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FOOTBALL

Spain’s footballers slam ‘hoax’ strip poker claims

Spain's football federation have dismissed a Brazilian media report that Spanish football players indulged in a game of strip poker with five women during their current Confederations Cup campaign in the South American country.

Spain's footballers slam 'hoax' strip poker claims
Spain footballers Sergio Ramos (L), Javi Martinez (C) and Roberto Soldado in Panama in November 2012. File photo: Rodrigo Arangua/AFP

The football federation (RFEF) "roundly dismissed" the story on Brazilian sports portal GloboEsporte.

In the 'exposé', the wesbite claimed Spanish footballers and a member of the team's technical support unit celebrated their June 17th victory over Uruguay by engaging in a night of high jinx at the Golden Tulip hotel in the Brazilian city of Recife.

GloboEsporte said the Spaniards held a private party in the establisment with music, caipirinhas, beer and women".

Towards dawn, a group of five women went back to the players' rooms, according to the sports site.

The portal also cited workers and security staff to back up its claims that the Spaniards indulged in a game of strip poker.

But Spain's football federation have slammed the story, Spanish site 20minutos reported on Tuesday.

"We don't even want to give any credit to the story by responding," said  Antonio Bustillo, spokesperson for the RFEF.

The hotel manager, meanwhile, labelled the story "a hoax", and blamed rivals of Spain for the night-long party.

Several days earlier, GloboEsporte had also published a story claiming money had been stolen from Spanish footballers staying at the Recife establishment.

The hotel, however, said the claims were completely false.

"The hotel didn't receive any complaints from the Spanish team about this or any other incident," said the hotel

But the local Recife police force has decided the investigate the claims of theft anyway.

Speaking to GloboEsporte, one of the city's top cops said the case was one for the city Tourism Commission.

"The commissioner went to the hotel, collected forensic evidence and heard the evidence of 27 people," said the policeman.

He said authorities still wanted to hear from Spain's footballers in relation to the incident.

Spain will face Italy in the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup in what is a rematch of the UEFA Euro 2012 final which Spain won 4–0.

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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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