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Sports Briefs

Published:Thursday | May 25, 2017 | 5:00 AM
Messi

Training camp critical for T&T

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):

Trinidad and Tobago head coach Dennis Lawrence believes the training camp in Denver, United States, starting this week will be critical in his side's preparation to face tough World Cup-qualifying assignments against United States and Costa Rica next month.

A 17-man T&T squad left here Tuesday morning and was scheduled to arrive in Colorado later that night to beef up preparations for the two encounters which will determine the Caribbean side's future in the CONCACAF final round.

While there, they will face Major League Soccer side Colorado Rapids in two matches, which Lawrence believes is ideal preparation for his side.

"We've got the two games against the US and Costa Rica, so the idea has been to prepare the boys in the best possible way," the acclaimed former national defender told media before his departure.

T&T lie bottom of the six-team final-round standings on three points, with a single win in their four outings since the campaign started last November.

Valverde dismisses deal to coach Barcelona

MADRID (AP):

Departing Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde has been avoiding talk about a possible move to Barcelona, saying he has not entered into negotiations with any club.

Valverde did not confirm reports that he has already reached a deal to coach Barcelona next season, and did not dismiss taking a year off after four seasons at Athletic.

"I haven't committed to any club. I haven't talked to anybody," Valverde said. "I have an agent and there are teams that have shown interest in me. Now I have to decide whether I will take on a new adventure, and it would have to be a challenging one."

The 53-year-old Valverde has been widely touted to replace Luis Enrique, who announced earlier this year that he was tired and would not continue as Barcelona's coach.

Messi loses Supreme Court appeal over tax-fraud conviction

MADRID (AP):

Lionel Messi has lost his Supreme Court appeal over a tax-fraud conviction in Spain.

The court confirmed the 21-month prison sentence handed to Messi for defrauding tax authorities of €4.1 million (US$4.6 million) from 2007-09. He is not expected to go to prison because sentences of less than two years for first offences are usually suspended in Spain.

The court maintained the €2-million (US$2.24 million) fine handed to the Argentina player in last year's trial.

Messi's father, Jorge Horacio Messi, also had been convicted of tax fraud, but the court reduced his sentence from 21 months to 15 months because he cooperated by returning the defrauded money to the tax authorities. He also is not expected to face prison time.

Barcelona said it was fully behind the player and his family.