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Diego Maradona: Argentina legend dies aged 60

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Football legend Diego Maradona, one of the greatest players of all time, has died at the age of 60.

The former Argentina attacking midfielder and manager suffered a heart attack at his Buenos Aires home.

He had successful surgery on a brain blood clot earlier in November and was to be treated for alcohol dependency.

Maradona was captain when Argentina won the 1986 World Cup, scoring the famous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the quarter-finals.

Argentina and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi paid tribute to Maradona, saying he was “eternal”.

“A very sad day for all Argentines and football,” said Messi. “He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal.

“I keep all the beautiful moments lived with him and I send my condolences to all his family and friends.”

In a statement on social media, the Argentine Football Association expressed “its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend”, adding: “You will always be in our hearts.”

Declaring three days of national mourning, Alberto Fernandez, the president of Argentina, said: “You took us to the top of the world. You made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of them all.

“Thank you for having existed, Diego. We’re going to miss you all our lives.”

Maradona played for Barcelona and Napoli during his club career, winning two Serie A titles with the Italian side. He started his career with Argentinos Juniors, also playing for Sevilla, and Boca Juniors and Newell’s Old Boys in his homeland.

He scored 34 goals in 91 appearances for Argentina, representing them in four World Cups.

Maradona led his country to the 1990 final in Italy, where they were beaten by West Germany, before captaining them again in the United States in 1994, but was sent home after failing a drugs test for ephedrine.

During the second half of his career, Maradona struggled with cocaine addiction and was banned for 15 months after testing positive for the drug in 1991.

He retired from professional football in 1997, on his 37th birthday, during his second stint at Argentine giants Boca Juniors.

Having briefly managed two sides in Argentina during his playing career, Maradona was appointed head coach of the national team in 2008 and left after the 2010 World Cup, where his side were beaten by Germany in the quarter-finals.

He subsequently managed teams in the United Arab Emirates and Mexico and was in charge of Gimnasia y Esgrima in Argentina’s top flight at the time of his death.

World pays tribute

Brazil legend Pele led tributes to Maradona, writing on Twitter: “What sad news. I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend. There is still much to be said, but for now, may God give strength to family members. One day, I hope we can play ball together in the sky.”

Former England striker and Match of the Day host Gary Lineker, who was part of the England team beaten by Argentina at the 1986 World Cup, said Maradona was “by some distance, the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time”.

Ex-Tottenham and Argentina midfielder Ossie Ardiles said: “Thank dear Dieguito for your friendship, for your football, sublime, without comparison. Simply, the best football player in the history of football. So many enjoyable moments together. Impossible to say which one was the best. RIP my dear friend.”

Juventus and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo said: “Today I bid farewell to a friend and the world bids farewell to an eternal genius. One of the best of all time. An unparalleled magician. He leaves too soon, but leaves a legacy without limits and a void that will never be filled. Rest in peace, ace. You will never be forgotten.”

Boca Juniors, where Maradona enjoyed two spells and finished his career, gave “eternal thanks” to their former player.

Paris St-Germain and Brazil forward Neymar posted a photo of him as a youngster with Maradona, calling the Argentine a “legend of football”.

England captain Harry Kane and forward Marcus Rashford also paid tribute.

Barcelona was the first club outside of Argentina that Maradona played for. He scored 22 goals in 36 appearances between 1982 and 1984.

Another of Maradona’s former clubs, Napoli, paid tribute. He played for the club between 1984 and 1991, making 188 appearances.

‘It was in football he found his peace’ – analysis

He was an everyman Argentine, who lived out a national fantasy with the way he scored his two goals in that 1986 quarter-final win over England.

Scoring those goals, against that opponent, turned Maradona almost into a deity in the eyes of some of his compatriots – with disastrous consequences. Living the aftermath was not easy.

Without the discipline of football, the second half of his life was a chaotic affair.

But it was in football that he seemed to find his peace. As a fan he would turn up at the stadium of his beloved Boca Juniors, take off his shirt, swirl it around his head and lead the chanting.

For many his spontaneity and fallibility were part of the appeal.

His admirers thrived on the way he would fall down only to get back up again. It humanised a figure whose epic life was as mazy as one of his left-footed dribbles.

 Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/54810392

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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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Giants knock out Cowboys to stay alive in NFC East as questionable decisions doom Dallas

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In fitting fashion, an NFC East elimination game concluded with a running back sitting on his fumbled ball. Yes, sitting.

New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman coughed up the ball with 58 seconds to play, but officials ruled he secured it just enough to maintain possession after he literally sat on it. The Giants held on for the final minute of the game, winning 23-19 Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The Dallas Cowboys have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The NFC East title will be decided by a “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles. Washington is in if it ties or wins. The Giants (6-10) will advance if Washington loses.

Neither the Giants nor the Cowboys played a clean game. Dallas’ offense stalle

The Giants, despite an interception and two fumbles (one lost), terrorized the Cowboys offensive line and sacked Dalton six times — hitting him a total of nine times. Dalton’s pressure prohibited the Cowboys from jelling in the passing game as they had a week earlier in their 37-17 win over the Eagles.

The Giants snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory. The Cowboys, finishing their season at 6-10, snapped a three-game winning streak.

d repeatedly, and its defense let up two early touchdowns.

But head coach Mike McCarthy will shoulder the blame for two questionable decisions.

On third-and-16, with 7:02 to play and the Giants up by 1, Giants receiver Dante Pettis did not appear to secure the catch on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Daniel Jones. Dallas chose not to challenge the play that immediately preceded the Giants’ 50-yard field goal. That, and the decision not to go for 2 after running back Ezekiel Elliott’s third-quarter touchdown, doomed the Cowboys.

Neither team converted a third down for the first 24 minutes of the game, and ball security made a difference. The Cowboys’ final drive ended on quarterback Andy Dalton’s interception in the end zone.

The Giants, despite an interception and two fumbles (one lost), terrorized the Cowboys offensive line and sacked Dalton six times — hitting him a total of nine times. Dalton’s pressure prohibited the Cowboys from jelling in the passing game as they had a week earlier in their 37-17 win over the Eagles.

The Giants snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory. The Cowboys, finishing their season at 6-10, snapped a three-game winning streak.

NFC East eyes will turn to the Sunday night game to determine whether a six- or seven-win team advances to the playoffs.

McCarthy’s eyes will turn to his second season in Dallas after an underwhelming first.

 

Read from source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/cowboys/2021/01/03/new-york-giants-nfc-east-dallas-cowboys-out/4116818001/

 

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