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Updated: 54 min 28 sec ago

To kneel or not to kneel? Lewis Hamilton faces decision before US GP

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 06:18
The championship leader is considering kneeling during the US national anthem on Sunday but F1 and politics have never been comfortable bedfellows

Lewis Hamilton is the most fascinating character in Formula One and thankfully so. It is a sport whose participants have become so stage-managed as to have hidden their personalities behind a slick corporate veneer. Hamilton has been steadfast in remaining true to himself. At this weekend’s US Grand Prix, he may do so again but with potentially huge and also perhaps unexpected repercussions. If the British driver chooses to kneel during the US national anthem on Sunday, as he has said he is considering, it will put him at the heart of one of the most divisive conflicts between politics and sport in recent history.

Related: Ferrari vow to fight Lewis Hamilton to the bitter end of 2017 season | Giles Richards

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Long ball need not be the wrong ball for Pep Guardiola's Manchester City | Paul Wilson

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 05:29

The City manager says he is in the job to win not to entertain but, as Napoli demonstrated, a stubborn refusal to go direct could offer opponents hope

Immediately after Saturday’s strikingly beautiful demolition of Stoke City, which came if you remember a couple of hours after Manchester United’s exercise in cautious negativity at Anfield, Pep Guardiola was asked whether he would always insist on his Manchester City team being committed to entertaining football.

No, came the somewhat surprising answer. “I am not here for entertainment. I am here to win.”

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Was MLS really to blame for USA's World Cup failure?

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 05:00

MLS and the USMNT have helped each other out down the years. But the domestic league deserves at least some time under the microscope

A full week has passed since a dreadful 90 minutes took the USA from part of the World Cup furniture to tournament spectators. A lot of blame has understandably fallen on the coaches this cycle, the system that developed the players and the federation’s leadership, namely its president, Sunil Gulati.

However, the influence of Major League Soccer deserves its time under the microscope too. MLS is very much indebted to the US men’s soccer program, having been founded as a condition to the country’s successful bid to host the 1994 World Cup. Ever since the league’s post-expansion revival in 2006, MLS and the US men’s national team have been frenemies – needing each other to coexist, but never agreeing on the terms of their interdependence.

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US F1 classics, Spurs and Manchester United's 1956 NYC date and Nat Sciver | Classic YouTube

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 05:00

This week’s roundup also features Mitch Trubisky’s two-point conversion, some UFC cartwheeling and fun and games in Bosnian football

1) Lewis Hamilton can overtake Michael Schumacher in the all-time US Grand Prix standings with victory on Sunday. Back when a dry F1 race wasn’t settled on the first corner, the 1990 edition saw Ayrton Senna and Jean Alesi juke out a classic in Phoenix. Hamilton won on the race’s return in 2002, as the DRS zone delivered some great racing in the newly minted Circuit of the Americas. In 1984, Nigel Mansell got out and pushed his Lotus toward the finish line in Dallas, but fainted from exhaustion in searing heat. At least some racing happened, unlike the controversial 2005 procession for Michael Schumacher at the Indianapolis Raceway, where Martin Brundle delivered an all-time classic paddock interview with Bernie Ecclestone. Indy was no stranger to the bizarre, just ask 2002 winner Rubens Barrichello. Finally, here’s the 1976 edition, where James Hunt closed Niki Lauda’s driver’s championship lead to just three points.

2) Natalie Sciver announced herself as a star as England won the Women’s World Cup at Lord’s this summer but she made the Australians take notice in the 2015 Ashes, hitting 66 to set up victory in the first one day international of the series. Sarah Taylor has long been a thorn in the side of the Southern Stars – this catch from the third ODI back in 2013 is still jaw dropping:

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Football transfer rumours: Gareth Bale to return to Tottenham Hotspur?

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 04:12

Today’s tell all is expecting another very busy day

Spanish sports news purveyors Don Balon say Gareth Bale could make a surprise return to Tottenham, despite his current employers, Real Madrid, having previously rebuffed advances from Chelsea and Manchester United. With Isco and Marco Asensio proving more than capable of filling his Adidas Predator Precisions, the injury prone Welshman is fast becoming surplus to requirements at the Bernabéu and has even been subjected to jeers and whistles from the cheap seats during some of his appearances this season.

Bale, 28, was heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford during the summer and speculation persists. Nevertheless, Don Balon report that he would rather move to Tottenham, the club that helped make him a star. In May 2015, at a time when Bale was being heavily criticised for poor performances towards the end of his second season in Spain, Mauricio Pochettino said Tottenham were “open to receive” him back at White Hart Lane if he was “not comfortable” at Real Madrid. “Tottenham will always have a place in my heart,” said Bale a year after his move to Spain. “I hope the fans still love me even though I’ve moved on. I love Spurs fans; you never know, I could come back one day.”

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Uneasiness pervades at Chelsea, with Antonio Conte among the malcontents | Sachin Nakrani

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 04:00

The champions picked up more knocks in the 3-3 draw with Roma but it is the mood of their manager that must be most vexing for the Stamford Bridge board

Who says the Champions League group‑stage games are boring? Anyone who does should have been at Stamford Bridge on an evening when the early scent of smoke in the air preceded a firecracker of a match between teams who sit fifth in their respective top flights. Six goals and enough passages of enthralling play to leave everyone in attendance giddy on the spectacle of it all.

Or perhaps not, if Antonio Conte’s reaction to the final whistle was anything to go by. While the majority caught their breath, the Italian grimaced, politely shook hands with his counterpart, Eusebio Di Francesco, and headed down the tunnel. The simmering fury was clear, the sense that this match had been something to endure rather than enjoy, obvious to see.

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José Mourinho and Antonio Conte exchange barbs – video

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 03:50

José Mourinho and Antonio Conte exchange some tense words on Wednesday following Manchester United's win over Benfica and Chelsea's draw with Roma in the Champions League. Mourinho says other managers are quick to bemoan injuries and argues he does not 'cry' when players are hurt. Conte suggests the Portuguese should concentrate on his own team  

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AFL trade period: late deals follow usual inanity and absurdity

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 00:08

With the innuendo and guesswork of the past 11 days over for another year, the winners and losers can finally be identified

To abbreviate the infinite monkey theorem, a thousand monkeys given laptops and AFL media accreditation will eventually type the complete works of William Shakespeare… or at a pinch, Will Schofield.

While progress on Much Ado About Nothing would have been sluggish during the 11 days of the AFL trade period, in one corner of the room it is possible that a monkey may have blown through 600 words on the Bulldogs’ Jake Stringer, two second-round Essendon selections and pick 13 from West Coast. Although if there’s an analogy to be made about monkeys and the trade period it’s likely a scatological one given the amount of shit that gets picked up and tossed around.

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Q&A: How a day of drama unfolded for the FA at Westminster | Martha Kelner

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 20:00
The FA leaders could not have imagined their day in front of the digital, culture, media and sport committee over the Eni Aluko and Mark Sampson controversy could go much worse

Who was present at the House of Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee hearing?

On one side was England footballer Eni Aluko and her former team‑mate and close friend Lianne Sanderson. On the other were four FA executives – the chairman, Greg Clarke, the chief executive, Martin Glenn, the technical director, Dan Ashworth, and the human resources director, Rachel Brace. Providing the questions was a panel of 11 cross-party MPs including the committee chair Damian Collins.

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Chelsea’s Antonio Conte hits back at Mourinho barb after draw with Roma

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 19:05

• ‘I think he has to think about his team and start looking at himself’
• Manchester United manager had said ‘other managers cry and cry’

Antonio Conte has reacted angrily to José Mourinho’s observation that “other managers cry and cry and cry” about injuries to their players, a criticism perceived to be aimed at the Chelsea manager, and suggested his opposite number at Manchester United should concentrate on his own team.

Related: Eden Hazard strikes twice to earn Chelsea draw after Edin Dzeko double for Roma

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All Blacks missing Beauden Barrett for final Bledisloe Test

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 18:59
  • Lima Sopoaga replaces concussed five-eighth
  • All Blacks otherwise unchanged for dead rubber in Brisbane

All Blacks five-eighth Beauden Barrett will sit out Saturday’s third Bledisloe Cup clash against Australia due to concussion issues, opening the door for Lima Sopoaga to make just his second Test start.

Barrett suffered a head knock in the world champions’ last-up win over South Africa and is still feeling the effects, despite passing concussion tests. Coach Steve Hansen has taken a conservative approach with Barrett and sidelined the Hurricanes ace, calling up Sopoaga in his place.

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Champions League round-up: Messi hits 100th European goal as 10-man Barça win

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 18:11
• Barcelona beat Olympiakos 3-1 despite Gerard Piqué’s first-half sending off
• Basel shock CSKA Moscow with a superb 2-0 away victory

Lionel Messi scored his 100th European goal as Barcelona maintained their 100 % winning start in Champions League Group D with a 3-1 victory over Olympiakos at the Camp Nou.

A Dimitris Nikolaou own goal set the five-time European champions on their way but Gerard Piqué’s red card for two bookable offences just before half-time gave the visitors a glimmer of hope.

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Sled dogs test positive for banned drug for first time in Iditarod history

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 18:03

Several canines test positive for opioid pain reliever Tramadol but Alaska race officials refuse to name musher involved

For the first time in the history of the world’s most famous sled dog race, several of the high-performance animals have tested positive for a prohibited drug.

Several dogs tested positive for the opioid pain reliever Tramadol, the governing board of the nearly 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail sled dog race said in a statement. The team was tested six hours after finishing the nearly 1,000-mile race in Nome in March, officials said. They estimate the drug could have been administered between 15 hours before the test and right before it.

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FA needs urgent change at the top after damning day at Eni Aluko hearing | Martha Kelner

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 17:30

Martin Glenn should be among the casualties after select committee inquiry shines light on shameful failings in handling discrimination allegations

Greg Clarke got his handshake from Eni Aluko in the end. After a devastating four-hour parliamentary hearing that fully illuminated the Football Association’s shambolic handling of her allegations of discrimination, it was a confused gesture of goodwill. “I want to meet with you properly,” he said. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to try anything, it’ll all be above board.”

That the chairman of the FA felt he had to give such assurances to a wronged party, particularly one who played for England 102 times over a glittering 11-year international career, shows what a miserable mess this saga has become. That meeting may never happen, not least because Aluko’s devastating testimony should spell the end – certainly for the chief executive, Martin Glenn, and possibly Clarke and the technical director, Dan Ashworth, too.

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Rashford preys on Benfica keeper’s error for Manchester United winner

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 16:56

This was an uneven Manchester United display lit up by the stellar talent of Marcus Rashford.José Mourinho’s team were heading for a draw or worse until the teenager took hold of this Group A game following the break. Rashford had been terrorising Benfica with his pace when he stepped up to take a free-kick from 40 yards out on the left touchline.

The United striker spotted Mile Svilar, who became the youngest ever goalkeeper to start in the Champions League, out of position, promptly hit the ball over him and though the 18-year-old caught it, he failed to keep it from crossing the line to gift the visitors victory.

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Eden Hazard strikes twice to earn Chelsea draw after Edin Dzeko double for Roma

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 16:53

Chelsea halted a losing run here but, even in the knowledge that their leadership of this group is maintained, Antonio Conte will not be hoodwinked by this result. There had been moments when his side gasped at the ferocity of Roma’s muscular approach, and periods when the home team were left flailing desperately in pursuit of the ball. Their head coach will shudder at the memory of another opponent, this time crammed with former Manchester City players rather than Pep Guardiola’s current crop, dominating the play so confidently.

Yet there was also character and belief from players who appear increasingly stretched by a remorseless schedule. There were 15 minutes to play when Eden Hazard found space in Roma’s box to guide home Pedro’s centre and ensure the hosts at least salvaged a point. Their earlier two-goal lead had always felt deceptive, and the Italians will be licking their lips at the prospect of confronting Conte’s side at the Stadio Olimpico on 31 October. But, for now, Chelsea have at least stopped the rot.

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Celtic thrashed by rampant Bayern Munich in Champions League mis-match

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 16:52

Celtic are becoming ominously accustomed to Champions League mismatches. The margin of defeat in the Allianz Arena may not have been as harrowing as those delivered by Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain in the last 13 months but the tale of a gulf in class was familiar. Bayern – this recently rejuvenated Bayern – further demonstrated the gulf in chasm between Europe’s elite and the rest; and did so with consummate ease.

Nonetheless, it would be remiss to ignore the failure of Celtic to do themselves justice. Whereas Brendan Rodgers had spoken before the game in wholly positive terms, his sentiment was undermined by failings everywhere.

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NFL Commissioner Goodell says players 'should stand' for anthem – video

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 16:15

Roger Goodell says all NFL players should stand for the national anthem pre-games. Speaking on Wednesday, Goodell said the league will encourage players to stand for the anthem but declines to weigh-in on situations where owners decide to punish players for not standing

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Chicago Bulls ban Bobby Portis for punch that put team-mate in hospital

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 15:24
  • Nikola Mirotic suffered concussion and broken bones during fight
  • Portis will miss first eight games of season after team suspension

The Chicago Bulls have suspended forward Bobby Portis for the first eight games of their season for injuring team-mate Nikola Mirotic during a fight at practice.

“Both players owned responsibility in the incident itself,” said John Paxson, the Bulls’ president of basketball operations. “But only one player threw a punch. And that punch connected and for us that is inexcusable. It’s not who we are. It disappoints us in terms of what happened and because of that we’ve determined that we’re going to suspend Bobby for eight games.”

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Leicester’s new manager search goes on as Allardyce and Ancelotti are ruled out

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 15:20
• Burnley’s Sean Dyche and David Wagner of Huddersfield under consideration
• Leicester hope to replace Craig Shakespeare before Everton visit

Leicester City’s search for a new manager in the wake of Craig Shakespeare’s dismissal looks like being far from straightforward, with Carlo Ancelotti and Sam Allardyce among the high-profile names to distance themselves from a vacancy that the Premier League club hope to fill in time for Everton’s visit on Sunday week.

Moves for some of the other candidates under consideration, including Sean Dyche at Burnley and David Wagner at Huddersfield Town, threaten to be complicated by the fact that they are currently in a job, raising questions not so much about the amount of compensation that would be due but more the willingness of clubs to grant permission for any talks.

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