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Football news

New York City’s Villa named MVP

New York City forward David Villa was named Major League Soccer’s most valuable player after leading the club to its first play-off appearance in just its second year in the league.

The former-Barcelona striker, who also finished runner-up for the MLS Golden Boot with 23 goals, beat off competition from Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan of crosstown rivals New York Red Bulls.

Toronto FC’s Sebastian Gio-vinco, the 2015 MVP, finished fourth in the contest.

Belarus manager Khatskevich quits

Belarus manager Alexander Khatskevich has quit after refusing to take a pay cut following poor results in World Cup qualifying, the Belarus Football Federation (BFF) said.

Belarus are second-bottom in Group A with two points from four games in the race to reach the 2018 finals in Russia.

“Due to the lack of results for the 2018 World Cup, the coach was asked to agree to a cut in his wages,” the BFF said.

“He refused to take on the new conditions. Therefore, it was decided to end Khatskevich’s contract.”

The 43-year-old had been in charge of the national team since December 2014.

Former Neuchatel president jailed

The Russian businessman, who was president of Swiss club Neuchatel Xamax when it went bankrupt, was given a three-year prison term.

The tribunal in the canton of Neuchatel said Bulat Chagaev had been found guilty of criminal mismanagement, embezzlement and falsification of documents.

Chagaev had denied wrongdoing. He took over the relegation-threatened club in May 2011, saying he wanted to take them into the Champions League.

Among the initially ambitious plans, there was even talk of a role for Diego Maradona.

Libertadores spots are up for grabs

South America’s smaller soccer nations will gain three extra berths in the 2017 Copa Libertadores after Mexico withdrew their teams, the president of the region’s governing body CONMEBOL said.

Alejandro Dominguez said teams from Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela would take part in a qualifying series in January for the three vacancies.

Mexico cited a clash of dates between a revamped Copa Libertadores, to be played throughout the calendar year from 2017, and their domestic league championships as a reason for withdrawing at least for a year.

Mexico, the leading soccer nation from the northern CONCACAF region, have taken part in South America’s elite club competition since 1998.

Pardew’s job is safe, says Parish

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has assured under-pressure manager Alan Pardew that his job is secure.

The south London side’s 3-0 home win over Southampton on Saturday helped them stay three points clear of the relegation zone after six league defeats in a row.

“Alan has a 41 per cent win record at Palace which is pretty astonishing,” Parish said.

“It’s totally safe (Pardew’s job) in that every manager is under pressure. It’s a binary industry and you have to win football matches.”

Parish said the team was no more in crisis than the other clubs struggling near the foot of the table and said everyone at Selhust Park was working hard to help Pardew succeed.

Fans stabbed in Kiev

Ten people were treated in hospital for knife wounds after hundreds of Dynamo Kiev and Besiktas fans clashed in the Ukrainian capital before Tuesday’s Champions League match.

Around 600 fans were involved in clashes near the Olympiyskiy stadium, which will host the 2018 Champions League final, before Dynamo’s 6-0 victory, Football 1 channel reported.

The Turkish supporters were attacked by Ukrainian rivals while approaching the stadium with knives and bats being used in the clashes.

Local media also reported a few smaller clashes in other parts of the city.

Hull’s Hernandez to have hernia op

Hull City striker Abel Hernandez, who has been out of action since picking up a groin injury last month, is to undergo a hernia operation and will spend three weeks on the sidelines, manager Mike Phelan has said.

The Uruguay international has been out since leaving the field nine minutes into Hull City’s 2-1 victory over Southampton on November 6.

“Abel Hernandez will be out for three weeks,” Phelan told the club website.

“He has recovered from the groin problem, but he needs a hernia operation and he’ll have that this week.”

Hernandez, who has netted only once this season after scoring 22 last term, also missed World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Chile in November.

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