Jesús Navas Signs Lifetime Contract with Sevilla FC

Jesús Navas is Sevilla por vida

The 38-year-old Spanish professional footballer and Sevilla FC captain has signed a lifetime contract with the club, the LaLiga side said on Saturday, just days after announcing he’d be leaving at the end of the season.

Jesús NavasNavas is Sevilla’s record appearance holder, having played for the club for 17 seasons over two different spells, winning eight trophies.

The right-back published an open letter on Friday saying he’d taken the “painful” decision to leave his boyhood club, having received “not one phone call” offering him a new contract, with his deal set to expire this summer.

“I’ve always been told that I could stay here as long as I wanted, but nobody has dispelled my doubts as to whether that call confirming that I’m staying would come at the end of the season,” Navas said. “People have said that I’ve leaving for a better offer, but I don’t have a team [for next season] yet because I want to focus on my country [at the Euros].”

Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido Carrasco held a news conference on Saturday to contest that version of events, blaming a “misunderstanding.”

del Nido said he “loved, respected and admired” Navas, calling him “the club’s greatest legend.”

“I don’t want to start any conflict with him, either publicly or privately,” del Nido said. “But neither can I let the history books read that Jesus won’t stay because Sevilla don’t want him to. It has all been a misunderstanding, for which I take responsibility, because I know that Jesus is hurting.”

del Nido insisted that he’d discussed future plans with the player on more than one occasion, saying he was in a “state of shock” after being told of Navas’ decision on Thursday.

“If we are able to sit down with [Navas] and talk things through, hopefully we can amend the situation,” Del Nido said. “I would like to offer him a lifetime contract, so that he can continue to play here for as long as he wants.”

Later on Saturday, Sevilla said that Navas had “signed a lifetime contract.”

“The player and the president have come to an agreement for him to extend his playing contract until 31 December 2024, before taking on a role inside the club,” a statement said.

“I didn’t doubt for a second about saying yes to the president’s proposal,” Navas said, in a social media post. “I want to keep playing for Sevilla… My desire is to keep playing until December, in a transition to help the team.”

“One more thing, in these last months as a professional, I won’t receive pay. The salary agreed with the president will go to charity.”

Navas made his debut for Sevilla in 2003 and starred for a decade before joining Manchester City. He returned to his hometown club in 2017 after four years in the Premier League, going on to become club captain and having the training ground’s stadium named after him.

He was part of the Spain squad that won the 2010 World Cup, and the 2012 European Championships.

Aitana Bonmatí Named Best Sportswoman at Laureus World Sports Awards

Aitana Bonmatí has earned a special recognition…

Winners of the Laureus World Sports Awards have been revealed, with the 26-year-old Spanish professional footballer – a midfielder for the Spanish national women’s soccer team and Liga F club Barcelona – named best sportswoman.

Aitana BonmatíBonmati and her Spanish teammates, who won Spain’s first-ever Women’s World Cup last year, were chosen as world team of the year for 2023.

Novak Djokovic received the sportsman of the year at the ceremony in Madrid, and American gymnast Simone Biles was given the comeback of the year award.

Real Madrid forward Jude Bellingham earned the breakthrough prize, and Rafael Nadal won the sport for good award thanks to his foundation.

The Spanish women’s World Cup breakthrough last August in New Zealand and Australia was tarnished in the following weeks because of an unwanted kiss of forward Jenni Hermoso by then-federation president Luis Rubiales after the final.

Laureus rewarded Spain as the first all-female team to win the team award.

Before the World Cup, Bonmatí also helped Barcelona win a second Women’s Champions League.

She’s the first female soccer player to win the Laureus, after also receiving the Ballon d’Or and FIFA best player award.

“I want to thank all my teammates and the staff of my club and national team who have helped me a lot, and because of them I am here today,” Bonmati said.

Djokovic won his record-equaling fifth Laureus sportsman award — tying Roger Federer — after titles at the Australian Open, French Open and U.S. Open to reach a record 24 Grand Slam singles triumphs. NFL great Tom Brady presented Djokovic the award.

Biles made a record-breaking return to competition last year when she won four gold medals at the world championships, including a record sixth all-around title.

Nadal’s foundation was rewarded for helping more than “1,000 vulnerable young people in Spain and India,” according to Laureus.

Teenager Arisa Trew won the action sportsperson award after becoming the first female skateboarder to land a 720 in competition.

Dutch wheelchair player Diede de Groot was selected as the sportsperson of the year with a disability after winning her third straight calendar tennis Grand Slam.

Brahim Díaz to Switch International Allegiance from Spain to Morocco

It’s This Time for Africa for Brahim Díaz.

The 24-year-old half-Spanish soccer player and Real Madrid forward will represent Morocco over Spain at the international level due to a lack of communication from the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), according to ESPN.

Brahim Diaz,Díaz was born in Malaga to a Spanish mother and a Moroccan father. He has represented his country of birth at various youth levels and even has one cap for the senior side, but Morocco have convinced him to switch international allegiance.

Save a late twist, he will be named in the Atlas Lions squad for the first time later this week for fixtures against Angola and Mauritania later this month.

Sources close to Díaz told ESPN there is disappointment and surprise at how the RFEF have dealt with the situation, given how they have acted differently in similar cases.

The sources highlight the push to persuade Barcelona youngster Lamine Yamal, who was also eligible to play for Morocco, to pick Spain as well as the fact that the RFEF sent high-ranking officials to meet Yamal as early as 2022.

Sources at the RFEF, though, insist they have treated Díaz the same as other players who had the opportunity to represent more than one country, adding they don’t understand his switch.

“Everyone is free to make their own decisions. For me, there are three steps to be called up: firstly, that you are eligible, secondly that you want to play for the national team and thirdly that the coach selects you,” Spain coach Luis de la Fuente told reporters on Monday.

“I have not spoken with [Díaz]. I either call players up or not and the [players] do what they have to do. I worked with him a lot [with the U21s] and I hold him in high esteem and have a lot of respect for him.

Morocco worked hard over a series of calls and in-person meetings, with sources adding that national team coach Walid Regragui played a key role in finally convincing Díaz to pick the north African country.

Díaz’s priority had been to play for Spain. The former Manchester City forward was even capped for the senior side in 2021 when an outbreak of COVID-19 forced La Roja to field their under-21 team against Lithuania. Díaz scored in the 4-0 friendly win.

As the match was a friendly, Diaz remains free to switch international allegiance due to FIFA‘s eligibility rules.

Since that game, his career has continued to progress. He impressed during three years on loan at AC Milan and has played an important role for Madrid since returning at the start of the season.

His form in recent weeks — including decisive goals against Atlético Madrid and RB Leipzig — led to reports that Spain coach de la Fuente was going to call him up for this month’s games against Colombia and Brazil.

Morocco were one of the surprise teams at the 2022 World Cup, knocking Spain out en route to the semifinal, where they eventually succumbed to France.

They didn’t have as much success at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, losing to South Africa in the round of 16.

Aitana Bonmatí Helps Lead Spain to Inaugural Women’s Nations League Title

Aitana Bonmatí has helped Spain make soccer history again… 

The 26-year-old Spanish professional soccer star and Ballon d’Or winner scored to help Spain beat France 2-0 in the Women’s Nations League final on Wednesday, giving the world champions the inaugural Women’s Nations League title and another trophy.

Aitana Bonmatí, Spain, Women's Nations LeagueBonmati and Mariona Caldentey scored a goal each for Spain in front of 32,657 fans at La Cartuja Stadium in southern Spain. It was a record crowd for Spain’s women’s team in the country.

Spain also holds the men’s Nations League title, having beaten Croatia in the final in June.

“Really happy to win another trophy. What more can you ask for? It’s incredible what we have achieved,” Bonmatí said. “It seems easy, that winning is an obligation for us, but it’s not easy at all.

“We have so much ambition and, despite some rough patches, here we are lifting another trophy. We deserved the win. The first half was quite good, albeit with some lapses. I think we controlled France quite well in the second half. This team has no ceiling. We keep demonstrating that. We have won the Nations League and now we want to win the Olympics.”

Spain had its breakthrough tournament at the World Cup in New Zealand and Australia, winning the title in their third appearance.

“We always want more. Now is the moment for all the staff and players to savour and enjoy,” Spain coach Montse Tomé said. “You’ve seen on the pitch against a great opponent how we managed to limit them to very few chances and control the game. Our play has been evolving. We have a great group of players.”

The celebrations were marred by one of the country’s worst crises, though, as the then-president of the Spanish soccer federation, Luis Rubiales, kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the awards ceremony to spark an outrage in soccer and Spanish society in general. Rubiales eventually resigned, and prosecutors later accused him of sexual assault.

“Today we get to celebrate again. We deserve it,” Hermoso said. “We try to enjoy ourselves but we also have the responsibility that there are so many people behind us who want to follow in our footsteps. We are so proud that there are so many girls who want to be champions in the future.”

Tomé took over the team in September after World Cup-winning coach Jorge Vilda was fired amid the fallout from Rubiales’ behavior.

But Spain haven’t lost momentum since becoming world champions. They defeated the Netherlands 3-0 in last week’s semifinal, a result that also secured the team a place in the 2024 Paris Games.

The final was Spain’s first victory over France, who had already qualified for the Olympics as the host country.

“They’ll be the team to beat at the Olympics, it won’t be easy,” France coach Hervé Renard said. “We are going to have to keep improving, learn lessons and keep moving forward. Let’s say we have taken one step but we haven’t taken the second. There’s still a lot of work to do.”

Jenni Hermoso & Aitana Bonmatí Help Spain’s Women’s Soccer Team Qualify for First Olympic Games

Jenni Hermoso and Aitana Bonmatí have helped Spain make Olympic history…

The Spanish tennis stars helped Spain beat the Netherlands 3-0 in the UEFA Women’s Nations League semifinals on Friday, a victory that secured the world champions a spot in the Paris Olympics.

Jenni Hermoso & Aitana BonmatíHermoso opened the scoring with a nice solo effort in the 41st minute before Ballon d’Or holder Bonmatí doubled the lead in the 45th. Left back Ona Batlle added the third in the 77th to complete the dominant performance by the hosts.

Spain will face France in the first Women’s Nations League final in the same La Cartuja Stadium on Wednesday. France beat Germany 2-1 in Friday’s other semifinal.

Qualifying for Spain’s first Olympic Games is the first important success for the team since Montse Tomé took over in September following the scandal that erupted when former Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales kissed Hermoso without her consent at the World Cup final.

“[I and my staff] took charge in a difficult moment that nobody wanted and we took a step forward,” Tomé said. “We are proud of the work we have done. This team deserves to play an Olympic Games after all the prior generations who fought for it and came up short.”

Spain started strong in front of their fans in southern Seville.

Striker Salma Paralluelo, who scored the winner to help Spain beat the Dutch in last year’s Women’s World Cup quarterfinals, missed twice from close-range before she was stopped by goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar in a one-on-one opportunity early on.

More shots came from Olga Carmona and Irene Paredes, while the Netherlands could threaten only through Lineth Beerensteyn‘s powerful shot saved by Cata Coll.

The Dutch resistance finally faltered when Hermoso used two slick changes of feet to avoid three defenders and beat Van Domselaar for the opener.

Bonmatí added a quick second blow when she raced forward to volley home a cross from Barcelona clubmate Mariona Caldentey.

The Netherlands improved after half-time, but Battle caught the visitors off guard when she finished off an attack that started with her own cross.

Spain coach Tomé gave a debut to 17-year-old Vicky López in the second half.

A moment of silence was held before kickoff in memory of the victims of a deadly fire in the eastern Spanish city of Valencia.

Aitana Bonmatí Wins FIFA’s The Best Women’s Award

Aitana Bonmatí has cemented her status as the best women’s footballer…

The 25-year-old Spanish soccer player, a Barcelona and Spain midfielder has claimed FIFA‘s The Best women’s award to go alongside her Ballon d’Or Féminin title.

Aitana Bonmatí Bonmatí enjoyed a record-breaking season with club country in which she helped Barça win Liga F amid a two-year unbeaten run that ended on the last day of the season, followed by leading Spain to win their first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup title.

She was named Player of the Tournament in Australia and New Zealand, as well as being crowned UEFA Women’s Player of the Year.

“It’s been an incredible and unique year that I will remember for the rest of my life,” Bonmati said on the stage in London. “I owe this to the teams that I play with: Barcelona and the national team.

“Without my teammates I would not be here picking up these awards. I will always be thankful to those who have not failed me — my family and my friends.

“I want to congratulate all the nominees and say that I am proud of being part of a powerful generation of women who are changing the rules of the game.”

The other two nominees shortlisted for Monday’s award were Real Madrid‘s Linda Caicedo, who had an outstanding World Cup with Colombia, and Tigres UANL‘s Jenni Hermoso, who played with Bonmatí for Spain and kick-started a MeToo movement in the country over the behavior of federation president Luis Rubiales.

Bonmatí’s award continues Barça’s hold over the women’s prize, with midfielder Alexia Putellas having won the award in 2021 and 2022, although she has made just a handful appearances in the past 12 months due to an ACL injury.

The timeline for the award was between December 19, 2022 and August 20, 2023 — the day of the Women’s World Cup final.

The three nominees for the award were compiled, FIFA said, in collaboration with its “football stakeholders,” with shortlists determined by two separate panels of former players and coaches. The winner of the award was then voted between journalists, fans, national team captains and managers.

Earlier in Monday’s ceremony, Lionel Messi won his third FIFA the Best men’s award.

Here’s the full list of women’s awards winners:

FIFA’s The Best women’s Award: Aitana Bonmatí 
Women’s Coach of the Year
: Sarina Wiegman
Goalkeeper of the Year: Mary Earps (Man United)

Women’s World XI:

Goalkeeper: Earps (Man United)
Defence: Olga Carmona (Real Madrid), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Alex Greenwood (Man City)
Midfield: Keira Walsh (Man City), Alessia Russo (Arsenal), Lauren James (Chelsea), Ella Toone (Man United), Aitana Bonmatí (Barcelona)
Attack: Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave), Sam Kerr (Chelsea)

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina Helps Lead Spain to Victory Over Brazil in United Cup Play

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina has helped lead Spain to victory…

The 24-year-old Spanish tennis player and his mixed doubles partner and compatriot Sara Sorribes Tormo beat Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia and Marcelo Melo 6-4, 7-5 in the decider of the Group A tie between the two countries on the opening day of the United Cup mixed team tournament Friday.

Alejandro Davidovich FokinaSpain beat Brazil 2-1 to start the revamped $10 million tournament that features 18 countries with ties taking place in Perth and Sydney.

Davidovich Fokina put Spain up 1-0 by defeating Thiago Seyboth Wild 6-4, 6-0 in the first match of the season, dominating his opponent from the baseline and not facing a break point throughout the contest.

But Brazil hit back through world No. 11 Haddad Maia, who downed Sorribes Tormo 7-6 (1), 6-2 in a rematch of their marathon French Open fourth-round clash earlier this year.

“To come back and play with Sara, I think we had a great time on court and we enjoyed a lot,” world No. 26 Davidovich Fokina told reporters. “We didn’t care … obviously we care, but the result was like the last thing. We were enjoying out there, just to keep improving also.”

World No. 1s Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek are among the big names who will be in action in the coming days as they warm up for the opening Grand Slam of the new year, the Australian Open, which will run from January 14-28 in Melbourne.

The final is scheduled for January 7.

Lionel Messi Earns Record-Extending Eighth Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi has extended his record…

The 36-year-old Argentine soccer star, who currently plays for Inter Miami CF, has won the Ballon d’Or for a record eighth time, after leading Argentina to the FIFA World Cup title last year.

Lionel Messi

Messi, who beat out Manchester City striker Erling Haaland, becomes the first Major League Soccer-based player to claim the coveted prize, although the triumph comes largely on the back of his exploits with his country in Qatar.

Former Manchester United player and Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham handed his prize-signing Messi the award in Paris.

Haaland, who scored 52 goals last season as Manchester City won the Treble in 2022-23, finished second in the voting and won the Gerd Muller Trophy given to the best striker of the year.

“I couldn’t imagine having the career that I’ve had. Everything that I’ve achieved,” Messi said after getting his award. “The fortune I’ve had playing for the best team in the world, the best team in history. It’s nice to win these individual trophies.

“To win the Copa America and then the World Cup, to get it done is amazing. All of them [Ballon d’Or awards] are special for different reasons.”

Prior to Messi receiving his award, Barcelona and Spain midfielder Aitana Bonmatí won the Ballon d’Or Féminin after a record-breaking year with club and country. She helped Barça win Liga F and the Champions League last season, before leading Spain to World Cup glory in the summer.

In other awards handed out on Monday, Messi’s Argentina teammate Emiliano Martinez won the Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper and England and Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham was handed the Kopa Trophy as the world’s top player under the age of 21.

During his acceptance speech, Messi made a point of wishing Argentina countryman Diego Maradona happy birthday. The 1986 World Cup winner, who died on November 22, 2020, would have been 63 on Monday.

“My last mention is for Diego [Maradona],” Messi said. “Today is his birthday. So I would like to remember him from here, surrounded by the best players, coaches and people who love football like he did.

“Wherever you are, Diego, happy birthday. This goes also to you.”

Even prior to Monday’s ceremony in Paris, no player had won the Ballon d’Or more times than Messi, who first won it in 2009 and then again in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021.

Cristiano Ronaldo has won it five times, while Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten are all three-time winners.

Messi scored 21 goals in 41 appearances last season as Paris Saint-Germain retained the Ligue 1 title before moving to Inter Miami earlier this year.

Since moving to the U.S., he has scored 11 goals in 14 games for Miami, helping the franchise win its first-ever piece of silverware, the Leagues Cup.

However, he missed several matches through injury at the end of the regular MLS season as Gerardo “Tata” Martino‘s side came up short in their late push for a playoff spot.

It is Messi’s performances at the World Cup at the end of 2022 which have earned him an eighth Ballon d’Or, though, as Argentina ended a 36-year wait to be crowned world champions for the third time.

Messi, as captain, was instrumental to Argentina’s success in Qatar, scoring seven goals and assisting three more as he was named as the Player of the Tournament.

He scored twice in the final and again in the penalty shootout against France as Lionel Scaloni‘s team edged one of the most memorable showpieces in the competition’s history.

Having come up short with Argentina at four previous World Cups, including losing the 2014 final to Germany, it was deemed by many to be his last chance to get his hands on football’s biggest prize.

At 36 years and four months old, he also becomes the second oldest player to ever win the Ballon d’Or, replacing last year’s winner Karim Benzema. Only the inaugural winner, Stanley Matthews in 1956, was older when he won it aged 41.

Messi’s first six Ballons d’Or were won while he played for Barcelona, where he is the club’s record goalscorer and appearance holder, while he won it for a seventh time shortly after joining PSG in 2021 following Copa America success with Argentina.

Aitana Bonmatí Claims Ballon d’Or Féminin After Record-Breaking Year

Aitana Bonmatí is officially soccer’s biggest female star…

The 25-year-old Spanish professional footballer, a Barcelona and Spain midfielder, has claimed the Ballon d’Or Féminin after a record-breaking year with club and country.

Aitana BonmatíBonmatí helped Barça win Liga F and the Champions League last season, before leading Spain to World Cup glory in the summer.

She was named Player of the Tournament in Australia and New Zealand and was also recently crowned UEFA Women’s Player of the Year. Bonmati won the Ballon d’Or ahead of Australia forward Sam Kerr and Spain winger Salma Paralluelo.

“I want to congratulate all the nominees. All of them are great and inspiring footballers. As role models we have a responsibility on and off the pitch. We should be more than athletes. Keep leading by example and keep fighting together for a better, peaceful and equal world,” Bonmatí said after receiving the award.

At the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris, Barcelona were also awarded as the women’s team of the year.

Bonmatí’s teammate Patri Guijarro and Barça president Joan Laporta received the recognition on behalf of the club.

It’s the third year in a row that a Barça player has clinched the Ballon d’Or in the women’s game, with Bonmatí succeeding teammate and back-to-back winner Alexia Putellas.

“Spain has something unique. In recent years we have achieved a lot with our clubs and the national team,” Bonmati told reporters.

“It says a lot that we won the Ballon d’Or three times in a row. We are a country that lives football, and we work hard every day to be the best.”

After claiming the prize in 2021 and 2022, Putellas missed the majority of last season with an ACL injury, although she did return to play a part in Spain’s World Cup triumph.

In Putellas’ absence, Bonmatí, who came fifth in the 2022 Ballon d’Or, took the spotlight in a more attacking role at Barcelona, scoring nine goals and assisting 10 more in 23 appearances as Barça won Liga F for a fourth successive season.

She also starred in the Champions League, registering a competition-high 13 goal contributions (five goals and eight assists) in 11 appearances as Barça won the title for a second time.

At the World Cup, she scored three times and set up two more goals as Spain won the competition for the first time, beating England 1-0 in the final in Sydney.

Bonmatí first broke into the Barça side in 2016 and has since made over 200 appearances for the club, winning four league titles, two Champions Leagues, five Copas de le Reina and three Spanish Super Cups.

She made her Spain debut in 2017 and had won 57 caps for her country, scoring 21 goals.

Lamine Yamal Signs First Professional Contract with Barcelona

Lamine Yamal has signed his first professional contract with Barcelona.

With the new deal, the 16-year-old Spanish soccer player has extended his stay at the Catalan club until at least 2026.

Lamine Yamal Yamal, a winger, put pen to paper on the deal — which includes a €1 billion ($1.05bn) release clause — at Barça‘s training ground on Monday at an event also attended by president Joan Laporta and sporting director Deco.

Until he turns 18, Yamal cannot sign a contract for longer than three years, which is the reason he has not signed longer terms.

It has been a record-breaking year for the forward, who made his first team debut in April while he was still 15, becoming the youngest player to represent Barça in LaLiga. He has since gone on to become the youngest player to ever play and score for Spain, netting on his debut against Georgia earlier this month.

Meanwhile, at club level, he has established himself in Xavi Hernandez‘s squad, making nine appearances in all competitions so far this season, including four starts. He set up the winner, an own goal by Sergio Ramos, in Friday’s 1-0 victory over Sevilla in LaLiga as Barça maintained their unbeaten start to the campaign.

Further records could fall in the coming weeks, with Yamal still able to become the youngest-ever goal scorer in LaLiga and the Champions League. That record is held by Ansu Fati in the Champions League, whose goal against Inter Milan for Barça in 2019 came when he was 17 years and 40 days old.

In LaLiga, though, he is running out of time. He has just one game left — away at Granada on Sunday — to beat the mark set by Fabrice Olinga, who was 16 years and 98 days old when he scored for Malaga a decade ago.

Yamal first joined Barça in 2013 from local Catalan club CF Torreta and has since progressed through the academy, racing through the age groups until reaching the first team this year.