Nigerian Basketball Player Michael Ojo Dies At 27 In Serbia

This file photograph taken on March 16, 2017, shows Michael Ojo #50, then of the Florida State Seminoles, as he shoots for the basket in the second half against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Mike Ehrmann / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

 

Michael Ojo, a Nigerian basketball player who previously played for Red Star Belgrade, died at the age of 27 during a training session in the Serbian capital on Friday, the club said.

“We are deeply saddened by the news”, Red Star’s spokesperson Igor Vujicin told AFP.

The club couldn’t confirm the cause of death, but local media reported that Ojo suffered a heart attack.

Born in Lagos, the 2.16 metre (7ft 1in) centre played for Florida State University in the United States before coming to Europe to start his professional career.

After a stint with the Belgrade team FMP Zeleznik, he moved to European giants Red Star, where he spent two seasons, quickly becoming a fan favourite.

Ojo had been without a club since June 30 but was training in Belgrade.

His former team released a statement mourning the loss of the “cheerful giant”.

“The sudden and shocking death of Michael Ojo has deeply affected everyone — players, coaches and the management of a club that accepted him from the first day, and that he considered his own,” Red Star said.

EuroLeague also extended condolences to Ojo’s family, teammates, coaches, “and many fans who enjoyed his performances”.

AFP

US Businessman Friedkin Buys Roma For 591 Million Euros

In this file photo taken on December 18, 2017 Dan Friedkin attends the premiere of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s “All The Money In The World” at Samuel Goldwyn Theater.  Frederick M. Brown / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

 

Roma on Thursday announced a change of ownership, with US billionaire Dan Friedkin buying the Serie A club for 591 million euros ($700 million).

Friedkin, 54, takes over the Italian side from American businessman James Pallotta, 62.

“AS Roma can confirm that an agreement has tonight been reached between AS Roma SPV, LLC, the majority shareholder of AS Roma S.p.A, and The Friedkin Group regarding the sale of the club,” the club said in a statement.

“The operation is valued at around 591 million euros,” the club added. The final sales agreement must be signed before the end of August.

Pallotta bought two-thirds of the club’s shares in 2012, but has had 100 percent ownership since 2014.

Houston-based Friedkin is the chief executive of the Friedkin Group, a consortium notably involved in the automotive and hotel and entertainment industry.

 

 

In this file photo taken on September 15, 2019 AS Roma fans cheer during the Italian Serie A football match AS Roma vs Sassuolo on September 15, 2019 at the Olympic stadium in Rome.
Vincenzo PINTO / AFP.

 

“All of us at The Friedkin Group are so happy to have taken the steps to become a part of this iconic city and club,” said Friedkin in a statement.

“We look forward to closing the purchase as soon as possible and immersing ourselves in the AS Roma family.”

According to Forbes, his fortune is estimated at just over four billion dollars (3.6 billion euros), which would make him the 504th richest man in the world.

Friedkin’s son Ryan will reportedly be involved in the day to day running of the club.

“Over the last month, Dan and Ryan Friedkin have demonstrated their total commitment to finalising this deal and taking the club forward in a positive way,” said Pallotta.

“I am sure they will be great future owners for AS Roma.”

Boston-based Pallotta had been unpopular among club fans for his rare appearances in Italy and his handling of player transfers and the departures of club legends Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi who were both pushed out of the club.

Roma have had recurring financial difficulties and been sanctioned by European football’s governing body UEFA for breaches of financial fair play.

As a result the club are very active in the transfer market, regularly selling off their best players, to the chagrin of fans.

Pallotta’s great project had been the construction of a new stadium in the south of the capital which was delayed because of legal and bureaucratic issues, and remains at the planning stage.

The high-point of Pallotta’s reign was the club’s sensational Champions League 3-0 second leg comeback in 2018 to beat Barcelona, before losing to Liverpool in the semi-finals.

The club won their third Serie A title in 2001, but have not lifted any silverware since the Italian Cup in 2008.

This season they finished fifth, missing out on elite European competition for the second year in a row.

AFP

Klopp, Lampard Make Premier League Manager Of The Season Nominees

A file photo of the 2019/2020 Premier League Manager of the Season nominees. Photo: [email protected] League

 

 

Liverpool coach, Jurgen Klopp as well as Chelsea’s Frank Lampard have been shortlisted for the 2019/2020 Premier League Manager of the Season.

Klopp guided his side to a first Premier League crown in 30 years, and was last week voted as the League Managers Association manager of the year.

Chris Wilder of Sheffield United is also among the nominees for the coveted prize with Leicester City’s Brendan Rodgers completing the shortlist for the Manager of the Season.

Wilder, in his first season in the English topflight, took his side to a 9th-place finish in the Premier League, while Rodgers’ efforts will see his men return to Europe for the first time since 2016/17 after they ended the campaign on fifth position.

As the battle for the top manager award heats up, players are also contending for honours.

Senegalese forward, Sadio is among three Liverpool players nominated for the 2019/2020 Premier League Player of the Season.

Mane made the seven-man list alongside two of his teammates, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson.

Manchester City and Belgian star, Kevin De Bryne is also in contention for the gong with Golden Boot winner, and Leicester City striker, Jamie Vardy among the nominees.

Mane, Two Liverpool Stars Shortlisted For Premier League Player Of The Season

A file photo Liverpool players nominated for Premier League Player of the Season. Photo:[email protected] FC

 

Senegalese forward, Sadio is among three Liverpool players nominated for the 2019/2020 Premier League Player of the Season. 

Mane made the seven-man list alongside two of his teammates, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson.

Manchester City and Belgian star, Kevin De Bryne is also in contention for the gong with Golden Boot winner, and Leicester City striker, Jamie Vardy among the nominees.

 

Burnley’s shot-stopper, Nick Pope and Danny Ings (Southampton) complete the nominations for the prize which is determined by votes from fans.

Mane, the African Player of the Year, was instrumental to the Reds title-winning run this season, scoring 18 times and providing seven assists for Jurgen Klopp’s charges.

Liverpool’s Herdson captained his side to their first Premier League title in thirty years and most recently, clinched the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year prize.

Alexander-Arnold -also nominated for the Young Player of the Year – was a big part of Liverpool’s season and had the second highest number of assists this campaign, second only to City’s De Bruyne.

Southampton striker Danny Ings who lost out on the Golden Boot by just a goal would very much fancy his chances of getting the award.

After earning 15 clean sheets, second only to Ederson who got the Golden Glove, Pope, is no surprise inclusion in the shortlist.

Liverpool coach, Jurgen Klopp as well as Chelsea’s Frank Lampard were also shortlisted for the 2019/2020 Premier League Manager of the Season.

South African Police Clash With Protesters At Zimbabwe Embassy


South African police fire rubber bullets to disperse protestors during their picket against the government of Zimbabwe’s alleged state corruption, media freedom and the deteriorating economy outside the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria on August 7, 2020. Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

 

South African police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse dozens of protesters outside the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria on Friday, an AFP photographer said.

Close to 100 mainly Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa gathered to protest economic hardship and a recent crackdown on dissent and political opposition back home.

Earlier this week Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa vowed to “flush out” critics who he described as “dark forces” and “terrorists” after the authorities thwarted anti-government protests.

 

Protestors stand in front of a moving South African police vehicle stand near the entrance to the Zimbabwean Embassy during a picket against the government of Zimbabwe’s alleged state corruption, media freedom and the deteriorating in Pretoria on August 7, 2020. Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

On Friday police were seen pushing and shoving the protesters from the front of the Zimbabwean embassy building, situated in a leafy Pretoria suburb not far from the Union Buildings, the seat of South Africa’s government.

Drapped in their county’s national flag, protesters waved placards, some reading “Mnangagwa: You are going to The Hague! Murderer! Thief!”

 

Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a speech during his inauguration as South African President, at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, on May 25, 2019.
File photo: Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a speech during his inauguration as South African President, at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, on May 25, 2019.

 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday said he had appointed two special envoys to go to Harare “following recent reports of difficulties that the Republic of Zimbabwe is experiencing”.

Mnangagwa took over from longtime ruler Robert Mugabe after a coup in November 2017 and many Zimbabweans complain that the country’s situation has only gotten worse since.

 

 

The Zimbabwean government has dismissed allegations of rights abuses and a crisis in the country as “false”.

“There is no crisis or implosion in Zimbabwe. Neither has there been any abductions or ‘war’ on citizens,” government spokesman Nick Mangwana said in a statement.

AFP

China Sentences Another Canadian To Death On Drug Charges

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

 

China sentenced another Canadian to death on drugs charges Friday, the second in two days to be handed the punishment, as tensions soar between Beijing and Ottawa.

The Foshan Intermediate People’s Court in the country’s southern Guangdong province said Ye Jianhui had been sentenced for trafficking and manufacturing drugs, and would have all his assets confiscated.

According to the state-run Global Times, authorities seized more than 217 kilogrammes of white crystals containing MDMA from Ye and five others in 2016.

The rest of the group were also sentenced on Friday and one other death sentence was issued, while the others were given lesser penalties.

It comes a day after a court in the provincial capital Guangzhou handed a death sentence to Canadian national Xu Weihong on a charge of making drugs.

Last year, China also sentenced two other Canadians to death on drug trafficking charges as ties sour between the two countries on a number of fronts including the arrest of top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Canadian pleas for clemency for the pair, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg and Fan Wei, have so far not been successful.

When asked about the latest case Friday, China’s foreign ministry said its “judicial organs handle cases independently in strict accordance with the law”.

“We urge Canada to take immediate and effective measures to correct its mistakes and make concrete efforts to bring bilateral relations back on track,” said spokesman Wang Wenbin at a regular press briefing.

– Deteriorating ties –

Relations have deteriorated rapidly between the two countries in a number of areas over recent years.

Two other Canadian nationals have been detained by Beijing on spying charges — including a former diplomat — a move widely considered retaliation for Meng’s arrest in Canada.

The United States wants Meng extradited to face trial on charges related to Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei’s alleged violations of US sanctions against Iran.

In June, Beijing formally charged the two men with espionage.

Canadian foreign minister François-Philippe Champagne said before the latest sentencing that his government had told Beijing they “oppose the death penalty at every step of the way”.

Beijing keeps its data secret about the number of death sentences it carries out every year.

But according to Amnesty International, China is the world’s top executioner, with thousands believed to be killed each year.

 

AFP

Ex-Arsenal Star Cazorla Hails Xavi Following Move To Qatar’s Al-Sadd

File photo of former Arsenal star, Santi Cazorla.

 

 

Former Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla said “Xavi was very important in my decision to come to Qatar” as he signed for the country’s highest-profile team Al-Sadd, where his fellow Spaniard is head coach.

“He was my reference when he was a player, and I’m sure he’ll be the same as a coach,” he said in a statement as he signed his new two-year contract late Thursday.

The midfielder bid farewell to Villarreal ahead of the team’s final game of La Liga against Eibar last month.

The 35-year-old enjoyed a brilliant third spell at Villarreal after two years of serious injuries.

Cazorla previously made 180 appearances over six years for Arsenal and has 81 caps for Spain. He also played for Malaga and Recreativo Huelva after first joining Villarreal as a teenager.

“We have to try to win everything, all the titles,” he said in the statement.

“Al-Sadd is the biggest club in Qatar and it’s a great honour to be here and to be part of this club.”

AFP

Bayern Hope Champions League Success Can Convince Alcantara, Alaba To Stay

Bayern Interest In Streich Annoys Freiburg
File photo: Bayern Munich’s Austrian midfielder David Alaba (C) celebrates his team’s fourth goal during the German first division Bundesliga football match, Bayern Munich v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, on January 27, 2018 in Munich, southern Germany. PHOTO: Gunter SCHIFFMANN / AFP

 

 

Bayern Munich are hoping Champions League success can convince Thiago Alcantara and David Alaba, who are stalling over extensions, to stay.

Bayern host Chelsea at Munich’s Allianz Arena on Saturday in the last 16, second leg of the Champions League holding a 3-0 lead after hammering the Blues in London in February when Serge Gnabry scored twice in a gala display.

Since then, Bayern have secured an eighth straight Bundesliga title and lifted the German Cup putting them on course for the treble having won all 11 games post lockdown.

Chelsea are without wingers Christian Pulisic, who injured his hamstring in the FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal, and Pedro, who underwent shoulder surgery after being stretchered off at Wembley.

Blues skipper Cesar Azpilicueta is also expected to miss the Munich match after his hamstring injury added to Chelsea’s list of wounded.

Bayern’s personnel concerns are of a different nature as Alcantara, who has been linked to Liverpool, and Alaba, both have one year left on their contracts and are stalling over talks.

Like senior club bosses, forward Thomas Mueller hopes Champions League success can convince them to stay.

“Thiago is very safe on the ball, which does us good, and it is often underestimated how much he works to win back the ball,” Mueller told Munich-based newspaper Sueddeutche Zeitung.

“David is extremely important for controlling and building up our game.”

Mueller, a 2014 World Cup winner, says it would be “extremely bitter” if both Alcantara and Alaba left at the end of Bayern’s Champions League campaign.

Nothing is likely to be decided while Bayern are still in Europe, yet both are in great form.

Alaba, 28, who joined as a teenager in 2008, has been dubbed “the black Franz Beckenbauer” by Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge for his outstanding displays at centre-back this season.

 

File photo: Bayern Munich’s headcoach Hansi Flick arrives for the German first division Bundesliga football match Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen in Munich on December 14, 2019. Christof STACHE / AFP

 

With right-back Benjamin Pavard injured, Joshua Kimmich has switched back into defence with his central midfield place going to Thiago, who was outstanding in last Friday’s 1-0 friendly win over Marseille.

Last week, Rummenigge revealed Alcantara has signalled “that he wants to do something new”, but so far no club has made an offer for the 29-year-old.

Having joined from Barcelona in 2013, under former Bayern coach Pep Guardiola, Alcantara has won the German league title in each of his seven seasons in Munich.

Rummenigge has made it clear neither will leave cheaply, “despite the coronavirus, there will not be a summer sale at FC Bayern”, who reportedly want at least 30 million euros ($35 million) for Alcantara and more for Alaba.

However, for now it is just “important that both concentrate on the Champions League, then we will decide in peace,” added Rummenigge.

AFP

China Accuses US Of ‘Political Suppression’ Over TikTok, WeChat Ban

tik-tok
This illustration photo taken on June 29, 2020 shows a person using the video-sharing app TikTok on a smartphone in New Delhi.  Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP

 

 

 

Beijing on Friday accused the United States of “suppression” after President Donald Trump ordered sweeping restrictions against Chinese social media giants TikTok and WeChat.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular press briefing that the US move came at the expense of American users and companies.

Trump’s executive orders, which take effect in 45 days, bar anyone under US jurisdiction from doing business with the owners of TikTok or WeChat.

They come as the world’s two biggest economies clash over a host of issues from the coronavirus to Hong Kong and Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

Trump’s orders say the social media giants are a threat to US “national security, foreign policy, and economy”, as the president seeks to curb China’s power in global technology.

Wang said “the US frequently abuses its national power and unjustifiably suppresses non-US companies”.

“At the expense of the rights and interests of US users and companies, the US… is carrying out arbitrary political manipulation and suppression,” he added.

AFP

Sixteen Detained Over Beirut Blast – Prosecutor

A picture taken on August 5, 2020, shows a damaged house in the neighbourhood of Ashrafieh of the Lebanese capital Beirut’s eastern suburbs, a day after a devastating blast at the port of Lebanese’s capital, in Israel’s latest gesture towards a country with which it is technically at war.(Photo by Janine HAIDAR / AFP)

 

 

 

Sixteen staff members at Beirut’s port, the site of a massive explosion, have been detained over the deadly blast that devastated large parts of the city, a military prosecutor said Thursday.

Lebanese authorities had announced an investigation into Tuesday’s explosion, which they said was triggered by a fire igniting 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at Beirut’s port.

Lebanon’s foreign minister said on French radio Thursday that an investigating committee had been given four days to determine responsibility for the blast, which killed more than 130 people and wounded at least 5,000.

Military prosecutor Fadi Akiki said in a statement that 18 staffers at Beirut’s port had been called in for questioning, 16 of whom remain in custody pending further investigations.

They include port and customs officials as well as maintenance workers and their managers, Akiki said.

His statement came as an official confirmed to AFP that the central bank had ordered an asset freeze for seven port and customs officials, including Badri Daher, director-general of Lebanon’s customs authority.

The official spoke on the condition of anonimity because he is not authorised to speak on the issue.

A banking source confirmed to AFP that all the country’s commercial banks recieved the order, which also lifts banking secrecy from accounts owned or linked to those in question.

Even as they counted their dead and cleared streets of debris, many Lebanese were boiling with anger over a blast they see as the most shocking expression yet of their leadership’s incompetence.

 

 

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech during a press conference in Beirut on August 6, 2020, two days after a massive explosion devastated the Lebanese capital. Thibault Camus / POOL / AFP

 

Many have raised questions as to how such a huge cargo of highly explosive material could have been left unsecured for years.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who visited Lebanon on Thursday, called for an international enquiry, echoing demands widely supported in Lebanon and abroad for an independent probe.

AFP

TikTok Threatens Legal Action In US Over Trump Order

This combination of pictures created on August 01, 2020 shows the logo of the social media video sharing app Tiktok displayed on a tablet screen in Paris, and US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 30, 2020. JIM WATSON, Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

 

Video-sharing app TikTok on Friday threatened to take legal action in US courts against Donald Trump’s executive order banning anyone under US jurisdiction from doing business with the company’s owner ByteDance.

“We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly — if not by the Administration, then by the US courts,” TikTok said in a statement.

Beijing on Friday accused the United States of “suppression” after President Donald Trump ordered sweeping restrictions against Chinese social media giants TikTok and WeChat.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular press briefing that the US move came at the expense of American users and companies.

Trump’s executive orders, which take effect in 45 days, bar anyone under US jurisdiction from doing business with the owners of TikTok or WeChat.

They come as the world’s two biggest economies clash over a host of issues from the coronavirus to Hong Kong and Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

Trump’s orders say the social media giants are a threat to US “national security, foreign policy, and economy”, as the president seeks to curb China’s power in global technology.

Wang said “the US frequently abuses its national power and unjustifiably suppresses non-US companies”.

“At the expense of the rights and interests of US users and companies, the US… is carrying out arbitrary political manipulation and suppression,” he added.

AFP

Macron Calls For International Probe Into Beirut Blast

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech during a press conference in Beirut on August 6, 2020, two days after a massive explosion devastated the Lebanese capital. Thibault Camus / POOL / AFP

 

 

French President Emmanuel Macron Thursday called for an international investigation into the blast at Beirut’s port that killed more than 130 people and ravaged entire neighbourhoods, costing the country billions.

“An international, open and transparent probe is needed to prevent things from remaining hidden and doubt from creeping in,” he told reporters at the end of a snap visit to the Lebanese capital.

In asking for an international enquiry, he joined calls widely supported in and outside Lebanon for an independent probe, and said French investigators were on their way to Beirut.

Even as they counted their dead and cleared streets of debris, many Lebanese were boiling with anger over a blast they see as the most shocking expression yet of their leadership’s incompetence.

Lebanese authorities said the massive explosion was triggered by a fire igniting 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at Beirut’s port.

But many questions have been raised as to how such a huge cargo of highly explosive material could have been left unsecured for years.

Macron said a French military aircraft carrier was hours away from landing in Beirut with “rescue teams and investigators to take the search and the probe forward”.

Lebanon’s foreign minister had announced on French radio Thursday that an investigating committee had been given four days to determine responsibility for Tuesday’s devastating explosion.

Yet most of the members of this committee are high-ranking officials who command little trust from the people and many relatives of the blast’s victims have been calling for foreign investigators.

The cataclysmic explosion, which left an estimated 300,000 people temporarily homeless and injured around 5,000 people, struck when Lebanon was already battling rampant inflation and rising poverty.

The International Monetary Fund has offered help but Lebanon’s political leaders have balked at the measures the monetary institution is requesting for a rescue package to be approved.

To help ease the crisis, an international aid conference for Lebanon would be held “in the coming days,” Macron said.

He stressed that the aid raised during the conference would be chanelled “directly to the people, the relief organisations and the teams that need it on the ground”.

The French president took a tough tone on the reforms he said were the only thing holding back a massive aid package that could put the ailing country back in the saddle.

Speaking of Lebanon’s political leaders, Macron said: “Their responsibility is huge, that of a revamped pact with the Lebanese people in the coming weeks, that of deep change.”