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FOOTBALL

‘I hope Puma don’t make condoms’: Shaqiri

Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri says he hoped the country's shirt manufacturer Puma "doesn't make condoms" after several Swiss players ended their Euro 2016 match with France with shredded jerseys.

'I hope Puma don't make condoms': Shaqiri
Puma makes the Swiss shirts. Photo: AFP

Four Swiss players – Admir Mehmedi, Breel Embolo, Blerim Dzemaili and Granit Xhaka – had to change their shirts in the first half of the goalless draw in Lille on Sunday.

Recent Arsenal recruit Xhaka had to change his shirt again in the second half.

“I hope Puma doesn't make condoms,” Shaqiri told Switzerland's SRF broadcaster.

Former England striker Gary Lineker took the opportunity to poke fun on Twitter, writing: “Swiss team's Puma shirts tearing like paper. Adidas ball bursting. You can never rely on German efficiency!”

Other Twitter users compared the shirts to Swiss cheese – full of holes.

 

German manufacturer Puma apologized.

“Our five Puma teams have played 10 games at Euro 2016 before this without experiencing this problem,” the company said.

It later  blamed a manufacturing flaw. Its investigation had found that “there was a faulty batch of material in which the yarn was damaged during production”, the company said in a statement.

The Swiss shirts will be needed for at least one more match as the team has qualified for the second round.

Puma's German rival Adidas said Monday it had agreed a four-year deal to remain kit supplier to Germany until 2022 worth more than 50 million euros ($56.5 million) a year.

The agreement with the world champions came in the face of competition from US giant Nike for the prestigious contract.

 

 

 

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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