Manchester United's Phil Jones and Daley Blind punished for breaching UEFA's doping regulations

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Facing two-match ban: Jones.

Phil Jones has been banned for two matches and Daley Blind fined by UEFA after the Manchester United pair were found guilty of breaching the governing body’s doping regulations after the Europa League final in May.

Jones was understood to have been verbally abusive towards a doping control officer after he was requested to attend drug-testing after the final in Stockholm on May 24, and will now miss the UEFA Super Cup match against Real Madrid next week and United’s first Champions League group stage match in September. He has also been fined 5,000 euros.

It is understood Blind was reluctant to take a test as requested because he wanted to celebrate with his team-mates, whose 2-0 victory over Ajax ensured their qualification for this season’s Champions League. He was fined 5,000 euros.

There is no suggestion that either player was guilty of doping.

United have been fined 10,000 euros over the rule breaches. The club are understood to be aware of UEFA’s decisions, and have three days to appeal against them. However, they have not yet indicated to UEFA whether they will or not.

UEFA announced the charges and sanctions on its website on Monday afternoon. In its statement, it said: “The club (United) has been charged for infringements of the UEFA anti-doping regulations (ADR) concerning the doping control procedure.

“In particular, according to Appendix B (17) of the aforementioned regulations, ‘the teams are responsible for ensuring that the players drawn to undergo doping controls are taken by the respective team representatives to the doping control station straight from the pitch as soon as the match is over. This applies even when chaperones are appointed by UEFA’.

“The player Philip Jones has been charged for insulting and directing abusive language towards the doping control officer (Article 15 (1) of the UEFA disciplinary regulations), as well as for lack of co-operation and respect towards the doping control procedure (Article 6.05 ADR).

Daley Blind

Set for the sidelines: Blind.

“The player Daley Blind has been charged for violation and non-compliance with Article 6.05 (a) of the UEFA anti-doping regulations, which states that ‘every player designated to undergo as doping control is personally responsible for reporting immediately to the doping control station as notified’.”

Blind played the full 90 minutes against his old club Ajax, while Jones was an unused substitute in Sweden.

United manager Jose Mourinho’s defensive options in continental competition had already been depleted after UEFA gave Eric Bailly an additional two-match ban for his sending-off against Celta Vigo earlier in the Europa League campaign.

The Ivorian had already missed the final in Stockholm, but now also misses the Super Cup and the Red Devils’ opening Champions League group stage match.

Mourinho moved to increase United’s depth at the back by signing Sweden international Victor Lindelof earlier this summer from Benfica.

United have not commented on the matter and no decisions have yet been taken on whether appeals will be made against any of the decisions.

It is understood Jones was upset to have missed out on a squad photograph taken after the match paying tribute to victims of the Manchester terrorist attack earlier in the week. He expressed this disappointment to officials at the time.

Blind did feature on that photograph and did join in some of the celebrations, accompanied by a chaperone. This is permitted in other competitions but was not the case in this instance. It is understood he did not realise he had done anything wrong until reaching doping control.

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AC Milan join race to re-sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic as Manchester United look to extend his run at Old Trafford

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Linked with a return to Milan: Ibrahimovic.

According to Tuttosport, AC Milan are set to compete with Manchester United for the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, once he recovers from his knee injury.

The Swedish striker played for two seasons with AC Milan (2010-12) and scored 51 goals in 77 appearances for the Rossoneri.

Ibrahimovic’s contract at Manchester United was not extended after he suffered a cruciate knee ligament damage in April, but he is expected to be fit by January of next season.

While Jose Mourinho’s team have strengthened up top with the acquisition of Romelu Lukaku from Everton for a £75million fee, Ibrahimovic could still turn out for the Red Devils.

Indeed, The Special One said recently that “the door is still open for him”.

Meanwhile, 35-year-old Zlatan turned down a deal to join LA Galaxy and play in the MLS but a move to Milan could still be on the cards.

Milan have been one of the most active clubs in the summer transfer window, making signings such as Leonardo Bonucci and Andre Silva among others.

What also makes Ibrahimovic to Milan more than a possibility is the fact that his agent, Mino Raiola is also Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma’s representative.

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Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo due in court over tax evasion claims

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Cristiano Ronaldo.

Football megastar Cristiano Ronaldo appears in court near Madrid Monday accused of evading millions of euros in taxes, the latest player to fall foul of Spain’s taxman.

The 32-year-old will be questioned by a court in Pozuelo de Alarcon, a wealthy suburb of Madrid where he lives, after returning from a summer break with his girlfriend and relatives and a promotion trip to China.

The Portuguese star – the world’s highest paid athlete according to Forbes magazine – follows in the steps of his arch-rival, Barcelona forward and Argentina star Lionel Messi, who was found guilty of the same offence last year.

Other footballers have also recently run into trouble with Spain’s taxman, some of them already convicted and others under investigation.

Prosecutors accuse Ronaldo of having evaded 14.7 million euros ($17.3 million) in tax.

They allege he took “advantage of a company structure created in 2010 to hide income generated in Spain from his image rights from tax authorities”.

They say this was a “voluntary and conscious breach of his fiscal obligations in Spain”.

Prosecutors accuse the four-time world player of the year of evading tax via a shell company based in the British Virgin Islands and another in Ireland, known for low corporate tax rates.

In addition, they say the Real Madrid striker only declared 11.5 million euros of Spanish-related income from 2011 to 2014, while what he really earned during that time was close to 43 million euros.

And finally, they accuse him of “voluntarily” refusing to include 28.4 million euros in income linked to the sale of his image rights for the 2015 to 2020 period to a Spanish company.

Ronaldo has defended himself, saying his “conscience is clear”.

His agent’s company Gestifute has also denied any “fiscal set-up” and said “the player didn’t hide anything”.

But the allegations still took their toll, and the man with the “CR7” brand. According to press reports, Real’s all-time top goalscorer, threatened to leave Spain over the affair, giving supporters a fright.

He has since hinted he will stay on, telling Spanish sports daily Marca that he would like to continue to win trophies for Real.

If he were put on trial and found guilty, Ronaldo risks “a fine of at least 28 million” euros and could potentially be jailed for three-and-a-half years, the Gestha union of experts at Spain’s Inland Revenue has said.

Since extending his contract last November until 2021, Ronaldo is the highest paid sports star in the world with $93 million (79 million euros) earned in 2016-2017, according to Forbes.

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