FIFA World Cup
LONDON - A week after signing Angel Di Maria, Manchester United persuaded striker Radamel Falcao to join the faltering club in European football's most eye-catching switch as the summer transfer window closed.
Falcao's season-long loan from Monaco is set to cost United around $25 million for the salary and fee to the French club, although there is an option to then sign the Colombia forward permanently.
LONDON - From the World Cup semifinals to a bruising introduction in Britain, Louis van Gaal's fortunes have changed rapidly inside two months.
The coach who led the Netherlands to a third-place finish at the World Cup enters his fourth match as Manchester United manager still searching for his first win.
MONACO, Monaco - Michel Platini won't fight Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency, though he still hopes somebody will.
The UEFA president decided Thursday not to challenge Blatter in an election next May, insisting he was not dodging a battle with his former mentor.
Platini denied FIFA critics a potentially bitter contest, but then urged more conflict within the Blatter-led executive committee.
LONDON - Despite an often tempestuous relationship with fans and past concerns over his temperament, Wayne Rooney has received the symbolically-prestigious honour of captaining England.
Taking over the leadership of an inexperienced squad that is recovering from the national team's worst-ever World Cup, Rooney knows the rebuilding process requires unity.
"I hope that I will have the full backing of the fans," Rooney said Thursday. "I am their type of player once I am on that pitch."
MONACO, Monaco - Real Madrid's Champions League title defence takes shape Thursday at one of the most open draws in years.
Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Chelsea — the past four winners — are among the eight top-seeded clubs in the 32-team draw.
However, lower-ranked seeding pots loaded with big spenders returning to the Champions League after years away promise to deliver trickier than usual groups.