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Italy Skipper Chiellini Reveals He ‘Cursed’ England’s Saka Before Missed Penalty in Euro 2020 Final

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England’s long wait for a major football trophy ended in defeat at the hands of Italy after the Three Lions suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 loss on penalties in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday. England last won an international title way back in 1966 when they captured their lone FIFA World Cup crown.

Italian captain Giorgio Chiellini has revealed that he “cursed” England forward Bukayo Saka minutes before the 19-year-old’s penalty was saved by their goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, powering Roberto Mancini’s side to their first European Championship title since 1968.

Saka needed to deliver a goal to give England the victory in front of their home fans at Wembley stadium, but his spot kick was saved by the Italian goalkeeper.

A night of ecstasy turned into a night of agony for the English players, especially for Saka as the teenager became a villain overnight.

Saka’s failed penalty attempt came after both teams failed to break the deadlock in the 90 minutes of normal time and the subsequent 30 minutes of extra-time, with the match remaining tied at 1-1.

Video footage has now emerged, where Chiellini is seen shouting something at the English striker moments before he is preparing to take his penalty shot.

The word Chiellini screamed at Saka was “Kiricocho!” – a phrase used by footballers from around the world for several decades to bring bad luck to their rivals.

When Chiellini was asked by the Italian media whether he cursed Saka or not, he responded in the affirmative, confirming that he did utter the word just before Saka took the decisive penalty.

“Hello Christian, I confirm everything! Kiricocho!”, the Italy captain said on Tuesday.

A video posted by UEFA on their Twitter handle also shows Chiellini shouting “Kiricocho” just before Saka’s penalty, that was ultimately saved by Donnarumma to hand Italy their historic win over England.

​The Legend of Kiricocho

According to a legend, Juan Carlos “Kiricocho”, or Quiricocho was a huge fan of the Argentine club Estudiantes de la Plata.

The fan’s passion and dedication to the club was such that he even attended their training sessions during the 1980s.

But Estudiantes head coach Carlos Bilardo noticed that whenever Kiricocho was present during his team’s training sessions or matches, his players used to get injured.

Bilardo, who kept a close watch on Kiricocho’s activities at the club, told him about the mysterious circumstances in which his players were getting sick or injured and asked him to direct his “curse” towards Estudiantes’ opponents.

Kiricocho accepted Bilardo’s suggestion and started attending matches of other teams and his presence did hurt Estudiantes’ rivals in the Argentine league.

“Kiricocho was a kid from La Plata who was always with us, and since that year we were champions (in 1982), we adopted him as our mascot”, Bilardo once said, acknowledging his role in their success.

“He was a good kid but then I didn’t see him again. The last time I was coaching Estudiantes (in 2003-04) I asked after him and nobody knew anything”.

Ever since footballers from all over the world have come to know about the legend of Kiricocho, they have been using the phrase to curse their rivals on a regular basis.

Former Indian footballer Mehtab Hossain, who also played for the Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League (ISL), claimed that he knew about the misfortune attached to the word Kiricocho.

“During my time at the Kerala Blasters, I played with a number of foreign players, who told me about it. Thanks to the ISL, most Indian footballers are now aware of the Kiricocho curse”, he said.



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Brexit: British Embassy launches survey on key issues affecting UK nationals in Spain | Brexit | International

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The British Embassy in Madrid has launched a survey aimed at finding out how UK nationals in Spain have been affected by key issues, in particular, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, a process commonly known as Brexit.

The poll is for Britons who are full-time residents in Spain (not those with second homes) and are covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, i.e. they were officially registered in the country before December 31, 2020, when the so-called Transition Period came to an end.

Questions in the survey address issues such as access to healthcare and the uptake of the TIE residency cards, which were introduced as a replacement for green residency cards (either the credit-card size or the A4 sheet version, officially known as the Certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión).

As we approach a year since the end of the Transition Period, we really want to hear from you about the key issues…

Posted by Brits in Spain on Friday, September 17, 2021

The aim of the poll is to gather vital information on the experience of UK nationals living in Spain that will help the British Embassy provide feedback to Spanish authorities. The survey takes around 10 minutes to complete, and all answers are confidential.

Have you heard our Spanish news podcast ¿Qué? Each week we try to explain the curious, the under-reported and sometimes simply bizarre news stories that are often in the headlines in Spain.



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‘The challenge for us now is drought, not war’: livelihoods of millions of Afghans at risk | Global development

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The war in Afghanistan might be over but farmers in Kandahar’s Arghandab valley face a new enemy: drought.

It has hardly rained for two years, a drought so severe that some farmers are questioning how much longer they can live off the land.

Mohammed Rahim, 30, grew up working on a farm along with his father and grandfather in the Arghandab district of Afghanistan’s southern province. Famous for its fruit and vegetables, the area is known as the bread basket of Kandahar.

Like most in the valley, Rahim’s family relies solely on farming. “The fighting has just stopped. Peace has returned,” Rahim says. “But now we face another war: drought.

“Now we have to dig deep to pump water out of the land. It has been two years, there has been little rain and we have a drought here. I don’t know if our coming generations can rely on farming the way our ancestors used to do.”

Pir Mohammed, 60, has been a farmer for more than four decades. “Not long ago, there were water channels flowing into the farm and we were providing the remaining water to other farmers,” says Mohammed. “Before, the water was running after us, flowing everywhere – but now we are running after water.”

The water used to come free from the river but now the daily diesel cost for the water pump is at least 2,500 Afghani (£21).

“We don’t make any profit. We are in loss, rather. Instead, we are using our savings. But we don’t have any other option as we do it for survival,” says Mohammed. “However, the scarcity of water has affected the quality of crops as well.”

About 70% of Afghans live in rural areas and are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of drought.

Last week, Rein Paulsen, director of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Office of Emergencies and Resilience, said severe drought was affecting 7.3 million people in 25 of the country’s 34 provinces.

He warned: “If agriculture collapses further, it will drive up malnutrition, increase displacement and worsen the humanitarian situation.”

Arghandab has been a favourite destination for farming because of the abundance of water and fertile lands. Neikh Mohammed, 40, left the Dand district of Kandahar to work in Arghandab in 2005. When he arrived he was amazed to see the greenery and pomegranate farms.

A dam affected by drought in Kandahar.
A dried up dam in Kandahar. A majority of Afghans are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of drought, as they live in rural areas. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

“It used to rain a lot here and we could not cross the river and come into our farms. We had a life with abundant water. But the past is another country now,” he says.

According to a report by the UN mission in Afghanistan, many local farmers were caught in the crossfire between the Taliban and the Afghan security forces. The Taliban carried out attacks from thick foliage on the farms, which provided a hiding place, ideal for an ambush.

“For the past 20 years, we did not have peace and could not work after dark in our farms. But now we can stay as long as we want without any fear,” says Neikh Mohammed. “Now the challenge is not just restoring peace but the drought and escalating cost of essential commodities.”

Farmers say they want support from international aid agencies and assistance from the new government headed by the Taliban to help them survive.

Pir Mohammed says: “The real challenge for us now is drought, not war. We need food, water, dams and infrastructure in our country. The world should invest in us and save us.”

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[Ticker] US to lift Covid travel-ban on EU tourists

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Fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and the UK will be let back into the US from “early November” onward, the White House said on Monday, ending an 18-month ban and prompting airline firms’ shares to climb. “This new international travel system follows the science to keep Americans … safe,” a US spokesman said. The EU recently recommended increased restrictions on US visitors, amid anger at lack of US reciprocity.

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