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‘I’m saying goodbye’: Maria Sharapova announces tennis retirement

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, who announced her retirement from tennis on Wednesday, will be remembered in many corners of her sport with respect more than affection – and it will not worry her much at all.

The 32-year-old Russian who arrived in America from Sochi with her father in 1994 as refugees from the poison of Chernobyl – with $700 and not a word of English between them – won five grand slam titles and was ranked the highest earner in women’s sport for 11 years in a row. But it is her icy demeanour and failure to build on an early victory over Serena Williams that grab the imagination as much as those fine achievements.

Sharapova, who beat Williams to when just 17, then lost 20 of their following 21 matches, was never universally popular in the locker room. She cared little about courting popularity, but she had the professional respect of her rivals for her single-mindedness and fighting spirit. Petra Kvitova, who beat Sharapova to win Wimbledon in 2011, was one of her few rivals to give her warm praise on Wednesday, describing her as a, “big champion”.

The Czech, who was sidelined from tennis after a knife attack in her apartment in 2016 but has returned to the upper reaches of the game, : “I know how tough it is to come back and play. She has been injured a lot. Of course she wanted probably bigger success than … her body allowed her to have.” She added: “It was a pleasure to be with her on the tour, sharing the court with her. It was always great battles when we play together. So it’s been always nice to share the court with her and I do always have respect to her.”

More than most players on the tennis circuit, Sharapova divided opinion. There were many players who objected to her early return from a drugs ban in 2017, after she had . Sharapova, who protested her innocence, had her two-year ban cut to 15 months, but was never the same player in a comeback that stuttered from one disappointing setback to the next, on the court and off. Her last tournament win was in a low-ranked event in China three years ago.

Long-time problems with her serving shoulder recurred and, towards the end, she was losing to lesser players on a regular basis. There was a suspicion among some of her rivals and critics that she was playing merely for publicity to drive her many commr Kostas Manolas recognises they’re underdogs facing Lazio this weekend.Manolas admits Lazio are having an “extraordinary season”.“We’ll give everything we’ve got to pick up points. It’s a very complicated time for Napoli, but the only way out is tercial interests, although she claimed she played for the love of the game and the competition. That was certainly evident in her trademark screeching and her relentless pursuit of lost causes on court, mainly from the baseline and with a two-handed backhand that was among the best in tennis. She made the most of the weapons she had – including a powerful serve early in her career until injury struck on a regular basis – and was rarely found close to the net. Hers was a game of calculation rather than inspira the battle for exciting Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare.The youngster is rated among the best prospects emerging in French football.LOSC president Gerard Lopez is ready to sell land La Provence says a move to England is likely with United and Spution.

In her last match, a at the Australian Open in January, Sharapova was ranked 373 in the world, a long way from her five separate reigns as world No 1, the first of them in 2005. It was her third first-round exit from a major in a row.

However, five grand slam titles – encompassing all the four venues, on clay, grass and hardcourt – and career earnings of $38.7m tell a story of longevity and persistence, which Sharapova regarded as her greatest asset.

Her rivalry with the younger of the two Williams sister was fierce but doomed – and it defined Sharapova’s struggle. Their last encounter – in the first round of the 2019 US Open, when Sharapova needed pain killers to get on court and could win only two games – summed up the physical decline of the Russian.

“Behind closed doors, 30 minutes before taking the court, I had a procedure to numb my shoulder to get through the match,” , her chosen platform to confirm her retirement. “I’ve had multiple surgeries – once in 2008; another procedure last year – and s missing Champions League qualification is a frustrating blow.The Gunners missed their chance after being beaten by Chelsea in the Europa League final.Asked if it was painful to be in the Europa League again, Arsenal midfielder Xhaka said: “Yeah, of pent countless months in physical therapy. Just stepping on to the court that day felt like a final victory, when of course it should have been merely the first step toward victory. I share this not to garner pity, but to paint my new reality: My body had become a distraction.”

It always was. Sharapova regularly turned back questions about her looks as irrelevant, and protested that her many fashion shoots did not form the centrepiece of her career.

“Behind the photo shoots and the pretty tennis dresses, [the courts] exposed my imperfections – every wrinkle, every drop of sweat,” she wrote. “They tested my character, my will, my ability to channel my raw emotions into a place where they worked for me instead of against me. Between their lines, my vulnerabilities felt safe.”

Brandon Brooks says he had to leave Eagles’ loss to Seahawks due to anxiety

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Brandon Brooks said he had to leave the Philadelphia Eagles’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday due to anxiety.

The guard, who joined the Eagles from the Houston Texans in 2016, has been open about his struggles with anxiety in the past, and said he was not ashamed of his decision to leave the game.

“I’d like to address what happened yesterday,” . “I woke up, and did my typical routine of morning vomiting. It didn’t go away like it eal Madrid.The 18 year-old Japan international will join Real after the Copa America from FC Tokyo.Kubo had been with Barca since he was eleven years of age before he was forced to return to Japan after a FIFA crackdown on the recruitment of junior pnoid have confirmed coach Zinedine Zidane’s brother has passed away.Zidane left Los Blancos’ training camp on Friday to fly back to Spain and be with his family.In Montreal, the players and coaching staff all observed a minute’s silence before startingrmally does, but I figured it would calm down once I got to the stadium. It did, but I felt exhausted. The nausea came back, and I tried to battle through it and went out for the first drive. The nausea and vomiting came back until I left the field, and tried everything I could to get back for my teammates but just wasn’t able to do it.

“Make no mistake, I’m NOT ashamed or embarrassed by this nor what I go through daily. I’ve had this under control for a couple of years, and had a set back yesterday. The only thing I’m upset about is that when my team needed me, I wasn’t able to be out there with and for them. Lastly, I appreciate the support of my coaches, teammates and fans. It doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Brooks has missed five games during his career due to anxiety, and was given a formal diagnosis in 2016. Until Sunday, he had not missed time due to anxiety since the diagnosis. One of his fellow offensive lineman on the Eagles, Lane Johnson, also suffers from anxiety and the two have said they joke with each other about vomiting before games.

The Eagles’ head coach, Doug Perderson, said he fully supports Brooks. “This is not a football issue with Brandon; y came from behind to beat Real Madrid 2-1 at the Bernabeu in their Champions League last-16 first-leg clash.Isco had given the hosts the lead but Gabriel Jesus and a Kevin De Bruyne penalty, before Sergio Ramos’ late red card, ensured the Premier Lethis is a real-life issue that he has come out and publicly acknowledged and kind of shared his story a few years back,” Pederson told 94.1 WIP on Monday. “It’s something that he’s dealing with each and every day of his life. You never really know what triggers it. We’re here to support him. We love him. It is unfortunate that it happened, but it’s something that he deals with every single day. We’re just going to continue to support him.”

The 30-year-old is considered one of the best guards in football, and signed a four year, $56.5m contract extension in November. He won Super Bowl LII with the Eagles in February 2018.

Kyrie Irving apologizes after profane dismissal of Thanksgiving

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star Kyrie Irving has apologized after replying to a reporter who wished him a happy Thanksgiving after Wednesday’s loss to the New York Knicks by saying he doesn’t celebrate the holiday, adding “fuck Thanksgiving”.

On Thursday Irving expressed regret over the comments. “I spoke w/ frustration after last nights game and spoke words that shouldn’t be in a professional setting no matter what,” he wrote on Twitter. “Meant no disrespect to the Holiday and those who celebratl return to Liverpool this week to assess his latest injury.The Wales international, on loan at the Cherries this season, was not able to face Chelsea on Saturday due to “strange” leg injury.Asked for an update on the Wrexham-born star’s injury, Howee it respectfully. I’m grateful for the time We all can share with our families. We are always ONE.”

Irving told NBC Sports Boston that he is opposed to the celebration of the holiday due to his Native American heritage. Many in the Native American community and beyond , given the suffering and racism they have suffered since European colonization.

Irving’s late mother, Elizabeth Ann Larson, was a member of the Standing Rock Sioux and lived on the tribe’s reservation until her adoptiours Wilfried Zaha could join Arsenal.The Gunners are trying their best to nab the Ivory Coast international, who reportedly wants to join the North London outfit. He would directly compete with fellow winger Iwobi, but the Nigeria star isn’t fazed byn as a child. In August, Irving and his sister and he was given the name Little Mountain.

Irving is a is a five-time All-Star and won a championship with the Cleveland Cavalierss has been dropped for England’s Nations League clash with Switzerland today.Stones, who was at fault for Holland’s first two goals and played a part in their third in Thursday’s 3-1 extra-time semi-final defeat, will be replaced by Liverpool defende in 2016. His Boston Celtics were tipped as one of the league’s best teams at the start of the season but have struggled in recent weeks and have lost seven of their last 10 games.

Raptors complete sweep of Warriors without Leonard to fire NBA finals warning

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Minus their top player and with their coach still mourning his mother’s death two days earlier, the put an emphatic stamp on a season sweep of Golden State. They did it with the two-time defending NBA champion Warriors nearly at full strength, too, a very different scenario from when the teams played in Toronto less than two weeks ago.

Kyle Lowry had 23 points and 12 assists to lead a balanced Toronto offense while leading scorer Kawhi Leonard sat out, and the Raptors dominated from the start in routing the Warriors 113-93 on Wednesday night.

“When you play them you haonfidence of his players.Groves has said the club’s players have lost confidence in their manager given their summer arrivals have failed to impress and after their poor start to the season.“The thing with the Arsenal situation with Unai Emery is, ve to do a lot of things well,” said Toronto assistant Adrian Griffin, who spoke with reporters after the game while head coach Nick Nurse left to be with his family in Iowa for his mother’s funeral. “Give our guys credit, they came in ready to play and they fought with great intensity. We knew it was going to be a challenge for us and I thought that Kyle did a phenomenal job leading the team. He is an All-Star, no doubt.”

Serge Ibaka added 20 points, Danny Green scored 15, Pascal Siakam had 13 and Fred VanVleet 10 to help the Raptors improve to an NBA-best 23-7, matching the 2014-15 squad for the best start in franchise history.

They did it despite not having Leonard for a second consecutive night. Toronto’s star forward hUnited boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has declared Scott McTominay “undroppable” after his performance in victory over Tottenham on Wednesday night.McTominay returned from a three-and-a-half week lay-off with an ankle injury to underpin United’s first winas a sore right hip and was considered questionable before the game. He was ruled out less than 30 minutes before tip-off.

Kevin Durant had 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Golden State. The Warriors had won fols at home with Manchester United.James says his new United teammates have helped make his move from Swansea City as easy as possible.He said: “They’ve all been great. I haven’t been here for long but I’ve made some great friends already and I thinur straight heading into a much-anticipated showdown between two teams many expect to reach the finals. “We didn’t start the game off with a sense of urgency,” Durant said. “I don’t think we overlooked anybody tonight. They just played better than us.”

Despite playing the second half of a back-to-back following a 123-99 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, Toronto appeared to be the fresher team. The Raptors repeatedly beat the sluggish Warriors to loose balls and outrebounded them 48-40. It was Toronto’s first win in Oakland since 2004.

“It’s a different vibe, a different feeling when you’re on the climb like Toronto is and Milwaukee is like we were a few years ago,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s harder to get up for each game. There are certain nights where you can just feel it; you don’t have that energy. It’s not an excuse. It’s just reality.”

Los Angeles FC mark arrival with Hollywood ending to open new stadium

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On a grimy corner of downtown , LAFC were selling a dream from the unpromising surroundings of a warehouse adjacent to a freeway underpass.

Construction had only just begun on the 20-month project to create a new 22,000-seater stadium on the site of the former LA Memorial Sports Arena, and the freshly-launched club needed something to show potential supporters other than a building plot.

A couple of miles away from their home ground in-the-making, LAFC created their Experience Center. The surroundings were underwhelming, but the message was overwhelming. Visiting Angelinos received a thorough briefing on the club’s plans and were able to envisage the new $350m home ground twill monitor Nicolas Pepe’s progress in training before deciding if he will face Newcastle United this weekend.The £72m signing did not play in Sunday’s loss to Barcelona, with Emery confirming he stayed behind to train in London.Speaking after the hrough 3D models and virtual reality films.

“I took the tour and I was hooked. I paid my $100 deposit straightaway,” fan Hector Marrujo reminisces as he took his inaugural journey to the Banc of California Stadium on Sunday.

“I’m Mexican so I’ve always supported Club America, but I never likefielder Sean Longstaff has dismissed critics of his form this season.The North-Shields born midfielder has drawn criticism from some as this season’s performances fail to hit the heights of the 2018-19 campaign.The 22-year-old reveals that he is welld the Galaxy – even the name ‘Galaxy’ has always seemed lame to me – and LAFC are actually in the city. I don’t have to travel to Carson, there’s an LA zip code. But what really got me was this is something new and exciting. There’s a vision with young, exciting players.”

The 17,500 season ticket holders who took that leap of faith were rewarded on Sunday evening, as the LAFC dream became a reality.

Downtown Los Angeles’ first professional open-air sporting venue since Dodger Stadium opened its doors in 1962 was not graced by a classic opening fixture, although there was an ear-splitting finale after captain Laurent Ciman’s stoppage time free-kick was haplessly spilled by Seattle Sounders keeper Stefan Frei.

It may have been a slightly comical opening goal at the stadium after LAFC had largely huffed and puffed in their attempts to break down the 2016 Cup winners. But that’s five wins out of seven Western Conference games now. There has been no teething period for Bob Bradley’s side.

“It’s nice not to inaugurate the stadium with a 0-0. Maybe someone was looking down on us!” said a beaming Bradley afterwards.

However, this was about more than 90 minutes. After playing their opening six games away from home (although one of those was the LA derby), this was the day where it felt that Major League Soccer’s newest franchise had truly arrived.

Well, it was more touchdown than take-off after Navy Seals parachuted onto the turf carrying the match ball. The expected pre-match palava continued with fireworks, a fan-led rendition of the national anthem and, oh yes, co-owner Will Ferrell carrying a trained falcon called Olly onto the pitch sporting an LAFC headdress.

The gold and black clad fanbase didn’t need any fancy gimmicks to capture their attention, though. Whether it’s the geographical advantage that LAFC possess over neighbors Galaxy (who are 10 miles away in the outlying city of Carson) or the idea of a new, fresh and exciting venture, supporters have become instantly invested in a team boasting a history of just seven competitive games.

The rowdy safe standing terraced North Stand had an air of the Bundesliga to it, as members of the ‘3253’ supporters group bounced and waved frantically to the rhythm of a bass drum orchestra.

Although there was little slickness on show against Seattle, LAFC’s open, attacking philosophy will surely attract even more supporters after Bradley’s men have averaged more than two goals per game during the season’s formative stages.

It comes at the cost of defensive rigidity. Yes, LAFC registered a third clean sheet of the campaign, but they shipped 13 in the other four games. There is a definite air of susceptibility to the back three: the Sounders spurning two glorious opportunities within the opening 10 minutes to silence the excitable home crowd.

But in a front three of Diego Rossi, Marco Urena and Carlos Vela, LAFC possess an attack arguably good enough to rival reigning MLS ch revelation in the new book of BVB chief Hans-Joachim Watzke – ‘REAL LIEBE – end of Leben mit dem BVB’.The Reds manager is quoted, stating: “As a lifesaver when the club really needs my help. “Why wouldn’t I do it? It’s just nice to get that chance. ampions Toronto. Vela, in particular, shines bright in his ability to persistently find pockets of space and dictate proceedings in the final third.

Bradley said: “We’re not Barcelona yet. Our football’s not perfect, but we go out every game and try to play. Every team has to come up with its identity and its way of playing, but I think it’s clear we’ll try to continue going in that direction.”

General manager John Thorrington deserves enormous credit for putting together such an attacking line-up. LAFC’s 30-strong ownership group of Hollywood and Malaysian business, sporting and entertainment heavyweights have clearly shown their acumen in building the club from scratch over the last four years after the collapse of Chivas left a gap in the southern California market.

But Thorrington, the former US international, crucially avoided the temptation to follow Galaxy’s example of bringing household names to Los Angeles. Instead, this is a project more akin to Atlanta United, with young, hungry, accomplished players from Central and South America.

Although Galaxy’s star turn Zlatan Ibrahimovic has proved to be a media darling since arriving in California and inflicted such a memorable wound in the inaugural derby between the two clubs, LAFC already boast the infrastructure to challenge their neighbors in the long-term.

Encouragingly, they’re only at the start of the journey.

Ferguson’s Tyron Woodley finds activist voice as biggest fight of career looms

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UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is an African American athlete in the modern age of sports activism. He does not take this responsibility lightly. He grew up in Ferguson, Missouri, and that fact alone gives him a voice on racial matters for it was his town, his neighborhood, his very street where Michael Brown was shot and his body lay for hours baking in the summer sun. As a young black man in he was racially profiled, pulled over needlessly by police and once thrown in a paddy wagon with a group of friends because he says: “We looked like we were up to something.”

He wrestled at the University of Missouri where last 8 November the football team went on strike in support of a black students and forced the school’s president to resign. He is proud of what the football players did at his alma mater, but more importantly, he sees the power their protest gives men like himself – African Americans with fame, money and success – to speak about topics like inequality. He believes they need to use it regardless of consequences.

In September he listened to Donald Trump rambling on about Ferguson as if it was some flaming ghetto and not the racially mixed suburban St Louis town he knows. This angered him and so he said: His comments were dutifully reported by TMZ who ran a picture of him with a clenched fist and a headline that said he Trump. His words made headlines and a few days later, a crowd of mostly white fans booed him in Madison Square Garden’s theater during a press conference for Saturday’s UFC 205.

Woodley seemed startled by gestions that he would sign for Aston Villa in the Premier League.But it appears the 24-year-old is bound for Italy, as the club have come closest to meeting Cagliari’s asking price.Cagliari-immagini?page=2#imgal2″>Gianluca Di Marzio claims the playethe reaction. Was he being booed for saying he might put is fist through Trump’s teeth? Or because he’s a diligent wrestler and therefore less exciting than his kickboxing opponent Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson? Or because he takes months off between fights, drawing criticism that he didn’t deserve the 201 fight against Robbie Lawler that got him the title? It leads some, like fellow welterweight contender Belal Muhammad to say: “I don’t know why the hate.”

Woodley can’t help but wonder if it is something else. Something deeper. Something that still holds back black fighters in a sport that should be colorblind.

“I think that – this is my personal opinion – but sometimes African American athletes are considered overly cocky,” he says. “I have some (things to say) that are blatantly true about African American athletes in our sport. And if I mention those thing then all of a sudden I’m whining, I’m playing the victim, I’m race baiting or it’s somebody else.

“But I don’t think it matters,” he continues. “Because at the end of the day, I’m the champion of the world. I’m a successful individual and maneuvering in a culture where there are some racists. I still find a way to get to the top, whether I go around or weave through.”

The Wonderboy fight is the biggest of Woodley’s career; billed as the co-main event of UFC 205 just below Conor McGregor v Eddie Alvarez and it has his name glowing on the Garden marquee. He’s exactly the kind of fighter the UFC should want to promote: a Christian family man with four children, a burgeoning acting career and a series of broadcasting jobs. And yet he can’t shake a feeling that as important as he’s become he isn’t as free as the lighter faces surrounding him on the card’s promotional poster.

At the UFC 205 press conference Woodley watched McGregor with torrents of profane Ranieri stepped in for Eusebio di Francesco last month.Murillo said, “It’s great to play regularly in a League I have already played in, know well and like a lot.”I’ve played in practically all the games. Things aren’t going as we would’ve liked, butinsults screamed into the roar of an adoring crowd that sees such bombast as part of McGregor’s Irish charm. McGregor’s act amused Woodley even as he rolled his eyes through some of the rants. McGregor is a good businessman and he respects that. He has a saying: “More drama, more commas”. So if McGregor wants to heap clever putdowns while the money falls all around them, by all means let him holler. But Woodley knows he can’t be McGregor, throwing bottles and spewing swear words. Doing so would only make him the angry black man and the boos would only come louder then.

“Name me one African American mixed martial artist who’s been able to get away with the amount of talk Conor has,” he says. “Name me one. You can’t. Rampage Jackson came to the UFC with a brain. He came to the UFC with a huge following from being in Asia with Pride. He was a personality before he came to the UFC. You don’t see them putting marketing money behind him to blow him up. Have you seen Jon Jones taken in any (marketing) direction? Have you seen any African American athlete that appeals to the urban market actually bring that market to the ?”

For years Woodley never made Ferguson a part of his identity. He figured nobody had heard of his hometown and he found it easier just to say he was fighting out of St Louis. But then Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown and a neighborhood erupted. There were riots and looters and buildings on fire. In some ways he was conflicted. He knew what it was like to be a young black man in Ferguson – the way the police come down hard sometimes, where the greatest crime an African American kid might have was the color of his skin. “Those things are true, they are happening and Ferguson is notorious for it,” he says. And yet it was also the place where he was raised, the community he loved. He knew every bit of that town, having lived in some of the poorest sections as well as the best. It hurt him to sit it burn.

He knew exactly the rage that many of the protesters brought to the streets, but he also knew that many of those running before the cameras, throwing rocks at windows weren’t from Ferguson or even St Louis. The damage they did was more than just physical. It left an emotional scar. Suddenly little Ferguson was a national flashpoint and the TV commentators were getting the town wrong. They portrayed it as the inner city, a predominately African American ghetto where crime lingered on every corner. That was not his Ferguson. His Ferguson a mixture of white and black spread through blocks of subdivisions; a place where people had to accept each other’s differences and where also those backgrounds collided.

“You go to Ferguson and you look at January-Wabash Park and other areas (they’re) extremely nice and it’s not a war zone,” Woodley says. “They way it’s portrayed is why I have an issue. That’s not Ferguson. I think more so (it is) the way way the community and law enforcement have been at odds for years. They respect hasn’t been there for the law enforcement and definitely there is profiling on the citizens.”

After the riots he added Ferguson to his biography – not to capitalize on the unrest but to show people that the town where he grew up was not an awful place. He wanted the world to know that good things and good people came from a community whose very name sparks the tinders of ugly debate. He is sensitive about the impressions everyone gets of a place most have never seen. “I wanted to show that hey, Ferguson is a place where a lot of successful people have been born and raised and built so I wanted to show Ferguson in a positive way,” he says.

Not long after Brown’s death and before the riots, Woodley contacted the UFC hoping to use the organization’s enormous platform to talk about Ferguson, Brown’s death and police relations in general. There needed to be a productive dialogue, he thought, and he wanted to start it. He remembers sitting in an airport, explaining his idea to someone who handles social media for the UFC. “That’s my street, I grconcerned about losing Jurgen Klopp.The Reds manager is being tipped to replace Max Allegri at Juventus this summer.”We don’t really want to discuss his situation publicly, especially so close to the final,” Werner told the Liverpool Echo.”But I thinew up on that street!,” he implored, expecting the UFC to leap at a chance to promote a top fighter with direct ties to Ferguson. They did nothing, he says. The same thing happened a year later when the Missouri players went on strike, he says.

“It’s crazy,” he says, then pauses.

“Let me stop myself,” he says, “I was about to go off.”

He shakes his head. For a moment he says nothing.

“I just thought those were good opportunities to make a positive stance,” he continues, then his voice trails off.

In some ways, the Missouri protest surprised Woodley. African American students at the school have long complained of feeling isolated but he was an athlete in a wrestling bubble and that kept him from the experiencing things that happened to other black students. He had to call his brother-in-law, a doctor, who went to school there. “He told me some stories that I didn’t want to hear,” Woodley says. A few weeks ago, he went back to speak to the wrestling team and was surprised to see that even though he was the school’s first All-Big 12 wrestler and their first top five recruit, his picture was not on the wall with other distinguished wrestlers in the school’s history.

“All of a sudden (the coaches said): ‘Oooh, we got to get a picture of you on this wall,” Woodley says. “It was kind of…” He paused again for moment and sighed. “But it is what it is and it’s about the athletes and thats why I’m there but it was really weird that people couldn’t wrap their minds around the idea that these things can happen.”

He drove around the campus that day looking at all the giant new fraternity and sorority houses and couldn’t help that each mansion was only for predominantly white fraternities and sororities. “How many black homes are there?” he wondered. Where were all the big homes from the African American students? He glanced around and realized that even after what happened last fall and the racial awakening of his old college, Missouri still had a long way to go.

Sitting in an empty radio studio in late September, a few days after the Trump comments, about to promote the second biggest fight in the UFC’s biggest card ever, Woodley is probably at the apex of his career. Never will he have a larger voice in sports. Never may minority athletes have a more powerful voice than they do today. As a child of Ferguson he has the platform, he can be a kind of modern-day Ali. Boos be damned. If Donald Trump is going to fire off a shot at Ferguson well by God he’s going to talk about putting his fist through the man’s teeth. That’s not a right, its a responsibility.

“He needs to talk about (race),” Michael Johnson, another African American UFC fighter will later say, unaware of Woodley’s words about Trump. “He’s a champion and his voice needs to be heard. It’s very important to speak up with the things that are happening.”

In the studio Woodley laughs.

“I don’t read social media. Is (the Trump comment) getting buzz?” he asks, the idea Trump could actually be president probably the farthest thing from his mind.

Yes, he is told, his line about putting a fist in Trump’s mouth made plenty of headlines.

He chuckles.

“Well hopefully it made it to him,” he says.

No need to hold back now.

Swansea City’s owners to make huge profit with sale to US investors

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The owners of , whose partnership with the supporters trust has long been hailed as ideal for a British football club, are set to make millions by selling their shares to American investors. The deal, signed in principle by the chairman, Huw Jenkins, values Swansea at around £100m, exactly 100 times more than the £1m paid for the club by the nine shareholders, including the trust, during and after a financial crisis in 2002.

The agreement proposes the eight shareholders apart from the trust – which owns 21.1% of the club and whose elected director, Huw Cooze, was furious at being kept unaware of the negotiations – sell most of their shares to a consortium led by the US sports team investors Stephen Kaplan and Jason Levien. Intense discussions since have led to suggestions not all the shareholders will sell, and Levien and Kaplan may buy only a 60% stake, but their valuation, for a club awaiting the next tranche of vast TV fortunes starting next season, remains around £100m.

So Jenkins’ 13.2% stake, which cost him £125,000 to buy, is valued at £13.2m. He is understood not to be planning to sell all his shares and isFormer Premier League manager Neil Warnock has hailed the improvement in Sheffield United midfielder John Fleck.Warnock says he was offered the Scot when in charge of Cardiff City.He told talkSPORT: “I think they had been tempted to let him go two or three times.“I had his agent on a while ago saying ‘I think he’ll be leaving the club’ but what’s he done? He’s done it on the pitch. He’s worked his socks off, scored important goals and been part of that dressing room.“They’ve got a great chance of getting in Europe. An absolutely great chance.” likely to remain the chairman if the takeover completes, because he is widely credited with having run the club with great acumen, alongside the other directors. The local hotelier Martin Morgan and his wife, Louisa, are the largest shareholders with a 23.7% stake, which cost £225,000 to buy; it is now valued by Kaplan and Levien at around £23.7m. Martin Morgan is said not to be intending to sell, and Levien may try to have separate discussions with Louisa Morgan, who controls more than half of their stake.

One of the original 2002 investors, the South African businessman Brian Katzen, owns 10.5% of the club, as does his business partner, Jeffrey Crevoiserat; the stakes cost each man £100,000 when Swansea were floundering near the bottom of the Football League at a rundown Vetch Field, and are now valued at £10.5m each. Robert Davies, another original investor, also a financial backer of Swansea’s Ospreys rugby union region which shares the Liberty Stadium, also has a 10.5% stake.

The Dutch investor John van Zweden, and Leigh Dineen, formerly the trust’s elected director who bought his own shares for £50,000, both have stakes of just over 5%, now valued at £5m.

The millions to be made by the shareholders who do sell follow £4m already paid to them all in dividends over the past four years – £1m, in effect their original stakes repaid, each year from 2012-15 since Swansea have been in the Premier League. Paid proportionately according to their stakes, Jenkins has received more than £500,000; Martin and Louisa Morgan £900,000; Katzen, Crevoiserat and Davies £400,000 each, and Van Zweden and Dineen around £200,000 each.

The trust, for its 21.1%, has been paid more than to catch up with Arsene Wenger over the weekend.The pair are attending a UEFA educational program.Arshavin played for the Gunners between 2009 and 2013.Arsène Wenger has been photographed with Andrey Arshavin at an event in Paris. The Russian joine £800,000, which it has used to buy new shares and for a “rainy day” fund. Established as a mutual, democratic, not-for-profit body during Swansea’s 2001 financial crisis, with the help of the fan-ownership initiative Supporters Direct, the trust’s members who have provided contributions for the £200,000 investment cannot cash in personally if the trust ever sells.

Cooze, who has told he was “pretty damned hurt” at the secrecy of the negotiations, is now seeking to rebuild bridges with his co-directors and safeguard the trust’s position. Levien’s revised suggestion to buy 60% is intended to show the trust a preparedness to work with them, after supporters’ hostile reaction to the proposed acquisition of 75.1% control.

Cooze and the trust’s chairman, Phil Sumbler, say they knew the other shareholders would sell at some point and are sanguine about them making so much money. They mostly want to know whether the sale to Levien and Kaplan, which Jenkins he believed “will help the club progress on and off the field”, will bring actual investment into the club itself.

“There is no point in a deal without money for the club; that would just be a sale for the shareholders’ personal gain,” Sumbler said. He pointed out that supporters’ unpaid work and donations have contributed to Swansea’s remarkable revival over the past 15 years and massive increase in financial value. “The shareholders are mostly lifelong fans, and we have always believed throughout our partnership with them that they have the best interests of the club at heart.”

Levien, a lawyer, is the managing general partner of Washington’s Major League Soccer team, DC United, having previously been involved at three NBA basketball franchises, including the Memphis Grizzlies, to which he introduced Kaplan as an investor. Kaplan, the principal of , is thought to be the largest proposed investor in the acquisition, with several others so far not named.

Levien has been assuring people they have substantial money and are not financing the deal with debt.

In meetings with the shareholders in Swansea last week, Levien is understood to have emphasised their plan is to develop the club but has not made firm promises that the consortium will invest new money of their own for signing players or expanding the stadium. Like other US investors increasingly taking over clubs, Levien and Kaplan are attracted by the Premier League’s success, the huge TV income, expected to be £8bn across the league for the three years from next season, and the prospect of growth in popularity and earnings, particularly in America, over the next 10-15 years.

The US culture of sports team ownership is much more avowedly commercial than British football’s traditional local “benefactor” shareholders, who have mostly sold out in the Premier League years. Investors in American sports seek to make money by growing their franchises commercially and therefore increasing their value, and that of their own stakes. Levien and Kaplan’s plan is to do the same at Swansea, and promoting the club in the US is thought to be a key feature of the proposed deal.

All of which is a world away from the crumbling, loss-making club the shareholders, galvanised by the trust and wider supporter efforts, bought for £20,000 in January 2002, putting the rerney jokes that he was at a local park when he got a call about his move being complete.The Scottish left back made a deadline day move to the Premier League giants from Celtic.When asked about how he spent the past 24 hours before the finalising of st of the money in to pay off debt. Chroniclers of Swansea’s spectacular upward flight since occasionally miss out two key boosts: a company voluntary arrangement, by which creditors settled for only 5p in every pound, and the great gift of the £27m Liberty Stadium, which is still owned by the local council.

Now, as thousands of jobs locally are , the Swansea City shareholders’ proposed gains highlight again modern football’s stand-out riches, in increasingly post-industrial cities where the clubs evolved more than a century ago.

Jenkins and Dineen declined to comment on the proposed sale, citing confidentiality agreements. Katzen said of his original motivation that he was keen on football and the challenge, and said they were all determined to make progress and run the club as a business, but never envisaged the success they have had, and these exponential profits.

“It has been 15 years, a lot of work; it’s not a quick buck,” Katzen said. “Nobody expected to get anything out of the club at the beginning.”

USA Sevens brings world’s finest to Vegas – but can US rugby live with the best?

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“Imagine what it’s going to be like in 2020 if we’ve got some kids from the Bronx and Brooklyn, playing in the in Tokyo.”

In his spare office in New York City, on 9th and West 45th, trophies stacked with bags of rugby balls on the metal shelves behind him, Mark Griffin smiles and takes a sip of water. Griffin is the , an inneuito midfielder Jose Cifuentes admits he’s had an offer from Manchester City.The 20-year-old never made the move but he has revealed that City were interested but he wasn’t allowed to leave the club.“All contacts are closed, it was published by ther-city nonprofit which is now joint-operator of America’s first community Olympic development programme (CODP) for rugby union. The sport returns to the Games in Rio this summer but Griffin is looking four years ahead.

In Las Vegas, meanwhile, the best men’s teams in the world are looking only to the next three days, in which they will contest .

The big teams are attacking Olympic year in earnest: New Zealand will field , while is in South Africa’s squad.

The US Eagles do not have such superstars, though they do have , and , crossovers from football who have made themselves increasingly well known. In Vegas, they will be contenders for a knockout place, for a tournament win, for points on the HSBC World Series.

In this Olympic year, though, the Eagles’ job extends beyond the field of play. They must begin to win the attention of the American sporting public – both TV viewers and, perhaps more importantly, striving young athletes.

That is where Griffin and others come in. When it comes to the effect the Games can have on American youth rugby, most such operators agree with , a former Eagles prop turned entrepreneur who will on Friday stage an awareness-raising event at Sam Boyd Stadium in Vegas, under the title “”.

“Rugby is ,” James says, down the phone from San Francisco, citing a familiar statistic from the which says participation in US youth rugby grew by 81.6% from 2008 to 2013.

James then cites a familiar view in rugby, bolstered by the same survey finding that in the same period youth participation in tackle football fell by 21%: “We need to seize that Olympic s they need to find some arrogance to convert draws into wins.Maguire claims that United are missing the self-belief needed to control games.He said: “It’s another game where we’ve deserved to win. We’ve created the majority of the chances and we’vmoment with parents who maybe don’t want theo land Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish this summer.The Mirror says United are preparing to pay up to £70million to land Grealish this summer.The attacking ace has been in superb form for Villa this term after inspiring them to promotion last seasoir kids playing football.”

Rugby, it should be said, . But James continues: “Just the fact that rugby is included is a game-changer. The US public are very keen on the Olympics, it brings exposure, funding from the government and other bodies too. This is the very tip of the iceberg for what that’s going to mean.”

Griffin, after on the cracked asphalt of Queens and Manhattan now taking a big step through the CODP, puts the same point another way.

to provide a pathway from inner-city, school or rugby club to elite Olympic competition.

Rugby now has a foothold in America. Or, to stay with the dubious moutaineering analogies, potentially frightening exposure. The performance of the Eagles’ men’s and women’s teams in Rio will help determine how fast and safe the climb can be.

So will the many stakeholders of American rugby. In terms of developing the men and women who will play in Tokyo and beyond, governing body USA Rugby supervises, from Colorado, as a number of organisations seek out talent. There is also and , and more. The English are interested too: Premiership Rugby recently launched its programme, also in New York.

In Play Rugby USA’s case, though, four young women who discovered the game with the programme will this weekend represent in the , a huge club, high school and college event that runs alongside the international tournament. None of the New York girls had seen a rugby ball till relatively recently; one will go on to play for the in Vancouver next week.

“We’re at the forefront of girls’ rugby,” Griffin says, “and we equally promote it with the boys. It’s about equal opportunity, although our high-school program is now 51% girls.”

James adds: “Olympic inclusion is because with Title IX, colleges are looking for women’s sports. This is a massive opportunity for rugby.”

That sense of opportunity is not confined to the Olympics: in 2018 the men’s and women’s World Cup Sevens and in the full 15-a-side version of the game, , a five-team professional league, is due to kick off next month.

But most observers agree: come , if the American men and women are on the podium, the game at home will receive a tremendous boost. A gold medal may be, in Griffin’s words, “Miracle on Ice sort of stuff”. But if nothing else, his reference to shows the stakes for which American rugby is playing.

St Louis confronts blight with proposal for $1bn investment in football stadium

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Inside the sprawling Peabody opera house, a stream of St Louis Rams fans made their impassioned cases on Tuesday that it was worth a $1bn-plus investment to build a new publicly subsidized stadium and keep their team in town.

“The thought of not having our Rams in St Louis anymore goes beyond sadness,” said Dan Palen, an emotional father of three who drove 225 miles to the meeting from his hometown of Springfield, .

In January, Rams owner E Stanley Kroenke announced plans to build a nearly $2bn stadium close to downtown Los Angeles, and abandon St Louis, where he maintains a year-to-year-lease. For nearly two hours, fans in a room of 1,500 who support an open-air stadium proposal they hoped would convince Kroenke to stay in town came to the podium one by one.

But the fan enthusiasm was punctured by a counter movement, who argue that a new stadium is the last thing St Louis can afford to spend public funds on, in what has now become the murder capital of the US.

“The stadium deal has already cost taxpayers over $6m,” Basmin Nadra said.

Nadra said the north side of St Louis has continued to struggle with deteriorating conditions – a beleaguered school district, violent crime and what she perceives as a lack of racial justice in the community.

The proposal – backed by Missouri’s governor and the city’s mayor – comes at a precarious time for St Louis. The city has been struck by a recent believed to be arsons; the region continues to reel from the community upheaval after 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in nearby Ferguson; and St Louis recently overtook Detroit as the highest homicide total per capita in the nation.

While Rams fans clamor to keep St Louis a football town, critics of stadium subsidies will be watching, as another US city attempts to use sports as an economic tool for revitalization.

Nationally, proposals to infuse public cash into new stadiums have come under fire for delivering questionable benefits in return for a mammoth public expenditure.

As the big-ticket deals became more commonplace over the last quarter-century, municipalities have persistently appropriated more funds in the name of sports – drawing the ire of activists, economists and even Barack Obama. The Obama administration’s budget this year called for reining in the use of tax-exempt bonds issued for stadiums, : the “current structuring of government bonds to finance sports facilities has shifted more of the costs and risks from the private owners to local residents and taxpayers in general.”

That general risk is what concerns St Louis comptroller Darlene Green, who’s tasked as a watchdog over city taxes. Following the release of the new finance plan for the project in St Louis, Green said the city would be forced to spend more than it currently does on the Edward Jones Dome, where the Rams have playeility of being a national team manager.Wenger is still searching for his next role after leaving the Gunners more than a year ago.He has admitted that international football is an option and that he may be present as a coach at the 2022 World Cup in d since 1995.

‘Fund schools, not football’

Inside Tuesday night’s fan meeting, the room turned tense as Nadra, a critic of the stadium proposal, questioned why officials were committing public money to the project withd in Holland that a deal is closed for the end of the season, with Van de Beek having agreed personal terms with Real Madrid, which will pay €55m for his transfer.However, after victory over Sparta Rotterdam, Van de Beek denied the claims.He statedout funding “40 years of neglect on the north side”.

“This isn’t the stage for that,” one fan shouted. “What made you so important?” went another, as jeers rained down from across the room.

Nadra continued. “Is the NFL interested in doing anything to promote the racial justice that has been misaligned here?”

Whatever the answer from NFL senior vice-president of public policy Cynthia Hogan may have been, few likely heard it. A group in the back had begun to chant: “If we don’t get it, shut it down,” while unveiling a banner that read “Fund Schools, Not Football.”

In response, the team’s fans repeatedly roared back: “Let’s go Rams.”

Nadra and her cohorts were escorted out of the room and almost arrested. As the group was whisked away, Deborah Castillo, a member of the group Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, said a man in the audience told her of the brief protest: “If I had known you were going to do that, I would have fucked you up.”

“As long as we’re speaking the truth,” Castillo said, “they’ll try to shut us down.”

Following a tense exchange with officers in Peabody’s lobby, an officer released the group out the front door and onto Market Street in downtown.

Nay’Chelle Harris, a St Louis resident who was briefly held by an officer in the lobby before walking free, said too many voices have been left out of the debate on the stadium.

“It was important for us to be here because there are a lot of experiences and opinions that aren’t being represented in this deal and its negotiation,” Harris said.

“Specifically, people who are developing the stadium keep using [the line]: ‘We are helping the people of color of the minority community in St Louis or helping the people on the north side.’ And yet I have not heard anything about a meaningful engagement with people on the north side.”

Time may be running out for St Louis to make a final decision on the stadium, but with an imminent vote by the city’s aldermanic board on whether to approve the public financing for the project, many questions remain unanswered – the least of which, perhaps surprisingly, is if Kroenke even wants the subsidized facility.

“A lot of other cities have found that having an NFL stadium does not help local economies,” said Harris. “It drains the city’s resources. And St Louis, as the world has seen, has a lot better things to do with its money than, as mayor Slay said, have a football team.”

‘The sweetest deal in the league’

From the outset, there were protests over the stadium deal, continuing through the summer after a judge voided a 2002 city ordinance calling for a public vote over the use of taxes for sports facilities.

“If you want your public money spent that way, OK, that’s the reason we had set up a public vote, so those people who felt that way could have a chance to go to the polls and vote,” said Fred Lindecke, a member of the coalition against public funding for stadiums, which supported the effort behind the ordinance.

A new bill to require a public vote was recently , after several said they received outraged calls from constituents about spending tax dollars on sports without their approval.

“If anything like that ever goes to a vote in the city or county it’s going to go down,” Lindecke said.

The debate over contributing public funds to a wealthy team owner isn’t foreign to Missouri.

Two decades ago, state and local officials cobbled together a plan to construct an NFL stadium – even before the city secured a home team.

Officials gave the Rams what some have called the “sweetest deal in the league”, charging low rent and agreeing to renovate the facility on an as-needed basis to ensure it remains in the “first tier” of the NFL. It seemed like a fair deal; whatever St Louis contributed – $6m annually– would be recouped by event-day taxes, officials said.

After a new contract dispute was settled by an arbitrator, the agreement became a year-to-year lease, freeing the Rams’ owner to consider other options.

“In fairness, our folks didn’t think they’d leave,” said Ray Hartmann, co-owner of St Louis Magazine and founder of the local alt-weekly Riverfront Times. The problem? The definition of “first-tier” vastly expanded as the number of new NFL stadiums proliferated in the intervening years.

So, last November, concerned by the prospect of losing the team, Missouri governor Jay Nixon appointed a taskforce to produce a plan for a new NFL stadium. The taskforce and some local officials are convinced the long-term deal would be fruitful for the city.

“I think St Louis is [deserving] of an NFL team, one of the cities most deserving of an NFL team,” said Lewis Reed, aldermanic president.

Though Reed is intent on his commitment to keep the Rams in the city, the 53-year-old also has concerns about the structure of the finances behind the deal.

“I think that’s where we’re at that point where we’re trying to strike that balance between public/private,” Reed said. “What’s reasonable to ask of the taxpayers, right? And, what basis are we building that on?”

The yearlong process has been fraught with legal challenges, amid concerns from local aldermen who believe St Louis is simply in no position to help finance another sports stadium.

According to the current financing proposal, the city would commit to pay increasing annual amounts from $4.5m to $9m – a virtual extension of its current obligation to the debt for the Edward Jones dome, totalling roughly $234m. The city would receive an average of 34% of game-day revenues, but the NFL team would keep the rest.

Without a deal, the city’s obligation would otherwise expire in the coming years, allowing those funds to be used elsewhere.

Supporters and opponents have battled over whether projections of game-day revenue at the new stadium versus other costs yield a net benefit to the city.

“Even with their high projections, it would put the city in a hole,” said Tom Shepard, chief of staff for Reed. When the final bill was unveiled late Wednesday, mayoral staffers told the St Louis Post-Dispatch that city revenues wouldn’t cover expenses – officials said St Louis would pay $6m in the first year, but receive only about $2m in tax revenue on game days – but they believe the initial revenue generated by the construction of the stadium would offset any shortfall.

Compounding concerns is the well of evidence that sports stadiums fail to yield positive results for a local economy.

Roger Noll, an economics professor at Stanford University who has written about tax breaks for stadiums, said a $200m subsidy – currently about what the city is expected to pay – is better than “the norm” of $400m.

“On the other hand, that is a fairly large amount for a city of just over 300,000,” Noll said. “A city resident should ask whether having an NFL team is worth $2,000 per household.”

Rather than using money to fund a stadium that is traditionally perceived to boost a city’s economy, some economists have said it would be better used on public infrastructure or education, despite the civic pride that comes with a professional sports franchise. And studies have suggested cities wouldn’t be financially devastated by the loss of a professional sports team, as fans simply tend to spend their money elsewhere on entertainment in town.

In St Louis, alderman Antonio French took aim at the plan with other city needs in mind.

“The city currently pays $6m a year for the dome stadium,” French, who didn’t respond to requests for comment, tweeted last week. “That ends in 2021, freeing up that money. $6m would pay for 120 new cops.”

A promise of ‘revitalization’

Stadium backers see the financial obligation as a risk worth taking. The proposed site for the new stadium is situated along the Mississippi River, an area some officials view as blighted and wholly underused.

The location touches three wards, and “two of them are heavily African American”, said Maurice Green, the alderman board’s director of community affairs.

“With the unemployment rate of African American males in those areas, we have the opportunity to [create an] impact … where the people in that area have to have a job; you have to hire those people to develop the stadium,” Green said.

“There’s nothing in that area right now – and it would be a total revitalization.”

The premise that the Riverfront would be revitalized almost instantaneously thanks to a $1bn investment is “specious” at best, said Michael Allen, director of the St Louis-based Preservation Research Office.

“There is no other state-driven proposal to spend [$1bn] on an alternative plan for the riverfront,” Allen said. “So it’s not as if the city has even had the opportunity to weigh the merits of two or three different approaches to the site.”

He added: “The condition of the Riverfront as underpean is far down the pecking order at the Cherries, which is why he wants a move done before September 2.The European transfer window is still open, meaning Begovic could move to a club outside England for regular first team football. He has only playerforming, as undesirable, is rhetorical justification for the expenditure. And this happens with major development projects.”

One of the businesses in the project’s footprint is Shady Jack’s, an internationally known biker bar. Owner Jack Larrison said he supports the plan, as “St Louis needs something.”

“If Lewis and Clark came down the river, they’d know exactly where they landed last time because nothing’s changed,” Larrison said. Despite the praise, the grizzled, lanky native of St Louis believes a public investment should produce benefits for the entire city.

“Maybe it might be good for all of us,” he said, “but it’s definitely going to be good for a handful of people.”

On Friday, the board of aldermen will vote on whether to support the stadium proposal. If 15 of 28 members vote in support, the decision will move to the NFL, where Kroenke will need the support of 24 team owners to move the Rams elsewhere.

The NFL has several alternatives. A proposal to house the Rams at Kroenke’s stadium in Inglewood, California, may be considered by NFL owners, along with another privately funded stadium in Carson, California, where the owners of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders want to share a location.

“You’ve got to remember, we’re probably not going to get a team anyway,” said Hartmann. “We’ve spent a tremendous amount of emotional energy on this, and it’s still a long shot.”

Kei Nishikori up to world No4 after downing John Isner in Citi Open final

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On Saturday, after a tight semi-final victory in Washington DC, John Isner told the crowd that he’d need them out in full force the next day to win the title. They did their part on Sunday, showing up and providing him with backing in the championship match against world No5 Kei Nishikori, but it was not enough as the top-ranked American lost in a hard-fought three-setter, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

In a match where Nishikori was only a little better than his opponent, the final outcome was never obvious until late in the match. That’s in part because it featured just three breaks of serve. The first was for Isner, but it was the latter two for Nishikori that were ultimately the difference.

“I just didn’t make enough in-roads on his first serve, which a lot of times I struggle with,” a disappointed Isner said following the match. “And from there, he’s arguably one of the best in the world from the baseline, so it’s tough.”

The 6ft 10in Isner, known as much for his booming serve as his size, was not the better striker on this warm, slightly overcast afternoon. Nishikori managed an impressive winning percentage on his first serve, 91%, to the usually steady Isner at only 76%. Perhaps the Japanese star’s success in hindering Isner’s conversion rate stemmed from having faced and defeated other notable servers during the week: Marin Cilic in the semis in a rematch of the 2014 US Open final, and before him Aussie up-and-comer Sam Groth.

“Yeah, I’ve been returning really well this week,” Nishikori said after taking his third ATP title of the season, and 10th overall of his professional career. “I tried to play a lot of rallies. It’s never easy, but I think I am playing well against these guys.”

Add to that Nishikori’s strategy of methodicallyo di Vaio is in Los Angeles today speaking with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.Off contract next month from LA Galaxy, Ibrahimovic plans to return to Europe in January and favours a move to Serie A.Former club AC Milan have been regarded as favourites for the Sw wearing down his 30-year-old challenger with his groundstrokes during the two-hour match, and it’s easy to see why the Japanese star continues to rise in the ATP rankings. On Monday, he’ll return to a career-high of No4 after the victory. Nearly $350,000 in earnings from the week-long event doesn’t hurt either.

“His backhand is world-class,” said Isner. “He knows what he’s doing with the ball. But he also works his tail off, too. You combine those things and it’s a recipe for some good tennis.”

The turning point of the match for Nishikori actually came after Isner suddenly broke him at 5-4 to take the first set. In the pause ahead of the second, Nishikori sat dejected with a towel wrapped over his head, as much to dodge the heat as hit reset. But it gave him the motivation to respond, and respond he did. In the very next service game, Nishikori broke Isner back, taking the second set by the throat and never looking back, despite a tiny bit of trouble closing it out up 5-4 on serve.

“I got a little bit tight,” Nishikori admitted after dropping the first set. “I just tried to focus again and it was great to have the first game [a break of] his serve. Then after that I was more confident and more relaxed. Everything went well after that.”

In thgan to their preseason tour squad.The Liverpool Echo says Lonergan has joined Liverpool for their pre-season tour of the US.With Alisson yet to return and Liverpool’s younger goalkeepers sidelined, Simon Mignolet is the only senior goalkeeper in the e deciding set Nishikori again struck Isner’s serve early, this time in the third game, on his way to championship point at love.

The contest featured a clash of styles, and demeanors. While Isner is your prototypical big serving athlete, he is also the much more excitable player, riding the wave provided by the moment just as much as by the audience. Isner was emphatic with fist pumps on important and timely points won, and slumped his head just the same after losing others. Meanwhile, Nishikori is calm – a stealth assassin with a racket, a consummate returner. His game is efficient and deliberate, and he rarely takes an unnecessarymant Christian Pulisic will not be allowed to leave on loan in January.The summer arrival has played just ten minutes in the last four Premier League matches. “No,” was Lampard’s reply when asked if Pulisic could be loaned out. “With Christian he’s c swing let alone an additional step on the court. It provided for an exciting matchup for the sold-out crowd of 7,500 in DC, even if the winner was not the American for whom they were mostly pulling.

Both players now head to Montreal as they continue their preparations for the US Open, which starts on 31 August. Nishikori was a finalist in New York last year and is still looking to take the final leap and become the first Asian man ever to win a grand slam singles title. “I just can’t wait to play the US Open,” he said. “I’m just excited again to play on a big stage. I like that tournament.”

Isner listed many of Nishikori’s strengths after the match, from his pacing of play to his ability to place the ball with pinpoint precision. But it was the latter that Isner said was decisive. “I thought he played a pretty good match,” said Isner. “No panic, for sure. [He] made a lot of first serves, and was running me around the court. That’s what he does best.

“He’s a great player,” he added, “and a great champion.”

The gifs that keep on giving: Cristiano Ronaldo, Cafu, power play and a golf trick

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Show offNo one man should have all that powerCafu’s keep-upsBallsIf at first you don’t succeed…SliderA few clas Saint-Ges’ move to VfB Stuttgart was influenced by manager Jurgen Klopp.Phillips, the son of Bolton Wanderers hero Jimmy Phillips, is on a season-long loan with VfB.”My relationship with Jürgen played a role in this transfer,” VfB sports director Sven Mislirmain superstar Kylian Mbappe.Mbappe has been strongly linked with a big-money move in the summerholes has been fined after admitting breaking Football Association betting rules.The Mirror says he has been hit with an £8,000 fine and warned over his future conduct after admitting breaking Football Association betting rules.United legend Scholes, with Real Madrid and Liverpool among the teams understood to be keen on signing the French World Cup winner.The French World Cup winner, 20, isy touches from the U20 World CupThe short gameBe better than the gap

Pittsburgh Steelers re-sign linebacker James Harrison to two-year deal

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The have re-signed linebacker James Harrison to a two-year deal, bringing back the 36-year-old l also see Arsenal host Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds, while Manchester United visit Premier League rivals Wolves.Chelsea host Nottingham Forest and Tottenham will travel to Middlesbrough.Reigning champions Manchester City face a trip to League Two side Porwho had 5.5 sacks last year.

The team announced the deal on Sunday, and Harrison shared a picture of himself signing the c Sharp equaliser.Chris Wilder’s visitors, back in the top flight for the first time since 2007, looked set to leave the Vitality Stadium empty-handed after defender Chris Mepham’s first Cherries goal.With time ticking away, the 33-year-old Sharp, whoontract on Instagram and Twitter.

The five-time Pro Bowler will be entering his 13th season after spending the winter training in Arizona. This offseason, there were no questions about whether Harrison wanted to return. He came back to the Steelers in 2014 after a brief 18-day retirement. Harrison played in 11 games last season.

The team had been searching for depth at linebacker his year away on-loan with Boca Juniors.Mac Allister has reported for duty at Albion’s training base.He said: “I have changed a lot in the year since I signed for Brighton. My time at Boca helped me mature and learn a lot of things.“I think it r already, and the need amplified when Jason Worilds decided earlier this month to retire at the age of 27, skipping a massive payday on the open market.

Boston’s $63m splash on Yoan Moncada exposes flaw in system: the MLB draft

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Thirty-one and a half million dollars for a 19-year-old infield prospect.

Sixty-three million dollars, when you count the hit the Boston Red Sox had to take in luxury tax payments to sign Cuban super-prospect Yoan Moncada away from his other major-league suitors in the , the Los Angeles Angels, the Brewers (well, sort of; Milwaukee made a valiant “We Tried” offer of a “mere” $12-15m) and elsewhere. New York were involved in talks with Moncada and his representation up until the last minute, but in the end the Yankees were unwilling to go over $27m in bonus money for a kid who will start the season in the low minors.

How ridiculous, right? Especially when, as Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Drew Smyly : “It’s not right that a Cuban 19yr old gets paid 30m and the best 19yr old in the entire USA gets prob 1/6th of that. Everyone should have to go through same process”

Sure. It’s ridiculous. But not for the reasons most people, Smyly included, seem to think it is.

The international free agent status accorded to young Cuban players like Moncada who have defected to the United States (or more specifically, established residency ithe departure of Real Betis coach Quique Setien.The defender says the decision was “unfair”.Firpo told Marca: “I think maybe it was a little unfair when you consider what he achieved in two years at Betis; he did things that haven’t been seen for a ln another Latin American country then been admitted to the United States by OFAC, the Office of Foreign Assets Control) is not true free agency – Moncada’s money is entirely received in bonus form instead of a full major league contract, and he will be subject to the same service time and arbitration rules as any other player entering professional baseball from “amateur” play. He is, however, accorded the most important part of what “free agency” implies: the ability to choose, for himself, to whom he will bend his labor – in this case, playing baseball, which is very lucrative labor indeed, and not only for Moncada but all the people who profit off of actual baseball games being played: coaches, executives, and eventually and most importantly, team owners.

When Smyly points out that Moncada’s bonus is six times (really, more than six times) what a 19-year-old American-born phenom would get in the draft, he’s completely correct. But that’s not an indictment of the free agency system that allowed Moncada to get the highest amount of money that the market for his services will bear. That’s an indictment of a draft system that has always been a tool to drive down the cost of labor: the amount of money being paid to actual baseball players.

Everyone is familiar, surely, with how the league following Curt Flood, the death of the reserve clause, and then Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally’s decision to play without contracts in 1976 and thereby become free agents. It’s taken a while, but Major League Baseball has realized it just has to live with paying veteran players what the market allows for their services – which is a lot of money, given the popularity of the game they play and the insane profitability to be had from owning and running a professional sports franchise in America. And so, eventually, as salaries soared in the late 1990s thanks to attendant soaring revenues, the eyes of management shifted away from stimying veteran paychecks – and the cult of the prospect began.

Originally, it was just teams like the Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays or the Texas Rangers spending relatively vast sums of money in the draft or on young international players in lieu of spending even larger sums on veteran free agents. Then the teams with the most money – the Yankees, the Red Sox, now even the Chicago Cubs – realized that they could do both. And suddenly teams like the Atlanta Braves, and then-team president John Schuerholz, realized that they were at a significant competitive disadvantage … and that players were getting too much of the pie. Because let’s be honest: as far as maffield United boss Chris Wilder is holding back goalkeeper Michael Verrips.Voetbalnieuws says the Blades are choosing not to name the 22-year-old in their matchday squads because they are worried it could lead to an automatic forfeit of a game they anagement is concerned – not just in Atlanta, but in Tampa Bay and Chicago and Boston and New York and everywhere else – labor is always getting too much of the pie.

So in the most recent renegotiation of the collective bargaining agreement – the document that controls the relationship between the league and the MLB Players Association – the league and the union made a deal: they instituted caps on draft bonuses. Now each pick in the draft had a monetary value stapled to it, and teams that spent more than the combined value of all their picks had severe penalties assessed; some penalties were monetary, while other, more severe penalties could lead to the forfeiture of picks in future drafts. The union happily allowed this – after all, draft picks aren’t card-carrying members of the MLBPA. They’re minor leaguers. They might eventually become MLBPA members, but until the day they’re placed on a 40-man roster, they’re ; they just got a larger signing bonus up front. Well, some of them did, anyway.

That’s the system some people want to bring to young international talent like Moncada. Now that their grip on the domestic market is secure, the league is eyeing the internatCelso wants to taste the ‘magic of the FA Cup’ as attentions turn to today’s fourth round tie at Southampton.“We know how important this cup is and we’ll give our best to advance,” he said. “We know that it’s a competition that has a lot of prestional markets, and the possibility of extending its control there, too – dismantling the concept of international free agency for everyone but players coming out of the Asian professional leagues. MLB has already instituted bonus capping for this group of players in general – but it obviously wasn’t enough, as Boston paying a $31.5m penalty for signing Moncada shows. And so in the wake of Moncada’s payday, : isn’t this unfair? How could this kid deserve this much money? Wouldn’t it be better if we just had an international draft?

To which I respond: wouldn’t it be better if we had no draft at all? This country claims, after all, to be all about free markets. And the reason that Moncada’s bonus is so high is because, if you’ll recall your basic economics, he’s the sole current provider of a service that’s in high demand. Were he forced to compete in the marketplace against all 1,215 players selected in last year’s draft – or even just the top 50 high-school seniors in the country, to be more realistic given his talent – not only would his bonus be lower, but those kids would be getting paid more.

After all, to paraphrase Drew Smyly, what’s less fair: Yoan Moncada getting paid $31.5m by an industry that took in over $9bn in revenue in 2014 alone? Or some kid from Oklahoma with the same amount of talent maybe getting one-sixth of that?

Abolish the draft.

New England Patriots woken by second fire alarm at Super Bowl hotel

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As the debate over the Patriots , it appears Tom Brrsenal.The former Atletico Madrid winger has been eyed by Unai Emery and Arsenal for a while, with the Gunners expressing an interest in signing him in January before moving for Denis Suarez instead.But they have moved for him again as they look to iady and Co may be on the end of subterfuge themselves.

When the fire alarm in the Patriots’ hotel sounded in the early hours of Tuesday morning, staff called ii Matteo says John Terry will be the next manager of Chelsea.Terry is currently an assistant coach at Aston Villa.Di Matteo told The Athletic: “If you can sign JT, you get him.”He’s a guy who makes things easierg world-class talent, says the Football Association’s Kelly Simmons, reports BBC Sport.English top-flight sides are currently permitted to spend 40% of their turnover on wages, under FA rules.The USA’s NWSL has upped its salary cap by nearly 20% to $ for the manager. “He, too, will be thet “an anomaly”.

That anomaly looked more like a trend when the same thing happened at 5am on Thursday.

Rob Gronkoswki said he slept through the alarm, and many of the players will be used to such tactics from their time in college football.

The gifs that keep on giving: Garrincha, Lionel Messi, Eli Manning and Willian

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Leave it all on the fieldLionel Mn Williams is ith victory over friendly opponents Inter Milan on Saturday.After coming off the bench to add plenty of passion and energy to the proceedings, thonship.Villa know they will face a tough task as they hope to maintain their newly achieved Premier League status next season.The Daily Mirrorsays they are hoping to follow up the signing of Wesley Moraes from Club Brugge with other bold moves.They ae Brazil international was happy to take three points from a difficult fixture in sweltering conditions.Mcapable of filling in for injured left-back Luke Shaw.Shaw has been out for two months and missed eleven games with a hamstring injury – and in his absence 19-year-old local lad Williams has looked a star in the making in the games heessi nutmeggedThrough the legs Great save, great save, great saveGarrincha ()Guess whoFace offTo the right (to the left)See you later…