Newcastle United qualified for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years after playing a goalless draw against 2016 Premier League champions Leicester City on Monday.
Italian giants Juventus’s hopes of making it to the Champions League for a 12th consecutive time were dealt a severe blow when they were handed a 10-point deduction in Serie A after a revision of their initial 15-point penalty inflicted on the club over illicit transfer activity.
A day after Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior was subjected to racial abuse by Valencia fans, Spanish prosecutors said they have opened an investigation into the claims. The Brazilian player has been a constant target of racial abuse by fans in Spain and on Monday said that Spain is viewed as a “country of racists” back in his homeland.
Here’s a look at the key stories from international sporting events through the day for 22 May, 2023:
Newcastle back in Champions League
Eddie Howe hailed Newcastle’s “incredible” players as they qualified for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years after a 0-0 draw against relegation-haunted Leicester on Monday.
Fifth placed Liverpool’s draw with Aston Villa on Saturday meant Newcastle needed just one point from their last two games to be assured of a Champions League place.
Howe’s third placed side achieved their target at the first attempt at a jubilant St James’ Park.
Howe and his players embarked on a lengthy lap of honour after the final whistle as they soaked up the acclaim from the Toon Army.
“It’s a big relief actually, an amazing night. You always hope and you have to dream. But we didn’t feel we were ready for the top four,” Howe said.
“After last season’s relegation battle, it was whether we could consolidate and become a better team.
“I have to compliment the whole squad because physically it’s been a big demand. They’ve seen the fruits of their own labour.”
Newcastle’s remarkable rise from relegation candidates to a top four finish in the Premier League in just 18 months is a tribute to Howe’s management and financial might of the club’s Saudi-backed ownership group.
The Magpies also reached their first domestic final since 1999 this season, losing to Manchester United in the League Cup.
After two decades in Premier League purgatory since Bobby Robson last led Newcastle into the Champions League, the Magpies will believe they can maintain their transformation into trophy contenders now they are back among Europe’s heavyweights.
Just seven years after their fairytale Premier League title triumph, Leicester are on the verge of being relegated from the top-flight for the 12th time in their history.
That would equal the English record held by Birmingham, sending them back to the Championship for the first time since 2014.
Dean Smith’s third from bottom team have won just one of their last 15 league games.
They sit two points behind fourth from bottom Everton and will go down if the Toffees win their last game against Bournemouth, regardless of Leicester’s result in their final match against West Ham.
Juventus deducted 10 points
Juventus on Monday were given a 10-point deduction in Serie A after a revision of their initial 15-point penalty inflicted on the club over illicit transfer activity.
The new sanction, announced by the Italian Football Federation’s appeals court, severely dents Juventus’ hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, pushing them out of the top four with two matches remaining this season.
Juventus have competed in Europe’s elite competition in each of the past 11 seasons dating back to 2012.
In April, Italy’s highest sporting court, the Sports Guarantee Board, revoked Juve’s 15-point penalty inflicted by the FIGC’s appeals court and sent the case for a new judgement.
It asked the appeals court to revise punishments handed down to the club and some key figures, including former vice-chairman Pavel Nedved who was acquitted on Monday.
Juventus said they “reserve the right” to appeal the latest decision to the Sports Guarantee Board.
“While not ignoring the need for urgency, which Juventus has never shied away from during the proceedings, it is emphasised that these are facts that still have to be evaluated by a judge,” the Turin giants said on Twitter.
Long bans given to former chairman Andrea Agnelli, ex-CEO Maurizio Arrivabene and sporting directors Federico Cherubini and Fabio Paratici were upheld in April.
But Juventus’ hopes that the points deduction would be completely cancelled were quashed on Monday.
Massimiliano Allegri’s men, who were second in the top flight, fall to seventh in the table.
Juve are now five points behind fourth-placed AC Milan and host the losing Champions League semi-finalists in their penultimate match of the campaign this weekend.
Juve then visit Udinese in their final match of the season on June 4.
The ‘Old Lady’ had a chance to move within two points of Milan when they took on Empoli shortly after the points deduction was announced on Monday.
But they slipped to a surprising 4-1 defeat to cap a miserable day for the two-time European champions.
Spain opens probe into racist abuse of Vinicius
Spanish prosecutors opened a probe on Monday into racist chants during a match aimed at Real Madrid’s star forward Vinicius Junior as the club hit out at the country’s football federation for failing to “prevent the situation”.
The 22-year-old Brazil international was targeted by a home supporter during a 1-0 defeat at Valencia on Sunday and was later sent off.
The prosecutor’s office in Valencia is investigating the incident as a possible “hate crime”, a judicial source told AFP.
The move comes after Real Madrid said it had filed a complaint “in order that the facts be investigated and those responsible be held accountable”.
The club said the chants, in its view, “constitute a hate crime”.
Separately, Spain’s government sports council said it was analysing the images to “identify the perpetrators of these insults and behaviours to propose the appropriate sanctions”.
The body has in similar incidents in the past proposed a one-year stadium ban and fine of 4,000 euros ($4,300) for those found guilty.
Top figures from the world of football and beyond rallied around the player, who has frequently been singled out for racial abuse in La Liga.
The head of Spain’s football federation, Luis Rubiales, said the country had a “problem” with racism.
But Real Madrid heavily criticised Rubiales in a scathing statement, saying that his refusal to ensure Fifa protocols, which suggest matches should be halted when racist abuse is heard, be used in Spain is exacerbating the problem.
During the match, Vinicius stood in front of fans behind the goal and pointed to the apparent culprit and play was delayed for several minutes in the second half.
Referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea spoke to stadium officials, who made an announcement calling for racist insults to stop before play resumed 10 minutes later.
The referee wrote in his post-match report that a fan shouted “monkey, monkey” at the player.
Vinicius was sent off in added time at the end of the game for hitting Valencia player Hugo Duro during a brawl.
He later issued a statement saying that La Liga “belongs to racists”.
Real said the match officials “made unfair decisions based on incomplete images” when Vinicius was shown a red card.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva condemned the abuse, telling a news conference at the close of the G7 summit in Hiroshima: “He was attacked. He was called a ‘monkey’.”
He called for the Spanish league to take “serious measures”.
Reacting on Twitter, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said there should be “zero tolerance for racism in football”.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said Spanish football needed to be prepared to halt matches.
Fifa reiterated on Monday that stopping matches is permitted as well as players walking off the pitch in their three-step approach when racist abuse takes place.
Vinicius has been racially abused at several stadiums this season in Spain and an effigy of him was hung from a bridge by Atletico Madrid fans.
La Liga have filed legal complaints to Spanish authorities on multiple occasions this season, with the league pledging on Sunday to do so again after investigating.
However, Ancelotti said it was not helping.
Writing on Instagram, Vinicius said Spain was viewed in his homeland as “a country of racists”.
Spain, he said, was “a great country, which welcomed me and that I love, but which has accepted to export to the world the image of a racist country.
“I am sorry for the Spanish people who do not agree, but today, in Brazil, Spain is known as a country of racists.”
“The league that once belonged to Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cristiano (Ronaldo) and Messi now belongs to racists,” Vinicius added.
La Liga argued it had been “proactive” in previous cases of racism against Vinicius, filing nine complaints with relevant authorities and prosecutors.
With text inputs from AFP
Updated through the day