TIME Spain

Lionel Messi Faces Messy Tax-Fraud Allegations

The soccer star and his father allegedly owe $5.3 million in unpaid taxes to Spain

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Lionel Messi, the highest-paid soccer player in the world, might be in some serious financial trouble.

Messi and his father have been accused of tax fraud in Spain, and if they — in an unlikely case — are convicted, the pair could face up to six years in prison and nearly $32 million in fines.

MONEY Sports

WATCH: Lionel Messi’s Messy Tax Situation

Global soccer star Lionel Messi and his father are facing charges of tax fraud in Spain.

TIME Algeria

Air Algérie Flight Disappears Over Mali With Over 110 Aboard

France's Foreign Minister said Flight AH5017 "probably crashed"

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Air Algérie said Thursday it lost contact during the night with an Algiers-bound flight from Burkina Faso carrying more than 110 people.

The Algerian national airliner said in a statement to the Algerian news agency APS that the flight, AH5017, took off from Ouagadougou at 1:17 a.m. GMT and was supposed to land in Algiers at 5:11. But the airline lost contact with the plane about 50 minutes into the flight, though the exact timing remains unclear amid differing reports.

Heather Jones for TIME

French President François Hollande, who cancelled his planned trip to the French island Réunion, said in a televised address that 51 French citizens were on the flight ahead of a connection in Algiers. In his statement, which followed an emergency meeting with top ministers, he said that “everything suggests that this plane crashed.”

He said that France, which has spearheaded an international military intervention in Mali against Islamic extremists in the north of the country, will deploy “all the military means that we have on location in Mali” to find the plane.

The French President said that at 1:48 a.m. the crew signaled that it was changing its route because of particularly difficult weather conditions. A Twitter account that appears to belong to the Algerian airline said in a tweet that the plane would have crashed in the region of Tilemsi about 70 km (43 miles) from the city of Gao in northern Mali.

The airline told APS early Thursday that the plane was carrying 119 passengers and 7 crewmembers of Spanish nationality, though officials have provided slightly varying numbers. In a separate statement, Swiftair, the Spanish private airline company that owns the plane, said that the plane was carrying 116 people, including 110 passengers and 6 crewmembers. Swiftair said the plane was an MD-83 operated by Air Algeria.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that 51 French citizens were on the flight. The Twitter account that appears to belong to the Algerian airline said in a tweet that there were also passengers from at least 13 other countries, and an Air Algérie representative told reporters in Burkino Faso that all of the passengers on the plane were in transit, according to Reuters.

The plane disappeared in rough weather over Mali. Data from weather satellites show that there may have been storms in the plane’s flightpath:

 

TIME Spain

Guy Who Wrote Book on Surviving Running of the Bulls Gets Gored by Bull

Two man have been badly injured during the third day of the Pamplona bull run

A Chicago author who co-wrote the book “How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona” was gored Wednesday morning during the Pamplona bull run, the festival’s website reports.

Bill Hillman, 32, tripped and fell while participating in the third run of the weeklong San Fermin festival. The bull, the heaviest of the six animals released, gored him twice in the right thigh. Hillman, who has been running in the festival for over a decade, is said to be in a stable condition.

A second man, a 35-year-old Spaniard from Chicago, was also seriously injured when one of the bulls gored him in the thorax. Three other Spanish men were taken to the hospital with minor injuries caused by the stampede.

During the San Fermin festival, runners dressed in white with red scarves sprint through the streets of Pamplona pursued by the bulls. The animals can inflict serious injuries — In 2009, a 27-year-old man from Madrid died after being wounded in the event.

The daily run begins at 8 a.m. local time and lasts up to five minutes. Runners finish at the bull-ring where the animals are later killed during an evening bullfight.

 

 

TIME Spain

Pamplona’s Famed Runners Cheat Death in This Year’s Running of the Bulls

Thousands watched, hundreds ran, four were injured

Once again, Pamplona’s famed runners, or mozos, cheated death at this year’s running of the bulls. One was gored, three were injured and the rest lived to tell the tale.

TIME Television

Game of Thrones Headed to Spain for Season 5

Game of Thrones
HBO

The country could serve as the Kingdom of Dorne

Game of Thrones fans may be seeing a whole new kingdom next season.

Part of the HBO fantasy drama’s fifth season will be shot in southern Spain, near Seville, the network announced Wednesday.

Filming will take place later this year, according to the Hollywood Reporter, and no specific locations will be revealed until closer to the shoots.

This announcement confirms earlier comments by U.S. ambassador to Spain and former HBO executive James Costas that the company was in “firm negotiations” with the Andalusia Film Commission to find filming locations in Spain.

Spain is filled with Moorish castles like Seville’s spectacular Alcazar and buildings like Osuna University with its castle-like spires, which the Reporter speculates would make it the perfect setting for the Kingdom of Dorne — home of Prince Oberyn, the ill-fated Dornish royal who met a grisly end in Season 4.

Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss told Entertainment Weekly last month that season five would feature Dorne, saying: “Who wouldn’t want to hang out in Dorne? They have admirable values and priorities. And have you seen Oberyn’s coat?”

Spain will now join the long list of locations that have served as host to the popular show, following Croatia, Northern Ireland, Malta, Morocco, Iceland and the United States.

[Hollywood Reporter]

TIME World Cup

The World Cup Tactical Trend Yielding the Most Success

FIFA World Cup Brazil Netherlands-Mexico
Ron Vlaar and Stefan De Vrij of Netherlands battles with Hector Herrera of Mexico during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 29 in Fortaleza, Brazil. Laurence Griffiths—Getty Images

World Cup teams starting games with three center backs have won 11 matches

sportsillustrated

By Liviu Bird

The most interesting tactical trend at the 2014 World Cup has been an increase in nations using systems with three center backs. Teams starting matches with these systems have won 11 matches, lost three and drawn four, and all three of the losses were against teams using a similar system.

After Surviving Group, USA Out to Set New Standard

The re-emergence of three-back systems may have been a direct response to the tiki-taka trend sparked in Spain nearly a decade ago. The Spanish system favors central overloads by the midfielders, a false No. 9 and central wingers, leaving fullbacks to provide width in attack. Systems with just two or three central midfielders end up overwhelmed, but playing one less in the back allows for an extra in midfield.

After a certain point, a central overload becomes stifling. A 5-on-2 situation is conducive to keeping the ball in tight spaces, but 5-on-5 means passing lanes disappear. That’s how the Netherlands beat Spain 5-1 in their rematch of the 2010 final to open Group B play.

USA vs. Belgium Stadium Primer: Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova

Stefan De Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi played the man-marker roles, tracking runners into midfield, while Jonathan De Guzmán and Nigel De Jong acted as destroyers in holding roles. The wingbacks recovered and pinched in to maintain a solid back line when De Vrij and Martins Indi tracked runners, and Spain couldn’t establish a rhythm in possession.

Upon regaining possession, the wingbacks bombed forward, exploiting space created by the opposition’s overlapping fullbacks. Daley Blind turned in a Man of the Match performance with two assists.

The Dutch struggled against Australia for the same reason they succeeded in the first match: their 5-3-2 is set up to counterattack, which provided the perfect antidote to Spain’s system, but it didn’t help the Oranje push the tempo against an inferior Australian side. Louis van Gaal moved to 4-3-3 in the second half to secure the victory after allowing Australia to control the tempo and expend energy in the first.

Louis van Gaal’s Methods Make the Dutch World Cup Contenders Again

Similarly, van Gaal moved to 4-3-3 after Mexico took a 1-0 lead in their round of 16 match on Sunday. Again, the system switch provided numbers in attack, and, along with the timely introduction of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar for Robin van Persie, was the difference in winning on two late goals. Against Mexico and Australia were the only matches in which the Oranje possessed the ball more than 50 percent of the time, at 55 and 52 percent, respectively.

In the final group match, Chile attacked for most of the game, but van Gaal’s team scored twice in the last 15 minutes to win 2-0 when La Roja tired and dropped off, much as Mexico did as a response to being up 1-0 with just 30 minutes remaining.

Chile was a perfect contrast to the Dutch with its high-pressure system based on collective work rate. In the round of 16 on Saturday, Brazil only completed 69 percent of its passes in the first 90 minutes before Jorge Sampaoli’s side ran out of gas again and played to survive extra time without losing.

In Chile, the three-back system started with Marcelo Bielsa, nicknamed “El Loco” for the radical tactical permutations he implemented with the national team. Bielsa is a theorist akin to a quantum-mechanical physicist, his strategies detailed like NASA launch code.

Sampaoli is one of many managers influenced by Bielsa. The list also includes Pep Guardiola, Gerardo Martino and Diego Simeone, whose Atlético Madrid team best resembles Sampaoli’s Chile in its defensive strategy and lethal counterattack.

Sampaoli built on Bielsa’s system, but the chief feature remains: high defensive pressure that leads to immediate vertical play upon regaining the ball. Chile doesn’t play much in the central channel in possession. Instead, the wingbacks and attackers pull wide to find space created by the Chilean defensive swarm in the middle.

The players’ work rate allows the team shape to shrink and expand rhythmically depending on the location of the ball and the match situation. The center backs pull wide when building out of the back, and all three are comfortable with the ball at their feet, also advancing into midfield. Out of possession, the entire team squeezes centrally and applies pressure.

Heartbreak for El Tri: Three Thoughts on the Netherlands’ win over Mexico

The difference in Chilean players’ average positions against Spain and the Netherlands shows the team’s dichotomy. Against Spain, the forward line stayed central to prevent easy play out of the back, with the wingbacks pressuring the Spanish fullbacks. Against the Dutch, Chile controlled most of the possession, necessitating a wider starting position from each player.

Against Spain, the shape could be best described as 3-4-1-2, with two holding midfielders screening the center backs and Arturo Vidal running the central channel to connect midfield and attack on both sides of the ball.

Miguel Herrera: Mexico is Going Home, and So Should the Referee

Against the Netherlands, it was closer to 3-3-1-3, the fringe players forming a circle around the field with Charles Aránguiz and Marcelo Díaz running the middle. (Coaches with possession philosophies will immediately recognize the shape as a field-encompassing rondo.)

Chile’s downfall was the same as Simeone’s Atlético in the Champions League final. It’s extremely difficult to play at the intensity necessary for a high-pressure system for 90 minutes, let alone 120. Simeone’s team gave up a back-breaking goal in extra time and ended up losing in a landslide, and while Sampaoli’s troops never conceded that goal to Brazil, they were physically spent and had to cling to the possibility of winning in penalties, spending most of the final half-hour inside their own defensive third.

Costa Rica’s three-back system also suffocates the middle defensively, playing a box-shaped central midfield. The Ticos’ shape becomes a flat 5-4-1 when the opponent gains obvious control in its own defensive third, using visual cues to pressure in midfield.

In attack, right-sided center back Óscar Duarte pushes higher than the left side, allowing wingback Cristian Gamboa to push higher and Bryan Ruíz to tuck in from the right wing alongside Joel Campbell on the front line.

Against Italy, Andrea Pirlo was pressured immediately any time he received the ball. With two Ticos as holding midfielders, one could always step to the ball, the indented winger on each side working to support his partner.

The three-back system is engrained in Italian culture, with catenaccio taking hold in the 1980s. The diamond midfield and 4-1-4-1 formations Cesare Prandelli used in recent times also packed the middle of the field, but he played 5-4-1 in the final group match against Uruguay, intensifying the effect.

Italy started with a triangle midfield and two strikers, moving to a diamond and a lone forward after halftime. Uruguay countered with its own three-back system, but instead of adding numbers in the middle, it played with a flat line of three midfielders who limited forward ball circulation and limited service to Pirlo.

Cutting off Italy’s ability to go through the middle meant the Azzurri resorted to long, diagonal balls and crosses into the penalty area. Uruguay kept numbers back, winning every aerial duel in its own 18-yard box and limiting Italy to two successful crosses on 18 attempts.

Uniquely, Mexico’s three-back system is not about central overloads but wide isolation. Wingbacks Paul Aguilar and Miguel Layún have freedom to get forward faster, and the top points of the midfield triangle, Héctor Herrera and Andrés Guardado, pull wide to create two-on-one situations.

Brazil Survives, Outlasts Chile in Emotional, Tense Knockout Clash

The trend mostly applies on the left side, through Layún and Guardado. As the ball moves from the middle to the flank, Guardado runs wide to create the isolation. In the middle, forwards make third-man runs to exploit gaps in the opposition back line as defenders adjust.

Layún also cuts inside to combine or take long shots. At the same time, he rarely leaves the team exposed defensively. He was one of Mexico’s hardest workers this World Cup, recording the largest number of sprints in all four matches.

El Tri’s system presents a double-jeopardy situation to opponents: either defend the 2-on-1 and leave the middle open for the central midfielders and forwards to receive service, or leave the wide spaces open and allow easy combinations and crosses.

Defending and defensive-oriented tactics are alive and well among successful teams, even in a tournament of high-scoring matches and an era that has seen more goals than any before it.

The Netherlands — favored to make at least the semifinals — and Costa Rica won their groups with defense-heavy schemes, and Chile’s prowess without the ball was a perfect example of using an opponent’s possession to the defensive team’s advantage. At the same time, every team with a three-back system has provided moments of explosive offense on par with those fully engrained in the tiki-taka philosophy.

With the widespread knowledge of tactics in an age of technology and reflection, football may not see new advancements in that area. Instead, old ideas are likely to resurface and evolve to modernity through slight tweaks — man-marking center backs who can also build out of the back or teams that high pressure not just for 45 or 90 minutes at a time, but for tournaments and seasons in their entirety thanks to modern fitness training.

In a World Cup where new technologies are all the rage, whether it’s in the Brazuca, training regimens or player tracking that provides seemingly endless analytics, it’s the decades-old idea of playing three center backs that has been the most intriguing development.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Travel

British Airways Sued for Sending Traveler to Grenada Instead of Granada

From left: Grenada; Granada Getty Images

This is why you book online

A Maryland man is suing British Airways after the airline flew him to Grenada rather than his intended destination, Granada.

While the spelling difference may be subtle, the geography isn’t. Grenada is a country located in the Caribbean Sea that recalls Ronald Reagan; Granada is an Andalusian city in Spain that recalls Ernest Hemingway.

Edward Gamson, a Maryland dentist, first noticed a problem when the electronic flight monitor showed his flight from London to Spain heading west over the Atlantic toward the Americas. He asked a flight attendant, “Why are we headed west to go to Spain?” he said.

“His response was: ‘Spain?’ We’re going to West Indies,’” Gamson said.

Gamson had been in Portugal for a conference and while in Europe intended to take a quick trip to Granada to take in the city’s rich heritage, including sites like the Alhambra, he said. Gamson added that he told a British Airways agent over the phone that he wanted to go to Granada, Spain.

The airline offered him and his partner $376 each and 50,000 frequent flyer miles in compensation for the mistake, but Gamson had used 375,000 miles to book the first-class tickets and figures that, all told, including prebooked hotels, train tickets and tours, the aborted trip cost him more like $34,000. He’s suing the airline and representing himself, NBC News reported.

British Airways says the company cannot comment at this time, as the matter is in “active litigation.”

In an opinion rejecting British Airways petition to move the matter to federal court, a U.S. judge noted that the situation harkens back to Mark Twain’s comment that the “difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

[NBC News]

TIME World

Man Sues British Airways For Sending Him to Grenada Instead of Granada

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A view of the sunset over the Alhambra in Granada, the Spanish city this man was trying to visit. Getty Images

¡Qué barbaridad!

If you’ve ever mixed up the Caribbean island of Grenada and the Spanish city of Granada, you’re not alone. Apparently even airline officials — whose JOB it is to know things like this — have made the mix-up, too.

American dentist Edward Gamson hoped to visit Granada — a charming city in southern Spain known for its 11th-century Alhambra palace — on a recent vacation. But what he thought would be a two-hour British Airways flight from London ended up being a nine-hour flight all the way to the Caribbean. You know, to Grenada instead of Granada. Whoops.

“I have a lifelong interest in Islamic art. I’m also of Spanish Jewish heritage so it was something I had always wanted to do to visit Granada and the Alhambra,” Gamson told The Independent. “I made it absolutely clear to the booking agent I wanted to go to Granada in Spain. Why on earth would I want to go to Grenada in the Caribbean if I was flying back to America from Lisbon?”

Gamson and his partner never made it to Spain, and British Airways refused to reimburse $4,5o0 first-class tickets. Gamson decided to sue the airline, seeking $34,000 in damages.

It’s obviously a bummer that Gamson never got to take his trip to the stunning south of Spain, but there are definitely worse places he could have ended up, as Grenada is pretty stunning too:

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Flavio Vallenari—Getty Images

 

MONEY Sports

2014 World Cup Jerseys Already Discounted Big Time

140623_EM_WCJerseysDiscounted_2
AFP/Getty Images

The "upside" for World Cup soccer fans whose dreams have been crushed is that they can now buy gear featuring the team that broke their hearts for a lot less money.

Fans can probably guess the national colors featured on the World Cup gear that’s being discounted more than two weeks before the tournament comes to an end. They’re those of Spain and England, arguably the 2014 World Cup’s two most disappointing teams. Both of the seemingly promising squads were eliminated early on in the tournament, crushing the hopes of home fans—and simultaneously killing the consumer demand for team merchandise.

At the FIFA online store, Spain’s Away black-and-green jersey is marked down to $59.99 (originally $89.99). Ditto that discounted price for Spain’s red home jersey as well. At sports gear specialist Fanatics.com, Spain’s home jersey, originally priced at $89.95, has been marked down to a sale price of $79.99, and then discounted an extra 30% during a special Monday sale, lowering the price to $55.99. Similarly, a neon green Spain training jersey is on sale for $23.79 (originally $44.95).

It’s hard to tell whether Spain or England has been more of a disappointment to home fans. Spain’s loss to Chile, which eliminated the defending 2010 World Cup champion from the current tournament, came as a complete shock to most of the soccer world, and to fans in Spain in particular. England has a long history of breaking the hearts of its supporters, but the team’s performance was so poor, and its exit was so quick, that it left some of the world’s most rabid soccer fans utterly depressed.

The Daily Mail noted last week that after Costa Rica upset Italy, thereby eliminating England from the tournament after only two matches, folks in England were too bummed to get out of bed. There was reportedly a 20% increase nationally in workers calling in sick. “Sick calls began at around 11pm on Thursday night as England fans began licking their wounds,” the Daily Mail article stated.

England jerseys and other gear appear to still be selling at full price in the U.S. market, but things are different back home for the Three Lions. By this past weekend, stores all over England had slashed prices on a wide range of World Cup team merchandise and souvenirs. Coffee mugs, water bottles, napkins, Teddy bears, rubber duckies, and more featuring Team England have been marked down by 70% in supermarkets and other stores in the UK, according to the Mirror.

Even so, it’ll be a hard sell to convince disappointed fans that the prices on any of this merchandise are enough to make them buy. “I for one won’t be buying any of that stuff,” one fan in a Leeds store told the Mirror. “We are out. What’s done is done and I won’t be waving my England flag around — even if it is half price.”

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