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‘The last resort’: jailed former Qatar World Cup official on his hunger strike

The Guardian

The detained former Qatar World Cup official Abdullah Ibhais has repeated his claims of innocence as he enters the 17th day of a hunger strike in prison. Ibhais was seized by Qatari authorities last month and returned to jail while he awaits the outcome of an appeal against charges of bribery and a prison sentence of five years.

The former deputy communications director in Qatar’s World Cup Supreme Committee has been denied communications since his arrest, according to his family. On Thursday, however, a voice note apparently recorded in his cell was published by the Dutch newspaper NRC with an audibly weakened Ibhais discussing his resolve to pursue his hunger strike “until I am proven innocent”.

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December 2nd 2021, 8:51 am

China hits back at WTA boycott as IOC talks again to Peng Shuai

The Guardian

Foreign ministry says it is against politicising sport, as officials hold second video call with tennis star

China has attacked the Women’s Tennis Association’s boycott in response to the treatment of Peng Shuai, as the International Olympic Committee claimed to have had a second video chat with the player.

Wang Wenbin, a foreign ministry spokesperson, said at a daily briefing that his government was “always firmly opposed to acts that politicise sports”.

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December 2nd 2021, 8:51 am

The remarkable rise of Lee Elder: from teenage hustler to golfing pioneer

The Guardian

Late golfer overcame the racism of 1950s America and forged an unlikely duo with notorious gambler Titanic Thompson

Now, let’s be clear about this right here at the beginning. Not all the stories they tell about Alvin “Titanic Thompson” Thomas are strictly accurate. He wasn’t given his nickname because he escaped from the ship by disguising himself as a woman and sneaking into a lifeboat. He didn’t beat Ben Hogan playing golf right-handed, he didn’t beat Byron Nelson playing left-handed, and he certainly didn’t do both back-to-back. And he never did con Al Capone out of $500 by throwing an orange over a five-storey building. According to one of his biographers it was actually a lemon. And according to the other, he swapped it with one he’d stuffed with buckshot the previous evening.

But some of them are true. Or something like it. And this is one of them.

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December 2nd 2021, 8:51 am

MLB owners lock out players in first work stoppage since 1995

The Guardian

Baseball league management hopes lockout ‘will jumpstart negotiations and get us to an agreement that will allow the season to start on time’

Major League Baseball plunged into its first work stoppage in a quarter-century when the sport’s collective bargaining agreement expired Wednesday night and owners immediately locked out players in a move that threatens spring training and opening day.

The strategy, management’s equivalent of a strike under federal labor law, ended the sport’s labor peace after 9,740 days over 26 1/2 years.

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December 2nd 2021, 8:51 am

In a down year for QBs, will Tom Brady’s humdrum excellence win him MVP?

The Guardian

Heading into the final stretch of the regular season, no one has an unassailable case for the league’s best player. Voters could turn to an old friend

What was set up to be a rollicking MVP race has descended into a mess.

Heading into Week 13, no one has an unassailable case. Toss the league’s top quarterbacks up and they could fall down in any order over the next month: Tom Brady, Josh Allen, Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers or Kyler Murray. If you want to tack on a running back as a candidate, then feel free to add in Jonathan Taylor. But the MVP is almost exclusively a quarterback award at this point – the last non-QB to win it was Adrian Peterson in 2012. The four criteria are: Who had the best season; which team won the most games; who was the most fun to watch; who has the best story. This season, it’s hard to find anyone who ticks all the boxes.

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December 2nd 2021, 5:05 am

Johanna Konta can leave professional tennis knowing she gave everything | Tumaini Carayol

The Guardian

The former world No 4 made the most of her talents and helped to pave the way for Emma Raducanu and hopefully others

As the 2015 tennis season began six years ago, Johanna Konta’s name was nowhere to be seen on any main-draw sheet. Six months earlier she had briefly reached the top 100 for the first time in her career but, as had been the case throughout her career in those days, she always ended up dropping back down the rankings and having to grind through the ITF Pro Circuit and qualifying events once more. Konta quietly lost in the first qualifying round of the Australian Open.

Even as she struggled mentally and failed to achieve her lofty goals, Konta always worked with the belief that she could be more. That year she decided to base herself in Gijon, Spain, with her coaches, Esteban Carril and José Manuel García, and she worked diligently with the mental coach Juan Coto, who left a strong mark on her career before his tragic death in 2016.

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December 1st 2021, 9:23 pm

WTA suspends tournaments in China amid concern for Peng Shuai

The Guardian

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has announced the suspension of all tournaments in China amid concerns about the safety of the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, following weeks of a high-profile row with Beijing over the player’s wellbeing.

“With the full support of the WTA Board of Directors, I am announcing the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong,” said the WTA chairman, Steve Simon, announcing the decision in a statement on Wednesday.

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December 1st 2021, 9:23 pm

Lewis Hamilton says F1 title this season would be his greatest achievement

The Guardian

Lewis Hamilton believes winning an eighth Formula One title this season would be his greatest championship victory. The world champion has been locked in a season-long struggle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and going into the final two decisive rounds, beginning this weekend in Saudi Arabia, Hamilton insists he has left nothing on the table in his attempt to win. He is calm and ready to race in the know ledge he has given his all.

With seven titles already under his belt and the prospect of surpassing Michael Schumacher’s record with an eighth, the 36-year-old acknowledged he is in the battle of his career with Verstappen. Hamilton agreed that should he win it, having at one stage been 32 points behind the Dutchman, this would be the best title he has secured during a remarkable 15 years in F1.

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December 1st 2021, 9:23 pm

Rare Nepomniachtchi error allows Carlsen to escape with another draw

The Guardian

Norway’s Magnus Carlsen and the Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi are no closer to a verdict in their €2m world championship match after playing to a fifth successive draw on Wednesday at the Dubai Exposition Centre.

Supercomputers evaluating the moves from the opening four games had indicated it was the most accurate world title match in the event’s history and this fifth contest maintained that standard as the players remarkably combined for one inaccuracy between them. Regrettably for the 31-year-old challenger, the lapse was the opportunity Carlsen needed to escape from a highly uncomfortable position as black and negotiate a draw after 43 moves.

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December 1st 2021, 9:23 pm

Brilliance of Mohamed Salah sweeps Liverpool past Everton in derby

The Guardian

It was everything Everton had feared and Liverpool desired on their return to the stadium where the fault-lines first appeared in the title defence last season. Jürgen Klopp instructed his players to be “really aggressive in a football way”, not obsessed with revenge, and their vast superiority shone through an emphatic defeat of Rafael Benítez’s sorry side.

Liverpool outclassed their local rivals in every department. The outstanding quality of the goals from Jordan Henderson, Mohamed Salah, twice, and Diogo Jota were in keeping with the overall performance, and extended Liverpool’s record of scoring twice or more to an 18th game in succession.

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December 1st 2021, 9:23 pm

NFL safety Kenny Vaccaro quitting football to ‘reinvent’ himself in esports

The Guardian

Former New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro has retired from the NFL and launched an esports organization called G1, or Gamers First.

A first-round pick (15th overall) by the Saints in 2013, Vaccaro registered 610 tackles, 11½ sacks, 10 interceptions and four fumble recoveries in 110 games (109 starts) with New Orleans (2013-17) and Tennessee (2018-20).

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December 1st 2021, 9:23 pm

Rory McIlroy defends players’ rights to compete in Saudi International

The Guardian

Rory McIlroy has delivered a potentially crucial intervention on behalf of golfers wishing to compete in the Saudi International in February by insisting the PGA and European tours should not block them from playing.

The Saudi International, once of the European Tour but now an Asian Tour event, has confirmed a number of the world’s most prominent golfers – including Tommy Fleetwood, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio García – have agreed to feature in 2022.

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December 1st 2021, 9:23 pm

Watford v Chelsea, Aston Villa v Man City: Premier League clockwatch - live!

The Guardian

Southampton v Leicester City: Southampton recall Kyle Walker-Peters, Nathan Redmond and Nathan Tella for the visit of Leicester, with Lyanco, Romain Perraud and Armando Broja dropping to the bench.

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers sticks with an unchanged 20-man squad on the back of Sunday’s 4-2 win at home to Watford.

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December 1st 2021, 2:03 pm

Ten signings Premier League clubs should target in January | Ben McAleer

The Guardian

Aston Villa, Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal may be dipping into the market in the new year

By Ben McAleer for WhoScored

Another game, another goal for Dusan Vlahovic. The Serb scored his 12th of the season in Fiorentina’s 3-1 win over Sampdoria on Tuesday night to open up a two-goal lead between himself and Ciro Immobile in the race for the Capocannoniere. Whether Vlahovic will still be in Italy when the award is given out is another matter. He is a wanted man in England and for good reason. Arsenal and Tottenham are apparently interested in the 21-year-old, with Spurs reportedly making him their top January target as the long-term successor for Harry Kane. Vlahovic will not come cheap but, with just 18 months to run on his contract and a reluctance to put pen to paper on a new deal, Fiorentina’s stance on their prized asset may soften in the new year, particularly if they can sign a replacement early in the window.

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December 1st 2021, 11:21 am

‘I got to live my dreams’: Johanna Konta retires from tennis aged 30

The Guardian

Former British No 1 Johanna Konta has announced her immediate retirement from professional tennis.

Konta, 30, is the most successful British women’s player of the past two decades, having reached a career high ranking of No 4 in 2017, three grand slam semi-finals and she won the prestigious Miami Open in 2017. Earlier this year, she won her fourth career WTA title in Nottingham.

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December 1st 2021, 11:21 am

Magnus Carlsen v Ian Nepomniachtchi: World Chess Championship Game 5 – live!

The Guardian

A quick refresher on the format. It will consist of 14 classical games with each player awarded one point for a win and a half-point for a draw. Whoever reaches seven and a half points first will be declared the champion. (Both Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi are on two points apiece after Friday’s Game 1, Saturday’s Game 2, Sunday’s Game 3 and Tuesday’s Game 4)

The time control for each game is 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 61. Players cannot agree to a draw before black’s 40th move. A draw claim before then is only permitted through the arbiter, if threefold repetition occurs (as occurred in Game 4).

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December 1st 2021, 7:22 am

How Pearl Harbor stopped the birth of the LA Browns and changed baseball history

The Guardian

It took a long time for the West Coast to host a Major League Baseball team. And the wait was increased by the events of the second world war

Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor 80 years ago not only ensured the United States’ entry into the second world war. It inadvertently but categorically changed baseball history.

One day after the attack, Major League Baseball’s owners were expected to approve the move of the American League’s St Louis Browns to Los Angeles for 1942 – 16 years before Walter O’Malley’s former Brooklyn Dodgers played their first season on the West Coast. The Browns felt so confident that they even scheduled a press conference in Los Angeles to announce the move on the afternoon of Monday 8 December 1941.

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December 1st 2021, 7:22 am

Norwich’s Teemu Pukki denies 10-man Newcastle first win with powerful strike

The Guardian

It might have been very different had Ciaran Clark not self-destructed in the ninth minute but that will be of no consolation to Eddie Howe.

Clark’s idiotic sending off left Newcastle down to 10 men and in the sort of trouble that even Callum Wilson’s second-half penalty could not quite camouflage. Despite a rather wonderful display of defiance from the home side, Teemu Pukki’s stupendous volley means Howe’s side remain bottom of the Premier League, still awaiting their first win of the season. The Championship surely beckons.

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November 30th 2021, 5:21 pm

Ellen White breaks record as merciless England thrash Latvia 20-0

The Guardian

It was inevitable but Ellen White couldn’t quite believe it, arms outstretched, fists pumping, face etched with joy. It had taken a spell of just three minutes for her to match then surpass the all-time England goalscoring record of 46 set by Lionesses legend Kelly Smith.

So overcome with the emotion of the occasion the Manchester City forward, making her 101st appearance, almost forgot her trademark goggle celebration, as she skidded onto her back to be engulfed by her jubilant teammates just nine minutes into England’s romping 20-0 defeat of Latvia – surpassing their record 13-0 defeat of Hungary in 2005 – in their World Cup qualifying game in Doncaster.

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November 30th 2021, 5:21 pm

Magnus Carlsen plays out 33-move draw with Ian Nepomniachtchi in game four

The Guardian

Norway’s Magnus Carlsen and Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi played to a fourth draw in as many games on Tuesday in the latest instalment of their €2m world championship showdown in Dubai, which left the best-of-14 match in a 2-2 deadlock with 10 contests remaining.

The peaceful result after 2hr 37min was the shortest of the encounter so far, where no blood has yet been drawn but which supercomputers evaluating the moves have indicated is the most accurate world title match ever played in the event’s history.

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November 30th 2021, 2:51 pm

Qatar’s BeIN Sports accused of stoking homophobia after pundit’s outburst

The Guardian

Kick It Out has accused beIN Sports of amplifying homophobia and questioned whether members of the LGBTQ+ community should travel to Qatar for the World Cup after a former Egypt footballer said homosexuality was “against human nature” during a punditry appearance for the Qatari broadcaster.

Mohamed Aboutrika, one of the station’s best-known pundits, sparked fury after urging Muslim players to boycott the Premier League’s Rainbow Laces campaign, which is designed to support the LGBTQ+ community, and saying that homosexuality is not “compatible” with Islam. The 43-year-old added that Muslim people “have a role to play” in eliminating homosexuality and described it as a “dangerous ideology that is becoming nasty”.

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November 30th 2021, 1:51 pm

Newcastle v Norwich: Premier League – live!

The Guardian

Newcastle make three changes to the side named for the 2-0 defeat at Arsenal. Ciaran Clark, Jamal Lewis and Javier Manquillo replace Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie, both of whom are suspended, and the benched Emil Krafth.

Norwich make two changes to the team that drew 0-0 with Wolves at Carrow Road. Lukas Rupp and Christos Tzolis replace Mathias Normann and Milot Rashica, who both miss out altogether.

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November 30th 2021, 1:51 pm

‘I’m lucky to be alive’: Tiger Woods grateful after crash and targeting Open

The Guardian

Tiger Woods understandably values nine lives more highly than 15 major championships. Speaking at a press conference for the first time since the February car crash that left him wheelchair bound and fearing he may have to have a leg amputated, the golfer laid bare the scale of his worst fears.

“I’m lucky to be alive but also still have the limb,” said Woods. “Those are two crucial things. I’m very grateful that someone upstairs was taking care of me, that I’m able to not only be here but also to walk without a prosthesis.”

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November 30th 2021, 1:51 pm

Lee Elder obituary

The Guardian

First African-American golfer to play in the Masters who coped with the many obstacles he faced during his career with grace

In 1933 Cliff Roberts, co-founder of the Augusta National club in Georgia, home of the US Masters golf tournament, declared that “all the golfers will be white and all the caddies will be black” for as long as he could influence the situation. He was as good as his word for the next four decades, but in the end Lee Elder forced open the doors at the 1975 Masters, where he became the first black person to play in the competition.

Elder, who has died aged 87, had been a significant force in US golf in the late 1960s and early 70s, yet had waited in vain for an invite to the Masters, one of the four “majors” of golf. However, his profile reached such heights that Roberts felt he had no choice but to ring up Elder and offer him a place.

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November 30th 2021, 11:35 am

Olympic official rejects Peng Shuai video call criticism as ‘silly’

The Guardian

Dick Pound defends IOC saying it was able to reach missing Chinese tennis star while others could not

A senior Olympic official has defended his organisation’s efforts to confirm the safety of Peng Shuai, dismissing criticism as “silly” and saying no one else had been able to get in touch with the tennis star who went missing after publishing allegations of sexual assault.

Dick Pound, who has held a variety of posts with the IOC over 45 years and is the chairman of Olympic Broadcasting Services, rejected criticism of the IOC for giving minimal information after its president, Thomas Bach, spoke with Peng via video link last week. Some had accused the IOC of seeking to not anger Beijing and prioritising the commercial relationship over the safety of athletes. China is due to host the Winter Olympics in February.

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November 30th 2021, 8:50 am

Late Kyah Simon strike salvages 1-1 draw for Matildas against USA

The Guardian

On Saturday it took Ashley Hatch 24 seconds to score the USA’s opener. Three days later the Matildas made it to three minutes and 16 seconds without conceding to the very same player. By the simplest of definitions, this is an improvement. Likewise, a 1-1 draw in Newcastle is better than a 3-0 loss in Sydney.

Apart from that there is not much more to say after this two-match friendly series. There is little more learned than what we already knew: that Australia play freely in attack but struggle with the final ball, and that they also play freely at the back – though in a less complimentary sense.

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November 30th 2021, 7:19 am

Magnus Carlsen v Ian Nepomniachtchi: World Chess Championship Game 4 – live!

The Guardian

Hello and welcome back for the fourth game of the World Chess Championship. We’re back following Monday’s rest day after draws in Game 1, Game 2 and Game 3 that were notable for longtime champion Magnus Carlsen making early pawn sacrifices in exchange for long-term initiative. In each of those contests, Ian Nepomniachtchi’s opening material advantages ultimately didn’t hold up and he was forced to rely on accurate endgame play to emerge with a result.

For those of you just coming aboard, Carlsen, who celebrates his 31st birthday today, has been at No 1 in the Fide rankings for 10 straight years and was considered the world’s best player even before he dethroned Viswanathan Anand for the title in 2013. Nepomniachtchi, 31, is ranked No 5, having earned his place at the table by winning the eight-man candidates tournament in April with a round to spare. It’s the culmination of a rivalry that started nearly two decades ago when they first met across the board as boys at the 2002 European Under-12 Championship in Peniscola, Spain. Notably, Nepomniachtchi enters the title tilt with a winning lifetime record against Carlsen in classical matches (four won, one lost and eight drawn). That makes him unique among today’s top players, even if two of those victories came in youth championships.

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November 30th 2021, 7:05 am

Lionel Messi is well past his best but this seventh Ballon d’Or feels right | Jonathan Wilson

The Guardian

Prize was not earned in domestic competition or Champions League but in his spectacular Copa América domination

And so it was Lionel Messi again, for the seventh time and, barring the most extraordinary of all career finales at the World Cup in Qatar, surely the last. Whatever the idiosyncrasies of the Ballon d’Or, Messi’s excellence has been both absurdly consistent and absurdly resilient, and those seven titles since 2009 are some reflection of that.

To achieve that level of sustained success at any time would be spectacular; to do so in the age of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won five Ballons d’Or since 2008, is extraordinary. Nobody else in history has won more than three – although there is a pleasing symmetry in the fact that when France Football reevaluated those years before the award was opened up to non-Europeans, Pelé also won seven in 13 years.

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November 30th 2021, 6:19 am

Washington hold off Wilson and Seahawks for third win in a row

The Guardian

Ron Rivera was left adrift without a kicker and felt like he had to go for it in every situation.

The final roll of the dice by ‘Riverboat Ron’ on fourth and goal opened the door for some heroics by Russell Wilson, but Kendall Fuller’s interception on Seattle’s two-point conversion attempt allowed Washington to hold on and beat the Seahawks 17-15 Monday night for the team’s third consecutive victory.

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November 30th 2021, 6:19 am

Male survivors unite to expose sexual abuse at college football’s biggest rivals

The Guardian

Michigan and Ohio State just played before 100,000 fans but a more important battle is being fought off the field

Fans of famed rivals Ohio State University and the University of Michigan often boast of how little they have in common. But two of America’s biggest college sports programs are bonded by one issue: a history of sexual abuse perpetuated by team doctors.

On Saturday OSU and Michigan battled in front of 110,000 fans on the football field – an occasion so momentous it’s known simply as The Game. But elsewhere on the Michigan campus former athletes from both universities gathered in front of Michigan president Mark Schlissel’s house to shine a light on the sexual abuse they endured during their time at the colleges. The protest was spearheaded by Jon Vaughn, a former running back for Michigan, who went on to play four years in the NFL. Now, despite the longstanding rivalry between the universities, the men have formed a survivor solidarity group.

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November 30th 2021, 5:50 am

Australia v USA: international women’s football friendly – live!

The Guardian

The tireless Hayley Raso starts tonight, as she completes her return from injury in a Matildas shirt.

“I’m only just coming back in so it’s been a little bit of a rusty start finding my feet,” she told my colleague Emma Kemp. “But I’ve done that now.”

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November 30th 2021, 4:04 am

Three forgotten men and the birth of Iraq’s national football team | Hassanin Mubarak

The Guardian

Tale of how sons of a former British army officer and Orthodox priest helped to shape the side is told in this book extract

In 2001, exactly 50 years after the Iraqi national team was formed, I made a discovery. I was reading a comment on the old sports forum about a player named Saeed Easho. It was the start to unearthing the story of Iraq’s first national team.

Many years later I contacted the ex-footballer, and through him it seemed as if everything fell into place. He had spent the best part of 60 years living outside Iraq so no one knew what had happened to the centre-half of Iraq’s first national side.

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November 30th 2021, 3:35 am

Alexia Putellas and Lionel Messi named 2021 Ballon d’Or winners

The Guardian

Alexia Putellas and Lionel Messi have been crowned winners of the 2021 Ballon d’Or during a glittering ceremony in Paris.

Putellas, who was an integral part of Barcelona’s treble-winning side with 18 goals and 12 assists in the Primera División, scored in the 4-0 Champions League final victory against the WSL champions Chelsea and was named in the tournament’s squad of the season.

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November 29th 2021, 8:13 pm

Tiger Woods feared losing leg but aims for part-time return to PGA Tour

The Guardian

Tiger Woods has admitted he will probably never make a full-time return to professional golf and feared his leg would be amputated following a car crash earlier this year.

The 15-time major champion suffered serious leg injuries in the February crash in California. In an interview with Golf Digest on Monday, he said any return to the sport will be limited.

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November 29th 2021, 8:13 pm

Ralf Rangnick against the Manchester United machine: is it a masterstroke? | Barney Ronay

The Guardian

This mouthwatering prospect is arguably the most radical managerial appointment the Premier League has seen

Day one. Ralf has entered the chat. There will be a note of relief about the news, announced on Monday morning via a club release, that Manchester United have formally appointed their latest interim manager, follow-up to the previous interim-to-permanent, who was in turn replaced by the previous interim, who has been replaced now by the current interim.

First things first. Ralf Rangnick is a great “get” for United’s executive tier. The annual Premier League sacking season is not soundtracked by gruff-voiced middlemen pinging the phones of Premier League CEOs saying things like: “Ralf is very, repeat very, interested.” Rangnick is above all an ideologue. He has to like, and believe in, the thing you’re offering.

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November 29th 2021, 4:28 pm

Ballon d’Or 2021 – live updates!

The Guardian

The 1956 Ballon d’Or, then. The first-ever recipient of this prestigious award was Stanley Matthews of Blackpool. He held off Alfredo Di Stefano of Real Madrid by three votes. Raymond Kopa of Reims and Real Madrid pipped Honved’s Ferenc Puskas to third spot, while legendary USSR and Dynamo Moscow keeper Lev Yashin was fifth. That’s not a bad top five, all told. Di Stefano, Kopa and Yashin all won in later years, though Puskas never did. The legendary Hungarian won Matthews’ respect, though. Years later, Matthews and Puskas ran into each other in London in their dotage. “Puskas, you were the greatest,” Stan said. “Maybe,” the Galloping Major replied, “but you are the very, very, all-time greatest.” As for the hard stats ...

6: Lionel Messi
5: Cristiano Ronaldo
3: Michel Platini, Johan Cryuff, Marco van Basten
2: Franz Beckenbauer, Ronaldo, Alfredo Di Stefano, Kevin Keegan, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

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November 29th 2021, 2:27 pm

Max Scherzer set for New York Mets in MLB record $43m-a-year contract

The Guardian

Eight-time All-Star Max Scherzer is nearing a $130m, three-year contract with the New York Mets, according to multiple reports.

The $43.33m average salary would easily set a baseball record, smashing the $36m Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole in averaging in his $324m, nine-year contract.

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November 29th 2021, 2:27 pm

Vinícius fires a ‘golden missile’ and stakes claim as one of world’s best | Sid Lowe

The Guardian

Brazilian’s rocket against Sevilla took Madrid top and suggested he is now among an elite group of game-changing players

“Vinícius has a motorbike beneath his boots,” Carlo Ancelotti said last week. What the Real Madrid manager didn’t know was that he has a traction engine down there too. But late on Sunday night there it was, when they needed it most. Madrid were entering the 87th minute against Sevilla, the score even and a place at the top awaiting the winner, when a long ball from Eder Militao dropped from the sky by the left touchline. Vinícius chested past Lucas Ocampos, controlling and coming inside in one move, dropped his shoulder, went beyond Gonzalo Montiel and sent the ball tearing through the air and Yassine Bono’s hand into the far corner, the Bernabéu exploding.

Four touches is all it took; four touches and then that. “The perfect hit,” Emilio Butragueño called it. “An extraordinary, fantastic goal, incredible,” Ancelotti said. It had all happened so fast. Suddenly, there was Vinícius dancing with the corner flag, teammates running to catch up. He pointed at the badge, at himself and gestured to calm down, as if that was going to happen. The place was going wild. In the aisles and by the exits, where fans had gathered for a quick getaway, they decided they weren’t going anywhere yet. They had an ovation to give. Below them, the manager pumped his fists and hugged his son. Asked what he was thinking when it hit the net, Ancelotti smiled: “That we could win.”

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November 29th 2021, 1:13 pm

Lee Elder, golfer who broke colour barrier at the Masters, dies at age of 87

The Guardian

Lee Elder, the pioneering golfer who broke several of the sport’s colour barriers, has died at the age of 87.

The PGA Tour confirmed Elder’s death on Monday. The most notable moment of his career occurred in 1975 when he became the first black golfer to play at the Masters, a tournament many saw as an embodiment of the racism and privilege that was a large part of the sport in America at the time. This year his contribution to the Masters was acknowledged when he joined Jack Nicklaus and and Gary Player as an honorary starter at the tournament.

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November 29th 2021, 1:13 pm

Novak Djokovic likely to skip Australian Open over vaccine mandate, says father

The Guardian

Novak Djokovic is unlikely to play at the Australian Open if rules on Covid-19 vaccinations are not relaxed, the world No 1’s father, Srdjan Djokovic, said.

Organisers of the year’s first grand slam have said that all players will have to be vaccinated to take part.

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November 29th 2021, 10:28 am

Katie Taylor: ‘I definitely come from a strong line of great women’

The Guardian

Ireland’s world champion boxer on her faith, her family’s hard journey and why the potential mega-fight with Amanda Serrano will be worthy of making women’s boxing history

“I love the fact that God chooses the lowly ones,” Katie Taylor says quietly in a conversation that is very different to the punishing dialogue she produces in the ring. She might be the most loved sporting personality in Ireland, and ranked the best pound-for-pound woman boxer in the world, but Taylor retains her humility.

She is in the midst of describing her maternal grandmother and how she and her family overcame impoverishment in Bray, not far from Dublin. “My granny had a tough life but she is such a fantastic woman. There’s not a bitter bone in her body. She grew up in poverty and we were the same. We wouldn’t have had a lot of money growing up. We were a very, very poor family living in the roughest area but God chose our family and did something with us. I have two brothers and one sister and we all became successful. But nobody would have looked at our family or our house and thought: ‘Success will come to them’.”

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November 29th 2021, 10:28 am

Manchester United confirm Ralf Rangnick as interim manager

The Guardian

Ralf Rangnick has been confirmed as Manchester United’s interim manager to the end of the season after a deal was struck with Lokomotiv Moscow to release the German from his contract.

Rangnick has been working since July as Lokomotiv’s head of sports and development on a three-year deal. He has agreed to take the United job on a short-term basis on the condition that he will be retained as a consultant until 2024 and will have the power to influence decisions.

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November 29th 2021, 7:14 am

‘It is not biology’: Women’s chess hampered by sexism and misogyny

The Guardian

The governing body is pushing to make the game more welcoming for women – but is change happening fast enough?

Towards the end of the Queen’s Gambit, the Netflix show that helped supercharge the new chess boom, Beth Harmon crushes a series of top male grandmasters before beating Vasily Borgov, the Russian world champion. Fiction, though, remains sharply separated from fact. As Magnus Carlsen was reminded before starting his world title defence in Dubai last week, there is not a single active woman’s player in the top 100 there is not a single active woman’s player in the top 100 now that Hou Yifan of China, who is ranked 83rd - is focusing on academia. The lingering question: why?

For Carlsen, the subject was “way too complicated” to answer in a few sentences, but suggested a number of reasons, particularly cultural, were to blame. Some, though, still believe it is down to biology. As recently as 2015 Nigel Short, vice president of the world chess federation Fide, claimed that “men are hardwired to be better chess players than women, adding, “you have to gracefully accept that.”

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November 29th 2021, 4:58 am

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

The Guardian

Ralf Rangnick has plenty to consider, Eberechi Eze needs time and Watford may have a goalscorer to give hope

The good news for Ralf Rangnick is that no manager, whoever it might be, could possibly extract less from Manchester United’s squad than has been the case over the last few months. Ole Gunnar Solskjær was rightly held responsible for this – though it is worth noting that had Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw given him performances that were as good as poor, he would still have a job. In any event, a difficult run for United ends with Arsenal on Thursday, after which they face an easier programme that should, in theory, leave them well-placed to secure a top-four finish. The decision Rangnick must make is whether to change as little as possible and simply improve what’s there – the lower-risk, lower-reward option – or introduce further complexity into an already busy period by introducing the style in which he wants United to play as soon as possible, in the knowledge that it might make things worse before they get better. Daniel Harris

Match report: Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United

Match report: Brentford 1-0 Everton

Match report: Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle

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November 29th 2021, 4:58 am

The Rams traded away tomorrow. Unfortunately today doesn’t look too hot either

The Guardian

Los Angeles bet everything on winning now. But there are issues throughout the team – and time is running out

When the Rams sent what was left of their future assets to the Broncos a month ago to acquire Von Miller, they registered in the grandest of NFL experiments: What would it look like if a team truly went all in? What if they stopped worrying about tomorrow?

The ideal outcome was clear. Miller would redefine the Rams’ defense, allowing them to create all kinds of pressure with a four-man defensive front. Pair that with Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford and an all-singing, all-dancing offense and you have a playoff-ready juggernaut.

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November 29th 2021, 4:58 am

NBA star and activist changes name to Enes Kanter Freedom

The Guardian

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter is changing his name to “Enes Kanter Freedom” as he prepares to become a US citizen.

Kanter’s manager, Hank Fetic, told the Associated Press that Kanter will have his citizenship oath ceremony on Monday afternoon and at the same time will complete his legal name change.

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November 28th 2021, 5:43 pm

Mikaela Shiffrin ties record with 46th World Cup slalom win

The Guardian

Mikaela Shiffrin marked the return of the women’s World Cup to North America by setting yet another record – and the two-time Olympic champion did it on home snow.

Shiffrin beat Petra Vlhova – her main rival – for her 46th career win in slalom. That matched a 32-year-old record for most World Cup wins in a single discipline, set by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark in giant slalom.

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November 28th 2021, 5:43 pm

Remote hand of Rangnick already in play as Ronaldo feels the chill | Barney Ronay

The Guardian

Manchester United’s new interim manager would have been watching closely as his soon-to-be players did their auditions at Stamford Bridge

As Cristiano Ronaldo prepared to come on to the pitch with an hour gone at Stamford Bridge, having already performed a dutiful kind of warm-up, idling along the touchline like a venerable old don taking a stroll on the chamomile lawns, a large book of laminated diagrams was waved in front of his nose.

Ronaldo, to his credit, made a decent show of having a look. Two decades into one of the great elite level careers, CR7 is not too proud for your diagrams. But there might have been a temptation to grab that folder and scour the hand written notes, to look for a sign, a prognosis of his own future in this mid-season revolution.

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November 28th 2021, 5:43 pm

Cam Newton’s woeful day for Carolina Panthers ends in benching

The Guardian

Jaylen Waddle had nine catches for a season-best 137 yards and a touchdown, and the Miami Dolphins forced Cam Newton into one of the worst statistical days of his career on the way to beating the Carolina Panthers 33-10 on Sunday.

Myles Gaskin had two short rushing scores for Miami (5-7), who became the sixth team in NFL history to immediately follow a 1-7 start with four consecutive wins. Duke Riley blocked a punt that led to a score for Miami.

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November 28th 2021, 5:43 pm

Jorginho spot on as Chelsea fight back for point against Manchester United

The Guardian

It was a day when Manchester United defended in numbers, when they sacrificed all attacking ambition in pursuit of something, anything, to stop a rot that had claimed the manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, and sent their Premier League season into meltdown.

It was a long way from being pretty but with Ralf Rangnick looking on from afar – the manager who is set to step in until the end of the season, the interim to the current interim, Michael Carrick – the club got what they wanted.

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November 28th 2021, 2:13 pm

Another gruelling draw as Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi battle for world title

The Guardian

Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi played to a third straight draw in the third game of their world championship showdown in Dubai as the Russian challenger weathered another atypical position before negotiating a bloodless result after 41 moves in two hours and 42 minutes.

Nepomniachtchi, playing as white, opened with 1. e4 and the action quickly followed the same anti-Marshall branch of the Ruy Lopez opening from Friday’s first encounter. Carlsen broke from familiar territory with the rare 10. … Re8, bypassing four more popular choices from the position, marking the third time in as many games that he was first to mix things up with an unusual move. “Re8 is a really, really dumb move because usually you would try to go Re8 without d6,” Carlsen said afterwards. “But it turns out even here he was well prepared and he didn’t give me even slight chances to play.”

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November 28th 2021, 12:44 pm

Chelsea v Manchester United: Premier League – live!

The Guardian

“Both Tuchel and Klopp can’t be Kraftwerk,” says Bob Coyne. “Klopp is definitely more Faust.”

I did think about Faust, and I was also tempted to slap Amon Düül II on the table, but I decided they weren’t famous enough to be Klopp. I’ll level with you: it was, at best, a half-arsed analogy, I didn’t give it that much thought.

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November 28th 2021, 11:28 am

How Tuchel used pain of Juventus defeat to refine his Chelsea approach | David Hytner

The Guardian

Soul-searching in the aftermath of Juventus setback has reinvigorated Chelsea with Manchester United next up

“It was a moment to shake things up but not in a crazy way,” Thomas Tuchel says, looking back on the fallout from Chelsea’s 1-0 Champions League defeat at Juventus on 29 September. And yet it was certainly in a forensic way, heavy on soul-searching and argument. So perhaps a little crazy? “It’s not about being super angry or blaming somebody but it was the moment to turn every stone and this is what we did for the next days in the coaching office,” the manager adds.

“To find the mix between being honest and critical but also supportive, to show a way out of this in which we believe and which suits us. With the help of the team, with the openness of the team and the mentality, we did it.”

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November 28th 2021, 11:28 am

Going back to drawing board sparked Lewis Hamilton’s late F1 title charge | Giles Richards

The Guardian

Mastering a ‘diva’ of a car demanded fresh application – and the battle with Max Verstappen is the most enthralling in years

For Lewis Hamilton the 2021 Formula One title race has been like no other. As it enters the final decisive phase, the world champion is in position to pull off perhaps the greatest achievement of his career. His fight with Max Verstappen has been an unmissable affair, but what has caught the eye is how Hamilton has fought to drag this mighty tussle into an enthralling endgame.

Two races remain, with the first 20 yielding no clear advantage for either driver. A season that has ebbed and flowed between them, punctuated by brilliance, bad luck, conflict and drama, has seen the lead change hands five times.

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November 28th 2021, 11:28 am

Burnley v Spurs off, Manchester City v West Ham, and more: Premier League – live!

The Guardian

“Hasn’t undersoil heating arrived in Burnley yet?” asks Norman Keane. “Highbury had it in the mid 70s.”

It seems not, and I’ve not a clue why it’s not compulsory. Alternatively, get a few fans who went out last night under the pitch and see if they can give off enough heat to melt the snurr.

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November 28th 2021, 8:58 am

Farce as Belenenses start game with nine men – including two keepers

The Guardian

Belenenses’s Primeira Liga game with Benfica was abandoned early in the second half after a Covid outbreak had forced them to start the match with just nine men – two of them goalkeepers.

Instead of postponing the game when news emerged that 14 players and three staff members had tested positive, Portuguese league authorities sanctioned it going ahead due to both clubs still being able to field the minimum required seven players.

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November 28th 2021, 6:59 am

Aubameyang to Zaha: how Africa Cup of Nations will hit Premier League

The Guardian

Only four top-flight clubs are in line to be unaffected by tournament that kicks off in Cameroon on 9 January

“I love the fact that we have so many African players … until the Africa Cup of Nations starts. Then it’s: ‘Oh my God!’”

Jürgen Klopp is not the only Premier League manager who will have Afcon on his mind over the coming weeks. With the delayed 33rd edition of the continental showpiece due to begin in Cameroon on 9 January, planning for the absence of up to 40 players from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Wilfried Zaha during one of the most intense periods of the domestic season will present a major headache for several.

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November 28th 2021, 6:59 am

Magnus Carlsen v Ian Nepomniachtchi: World Chess Championship Game 3 – live!

The Guardian

Bryan will be here shortly. In the meantime here’s Sean Ingle’s report from Saturday’s second game of the world championship match.

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November 28th 2021, 6:59 am

George Kambosos Jr stuns Teófimo López for unified lightweight title in seismic upset

The Guardian

Australia’s George Kambosos Jr won the IBF, WBA and WBO lightweight titles from Teófimo López in a seismic upset on Saturday night at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

The unheralded Sydney native, who went off as a 6-1 underdog, dropped López in the opening round, then came off the floor himself in the 10th before winning a split decision. Two of the ringside judges handed down scores 115-112 and 115-111 for Kambosos while the third scored it 114-113 for López. (The Guardian had it 114-112 to Kambosos.)

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November 28th 2021, 12:26 am

Great expectations, no guarantees as USWNT expose Matildas frailties

The Guardian

A record crowd pointed to a bright future, but the same old problems remain for the Matildas

Almost as soon as it was locked in, Saturday afternoon’s meeting between Australia and the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) was positioned as a celebration of the present and future of Australian women’s football. But in downing the Matildas 3-0 the United States provided another potent reminder to Australian football that, despite the great expectations it holds with a home World Cup on the horizon, the future is never guaranteed.

As 36,109 fans watched on - the highest ever crowd for a women’s football match in Australia - the United States proved quite happy to spoil their hosts’ party, proving to be simply the better team in the moments when it counted; taking advantage of some calamitous errors and naivety in approach to claim a clinical win behind goals from Ashley Hatch, Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan (who made good on her goal of “shutting up” a hostile home crowd).

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November 27th 2021, 3:26 pm

Neymar’s once joyful talent risks being mangled by the PSG project | Barney Ronay

The Guardian

Brazilian is the world’s longest-serving next-best footballer but his moments of genius are increasingly rare

Who weeps for Neymar? Not many people. Except perhaps Neymar himself, who cries a lot and not always out of sadness. A quick internet search of “Neymar tears” reveals 4.73 million hits, from Brazil tears to Barça tears, to brave tears, sad tears, tears as Neymar greets [insert celebrity friend], to full, cinematic hot salty snot-washing tears. So, so many tears.

The good news is you can also get a more cheering 18 million hits for “Neymar happy”: cue for a series of wonderful beaming grins and winks and million-dollar smiles. Some people have that glow about them. I once saw a woman faint in an airport departure hall after coming unexpectedly face to face with Bill Clinton – please, no comments – who has the same sense of human event glamour. Clinton just kind of giggled, a laugh of recognition – yes siree, ma’am, that’s what I do – as his victim was led away.

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November 27th 2021, 3:26 pm

Teófimo López: ‘I don’t get nervous. I’ve learned to flow like water’

The Guardian

World lightweight champion says he has found a new ‘in-look’ before facing challenger George Kambosos on Saturday

Just hours after he became a father, Teófimo López, the most charismatic fighter on the planet and one of the best pound-for-pound boxers at work today, leans back in his car in Las Vegas and talks about joy and adversity, babies and tattoos, depression and love. The roof of his car is rolled open and sunshine lights up his face despite the shadows of the past.

Early on 17 November 2021, and describing the birth of baby Teófimo the night before, the world lightweight champion brims with happiness. His family history is traumatic but his son, Teófimo López V, does more than continue a tangled lineage stretching from Spain to Honduras to the US. The arrival of the youngest López gives the new father a fresh start after a year in which he contemplated ending his life. This low was a worrying echo of the acrimony, volatility and tragedy linking one López generation to another.

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November 27th 2021, 3:26 pm

Diogo Jota quick off the mark as Liverpool power past Southampton

The Guardian

The question was not whether Liverpool would score yet again but how long Southampton would make a contest of their latest daunting assignment at Anfield. The answer was two minutes.

When Diogo Jota scored at the end of Liverpool’s first meaningful attack Jürgen Klopp’s team took their cue to deliver another procession on home soil and expose the vast gulf between the Premier League elite and those in their slipstream. Jota scored twice, Thiago Alcântara and Virgil van Dijk one apiece, as Liverpool made it 10 goals without reply at Anfield inside a week. In doing so, they became the first top-flight team to score at least twice in 17 consecutive matches since Sunderland in 1927.

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November 27th 2021, 3:26 pm

Brooks Koepka takes down Bryson DeChambeau in made-for-TV match

The Guardian

Whether it settles their feud once and for all remains to be seen, but Brooks Koepka defeated Bryson DeChambeau 4 and 3 in a 12-hole edition of ‘The Match’ Friday at Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas.

The players’ bitter rivalry took over headlines in the golf world for the better part of a year. After they temporarily put aside their differences to help Team USA dominate the Ryder Cup in September, it was announced they would square off in the charity golf match that has become a semi-regular, made-for-TV event.

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November 27th 2021, 3:26 pm

WTA still ‘deeply concerned’ over Peng Shuai’s ability to communicate freely

The Guardian

Statement says Chinese player’s responses to chief of sport body were ‘clearly’ influenced by others

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has said it remains “deeply concerned” about the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, weeks after she disappeared following her allegations against a high-ranking Chinese former politician.

The WTA said in an email statement on Saturday that its chief executive, Steve Simon, had attempted to contact Peng through “various communication channels” including two emails. It said it was concerned about her welfare and ability to communicate freely and that her responses were “clearly” influenced by others.

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November 27th 2021, 3:26 pm

College football remains America’s biggest multi-level marketing scheme

The Guardian

College football is a competition whose framework does its best to deny outsiders like Cincinnati the opportunity to win, even if they finish the season undefeated

About 30 minutes into episode two of the Amazon Original series LuLaRichthe latest addition to a growing catalog of popular documentaries and exposes exploring the compellingly kooky, if ethically dubious, world of multi-level marketing – viewers are finally clued into the unsettling logic at the center of this most American of business models. In the world of MLMs, success has very little to do with selling products (in this case colorful leggings produced by a California-based company called LuLaRoe), and everything to do with selling a promise. One that, by design, must go mostly unkept.

“There was always a huge push to recruit, recruit, recruit,” relates Courtney Harwood, one of a handful of affable former LuLaRoe retailers who provide the narrative heart of the series, referring to multi-level marketing’s characteristic focus on enlisting new members over simply selling product to a third party. “Buy, buy, buy. Recruit, recruit, recruit,” she adds “you will get there.”

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November 27th 2021, 3:26 pm

Magnus Carlsen embraces chaos in gripping draw with Ian Nepomniachtchi

The Guardian

Magnus Carlsen diced with danger in an entertaining second game of the world chess championships in Dubai before recovering to secure a 58-move draw. It leaves his 14-game match with Ian Nepomniachtchi level at 1-1 going into Sunday’s third encounter.

It was a seesawing struggle, with Carlsen surprising his opponent early before missing a move that left him considerably worse off. However, his Russian opponent failed to find his wave through the thicket of variations and the game ended with a handshake, and a long post-mortem, as the players tried to fathom what happened. “The game was crazy, I had no idea what was going on,” said Nepomniachtchi. “During the game I thought: ‘We both are playing not so well’. But now I start thinking it was just very interesting and very chaotic.”

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November 27th 2021, 3:26 pm

Chicago Bears boot winning field goal at death to keep Detroit Lions winless

The Guardian

Cairo Santos made a 28-yard game-ending field goal to give the Chicago Bears a 16-14 win over the Detroit Lions on Thursday.

The Bears (4-7) ended a five-game losing streak under embattled coach Matt Nagy, who was answering questions about his job status less than 48 hours before kickoff.

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November 25th 2021, 5:05 pm

Leicester v Legia Warsaw, Rangers v Sparta Prague: Europa League – live!

The Guardian

Postecoglu sounds very confident in his players and says they’ve done well to work themselves back into position after a poor start. He doesn’t expect Forrester to last the 90, but is glad to have him back and glad to have Abadi on the bench.

BT are showing VT of Jeremie Frimpong, formerly of Celtic and now of Leverkusen. He’s looked great lately, and I’m really looking forward to seeing both him and Edmond Tapsoba in particular.

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November 25th 2021, 3:18 pm

Can WTA Tour thrive should its ties to China be severed over Peng Shuai? | Courtney Walsh

The Guardian

The challenge for tennis and other sporting bodies is weighing their financial partnerships with human rights concerns

Amid global concern for tennis player Peng Shuai, Tennis Australia posted a job advertisement demonstrating the importance of China to a sport currently at odds with it. The successful applicant for the role of “Social Content Producer, China Channels” will “help tell the story of the Australian Open to our growing audience in China” through January.

The new employee will be busy, with Tennis Australia on Thursday confirming its calendar for January will include 17 tournaments in three states prior to the major in Melbourne. With the Australian Open billed as the grand slam of the Asia-Pacific, social media engagement has played a role in building the profile of the tournament in China.

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November 25th 2021, 3:18 pm

City slickers, Kitmas and Thiago breaks the internet – Football Weekly Extra

The Guardian

Max Rushden, Barry Glendenning, Philippe Auclair and Jonathan Fadugba discuss the Champions League, while Paul Watson joins to talk Kitmas

Rate, review, share on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast and Stitcher, and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

On the podcast today …

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November 25th 2021, 3:18 pm

Will Nepo’s supercomputer give him world title edge over Carlsen? | Sean Ingle

The Guardian

Challenger has one of Russia’s fastest supercomputers on his side but his Norwegian opponent remains the warm favourite

It would count as one of the more seismic shocks in modern chess history if Magnus Carlsen were to lose his world title over the next three weeks here in Dubai. Yet when his Russian opponent Ian Nepomniachtchi plays the first move of their 14-game match on Friday he will be armed with two potentially intriguing advantages.

The first is that Nepomniachtchi – or Nepo as he is widely known – holds a 4-1 record in classical chess over Carlsen, dating back to when they first met as promising 12-year-olds. The second? He also has one of Russia’s fastest supercomputers, originally built for machine learning and artificial intelligence, as part of his team.

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November 25th 2021, 7:18 am

‘I’m sure he wants to get to 10’: Australian Open boss weighs in on Novak Djokovic speculation

The Guardian

Australian Open director Craig Tiley expects up to 95% of players will be vaccinated against Covid-19 in time for the January tournament but is unsure whether Novak Djokovic will be among them despite the world No 1’s hunt for a record 21st grand slam title.

Tiley said Victoria state’s strict vaccination mandate had motivated players to get their shots before Melbourne Park, where fans and staff will also be banned if unvaccinated.

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November 25th 2021, 7:18 am

John Madden’s absence from NFL life is never felt more than on Thanksgiving

The Guardian

Still America’s sports-broadcasting gold standard more than a decade since called his final NFL game, John Madden’s absence never looms larger than on Thanksgiving

For the 19th time ever the Chicago Bears will square off against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving in a game that could charitably be dubbed the Tryptophan Bowl. On one side, you have a listless Bears team that just broke their best quarterback prospect in 40 years. On the other, a dismal Lions squad seemingly hellbent on booking their second winless season in little more than a decade. The only upset possibility here is to our stomachs.

But if there were one man who could make this matchup halfway appetizing it was John Madden, still the NFL’s most colorful commentator more than a decade after he called his last game. Before the Minnesota native was synonymous with the league’s star-crossed video game franchise Madden was football’s fun uncle – a two-way lineman who found his way to coaching after a training camp knee injury nipped his pro career in the bud, only to wind up leading the Oakland Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XI at the record young age of 40. That he never suffered a losing season and remains the franchise’s most successful coach, with a career win percentage that tops Vince Lombardi’s, is as much a testament to Madden’s sharp mind as the Raiders fickle leadership.

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November 25th 2021, 7:18 am

Jesus completes Manchester City fightback to sink PSG and seal top spot

The Guardian

With the speculation swirling, Mauricio Pochettino thought he had caught a break on the field in Manchester. The Paris Saint‑Germain manager, hotly linked with the vacant post across town at United, had watched his team look vulnerable at the back and erratic all over. It was difficult to make out the gameplan. And then they led through Kylian Mbappé early in the second half. On one level, it felt like a credible pitch for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s old job.

It would have been ridiculous for Manchester City to have lost this Champions League game or even to have drawn because they were the better team for so long. It was Pep Guardiola who had the well-grooved strategy, it was he who had the better players – namely Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva – although profligacy threatened to undermine him.

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November 24th 2021, 9:33 pm

Scans can detect brain injury after repeated head impacts in sport

The Guardian

Study of former American footballers offers hope that damage could be diagnosed more easily

Brain scans of former American football players reveal signs of white matter injury, according to research into the lasting effects of repetitive head impacts in sport.

The finding is viewed as significant because until now it has been difficult to identify such damage in the brain until after death. The latest work suggests that markers of injury could be detectable using specialised MRI scans, allowing doctors to study, and potentially diagnose, such damage more readily.

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November 24th 2021, 9:33 pm

Jürgen Klopp thrilled by Thiago ‘thunderball’ as Liverpool see off Porto

The Guardian

Nothing can disrupt Liverpool’s procession through a group of European heavyweights. Jürgen Klopp rested, re-energised and recuperated players against Porto and was rewarded with a fifth successive victory that yielded the club’s highest ever points tally in the Champions League group phase. He could not have wished for more.

Tyler Morton, at 19, started for the first time at Anfield and was the embodiment of composure in central midfield. Thiago Alcântara illuminated the night with a stunning opening goal while Mohamed Salah produced another moment of individual brilliance to score his 17th goal in 17 games this season. Those are the bullet points, but there was plenty for Klopp to savour.

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November 24th 2021, 9:33 pm

New York Mets owner rips Steven Matz’s agent for ‘unprofessional behavior’

The Guardian

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to express his displeasure with the agent for left-hander Steven Matz.

“I’m not happy this morning,” Cohen said in his post. “I’ve never seen such unprofessional behavior exhibited by a player’s agent. I guess words and promises don’t matter.”

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November 24th 2021, 12:45 pm

‘Why didn’t you tell me?’: Anthony Ianni’s journey through sports with autism

The Guardian

A former Michigan State athlete has written a memoir about his time playing with autism in one of college basketball’s most venerable programs

One day in the weight room, Michigan State University basketball player Anthony Ianni couldn’t take any more ribbing from his teammate, future NBA champion Draymond Green. Although Green had intended it as a good-natured joke about Ianni supposedly needing extra conditioning, Ianni took it seriously. Green said if Ianni couldn’t take a joke, he shouldn’t be on the team. A shoving match ensued. That’s when the team’s strength and conditioning coach, Mike Vorkapich, explained to Green that Ianni is on the autism spectrum, which makes it hard for him to understand when someone is joking and when they are not. Ianni had kept his autism from most of his teammates. He was initially upset about the disclosure, but it cemented lasting understanding and friendship. The first college basketball player in Division I identified as being on the autism spectrum, Ianni is now a Michigan State graduate and a motivational speaker. He shares his life story in a new memoir, Centered: Autism, Basketball, and One Athlete’s Dreams, written with Rob Keast.

“A couple days later, [Green] came back to me,” Ianni remembers. “He asked, ‘Why didn’t you tell me about it?’ I said I did not know how he was going to respond. So often, people in my life, they found out and treated me differently. He looked at me and said, ‘Kudos to you, look at how far you’ve come.’ From that day forward, it changed our relationship forever, not just as teammates but friends.”

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November 24th 2021, 12:18 pm

French footballer Karim Benzema guilty in sex tape extortion scandal

The Guardian

Real Madrid star given suspended jail sentence and €75,000 fine for complicity in attempted blackmail

The French international footballer Karim Benzema has received a one-year suspended jail sentence and been fined €75,000 (£63,000) for his involvement in a sex tape extortion scandal that shocked French sport.

A Versailles court on Wednesday found Benzema guilty of complicity in attempted blackmail against his French teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a video thought to have been stolen from Valbuena’s mobile phone.

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November 24th 2021, 12:18 pm

Norwegian journalists reporting on World Cup workers arrested in Qatar

The Guardian

Pair investigating conditions for labourers detained as they tried to fly home

Two Norwegian journalists investigating conditions for migrant workers in Qatar ahead of the 2022 Fifa World Cup were arrested and detained for 36 hours as they tried to leave the country, Norwegian media have reported.

The VG newspaper reported that Halvor Ekeland, a sports journalist for the public broadcaster NRK, and Lokman Ghorbani, an NRK cameraman, were picked up by police late on Sunday as they were preparing to leave for Doha airport.

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November 24th 2021, 12:18 pm

Reece James and the thrilling rise that Chelsea might have blocked | Jacob Steinberg

The Guardian

Scintillating displays are a tribute to Thomas Tuchel and the academy at a club that appeared close to signing Achraf Hakimi

It turns out that Chelsea had no reason to spend any money on strengthening their right flank last summer. There was no need to rival Paris Saint-Germain for the signature of Achraf Hakimi when they already had Reece James, whose scintillating display against Juventus on Tuesday night provided Chelsea with yet another reminder to trust in their brilliant academy.

The beauty of it for the Stamford Bridge faithful was that James was not the only homegrown hero leading the charge against the Italian club. The opening goal came from Trevoh Chalobah, a 22-year-old centre-back who looked likely to leave at the end of last season, and there was a made-in-Cobham feel to the move that saw the European champions go 3-0 up just before the hour. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who had come on for the injured N’Golo Kanté, danced through before feeding Callum Hudson-Odoi and Thomas Tuchel was on the pitch when the ball flew into the Juventus net, whipping up the crowd and punching the air as he savoured his side producing arguably the most complete performance of his 10-month tenure.

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November 24th 2021, 12:18 pm

A United front, the Blues cruise and orange ball alert – Football Weekly

The Guardian

Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning, Nicky Bandini, Lars Sivertsen and Sid Lowe to cover the latest in the Champions League groups

Rate, review, share on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast and Stitcher, and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and email.

On the pod today: Manchester United win their first game in the post-Solskjær era. Michael’s at the wheel!

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November 24th 2021, 12:18 pm

Chelsea storm past Juventus into last 16 but Chilwell injury takes off gloss

The Guardian

This is what revenge looks like but, moreover, what can happen when the Chelsea juggernaut is able to ramp up. After a first half of near total control, when Trevoh Chalobah’s crashed finish on the half-volley represented scant reward, Thomas Tuchel could revel in how his team simply flattened Juventus to ensure their qualification to the Champions League last 16. If they win at Zenit St Petersburg next month, they will advance as seeded group winners.

Perhaps Chelsea had been stung by the manner of their 1-0 loss in Turin at the end of September. More likely, they were intent on sending out a message. They do not intend to relinquish their grip on the trophy they won last season.

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November 23rd 2021, 9:03 pm

Sancho seals Manchester United victory at Villarreal to kickstart new era

The Guardian

You may have heard this one before. It wasn’t so late this time and maybe it lacked the drama of other days, including the last time these teams met, but it was still familiar. The manager changes, the story doesn’t.

Above all, nor does Cristiano Ronaldo, still scoring at a relentless rate. Villarreal had felt in control, only to lose it with 12 minutes to go, allowing Michael Carrick to begin his time as interim coach to the interim coach with a win that put Manchester United through. The goal that pathed the way to the next round was delivered by No 7.

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November 23rd 2021, 4:18 pm

Chelsea v Juventus: Champions League – live!

The Guardian

Just eaten some harissa chicken which was not spicy in the least, so squeezed some lemon onto my tongue to make sure my tastebuds hadn’t gone.

Great news for those in the US as Christian Pulisic battles it out with Weston McKennie.

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November 23rd 2021, 4:18 pm

NFL hall of famer Michael Strahan going to space with Bezos’s Blue Origin

The Guardian

NFL hall of famer Michael Strahan is going to space next month.

Strahan, who turned 50 on Sunday and won Super Bowl XLII during his 15-year career with the New York Giants, will join Laura Shepard Churchley, the eldest daughter of astronaut Alan Shepard, on the 9 December mission aboard the New Shepard, a spacecraft named after her father and the first American in space. The Blue Origin flight, the company headed by Jeff Bezos, will also carry four paying customers and will be the third by the New Shepard craft this year to shuttle humans to space.

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November 23rd 2021, 4:18 pm

Tom Brady’s run helps Buccaneers beat Giants to end losing streak

The Guardian

Tom Brady threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the New York Giants 30-10 on Monday night.

The Super Bowl champion Buccaneers (7-3) snapped a two-game skid as Brady avoided losing three in a row for the first time since 2002.

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November 23rd 2021, 11:16 am

China condemns ‘malicious hyping’ over Peng Shuai

The Guardian

Foreign ministry takes unrepentant stance to concerns in west over wellbeing of tennis player

China’s foreign ministry has accused unnamed people of “malicious hyping” in the case of the tennis star Peng Shuai, in a hardline and unrepentant response to questions in the west over her wellbeing.

The whereabouts and wellbeing of Peng, a former doubles world number one, has become a matter of international concern over the past three weeks, after she alleged in a message on the Chinese social media site Weibo that the country’s former vice-premier, Zhang Gaoli, had sexually assaulted her. Peng ceased to be seen in public shortly after she made her allegation on 2 November.

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November 23rd 2021, 11:16 am

Hockeyland: the Minnesota towns where high school players are stars

The Guardian

A new documentary looks at how entrenched the sport still is in a state where practically everything else has changed

Hockey is still such a big deal in the Iron Range town of Eveleth, Minnesota, that a 110ft, 10,000lbs stick can be found less than a mile from the US Hockey Hall of Fame over on Hat Trick Avenue. The big stick, a real wooden stick, sits in front of a big puck.

Between the stick and the hall is Eveleth-Gilbert Senior High School, home of the Golden Bears, who won five of the first seven Minnesota state hockey championships as Eveleth High. Both the 1960 and 1980 USA gold-medal Olympic hockey teams included players from Eveleth.

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November 23rd 2021, 11:16 am

Conte and Gerrard pour fuel on ketchup wars in tasty cultural divide within football | Jonathan Liew

The Guardian

The sauce is a source of enduring obsession and furious debate in football – and speaks to our confusion as a nation

As with most wars, nobody can really trace the origins of English football’s enduring obsession with ketchup. Perhaps, like many things, it only really began to mean something when someone threatened to take it away. Battle lines were drawn. Sides were taken. Occasionally hostilities would subside, perhaps for years, before roaring back into life. And yet even seasoned observers of the ketchup wars can scarcely remember a week as bitterly contested as the last.

It all began with Antonio Conte’s appointment at Tottenham, when reports began to emerge that the new manager had immediately banned ketchup from the club canteen. “To be professional means you have to take care of your body,” Conte explained. “The training and the game is only the final part of your work. You have to prepare your body, your mind and also your heart.” Within a matter of days, the new Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard had followed him on to the frontline. “The players have to have the right mentality,” he said. “Go above and beyond. They need to strive to be elite.”

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November 23rd 2021, 11:16 am

LeBron James suspended for first time in career after bloody clash in Detroit

The Guardian

LeBron James has been suspended for one game and Detroit’s Isaiah Stewart banned for two for their roles in an ugly confrontation during Sunday’s Lakers-Pistons game.

The incident occurred in the third quarter, when James and Stewart were jostling for position during a free throw. Their arms appeared to become intertwined and James swung his elbow, making contact with Stewart, who soon had blood streaming from above his eye. James, it appeared, attempted to defuse the situation after realizing he’d made contact with Stewart and drawn blood.

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November 23rd 2021, 2:33 am

Dames becomes fifth male NWSL coach to resign in 12 months amid abuse claims

The Guardian

The Chicago Red Stars’ head coach has resigned amid multiple allegations of abuse, shortly after the team played in the National Women’s Soccer League championship game.

Allegations around Rory Dames came to light after an investigation by the Washington Post was published on Monday. Dames resigned from the Red Stars late on Sunday night, in advance of the newspaper’s report.

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November 22nd 2021, 10:13 pm

Diego Maradona: Cuban woman alleges footballer raped her when she was 16

The Guardian

Mavys Álvarez, a Cuban woman who had a relationship with the late footballer Diego Maradona two decades ago, has alleged the Argentine player raped her when she was a teenager and “stolen her childhood”.

Álvarez, now 37, gave testimony last week to an Argentine Ministry of Justice court that is investigating her allegations of trafficking against Maradona’s former entourage, linked to events when she was 16.

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November 22nd 2021, 10:02 pm

ATP calls time on toilet breaks in new guidelines for men’s tennis

The Guardian

Strict new guidelines on toilet breaks during matches have been sent to players by the ATP after growing calls to make lengthy visits to the bathroom a thing of the past. The guidelines for the men’s game will limit bathroom breaks to one per match, lasting no longer than three minutes from the time the player enters the facility.

Players on the ATP and women’s WTA tours have regularly been accused of using bathroom breaks as tactical weapons at crucial junctures in matches. Stefanos Tsitsipas was accused of cheating at this year’s US Open by Andy Murray after the Greek disappeared off court at various times during their marathon first-round match.

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November 22nd 2021, 10:02 pm

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: ‘I did a stupid thing. But I will do it again, 100%’

The Guardian

The Milan and Sweden player talks about barging César Azpilicueta, the Premier League and the secret of his longevity

“It’s not easy. Every day I wake up, I have pain everywhere,” Zlatan Ibrahimovic says as he resists the inevitable end on a beautiful afternoon at Milanello. The mighty Swede grimaces before fixing me with his familiar stare of cocky intensity at Milan’s famous old training ground. This is how much it takes to remain an elite footballer at the age of 40.

Ibrahimovic continues to inspire a young Milan squad and to play football at the highest level while sparking controversy and embracing the wonder of being Zlatan with amusing gusto. He knows we are all going to die, or retire, but here is the defiant Ibrahimovic mantra:

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November 22nd 2021, 7:47 pm

Peng Shuai backlash leaves IOC facing familiar criticism over human rights

The Guardian

Analysis: Olympic committee is accused of engaging in a ‘publicity stunt’ by taking part in video call

As human rights organisations and the world’s media questioned the whereabouts of the Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, the International Olympic Committee opted for a “quiet diplomacy” approach, arguing that was the most effective way to deal with such a case.

“Experience shows that quiet diplomacy offers the best opportunity to find a solution for questions of such nature. This explains why the IOC will not comment any further at this stage,” the Lausanne-based organisation said in an emailed statement on Thursday about the case of Peng, who disappeared from public view after she made an accusation of sexual assault against a former senior Chinese official.

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November 22nd 2021, 1:15 pm

Jonathan David is emerging as an elite striker at Lille. Where will he go next?

The Guardian

David is the top scorer in Ligue 1 this season. His next career move – whether Inter, Liverpool or elsewhere – will be crucial

By Adam White for Get French Football News

Space has always been at a premium for Jonathan David. “We only have a handful of domes here in Ottawa,” David’s former youth coach Jay Da Costa told First Time Finish last year. “Those domes get used up, not just by soccer, but baseball and football and other organisations too. It’s hard to get time and, usually, when you get it, you’re only training on one-third of the field, sometimes one-sixth.” Ottawa’s cramped domes – large, inflatable tent-like structures that shield pitches from the harsh Canadian winters – were an early step on an unusual career path for the young forward, who is now ready for his next big jump. However, such fast progress was not always so certain.

Ten appearances into his career in France, having joined Lille from Gent in August 2020, David was without a goal or an assist. Lille won nine of those games but David moved from a guaranteed starter to an intermittent presence due to his lack of form. It took him until last November’s 4-0 win over Lorient to finally score a goal. Although his movement, speed and interplay hinted at his quality, he scored just two goals in his first 25 games for the club.

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November 22nd 2021, 10:31 am

Peng Shuai: IOC accused of ‘publicity stunt’ over video call

The Guardian

Olympic body said tennis player was ‘safe and well’, as momentum grows for boycott of Winter Games

The International Olympic Committee has been accused of engaging in a “publicity stunt” over the wellbeing of the Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, amid growing momentum behind a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

The IOC, under increasing pressure to intervene in Peng’s case after the former doubles world No 1 accused a former senior Chinese government official of sexually assaulting her, held a video call with Peng on Sunday and subsequently announced she was “safe and well”.

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November 22nd 2021, 10:31 am

Some things never change: Bill Belichick is primed to feast on a chaotic AFC

The Guardian

It looked like New England were set for a long rebuild. But their coach has built a strong defense in a conference that no team appears capable of dominating

It was a long season-and-a-half for the New England Patriots, and the post-Tom Brady era looked bleak. The emergent Bills appeared built to claim the AFC East for years to come while New England, with their rookie quarterback, were set up for a tedious rebuild. But before Pats fans had much time to process what it would be like to lose and lose often, the team started winning. And winning some more. Thursday night’s 25-0 slaughter of the Atlanta Falcons was New England’s fifth win in a row. And thanks to Buffalo’s recent fall from grace, guess who’s back atop the division? (Feel free to imagine a sly-looking Bill Belichick while you read the rest of this article.)

It’s Belichick’s defense that has turned the 7-4 Pats into legitimate Super Bowl contenders. The unit has held its last three opponents (including the Browns and Panthers) to 13 total points. The defense is deep. It is fast. It is physical.

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November 22nd 2021, 10:31 am
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