Olympic gold medal-winning canoeist Etienne Stott was one of hundreds arrested during climate change protests in London over the weekend.
The 39-year-old, who won C2 canoe slalom gold at London 2012, was carried from Waterloo Bridge by four police officers on Sunday evening.
He had shouted of the “ecological crisis” and earlier given a speech while sat on top of a bus stop.
Speaking on Saturday, Stott said the protests were “really important”.
“I don’t think there is anything more meaningful that I could be doing in my life right now,” said Manchester-born Stott.
“I feel like it is really tough to disrupt people’s lives like this, but this is really important because I believe the disruption that will come down the line if we do not declare a climate emergency and do not tackle this situation of climate change, it will just dwarf any inconvenience here today.”
As of 19:00 BST on Sunday, a total of 963 people had been arrested during the Extinction Rebellion protests in the UK capital, but only 40 people have been charged.
Thousands of people have been campaigning at sites including Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge, Westminster and Marble Arch.
Britain’s Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong is “in awe” of her players after they won promotion to World Group II for the first time in 26 years.
Every match in their 3-1 play-off win over Kazakhstan, in London was a nerve-shredding three-setter.
Katie Boulter was a set and break down before the decisive win over Zarina Diyas, and Johanna Konta trailed 4-1 in the third set against Yulia Putintseva.
“It was such an incredible effort,” Keothavong said.
“I am just totally in awe of these women.”
Boulter’s 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 6-1 triggered wild celebrations after Great Britain finally got themselves out of the third tier of women’s team tennis after four failures at the same stage in the previous seven years.
Keothavong, who played in two of those play-offs and captained the others, said the victory at the Copper Box Arena was “right up there” as one of her best achievements in tennis.
“I couldn’t get there as a player but to be able to captain this achievement and to finally achieve it together after so long is definitely a highlight for me,” she said.
“Watching the players develop and grow; watching Jo lead this team as the number one; playing a small part in something much bigger is a very proud moment for me.”
Konta, whose stunning 4-6 6-2 7-5 victory over Putintseva on Sunday had put Britain one win away from promotion, said she was “speechless” following the team’s triumph.
“I have dreamed of being a part of the team that was able to achieve this,” the world number 46 added.
Springboard for bigger things’
Keothavong hopes Fed Cup success will provide a “springboard for bigger and better things” for 22-year-old Boulter.
The British number two was impressive on her debut at February’s Europe/Africa Zone round-robin event in Bath, winning all of her singles rubbers.
She held three match points against Kazakh number one Putintseva on Saturday although she eventually lost, but she picked herself up – despite a back problem – to win the tie with the comeback win over Diyas.
She has shot up the world rankings in the past year and is now ranked 86th after breaking into the top 100 in November.
And in January Boulter, alongside British team-mate Cameron Norrie, beat 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and Frances Tiafoe in the mixed doubles at the Hopman Cup.
“For Katie, this can be used as a springboard for bigger and better things. The players need to use it in a positive way,” Keothavong said.
Boulter said she will learn from the experience, especially the defeat by Putintseva that she said at the time would stay in her mind “for a long time”.
“We all have good days and bad days but I will fight and get up for the next match no matter what the circumstances are,” Boulter said.
‘Utterly brilliant’, ‘inspired’, ‘an amazing achievement’ – reaction to the GB’s success
Former British number one Annabel Croft, now a television commentator and analyst: “Absolutely amazing weekend of tennis. Congrats to Johanna Konta, Katie Boulter, Anne Keothavong and the rest of the Fed Cup team. Inspired performances with home fans cheering at the Copper Box.
British doubles player Jamie Murray, who helped the nation win the Davis Cup in 2015: “What a weekend for the GB Fed Cup team! Amazing achievement girls!”
Leon Smith, Britain’s Davis Cup captain: “That was utterly brilliant from our GB Fed Cup Team. This team deserves so much praise. Well done all. Bring on the World Group! Come on!!”
Ayoze Perez made the difference, scoring all three goals as they saw off a spirited second-half performance from the Saints.
Benitez, who is out of contract in the summer, said nothing had changed in regard to his job situation and suggested he still needs assurances before deciding his future.
We are in the same position as we were before,” he said. “When I came here, I could see the potential of the club to be challenging, certainly for seventh to 10th in the table but looking higher.
“But when you analyse the transfer fees and wage bills of other teams, we’re not competing.
“I am the manager until 30 June. We can see the potential. When you see the teams between seventh and 15th, we have to compete with them.”
Benitez suggested earlier in the week that he wanted, to manage in the Champions League again, which will leave Newcastle fans nervous that he will not renew his contract when it expires.
For now though, this win propelled Newcastle into 12th place in the Premier League table, 10 points above the relegation zone and almost certainly safe for another season.
“Mathematically, we will have to wait and see what happens,” Benitez said. “But I think we will be safe.”
For Southampton, an improved second-half performance yielded only substitute Mario Lemina’s goal and they sit just five points above Cardiff in 18th with four games to play.
For now though, this win propelled Newcastle into 12th place in the Premier League table, 10 points above the relegation zone and almost certainly safe for another season.
“Mathematically, we will have to wait and see what happens,” Benitez said. “But I think we will be safe.”
For Southampton, an improved second-half performance yielded only substitute Mario Lemina’s goal and they sit just five points above Cardiff in 18th with four games to play.
Battle to stay up
Crystal Palace (H)
West Ham (A)
Man Utd (A)
Man City (H)
Clinical Perez on fire for Newcastle
Perez had scored four in his last seven homes games as well as the winner at Leicester last weekend and he continued his fine run of form with a superbly taken hat-trick.
His first was a perfectly placed clipped shot, kissing the inside of the far post after Isaac Hayden had won the ball back in midfield.
He followed that up two minutes later as his determination to meet Salomon Rondon’s low cross ahead of Ryan Bertrand bought him and his team a second goal.
After Newcastle had toiled in the second half, he completed his hat-trick with just four minutes left, poaching a close range header after Matt Ritchie had bravely dived in to win a rushed Southampton clearance.
Perez has now got 10 Premier League goals this season, the first Newcastle player to do so since Georginio Wijnaldum in 2015-16.
Perez’s burgeoning confidence crowned a strong performance from Newcastle who, after a 10th place finish last season, are chasing down the top half of the table once again.
Benitez has done a remarkable job on limited resources but, with Premier League survival almost certainly secured, it is surely imperative that they keep hold of him and back him significantly if this club is going to return to where it feel it belongs, challenging at the higher end of the table.
Saints fail to take their chances
Saints didn’t deserve a point – Hasenhuttl
Southampton had won four of their previous six games in the Premier League but it took time for them to warm up in the Easter sunshine at St James’ Park.
In a disappointing first-half performance, they were barely involved as Newcastle’s full-pitch pressing game squeezed the life out of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.
Indeed, it could have been worse for the Saints, had referee Anthony Taylor not showed leniency when last-man James Ward-Prowse cynically took out Miguel Almiron.
Tactical changes at half-time however gave them a boost and substitute Mario Lemina took his opening superbly, slotting home after fellow sub Stuart Armstrong’s lay-off.
Maya Yoshida ought to have levelled matters but he somehow volleyed over with the goal at his mercy midway through the second half. The Japanese defender should also have scored in injury time but his header was brilliantly turned aside by Martin Dubravka.
Despite the improvement, it’s a reality check for Hasenhuttl’s team who are not mathematically safe and may require points from their remaining games to ensure Premier League survival.
Man of the match: Ayoze Perez (Newcastle)
‘We’re still far away’ – what they said:
Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez: “The main thing was to win. I’m really proud of this group of players for working so hard.
“Ayoze has to be consistent but he is capable of doing this kind of thing [scoring hat-tricks] and has the quality.”
On his own future: “Today, we will enjoy it. In an ideal world I want to compete for something. That’s the main thing. If you analyse the transfer fee and wage bill, it’s far away.
“We’ll keep preparing the team and see.”
Newcastle’s hat-trick hero Ayoze Perez: “It’s an unbelievable feeling to get three goals and get three important points. I need to thank my team-mates for the way we are playing and I am very proud of myself for the hat-trick.
“It’s been a couple of months that are very important for us. We’ve done very well, We’ve got great results and now that we’re safe we’re going to start looking forward and up and finish even better.”
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl: “The first half was too bad so we didn’t deserve to get anything. If you start like that and are 2-0 down at half-time, it’s hard to come back.
“Changing shape caused more problems for Newcastle. They didn’t have a lot of chances in the second half, apart from hitting the post, which was lucky.
“We have to be sharper and more aggressive. We know we are not safe – 40 points is the reason why it’s a crucial game on Tuesday. We need to be concentrated and hard working.”
Saints join City and Spurs in goal record – the stats
This was Newcastle’s sixth home Premier League win of 2019 – only Man City (8) and Arsenal (7) have won more.
Southampton have lost three of their last four away Premier League games (W1 D0 L3), having lost just one of their first four away matches under Ralph Hasenhuttl (W2 D2 L1).
Ayoze Perez’s hat-trick was Newcastle’s first in the Premier League since October 2015, when Georginio Wijnaldum scored four times against Norwich City.
Ayoze Perez has scored 10 Premier League goals this season – his best tally in a single top-flight season for Newcastle United.
Newcastle’s Ayoze Perez has scored seven goals in his last seven Premier League appearances at St James’ Park.
Salomon Rondon has been involved in more Premier League goals than any other Newcastle player this season (15: 9 goals, 6 assists).
Southampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn conceded a Premier League hat-trick 25 years and 11 days after his father Bryan Gunn conceded one in the Premier League against Southampton in April 1994, with Matt Le Tissier scoring a treble for the Saints that day.
Southampton have scored 12 Premier League goals from outside the box this season, a joint high along with Man City and Spurs.
Southampton face Watford on Tuesday, 23 April at Vicarage Road (19:45 BST) while Newcastle travel to Brighton on Saturday, 27 April (17:30 BST).
Millions of people are using easy-to-guess passwords on sensitive accounts, suggests a study.
The analysis by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) found 123456 was the most widely-used password on breached accounts.
The study helped to uncover the gaps in cyber-knowledge that could leave people in danger of being exploited.
The NCSC said people should string three random but memorable words together to use as a strong password.
For its first cyber-survey, the NCSC analysed public databases of breached accounts to see which words, phrases and strings people used.
Top of the list was 123456, appearing in more than 23 million passwords. The second-most popular string, 123456789, was not much harder to crack, while others in the top five included “qwerty”, “password” and 1111111.
The most common name to be used in passwords was Ashley, followed by Michael, Daniel, Jessica and Charlie.
When it comes to Premier League football teams in guessable passwords, Liverpool are champions and Chelsea are second. Blink-182 topped the charts of music acts.
People who use well-known words or names for a password put themselves people at risk of being hacked, said Dr Ian Levy, technical director of the NCSC.
“Nobody should protect sensitive data with something that can be guessed, like their first name, local football team or favourite band,” he said.
Hard to guess
The NCSC study also quizzed people about their security habits and fears.
It found that 42% expected to lose money to online fraud and only 15% said they felt confident that they knew enough to protect themselves online.
It found that fewer than half of those questioned used a separate, hard-to-guess password for their main email account.
Security expert Troy Hunt, who maintains a database of hacked account data, said picking a good password was the “single biggest control” people had over their online security.
“We typically haven’t done a very good job of that either as individuals or as the organisations asking us to register with them,” he said.
Letting people know which passwords were widely used should drive users to make better choices, he said.
The survey was published ahead of the NCSC’s Cyber UK conference that will be held in Glasgow from 24-25 April.
Billy Vunipola played down more hostile reaction to him following his liking of Israel Folau’s social media tirade against sinners after helping Saracens into next month’s final.
The England No 8, who was booed by Munster fans, had finished an interview having been named man of the match when he was confronted by a spectator who gestured to Vunipola and tried, unsuccessfully, to draw him into an argument.
“I believe what I believe in and there was no intention to hurt anyone,” said Vunipola. “Behind closed doors this week, I felt a lot of love and kindness. I am very grateful to be part of this team and I hope we can keep up what we are doing.
“We were grateful to be in another semi-final and when you play in these matches you have to fight as hard as you can.
“A few of the boys were probably not as fit as they would have liked, including my brother and Brad [Barritt], but everyone stepped up.”
The Saracens’ director of rugby, Mark McCall, said he believed the affair had brought a squad renowned for being tight-knit even closer.
“This group is pretty good when it has its back to the wall,” he said. “We have all been through a lot. I did not see what happened with Billy at the end so I will not comment on it.
“What you could see was that the group was tight and together. It was a great squad effort and Billy was part of it. The club dealt with the matter decisively, quickly and fairly.
“We played really well. The scoreboard at half-time said 12-9 but it did not feel like that. The players understood that it did not reflect how good they had been. We were in control, but you know that in a match like this it is a wearing-down process. These matches take a long time to win.”
Munster had drawn level just before the interval, but they never led and at one point in the second-half trailed by 16 points on their way to a third successive defeat at this stage in the tournament.
“We were beaten by the better side on the day,” said the Munster head coach, Johann van Graan. “They turned the screws on us at the start of the second half. I could not fault our effort. We gave it all we had and we’ll be back.”
Van Graan was asked about the incident involving Vunipola after the end of the match but was not allowed to answer it after an intervention by the club’s media officer on the grounds that it had not been established as a fact that the spectator involved was a Munster supporter.
Regarding the spectator, a European Professional Club Rugby spokesman said: “EPCR does not condone the entry of a spectator to the field of play. Following the regrettable incident at the Ricoh Arena, the spectator in question is currently being detained by the stadium authorities.”
Manchester City’s quadruple hopes are over – the danger now is that their season could fall apart.
This is a defining week for them. Tottenham are back at Etihad Stadium on Saturday (12:30 BST kick-off), before Pep Guardiola’s side go to Old Trafford for the Manchester derby on Wednesday (20:00).
The Champions League is gone but the Premier League title is on the line now, and nothing less than two wins will do. City cannot rely on Liverpool dropping points in their remaining matches.
Guardiola’s problem is that he has to find a way of picking his players up off the floor after the incredible drama of their European exit to Spurs.
He looked shattered and devastated himself at the final whistle, and understandably so. Right from the start, the action was absolutely relentless – and that continued for the entire 96 minutes.
Race for the Premier League title
Man City fixtures
Manchester United (A)
I was there for BBC Radio 5 Live and it was that good to watch that there was no time to breathe. It is difficult to think of a better game I have seen, and as a spectacle it was just staggering.
City put so much energy into trying to get through – and to lose when you think you have won, in the way they did when their injury-time goal was wiped out by VAR, is especially cruel. It will be hard for everyone at the club to come to terms with.Manchester City have to accept ‘cruel’ Tottenham defeat – Guardiola
They gave everything, but they have no time to feel sorry for themselves because there is still so much to play for.
City have still got six games left this season, and if they win them all, finishing against Watford at Wembley, they will win the Premier League and FA Cup and complete a domestic treble.
That would be an unbelievable achievement and I am sure Guardiola’s message to his players will be along those lines. One trophy has gone but there are still two more to go – let’s go for the hat-trick.
Spurs will be running on pure adrenaline
Tottenham players are ‘heroes’ – Pochettino
I have a gut feeling City will beat Spurs on Saturday, but everything about the game is going to feel very different.
There was a sensational atmosphere at the Etihad on Wednesday night. Guardiola asked for the fans to show him they cared about the Champions League, and they certainly did that.
It will just not be possible for their supporters to create the same sort of intensity inside the stadium on a Saturday lunchtime, but the City fans still have a big part to play.
They did their bit to help City go after Spurs in midweek, and they can lift the players again. They have to try because, if things feel flat at all, that will only help the visitors.
The Tottenham team will also have some tired bodies in it, but the difference is they are returning to the scene of a famous victory.
They lost on the night but still got the result they wanted and put in a brilliant performance to get it. As a player you just don’t feel tired after results like that, and they will be full of confidence and running on pure adrenaline.
Of course Spurs had a little bit of luck along the way, but they withstood all the City pressure on Wednesday and thoroughly deserved their victory. Over the two legs, they were the better side.
City will have regrets from first leg too
Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Manchester City: Pep Guardiola pleased with City performance
City can take some positives from the way they played on Wednesday into the weekend, but they cannot afford any more stupid mistakes or missed opportunities if they are going to get the result they want this time.
When City look back on how the Champions League tie was lost, then defensively they clearly could have done a lot better at the Etihad.
Aymeric Laporte has hardly put a foot wrong all season but his mistakes cost City two goals, and Ederson should have done better with the first of them too.
When you have conceded three goals at home you probably don’t deserve to go through – but they will have regrets from the first leg too.
I was surprised Pep did not pick a more attack-minded side but really the reason that night went wrong for them boils down to Sergio Aguero’s missed penalty after 11 minutes.
Things would have been very different if he had put that away. City would have been ahead in the tie, and had an away goal too.
Instead they had to wait until Aguero scored in the 59th minute of the second leg to lead on aggregate, and there were more twists and turns to come.
Spurs must cope without Son and Kane
The Squad: Is Son Heung-min Tottenham’s player of the season?
Guardiola’s Champions League hopes are over for another year and it is Tottenham who are through, with Ajax standing between them and a place in the final against either Barcelona or Liverpool in Madrid on 1 June.
Spurs will see their semi-final as winnable – but so will Ajax’s exciting young team, who have already beaten Real Madrid and Juventus and are building a big reputation. I don’t think anyone sees Ajax as an easy option any more.
It is a big blow to Spurs that they will be without the suspended Son Heung-min for the first leg at home, although their new stadium will again give them a huge boost.
Son was absolutely magnificent against City, and he always seems to step up when Harry Kane is absent. Spurs must find a way of coping without both of them next time, but they have already beaten the odds to get this far.’Difficult’ for Harry Kane to play again this season – Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino’s side came so close to going out in the group stage. They were hanging on for dear life in their last game against Barcelona – now they could end up facing a rematch in the final.
There is no point thinking about that just yet, though. Barca are still my favourites to go all the way and win it, but Liverpool’s attack will cause them problems and that tie is also very difficult to call.
Raheem Sterling and Callum Hudson-Odoi condemned the “unacceptable” racist abuse of England players during their 5-1 win in Montenegro.
Racist chanting was directed at a number of England players, including Danny Rose, during the Euro 2020 qualifier in Podgorica.
Manager Gareth Southgate said the incidents will be reported to European football’s governing body Uefa.
“It’s unacceptable,” he added. “I heard abuse of Rose when he got booked.”
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “There’s no doubt in my mind it happened. I know what I heard. We have to make sure our players feel supported, they know the dressing room is there and we as a group of staff are there for them.
“We have to report it through the correct channels. It is clear that so many people have heard it and we have to continue to make strides in our country and trust the authorities to take the right action.”
After only six minutes, BBC Radio 5 Live commentator Ian Dennis said he heard racist chants when Tottenham left-back Rose was in possession. BBC football correspondent Mr Ben Rory also said he heard the chanting throughout the game and spoke to pitch-side photographers who described the abuse the England players received as “disgusting”.
Sterling scored England’s fifth goal in the 81st minute and celebrated by putting his hands to his ears, a gesture he later said was a response to the racist abuse.
In injury time Rose was booked following a strong challenge on Aleksandar Boljevic, with more racist chants aimed at the 28-year-old.
It is not the first time Rose has faced this situation on international duty.
He was racially abused in Serbia in an under-21 game in 2012. Serbia’s FA was fined £65,000, with their under-21s having to play a game behind closed doors.
Sterling calls for a ‘real punishment’
Sterling called on football’s authorities to take “a proper stance” and crack down on the racist abuse.
“A couple of idiots ruined a great night and it is a real sad thing to hear,” Sterling told BBC Radio 5 Live. “It’s a real sad situation we are talking about after a great win.
“I don’t think it was just one or two people that heard it, it was the whole bench. There should be a real punishment for this, not just the two or three people who were doing it – it needs to be a collective thing.
“This place holds 15,000. The punishment should be, whatever nation it is, if your fans are chanting racist abuse then it should be the whole stadium so no-one can come and watch.
“When the ban is lifted, the fans will think twice. They all love football, they all want to come and watch their nation so it will make them think twice before doing something silly like that.”
Describing his reaction to his goal, Sterling added: “It was one of those where it was to let them know, you are going to need to tell me more than that we are black and what we resemble to affect us.
“That was the message and give them something to talk about.
“We can only bring awareness and light to the situation. It’s time for the people in charge to put a real stamp on it.
“In England we have a diverse country and lots of different faces. I can only do so much; the FA can only do so much. The people in charge need to make a proper stance.”
Kick it Out, an anti-discrimination charity, said: “As we’ve argued countless times, it’s time for Uefa to take strong, decisive action – fines won’t do.
“Extended stadium bans or tournament expulsion are what’s needed.”
Should England players have gone off the pitch?
England had gone behind in Montenegro to a Marko Vesovic effort before goals from Michael Keane, Ross Barkley, who scored twice, Harry Kane and Sterling completed a comfortable win.
However, the talk after the game was dominated by the racist chanting aimed at England’s players and Southgate was asked about whether he should have taken England’s players off the pitch.
“I’m not 100% certain that that would be what the players would want,” he said.
“There would be a mix of views, in terms of when we’ve discussed the topic in the past, how the players would like it to be dealt with. And they just want to play football.
“Of course, we have the chance to have an impact, but I don’t have the answer, frankly.”
He added: “Maybe that’s something I’d have to consider in the future. I have to say, it wasn’t something that came to mind at the time.
“I would want to have a long discussion with my players before to make sure that was a course of action they felt was a) something they wanted to do, and b) thought was something that was going to make a difference.”
A Uefa delegate was at the game and Southgate believes the representative from European football’s governing body heard the racist abuse.
“I’m reflecting on should I have done more?” said Southgate. “In the end, I think I tried to protect my players as much as I possibly can.
“I’m not the authority on the subject. I’m a middle-aged white guy speaking about racism.
“I’m just finding it a really difficult subject to broach because I want my players to enjoy playing football and not be scarred by the experiences.
“If people feel I should have done more, then I can only apologise for that.”
I heard fans making monkey noises – Hudson-Odoi
Chelsea winger Hudson-Odoi, 18, who was making his first international start, told BeIn Sports: “I don’t think discrimination should be anywhere – we are equal.
“When you are hearing stuff like that from the fans, it is not right and it is unacceptable. Hopefully Uefa deal with it properly. When me and Rosey went over there, they were saying, ‘ooh aa aa’ monkey stuff and we just have to keep our heads and keep a strong mentality.
“Hopefully Rosey is OK too. We will discuss it and have a chat. He has a strong mentality and is a strong guy so hopefully everything will be good.
“It is not right at all – I was enjoying the game too. We just have to take the win and go back home.”
England’s Declan Rice, who was also making his first Three Lions start, was sitting next to Rose in the dressing room after the game and said the incidents affected everyone in the camp.
“It is clearly unacceptable and it is up to the FA and Uefa to deal with it,” said Rice. “It is not right, we came here to play a football match, we have been respectful and they need to show respect to us.
“Danny was disappointed. We talk all the time about kicking it out of the game but when is it actually going to stop? It is happening all the time and there needs to be more punished for it.
“We need to be doing more. I don’t know what else we can do, there are so many campaigns saying ‘kick it out’ but then you come to places like this and it happens again, you are back to the start.”
England’s outstanding win in Montenegro should be a cause for celebration – instead it was overshadowed by the shameful racist abuse aimed at Southgate’s players.
Those close to the pitch in Podgorica delivered grim reports of what was being suffered by players in what is unquestionably an unforgiving, hostile and unpleasant arena.
Sterling’s cupped ear response towards the Montenegro fans after scoring was revealing. It was clearly a pointed response to what he had been hearing on the terraces in this small stadium.
It brought a furious response, with more chants and an object being thrown on to the pitch which was retrieved by Hudson-Odoi.
The most audible chanting came late on when Rose was booked for a late challenge and monkey noises from the Montenegro supporters could be heard from the press box.
It was disgraceful, unacceptable and provided a sour backdrop and unsavoury conclusion to what should have been, when viewed in the football context, a highly satisfactory night for Southgate and England after recording back-to-back five-goal victories for the first time in more than 30 years.
Now is the time for Uefa to come up with the punishment that fits the crime, not simply heavy fines but threats of exclusion from tournaments.
This should have been solely about another outstanding England win – instead a light must also be shone on the dreadful undercurrent of racist abuse that still comes out and puts a blight on football and society.
‘Uefa must take strong and swift action’ – what other people said
Sports Minister Mims Davies: “Rightly very proud of the England players tonight – a fantastic effort and cracking result – in face of absolutely unacceptable racist abuse. Uefa must quickly investigate then take strong and swift action.”
Former England striker Ian Wright, speaking to ITV: “It will probably go to Uefa and they’ll be fined a pittance and we’ll get the same thing again here the next time or somewhere else in Europe. It’s not going to stop them.”
Former England midfielder Joe Cole, also on ITV: “We need to shine a light on it. As a nation we need to take a lead on it. It’s out of order and England players shouldn’t have to deal with it.”
Former England defender Danny Mills on BBC Radio 5 Live: “Raheem Sterling has taken a lot of stick from the crowd so why can’t he celebrate like that? One week we want players to show passion and emotion and the next we are criticising their reaction when they are getting abused all game.”
Ireland’s former two-weight UFC champion Conor McGregor says he has “retired from the sport formally known as ‘Mixed Martial Art'”.
The 30-year-old announced his decision on social media on Tuesday.
“I wish all my old colleagues well going forward,” he added.
McGregor’s last fight ended in defeat, when he was beaten by Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018 – the Russian winning the lightweight contest by a fourth-round submission.
It was his first fight in the octagon in two years and the defeat was marred by a post-fight brawl which led to both fighters being fined and suspended.
Since making his mixed martial arts debut in 2007, former trainee plumber McGregor established himself as one of the sport’s leading fighters.
How McGregor transcended UFC
McGregor won the interim featherweight title with a knockout of Jose Aldo inside 13 seconds. While a loss on his welterweight debut to Nate Diaz ended a 15-fight winning streak, the Irishman won the rematch five months later.
A victory over Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight championship saw McGregor become the sport’s first dual-weight champion.
And at the peak of his powers he transcended the sport, going on to face five-weight boxing champion Floyd Mayweather in ‘The Money Fight’.
That lucrative affair earned McGregor an estimated $30m (£23m), and attracted more than a million pay per view buyers in the UK and four million in the United States, with the American winning in the 10th round by technical knockout.
However, McGregor’s time in mixed martial arts has also been marred by controversy.
In 2018, he was ordered to have anger management training and perform five days of community service by a court in return for criminal charges being dropped after he had attacked a bus containing rival UFC fighters.
Video footage appeared to show McGregor throwing a railing at a bus carrying Khabib and a number of other UFC fighters.
Earlier this month McGregor was arrested in Miami for allegedly smashing a fan’s phone as they tried to take pictures of him.
McGregor, who finishes with a record of 21 wins and four defeats, said: “I now join my former partners on this venture, already in retirement. Proper Pina Coladas on me fellas!”
Has he really retired?
This is not the first time that McGregor has announced his retirement from the sport.
In April 2016, McGregor tweeted: “I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese,” and was then not included on the UFC 200 card.
But he quickly issued a retraction outlining that he had instead fallen out with the sport’s bosses over promotional work.
In September 2018, McGregor launched an Irish whiskey brand.
Following McGregor’s announcement UFC President Dana White told MMA writers in the US: “He has the money to retire. It totally makes sense. If I was him, I would retire too.
“He’s retiring from fighting, not from working. The whiskey will keep him busy and I’m sure he has other things he’s working on.”
“He has been so fun to watch. He has accomplished incredible things in this sport. I am so happy for him and look forward to seeing him be as successful outside the octagon as he was in it.”
However, McGregor’s latest statement arrives after an interview aired on an American television show, in which he claimed he was in negotiations with the UFC about a return to fighting in July.
In that appearance he said rematches against Diaz and Aldo would appeal to him and he has also said he would send Mayweather’s “head into the bleachers,” if the pair were to meet again.
“I’ll be here ready for him. I’ll be here ready and confident,” he said.
“Next camp, and I do believe it should happen, I mean, why not? Why not? If I have sparring partners in my camp that march forward, trust me when I tell you, I’ll send his head into the bleachers.”
Plans to classify female athletes by their testosterone levels “contravene international human rights” says the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Olympic 800m champion Semenya, 28, is challenging the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) over its bid to restrict levels of testosterone in female runners.
The UN called the plans “unnecessary, humiliating and harmful”.
The IAAF said the motion given to the UN contained “inaccurate statements”.
Under the IAAF rules, female athletes with naturally high testosterone levels would have to race against men or change events unless they took medication to reduce those levels.
The regulations will apply to women in track events from 400m up to one mile and require that athletes have to keep their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount “for at least six months prior to competing”.
The issue was discussed at the UN Human Rights Council’s 40th session in March, at which delegates asked for a detailed report to be put together for a future meeting.
In the meantime, the body put on record its “concerns” with the IAAF proposals.
The council said it wanted governing bodies “to refrain from developing and enforcing policies and practices that force, coerce or otherwise pressure women and girl athletes into undergoing unnecessary, humiliating and harmful medical procedures in order to participate in women’s events in competitive sports”.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, experts recently claimed the IAAF’s regulations risked “setting an unscientific precedent for other cases of genetic advantage”.
Speaking in June, two-time Olympic champion and three-time world champion Semenya called the rule “unfair”, adding: “I just want to run naturally, the way I was born.”
The IAAF intended to bring in new rules on 1 November 2018 but the subsequent legal challenge prompted that to be delayed until the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) had ruled on the matter.
That ruling was due on 26 March but Cas has postponed it until next month.
A win for Semenya would see her free to continue competing the way she has always done, but a loss means the South African athlete could end up not competing altogether, competing against men or having to take medicine to lower her hormone levels.
Semenya has previously been asked to undertake gender testing by athletics chiefs, but no results have officially been made public.
Testosterone is a hormone that increases muscle mass, strength and haemoglobin, which affects endurance.
How has the IAAF responded to the UN’s motion?
In a statement provided to BBC Sport, the IAAF said “It is clear that the author is not across the details of the IAAF regulations nor the facts presented recently at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“There are many generic and inaccurate statements contained in the motion presented to the UN Human Rights Council so it is difficult to work out where to start.
“The common ground is that we both believe it is important to preserve fair competition in female sport so women are free to compete in national and international sport.
“To do this it is necessary to ensure the female category in sport is a protected category, which requires rules and regulations to protect it, otherwise we risk losing the next generation of female athletes, since they will see no path to success in female sport.”
A Switzerland football player knocked out in an aerial clash in a Euro 2020 qualifier received emergency help from a member of rival team Georgia.
Fabian Schaer’s head collided with the skull of Georgia’s Jemal Tabidze as both went for the ball in the 24th minute of the match in Tbilisi.
Schaer lay unconscious on the ground, his tongue stuck down his throat.
Georgian player Jano Ananidze rushed to his aid, inserting his hand in Schaer’s mouth to free the player’s tongue.
Schaer recovered quickly after further treatment from Swiss first-aiders, Swiss daily Blick reports, and was able to continue playing, helping set up Switzerland’s second-half goals for their 2:0 victory.
“It looks awful. I can’t remember anything,” the Newcastle player told the paper after being shown video footage. “I was out for a few seconds. My skull is still humming. And I’ve got neck ache and a bruise on my forehead. But it was worth it.”
Tabidze also lay motionless after the clash, his shirt covered in blood, but he, too, recovered.
There were just 13 foreign players in the Premier League when it began in 1992 – now there are over 300.
But of the 2,016 non-British and Irish players to grace the top flight since then, which import can be classed as the best?
The Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer Alan Shearer, former Chelsea and Newcastle manager Ruud Gullit, title winner Chris Sutton and New York Times football writer Rory Smith discussed the options for a Premier League Show Special (BBC Two and BBC iPlayer at 19:00 GMT on Thursday).
A shortlist was provided to the panel featuring overseas players who had made it into a PFA Team of the Year. The panel then selected what it considers the standout candidates in each area of the pitch – three goalkeepers, three defenders, three midfielders and four forwards.
From this list you can vote for your favourite at the bottom of the page.
The results will be revealed on this page and on Football Focus at 12:15 GMT on BBC One on Saturday.
David de Gea (Man Utd)
Sutton: He was under a lot of scrutiny in his first season, as is natural for goalkeepers who sign for Manchester United. He showed he had the temperament to cope and grew in stature. Commanding, unflustered and a great shot stopper, he makes so many saves with his feet. An outstanding all-round decision maker and goalkeeper.
Smith: The fact that he’s won less than Peter Schmeichel during his Manchester United career – and hasn’t been quite as domineering a figure in football’s consciousness as his predecessor – means he has to rank below him, and behind Petr Cech, but if he remains in England for the peak years of his career, as it now appears he will, that may have to be reassessed.
Petr Cech (Chelsea, Arsenal)
Smith: Cech was the underrated player of that Chelsea team from the mid-2000s that set a lot of records. He went on to Arsenal and had a decent career so his longevity is extraordinary. He has won four titles, has more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper and more clean sheets in a single season.
Sutton: Cech has the numbers and was very calm and dependable. He was a different type of goalkeeper to the others.
Peter Schmeichel (Man Utd, Aston Villa, Man City)
Sutton: Schmeichel was head and shoulders above the rest. He was rather unorthodox, more of a handball goalkeeper when he first came over. It was very unusual but he had a very imposing presence. At the start of the era, what that Manchester United team achieved was down to his influence.
Gullit: Schmeichel was a complete package, his presence was there all the time and he was very good with his feet too – that is very important now. You probably felt safe with Schmeichel behind you and the players would have thought, “As long as he is there, we have a chance to win”. He would make saves that were vital.
Shearer: I played against him numerous times. He was hard, great at crosses and a winner. He bullied and organised his defenders and, having talked to Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister who played in front of him, they said he was pretty horrible in a good way. They had huge respect for him and you knew you were going into battle when you came up against Peter. He certainly was not afraid. He brought the starfish technique where he made himself huge and you had to be accurate to get the ball past him. The memory I take from playing against him is how big he made himself against you.
Edwin van der Sar
Shearer: He has more appearances, more clean sheets and a better clean sheet percentage record than Schmeichel, plus four titles, yet he has hardly got a mention.
Nemanja Vidic (Man Utd)
Sutton: Vidic ended my career – I played my last ever game against him.
He was part of one of the greatest centre-back partnerships the Premier League has ever seen with Rio Ferdinand. Beauty was Rio and the beast was Vidic. An old school rough and ready defender, he was tough and uncompromising but he was more than that. A superb reader of the game and leader. When the going got tough he was the one you would want standing next to you in the heat of the battle.
Gullit: If you look at how many titles Vidic won – five – that stands out. He was very reliable at the back and at the front.
Smith: Vidic’s career was incredible and the sheer number of titles he won gives him a compelling case. Defenders are always overlooked, but there’s a case to be made that, pound for pound, Vidic is up there with the best signings of the Premier League era. Imperious and impervious at his best, as rounded a defender as you could find, enormously successful and impressively long-lasting. Probably counts as £12.5m well spent, all told.
Shearer: Vidic was a warrior and a very good one.
Jaap Stam (Man Utd)
Smith: Stam was arguably the first world-class player to arrive in the Premier League at his peak. He was the best defender in the world when he came to England and was extraordinary for Manchester United in a very brief period. He didn’t like the Neville brothers, upset Sir Alex Ferguson and left. Fergie puts selling Stam to Lazio down as one of his biggest regrets. That is an incredible admission. You wonder what would have happened if he did not make that mistake and if Stam had stayed.
Sutton: Who would I least like to play against? Jaap Stam. He was an all-rounder who had everything. He was strong, quick, he could head the ball and he could play football too.
Shearer: He was very tough and you knew exactly what you were going up against. He could do everything. If you wanted a scrap and a fight, he would not mind that but if you wanted to play football, he was also good at that.
Vincent Kompany (Man City)
Shearer: He played in midfield when he first arrived and has been a fantastic player for Manchester City. He won three titles and has made 260 appearances but it would have been so many more but for his injury struggles.
Sutton: What a fantastic leader. I played against him when he was at Anderlecht at the age of 17 and he marked me out of the game. He was mature at that age and read the game superbly well.
Smith: When you take away the raw achievements on the field, Kompany arrived before the money kicked in and he has been there throughout City becoming a force in the Premier League. To have experienced all of that, to have survived all those managers and styles, that is testament to his abilities.
Shearer: When you put Sami up alongside the likes of Vidic and Vincent Kompany, not winning the title does not help him. He was very honest and would not kick you as much as the others did. He was a nice centre-half, if you could get such a thing. Stam and Vidic were horrible to play against.
Smith: He was just as important to Chelsea in that first Jose Mourinho season as John Terry. He was the perfect partner.
Patrick Vieira (Arsenal, Man City)
Gullit: His presence in midfield… Because of him Arsenal had the foundation which was difficult to get through. There was Martin Keown and Tony Adams behind you and that is why the rest of the players played. He had vision and was tough tackling.
Sutton: Vieira had huge influence over Arsenal, he could do more things than others. Vieira was box to box. He was the only player able to break my nose as well.
Shearer: Vieira epitomised what that Arsenal team were all about. The hunger and desire, the ability to mix it with the best. He was someone who was horrible to play against. He had huge respect from everyone in the game. If you were not prepared to run and fight and scrap to win football matches and the title, you might as well have given up.
David Silva (Man City)
Smith: Silva has won three Premier League titles but he has proven something wrong. When he first arrived, people looked at him and thought, he is not very tall, not very strong and he will be crowded out by Premier League midfields. For a long time, most players were built in the Vieira model – tall, rangy, powerful and tough. Silva is none of those things and has thrived for nearly a decade. He has shown incredible endurance and perseverance, his class has never dropped throughout and is catching up to Cesc Fabregas as the player with most assists.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd)
Smith: It is hard not to be seduced by what Ronaldo became. His is the best player the Premier League produced and went on to become one of the two best players of his generation. The Ronaldo we saw winning four Champions League titles in five season at Real Madrid is not the same Ronaldo we saw in the Premier League.
Shearer: His name has to be considered, there is no doubt about it – what an amazing player. He was superb at Manchester United and then went on to achieve more at Real Madrid.
Sutton: When he first started, he wanted the ball for himself and was very talented. He developed his game but there are stronger candidates in the Premier League era.
Shearer: There is no way Leicester or Chelsea would have won the titles without Kante in the team. When you are talking about importance to a team, you have to give him a mention. I don’t think I have ever seen a midfielder with the energy of Kante to get around the pitch.
Shearer: Ginola was sometimes a frustrating talent because he did not always show his ability but when you gave him the ball with his back to the defender, I have never seen a player able to go either way with his natural ability.
Smith: Toure had a bit of Vieira and a bit of Silva in him. He was one of the pillars that the past 10 years of Manchester City has been built on. He was a superstar signing from Barcelona and scored the winning goal in an FA Cup final. He was incredibly important and his legacy is overlooked.
Smith: Makelele is the only player to leave the Premier League with a role named after him. What a legacy that is.
Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
Shearer: For longevity in the Premier League and the number of appearances he made and the goals he scored, Henry is up there.
Smith: Henry has all the numbers. There was elegance to everything he did. I wonder how many fans around the world watch the Premier League because of Thierry Henry. He was the complete package, an incredible footballer and a marketing manager’s dream. He took your breath away with what he did.
Sutton: Henry is the greatest ever player in the Premier League. What he brought in terms of people paying to go watch him play, he is the one. He got the crowd off their seats and what could he not do? He was a phenomenal player.
Sergio Aguero (Man City)
Shearer: I am a huge fan of Aguero. Even when Pep Guardiola came into Manchester City, all we kept hearing was that he had to change his game, he did not work hard enough and was not one of Pep’s players. He has managed to do that and kept his goals ratio very high.
Smith: He is probably the best foreign Premier League player of the decade. Since he arrived he has been incredibly consistent and can do everything. He is the complete forward.
Eric Cantona (Leeds, Man Utd)
Smith: Can you believe Sheffield Wednesday turned Cantona down? He had the upturned collar, the arrogance and he fitted the stereotype that English people had of the French. Most of the players on this list would not have come to England if it were not for Cantona. The moment he arrived at Leeds in 1992, then on to Manchester United, he transformed English football in a way that no other player has done. He has not won the most trophies or scored the most goals but he has had more impact than anyone else.
Sutton: He transformed Manchester United at the start of the Premier League era when the club started to dictate. He gave them the confidence and an edge.
Shearer: £1.2m from Leeds? What a signing. When you speak to other Manchester United players about him, there were rules for them and Cantona had his own set of rules. Basically, because of his ability and his impact, he could do whatever he wanted to do. Week in, week out, he performed so well for them.
Gullit: What an unbelievable impact he made in the Premier League for Manchester United. In Europe, and even France, Cantona is not such a big name as it is in England. So I heard about him when I came here and he was an extraordinary player. I played against him and his influence was different from anyone else.
Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
Gullit: This player stands out. He won the Champions League for Chelsea in 2012 with the header in normal time and then scored the decisive penalty in the shootout – that is the icing on the cake. The influence, the power that he had on the club, he was a presence and he scored goals.
Shearer: Chelsea liked to play their football but if things were not working then Drogba gave them a different option of going route one. He was as good as anyone in holding the ball and bringing others into play.
Smith: Drogba changed the way we think about strikers. Before we saw them playing in twos, but Drogba came in and he was a one-man forward line. He was utterly unplayable at times and did not need a partner.
Smith: He produced the best individual season of any player I have seen. He dragged Liverpool to within four points of the title on his own that year. He was a pleasure to watch.
Ruud van Nistelrooy
Smith: He was not as rounded as Drogba with his attributes because the Chelsea man could hold the ball up better, had more pace and was stronger. But as a finisher, Van Nistelrooy was outstanding.
Gullit: Dennis was everything you like about football and had so many elements to his game. He could do things and score goals that others could not. For elegance, he is the top of everybody.
Shearer: His numbers for goals to games are incredible, but it is too soon to be including him in this list. If he does it for a number of years and scores the amount of goals he has, then we can discuss it.
“Here’s a pic of me at work… think about this before your derogatory comments, animals,” Harris posted under this picture on Twitter.
Tayla Harris hopes the support she has received following abuse online will make trolls think twice, as Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison labelled the abusers “cowardly grubs”.
Australian rules footballer Harris was targeted with derogatory comments underneath a picture of her playing for the Carlton Blues on social media.
But the 21-year-old said she would not be involving the police.
“The support that has come from this has been phenomenal,” said Harris.
“I think that has shut down anyone who would have made a comment. I hope they’d be thinking ‘I’ve mucked up here’ and hopefully they won’t do it again.
“I’m fine with people commenting on and critiquing my football, but it’s the comments that are severely inappropriate, comments that my family will read.”
A number of Australian sportswomen supported Harris, including Carlton team-mate Darcy Vescio, former world champion netballer-turned-AFL player Sharni Layton and former Olympic cycling champion Anna Meares.
Prime minister Morrison said of the abusers on Thursday: “I think they’re grubs. I think they’re cowardly grubs, who need to wake up to themselves.
“They’re acting out some kind of hatred in a way that lessens them as people. We should give them no quarter and we should treat them as the grubs they are.”
The controversy has also raised the issue of how media companies moderate comments after Channel Seven deleted the picture in an effort to combat the trolling. The company reposted the photo after a backlash.
Seven, an AFL broadcast partner, apologised to Harris, saying the decision to remove the image from its Facebook and Twitter accounts “sent the wrong message”, after initially defending the move.
The broadcaster says its intention was to “highlight” Harris’ “incredible athleticism” and that they will “continue to celebrate women’s footy”.
The AFL’s chief executive Gillon McLachlan called the abuse “unacceptable” but said the fault does not rest entirely on Channel Seven, given the challenges of moderating social media comments.
Tennis icon Martina Navratilova has apologised for using the term “cheating” when discussing whether transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in women’s sport.
Navratilova – one of the most successful tennis players of all time – has been criticised as “transphobic” for writing that transgender women had “unfair” physical advantages over female opponents.
On Saturday, former British swimmer Sharron Davies told BBC Sport that many current athletes “feel the same way” and that trans athletes should not compete in female events to “protect women’s sport”.
However, transgender cyclist Rachel McKinnon, who won a UCI Masters Track World Championship title in October, said Davies was “sharing hate speech”.
Athlete Ally – a US-based organisation that campaigns for LGBT sportspeople – cut its links with Navratilova in the wake of the 62-year-old’s original comments, saying they “perpetuate dangerous myths”.
She had been “vilified” as “transphobic” since her initial comments on the subject
Creating further separate categories in sport for trans athletes could cause “confusion” and would be a “big mistake” in tennis
She “stumbled into a hornet’s nest” and got a “barrage of quite nasty personal attacks”
She wrote: “I know I don’t have all the answers. I don’t think there is a definitive answer here. That is why I want a debate, a conversation that includes everyone and is based, as I have said, not on feeling or emotion but science, objectivity and the best interests of women’s sport as a whole.
“Needless to say, I have always and will always be a champion of democracy, equal rights, human rights and full protection under the law for everyone. When I talk about sports and rules that must be fair, I am not trying to exclude trans people from living a full, healthy life.
“And I am certainly not advocating violence against trans people, as has been suggested. All I am trying to do is to make sure girls and women who were born female are competing on as level a playing field as possible within their sport.”
Navratilova has been a long-standing campaigner for gay rights and suffered abuse when she came out as gay in the 1980s.
Under guidelines introduced in 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allows athletes transitioning from female to male to participate without restrictions.
Male to female competitors, however, are required to have kept their levels of testosterone – a hormone that increases muscle mass – below a certain level for at least 12 months.
Both Davies and Navratilova have called for sports’ governing bodies to debate the issue.
“So how do we go forward?” wrote Navratilova. “First, we all need to realise that there is no perfect solution in which nobody will ever be wronged or disadvantaged.
“There is no blanket rule that will solve all issues. The objective must be to find policies that make women’s sport as inclusive and fair as practically possible.
“After all, if everyone were included, women’s sports as we know them would cease to exist. Therefore, any sensible policy must have some exclusions. But which ones? Where do you start and where do you end?”
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino says he “crossed the line” and might apologise to referee Mike Dean for approaching him on the pitch after Saturday’s defeat at Burnley.
Pochettino complained about a corner awarded in the build-up to Burnley’s opening goal in the 2-1 loss.
He argued with the fourth official during the match and Clarets defender Phil Bardsley had to pull him away when emotions spilled over at full-time.
“I made a mistake,” said the Argentine.
Pochettino said the “emotion and disappointment” of the defeat led to a reaction which was “not normal”.
The result meant Spurs, who are third, missed their chance to move two points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and second-placed Liverpool.
The Clarets opened the scoring shortly after half-time when Chris Wood headed in Dwight McNeil’s inswinging corner.
Spurs striker Harry Kane – making his first appearance since 13 January – equalised after latching on to Danny Rose’s quick throw-in and poking past Tom Heaton, but Ashley Barnes tapped in Burnley’s second late on.
“We know how important the match was and we felt disappointment,” said Pochettino.
“I should have gone to the dressing room and got some water. A stupid thing happens and you react. Maybe I will go and apologise to the referee.
“We lost because of our mistakes, not to find an excuse or to blame things not in our hands. We should do better and in the end we need to blame ourselves.
“I said this game was key and that if we didn’t win we cannot think we are a real contender [for the Premier League title].
“It is a massive opportunity lost.”
‘We failed to show our credentials’
Tottenham, who are yet to draw a Premier League game this season, beat Chelsea 3-1 in the league before a 2-0 north London derby win over Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup in December.
However, as well as Saturday’s defeat at Turf Moor, they have lost league games to Watford and Wolves.
“We can beat Chelsea and Arsenal but if you want to make history, you must win these kinds of games,” said Pochettino.
“It is not about tactics, or selection. You have to come here and fight.
“The game was never under control for us. We conceded, then we scored. We created some chances, but not enough.
“If you want to be a contender, you need to come here and show your credentials and deserve to be here – but it did not happen.
“We need to find why – but inside, not outside.”
This was being billed as a weekend when Liverpool could really find their rivals snapping at their heels.
However, instead of Tottenham being two behind them heading into Sunday’s game at Manchester United, they have a chance to open up an eight-point gap on Spurs.
With the Premier League lead on the line, what an incentive for Jurgen Klopp’s men to win at Old Trafford.
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown on Match of the Day :
You can forgive Mauricio Pochettino for that. I think he is exemplary in the way he manages that club. He went below the line today but that’s his passion.
When he reflects upon it he’ll realise his team didn’t really work hard enough.
The National Basketball Association and the International Basketball Federation are to launch a professional league in Africa in January 2020.
The Basketball Africa League (BAL) will feature 12 teams from at least six African countries.
Fiba Africa’s executive director, Alphonse Bile, said the league will help players compete in the “best possible environment”.
Charlotte Hornets’ Bismack Biyombo is one of 13 African players in the NBA.
Bile said: “The implementation of this league is vital to our young up-and-coming players in Africa as it gives them something to take aim at.”
Fiba secretary general Andreas Zagklis added: “It’s a huge joy to see our partnership with the NBA enter unchartered territory as we work together for the first time to maximise the potential of professional basketball in Africa.”
Former US president Barack Obama has backed the plans, while NBA legend Michael Jordan, who is now the Charlotte Hornets chairman, was at the launch event in North Carolina.
Former US president Barack Obama tweeted his support for the new league
How will the league work?
The NBA and Fiba will conduct qualification tournaments to identify which teams from several African countries, including Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia, can compete in the league.
No more than two teams from the same country will be eligible to play in the league.
The NBA has seen 80 current and former players from Africa or with family links to the continent compete, including Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon from Nigeria and Dikembe Mutombo from the Democratic Republic of Congo.