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Four Indian Women Named in FIFA Elite Panel of Referees; Paul Pogba to Sue News Outlets for Publishing ‘Fake News’ (Football Round-up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): Four women from India named in FIFA Elite list for International referees | Paul Pogba says he is appalled by news websites running story on him quitting the French national team following baseless rumours | Brothers Lorenzo Insigne and Roberto Insigne score for opposite sides in Benevento vs Napoli Serie A match | Two Milan players test positive for Covid-19 following Europa League clash | PPV model set to remain after Premier League rejects pushback.
Ranjita Devi Tekcham, FIFA referee from Manipur

Ranjita Devi Tekcham of Manipur started refereeing matches in 2007 even while continuing to play matches for local clubs.

In a boost to football referees across the country — and indeed to all who consider the profession a male domain — four women have been named to the elite list of FIFA International Referees. Ranjita Devi Tekcham, Kanika Barman, Riiohlang Dhar and Uvena Fernandes are among the 18 Indian referees named in the list. Of the quartet, Fernandes is the one with the most experience having also been deputed as an assistant referee at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in France in 2018. In the same year, Dhar was one of three FIFA women referees from India to pass the course for 'elite' referees by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). She has been named as an assistant referee in the FIFA list.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma took to Twitter to congratulate Dhar on the achievement saying: “Huge congratulations to WC Riiohlang Dhar, 1st MLP, for qualifying as a #FIFA Worldwide Referee. She is amongst 4 #ladies chosen from India. Wishing her good luck and lots of extra success!”

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The women qualified after  going through a number of tests conducted by FIFA in Chennai on October 10. Having been named in the list, it will be interesting to see how the quartet’s opportunities in Indian football increase. Till date no Indian woman referee has taken charge of a game in the Indian Super League (ISL). The only woman to have taken charge of a top level men’s football game in the country is Maria Rebello in 2014 — an I-League encounter between Pune FC and Shillong Lajong. 

Pogba to Take Legal Action

Paul Pogba has denied rumours that he has retired from international football and quit the France national team. In an Instagram post, The Manchester United player said he will take legal action over reports that claimed he had quit, in protest against comments made by French president Emmanuel Macron about Islam.

“I am appalled, angry, shocked and frustrated that some ‘media’ sources use me to make total fake headlines on the sensible subject of French current events and adding the French national team and my religion to the pot,” he wrote. “Absolutely 100 percent unfounded news about me (is) going around, stating things I have never said or thought.”

He added: “I am taking legal action against the publishers and spreaders of these 100 percent Fake News.”

The report surfaced online a few days after Macron paid tribute to a French history teacher who was murdered by a Chechen extremist. The teacher was murdered on October 16 for for using cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a class for 13 year old students, explaining freedom of expression.

Soon after Macron’s statement on the murdered teachers, rumours about Pogba surfaced online, and was published by tabloids and some news websites.

A spokesperson for The Sun, which had published the news, apologised for it.

"We reported on a story that Paul Pogba had taken the decision to quit the French national football team after it was published on a sports website,” the spokesperson said. "That story was also published on The Mirror, Mail Online and other websites. Subsequently, Paul Pogba has denied the claim and we have updated our story accordingly. We apologise for any upset caused.”

Pogba was miffed at being dragged into the controversy.

“I am against any and all forms of terror and violence. Unfortunately, some press people don't act responsibly when writing the news, abusing their press freedom, not verifying if what they write/reproduce is true, creating a gossip chain without caring (if) it affects people's lives and my life,” he wrote on Instagram.

Sibling Rivalry in Serie A

It’s not often that we see brothers scoring in the same match in top flight football, that too for rival teams. Serie A witnessed this sibling rivalry in the Benevento vs Napoli Sunday fixture.

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Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne scored to cancel out the strike from younger brother Roberto, Lorenzo’s strike helped Napoli fight back to beat the local rivals and climb to second spot in the Italian top flight standings, a point behind AC Milan.

Roberto, 26, a former Napoli player who left last year, gave Benevento the lead in the 30th minute. Napoli captain Lorenzo, 29, curled a long range effort off the crossbar, after an hour while Andrea Petagna sealed full points for the side.

There was a bit of post-match digging between the brother, all in good jest of course. “After the game, I told him my left is better than his," joked Lorenzo. We also hugged because today was an exciting day for our family. I'm happy with the goal and congratulate my brother too."

Roberto said: "I'm very happy, but sorry my first goal in Serie A was against my brother. Playing against my brother and Napoli, the team of my city, is a great feeling, but we are all a little saddened by the result."

Two Milan Players Test Positive

Two AC Milan players -- Gianluigi Donnarumma and Jens Petter Hauge -- who played against Celtic on Thursday have tested positive for Covid-19. Goalkeeper Donnarumma played the full 90 minutes at Celtic Park while substitute winger Hauge secured the 3-1 Europa League win with a late goal.

The Italian club said three other members of their staff have also gone into isolation after positive tests. These developments came prior to the Serie A leaders' home game against Roma on Sunday. 

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"Whilst they are all asymptomatic, they have immediately entered isolation in their homes and the relevant local health authorities have been informed,” a statement by the club said.

Milan and Roma played out a hugely entertaining 3-3 draw at the San Siro. For Milan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic continued to defy expectations, scoring a brace in the game, as Milan dropped points in the league for the first time this season.

PPV Model to Stay

The Premier League looks set to continue its controversial pay-per-view (PPV) arrangements for the round of games before the November international break in what is going to anger supporters further. The move to shift to the broadcast model has been criticized from all quarters and seen supporter backlash. Now club owners have also weighed in Newcastle United owner, Mike Ashley, demanding a review. 

It is understood clubs will receive an update on broadcast matters at a meeting later this day and it is likely the current arrangements will remain in place for the matches on the weekend of November 6-8. A decision on how to proceed in the longer term is not expected to come out of the meeting. 

Fans’ groups, including the Football Supporters’ Association, urged the league and the broadcasters to reconsider the pricing when it was announced this month. Many supporters also opted to donate the money to food banks and other charitable causes instead of paying the fee.

Defending the arrangement, Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, said the price was “defensible”. BT Sport meanwhile said it was simply covering its costs in screening these matches.

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