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The Latest: Neuer given go-ahead to wear rainbow armband

·8 min read

The Latest on soccer’s European Championship:

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The German soccer federation says UEFA has given the go-ahead for goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to wear a captain’s armband with the rainbow colors at the European Championship.

The federation says UEFA has accepted its argument that the armband is a symbol of diversity and can therefore be categorized as a “good cause.”

Neuer wore the armband in the Euro 2020 games against France and Portugal. He also wore it in Germany’s 7-1 rout of Latvia in its last game before the tournament on June 7.

The federation says Neuer wears the rainbow-armband as a symbol of “the whole team’s clear commitment to diversity, openness, tolerance and against hatred and exclusion.”

UEFA has not commented publicly on the issue.

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Belgium captain Eden Hazard says he will struggle to last the whole game against Finland at the European Championship following his injury-hit season.

He also says his right ankle might never be the same again.

Hazard has made two substitute appearances so far at Euro 2020 and has been told by Belguim coach Roberto Martinez he will start against Finland to see how his fitness is holding up ahead of the knockout stage.

The Real Madrid winger says “I’m going to give it my all to be on the pitch as long as I can to the right level. It might be 50 minutes.”

Hazard has broken his right ankle three times and had a metal plate inserted in it in an operation in March 2020.

He says “I don’t know if my ankle will ever be the same again. It definitely won’t be the same as 10 years ago when I was just starting out but that is just life.”

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Xherdan Shaqiri scored two goals to give Switzerland a 3-1 victory over Turkey at the European Championship.

The victory might be enough to give the team a spot in the round of 16 as one the best third-place teams.

Winger Steven Zuber assisted on all three of Switzerland’s goals. Haris Seferovic scored the first one.

Irfan Can Kahveci scored Turkey’s goal. It was the team’s first goal of the tournament.

Turkey lost all three of its group matches and has been eliminated.

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Italy matched a team-record 30-match unbeaten streak by beating Wales 1-0 at the European Championship.

Matteo Pessina scored late in the first half by redirecting a free kick from Marco Verratti.

Wales defender Ethan Ampadu was sent off with a straight red card for stepping on Federico Bernardeschi 10 minutes into the second half.

Italy finished Group A with a perfect nine points. Wales has four points.

The Italians will play the second-place team from Group C at Wembley Stadium in London next Saturday.

The victory also marked Italy’s 11th straight win and clean sheet.

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North Macedonia captain Goran Pandev says his team’s final Group C match at the European Championship will be his last for the national team.

The 37-year-old Pandev has made 121 appearances for his country in an international career spanning two decades.

He says “I think this is the right moment to say goodbye to the national team.”

It’s not the first time Pandev has announced he has played his last game for North Macedonia. Igor Angelovski took over as coach in 2015 and one of his key decisions was to make Pandev come out of international retirement.

Pandev then scored the goal that secured North Macedonia’s place at Euro 2020.

His goal against Austria at Euro 2020 made Pandev the second oldest player to score at a European Championship.

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Not many Welsh fans have made it to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome for Wales’ final Group A match against Italy.

The few who traveled to support the team must quarantine for five days when they return under British travel rules. Gian Fulgoni was among those who thought watching the game was worth it.

The 55-year-old Welshman who works as an IT technician in London says “I’m lucky because I work from home. But for a lot of people it’s impossible.”

Fulgoni he was supposed to have traveled with a group of 10 people but eight of them canceled because of the travel restrictions.

He says “they couldn’t self-isolate. It’s a shame.”

The Welsh fans narrowly avoided having to self-isolate in Italy as well. The government last week announced a five-day quarantine requirement for travelers from Britain but it only takes effect on Monday.

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Harry Kane will be keeping his place in the team for England’s final group match against the Czech Republic at the European Championship.

The striker failed to score in England’s first two Group D matches. England beat Croatia 1-0 and was held to a 0-0 draw by Scotland.

England coach Gareth Southgate says his captain “is fundamental not only to the goals he scores but the build-up play and everything else he brings.”

Southgate says Kane “is our most important player” and adds “you’ve only got to look at his goalscoring record with us to see his importance to the team.”

England will play the Czech Republic at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday.

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UEFA says it is investigating “potential discriminatory incidents” at two European Championship games in Hungary.

The governing body of European soccer says a “UEFA ethics and disciplinary inspector has been appointed” to conduct an investigation.

The probe will focus on Hungary’s 3-0 loss to Portugal on Tuesday and its 1-1 draw with France on Saturday. Both matches were played at the Puskas Arena.

Budapest is the only Euro 2020 host city to allow full crowds for games.

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Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel says the outpouring of support in the wake of Christian Eriksen’s collapse at the European Championship has shown “exactly why we love this game so much.”

Schmeichel says “to see that football can unite a country the way it has the last few days” is the reason he plays.

Eriksen and the entire Denmark team has received a flood of messages and well-wishes after the midfielder suffered cardiac arrest during the game against Finland at Euro 2020. Schmeichel also praised the unity shown by his teammates over the last week.

He says the team showed that “the reason we play football to start off with as children … is because of what football can do and the kind of togetherness it can harvest.”

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Ukraine might be without injured defender Denys Popov for its final Group C game against Austria in Bucharest on Monday.

Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko says the Dynamo Kyiv player has a calf problem and “there’s a high chance he won’t be playing tomorrow.”

Popov was on the bench for the opening 3-2 loss to the Netherlands and was not available for the second game against North Macedonia. Ukraine won that match 2-1.

Both Ukraine and Austria are looking to advance from the group stage at the tournament for the first time. They have three points each and a draw might be enough for both.

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Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter will write to UEFA to ask for permission for Germany’s stadium to be lit up in rainbow colors as a sign against homophobia and intolerance when the team plays Hungary on Wednesday at the European Championship.

Reiter tells news agency dpa “this is an important sign of tolerance and equality.”

Munich’s city council had already called for the stadium to be lit in rainbow colors for the final group game to protest a law passed by Hungarian lawmakers on Tuesday that prohibits sharing with minors any content portraying homosexuality or sex reassignment. The law has been denounced as anti-LGBT discrimination by human rights groups.

The Munich council’s application states it is important “to set a visible sign of solidarity with the LGBTQ community in Hungary.”

The council says Munich “is committed to diversity, tolerance and equality in sport and in society as a whole.”

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Finland’s players have received a good luck message from the country’s president as they head into what coach Markku Kanerva describes as “the biggest match in the history of Finnish football.”

Finland plays Belgium on Monday at the European Championship and likely needs a point to qualify for the knockout stage in its first appearance at a major soccer tournament.

Finland defender Jere Uronen says among the “great amount of messages” from well-wishers was a personal greeting from Finnish President Sauli Niinistö.

Uronen says “just the fact of being here and playing here is for me and many of us the best time of our professional careers and we don’t want it to end.”

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Italy can complete a perfect group stage at the European Championship by beating Wales.

The two teams will meet at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome in the final set of Group A matches.

Italy has already beaten Turkey and Switzerland and guaranteed itself a spot in the round of 16. Wales is in second place in the group with four points.

The Turks will take on Switzerland in Baku at the same time as the match in Rome. Turkey has lost both of its matches in the tournament so far. Switzerland has one point after a draw with Wales.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

The Associated Press

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