The Ballon d’Or will not be awarded this year due to the extraordinary conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic, organisers France Football announced on Monday.
It will be the first time the trophy given for the world’s best men’s footballer has not been awarded since Englishman Stanley Matthews won the inaugural edition in 1956.
“There will be no edition in 2020, because it turns out, after thoughtful consideration, that all the conditions are not met,” said Pascal Ferre, the editor of the magazine.
The COVID-19 outbreak saw all major football leagues shut down in March, with the German Bundesliga the first to resume behind closed doors in May.
France Football said it would be unfair to vote on the world’s best player when some leagues, including the French Ligue 1, cancelled their seasons early.
Ferre also suggested that it would not be right to judge players based on games played without spectators present.
“We believe that such a singular year cannot… be treated as an ordinary year,” he added.
“Two months (January and February), out of the eleven generally required to form an opinion and decide who should lift the trophies, represent far too little to gauge and judge, without forgetting that the other games were played –- or will be played –- in unusual conditions (behind closed doors, with five replacements, Champions League’s Final 8 played in a single game).”
Lionel Messi won a record-breaking sixth Ballon d’Or last year.
The women’s Ballon d’Or, which was first awarded in 2018, has also been cancelled.
France Football added that it was looking forward to holding a ceremony in 2021, but that this year it would instead organise a vote for the all-time greatest men’s XI.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced the postponement of the 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) to January 2022.
The football governing body confirmed the decision during their Executive Committee meeting which held on Tuesday.
The 33rd edition of the biennial football tournament was scheduled to begin in Cameroon on January 9, 2021 but has been due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
In an official statement released by CAF, the date for the final tournament and the remaining matches of the qualifiers will be communicated in due course but did not state if the 34th edition of the tournament scheduled for Cote D’Ivoire in 2023 will also be pushed back.
The body also confirmed the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN), the biennial tournament for home-based footballers will no longer hold this next year and moved to 2021.
CAF’s president, Ahmad Ahmad cleared talks about Cameroon being replaced as hosts adding that the Executive Committee is satisfied with the Cameroonian authorities for their commitment towards the hosting of the two competitions.
“Cameroon is ready to host either competition or are within schedule,” he assured.
The African Nations Championship which was also due to take place in the west African country had been postponed indefinitely due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Meanwhile, the 2020 African Women’s Cup of Nations has been cancelled, with CAF announcing the inauguration of a new women’s Champions League, which will begin next year.
The statement also noted that the U-17 AFCON will take place in July 2021.
The past decade has been the hottest on record, the UN said Wednesday, warning that the higher temperatures were expected to fuel numerous extreme weather events in 2020 and beyond.
The World Meteorological Organization, which based its findings on an analysis of leading international datasets, said increases in global temperatures had already had dire consequences, pointing to “retreating ice, record sea levels, increasing ocean heat and acidification, and extreme weather”.
WMO said its research also confirmed data released by the European Union’s climate monitor last week showing that 2019 was the second hottest year on record, after 2016.
“The year 2020 has started out where 2019 left off — with high-impact weather and climate-related events,” WMO chief Petteri Taalas said in a statement, pointing in particular to the devastating bushfires that have been raging in Australia for months.
The bushfires, unprecedented in their duration and intensity, have claimed 28 lives and highlighted the type of disasters that scientists say the world will increasingly face due to global warming.
The fires have already destroyed more than 2,000 homes and burnt 10 million hectares (100,000 square kilometres) of land — an area larger than South Korea or Portugal.
“Unfortunately, we expect to see much extreme weather throughout 2020 and the coming decades, fuelled by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” Taalas said.
The UN agency said that average global temperatures during both the past five-year (2015-2019) and 10-year (2010-2019) periods were the highest ever recorded.
“Since the 1980s each decade has been warmer than the previous one,” the UN agency said in a statement, warning that “this trend is expected to continue”.
The United Nations said last year that man-made greenhouse gas emissions needed to tumble 7.6 percent each year to 2030 in order to limit temperature rises to 1.5 Celsius — the more ambitious cap nations signed up to in the landmark Paris climate deal.
Current pledges to cut emissions put Earth on a path of several degrees warming by the end of the century.
‘Not a Fluke’
Taalas said that since modern records began in 1850, the average global temperature had risen by around 1.1 degrees Celsius, and warned of significant warming in the future.
“On the current path of carbon dioxide emissions, we are heading towards a temperature increase of three to five degrees Celsius by the end of the century,” he warned.
Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies which provided one of the datasets, added that the trend line was unmistakable and could not be attributed to normal climate variability — a position taken by US President Donald Trump.
“What’s happening is persistent, not a fluke due to some weather phenomenon: we know that the long-term trends are being driven by the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” he said.
Data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meanwhile revealed that polar sea ice coverage continued its downward trend in 2019.
Both the Arctic and Antarctic oceans recorded their second-smallest average annual sea-ice coverage during the 1979–2019 period of record, the agency said.
WMO also highlighted a new study published this week in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences with data showing that ocean heat content was at a record high in 2019.
The past five years, and past decade, were also the warmest on record in terms of ocean heat content, that study showed.
Since more than 90 percent of excess heat is stored in the world’s oceans, their heat content is a good way to quantify the rate of global warming, WMO said.
Conservationists said the UN agency’s findings were to be expected.
“It is no surprise that 2019 was the second hottest year on record — nature has been persistently reminding us that we have to pick up the pace,” said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF’s global climate and energy practice, calling for dramatic measures to halt the warming trend.
“This is not so much a record as a broken record,” added Chris Rapley, a professor of climate science at University College London.
“The message repeats with grim regularity. Yet the pace and scale of action to address climate change remains muted and far from the need.”
Hollywood’s brightest stars sparkled on the red carpet at the Golden Globes on Sunday, the first showbiz awards gala of 2020.
Under sunny skies, the best and brightest of film and television gathered at the Beverly Hilton in their finest for the ceremony, hosted by British comedian Ricky Gervais.
Here is a look at some of the trends spotted on the red carpet:
Black and White
Tinseltown’s A-list wants to make a good impression on the first major red carpet of the year, and how better to do that than in classic black and white, a fashion staple.
Style icon Billy Porter, a nominee for best actor in a TV drama for his work on “Pose,” wowed fans in an all-white Alex Vinash tuxedo with a coat featuring a giant feather train — that zips off, he explained to E! television.
Nominated actress Joey King (“The Act”) created a daring carpet moment in a sculptural black and white Iris van Herpen dress with a mind-boggling wavy detail and bare shoulders.
Actress-filmmaker Greta Gerwig — whose “Little Women” was in contention but who was notably snubbed in the best director category — turned heads in a black Proenza Schouler dress with a notable side slit and a white off the shoulder neckline.
Nominee Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”) rocked a similar look — a custom Thom Browne number with flowers embroidered in the inner lining of her dress.
And Awkwafina, who took home the award for best comedy film actress for her starring role in “The Farewell,” sported a sleek Dior tuxedo with a ruffled collar blouse and a long ball skirt.
Midnight (mid-afternoon?) Blues
The stars hit the red carpet in the middle of the afternoon in Los Angeles, but midnight blue was all the rage.
Ana de Armas, a nominee for best comedy actress for the murder mystery “Knives Out,” said she was “a little bit of a mess” at her first Globes but looked like a million bucks in a glittering, strapless Ralph & Russo gown with a full skirt.
Beanie Feldstein, a nominee in the same category for “Booksmart,” beamed in her strapless blue Oscar de la Renta gown and matching headband.
Ladies in Red
A red dress is the stuff of Hollywood legends, and some of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivered.
Nicole Kidman, who stars in the Fox News harassment scandal flick “Bombshell” as Gretchen Carlson, went strapless — a big trend on the night — in a crimson Versace gown with a train and strappy stilettos.
Scarlett Johansson, who starred in the searing Netflix divorce drama “Marriage Story,” upped the va-va-voom factor in a plunging strapless Vera Wang gown in a hue that matched her name.
And Olivia Colman, a winner on Sunday for her turn as Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s “The Crown,” opted for a red Emilia Wickstead gown with dramatic puff sleeves and an Empire waist.
Shades of Green
Charlize Theron, who plays journalist Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell,” looked stunning in an off-the-shoulder vibrant green Dior gown with a black corset bodice.
“Killing Eve” star Jodie Comer channelled her eccentric assassin character Villanelle in a full emerald green gown with puff sleeves and a canary yellow clutch.
Jennifer Lopez is 50 and fabulous, and has earned lots of praise for her Globe-nominated performance as a veteran stripper with a plan in “Hustlers.”
Her red carpet moments are sometimes the stuff of legend, like her iconic green Versace dress at the 2000 Grammys.
But on Sunday, her Valentino look — topped with a giant green and gold bow — was… less than universally loved.
“Jennifer Lopez has come as a giant present. I thought
War epic “1917” shocked the Golden Globes on Sunday by claiming the top prize for best drama film, while Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” won the most honors, massively boosting their prospects for next month’s Oscars.
“Once Upon a Time…” — an homage to 1960s Tinseltown — won three prizes including best comedy, but Martin Scorsese’s much-vaunted Netflix crime saga “The Irishman” went home empty-handed.
The Globes are the first major awards gala of the year, in a packed season that ends with the Academy Awards in just over a month’s time, so Sunday’s winners will hope to capitalize on some much-needed momentum.
“1917” follows two British soldiers through the trenches in World War I, and is filmed to look like one continuous, two-hour-long shot.
“Goodness me, that is a big surprise,” said stunned filmmaker Sam Mendes, who bested Scorsese and Tarantino in the crowded best director category.
Dedicating the film to his grandfather who signed up to fight aged just 17, Mendes added: “I hope he’s looking down on us and I fervently hope it never happens again.”
The film’s lead actor George MacKay — a 27-year-old relative unknown in Hollywood — told AFP he was “just thrilled, proper thrilled” when the announcement was made.
“It’s a wonderful thing. It’s truly just so brilliant for the film and everyone involved. It’s the biggest team effort ever.”
Tarantino won the best screenplay award, and Brad Pitt took home best supporting actor honors for his role as a loyal stuntman to Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in “Once Upon a Time…”
“I also have to thank my partner in crime, LDC,” said Pitt.
“I wouldn’t be here without you, man… I would have shared the raft, though,” he added, referring to the closing scene of “Titanic.”
Phoenix, Zellweger win big
“Rocketman,” the Elton John musical biopic, was the other big winner on the night, scooping best actor for Taron Egerton and best original song for John, who was heavily involved in the movie.
“I’m overjoyed — it’s incredible,” Egerton told AFP. “It’s been the best experience of my life, and winning this is just such a lovely crystallization of all of that.”
The top films clearly resonated with the 90-odd members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which doles out the prizes, but frontrunners in the acting categories also made their mark.
Joaquin Phoenix cemented his Oscar favorite status by winning the best drama actor prize for his radical turn in “Joker,” a dark and controversial take on the comic book super-villain.
He thanked director Todd Phillips, saying: “You convinced me to do this movie and you encouraged me to give everything and to be sincere. And I’m such a pain in the ass.”
Like several A-listers, Phoenix also used his speech to address climate change and the Australian wildfires.
Renee Zellweger burnished her Oscar credentials with an expected win for biopic “Judy,” portraying Judy Garland in her later years.
South Korean black comedy “Parasite” bagged the award for best foreign language film, as widely expected, while Awkwafina became the first actress of Asian descent to win the best comedy actress prize for “The Farewell.”
Oscar nominations voting is already under way, but does not close until Tuesday — meaning the Globes results could be a factor.
Gervais roasts Hollywood
British comic Ricky Gervais greeted the stars at the booze-soaked banquet with his signature cutting one-liners.
“Let’s go out with a bang, let’s have a laugh at your expense, shall we?” joked Gervais, hosting the awards for the fifth and final time.
Gervais unleashed a no-holds-barred monologue that touched on topics haunting the industry including #MeToo, lack of diversity and the effect streaming giants are having on traditional film studios.
An off-color joke about British actress Judi Dench and the critically slammed film “Cats” was bleeped out by censors.
Among the Globes handed out on the TV side, HBO hit “Succession” won best drama, fending off Netflix’s flagship “The Crown.”
Its star Brian Cox won for best actor, as HBO won the TV battle with four wins overall.
But “Crown” star Olivia Colman scooped best actress for her turn as Queen Elizabeth II.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge added a best comedy actress Globe to her Emmy win for her show “Fleabag,” which also won overall top comedy honors.
Netflix — which has disrupted the film industry in recent years — began the night far ahead of the traditional Hollywood studios with 17 Globe movie nominations.
“This show should just be me coming out, (saying) ‘You win everything, Netflix, good night,” joked Gervais.
But the streaming giant, which has spent billions to lure the industry’s top filmmaking talent, flopped to end with just one movie win.
Laura Dern won for her supporting turn in “Marriage Story,” a heart-wrenching divorce saga starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, which began the night with the most nods at six.
“The Irishman,” a favorite to win best picture that cost Netflix $160 million to make, did not convert any of its five nominations.
“Once again, Happy New Year to everyone, particularly my haters politically or otherwise. How far can you go in your machinations? Definitely nowhere😉 …Remember; “He that is blessed of God cannot be cursed.”
“I will remain your headache in 2020 if you don’t repent,” he posted.
He also posted some words of prayers.
“In this year 2020, God will give you victory over every oppression that has inflicted your life with hunger, sufferings and wants. He will take you to the greatest height of success.
“He will return Nigeria to the path of peace, progress and unity.
“Happy New Year.
Once again, Happy New Year to everyone, particularly my haters politically or otherwise. How far can you go in your machinations? Definitely nowhere😉 …Remember; “He that is blessed of God cannot be cursed.”
I will remain your headache in 2020 if you don’t repent.
Nigerians have joined the rest of the world to usher in the new year 2020.
In most parts of the country, many Christians visited various churches where services were held since Tuesday night to herald the New Year.
While the religious citizens were engaged in prayers and thanksgiving services, some Nigerians visited centres and parks where official countdown concerts took place.
The year 2020 first berthed in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, and some other countries before Nigeria.
In Nigeria, just as the clock struck 12 am on Wednesday, signaling the beginning of a new year, citizens took to the streets in jubilation across the country.
At some of the centres of attraction in Lagos, fireworks lit up the skies, displaying bright and colourful sceneries.
Although President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to address the nation today, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and some state governors among other leaders wished the people a Happy New Year.
In his message, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the year 2020 would usher in robust peace and economic growth for the benefit of all Nigerians.
Lawan congratulated Nigerians on witnessing the end of 2019 and the beginning of the year 2020 and hailed the resilience of the citizens in their commitment to the unity and prosperity of the country, as well as for the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I have no doubt in my mind that with the timely passage of the budget, restoration of the January to December financial year and other amendments recently made to our laws by the ninth National Assembly, the economy will enjoy significant growth in the new year,” Lawan said.
Mr Gbajabiamila, on his part, felicitated with Nigerians for witnessing the end of the year 2019 and marking the beginning of the New Year, 2020.
The Speaker, who noted that 2019 was remarkable in Nigeria’s history, said he believes 2020 would be better for the citizens.
He added that God has been faithful to Nigerians in the outgoing year and called for more unity of purpose among the citizens.
The lawmaker said, “It’s just like yesterday that we ushered in the year 2019, and in a matter of hours, we will usher another year, 2020. In all, we should thank our Creator for seeing us through the outgoing year and allowing us to see the New Year.
“This New Year, let’s unite more against our challenges. Let’s be our brother’s keepers as always. Our resolve to remain together as a people should be unshakeable.
“We cannot relent in our prayers for continuous peaceful coexistence among us. Let this 2020 be a year of more prospects for the citizens.”
“As an optimist, I have a strong belief that the year 2020 will be better for the country in all ramifications. Let’s not despair. Let’s keep hope alive, and God Almighty will see us through.
“At this moment of celebrations, I join millions of Nigerians to wish my compatriots a prosperous New Year,” Gbajabiamila added.
Similarly, former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, said the coming of the New Year 2020 is symbolic in many ways.
He said, “First, it heralds a brand new decade. Secondly, and probably more important, is that this New Year will require us all to stay together more than ever before to take on, head front, the common enemy of insecurity that challenge our everyday lives as Nigerians.
“I do not share the sentiment when some people claim that the outgone 2019 was a successful year for Nigerians. Such sentiments is reductionist and does the harm of making us have a false sense of victory.
“The bitter truth is that Nigeria is still in the throes of economic instability, with more people losing jobs and the attendant outcome of more children being out of school and more families having hard time in accessing basic needs of life.”
“In this New Year, however, I will rather ask that Nigerians stand together with renewed vigour and determination to battle the hydra-headed demon of insecurity that has plagued us in the past decade.
“We must challenge the inadequacies that made us become the global headquarters of extreme poverty; much as we must work hard and fast enough to eliminate the scourge of out-of-school children in the country. These are the challenges that this new decade has thrown at us and we cannot afford to slumber and submit to defeat,” Atiku added.
Smoke-choked Sydney ushered in the New Year with a huge fireworks display, kicking off celebrations for billions around the world and ringing in the new decade.
Australia’s largest city usually puts on a dazzling display of pyrotechnics over the glittering harbour, but this year’s celebrations were overshadowed by calls to cancel the fireworks as devastating bushfires rage across the country.
Toxic smoke haze has shrouded Sydney for weeks and a petition to cancel the event out of respect for fire victims attracted more than 280,000 signatures.
Fireworks displays were scrapped in Australia’s capital, Canberra, and Sydney’s western suburbs due to elevated fire danger and extreme weather conditions.
Critics wanted Sydney to use the Aus$6.5 million ($4.5 million) spent on the display to fight bushfires ringing the city, but officials say the event is worth Aus$130 million to the economy and cancelling it would not help those impacted by the fires.
Facebook said Monday it was tightening its security for the 2020 US elections, with stepped up scrutiny of “state controlled” media seeking to manipulate American voters.
The moves add to a series of measures from the leading social network since 2016, when foreign entities were prominently involved in social media in the US campaign.
“The bottom line here is that elections have changed significantly since 2016, and Facebook has changed too,” Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told a conference call.
“We face increasingly sophisticated attacks from nation-states … but I’m confident we’re more prepared now.”
One of the new steps calls for labeling of messages coming from state-controlled media outlets, starting next month.
“We will hold these pages to a higher standard of transparency because they combine the opinion-making influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state,” a Facebook blog post said.
Facebook also said it would seek to curb the viral spread of misinformation by using a “pop-up” that will appear when people attempt to share posts on Instagram debunked by third-party fact-checkers.
“In addition to clearer labels, we’re also working to take faster action to prevent misinformation from going viral, especially given that quality reporting and fact-checking takes time,” Facebook said.
“In many countries, including in the US, if we have signals that a piece of content is false, we temporarily reduce its distribution pending review by a third-party fact-checker.”
Facebook said it was offering new protections against the accounts of political candidates, monitoring their accounts for hacking or hijacking. It also outlined steps to protect against “voter suppression” including any efforts to mislead people about where or when to vote.
In a related development, Facebook said it removed four separate networks of accounts from Russia and Iran for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on Facebook and Instagram.
“All of these operations created networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing,” said Facebook cybersecurity chief Nathaniel Gleicher.
Three of the groups originated in Iran and one in Russia, and they targeted users in the United States, North Africa and Latin America.
One of the Russian groups used posts with concealed identities to make comments “on both sides of political issues including topics like US elections, environmental issues, racial tensions, LGBTQ issues, political candidates, confederate ideas, conservatism and liberalism,” Facebook said.
An Iranian account which “masqueraded as a news entity” posted on topics including race relations, US and Israeli policy on Iran and the Black Lives Matter movement.
First Lady of Nigeria, Aisha Buhari, has unveiled the athletes that will compete in the 2020 World Para-Powerlifting World Cup being hosted in Abuja, early next year.
She unveiled the athletes at an event which held at the State House on Wednesday, October 17, 2019, as well as the mascot and logo of the competition.
The First Lady, who was represented by the wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, noted that hosting the 2020 championship will be an enormous task, with para-lifters coming from Europe, the Americas and Africa to converge in Abuja.
She, therefore, charged the organisers to put all hands on deck to ensure the success of the event.
A clothing line was also unveiled as a way to source revenue for retired athletes and the First Lady called for patronage, saying that it will help the athletes not to retire into poverty.
She vowed that “as an advocate for women, children and vulnerable groups, I will continue to champion their cause with all my strength.”
She also expressed gratitude to the Federation for naming the event after her and giving her the privilege of hosting the championships.
Meanwhile, President of the Nigeria Para Power Lifting Federation, Mrs Queen Uboh, in her address said the choice of the First Lady to host the event was deliberate, because of her commitment to the cause of the vulnerable Nigerians.
She said most of the team members are also female and will draw inspiration from her involvement.
She further stated that as a result of the respect which Nigeria has in the world of para-lifting, the nation has secured an approval to host the global event for the next three years.
Uboh, therefore, called on Nigerians to support the clothing line initiative which will usher in a new phase of life for retired athletes.
Next year’s G7 summit will take place in one of Donald Trump’s Florida golf clubs, the president’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said on Thursday.
The leaders’ summit is to take place in the United States, and Trump had previously suggested hosting it at one of his own golf clubs — drawing immediate criticism that he is profiteering from his presidency.
Bulgaria’s Stadion Vasil Levski will be partially closed for the matches with England on October 14 and Czech Republic in November because of the racist behaviour of fans in June.
A total of 5,000 seats of the 46,000 capacity stadium will be closed off for the England visit and 3,000 for the Czech Republic match — and a banner with the wording “#EqualGame”, with the UEFA logo on it will be displayed over the seats.
“It is a concern, we’re not confident that we’ll go there and nothing will happen,” Southgate said, adding that the meeting to address the issue was “already planned.”
“We’ve already planned what our schedule looks like and we’re going to discuss it with the players before we go, because we’re aware that there is history there and we want to make sure that we’re all prepared for what might happen and how we want to respond.”
UEFA ordered the partial closure of Bulgaria’s national stadium following racist behaviour by their fans in Euro 2020 qualifying games against Czech Republic and Kosovo in June.
Last month, Bulgarian club sides PFC Levski Sofia and PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv were punished by UEFA for racism during Europa League games.