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FOOTBALL

Real Madrid relaunch bid to revamp their stadium

Spanish giants Real Madrid on Tuesday relaunched their 400 million euro ($443 million) bid to modernize their Bernabeu stadium paid for by an Abu Dhabi investor.

Real Madrid relaunch bid to revamp their stadium
The Real Madrid players prepare for a match at their current stadium. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP

The project, less ambitious than the previous version blocked by the courts, includes the creation of a 6,000m2 public garden alongside the stadium, will be financed by Abu Dhabi-based sponsor IPIC, who will be given naming rights.

“It will be a spectacular transformation of the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, which is one of the icons of our city and which we want to make one of the best stadiums in the world,” said club president Florentino Perez during a press conference at the Town Hall.

Perez added that investment company IPIC will pay for the refurbishment, due to begin next year, in its entirety in return for the stadium carrying the company's name, although it will still also carry the name Bernabeu. The new stadium will be furnished with a retractable roof without losing any of the 81,000-seat capacity.

The agreement comes around a year after the Spanish courts blocked an original 2014 project plan, which included the enlarging of the stadium plot onto public land in order to build a hotel and shopping centre. The shopping centre will now be included within the existing stadium while the hotel is no more than a “possibility”, according to Perez.

The original stadium was inaugurated in 1947 before being renamed in 1955 after iconic former president Santiago Bernabeu, who died in 1978.

It has already undergone several makeovers since the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Real's great domestic rivals Barcelona have also announced plans to remodel their Camp Nou ground. That too will cost 400 million euros and will include a retractable roof while also increasing the capacity from 99,000 to 105,000.

Real's cross-city rivals Atletico Madrid will for their part move to a new 73,000-seat stadium in the summer of 2017, leaving behind the 55,000-capacity Vicente Calderon stadium, which is set to be demolished and turned into a park.

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SPORT

Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

Spain have been thrown out of the 2023 Rugby World Cup for fielding an ineligible South African-born player during the qualifying stages and will be replaced by Romania, World Rugby announced on Thursday.

Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

“Subject to Spain’s right of appeal, the 10-point deduction applied to the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification table means that Romania will qualify as Europe 2 into Pool B replacing Spain,” read the statement.

Portugal — who Spain beat to seal their place in the global showpiece in France next year — replace Romania in the Final Qualification Tournament taking place in November 2022.

“Spain has a right of appeal within 14 days of the date of the full written decision of the committee,” read the statement.

According to Spanish media in March, the player under investigation was South African-born prop Gavin van den Berg, who has been playing in Spain since 2018.

He played twice against the Netherlands, in 2020 and 2021, in qualifiers, but he may not seemingly have served the three years of residency needed to become eligible under World Rugby rules.

Spain, Romania and Belgium were all sanctioned in 2018 for having fielded ineligible players, opening the way for Russia to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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