More than 5,000 police officers and security personnel are on high alert in Seville as the Spanish city braces for up to 150,000 supporters of Rangers and Eintracht Frankfurt arriving for the Europa League final.
Streets are being closed, barriers are being erected around monuments and security has been heightened in subway stations and at the city’s main squares to try to maintain order among the throngs of Scottish and German fans who are expected in the city ahead of Wednesday’s match.
National Police Chief Juan Carlos Castro said 50,000 Frankfurt fans and up to 100,000 Rangers fans could make it to the city ahead of the final at Sevilla’s Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium.
Both clubs are hoping to end decades of European despair by winning the final of the second-tier continental competition. Frankfurt hasn’t won a European trophy in more than 40 years, while Rangers’ last European title came 50 years ago.
The winning club will also secure a coveted automatic spot in the group stage of the Champions League next season. Rangers last played in the group stage of the top European club competition in 2010-11, while Frankfurt have not played in the tournament since losing the European Cup final to Real Madrid in 1960.
“You see fans traveling in numbers and all sorts of routes to support us. For us we take a lot of pride in the support and backing we get,” Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack said Tuesday. “We’re the lucky ones as we get to play and there are 100,000 who would like to. We want to put on a performance and make them proud.”
Both clubs have huge and loyal fan bases, and many supporters are making the trip despite not having tickets for the final at the 43,000-capacity Sánchez-Pizjuán. Only about 10,000 tickets were allocated for fans of each club. UEFA asked for those without tickets not to travel to Seville and warned about the dangers of purchasing tickets on the secondary market.
“In order to maintain the safety and security of fans, ticket holders should be aware that checks will be carried out at the finals and the local authorities in the cities will take action against the unauthorized resale of tickets,” UEFA said.
Castro said police will pay special attention to fans trying to enter the stadium without tickets.
“Some groups will try to enter the stadium any way they can,” he said. “It’s a very big risk with that number of fans without tickets.”
The city prepared two fans zones — with a capacity of more than 20,000 each — to accommodate supporters who won’t be able to watch the match inside the stadium.
Hotels were at full capacity and fans from both clubs were seen in several other cities nearby Seville.
“I think it’s not about the numbers,” Rangers coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst said. “You can bring 50 people and and they will give you chaos. I know we have a lot of people traveling with us. We have to enjoy it, and make sure we are not causing any problems. Half of the people will go back home really happy and half of the people will go back home angry, but we should always respect the whole city.”
There had been fan violence involving visiting fans in Seville when local clubs Sevilla and Real Betis hosted matches earlier in the competition. Before the semifinal match between Frankfurt and West Ham in Germany, more than 30 arrests were made after supporters of both clubs clashed in several locations in Frankfurt.
Frankfurt fans swarmed into Barcelona when the team played against the Catalan club in the Europa League quarterfinals, with more than 30,000 making their way into the Camp Nou Stadium even though the club was only allocated about 5,000 tickets for its fans.
“Our fans are exceptional. They have gone to great lengths to follow us around Europe,” Frankfurt coach Oliver Glasner said. “We’ve got two teams with incredible fans and maybe the best away fans in Europe.”
There had been no incidents of fan violence reported early in the week in Seville but authorities said the worst was yet to come.
“We need maximum coordination between local and federal police to reduce as much as possible the risks that come along an agglomeration of fans like this,” Sevilla mayor Antonio Muñoz said.
The economic impact of the Europa League final to Seville is expected to reach about $52.6 million (50 million euros), the mayor said.
Veteran Sjostrom, teenager McIntosh complete golden doubles at swimming worlds
Sarah Sjostrom, who has been winning world titles for 13 years, and Summer McIntosh, who has been winning them for four days, both collected their second gold medals of the week in Budapest on Saturday.
Sjostrom, a 28-year-old Swede who won the 50m butterfly less than 24 hours earlier, added the 50m freestyle, her 10th world gold.
McIntosh, a Canadian 15-year-old, held off 16-year-old American Katie Grimes to win the women’s 400m medley title.
McIntosh, who won the 200m butterfly gold on Wednesday, claimed her fourth medal in Budapest in four minutes and 32.04 seconds.
Grimes was 0.63sec back, while another American, Emma Weyant, was a distant third ahead of Hungarian 33-year-old Katinka Hosszu, the defending champion.
“I tried to push my body as much as possible,” said McIntosh. “The crowd gave me so much adrenaline.
“I really felt my body in the backstroke.
“Katie is a top competitor, I like racing against her since we are in the same age group.”
Sjostrom finished her sprint in 23.98 seconds, 0.20sec ahead of Pole Katarzyna Wasick, with Australian Meg Harris and American Erika Brown tied for bronze.
The Swede took her first European title at 14 and her first world title a year later in 2009. This was her 20th world championship medal.
“Maybe my mind-set and also a lot of hard work, but also I love what I do,” she said of her longevity.
Sjostrom narrowly missed another medal when she anchored Sweden to fourth in the women’s 100m medley relay that closed the championships.
“It’s been a busy four days for me,” she said.
“I feel like it’s business for me too, I just go in and do my job I guess.”
The US won, anchor ed by 17-year-old Claire Curzan. Australia were second and Canada, with Penny Olesiak holding off Sjostrom, third.
The men’s 50m backstroke gold medal was presented twice, with the US anthem played twice.
In the first race of the evening, Justin Ress was disqualified after video review for finishing entirely under water as he touched the wall first.
His training buddy Hunter Armstrong was awarded gold, winning in 24.14 seconds.
Ksawery Masiuk, a 17-year-old Pole, initially took silver, 0.35sec back, with Italian Thomas Ceccon, who set a 100m backstroke world record on Monday, taking the bronze on loan.
Armstrong wiped a tear away as he stepped off the podium after accepting the gold in the evening’s first medal ceremony.
“I’m very disappointed my team-mate was disqualified and hopefully Team USA’s protest will be successful,” he said.
He got his wish, when a jury upheld the appeal. Ress came out alone to stand on the top step of the podium and receive his medal in the last medal ceremony of the championships.
Ceccon had taken pre-emptive revenge by swimming the breaststroke leg as Italy edged the Americans, the reigning champions and world record holders, in the 100m medley relay final. Britain were third.
That was a fifth gold for Italy after Gregorio Paltrinieri earlier swum the second fastest time in men’s 1500m freestyle history to win his third world title in the distance.
The 27-year-old Italian surged away from the start, setting a breakneck pace.
He was on world record pace for much of the race before fading at the end to finish in 14min 32.80sec and miss Sun Yang’s mark by 1.78sec.
American Bobby Finke was second, 3.90sec back, with Florian Wellbrock third at 4.14.
Paltrinieri said he had been motivated by finishing fourth out in the 800m
“I came out with the mindset that I wanted to destroy the pool,” he said after becoming the oldest ever 1500m world champion.
“I’m 28 in a couple of months,” he said. “But I’m still learning.”
Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte won her first world gold since 2013 when she edged Italian 17-year-old Benedetta Pilato by 0.10sec in the women’s 50m breaststroke final. South African Lara van Niekerk was third.
Meilutyte had not won a major championship medal of any color since 2015.
“It’s nice to be a world champion,” she said.
Chun balloons to 75 as her lead shrinks to 3 at Women’s PGA Championship
This was the moment the rest of the field needed: In Gee Chun standing near the trees, contemplating her situation and then eventually heading back to the point of her previous shot.
A shaky third round cut her lead at the Women’s PGA Championship in half.
Chun shot a 3-over 75 on Saturday, leaving her three strokes ahead going into the final round at Congressional Country Club. On a day the leaders had plenty of trouble, Chun was holding her own until she made a double bogey on the par-5 16th hole.
“Looking forward to an exciting final round already,” she said. “If it’s going to be too easy, then I feel it is boring.”
It looked like the final round might be boring — or at least anticlimactic — as Chun maintained a comfortable lead through much of Saturday. She bogeyed Nos. 1 and 11 but birdied 2 and 12. Her lead was at five when she had to play her third shot from some tall grass on the 564-yard 16th.
That shot put her in even more trouble, in an area with tall grass and some trees. She took an unplayable lie and went back to the previous spot to re-hit.
An 8-iron from there went over the green, but Chun did manage to get up and down for a 7. The two-time major champion from South Korea led by five shots after the first round and six at the halfway point. After the third round, she had an 8-under 208 total.
Lydia Ko (76) and Jennifer Kupcho (74) — Chun’s playing partners — had their own problems, but Lexi Thompson and Hye-Jin Choi both shot 70 and were tied for second with Sei Young Kim (71) at 5 under.
Thompson will play in the final group as she tries for her first major victory since 2014.
“You always want to be in the final group in any tournament,” she said. “I love that the hard work has been able to pay off for me. I’ve been putting in the time, so to see it pay off and pay dividends means the world to me.”
Ko wasn’t able to take advantage of Chun’s struggles. She bogeyed four of five holes during one stretch on the front nine, then birdied four of the next seven. She wrapped up the round with four straight bogeys.
Kupcho had three birdies and three bogeys in the first seven holes and couldn’t gain much ground on the leader.
Kim, who won this event two years ago, had a comparatively drama-free round with two birdies and a bogey. Choi shot 34 on the back nine while playing in a group with Thompson. They’ll be together again Sunday.
“It was the first time playing with her, and I actually watched her as a fan when I was an amateur,” Choi said. “It was a good experience to play with her. Of course, I tried to focus on my game.”
Thompson made three birdies on the back nine, including a putt from about 30 feet on No. 15. She has 11 LPGA Tour victories but none since 2019. She’s played her way into contention after a first-round 74.
Thompson finished second at Crown Colony in February and at Upper Montclair last month.
“I know I’m in a good state with my game and just my mental state, so going out tomorrow enjoying the walk with my caddie and hopefully a lot of fans out there supporting us,” she said. “Whatever score I shoot, I shoot.”
Hannah Green (72) was fifth at 4 under, a stroke ahead of Atthaya Thitikul (68), who was so far behind at the start of the day she was in one of the groups sent off on No. 10. Brooke Henderson (73), Kupcho and Jennifer Chang (73) were tied for sixth with Thitikul.
NOTES: US Women’s Open champ Minjee Lee (73) was 2 under. … Defending champion Nelly Korda (72) was tied for 29th.
Schauffele leaves it late to retain Travelers lead
Xander Schauffele produced a late birdie spree to hold onto a slender lead at the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship Saturday with a 3-under par 67.
Schauffele, who led by five shots after Friday’s second round, will take a one-shot advantage into Sunday’s final round at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.
But the 28-year-old from California left it late to ensure he would remain on top of the leaderboard on Saturday with a pair of birdies on the 16th and 17th holes to drop to 17 under for the tournament.
He rolled in a 16-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th and then drilled an iron from the fairway to a few feet for a further birdie on the 17th.
That ultimately allowed Schauffele to finish the day just in front of red-hot Patrick Cantlay, who had a bogey-free 7-under 63 to move to 16 under.
Schauffele is looking forward to a final round duel against close friend and Ryder Cup playing partner Cantlay.
“It will be fun. I’ve been looking forward to playing with Pat in a final round,” he said.
“We don’t get paired together very often in regular tournaments, only in those team ones.
“So there’s a certain level of comfort we have playing with each other and hopefully that pays off and hopefully we can make a lot of birdies.”
Cantlay was similarly enthused by the prospect of a final day shootout with his friend.
“We actually haven’t played that much together in tournament play, maybe only three times in the last three, four years. So it will be good to go out there again with him,” Cantlay said.
“It’s always nice to be out with him, if he’s on my team or if he’s not. I’m going to go out there tomorrow and try as hard as I can and let the chips fall where they may.”
Sahith Theegala is three off the lead on 14 under after his six-under-par 64.
The highlight of Theegala’s round came with a brilliant eagle three on the par-5 13th, when he reached the green in two before rolling in an 11-foot putt.
The only blemish on an otherwise flawless round came at the 18th, where he made bogey.
Kevin Kisner is one behind Theegala on 13 under after his four-under-par 66.
Scotland’s Martin Laird is tied for fifth with Lee Kyoung-hoon on 12 under. Laird and Lee both carded four-under-par 66s.
Four players including first round co-leader J.T. Poston are tied for seventh on 11 under, while Scottie Scheffler heads a quartet on 10 under after a five-under-par 65.
But there was more disappointment for Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.
The four-time major-winner who shot an 8-under 62 in the first round had fallen away on Friday after a second round that included a quadruple bogey eight on the 12th hole.
McIlroy navigated his return to the 12th safely on Saturday with a par, but was already struggling after making a double-bogey and bogey on the front nine.
Two more bogeys on the 14th and 16th holes left him tied for 31st place on six under, 11 shots off the lead.
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