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Bulgaria versus England game should have been abandoned, anti-racism body says

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Anti-racism organisation, Kick It Out, has criticised European football’s governing body UEFA for failing to abandon Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria after England’s black players were subjected to monkey chants.

The game was twice halted in the first half, with the first being when England manager Gareth Southgate informed the UEFA delegate about incidents and a public announcement was made.

The abuse continued and the Group A match, which England went on to win 6-0, was again temporarily suspended by the referee under a three-step UEFA protocol for tackling abuse.

UEFA said it would announce possible disciplinary proceedings later on Tuesday or on Wednesday once it had received full reports from match officials.

Around 50 black-clad Bulgarian fans, some of whom were seen making Nazi salutes, left the stadium before half-time and the second half was completed without further stoppages.

Kick It Out said it was “sickened by the disgusting racist abuse” and suggested UEFA should have taken stronger action.

“We are encouraged that the protocol was initially enforced by the match officials, but UEFA must explain why players weren’t sent to the dressing room during Step Two, as is clearly stated in the rules.

“TV footage also clearly shows that racist abuse continued in the second half, so it is unacceptable that Step Three was not enforced. This match should have been abandoned by the officials.

“It’s now time for UEFA to step up and show some leadership. For far too long, they have consistently failed to take effective action,” a statement read.

The first step of UEFA’s protocol was enacted after 28 minutes when England defender Tyrone Mings was subjected to abuse and an announcement was made calling on supporters to stop using racist chants.

The second step, according to UEFA’s protocol, is for the players to be sent to the dressing rooms for a specified period.

This was never implemented in Sofia although UEFA said there had been a discussion with the England bench after the second incident and they had agreed to continue as it was so close to half-time.

Step three, according to UEFA, is “after consultation, abandon the match if the discriminatory behaviour still does not cease or breaks out again.”

UEFA is yet to comment officially on the incidents.

The threat of racism had dominated the build-up to the game.

Part of the stadium was empty after UEFA punished Bulgaria for racist behaviour by fans during June’s qualifiers against the Czechs and Kosovo.

Bulgarian supporters also made monkey chants at visiting black players when England last travelled to Sofia for a European qualifier in 2011.

It had prompted UEFA to fine the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) 40,000 euros (about 44,072 dollars).

Kick It Out said the punishments were futile.

“The fact Bulgaria are already hosting this game with a partial stadium closure for racist abuse shows that UEFA’s sanctions are not fit for purpose more pitiful fines or short stadium bans.

“If UEFA care at all about tackling discrimination and if the Equal Game campaign means anything, then points deductions and tournament expulsion must follow,” it said.(Reuters/NAN)


BOG/OLAL

(Edited by Olawale Alabi)

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Rohr’s contract extension lies with NFF-Dare

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The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare says the issue of contract extension for Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr lies with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

The minister gave the clarification on Wednesday in Abuja at a brief meeting with Rohr before dashing for the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the presidential villa.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the media have been awashed with news of a log jam on the extension of the coach’s contract.

Rohr’s current contract expires in June 2020 which will fall to the middle of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers.

Dare, however, stressed that the ministry would continue to give the coach all the necessary support as the NFF finalises its meeting on the contract talks.

“The issue of contract (with Rohr) will be best handled by the NFF, I understand the need to work the fine lines.

“I understand there is a contractual arrangement with the NFF, I will allow the NFF to work through its process, ” the minister said.

Dare charged the coach not to be distracted but intensify efforts to take Nigerian football to the pinnacle.

“Are we happy about where our football is at the moment, not exactly but we know there’s an ongoing process that we make this country a better football nation. That process is on and you are part of the process”,he added.

He  tasked the coach on working with stakeholders to develop the Nigeria Professional League (NPL) in line with international best practice.

” More importantly your knowledge and support for the domestic league will be very important because you can share your experience with our local coaches, ” the minister said.

Earlier, Rohr congratulated the minister on his appointment and efforts to reposition Nigerian sports.

He pledged to work more closely with the minister going forward as the Super Eagles strive to pick the AFCON 2021 ticket.

High point of the event was the presentation of an autographed Super Eagles jersey by the coach to the minister.

Nigeria currently top group L of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers with six maximum points ahead of Benin Republic, Sierra Leone and Lesotho.

Edited by Joseph Edeh/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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AAU boss commends Gov. Abiodun on sports development

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The President of the African Association of Ultrarunners (AAU), Solomon Ogba, has commended the Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun for his giant strides toward sports development.

Ogba, a former President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), gave the commendation in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos on Wednesday.

He applauded the governor for accepting to host the first African Ultra Race Championship in Ogun State.

“The Ogun State Government has been so supportive and has given us all the cooperation to ensure a successful hosting of the African Championship on Dec. 7, 2019.

“The governor showed us great understanding of his knowledge about sports development. This has spurred us on to strongly believe in his ability.

“The Value Jet 50km Remo Ultra Race would in a very short time become one of the best in the world, especially as Ogun state is hosting the very first edition in Africa,’’ he said.

Ogba said the success of the first edition of the JAC Motors Abeokuta 10km Road Race was a great indicator that the Dec. 7 Value Jet 50km Remo Ultra Race would be a huge success.

Ogba is also currently a Board member of the AFN.

The President of the International Association of Ultrarunners, Nadeem Khan, who witnessed the Abeokuta 10km Road Race, also commended the state government for its commitment toward sports development.

Khan, who inspected the Remo Ultra Race route in Sagamu, described it as one of the best he had seen in the world in recent times.

“I am optimistic that come Dec. 7 the 50km Ultra Race in Ogun state will record monumental achievements.

“The achievements will send great messages out to the world about the viability of the state in sports development,” he said.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that over 10,000 runners from Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, Ghana, Tanzania, Morocco, Tunisia and Nigeria will compete in the First Value Jet 50km Remo Ultra Race African Championship.

Edited by Adeleye Ajayi

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Tottenham Hotspur name Mourinho as manager

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Tottenham Hotspur have named Jose Mourinho as their new manager on a contract that runs until the end of the 2022 to 2023 season, the Premier League club said on Wednesday.

The 56-year-old Portuguese returns to management for the first time since being sacked by Manchester United in December, and replaces Mauricio Pochettino, who was sacked on Tuesday.

“In Jose we have one of the most successful managers in football,” Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy said in a statement on the club website.

“He has a wealth of experience, can inspire teams and is a great tactician. He has won honours at every club he has coached. We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.”

Spurs, who currently sit 14th in the league, are the third Premier League club that Mourinho will manage.

“I am excited to be joining a club with such a great heritage and such passionate supporters,” Mourinho said.

“The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me. Working with these players is what has attracted me.”

Edited by Joseph Edeh/Ismail Abdulaziz

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Tottenham part ways with Pochettino

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Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has left his post after five years in charge after a disappointing start to the season, the Premier League club said on Tuesday.

The Argentine, appointed by the north London club in 2014, had turned Tottenham into a force in England and took them to the Champions League final in June.

Results have tailed off badly this season, however, and Tottenham have won only three of their opening 12 Premier League games and are in 14th spot.

They were also thrashed 7-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Pochettino’s assistant Jesus Perez and the rest of his backroom staff have also been relieved of their duties, the club said in a statement.

“We were extremely reluctant to make this change and it is not a decision the Board has taken lightly, nor in haste,” Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said.

“Regrettably domestic results at the end of last season and beginning of this season have been extremely disappointing.

“It falls to the Board to make the difficult decisions — this one made more so given the many memorable moments we have had with Mauricio and his coaching staff — but we do so in the club’s best interests.”

Tottenham finished in the top-four of the Premier League for the past four seasons under Pochettino who has become a much-loved figure amongst the fans since joining from Southampton.

They also mounted serious title challenges in 2015-16 and again in 2016-17 when they finished second to Chelsea.

Last season they enjoyed a fairytale run to the Champions League final, beating Ajax Amsterdam on away goals in the semi-final after trailing 3-0 on aggregate at halftime in the second leg.

They lost 2-0 to Liverpool in the final in Madrid.

“Mauricio and his coaching staff will always be part of our history,” Levy said.

“I have the utmost admiration for the manner in which he dealt with the difficult times away from a home ground whilst we built the new stadium and for the warmth and positivity he brought to us.

“I should like to thank him and his coaching staff for all they have contributed. They will always be welcome here.”

The statement said an update on the new coaching set-up would be made in due course.

Edited by Joseph Edeh/Maharazu Ahmed

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Athletics’world body ratifies half marathon record set by Kenya’s Kamworor

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World Athletics, the world governing body of athletics, on Tuesday said it has ratified Geoffrey Kamworor’s world half marathon record of 58 minutes 01 seconds.

In a sensational run, Kamworor removed 22 seconds from the previous record at the Copenhagen Half Marathon on Sept. 15.

He was tantalisingly close to breaking the event’s 58-minute barrier.

It was an apt setting for the 26-year-old Kenyan who won the first of his three successive world half marathon titles in the streets of the Danish capital in 2014.

Covering the first five kilometres in 13:53, just outside world record pace, Kamworor upped the tempo to reach 10 kilometres in 27:34, four seconds inside his stated target.

He was in front alone by the 11-kilometre mark, but did not slow down.

The Kenyan reached 15 kilometres in 41:05, the fastest time ever recorded for that distance and a stunning 11 seconds inside sub-58 minute pace.

His pace dropped over the waning stages but he still reached 20 kilometres in 55:00, another world best.

He was just a few metres from the finish line as the clock moved to 58 minutes before stopping at 58:01.

“It is very emotional for me to set this record,” said Kamworor, who also won back-to-back world cross country titles in 2015 and 2017.

“And doing it in Copenhagen, where I won my first world title, adds something to it.”

World Athletics said in a statement to announce the ratification that the previous record of 58:23 was set by Zersenay Tadese in Lisbon in 2010.

World Athletics is the new name for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

OLAL

(Edited by Olawale Alabi)

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60 Goals Soccer Stars Project: 150 youngsters picked for mentoring ahead of professional football career

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Organisers of the 60 Goals Soccer Stars Project, a grassroots-based football talent-hunt initiative, on Tuesday in Abuja said they have now selected 150 young Nigerians for mentorship.

Jane Ndubuisi, the project’s National Co-ordinator, said at a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja that the selected players would then be endorsed for a professional football career.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the 60 Goals Soccer Stars Project is a collaboration with the Ned Nwoko Foundation.

Ndubuisi said the football youngsters were selected from screenings by the group in Lagos, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Anambra and the FCT during the first phase of the project.

She added that the young footballers were presently being camped, mentored and recommended for football agents, clubs and the project’s partners both within and outside Nigeria.

“In the past eight months, we have been moving from state to state as part of our vision to scout, discover and develop raw talents in football to be showcased to the world.

“We are happy to announce that some of the best talents in football have been finally selected for the first phase of the project, and we believe that in the nearest future they will make Nigeria proud.

“I appreciate and congratulate these young players for showing commitment and discipline during this period.

“We believe strongly that at least 50 of the selected players will make it to foreign clubs in this first phase, while the others will be mentored and further trained for opportunities that will come,” Ndubuisi said.

Also, Francis Ikechukwu, the initiative’s Project Director and former national under-23 player said: “Nigeria is blessed with abundant talents but they need platforms like this to showcase themselves.

“The project is to develop football from the grassroots by discovering and empowering these young ones who had no opportunities.

“We want the best for them. So, we brought in foreign coaches as part of their mentorship, and thereafter we shall give them endorsements and recommend them for agents,” he said.

John Fashanu, an ex-international footballer, who represented at the occasion Ned Nwoko, the head of the Ned Nwoko Foundation, congratulated the selected youths.

He urged them to remain focused in order to stand out as they begin their professional football life.

“This is the beginning of your journey as footballers. So, I urge you to go on and work hard because the agents and clubs know what they want. They want real talent.

“The Ned Nwoko Foundation, as always, is willing to support this project to ensure that young Nigerians, especially, realise their dreams.”

NAN reports that football scouts and agents, as well as football enthusiasts were present at the event.

(Edited by Olawale Alabi)

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