MADRID, July 19 -- It has been a strange 48 hours for Barcelona left back Marc Curcurella which have seen the young defender pass through three different clubs.
On Tuesday, Barcelona decided to take up the four million (4.5 million US dollars) euro buy-back option they had with Eibar (after the club he spent last season on loan with had themselves taken up an option to make that loan deal permanent at the end of last season). That meant the 20-year-old was briefly back in the discipline of the club where he had begun his career. However, Curcurella's return to the Camp Nou was about as brief as they can get as late on Thursday evening Barcelona reached agreement with Getafe to send him on loan at the side from the south of Madrid for another season. Getafe also have the option to make the move permanent at the end of the 2019-20, with Barcelona to receive 40 percent of the price of any future sale of the player. "FC Barcelona and Getafe have reached an agreement for the loan of the player Marc Cucurella to the Madrid based club for the 2019-2020 season," confirmed the Barca website, which also wished the youngster luck for the future. The move to Getafe will give Cucurella the chance to play European football with Getafe in this season's Europa League after finishing fifth in the Liga Santander last season.
MADRID, July 10 -- On behalf of the EU, Morocco is making it more difficult to flee across the Mediterranean to Spain. In fact, the number of refugees is decreasing. But the deal has fatal consequences for migrants, human rights activists say.
"If only we could be left, we could save much more," says Manuel Capa. The trade unionist works for the sea rescue in the Spanish city of Valencia. If Morocco or Spain embark on a new course when it comes to migration, they will feel it immediately. And he does not like the new course of the Spanish government at all. According to the law of the sea every captain must take shipwrecked persons, if he is able to do so, Capa explains. Regardless of whose sea area he is in. "So, if a shipwrecked man was in the Moroccan Maritime Rescue Zone and Morocco did not take care of him because of the lack of resources or perhaps the will, then the Moroccans allowed us to go into their waters and save the humans." That has changed. A new protocol stipulates that Morocco is solely responsible for its zone. The Spanish saviors must often be left out. Trade unionist Capa says what happens to the people who are shipwrecked in Moroccan waters is incomprehensible. It remains unclear whether they were saved and if so, where they would be taken.
Does the government accept dead?
Helena Maleno from the non-governmental organization "Caminando Froteras" goes further. She accuses the Spanish government of a cynical game:
"We're basically doing the same thing as Salvini: We're retreating, but not so obvious, of course, we can not pull out the sea rescue, but we're taking some risk with the new measures."
Spain's motto is to close this route, whatever the cost. Maleno assumes that the government will not protest because of the dead.
140 million euros in aid
The Spanish maritime rescue rejects the allegations. In the first half of the year, the number of registered deaths had dropped significantly. Currently there are 81 people who did not make it to Spain alive. Last year, at 151, it was almost twice as many. The fact is that Spain and Morocco are working together again on migration. Spain's head of state, Sánchez, has worked hard to ensure that the European Union gives Morocco more support in terms of border management. With success: the EU promised Morocco a total of 140 million euros in aid in January.
The refugees are being transported inland
And Morocco has delivered. Anyway, this is the conclusion reached by an internal paper of the EU Commission, which is available in the Spanish newspaper El País. Support for Morocco, both from Spain and from the European Commission, is the basis for the declining trend in arrivals, it says. The Moroccan government is also not overshadowing their successes: The authorities have this year so far prevented 25,000 people from reaching by sea illegally Spain, according to an official Moroccan side.
Often, however, this is done with dubious methods, says Said Tbel, migration officer of the human rights organization Association marocaine des droits humains (AMDH) in Rabat:
"Since last summer, Morocco has again resorted to methods that violate the rights of migrants."
So many migrants were picked up on the coast in northern Morocco and spent in the south. It has become increasingly difficult for people to leave Morocco for Spain. Many boats were capsized, there are now many missing and dead. The human rights activist believes that the situation will worsen in the medium term. The Moroccan Ministry of the Interior was not available for an interview at short notice.
Author: Lora Smith
MADRID, July 7 -- European cities celebrated LGBTQ pride on Saturday with colorful parades that also became platforms for political demands and a push back against far-right populist parties.
This year’s events in London, Madrid and Budapest mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn uprising in New York against police persecution, a turning point in the modern gay rights movement.
The Spanish capital’s pride has become one of the largest in the world. On Saturday, tens of thousands took to the streets in a joyful march that celebrated sexual and gender diversity. Some called for better care for elder LGBTQ people and a nation-wide law that, among other long-running demands, would standardize rights for transgender people across the country. “Elders without closets,” read a street-long white banner carried by protesters marching along Madrid’s main artery. Members of the first generation of Spanish gay rights activists were at the front, followed by the colorful parade of floats.
Arny Carrasco, a 67-year-old man from a small town, said he had missed few pride celebrations for the past two decades, but that Saturday’s felt “special” for its focus on the elderly. “The gay community has shown society different ways of relating to each other and it’s about time that we don’t feel that we need to get back into the closet when we become older,” Carrasco said, citing how nursing homes, for example, are ill-prepared to cater the needs of LGBTQ people, especially transgender men and women. This year’s pride in Madrid has also become remarkably political after the uber-conservative Vox party made significant gains in national and local elections. Officials of the far-right party, whose votes were key in electing a new conservative mayor last month, have proposed moving next year’s pride parade out of the city center, while regional leader Rocío Monasterio has said the celebrations “denigrate people’s dignity” and include “explicit sexual acts in the streets.” “When a mother, a father step outside with children from their home, they don’t have to be exposed to that spectacle,” Monasterio told a conservative website last week.
Beatriz Gimeno, a long-time LGBTQ activist and far-left Podemos (We Can) party lawmaker, told The Associated Press that “reactionary” remarks by the far-right were a reminder of how relevant the battle for gay rights remains. “Faced with attitudes that take us 20 or 30 years back, we need to tell them that we’ll take not even one step back,” Gimeno said. In London, hundreds of thousands also poured into the streets of London for Britain’s biggest pride parade. Some 30,000 participants, including uniformed police and firefighters, marched while many more lining the streets cheered and waved rainbow flags. Organizers said they had aimed to increase the event’s diversity, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he hoped it would be the biggest-ever Pride parade.
Alison Camps, co-chair of Pride in London, said “it’s vital that we remember that Pride is not just one day a year — we must fight for the rights of all members of our community all year round.”
In the Hungarian capital, Budapest, thousands also took part in a pride parade that stressed calls for acceptance and the right to live without fear.
Author: Lora Smith
MADRID, June 27 -- Europe's record-breaking heatwave is forecast to intensify further on Thursday with authorities on high alert as temperatures threaten to exceed 40 degrees Celsius in some parts of the continent.
The stifling heat prompted traffic restrictions in France, sparked forest fires in Spain, and fanned debate in Germany over public nudity as sweltering residents stripped down. Meteorologists blame a blast of hot air from northern Africa for the heat this week, which has already set new records in Europe for June. According to reports, the high temperatures have already claimed the lives of three people. Exceptional for arriving so early in summer, the heatwave will on Thursday and Friday likely send mercury above 40C in France, Spain and Greece. In Spain, hundreds of firefighters and soldiers, backed by water-dropping aircraft, battled on Wednesday to put out a wind-fuelled forest fire that erupted in Torre del Espanol in the northeastern region of Catalonia. The worst is expected on Friday when 33 of the 50 Spanish provinces face extreme temperatures, which could reach 44C in Girona. "Hell is coming," one Spanish TV weather presenter tweeted.
In France, temperatures "unprecedented" for their timing and intensity since detailed surveys started in 1947 were expected to reach at least 39C over two-thirds of the country, said weather service Meteo-France. Health official Jerome Saloman said the effect of the extreme heat was starting to be felt in France, with an increase in weather-related calls to emergency medical services. Some schools were expected to close on Thursday and Friday while several cities - including Paris and Lyon - restricted traffic to limit a build-up of air pollution. French authorities were taking no chances after the August 2003 heatwave was blamed for 15,000 deaths in the country, with television and radio broadcasts issuing warnings. In Greece, where about 100 people died in last year's deadly fires at the Mati coastal resort, hospitals and officials were on red alert with temperatures of 45C.
BARCELONA, June 9 -- Construction of Barcelona's Sagrada Familia basilica may have started 137 years ago, but the emblematic monument got a building permit only last Friday.
The Spanish seaside city council awarded the licence to a committee in charge of finishing construction of the Catholic church for €4.6 million (S$7.1 million), Ms Janet Sanz, in charge of urban planning, told reporters. In a quirk of history, the authorities discovered only in 2016 that the building which draws millions of visitors every year had never had planning permission since construction began in 1882. Ms Sanz said the council had finally managed to "resolve a historical anomaly in the city - that an emblematic monument like the Sagrada Familia... didn't have a building permit, that it was being constructed illegally." According to the committee in charge of finishing construction of the not-yet-completed basilica, designer Antoni Gaudi had asked the town hall of Sant Marti, a village now absorbed into Barcelona, for a building permit in 1885 but never got an answer.
Some 137 years later, it is finally legal. The new building permit states that the basilica will finally be finished in 2026, with a maximum height of 172m and a budget of €374 million. Designed by Gaudi, a famous Catalan architect also known for the Park Guell, another tourist magnet in Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia was named a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2005. Construction, financed solely by donations and entrance tickets, is due to conclude in 2026, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the death of Gaudi, who was run over by a tram. The basilica is Barcelona's most visited monument, with 4.5 million visitors in 2017, and one of the main tourist landmarks of the country.
MADRID, June 8 -- Eden Hazard completed his long-awaited move from Chelsea to Real Madrid on Friday (June 7) and could become the Spanish club's most expensive signing in their history.
Real said Hazard, 28, had signed a five-year contract. His contract at the Premier League club was due to expire next year but the Blues drove a hard bargain for the forward, who will reportedly cost Madrid an initial €100 million (S$154 million), with another 45 million in potential add-ons. The full amount would trump the €101 million Madrid paid Tottenham for Gareth Bale and the €91 million they spent to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United. An unveiling at the Santiago Bernabeu is expected next week, once Hazard returns from international duty with Belgium, who play Euro 2020 qualifiers against Kazakhstan on Saturday and Scotland on Tuesday. It means Madrid's spending spree is picking up pace following the arrivals of defender Eder Militao and striker Luka Jovic from Porto and Eintracht Frankfurt respectively. But Hazard is the gem Zinedine Zidane can build his new team around and brings the kind of stardust Madrid fans have craved ever since the sale of Ronaldo to Juventus last summer. Ronaldo's departure created a void up front that Madrid failed to fill last season, the team struggling for goals en route to finishing 19 points behind Barcelona in La Liga and crashing out to Ajax in the last 16 of the Champions League. Hazard, who scored 110 goals in seven seasons at Chelsea, will be expected to help plug the gap has long-been admired by Zidane and Madrid president Florentino Perez. "We have wanted to sign Hazard for several years and I hope he will come this year," Perez told Spanish radio station Onda Cero last month. Less clear is where Hazard will fit into Zidane's starting line-up. Assuming he plays in his favoured position on the left of a front three, it would mean displacing the 18-year-old Brazilian, Vinicius Junior, who enjoyed a brilliant breakthrough year last season. Chelsea said the club had tried to persuade Hazard to stay. "Although it is with sadness we say goodbye to Eden - and we made it absolutely clear to him the club wished him to stay - we respect the decision he has made to take on a new challenge in a different country and follow his childhood dream of playing for Real Madrid," Chelsea club director Marina Granovskaia said in a statement.
Hazard's arrival also adds more uncertainty around the future of Gareth Bale, who has played both on the left and right of the attacking trio in recent months but is clearly not part of Zidane's plans. Madrid want to sell Bale to raise money for more signings, with French left-back Ferland Mendy the next player expected to arrive, from Lyon. But the Wales international will not be forced out and has so far shown no interest in the handful of clubs that have shown interest. Neither Bale nor his agent Jonathan Barnett have spoken to the club since the end of the season. Hazard though would do well to match Bale's record in Madrid as he looks to add to the trophies he won at Chelsea, which included two Premier League and two Europa League titles, as well as one FA Cup and one League Cup. At the end of the 2014-15 season, in which Chelsea won the league, Hazard was awarded both the PFA Players' Player of the Year and the Premier League Player of the Season. He was named in the PFA Premier League team of the year four times, in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017. If Madrid pay the full amount, Chelsea stand to make a profit of more than €100 million, having signed Hazard for close to €40 million from Lille in 2012. Chelsea had just won the Champions League when Hazard chose them over several other clubs but they have failed to replicate the success in the competition. After reaching the semi-finals in 2014, Chelsea have not gone past the last 16 in the last five seasons.
LAGOS, June 2 -- Ajax star Matthijs de Ligt insists he wants his future sorted before the start of pre-season but dismissed claims Ronald Koeman’s potential move to Barcelona would influence his decision.
The 19-year-old is expected to leave the Amsterdam giants this summer after a scintillating campaign in which Ajax reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. Barcelona had been expected to sign de Ligt but his stunning form towards the end of the season has attracted the likes of Manchester United to the teenager. The Catalans were knocked out by Liverpool in the semi-finals of the Champions League and lost the Copa del Rey final to Valencia a fortnight later. Those defeats are expected to cost Ernesto Valverde his job and Koeman has been linked with taking over at the Camp Nou. Koeman currently manages de Ligt as Netherlands boss and made the move himself as a player from Holland to Spain.
However, de Ligt says Koeman’s move would have no bearing on his decision. ‘At the end of the day, you look at yourself only. He [Ronald Koeman] does know me well but the fact that he is Dutch won’t matter a lot [if Koeman joins Barcelona],’ said de Ligt. ‘Why does it take so long for me to make a decision on my future? For months there have been reports about me and the transfer period itself hasn’t even started yet, so, fine question from you. It’s not that I write it. The media does that. ‘I just want to finish this season first and focus on that [making decision on future]. I do prefer to play the pre-season with my new club, or with Ajax. I don’t know when it will happen but I hope will be as soon as possible.’
MADRID, May 28 -- The National Police has arrested several alleged members of a criminal organization dedicated to match-fixing football First and Second Division to obtain benefits in sports betting.
According to police sources, several footballers have been arrested in the operation, including former Real Madrid player Raúl Bravo, alleged ringleader of the organization; Borja Fernández, of the Real Valladolid Club de Fútbol; Carlos Aranda, former player of several First Division teams; Samuel Saiz Alonso, player of Getafe, and Íñigo López Montaña, player of Deportivo de La Coruña and ex-player of Huesca. Agustín Lasaosa, president of the Sociedad Deportiva Huesca, and Juan Carlos Galindo Lanuza, head of the medical services of the same club, have also been arrested. All detainees are accused of belonging to a criminal organization, corruption among private individuals and money laundering.
BARCELONA, May 1 -- Full race results for the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, round five of the 2019 Formula 1 season.
Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix - Race Results
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 66 laps
2. Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport + 4.074s
3. Max Verstappen NED Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda + 7.679s
4. Sebastian Vettel GER Scuderia Ferrari + 9.167s
5. Charles Leclerc MON Scuderia Ferrari + 13.361s
6. Pierre Gasly FRA Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Honda + 19.576s
7. Kevin Magnussen DEN Rich Energy Haas F1 Team + 28.159s
8. Carlos Sainz ESP McLaren F1 Team + 32.342s
9. Daniil Kvyat RUS Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda + 33.056s
10. Romain Grosjean FRA Rich Energy Haas F1 Team + 34.641s
11. Alexander Albon THA Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda + 35.445s
12. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Renault F1 Team + 36.758s
13. Nico Hulkenberg GER Renault F1 Team + 39.241s
14. Kimi Raikkonen ITA Alfa Romeo Racing + 41.803s
15. Sergio Perez MEX SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team + 46.877s
16. Antonio Giovinazzi ITA Alfa Romeo Racing + 47.691s
17. George Russell GBR ROKiT Williams Racing + 1 lap
18. Robert Kubica POL ROKiT Williams Racing + 1 lap
Ret. Lance Stroll CAN SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team
Ret. Lando Norris GBR McLaren F1 Team