Rafa Marquez Begins Coaching Career at Spain’s Real Sociedad Deportiva Alcala

Rafa Marquez is grooming the next generation of soccer stars…

The 41-year-old Mexican former professional footballer, regarded as the best defender in Mexico’s history and one of the best Mexican players of all time, has begun his coaching career training youth at Spanish fourth division side Real Sociedad Deportiva Alcala.

Rafa Marquez

Marquez, who’s nickname is El Káiser, retired in July 2018 after playing in his fifth World Cup and had a nine-month stint as Atlas‘ sporting president after that, but has now moved into the world of coaching.

“It’s a nice opportunity that I’m very grateful for,” said Marquez in quotes announced on the club’s website. “I’ve had a very warm welcome at the project, to which I feel very committed and to which I come in good spirits to help and offer all my experience as a player and now as a coach.”

Marquez, who holds a Spanish passport after his time with Barcelona, is currently studying in for his UEFA Pro license with the Spanish Football Federation as he transitions into being a head coach.

“The young players at Alcala will have the fortune to learn from a player who, after shining for his national team at the Copa America in Paraguay in 1999, left Atlas for European football, where he carried out practically all his successful sporting career,” read the club’s statement.

Marquez left Atlas last May after the club was bought out by Grupo Orlegi and became a fierce critic of the way the Mexican game is being run, slamming the suspension of promotion and relegation: between the top two divisions.

“Instead of moving forward each day, we are going backwards with these decisions and when it is run like this, with team owners’ interests [take priority], we won’t achieve anything on the sporting side,” he told ESPN in April.

Eugenio Pizzuto Signs with Ligue 1’s Lille OSC

Eugenio Pizzuto is headed to France…

The 18-year-old Mexican professional footballer joined French Ligue 1 club Lille OSC, the team has confirmed.

Eugenio Pizzuto

Pizzuto captained Mexico at the under-17 World Cup in 2019 and was awarded the Bronze Ball for his performance as El Trireached the final.

“I feel confident in myself,” Pizzuto said at a news conference. “I think I’ll be able play this year without any problem.

“Like in any team, if you are the new guy you have to come in and work really hard so you can win a place in the starting 11 or on the bench, but I’m just going to work and do my best to be on the field.”

Pizzuto joined Lille on a free transfer after coming through thePachuca youth system.

Hector Herrera and Hirving Lozano also came through the youth system and were signed to European clubs.

Pizzuto only made one appearance in Liga MX, fracturing his fibula and dislocating his ankle in a horror injury just nine minutes after coming off the bench against Leon last January.

“About the injury, I’m much better, I’m just finishing the last things to be back on the field, but I’m 100% to play for Lille,” Pizzuto added.

The Ligue 1 season begins on Saturday, August 22 with Lille taking on Rennes at home.

The team was in fourth position when the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season was ended on April 28 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Xavi Hernández Among Spanish Players Featured in Amazon’s Docuseries “Living Abroad”

Xavi Hernández is opening up about his life away from his homeland…

The 40-year-old Spanish football manager and former player and other stars of Spain’s so-called “golden generation” of World Cup-winning footballers will be featured in an Amazon original documentary.

Xavi Hernández

Living Abroad, a four-part docuseries, will spotlight Hernández, David VillaJavi Martínez and Juan Mata, who are playing their trade outside of Spain in football leagues around the world.

Produced by Madrid-based Atresmedia Studios, the original will premiere on Prime Video on June 5 in the UK and Spain, promising an “inside look” at the stars’ lives as they play in England, Japan, Qatar and Germany.

Ricardo Cabornero, Amazon’s head of prime video content, said the series is launching to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Spain winning the World Cup in South Africa.

Living Abroadis executive produced by Jorge Pérez Vega and Ignacio Corrales, while Sonia López is the director.

Formiga Signs One-Year Contract Extension with Paris Saint-Germain’s Women’s Side

Formiga is staying in the game…

The 42-year-old Brazilian footballerwill extend her professional career into a 27th season after signing a one-year contract extension with Paris Saint-Germain‘s women’s side.

Formiga

Formigais the French side’s vice-captain and is now tied to the club until the summer of 2021.

Formiga – whose full name is Miraildes Maciel Mota– has been in Paris since January of 2017 when she joined from Sao Jose.

She scored four goals en route to winning the 2018 Coupe de Franceand has made 77 PSGappearances. She set the record for the oldest female scorer in European competition at 41 years and 193 days when she found the net in a 7-0 rout of Sporting Bragain the Champions Leagueround-of-16 first leg in September 2019.

In 2015, Formiga became the oldest scorer at a women’s World Cupwhen she netted at the age of 37 years, three months and six days.

She broke another record in France last summer when she played in her seventh World Cup– 24 years after the first of her 195 caps, in which she has scored 29 goals.

Formiga was also a Copa Americawinner with Brazil in 2018 and has made six Olympic appearances with the aim of retiring from the professional game after the rearranged 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

PSG were second to Lyon in the table, three points behind and due to host the leaders next, when football was brought to a global standstill by the coronavirus.

Although the French Football Federationhave since announced that the 2019-20 season has been brought to premature end, Lyon have not yet been officially crowned champions for a record 14th time.

Brazil Unveils Statue of Pele to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of 1970 World Cup Win

Pele’s likeness will live on forever…

The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) has unveiled a statue of the 79-year-old futbol living legend at its headquarters, the first of a series of events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the team’s third World Cup triumph.

Pele

Pele, who will be 80 in October and finds it difficult to walk, wasn’t present at the ceremony in the CBF’s museum but had been given a preview of the statue, which he declared “perfect.”

JairzinhoClodoaldo and Brito were among members of the 1970 team present at the ceremony along with Brazil coach Tite.

Pele Statue

The 1970 Brazil side, led by Pele and featuring names like GersonTostaoRivelinoand Carlos Alberto, is known as one of the greatest teams of all time. They won all seven of their matches in Mexico that June, culminating with a 4-1 over Italy in the final at the Aztec stadium.

The statue of Pele, dressed in the strip worn by the 1970 team, bears a close resemblance to the former Santos and New York Cosmosstriker.

Many of Pele’s recent appearances have been in a wheelchair as his health has slowly deteriorated.

His son Edinho said in an interview in February that the Brazil legend is depressed over his poor health and reluctant to leave the house because he cannot walk unaided.

Rafael Nadal Leads Spain to Davis Cup Title Over Canada

Rafael Nadalhas helped Spain win big…

The 33-year-old Spanish tennis star, ranked No. 1 in the world, risked injury by playing eight matches — five singles, three doubles — in six days at the Davis Cup Finals, the new World Cup of tennis.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal won all of them, leading Spain to its sixth Davis Cup title after a 2-0 win over first-time finalist Canada on Sunday.

But in Nadal’s view, the only hero for Spain was grieving teammate Roberto Bautista Agut. He sent Spain on its way to victory by winning the first singles match on Sunday, three days after the death of his father.

“I’ve won the eight matches but the person who was vital in this Davis Cup was Roberto,” Nadal said. “For me, what he did was something almost inhuman. I don’t know how to explain it. It will be an example for the rest of my life. He had to leave, then his dad died, then he came back and practiced with us yesterday, and today he was ready again to play at a very high level. It was something incredible.”

Spain Davis Cup

Before Nadal defeated Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 7-6 (7) to clinch the title — Spain’s first since also winning at home in 2011 — Bautista Agut had given Spain a 1-0 lead by beating Felix Auger-Aliassime7-6 (3), 6-3.

Bautista Agut pointed his finger to the sky after winning the final point in his match, and was in tears while speaking briefly to the crowd, which chanted his name. And he was the Spanish player lifting the cup in the title celebrations.

Bautista Agut’s father died on Thursday — a day after his son had defeated Nikola Mektic of Croatia — with his health deteriorating quickly after an illness that stemmed from a 2016 accident.

Bautista Agut, No. 9 in the world, played as teammates Pablo Carreno Busta and Marcel Granollers nursed injuries entering the final.

As for Nadal, he considered himself lucky to be able to play all matches.

“It’s true that I held up, but we know that playing so many matches in this [hard-court] surface is risky for me, something can happen at any time,” Nadal said. “That’s how it’s been in the past, but luckily I held up.”

Spain’s Granollers and Feliciano Lopezhad been scheduled to face Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisilin the now-canceled doubles match, although Nadal was likely to play if the title had been at stake. Nadal played in the decisive doubles on Friday and Saturday.

Voted the tournament’s best player, Nadal sealed the title with his 29th straight Davis Cup singles win, igniting the home crowd’s celebrations.

Tournament organizer and Barcelona soccer star Gerard Pique, his wife Shakira — who performed in the closing ceremony — and Spanish King Felipe VI were among those celebrating Spain’s triumph.

Spain’s other Davis Cup titles were in 2000, ’04, ’08, ’09 and ’11.

The new Davis Cup Finals is the result of a 25-year partnership between the International Tennis Federation and the Kosmos group co-founded by Pique.

Marc Gasol Makes History While Leading Spain to FIBA World Cup Championship

Marc Gasol is celebrating a rare feat…

The 34-year-old Spanish professional basketball player got to bask in a championship celebration for the second time in three months — and this time, he did it for his country. Tournament MVP Ricky Rubio scored 20 points, Sergio Llull added 15 and Spain won the FIBA World Cup for the second time by topping Argentina 95-75 on Sunday.

Marc Gasol

“We weren’t the most talented team,” Rubio said. “We weren’t the bigger team. Put anything you want, but we were the team with the biggest heart and we showed it tonight and we showed it during the whole tournament.”

Gasol scored 14 for the winners, who never trailed and added this crown to the one they claimed in 2006. And for him, 2019 will go down as a year the likes of which few others have enjoyed.

The Toronto Raptors center becomes the second player to win an NBA title and a FIBA world gold medal in the same year, joining Lamar Odom — who did it for the Los Angeles Lakers and USA Basketball in 2010. Gasol also became the 19th player to win either an NBA or WNBA crown along with a gold medal, either of the Olympic or World Cup variety, in the same year.

The first 18 all did it for the U.S.

This time, vamos Espana!

“NBA champion and a World Cup champion as well,” Gasol said. “What can I say? How does it sound to you? I feel very fortunate to be in this position and be able to play this game and help these guys be part of history of Spanish basketball.”

Llull and Rudy Fernandez — the team captain, who initially got to accept the Naismith Trophy — went to cut down the nets shortly after the final buzzer. Gasol carried the game ball to the gold-medal ceremony, and Spanish fans wept in the stands during the national anthem.

Gabriel Deck scored 24 points for Argentina (8-1), which got off to a slow start and played uphill the rest of the way. Luis Scola was held to eight points, shooting 1-for-10 from the floor.

“We’re sad right now. We’re very sad,” Scola said. “But I feel confident, in hours, we’ll be able to look back and be very proud. They just played better than us. They were better. They deserved to win. They were the better team in the game and the tournament.”

Spain led 43-31 at intermission, after putting together a 14-2 run to open the game and a 17-1 run later in the half.

“This is basketball,” Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez said. “If you play better than the other team, you win the game. And Spain was the best team today.”

Scola, who at 39 years old was still Argentina’s best player throughout the tournament, didn’t get on the score sheet until he made a pair of free throws with 2:57 left in the third quarter. But they only cut Spain’s lead to 19, and by then the Argentinian fans who stood, sang and chanted for much of the game were relatively quiet.

The day belonged to Spain.

And the year belongs to Gasol.

“It’s unbelievable,” Gasol said.

Joining Rubio on the all-tournament team were Gasol, Scola, France’s Evan Fournier and Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Netflix to Premiere Season 3 of “The Crown” with Helena Bonham Carter in November

Helena Bonham Carter is ready for her crowning moment…

Netflix has announced that the third season of its royal drama The Crown, starring the 53-year-old part-Spanish actress, will premiere on November 17.

Helena Bonham Carter

This comes nearly two years after the airing of the second season of the British drama, which launched on December 8, 2017.

Season 3 of The Crown starts in 1964 and will cover events such as the rise of the Beatles and England winning the soccer World Cupin 1966. Characters such as Camilla Parker Bowleswill also start to emerge in the next season.

Written by Peter Morgan, the third season will have a new cast from the previous two seasons. 

Oscar winner Olivia Colman stars as Queen Elizabeth II, taking over the role from Claire FoyTobias MenziesBen Danielsand Bonham Carter will play Prince PhilipLord Snowdonand Princess Margaret, respectively.

Parker Bowles is played by Emerald Fennelland Prince Charlesby Josh O’ConnorMarion Baileyplays The Queen Mother.

Erin Dohertystars as Princess Anne and Jason Watkins as Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the series, which runs through 1977.

Cristian Pavón to Play for the MLS’ LA Galaxy

Cristian Pavón is headed to a galaxy far, far away…

The LA Galaxy have completed the loan signing of the 23-year-old Argentine professional footballerfrom Argentina’s Boca Juniors, the club has revealed.

Cristian Pavón

Pavon becomes the first signing for the Major League Soccerside in this transfer window.

“Cristian is a young and dynamic attacking addition who has the talent to be one of the most effective offensive players in Major League Soccer,” LA Galaxy General Manager Dennis te Kloese said in a statement.

“He is a high-caliber player who will be a valuable piece to our roster moving forward. By providing him with a stable environment and a coach he knows well, we are confident that he can continue to grow and improve as a player within our club. We are extremely excited to add him to our squad and look forward to his contributions with the LA Galaxy.”

Sources told ESPN FC that the Galaxy attempted to sign the forward on a permanent deal but were unable to agree on a fee.

Both clubs have now negotiated an agreement, which will see the Argentina international join on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

Pavon played every match for Argentina in the 2018 World Cupin Russia and scored four goals in 19 appearances for Boca last season.

Julio Cesar Martinez to Fight Flyweight World Titleholder Charlie Edwards

Julio Cesar Martinez is ready to take on the champ…

The 24-year-old Mexican boxer is set to fight flyweight world titleholder Charlie Edwards on August 31 at the O2 Arena in London, as Edwards makes his mandatory title defense, according to Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn.

Julio Cesar Martinez

The bout, Edwards’ second title defense, will be part of the card headlined by pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenkodefending his unified lightweight world title — and an attempt to claim a vacant belt as well — against England’s Luke Campbell.

Martinez (14-1, 11 KOs) earned the title shot by knocking out then-undefeated Andrew Selby, of Wales, in the fifth round on March 23 in Mexico.

“He’s a very tough Mexican who can bang with both hands,” Edwards said of Martinez. “His record shows that he’s a massive puncher and we saw that in his last fight against Andrew Selby. He got him out of there in the fifth round and was hurting him on a number of occasions. He’s coming to bring it and he’s going to try and rip that WBC title off me. This is his World Cupfinal.

“He’s going to put it all on the line. He’s going to be coming hard and fast from early to try and put me under pressure, but I believe my boxing skills and the experience that I’ve gained throughout my short pro career will see me through. I expect to have a punch-perfect performance. I believe that he will bring out the very best in me.

“Timing is everything. I believe this is my era. I have arrived at my destination at the right time and I’m loving the journey. To fight your mandatory challenger on one of the biggest cards in British boxing this year is brilliant because it showcases my skills around the world.”

Edwards (15-1, 6 KOs) took a 112-pound world title by unanimous decision from Nicaragua’s Cristofer Rosalesin London in December and made his first defense, also in London, by unanimous decision against Spain’s Angel Morenoon March 23.

“I can’t wait to challenge for the WBC flyweight world title in London,” Martinez said. “I’ll be taking that famous green-and-gold belt back to Mexico with me. I have already knocked out one Brit and on August 31 I will make it two.”

The card also will include a heavyweight fight between contenderHughie Furyand former secondary titlist Alexander Povetkin, a bout that Hearn announced Wednesday.