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International Sports Briefs

Wednesday, March 05, 2014    

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Rosicky, Mertesacker sign new deals at Arsenal

LONDON, England (AP) — Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky have signed new contracts with Arsenal.

The Premier League club did not reveal the length of the deals but manager Arsene Wenger said both internationals "have committed their futures to the club".

Mertesacker, a 29-year-old Germany defender, joined the Gunners from Werder Bremen in August 2011, while Rosicky is in his eighth season with Arsenal. The Czech Republic captain said he decided to stay "to win the league with Arsenal. It's my big goal and I will do everything that I can to achieve it."

Arsenal are attempting to win their first Premier League title since 2004 but have slipped to third place in the standings, four points behind leader Chelsea, after a 1-0 loss at Stoke last weekend.

Belgium player banned 10 matches for quenelle

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — UEFA banned a Belgium player for 10 matches yesterday for making the "quenelle" gesture at a futsal European Championship match.

Omar Rahou made the discriminatory gesture several times while celebrating scoring a goal against Romania at Antwerp in January, UEFA said.

The sanction was double the five-match ban Nicolas Anelka received from an English Football Association independent tribunal last week for the same act.

The FA is considering appealing to seek a tougher sanction against Anelka, who performed the quenelle after scoring for West Bromwich Albion in a Premier League match in December.

The quenelle has been described as an "inverted Nazi salute". It involves pointing one straightened arm downward while touching the shoulder with the opposite hand.

UEFA said the 21-year-old Rahou can appeal the sanction.

UEFA requires a minimum 10-match sanction for racist abuse at matches it organises after toughening its disciplinary rules last May.

The following week, FIFA updated its sanctioning powers and called for minimum five-match suspensions.

In the Rahou case, UEFA said one of its disciplinary inspectors "concluded that the gesture has discriminatory connotations".

It was popularised by French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, who has been convicted multiple times for inciting racial hatred or anti-Semitism.

Anelka said his gesture showed support for "anti-system" views and was not discriminatory.

Carles Puyol calls time on Barca career

BARCELONA, Spain (AFP) — Barcelona captain Carles Puyol will leave the Catalans at the end of the season, the 35-year-old announced yesterday.

Puyol has been plagued by injuries over the last couple of seasons and has undergone three knee operations.

"At the end of the season I will leave FC Barcelona. The club are aware of this and we are in agreement," he said.

"We will rescind the final two years of my contract that were still to run.

"After the last two operations it has been difficult for me to recover the level I need to be able to continue here, more than I expected and more than surgeons said. That is why I have taken this decision."

UEFA charges Atletico Madrid for racist abuse

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — UEFA has begun disciplinary action against Atletico Madrid for alleged racist abuse by fans against Manchester City youth team players.

UEFA says the charge relates to "improper conduct of the team and racist behaviour of their supporters".

The UEFA disciplinary panel will judge the case on March 20.

Manchester City's Under-19s beat Atletico 1-0 in Madrid last Wednesday to advance to the UEFA Youth League quarter-finals.

A match report on the English club's official website described a "vocal home crowd eager to play their part in intimidating (coach) Patrick Vieira's men".

Vieira's team next plays Benfica in the inaugural tournament involving the 32 Champions League group-stage clubs.

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