Neymar OUT of Copa America after Brazil star leaves friendly injured on crutches with protective boot around ankle

NEYMAR is OUT of the Copa America after leaving Brazil's pre-tournament friendly against Qatar on crutches with a protective boot around his ankle.

Brazil confirmed he has ruptured ligaments in his right ankle after tests and will not be able to recover in time for the tournament which starts in nine days.

The world’s most expensive player, 27, had earlier hobbled off the pitch in tears following a rough tackle, just hours after a woman who accused him of rape went on TV.

Neymar had a huge pack of ice around his right ankle as medical staff escorted him to the Mane Garrincha Stadium changing rooms.

Anxious coach Tite replaced him with Gremio forward Everton Soares on 21 minutes.

He was later photographed leaving the 72,000 ground on crutches.

The home side won the Brasilia friendly 2-0 thanks to goals from another Everton man Richarlison and Gabriel Jesus as the Premier League pair laid claims to starting places at the tournament.


The star leaves the tournament under a cloud after a model who has accused Neymar of rape went on TV to describe his alleged "aggressive" attack.

Najila Trindade, 26, repeated her claims against the PSG forward, telling SBT Brazil: "I was raped."

He strongly denies the allegations and claims she is trying to extort him.

Neymar was Brazil’s poster boy for the Copa America which starts in less that 10 days’ time and he faces a third major tournament of injury woe.

He was a shadow of his former self in Russia last summer when Brazil stuttered through the rounds after facing a race against time to be fit at all.

But it was four years earlier at the 2014 World Cup in his home country that he left the tournament due to injury before Brazil were thumped 7-1 by Germany in a jaw-dropping semi-final loss.


Neymar did make amends by winning Olympic gold with the Samba Boys in 2016 at the Rio Games.

The £195million PSG ace missed the majority of the second half of his club’s season with a metatarsal injury and has aggravated the same leg again.

He was infamously suspended after PSG's incredible 3-1 defeat to Manchester United after having an X-rated rant at the referee in the tunnel, despite playing in neither leg.

He is now serving another suspension for appearing to hit a fan after PSG's Coupe de France defeat last month.

Tite's side have another pre-tournament friendly against Honduras on Sunday before starting their Copa America group stage against Bolivia the following Saturday, while also facing Venezuela and Peru.

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Boy, 2, mauled to death by leopard in South Africa’s Kruger National Park

A toddler has been killed after being mauled by a leopard at a park in South Africa. 

Kruger National Park (KNP) confirmed the death of the two-year-old boy in a statement on Thursday, and said he was the son of a member of staff.

The leopard had entered the living quarters of the Malelane Technical Services in the park on Wednesday evening, before attacking the child.

Family members took the boy to Shongwe hospital in Schoemansdal, but he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving.

Park rangers were sent out to search for the leopard, which was eventually found and shot dead.

This action was “to remove the danger of another person falling victim,” the park said in its statement.

It added that such incidents were “very rare”, but that it was an “unfortunate risk” that park staff were forced to face while living in such environments.

The statement said: “In parks like the KNP, predators do interact with tourists and staff and at times it may result in species like leopard getting habituated to people and losing their fear.

“The change in natural behaviour can then lead to unfortunate incidents such as this.”

Fundisile Mketeni, the chief executive officer of South African National Parks, sent his “prayers and thoughts” to the family of the boy.

He said: “It is never easy to lose a loved one especially under such tragic circumstances, this is the risk we live with on a daily basis as we help conserve our species for the benefit of all.

“May the young toddler’s soul rest in eternal peace.”

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Chelsea could be hit with three-window transfer ban if they try and delay starting it this summer

CHELSEA could be hit with a three-window transfer ban if they try and delay the start of their embargo this summer, according to reports.

The Blues were slapped with a two-window ban by Fifa over their signings of foreign minors.

According to the Telegraph, though, this could be extended to a third window if they attempt to push it back.

Chelsea have appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the hope that the ruling would be overturned.

But the report states that there has not been any confirmation of an application to freeze the ban while CAS look into it.

So if CAS have not revoked the transfer embargo, Chelsea will have no option but to start serving their ban this summer – something the club are thought to be resigned to regardless now.

If the ban was extended to three windows, it would mean Chelsea would be unable to sign players until January 2021.


That would be a hard pill to swallow, especially if Eden Hazard leaves this summer, as he expected to.

Real Madrid are thought to have agreed an £88.5million deal to sign the Belgian winger, who effectively said his goodbyes after the Europa League final victory.

They would not even be able to try and sign a replacement for another 18 months.

If the two-window ban remains in place as expected, Chelsea will not be able to make any new signings this summer or in January 2020.

Christian Pulisic's deal done was done in January so he is free to play for the club next season.

And Mateo Kovacic will be able to make his loan from Real Madrid permanent – if the contract is signed before his loan expires otherwise it would require a new registration.

So it means Maurizio Sarri – or whoever replaces him if he does leave for Juventus – must rely on the current crop of players on the books.

That includes the plethora of talent who spent this season out on loan, including the likes of Kurt Zouma, Tammy Abraham and Reece James.

And with the ban in mind, Chelsea have already tied David Luiz down to a new two-year deal and are currently negotiating with Callum Hudson-Odoi over a stunning five-year, £100,000-per-week contract.

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I was addicted to sunbeds but paid the price… 86 skin cancer operations to try and save me

A TANNING addict who started using sunbeds in high school has had to have 86 surgeries to contain her persistent skin cancer.

Lisa Pace, 43, was tanning every day by the time she got to university.

"I started tanning every day, or every other day", she told Today.

"It was addictive. People would say: 'You look so good, you look tan', and it just encouraged me."

She was first diagnosed with melanoma in 2000 aged just 23, after a routine health check led to her seeing a dermatologist.

They found that Lisa had some small light brown spots which they wanted to get biopsied.

And they found that she had skin cancer.

After leaving it a little while, Lisa went to a specialist for a second opinion and this time, they took a "huge amount" out of her thigh and calf.

"I had stitches, bandages, bleeding, bruising, swelling, and I had crutches," she recalled in a blog post for Coolibar, a company that sells UV protective clothing.

"But the good thing was, they said they got it all. This meant no more skin cancer, so I thought."

Even after that, Lisa continued to tan.

"Tanning beds were popular. I had tanned a lot in college. There were all kinds of promotions with free lotions, buy five visits get five free, one month unlimited, etc. I enjoyed going."

Despite cutting down as she got older, the damage had already been done.

According to the Melanoma Research Alliance, tanning beds increase your risk of melanoma by 75 per cent.

Symptoms of melanoma

The most common sign of melanoma is a new mole or a change in an existing mole.

In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and are more than one colour. The mole may also be larger than normal and can sometimes be itchy or bleed. Look out for a mole which changes progressively in shape, size and/or colour.

The ABCDE checklist should help you tell the difference between a normal mole and a melanoma:

  • Asymmetrical – melanomas have 2 very different halves and are an irregular shape
  • Border – melanomas have a notched or ragged border
  • Colours – melanomas will be a mix of 2 or more colours
  • Diameter – most melanomas are larger than 6mm (1/4 inch) in diameter
  • Enlargement or elevation – a mole that changes size over time is more likely to be a melanoma

Source: NHS

Lisa, a college basketball coach, said: "I had no idea that the tanning bed was causing so much damage to my skin.

"I never saw any TV commercials warning about tanning bed use and skin cancer, there were no social media platforms warning me of the danger and consequences".

In less than a year after her first surgery, Lisa found a white spot on her left cheek which had to be removed.

"I was devastated. I couldn't look at myself," she wrote.

"I spoke with my doctors and after much discussion, I found out that all those times going to the tanning bed had caused me to have skin cancer."

She soon started finding spots all over her body, from her face to her legs.

And she also developed two other types of skin cancer – squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.

At point one, she was having surgery for skin cancer every three months and by the time she was in her mid-30s, she had undergone 50 ops.

Despite being knocked down 86 times, she said: "I got back up 87 times".

Symptoms of Basal and Squamous cell carcinomas

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world.

Non-melanoma cancers are more common than melanomas, with 100,000 new cases being diagnosed every year in the UK.

The first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or discoloured patch on the skin that continues to persist after a few weeks, and slowly progresses over months or sometimes years.

Melanomas, on the other hand, is often characterised by a mole.

There are two common types of non-melanoma:

Basal cell carcinoma (accounts for 75 per cent of skin cancers):

  • usually appears as a small, shiny pink or pearly-white lump with a waxy appearance
  • can also look like a red, scaly patch
  • there's sometimes some brown or black pigment within the patch
  • the lump slowly gets bigger and may become crusty, bleed or develop into a painless ulcer

Squamous cell carcinoma (accounts for the other 20 per cent):

  • appears as a firm pink lump with a rough or crusted surface
  • can be a lot of surface scale and sometimes even a spiky horn sticking up from the surface
  • lump is often tender to touch, bleeds easily and may develop into an ulcer

She now always wears suncream, wears long sleeves and a hat if she goes outdoors and checks her moles every day.

"I know I'm going to win this battle," she wrote.

"I know I do all the right things as far as protecting my skin and getting skin checks so I am confident in knowing skin cancer has met its match."

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The First Time: Kiefer Sutherland

When Kiefer Sutherland was a teenager, his father, the actor Donald Sutherland, took him to see his close friend, David Bowie, in concert. The younger Sutherland remembers wearing black eyeliner to the gig in an attempt to mimic his idol, and after the set, Donald took him backstage to meet Bowie.

Sutherland says he didn’t know just how close Bowie and his dad were when they showed up at the rocker’s dressing room. “He opened the door as we knocked on it, and he looked at me for a long second, and then he looked way up at my father sand said, ‘Oh, you brought your family. Why?’” Sutherland recalls in the latest installment of Rolling Stone’s “The First Time.” “I think they had expected to go out and have a very nice night, and so I realized at that moment that my father was giving up a really nice night out with his friend David Bowie so that I could go see him. So, thank you, dad.”

Elsewhere, Sutherland recalls acting with his father for the first time in the 2015 Western, Forsaken, as well as asserting his new Canadian bona fides by buying Rush’s Hemispheres after moving to the country with his family. He also talks about discovering the similarities between Jack Bauer, the seminal hero from 24, and Tom Kirkman, the character he plays on Designated Survivor, which returns for its third season tomorrow, June 7th.

“Their skill sets were very different,” Sutherland says, “but at the root of the telling both of those stories, they were guys that were being put into impossible situations that they could not win. It was just a question of how much damage would be done. So once I realized that, I found that actually quite comforting as an actor. One guy was a much more physical character and the other guy used his brains and words, but the dynamics were very similar so I tried to lean into that when playing them.”

Sutherland also chats about falling in love with country music and his own music career, including the geographical constraints he put on his band when they first started performing live, and the sneaky thrill of playing his own material.

“We had to play 50 miles outside of Los Angeles because I didn’t want to run into any friends,” Sutherland says. “One of the most exciting things about playing your own song, especially because no one’s heard it, is that if you screw it up, no one will know.”

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David Hasselhoff Gets Heart Defibrillator Implant

David Hasselhoff is a heart attack waiting to happen — and doctors have warned him to slow down or face an untimely end.

The former Baywatch star, 66, recently received a defibrillator implant in a bid to stave off a heart attack and shared his fears at a restaurant following a doctor’s visit.

“He said he was eating his last unhealthy meal and from then on, he would have to change his ways,” said an eyewitness. “He was talking about a vacation to Greece he was planning and yakking to anyone around who would listen.”

The source added the actor wasn’t looking his famously hunky self: “He was smiling, but he was incredibly thin, and he has started looking really old,” said the witness. “He’s had a defibrillator fitted to try and keep his heart on track.”

Although a rep denied Hasselhoff suffers from health problems, the source said: “His years of boozing must have really taken a toll on him. He was trying to laugh it all off, but you could tell he was nervous and worried.”

Hasselhoff — who last year married former model Hayley Roberts, 39 — sobered up in 2007 after a video his daughter took went viral, showing him drunk and shirtless and clumsily eating a hamburger off the floor.

The actor said he goes to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, but in 2015 avoided talking about when he’d had his last drink.

“That’s a question that’s so personal, it’s impossible to answer,” Hasselhoff said. “I take it one day at a time.”

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Donald Trump Takes Time Out From D-Day Commemoration To Tweet Bash CNN & Rachel Maddow & Heap Praise On….Himself

Donald Trump’s vanity knows no bounds. Nothing new there, but sometimes its raw display still shocks.

On the same day world leaders came together to commemorate one of the most significant and humbling events of the 20th Century, the day Allied forces landed in France to liberate Europe from Nazi fascism, the U.S president took time out to humble brag (read lie) about his “glowing reviews” from the British Media [sic] and to bash MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and CNN.

Quoting Fox’s conservative commentator Sean Hannity, Trump tweeted, ‘”The President has received glowing reviews from the British Media. Here at home, not so much. MSNBC Ramps up hateful coverage and promotes conspiracy theories during Trump’s trip to Europe.” @seanhannity The good news is that @maddow is dying in the ratings, along with @CNN!’

The tweet was sandwiched between two about the sacrifice of those who gave their lives on the historic D-Day landings. France’s president Emmanuel Macron and UK prime minister Theresa May, also in Normandy for the commemoration, wisely adopted less combative and narcissistic tones on social platforms, putting the focus on veterans and their families.

Trump’s contentious state visit to the UK has been marked by protests and awkward politics. Far from “glowing”, the media response has been decidedly mixed with centrist and left-leaning media drawing attention to Trump’s alarming suggestion that the UK health service could become privatised after a post-Brexit trade deal with the U.S. and the expense of the state visit, which seems to have been piggy-backed by the wider Trump family. Right-wing press and Rupert Murdoch-owned media have preferred Trump’s disparagement of the London mayor and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and talked up the U.S.-UK ‘special relationship.’

If Trump was in any doubt about his approval rating among the UK public, he was reminded on Twitter this week by campaign group Led By Donkeys, which projected his 21% rating onto leading tourist attraction The Tower Of London. That said, before his arrival in Europe a YouGov poll revealed that 46% of Britons were in favour of the state visit going ahead compared to 40% against.

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Rihanna & Hassan Jameel Cuddle In Italy & Look So In Love — See New Pics

Rihanna and Hassan Jameel are not often pictured together, but they looked stronger than ever on a romantic boat ride in Italian waters. But RiRi didn’t trek too far for the date, considering her new address!

Yes, Rihanna, 31, and Hassan Jameel, 30, are still together. The world’s wealthiest female musician and a billionaire Toyota heir united their net worths for a cozy boat ride and lunch in Capri, Italy, and the photos surfaced on June 5 — YOU CAN SEE THE PICTURES HERE. It wasn’t a private date, however, as they were joined by a few other people. The company didn’t make Rihanna shy away from resting her head on Hassan’s shoulder, or from grabbing the Saudi businessman’s bicep and leaning dangerously close in!

We hope to see even more romantic rendezvouses in Europe, seeing that Rihanna and Hassan are now based in the same city — London! Typical for the ever mysterious RiRi, the singer and Fenty entrepreneur shocked fans in May 2019 after revealing that she moved across the pond. But Rihanna and Hassan are far from clingy, even if they share similar zip codes now. “Rihanna and Hassan are not joined at the hip at all, they spend a lot of time apart but it’s not a sign of trouble,” a source EXCLUSIVELY told HollywoodLife, before Rihanna made her big move public knowledge. “She loves that he gives her lots of space and freedom to maintain her own identity and career. He doesn’t put pressure on her the way guys she’s been with in the past have done, she’s entirely free to be herself.”

Our insider also pointed out that Paris was a favorite meetup spot for the couple. “She loves it there, she gets so much more privacy,” our source added. “And with her spending so much time on her new fashion brand, Paris works for her career-wise as well. Of course she’s always on the move so he does tend to travel more to be with her, he puts in the effort that’s for sure.” Rihanna just launched Fenty online on May 29, and her luxury label is manufactured in Paris and Italy!

Before the romantic boat ride, Rihanna and Hassan were last spotted together at the Los Angeles Staples Center to root for the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 21 (one day after the Rihanna’s 31st birthday). Rewinding even farther, Rihanna and Hassan weren’t seen together between July 2018 and Nov. 2018 — we’re happy that they’re stepping back into the public eye in 2019!

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These Girls’ Soccer Players Joined Boys’ Leagues. And Dominated.

MADRID — It is not just the jerseys, the deep blue and the blood red, that make the players instantly recognizable as representatives of Barcelona’s fabled youth system.

It is the way they play, too, how they have been imbued with the soccer club’s style. It shows in the results this season: 30 games played, 30 games won, a scarcely probable 329 goals scored in a league largely consisting of neighborhood teams from Catalonia.

There is only one aspect in which this team can be marked as different from all the other Barcelona sides brimming with hopefuls who wear that famous jersey, who dream of following in the footsteps of Xavi Hernández and Gerard Piqué and Andrés Iniesta and all the rest. It is that its roster is made up of girls, and they play in, and dominate, a league populated by boys.

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This season, for the first time, Barcelona entered its under-12 and under-14 girls’ teams in local boys’ leagues. It was not the first Spanish team to do so: The choice has formed part of Atlético Madrid’s youth policy for some time, and Athletic Bilbao has also recently adopted the idea.

But Barcelona has been so impressed by the results that starting next season, it will do the same with its under-10 girls’ team. The motivation, of course, is the improvement of the players: The club believes that exposure to the different environment accelerates their progress.

“When these girls play in boys’ leagues, they are pushed harder in their games,” said Maria Teixidor, the board member at Barcelona responsible for women’s soccer, among myriad other things. “It really makes them perform better.”

If anything, the results this season suggest the girls met the challenge too easily. Barcelona won the league at the under-12 level — Aleví, as it is known in Catalonia — by 14 points, winning all of its games. Celia Segura, the team’s star striker, scored 121 goals, more than twice as many as her nearest challenger.

That success might, perhaps, have brought a degree of resentment from vanquished opponents, but Teixidor was adamant that was not the case. Spanish soccer rules state that until players reach the under-16 age group, genders are allowed to mix — and even after that point, Teixidor said, the club may now try at least to hold shared training sessions for boys’ and girls’ teams — and so no clubs objected to the idea.

Nor has there been any acrimony from beaten boys. “There has been another effect,” Teixidor said. “For the boys, it helps to normalize girls playing soccer at the same level as them. For the girls, it empowers them that there is no reason that they cannot play at the same level.”

Barcelona’s girls’ players have not always received that same sort of support as they tried to pursue their passion: One recalled being told that she was not allowed to play with boys while at school, with a teacher explaining that soccer was not a suitable pastime for a girl.

Like Atlético Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona is investing more heavily in women’s soccer, trying to apply the same methods to developing women’s players that have brought it such success in developing men’s players. Giving girls the chance to face off against boys is just one aspect of that; long gone, too, are the days of women’s teams having to train late at night, so as not to interrupt the schedule of the men’s teams.

“It is part of a global call from women for equal conditions in every aspect of life,” Teixidor said. “It is our responsibility as a club and as a social institution to add what we can to that. And it is working: It is not exactly a surprise that when you give women the same conditions as men to succeed, they do perform better.”

Rory Smith is The Times’s chief soccer correspondent. Edu Bayer, a photographer based in Barcelona, spent six months following youth teams in Spain.

Rory Smith is the chief soccer correspondent, based in Manchester, England. He covers all aspects of European soccer and has reported from three World Cups, the Olympics, and numerous European tournaments. @RorySmith

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France’s Men Won the World Cup Last Summer. Its Women Want a Title to Match.

ORLÉANS, France — The first Women’s World Cup on French soil was only days away, and Delphine Cascarino, a 22-year-old French wing with the speed and dribbling skills to become a breakout star over the next month, was about to exit the cozy stadium in Orléans where the French team had beaten Thailand, 3-0, in a friendly match. But first she had one last stop to make: A group of about 200 fans, mostly young girls, was waiting for Cascarino and her teammates outside for autographs and pictures.

“We can sense the French public is really here for us and behind us,” Cascarino said. “We know what a big opportunity this is.”

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This summer’s World Cup, which begins Friday with host France facing South Korea in the Parc des Princes in Paris, is an unprecedented chance for women’s soccer to reach a wider audience at home.

The tournament comes one year after France’s men’s team won the World Cup for the second time, sparking celebrations throughout the country and a renewed sense of France’s ability to bridge societal divides for a common cause.

The halo effect of that triumph has since dissipated amid a wave of protests and smashed shop windows in major cities led by members of the yellow-vest movement, but in addition to providing another chance to emphasize unity, this home World Cup is a fresh opportunity to banish some of the stereotypes that linger about women’s soccer in France.

The French Football Federation is not hesitating to build a bridge between the tournaments — one of the federation’s commercial partners is running a marketing campaign under the slogan, “Don’t wait for 2022 to relive 2018” — even if some of the women’s team’s leaders, like striker Eugénie Le Sommer and others, profess frustration with the constant comparisons between men’s and women’s soccer.

We don’t talk much about the guys, so as not to put too much pressure on ourselves,” said Amandine Henry, the captain of the French team. “But we do want to ride the wave of their success. We have seen so many emotions in the country last year. We want to experience something similar.”

But can women’s soccer, long of minor interest in France, truly become a national focal point or, better yet, a rallying point?

“Much will depend of course on how the French team performs,” said Vincent Duluc, a journalist at France’s sports daily L’Equipe who is widely considered the country’s top soccer writer. “But what I do know is that the French media will play the game like they have never played it before.”

For the first time at a World Cup, the French women’s team’s games and the final rounds of the tournament will be broadcast on TF1, the nation’s leading free-to-air network. TF1 will use the same main commentary duo for the French women’s matches that it uses for the men’s matches: the commentator Gregoire Margotton and the former France star Bixente Lizarazu.

Duluc said L’Equipe, the most influential sports publication in France, sent only two reporters to cover the last women’s World Cup in Canada in 2015, where the French team lost to Germany on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals. This time, L’Equipe intends to deploy more than a dozen reporters, including four dedicated to covering France’s team. That includes Duluc, who has covered nine men’s World Cups and has been assigned to follow his first women’s World Cup this summer instead of covering the men’s team as it plays qualifying matches for the 2020 European Championship.

“I think all this is a sign that the world is changing, even if it changes very slowly and not completely,” Duluc said. “In the media here, I think people are perhaps eager to do more than what is strictly necessary. It’s a bit like everyone must show their absence of sexism and support the idea that we treat everyone the same way, which is of course not yet true. But even if the French media are going to do a lot with this World Cup, it’s also because we sense the public will be there.”

Women’s soccer has no doubt come a long way in France. It was banned during the Vichy regime in the 1940s, along with some other women’s sports. The first women’s club teams were not created until the late 1960s, and the women’s national team did not qualify for the women’s World Cup until 2003. A decade ago, three national team players resorted to posing for nude photos in an effort to draw attention to their low profile. “Is this how we should show up before you come to our games?” the headline read.

But as France’s international fortunes improved, the country has become a leader in the professional game. Its most decorated and best-financed team, Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, now dominates European club competitions: It has won six Champions League titles since 2011, including the last four.

“It used to be the French players went overseas to play for their clubs, and now it’s the overseas players who come to France,” said Marinette Pichon, France’s career scoring leader, who played professionally in the United States before she retired in 2007. “Compared to our time, it’s day and night in terms of the means the women have at their disposal. In 2000, I was one of the few here who could make a living from it. Now nearly all the clubs offer professional contracts. It surprises no one now when a young girl says she wants to play soccer.”

But the French women’s team has yet to win a major trophy or an Olympic medal. Its best performance came in the 2011 World Cup in Germany, where it placed fourth after losing to the United States in the semifinals.

Since then, Brigitte Henriques, a vice president of the French Football Federation, said that the number of licensed female players in the country had increased to 138,000 from 54,000, and that the number of women’s teams at all levels had doubled, to about 6,000.

“We have a very clear vision for the World Cup,” Henriques said. “The French team must perform well, and the tournament must radiate throughout the country so it will attract even more girls and women.”

The French team’s players hope home-field advantage leads to a breakthrough, just as playing in France boosted the men’s team to its first World Cup victory in 1998. Henry, 29, said she was one of several members of the women’s team who were inspired to play the game at the highest level by that 1998 triumph.

“I said it was too beautiful; I want to do it too,” she said. “I want to hold up trophies. I want to sing.”

Like that iconic 1998 team, this 2019 women’s team is a rich mix of ethnicities and backgrounds that could speak to many different sectors of French society, including the Muslim community.

“That was a big talking point in 1998 but not so much now, which in a way is a sign of progress because it just seems natural,” said Arnaud Simon, the former chief executive of Eurosport France, who now runs a sports media consulting firm. “It is just ‘The French team,’ which is a sign things have progressed. But the fact this team is fully representative of French society is still very important to engage and embrace all of French society.

“Let’s not kid ourselves. The place of women in French society can be a bit different based on religion or the country of origin, so this diversity will show that women are taking the place they deserve in society, regardless of their race or religion or whatever.”

Henry and some of her teammates will have to push through fatigue after a long club season if they want their own celebratory bus ride down the Champs-Élysées. She and six other important members of the French team play for Lyon, which won its latest Champions League final on May 18. Le Sommer, who has scored 74 goals for France, missed the team’s final two friendly games because of a strained gluteal muscle. Henry, who had back problems, and left back Amel Majri, who has a leg injury, also skipped both games.

“Our team has a good level,” said Élise Bussaglia, the 33-year-old midfielder who is the team’s most experienced player, with 188 caps. “And for sure it makes us feel great to know that our federation is putting something in place to promote women’s soccer and that we’ll have a national network like TF1 broadcasting our games. All that is positive. But now we have to come through in the World Cup. Our national team is lacking that big title.”

It is also, for now, lacking a large and knowledgeable core audience. At one of its final World Cup warmup matches in Orléans on May 25, the 7,500-seat Stade de La Source was sold out for the friendly against Thailand, and the stands were awash in French flags (most provided by the organizers). But it was also full of banners that read “Allez les Bleus” rather than “Allez les Bleues,” and the crowd included many French fans wearing jerseys bearing the surnames not of Henry and Le Sommer but of Kylian Mbappé, Paul Pogba and other stars of the men’s team.

“What that reflects is that the general public goes to see the women’s team but doesn’t know which women to identify with,” Duluc said. “That’s because the story of club soccer in France is too intermittent. It’s a series with not enough interesting episodes. People wake up for the Champions League final, and they might identify two or three players in that final, one of whom is Ada Hegerberg, the Norwegian who plays for Lyon but is not playing in the World Cup.”

Hegerberg, who is sitting out the competition to protest what she perceives as unequal treatment of male and female players in Norway, will be doing studio work for TF1 during the World Cup while her French teammates try to become household names at home but also leave a legacy.

Before Cascarino headed out the doors of the stadium in Orléans to greet her young fans, she was asked what she hoped that legacy would be.

“I hope we play beautiful soccer,” she said, “And that all the little girls who see us will be inspired to put on some cleats and be inspiring themselves.”

Elian Peltier contributed reporting from Paris.

Christopher Clarey has covered global sports for The Times and the International Herald Tribune for more than 25 years from bases in France, Spain and the United States. His specialties are tennis, soccer, the Olympic Games and sailing. @christophclarey

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