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Football: Messi toasts 700 games with a goal as Barca make last 16

BARCELONA: Lionel Messi marked his 700th game for Barcelona by scoring his 613th goal on Wednesday (..

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BARCELONA: Lionel Messi marked his 700th game for Barcelona by scoring his 613th goal on Wednesday (Nov 27) as the Catalans beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 to go through as group winners to the Champions League last 16.

Messi celebrated his anniversary in style by putting Barca two up before half-time, between laying on a pair of assists for Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann in a comfortable victory at Camp Nou.

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England's Jadon Sancho fired into the top corner for a late Dortmund consolation but the visitors were largely disappointing and now face a fight with Inter Milan to make it out of Group F.

Dortmund will hope to beat Slavia Prague at home in a fortnight's time while relying on Barcelona to play a strong enough team to avoid defeat at the San Siro, eight days before the season's first Clasico at home to Real Madrid.

While Real have hit their stride in recent weeks, Barca have stumbled, even if the results have been good enough to remain top of La Liga on goal difference.

For that they owe a great deal to Messi, who now has 10 goals in his last nine games, a timely surge into form ahead of the announcement of the Ballon d'Or in Paris on Monday, for which his greatest threat is Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk.

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As well as his 613 goals, Messi has provided 237 assists in his 700 club matches, taking his collective tally of goals and assists in that time to an astonishing 850.

For Barcelona, the only worry was the sight of Ousmane Dembele limping off with another injury in the first half. Dembele could be a doubt for the Clasico, which is exactly three weeks away.

Dembele had been preferred to Griezmann, who replaced him, while Ivan Rakitic made his first start since Sep 21.

Rakitic made an eventful start, conceding possession as Dortmund created their best chance in the opening minute only for Samuel Umtiti and Marc-Andre ter Stegen to scramble the ball away.

At the other end, Rakitic saw a shot blocked and Messi slipped in Suarez to score but the Uruguayan was just offside.

The same combination would soon pay dividends as Suarez's attempted pass to Junior Firpo cannoned back to Messi, who poked through with Suarez this time the recipient who struck hard past Roman Burki.

Dembele went off for Griezmann, who wanted a penalty after being pushed over by Lukasz Pisczek but the chances kept coming and Messi made it two.

Another failed attempt to play out from the back saw the ball land at the feet of Frenkie de Jong. Suarez swiftly transferred into the path of Messi, who drove low into the far corner.

Messi should have had a second but overran his run into the box and then was booked in the second half for a dive Read More – Source

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Frenchman Yannick Bestaven clinches Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race in dramatic finish

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France’s Yannick Bestaven was crowned the winner of the Vendée Globe round-the-world solo yacht race on early Thursday morning after 80 days at sea.

The race concluded in dramatic fashion when competitor Boris Hermann collided with a fishing trawler on the home straight 160 km from port.

Frenchman Charlie Dalin was the first to cross the finish line first off Les Sables d’Olonne, western France, on Wednesday evening at 8.35 pm CET, surrounded by an armada of boats that glittered in red, green and blue.

The 36-year-old, who led the ranking for more than half of the course aboard his latest generation flying boat, had to wait to see if he would be declared the winner of the 2020 Vendée Globe.

France’s Yannick Bestaven was crowned the winner of the Vendée Globe round-the-world solo yacht race on early Thursday morning after 80 days at sea.

The race concluded in dramatic fashion when competitor Boris Hermann collided with a fishing trawler on the home straight 160 km from port.

Frenchman Charlie Dalin was the first to cross the finish line first off Les Sables d’Olonne, western France, on Wednesday evening at 8.35 pm CET, surrounded by an armada of boats that glittered in red, green and blue.

The 36-year-old, who led the ranking for more than half of the course aboard his latest generation flying boat, had to wait to see if he would be declared the winner of the 2020 Vendée Globe.

Two other competitors, the German Herrmann, who arrived third, and Bestaven, who came in fifth, also crossed the line were also in contention for the race.

Both skippers had time compensation in hand for helping to rescue competitor, Kevin Escoffier, whose yacht sank in heavy seas off Cape Horn on November 30.

These bonuses – six hours for Herrmann and 10 hours and 15 minutes for Bestaven – could only be taken into account once the line had been crossed.

This was Bestaven’s second attempt after he lasted just 30 hours in 2008. The 48-year-old, from La Rochelle, finished eight hours behind leader Dalin but snatched victory thanks to his time bonus.

“We go from total solitude to this party, these lights, these people who are there despite the complicated context,” Bestaven said after his victory.

“It’s a joy, I don’t realise yet what’s happening, I’m still in my race, even though it’s over. It’s a child’s dream come true.”

Dalin, who finished in 80 days, six hours, 15 minutes and 47 seconds – officially placed second followed by fellow Frenchman Louis Burton, who crossed the finish line second four hours later but came third overall.

Greeted by 300 volunteers, Dalin said: “For sure it has changed me, I don’t know in what way yet… it’s so many emotions, it’s incredible emotions, it’s emotions of a strength that I had never felt before…”

Third-placed Burton said: “It’s a great joy, a great pride to be among the first to cross this finish line. (It is) seven days less than four years ago [when he finished 7th], 75 days more than eight years ago because I had given up after five days”.

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/28/frenchman-yannick-bestaven-clinches-vendee-globe-solo-round-the-world-race-in-dramatic-fin

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Football for Friendship keeps the ball running online

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Educating young generations goes beyond the classroom. But inspiring in children and teenagers the moral values that will guide them in their professional and personal lives is not always straightforward. Parents and educators have often nudged young people into playing team games, which have been recognised as effective tools to help them acquire important values while enjoying themselves.

For the last eight years, the Football for Friendship (F4F) platform has helped young people from across the world get together, share their love for football, and in the process acquire important ethical values, focusing on friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions, and honour, the building blocks of the F4F project.

In 2020, the social restrictions across the world that halted real-life football matches did not stop F4F, with over one million users taking part in this eighth season. The programme launched a new online game, F4F World, allowing young people to play football with peers anywhere. The game gives children the option of being players, coaches, or fans, and each role comes with different responsibilities and tasks. Players can apply to join their teams of choice, and as they advance in the game, they can become coaches, select other players, and set up their own team. The first F4F eWorld Championship brought together 32 teams of young players from 104 countries on the F4F World football simulator.

The game, available to download since early December, has received thumbs-up from many young players who praised how it connects players around the world, its availability on mobile and PC and the originality of its gameplay and character creation.

The online game keeping young people engaged with football throughout lockdowns, time away from school, and restricted social lives can help them maintain and build new connections with many other football afficionados from different cultures and backgrounds, while still strengthening their football skills away from the turf.

The variety of roles children and teenagers can choose from, the interactions needed to build teams, select players, engage with coaches and be part of the community provide a fertile ground for creating new friendships around their common passions for football.

An Online International Friendship Camp involves famous football players and F4F ambassadors that engage young people in team-building games and workshops that do not account for age, gender, nationality, race, or physical abilities. “Football for Friendship is a programme that brings together truly talented and motivated kids who are in love with football, giving them the opportunity to develop, learn more about each other and find new friends in other countries,” says Roberto Carlos, F4F Global Ambassador. “Many young football players all over the world dream of getting into Football for Friendship, and the universal human values promoted by the programme are really important for the children, for their future.”

The end of the season also brought for F4F the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the Most users on a football/soccer video hangout, with a 2.5-hour master class with live video feeds from France, Brazil, Russia, Uruguay, Pakistan, Ireland, Cyprus, Peru, India, Guyana and Spain being organized for children from over 100 countries.

By learning and following the rules of F4F World, young players also become more responsible for their online behaviour; and while football itself teaches fair play, engaging in games and trainings with other children and teenagers, as well as with coaches from different cultural backgrounds, races, and beliefs encourages participants to be fair and treat everyone equally and honourably.

Beyond practical skills, F4F and in particular, the new online game, helps young people remain motivated to win, devoted to the game and to their teams, and continue a traditional game even through difficult social and economic times.

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/22/football-for-friendship-keeps-the-ball-running-online

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Russian city of Kazan to host 2022 Special Winter Olympics after Sweden pulls out

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The countdown has begun for the Special Olympics, World Winter Games, which are set to kick off in Kazan, Russia in one year.

More than 2,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from over 100 countries will compete.

Kazan jumped in to host the games at the last minute after Sweden pulled out due to financial reasons – a controversial decision given that Russia is currently serving a ban from all major sporting events.

In December, Russia’s ban was reduced to two years from four by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after its anti-doping agency was declared non-compliant for manipulating laboratory data handed over to investigators in January 2019.

”We are as a country ready for a bigger message on inclusion and as Special Olympics International is not a signatory of the World Anti Doping Code, therefore we were in a good place to come to Russia with the World Games,” Natalia Vodianova, an international Russian-born model and member of Special Olympics International Board of Directors, told Euronews.

“My younger sister Oksana was born with an intellectual disability. There is a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of miscommunication about the abilities of people with special needs. Therefore, I hope that the world Games will bring more clarity and break some stigmas around possibilities and opportunities for people with special needs like my sister,” she added.

After hosting the World Aquatics Championships in 2015 and the FIFA World Cup three years later, Kazan is no stranger to big events.

Founded in 1968, the Special Olympics is a global movement aimed at ending discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. It offers more than 30 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions every year.

Special Olympics Russia, which has been active for more than two decades, has 128 thousand athletes taking part in sports and competitions across the country.

But this represents just 4% of the estimated three million people with intellectual disabilities in Russia, and Vodianova is hoping the Special Olympics winter games coming to the country will mean more people can benefit from the initiative in the future.

 

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/22/russian-city-of-kazan-to-host-2022-special-winter-olympics-after-sweden-pulls-out

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