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Friday, May 24th

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Indonesian football giants Persib have signed two former English Premier League (EPL) stars Michael Essien and Carlton Cole with one-year contracts and the two have joined the team's training camp.

Striker Cole, 33, had scored 51 goals in the EPL with the clubs including West Ham United, Aston Villa and Chelsea. Cole signed the contract recently after his close colleague Essien joined Persib earlier this month.

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Satisfaction was written all over the face of European Club Association (ECA) President and German football legend Karl-Heinz Rummenigge after the organisation rejected plans for a widespread reform of the Champions League and a new European Super League starting from 2018.

An initiative of investors from the US, England and Asia sought the formation of a new 24-club league with 16 permanent teams and eight qualifiers.

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For many years, an unwritten rule in football said a game lasted 90 minutes. The survey by a sports magazine has now revealed that the actual average playing time in the top four football leagues in Europe is less than 58 minutes - even accounting for added time.

While in Germany's Bundesliga, the actual net playing time is 56 minutes and five seconds, in the English Premier League it is also about 56 minutes. The Spanish La Liga only provides its fans with just under 54 minutes. Italian fans are best off with the Serie A's 57 minutes.

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Spain topped France 2-0 in a friendly match that saw a goal for the hosts disallowed and one confirmed based on video replay for the visitors. The value of the video replays was there for all to see, and one can only hope that football finally takes that leap of faith to bring it on par with other sports that is using video evidence to eradicate refereeing errors from the sport - a reality which more often than not alters the outcome of not just games, but careers.

The Spanish controlled the flow of the game throughout the first half on Tuesday, but posed no real threat to the French goal. France, after an anemic first half, mounted a surge at the start of the second and took a 1-0 lead on a header by Antoine Griezmann.

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Former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton launched a verbal tirade at Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, comparing the 67 year old Frenchman to anĀ "an uncle who doesn't want to leave the party".

Sutton, who played for Chelsea before their rise to fame under Russian owner Roman Abramovich, did win the Premier League title once in his career at Blackburn Rovers, way back in 1995.

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Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has dismissed speculation about a possible move to Real Madrid, insisting that he will continue at his present club. Real Madrid are reportedly considering a move to acquire the services of the Belgium international should the ongoing talks with Manchester United custodian David De Gea fall through.

"I don't see myself at Real Madrid. I see myself at Chelsea, the club that six years ago saw me playing in Belgium and gave me the opportunity to sign for them," he was quoted as saying by the Guardian on Tuesday.

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Spain chief coach Julen Lopetegui on Friday recalled key footballers to his squad for the forthcoming 2018 World Cup qualifying game at home against Israel and the friendly with France away.

Defenders Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique, who were both injured for the last internationals in November, return to the side, along with Andres Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Chelsea striker Diego Costa, who were also unable to play four months ago because of physical problems.

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