June 22, 2016

The Latest at the European Championship (all times local):


4:40 p.m.

Russia is giving coach Leonid Slutsky time to change his mind before it accepts his offer to resign.

Slutsky said the 2018 World Cup host nation would be better with a new coach after it exited in the group stage of Euro 2016 with defeats to Slovakia and Wales.

Russian Football Union head Vitaly Mutko, who is also the country's sports minister, suggests he wants Slutsky to change his mind.

Mutko tells Russian media ''let's give him a bit more time, everyone's still emotional,'' but admits Slutsky could still leave.

Slutsky, who splits his time with CSKA Moscow, took over as Russia coach last year and rescued a Euro 2016 qualifying campaign which had been in trouble under his predecessor Fabio Capello.


4:30 p.m.

Dutch referee Bjoern Kuipers has been criticized and praised in equal measure after awarding a penalty on Tuesday for Spain against Croatia, and then not ordering it to be retaken.

If the initial decision seemed harsh, after contact with Spain playmaker David Silva in the area, there was controversy soon afterward as Sergio Ramos took the spot kick.

Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic came at least two meters off his line before the ball was kicked, while three Croatia players were already well inside the penalty area at the time.

Subasic saved the shot and his team went on to win 2-1.

Refereeing blog The 3rd Team highlighted that the ''Laws of the Game are actually clear'' and there should be no encroachment by players or movement off the line by the keeper. However, its author also highlighted that ''it is usual and nothing new that players encroach at penalty kicks'' and that ''nobody really cared or protested.''


2:31 p.m.

French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet has joined the criticism over the poor state of pitches at the European Championship, saying Wednesday that some ''aren't suitable for the highest level'' and urging French clubs to make improving them ''a priority.''

France coach Didier Deschamps was unhappy with the quality of the field at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille for Sunday's match against Switzerland and was scathing about the state of the Stade Velodrome in Marseille, where France played against Albania four days earlier.

Deschamps called the Velodrome pitch ''a disaster'' and laid the blame with officials who allowed a rock concert by AC/DC to be staged there last month.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday at the national team's Clairefontaine training camp on the outskirts of Paris, Le Graet backed his coach.

''As for Lille, that's a failure. I think it's the right time to tell our French clubs that our league needs good pitches to play on. You can't have so much difference between infrastructure that is fantastic - like the dressing rooms - and the pitches,'' he said. ''For our league to become better quality, it needs better pitches. It's not that expensive but it's necessary.''

Without specifically mentioning the rock concert at Marseille, Le Graet said football had not been taken enough into consideration.

''When a club organizes a lot of events that are outside of football, then they are taking risks,'' he said. ''Stadiums have been built everywhere for football, that's their No. 1 role.''

He hopes a meeting of French club presidents next Tuesday in Cannes will resolve the ongoing problem.

Giving his overview of the tournament so far, Le Graet praised the security forces for their handling of the violence that marred the first weekend, when Russian fans fought with English supporters and riot police.

''It's true that we were very scared. But you have to take your hat off to the security forces,'' Le Graet said. ''They are present everywhere: the police, the army. They have the whole of the Euro to keep an eye on.''

France has been in a state of emergency since the attacks in Paris last November, when 130 people were killed and hundreds more injured.

''(Countering) terrorism is their No. 1 mission. It's been extremely difficult for those in charge of our security and the Interior Minister reacted quickly,'' Le Graet said. ''We feared after the attacks that people would not come. But there isn't a seat spare in the stadiums. People from every country have come here. We're incredibly lucky to host this tournament.''

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