buy tickets online and verify the purchase using a state-run app used to pay taxes and access online government services.

Dimitris Papastergiou, a minister for digital governance, said the full paper ticket phase out would last one month. Exceptions, he said, would be made for minors and seniors, adding that the new system would be expanded to other sporting events after the summer.

“The goal is also … to relieve the Greek police of the need to provide hundreds of policemen at stadiums. Police will not be needed at stadium entrances,” Papastergiou told state-run ERT television.

The minister said 10,000 of the current 80,000 season-ticket holders had already switched to the new electronic system.

Champions League ties to go ahead amid terror threat – UEFA

Apr 9, 2024

European football’s governing body, UEFA, has said it is aware of a terror threat made regarding this week’s Champions League quarterfinal ties, but it said the matches will still go ahead as planned.

The Al-Azaim Foundation — a media arm of ISIS-K — issued multiple social media posts calling for attacks at stadiums hosting Champions League quarterfinal matches.

On Tuesday, Arsenal host Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium in London and Real Madrid play Manchester City at the Bernabéu stadium in Madrid, while on Wednesday, Paris Saint-Germain face Barcelona in Parc des Princes in Paris and Atlético Madrid host Borussia Dortmund at Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

France’s interior ministry has confirmed an increased police presence will be in place in Paris on Wednesday in response to the threat, while Spain’s interior ministry said there will be more than 2,000 extra security personnel in line with typical operations for a major football fixture.

“UEFA is aware of alleged terrorist threats made towards this week’s UEFA Champions League matches and is closely liaising with the authorities at the respective venues,” the governing body said in a statement to ESPN. “All matches are planned to go ahead as scheduled with appropriate security arrangements in place.”

London’s Metropolitan Police told ESPN in a statement that the nationwide threat level remains at “substantial,” but acknowledged the terror threat against the Champions League ties.

“We’re aware of online and media reports in relation to calls to target matches across Europe and here in London,” said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan, who is overseeing policing in London on Tuesday.

“However, I want to reassure the public that we have a robust policing plan in place for tonight’s match and we continue to work closely alongside the club’s security team to ensure that the match passes peacefully.

“As ever, we ask the public to remain vigilant, and if they see any that doesn’t look or feel right, then report it to police or security staff.”

An Arsenal spokesperson told ESPN the club is working closely with the Metropolitan Police, adding: “Our planning for tonight’s fixture is no different and our approach, working together with the Police and UEFA, is proportionate to the current UK threat level.”

Spain’s interior ministry told ESPN in a statement: “The State Security agencies have designed an operational deployment in which more than 2,000 National Police and Civil Guard agents will participate, to which members of Madrid’s Municipal Police will be added, to ensure the correct development of the two sporting events taking place today [Tuesday] and tomorrow [Wednesday] in the capital.

“This deployment is coordinated and has the support provided for in the measures that, throughout the territory of the State, establishes the Anti-Terrorist Prevention, Protection and Response Plan for the current level 4 out of 5 of anti-terrorist alert, to which various measures have also been added to prevent these type of contingencies.”

Meanwhile, French media reported that the country’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said he is aware of the threat from Islamic State and has organised increased security measures.

“We have seen, amongst others, a message from the Islamic State which particularly targets stadiums, which isn’t new,” Darmanin told reporters on Tuesday. “The police chief, with whom I spoke very early this morning, has considerably reinforced security resources.”

The return matches in the Champions League are scheduled for next week.

PSG defender Danilo said he and his teammates “need to concentrate on the soccer,” but manager Luis Enrique said the threat was worrying.

“Who wouldn’t be concerned by that. Of course we’re concerned,” Luis Enrique said. “We hope it’s only a threat and that nothing will happen.”

Information from ESPN’s Alex Kirkland, James Olley and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Israeli police thwart alleged ISIS terror plot against Jerusalem stadium, police station

The ISIS terrorists allegedly planned to attack Teddy Stadium and a police station

By Anders Hagstrom Fox News 4/4/24

Israeli police thwart alleged ISIS terror plot against Jerusalem stadium, police station

Israel’s security agency, Shin Bet, says it foiled a plot by three ISIS terrorists to carry out attacks in Jerusalem.

Authorities say two of the men had plans to use explosives and small arms fire in attacks on a police station and at a stadium in east Jerusalem. Both men had pledged support for ISIS and received training from the third ISIS terrorist, who specialized in organizing attacks within Israel, Israeli police said.

The third terrorist had received training abroad and urged the other men to do the same prior to the attack, according to police. All three were arrested last month before they could leave the country, however.

Authorities say all three men were in their 20s, though they did not offer any details about their identities.

“Prior to their apprehension, the two individuals had commenced preparations for executing terrorist attacks, acquiring knowledge in creating explosives and carrying out attacks. Diligent investigations conducted by the Jerusalem District Police and Shin Bet uncovered their intentions to orchestrate explosive charges and shooting attacks against a police station in Jerusalem and the vicinity of Teddy Stadium,” Shin Bet wrote in a joint statement with Jerusalem police on Thursday.

“During the interrogation process, it was revealed that these individuals had pledged allegiance to ISIS and meticulously plotted several attacks targeting key areas within Jerusalem, employing various methodologies, including the planned deployment of explosives and firearms,” the statement continued.

The announcement comes barely a week after Israel said it thwarted a massive Iranian smuggling operation aimed at delivering weapons to Palestinians in the West Bank.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said an investigation into known Hezbollah and Iranian operative Munir Makdah ultimately uncovered the smuggling scheme. Makdah had been working to recruit “agents in Judea and Samaria to carry out attacks,” the IDF said in a statement.

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