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China To Block Premier League Broadcast In Support Of Vladimir Putin

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China is suspending its coverage of the Premier League this weekend to avoid broadcasting the clubs’ show of solidarity with Ukraine.

The Premier League is planning to show its support for the Ukrainian people amid Russia’s devastating invasion of the country, with club captains due to wear armbands in the national colours of yellow and blue across all 10 games.

There will also be a moment of silence before kick-off at each ground, while messages of support will appear on advertising boards and on screens in stadiums. The official Premier League logo has also been altered to reflect the Ukrainian flag.

“The Premier League and our clubs wholeheartedly reject Russia’s actions and will be showing support for the people of Ukraine at all matches this weekend,” a statement read.

“We call for peace and our thoughts are with all those who have been impact. A show of solidarity for Ukraine will be visible at all Premier League matches from Saturday 5 to Monday 7 March.”

Shortly after the statement, BBC reported that iQIYI, the rights holders of Premier League broadcasts in China, will not show matches this weekend due to the league’s plans to show messages of support for Ukraine.

Chinese broadcaster iQIYI owns China’s exclusive rights to the Premier League, with a contract worth a reported £120m up until the end of the 2024-25 season. Despite the move to block coverage this weekend, independent UK understands that the league’s long-term deal with iQIYI is not thought to be at risk over the issue.

According to The New York Times’ Tariq Panja, La Liga has taken a different approach in order to not upset its Chinese rights holders. The Spanish league will reportedly exclude any anti-war, pro-Ukrainian content from its broadcast in China while other global broadcasts will go ahead unchanged.

This is not the first occasion that Chinese broadcasters have blocked the Premier League. In 2019 a match involving Arsenal was pulled from the schedules after the club’s then captain, Mesut Özil, criticised China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims.

 

 

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Formula 1: Sir Lewis Hamilton ‘bombs’ FIA over jewellery rules

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Lewis Hamilton has called on Formula 1’s governing body the FIA to back down in its strict approach to drivers wearing jewellery in their cars.

Race director Niels Wittich reiterated before the inaugural Miami Grand Prix it is prohibited to wear body piercings or neck chains in competition.

Hamilton described the new focus on the issue as “almost a step backwards”.

“It seems unnecessary to get into this. I am here to be an ally of the sport – we have bigger fish to fry,” he said.

Hamilton, the driver who wears most jewellery out of the car, said that when in it he only wore “earrings and nose ring, which I can’t remove”.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

For this race, Hamilton removed his earrings in the car and has been given a two-race exemption for his nose ring.

It is a new issue this year following the FIA’s decision to change its race director in the wake of the controversy at last year’s title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Wittich has taken a less flexible approach to many areas of the rule book than had been the case in the past.

Hamilton said he had reached out to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem on Friday to try to resolve the stand-off but had not managed to get through.

“I am willing to sign a waiver to take the responsibility away from them if necessary,” the seven-time champion said. “It is about individuality and being who you are.

“I did try calling Mohammed this morning and I think he was super busy but I sent him a message. I wanted to reassure him and said: ‘I want to be an ally. I don’t want to fight with you guys over this.’”

He added: “It has never been a safety issue in the past. If they stop me, we have a spare driver. There are lots of things to do here.”

Before first practice in Miami, the FIA issued a further document emphasising that Mercedes “had not confirmed… that he is complying with the requirement to not wear any jewellery, in the form of body piercing or metal neck chains or watches”.

Ben Sulayem was then seen going into a meeting with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

The issue is highly unlikely to be taken so far as stopping a driver racing.

Hamilton was backed by colleagues, including Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly.

The Frenchman said: “I do believe there are bigger things to focus on. I appreciate the FIA are looking after our safety. But in my case I am religious and there are things I have with me that I do not feel comfortable not having in the car.

“In the end, we are the ones who go out there and put our lives at risk and I do feel it should be a personal choice. I hope in the end we could find a better solution than this very strict one.”

Mercedes

Mercedes have brought upgrades to Miami

Hamilton shrugs off critics

Hamilton has had a difficult start to season in a Mercedes team whose car is not competitive.

In the last race, he was lapped by world champion Max Verstappen after being stuck behind slower cars, which prompted Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko to say after the race that perhaps Hamilton should have retired at the end of last year.

Hamilton said: “I don’t listen to those silly comments, to be honest. It has been interesting to see – there have been quite a lot of disrespectful comments I have seen over time, but it’s to be expected.

“I just keep my head down. I know who I am. I love what I do.

“[We’re] going through a tough time, didn’t come out the starting blocks the way we wanted, but we’re fighters and if you don’t know that about me, you don’t know me. I will keep doing my best to huddle up with the team and fight as hard as we can.”

Will Mercedes improve with car developments?

Hamilton said he was not expecting a significant improvement in Mercedes’ performance in Miami despite the team bringing their first serious development parts this season to the race.

There are new front and rear wings to try as the team bid to reduce what they believe is their biggest single problem – a high-frequency bouncing on the straights known as ‘porpoising’, which is promoted by aerodynamic disruption under the car.

But asked whether he expected the developments would improve Mercedes’ competitive position, he said: “I don’t anticipate that much change in that sense.”

Credit:BBC,Getty Images,CN

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Football ‘Super Agent’ Mino Raiola Dies, Aged 54 – Family

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Football super agent, who represented Paul Pogba and Erling Haaland, Mino Raiola has passed away at the age of 54, following a period of illness.

A statement from the Raiola family on the Italian’s Twitter page confirmed his death on Saturday afternoon.

“In infinite sorrow we share the passing of the most caring and amazing Football Agent that ever was,” the Italian’s family said in a message on Twitter.

“Mino fought until the end with the same strength he put on negotiation tables to defend our players. As usual, Mino made us proud and never realised it.

“Mino touched so many lives through his work and wrote a new chapter in the history of modern football. His presence will forever be missed.

“Mino’s mission of making football a better place for players will continue with the same passion.

“We thank everybody for the huge amount of support received during these difficult times and ask for respect for the privacy of family and friends in this moment of grief.”

 

On Thursday, Raiola was forced to take to social media to address his state of health after widespread reports emerged from his native Italy prematurely announced his death.

Details later….

 

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African Football Is Beyond Having 11-11 Players On The Pitch, There Is Much More- Dimeji Lawal

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Former Super Eagles’ star and the acting General Manager of Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) Ibadan, Dimeji Lawal has revealed that African football as it is today should be perceived far beyond the 11 and 11 players seen on the pitch of play.

He also added that there are ‘mysteries’ and ‘mystics’ in African football beyond having 22 players on the field.

His words “I think apart from these, corruption is one of the greatest problems affecting football and sports administration in Africa and this is even affecting our league. All these can only improve when we change our mindset”.

He further stated that that the ultimate aim of Shooting Stars Sports Club (Club) is to grab continental ticket, while denying the notion that the team is focused on not being relegated to the Nigeria National League (NNL).

Speaking further on the current position of 3SC, “I feel relaxed and better; the energy we bring into it is already yielding results. When people complain of the poor performances of the team, I took it upon myself to discuss with the coaching crew and they always assured me that things would get better”.

According to him, football is a process and does not require haphazard approach. We are just a new team in NPFL. We need to understand the terrain and build a team that can compete globally. There is a big difference between the NNL and the NPFL. It took Manchester City under Pep Guardiola some time before the club started competing globally with top clubs.

“In this part of the world, we are used to fire brigade approach and in football; there are three results which include draw, loss or win. We want people to support us at all times; we are investing our energies to win at all times and our aim is to get a continental ticket and not to get relegated”.

Dimeji Lawal further appealed to the Governor of Oyo State Engineer Seyi Makinde, not to renege on his promise to the team while calling for more support from interested individuals and stakeholders.
Speaking on how he ventured into football, “I grew up around Cocoa Research Institute area (CRIN) where playing football is seen as a top priority. My father was also a footballer while my late mother was an athlete for the then Western State. Sporting activities runs in our blood, even my brothers played in Atletico Madrid. My big break came in football when I signed for Femo Scorpions in Eruwa and I was paid around N4000”.

He further stated that he would have loved to be a lawyer while revealing that Diego Maradona is one of his favorite idols during his playing days.

The former Super Eagles player made these revelations while featuring on a weekly radio show, Parrot Xtra/Ayekooto on Radio’ anchored by Olayinka Agboola broadcast live on Splash 105.5FM, Felele Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State on Tuesday.

Lawal further stated that the coach of 3SC, Edith Agoye is technically gifted and not a pushover in football game planning while urging the club’s fans to continue to support the coaching crew in its bid to get a continental ticket at least.

Speaking on the vacant position of Super Eagles coach, “A good coach can come from anywhere, what I want is that they should hire a good and technically sound coach, it does not matter his origin or where he is from”.

Speaking further, “It is always good to have a round peg in a round hole. If an ex-footballer is given the opportunity to head the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), I am sure he will be able to handle the affairs better because of the experiences he has gathered during his playing days”.

The former Eagles player further stated that Nigeria could come up with a formidable Super Eagles team by developing and paying more attention to grassroots football teams in the country.

“Many of our football fields have been turned to mosques, churches and event centers. Also at the top, the Nigeria league has to be properly scrutinized because if the league gets better, we have more hungry players who are willing to play than the foreign-based players.

“Sometimes, the foreign-based players have nothing to lose if they do not perform well for their country. In Nigeria, do we give local coaches the same opportunity as we give foreign coaches? Why should we discriminate against an indigenous coach? NFF should support indigenous coaches to get results”.

He, also revealed that betting and gambling are constituting problems affecting football in Nigeria while revealing that gamblers are always frustrated after losing their hard-earned money on betting.

His words “I think it is wrong for fans to place bets and expect the players to read their betting tickets and perform according to what they have staked. A typical fan invests two hundred naira on betting and hopes to win a million naira. So, if the team now plays a draw instead of winning, the fan is now unhappy and ready to vent his anger. This type of scenario is hurting the game of football especially in Nigeria.”

He further stated that officiating in the NPFL is gradually improving while elaborating that there is need for further improvement in order to make the Nigerian league more competitive.

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