The Latest: Finland fans make noise in St. Petersburg

The Latest on soccer’s European Championship:

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Finland fans wearing the white-and-blue colors of the national team are starting to make themselves heard inside Saint Petersburg Stadium ahead of the European Championship game against Russia.

St. Petersburg is less than 125 miles from the Finnish border and many of the approximately 4,000 visiting fans expected at the game have made the journey on buses.

Many of the jerseys being worn have the name Jari Litmanen on the back. The former Ajax, Barcelona and Liverpool forward is regarded as the country’s greatest player but never got the chance to play at a major soccer tournament.

Euro 2020 is the first major tournament Finland has qualified for. The team is guaranteed to advance to the knockout stage with a win.

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Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand expects Christian Eriksen to wear his match jersey while watching the team’s European Championship game against Belgium from the hospital.

Denmark faces the Belgians in Copenhagen on Thursday in the team’s first game since Eriksen’s collapse against Finland.

Hjulmand says “I think he’ll be in his shirt and watch the game.”

Hjulmand also pointed out that the hospital treating Eriksen is so close to Parken Stadium that the midfielder will be able to “hear everything” during the game. Fans are planning a standing ovation for Eriksen during the 10th minute of the game in honor of his No. 10 shirt.

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Germany defender Antonio Rüdiger says he regrets putting his mouth on France midfielder Paul Pogba’s back during a match at the European Championship.

Rüdiger was shown holding Pogba from behind and putting his mouth in a biting gesture on the Frenchman’s back toward the end the first half in France’s 1-0 win in Munich on Tuesday.

Rüdiger says “I shouldn’t go like that with my mouth to his back” and adds “it looks unfortunate.”

The Germany defender had said before the game that his team would need to be “disgusting” to beat the World Cup champions.

Pogba said after the game that he and Rüdiger were friends and had known each other for a long time.

Pogba says he thinks Rüdiger “nibbled” on him a bit and adds it was “nothing big” and “belongs to the past.”

Rüdiger says he doesn’t expect any retrospective punishment for the incident. Neither Spanish referee Carlos del Cerro Grande nor video assistant Juan Martínez Munuera took any action on Tuesday despite being aware of it.

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Austria forward Marko Arnautovic has been suspended from the team’s game against the Netherlands on Thursday for insulting a North Macedonian opponent.

Arnautovic was charged with “insulting another player” under UEFA’s disciplinary rules.

He was accused by the North Macedonian soccer federation of insulting Ezgjan Alioski. Alioski’s family roots are Albanian. Arnautovic’s father is Serbian and his mother is Austrian.

Arnautovic could have been banned for 10 games if UEFA had found his comments to be racist or insulting based on ethnic origin.

Arnautovic later apologized on Instagram for “some heated words” and said he was not a racist.

Netherlands coach Frank de Boer says “it’s a shame (for Austria) because he’s a very good player.”

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Flying a small plane with a banner attached over the Netherlands’ training field for the European Championship is apparently becoming a thing.

First it was a sign saying “Frank. Just 4-3-3!” in a message to coach Frank de Boer to play an attacking lineup in the team’s opening match at Euro 2020.

Now it’s a banner emblazoned with the words “Auf Wiener Schnitzel!” ahead of the team’s second match of the tournament against Austria on Thursday.

The message combines the German for goodbye with Austria’s famous wiener schnitzel fried meat dish.

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Greenpeace has apologized for the injuries caused by a protestor whose parachute landing “did not go as planned” before Germany’s game against France at the European Championship.

UEFA said “several people” were hospitalized when the man connected with overhead camera wires and caused debris to fall on the field and main grandstand.

Greenpeace spokesperson Benjamin Stephan says “that was never our intention. The paraglider was to fly over the stadium and drop a latex ball with a message of protest onto the field.”

The protestor’s parachute had the slogan “KICK OUT OIL!” and “Greenpeace” written on it.

Stephan says “technical difficulties meant the pilot was forced to land in the stadium. We deeply regret that this put people in danger and apparently injured two persons.”

The protestor was led away by security stewards.

UEFA called the action “reckless and dangerous” and said “law authorities will take the necessary action.”

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It’s time for teams to start playing their second matches at the European Championship.

Italy will get a chance to win again in Rome when it faces Switzerland in the late match, Finland can do the same against Russia in St. Petersburg in the early game, and Wales will face Turkey in Azerbaijan in between.

The top two teams in each of the six groups will advance to the round of 16 along with the four best third-place teams.

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Categories: National Sports