Police Confirm ID Of Brazilian Guide In Amazon Double Killing

Guarani indigenous people and environmental activists protest in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on June 18, 2022, the murder of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, occurred in the Amazon. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP

 

British journalist Dom Phillips and his Brazilian guide, whose disappearance in the Amazon some two weeks ago sparked an international outcry, were killed by gunfire, Brazilian police said Saturday.

A day after investigators identified remains found buried in a remote part of the Amazon as those of Phillips, officials said a second set of remains belonged to his guide, Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira.

Authorities said both men were gunshot victims — Phillips, 57, struck by a single shot to the chest, Pereira, 41, by three shots, one to the head — with ammunition typically used for hunting.

Pereira, an outspoken defender of Indigenous rights, had received multiple death threats.

The two men went missing on June 5 in an isolated part of the rainforest rife with illegal mining, fishing, and logging, as well as drug trafficking.

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Ten days later, a suspect took police to a place near the city of Atalaia do Norte in western Amazon state, where he said he had buried bodies. Soon after, the suspect’s brother was also detained.

Police on Saturday said an additional suspect in the case, whom they identified as Jefferson da Silva Lima, also known as “Pelado da Dinha,” had turned himself in at the police station in Atalaia do Norte.

Commissioner Alex Perez Timoteo told news site G1 that evidence and testimony collected so far indicated that the suspect “was at the scene of the crime and actively participated in the double homicide that occurred.”

On Friday, police said they believed the perpetrators had “acted alone, without there being an intellectual author or criminal organization behind the crime.”

Activists have blamed the killings on President Jair Bolsonaro for allowing commercial exploitation of the Amazon at the cost of the environment and law and order.

For his part, Bolsonaro sought to lay blame at the door of the men themselves for undertaking a “reckless” trip in an area where Phillips was “disliked.”

‘Not Just Two Killers’ 

Phillips, a longtime contributor to several leading international newspapers, including the British newspaper The Guardian, was working on a book on sustainable development in the Amazon with Pereira as his guide.

Pereira, an expert at Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency FUNAI, had received multiple threats from loggers and miners with their eye on isolated Indigenous land.

The Univaja association of Indigenous peoples, which had taken part in the search for the men, rejected the police’s conclusion that the killers had acted alone.

“These are not just two killers, but an organized group that planned the crime in detail,” Univaja said in a statement.

The group claimed authorities had ignored numerous complaints about the activities of criminal gangs in the area.

AFP

Bolsonaro Blamed As Evidence Mounts Of Amazon Murders

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (File Photo)

 

Nature defenders, colleagues and family of British journalist Dom Phillips and Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira expressed anger Thursday as evidence mounted they were murdered in the Amazon, laying the blame at the door of Brazil’s government.

Guardian contributor Phillips, 57, and Pereira, 41, went missing on June 5 in a remote part of the rainforest that is rife with illegal mining, fishing and logging, as well as drug trafficking.

Ten days later, on Wednesday, a suspect named Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira took police to a place where he said he had helped bury bodies near the city of Atalaia do Norte, where the pair had been headed.

Human remains unearthed from the site were to be brought to Brazilia Thursday to be officially identified by experts. Results are likely expected by next week.

Late Wednesday, the federal police chief of Brazil’s northern Amazonas state said there was “a 99-percent probability” the remains “corresponded” to the missing men.

They had apparently been shot.

Phillips, a long-time contributor to The Guardian and other leading international newspapers, was working on a book on sustainable development in the Amazon, with Pereira as his guide, when they went missing.

Pereira, an expert at Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency FUNAI, had received multiple threats from loggers and miners trying to invade isolated Indigenous land.

‘Heartbroken’

Phillips’ family said in a statement they were “heartbroken” by the discovery of two bodies Wednesday, which they took as confirmation that the pair were murdered.

Greenpeace Brazil said the deaths were “a direct result of the agenda of President Jair Bolsonaro for the Amazon, which opens the way for predatory activities and crimes to be reproduced in broad daylight.”

The Javari Valley where the men went missing — an area near the borders with Peru and Colombia — is home to about 20 isolated Indigenous groups where drug traffickers, loggers, miners and illegal fishermen operate.

“In the last three years, our country has increasingly become a land where the only valid law is that of ‘anything goes,” said Greenpeace of the Bolsonaro term.

“It has become a land of invasion and land grabbing; of mining and illegal logging; of territorial conflicts, and where it’s worth killing to ensure that none of these criminal activities are prevented from happening. All this is fueled by the actions and omissions of the Brazilian government.”

Bolsonaro has pushed to develop the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest, since he took office in 2019.

On Wednesday, he drew fresh criticism for saying Phillips was “disliked” for his reporting on the region and should have been more careful.

“The level of violence applied to Bruno and Dom makes clear how the Amazon is at the mercy of the law of the most powerful, under which brutality is the rule,” said WWF Brazil.

“The State abandoned the Amazon due to a meaningless project of destruction of the forest and extermination of its peoples.”

‘Political Crime’

The Univaja Indigenous peoples grouping, which had taken part in the search, denounced the suspected killings as a “political crime,” while the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism said “the president and his allies have become protagonists of attacks on the press” uncovering environmental crimes.

Jonathan Watts, a colleague of Phillips at The Guardian, told AFP in London the “monstrous” crime should not deter journalists and others from exposing the truth.

“People dead for defending Indigenous lands and the environment. Brazil cannot be that,” said ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who will face Bolsonaro in October elections.

Investigations continue into the motive for the crime as well as the role played by Oliveira and fellow suspect Oseney da Costa de Oliveira.

Brazilian media report there may be three more people involved. Police have not confirmed the information, but have not ruled out more arrests

Human Remains Found In Amazon Search For Missing Journalist, Expert

Indigenous members of the Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley (UNIVAJA), look for clues that lead to the whereabouts of veteran correspondent Dom Phillips and respected indigenous specialist Bruno Pereira. (Photo by Joao LAET / AFP)

 

Human remains have been found in the search for a British journalist and Brazilian indigenous expert who disappeared deep in the Amazon after receiving threats, Brazil’s president confirmed Monday.

Relatives of veteran correspondent Dom Phillips and respected indigenous specialist Bruno Pereira meanwhile said authorities informed them two bodies had been found — though police and local indigenous leaders denied that, adding to confusion around the case.

The families of Phillips, 57, and Pereira, 41, have endured an anguished wait for news since the pair disappeared a week ago Sunday during a reporting trip to Brazil’s Javari Valley, a remote jungle region rife with illegal fishing, logging, mining and drug trafficking.

“The evidence leads us to believe something bad was done to them, because human innards were found floating in the river, which are now undergoing DNA testing,” President Jair Bolsonaro said.

The development came a day after police said they had found personal items belonging to the two, including Pereira’s health card, pants and boots, as well as Phillips’s backpack and clothing.

Bolsonaro, whose government has faced accusations of failing to act urgently enough in the case, said hope was fading.

“Because of the time that’s passed — eight days now, approaching the ninth — it’s going to be very difficult to find them alive,” the president told CBN Recife radio.

“I pray to God for that to happen, but the information and evidence we’re getting suggest the opposite.”

– ‘Upset and distressed’ –

Phillips’s niece Dominique Davies told AFP via text message that authorities had informed the family two bodies had been found.

“We are waiting on confirmation from the federal police (in Brazil) as to whether they are Dom and Bruno. We all remain upset and distressed at this time,” she said.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper, where Phillips was a regular contributor, said the bodies were found tied to a tree, according to information given to Phillips’s family by an aide to Brazil’s ambassador in London.

Federal police said in a statement that reports that Phillips and Pereira’s bodies had been found were incorrect. And the Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley (UNIVAJA), which is taking part in the search, denied two bodies had been found.

The police have confirmed they are analyzing a blood sample and suspected human remains found during the search to determine whether they are from the missing men.

They said the results of these analyzes are expected “during this week.”

Pereira’s wife Beatriz Matos said Monday on Twitter that the police had confirmed “no body was found.”

She added that “the confusion caused by the Brazilian embassy in London cannot demobilize the searches”, which she said must be “intensified.”

“We the family members need answers and certainty, and only with real evidence will we have that,” Matos said.

Brazilian police have arrested a suspect in the case, 41-year-old Amarildo Costa de Oliveira, nicknamed “Pelado.”

Witnesses say they saw him threaten Phillips and Pereira prior to their disappearance, then pursue them in his boat just before they disappeared.

The blood sample being analyzed was found on a tarp in Oliveira’s boat.

The search has been complicated given the difficult jungle terrain in the far-flung Javari Valley, where the men had traveled by boat gathering material for a book Phillips was writing about sustainable ways to protect the world’s biggest rainforest.

– U2 adds to pressure –

Brazil’s government faces pressure from international media organizations, rights groups and high-profile figures over the case — fueling criticism of Bolsonaro’s policies on the Amazon, where illegal deforestation and other environmental crimes have surged since he took office in 2019.

Dozens of indigenous protesters marched Monday in Atalaia do Norte, the small city Phillips and Pereira had been headed to, demanding answers on their whereabouts.

“It’s been a week… and every day brings conflicting reports,” Natalie Southwick, Latin America coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said in a statement.

“CPJ remains deeply concerned about the government’s insufficient response and lack of transparency. Brazilian authorities must stop dragging their feet.”

Irish rock band U2 became the latest to rally to the cause, joining Brazilian football legend Pele and singer Caetano Veloso.

“We are waiting to find out what has happened to these courageous men,” the band tweeted, along with a red-and-black drawing of the pair by artist Cristiano Siqueira that has gone viral.

“Where are Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira?” it reads.

AFP

‘Historic Setback’ For Brazil As Hunger Surges

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro looks on during a meeting called “Brazil for Life and Family” and promoted by an anti-abortion movement, at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on June 7, 2022. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP)

 

The number of people living in hunger in Brazil has surged 73 percent in the past two years, a “historic setback” for a country that had made huge gains against poverty, a report said Wednesday.

Around 33.1 million people in Latin America’s largest economy are living in hunger, up from 19.1 million in 2020, said the report from the Brazilian Network for Research on Food Security.

That represents 15.5 percent of households in the country of 213 million people, according to the study, which was based on data collected between November 2021 and April 2022.

More than half the country — 125.2 million people — suffers food insecurity of some kind, meaning they are in hunger or do not know if they will have enough to eat in the near future, it added.

That figure was an increase of 7.2 percent from 2020.

The “historic setback” is the result of “the ongoing dismantling of social policies, the worsening of the economic crisis, the increase in social inequalities and the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the report said.

It even found increased food insecurity among those benefiting from a new social program called “Auxilio Brasil,” which President Jair Bolsonaro launched this year.

The average payment under the program, 500 reais (around $100), has been eroded by annual inflation of 12.13 percent.

Images of hungry Brazilians digging in the trash for food have become commonplace as the country has struggled to bounce back from the pandemic.

The researchers found food insecurity affected more than half of rural households and a “terrifying” 27.4 million people in urban areas.

Hunger nearly doubled among families with children younger than 10, affecting 18.1 percent of them.

Black and mixed-race Brazilians are hardest hit, at 18.1 percent of households, versus 10.6 percent for whites, the report said.

Brazil Don’t Need Neymar Magic To Win, Says Manager Tite

Brazil’s head coach Tite attends a team training session at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul on June 1, 2022, a day before a friendly football match between South Korea and Brazil. (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP)

 

Brazil no longer rely on superstar Neymar to win games, manager Tite said Sunday, with an Olympic gold medal-winning generation looking to step up at the World Cup.

Neymar underlined his importance to Tite’s side by netting the 72nd and 73rd goals of his Brazil career in a 5-1 friendly thrashing of South Korea in Seoul last week.

That took him within striking distance of the legendary Pele’s record of 77 goals for the five-time World Cup winners.

Tite played down Brazil’s dependence on Neymar as his team prepared to face Japan in a friendly in Tokyo on Monday, saying a new generation of players are ready to share the load.

“I have been in charge of the national team for a long time, and in that time I have made lots of mistakes and also made some good decisions,” he said.

“We have a new generation coming through and one good thing I have done is to try out a lot of players. Now we are not so dependent on one attacking player.”

Brazil won gold at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics last year, beating Spain 2-1 in the final after extra time.

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Olympians like Richarlison and Bruno Guimaraes have broken into Tite’s senior squad, and assistant coach Cesar Sampaio said it was a “happy problem” to have.

“The players with experience and the players who won the Olympic gold here in Japan are now coming together,” said the former midfielder.

“We have players with a lot of speed and creativity, especially in attack.”

Brazil will be looking to round off their two-game trip to Asia with a win against Japan at Tokyo’s Olympic stadium on Monday.

Japan, who will be playing at the venue for the first time since it was rebuilt to host the Games, warmed up with a convincing 4-1 win over Paraguay last week.

Manager Hajime Moriyasu said his players will have to be “brave and aggressive” to beat Brazil — something Japan have never achieved in a full international.

“We want to make our mark at the World Cup and the game against Paraguay was a start towards that,” said Moriyasu.

“We need to go further than we’ve gone before and try to overcome our limits. I want the players to do that tomorrow.”

Deforestation Surges In Brazil Atlantic Forest – Report

Handout picture released by the SOS Mata Atlantica showing an aerial view where native vegetation has been cut down to give space for eucalyptus plantations, in the Setubinha region, Minas Gerais State, Brazil, on May 20, 2022. (Photo by SOS Mata Atlantica / AFP)

 

Deforestation surged 66 percent last year in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, according to a new report, compounding fears over the rampant destruction of the Amazon rainforest further north.

The “Mata Atlantica,” which stretches down Brazil’s eastern coast, lost 21,642 hectares (53,479 acres) of forest cover from November 2020 to October 2021, up two-thirds from the year before, according to the report, which was based on satellite monitoring data and published late Wednesday by an environmental group.

Cutting down that forest — the size of more than 20,000 football fields — released the equivalent of 10.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, said the group, SOS Mata Atlantica.

“We weren’t expecting such a huge increase. We thought the Atlantic Forest would be a bit more immune to the explosion of deforestation (in other parts of Brazil), as a region with more governance and policing,” spokesman Luis Guedes Pinto told AFP.

“It shows the Atlantic Forest is also suffering from the dismantling of environmental policies and legislation.”

Deforestation has surged in Brazil under President Jair Bolsonaro, whom critics accuse of gutting environmental protection programs to benefit Brazil’s powerful agribusiness industry.

Since the far-right president took office in 2019, average annual deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased by 75 percent from the previous decade, according to official figures.

Like the Amazon, the less-known Atlantic Forest is a critical buffer against climate change, and a key ecosystem without which Brazil’s supplies of food, water and hydroelectric power would be threatened, experts say.

Its destruction “is a disaster not just for Brazil, but for the world,” Pinto said.

“Research shows the Atlantic Forest is one of the biomes that will have to be urgently restored if we are to reach the goal of holding global warming to 1.5 degrees C in line with the Paris climate accord.”

Lula Launches Presidential Campaign To ‘Rebuild Brazil’

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva delivers a speech during the launch of his campaign for Brazil's October presidential election in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 7, 2022. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva delivers a speech during the launch of his campaign for Brazil’s October presidential election in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 7, 2022. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP

 

Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva launched his campaign for a new presidential term Saturday, vowing to rebuild Brazil after what he called the “irresponsible and criminal” administration of far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.

The campaign launch sealed a remarkable political comeback for Lula (2003-2010), four years after the 76-year-old leftist icon was jailed on controversial corruption charges.

“We’re ready to work not only to win the election on October 2, but to rebuild and transform Brazil, which will be even more difficult,” the charismatic but tarnished steelworker-turned-politician told a rally in Sao Paulo, standing before a giant Brazilian flag.

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Speaking in his trademark gravelly voice, he said Bolsonaro — whom he did not mention by name — had made Brazil a “pariah” with polarizing policies, attacks on democratic institutions and surging destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

“We need to change Brazil once again… We need to return to a place where no one ever dares to defy democracy again. We need to send fascism back to the sewer of history, where it should have been all along,” he told a cheering crowd of thousands, calling on “all democrats” to join him.

It was hardly a secret Lula, who has enjoyed a long — though shrinking — lead in the polls, would jump into the campaign, which does not officially start until August.

He has been in unofficial campaign mode since March last year, when the Supreme Court annulled the corruption convictions that sidelined him from politics.

The ruling instantly set up this year’s elections as a polarizing clash between arch-enemies Lula and Bolsonaro.

Surprise return

Lula left office with approval ratings of 87 percent, after presiding over a golden period that lifted some 30 million Brazilians from poverty.

But the onetime shoeshine boy’s towering legacy came crashing down with the explosion of “Operation Car Wash,” a sweeping investigation that uncovered a massive corruption scheme centered on state-run oil company Petrobras.

Lula, who calls the case a conspiracy, was convicted on bribe-taking charges and jailed from April 2018 to November 2019 — missing the 2018 presidential race, which Bolsonaro won.

In a Brazil deeply divided over Bolsonaro’s combative style, social media polemics, weak performance on the economy and chaotic handling of Covid-19, Lula returned to the ring with the immediate status of front-runner.

Slipping poll numbers

But Bolsonaro, 67, has narrowed the gap in the latest polls — and made it clear he won’t leave power without a fight.

Lula has meanwhile made a series of recent gaffes, including politically tone-deaf remarks on abortion, the police and the middle class.

He has also looked out of sync with world leaders he aspires to rub elbows with again — saying, for example, that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is “as responsible as” Russia’s Vladimir Putin for the Ukraine war.

Lula has reportedly shaken up his campaign team recently, removing long-time ally Franklin Martins as communications chief.

“He has made several disastrous statements in recent weeks,” Sylvio Costa, founder of news site Congresso em Foco, told AFP.

“And, above all, Lula needs to go to the street.”

The Workers’ Party founder said he would now do just that, crisscrossing the country to meet with “the people.”

Wearing a sharp navy suit, his shirt open at the collar, Lula stuck strictly to the script at his rally, rather than speaking off the cuff as he typically does.

But he was short on tangible planks for his platform.

“Instead of promises, I present the immense legacy of our administration,” he said.

Courting the wary business sector and seeking to build a broad base, Lula has tapped market-friendly centrist Geraldo Alckmin — the opponent he defeated in the 2006 presidential race — as his running-mate.

“Brazil today has the most disastrous and cruel government in its history. Lula is our only hope,” Alckmin, a former Sao Paulo governor who was home with a mild case of Covid-19, told the rally by video link.

Cheering the veteran leftist on, 63-year-old retiree Odilon da Silva Freire agreed.

“Lula governed for everyone, especially the poor,” he said.

“He has to be president again. He’s the best we ever had.”

 

AFP

South Korea To Play Brazil In Pre-World Cup Friendly

File photo: Soccer balls are seen on the ground prior to the opening game of South Korea’s K-League football match between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Suwon Samsung Bluewings at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju on May 8, 2020. JUNG YEON-JE / AFP

 

South Korea will host top-ranked Brazil in a friendly ahead of this year’s World Cup, the nation’s football association said Wednesday.

The national team, captained by Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min, will take on Brazil on June 2 in Seoul before squaring off against Chile and Paraguay on June 6 and 10.

The series of planned matches with South American teams will give South Korea a “good opportunity to assess their objective strength and weakness”, the Korea Football Association said in a statement.

Five-time world champions Brazil are the only team to have played at every World Cup and can call upon some of the best players in the game, such as Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar and Roberto Firmino of Liverpool.

South Korea are 29th in the FIFA rankings and enter their 10th consecutive World Cup after finishing second behind Iran in Group A in the final round of Asian qualifying.

They will play Portugal, Uruguay and Ghana in Group H when the World Cup kicks off in Qatar in November.

South Korea has advanced to the knockout stage only twice.

Their best showing was a semifinal spot at the 2002 World Cup, which they co-hosted with Japan. They made the round of 16 at the 2010 edition in South Africa.

This year, the team will look to captain Son, who has scored 19 goals in the 2021-22 Premier League season, to lead them beyond the group stages.

FIRST 11: Serena Williams’ Chelsea Ownership Push+Top Sports Stories This Week

 

With the sanctions on Russian businesses biting harder, the quest for a new Chelsea owner has been ramped up. This time, tennis icon Serena Williams and F1 great Lewis Hamilton, are the ones pushing to own a stake in the Premier League club.  

The Super Eagles also knew their opponents for the 2023 AFCON qualifiers just as the team’s former coach Gernot Rohr awaits FIFA’s verdict over his sack.  These and more are some of the top sports stories covered in First 11 this week.

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Condolences Pour As Ronaldo Loses Baby

We kick off from England where torrents of condolence messages have been poured in for Cristiano Ronaldo following his son’s death. The former Real Madrid star and wife confirmed their baby boy’s demise in a social media post.

Manchester United, his former clubs, players, and fans thronged social media to comfort the multiple Champions League winner over the sad incident.

The Portuguese star was excused from United’s tie with Liverpool earlier in the week. He, however, was available for selection as the Red Devils lost to Arsenal on Saturday.

Maguire Gets Bomb Threat

Still in Manchester United. Team captain Harry Maguire received a bomb threat but it was unknown who was behind it.

Cheshire Constabulary swept the 29-year-old’s home to ensure his safety. Maguire was up for selection against the Gunners.

The English defender, who stays with his fiancee and two kids, is having a turbulent campaign and has been the subject of stinging criticism from pundits and jeers from fans.

Man United Name Coach

Meanwhile, Manchester United has appointed Erik ten Hag as their manager next season.

The 52-year-old, who has signed a three-year contract, faces a huge task to revive the Red Devils’ fortunes after a fifth consecutive trophyless season. The Dutchman becomes the fifth permanent manager at Old Trafford since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 sent the 20-time English champions into decline.

Drogba, Others Inducted Into EPL Hall of Fame

Equally, Manchester United legend, Paul Scholes was in the news this week. The Englishman joined Didier Drogba and Sergio Aguero as the latest inductee into the EPL Hall of Fame.

Vincent Kompany, Ian Wright, and Peter Schmeichel alongside Wayne Rooney and Patrick Vieira are also in the “Class of 2022” inductees.

Serena, Hamilton Join Chelsea Bid

For Man United’s rivals, Chelsea, the sanctions on owner Roman Abramovich over Russia’s war with Ukraine are set to cause major changes in the team. The club has been up for sale and tennis icon Serena Williams as well as Formula 1 legend Lewis Hamilton have expressed interest in having a stake in the London side.

They will be investing about £20m into a consortium to buy Chelsea and both are part of a group of investors backing the European champions’ takeover offer spearheaded by Sir Martin Broughton.

Serena and Hamilton have each pledged £10m to the bid. Lord Coe is believed to be part of the British-led consortium.

Russia, Belarussian Players Banned From Wimbledon

Aside from football, the Russian-Ukraine war is creating ripples in other sports. Earlier in the week, Russian players were barred from Wimbledon. Belarussian players were also affected, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) said.

US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev; Aryna Sabalenka, and women’s four Victoria Azarenka are some of the top players affected. The move drew wide criticism from players, fans, and others stakeholders in the tennis world.

But Russian officials have rejected the ban, describing it as “unacceptable”.

Nigeria Paired For AFCON Qualifiers

In Nigeria, the Super Eagles were paired with Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, and either Sao Tome or Mauritius in the qualifiers for next year’s AFCON. The draws were held in Jo’burg, South Africa, and qualifications for the tournament will start in May.

The Super Eagles, who failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, will also be aiming to make amends for their early exit at the last AFCON. The Super Eagles failed to qualify for the 2015 and 2017 editions and won bronze in Egypt in 2019.

Rohr Awaits FIFA Verdict

The development came as a former coach of the team, Gernot Rohr, awaits FIFA’s verdict over his sack. Rohr had reported the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to the football body for breaching contractual terms.

Reports suggest that FIFA had concluded their investigations and are set to deliver judgment on the $1m claims being made by former Niger Republic gaffer. The Franco-German had met all conditions in his contract but was sacked with one year left in the deal. While the NFF said it would pay Rohr his salary until the end of his contract, the ex-Niger boss took the NFF to FIFA. He is seeking compensation for his ‘unfair’ dismissal.

Kano Pillars Sanctioned, Banished

On the local scene, Kano Pillars were sanctioned for fans’ hooliganism. The former Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions were fined N9m and banished to Abuja for the rest of the season following the incident which took place last weekend. The club’s fans have, however, condemned the attack which led to the destruction of the visiting team’s bus.

Pele Hospitalised Again

Away from Nigeria, football great Pele was hospitalized in Sao Paulo as part of his treatment for colon cancer.

But the clinical condition of Edson Arantes do Nascimento is “good and stable, and he should be discharged from hospital in the next few days,” the Albert Einstein Hospital said on Tuesday.

Before his diagnosis of colon cancer, which led to Pele being hospitalized for a month last year, the former star of Santos and the Brazilian team was hospitalized in Paris in 2019 and transferred to Sao Paulo to have a kidney stone removed.

Five years before then, he was in intensive care due to a urinary tract infection that forced him to undergo dialysis on his left kidney. The right one was removed in the 1970s due to an injury when he was still a player.

Maradona Shirt Auction Opens

The auction for the jersey worn by Pele’s late friend, Diego Maradona, when he scored twice against England in the 1986 World Cup, including the infamous “hand of God” goal, kicked off with a bid of over $5 million.

Sotheby’s is selling the blue number 10 Argentina shirt in an online sale that runs until May 4. Hours after bidding opened, the site showed that the first offer of £4 million ($5.2 million) — matching the low end of the auction house’s pre-sale estimate — had been registered. That would set a new record price for a football jersey at auction.

The record for a game-worn shirt from any sport is $5.6 million, set in 2019 for a jersey Babe Ruth wore while on the New York Yankees.

‘World’s Worst Team’ Which Wanted To Sign Messi Ready To Win


Brazil’s Ibis players are seen at the Arena Pernambuco’s dressing room before their football match against Sport Recife in Recife, Brazil, on March 16, 2022.  LEO CALDAS / AFP

 

Their mascot is named “Little Defeat”. Their fans “protest” when they win. But after a notorious losing streak that earned them the nickname “the world’s worst football team”, Brazilian minnows Ibis are ready for victory.

Based in the city of Paulista in northeastern Brazil, Ibis Sport Club rose to infamy in the 1980s for going three years, 11 months and 26 days without winning a match.

But the regional club, who play in the Pernambuco state championship, have responded to decades of derision with good-natured humor, turning their mocking nickname into a badge of pride — and what is turning out to be a powerful brand.

With their penchant for self-deprecating tweets and Instagram posts that go viral, Ibis have drawn worldwide attention, including from Swedish online gambling firm Betsson, which signed the most lucrative sponsorship deal in the club’s 84-year history last June.

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Now, flush with cash, the eternal losers are starting to do the unthinkable: win.

“Let’s leave our history as ‘the world’s worst team’ to the 1980s when Ibis really were the worst in the world. We’re not anymore — though we use it for marketing, so people know us,” said club president and passionate fan Ozir Ramos Junior.

Losers or not, Ibis have shown a knack for building their brand in the social media age.

When Lionel Messi left Barcelona last August, Ibis offered to sign the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner — on condition he not score “too many goals” or win a championship.

In the event, the Argentine superstar went to Paris Saint-Germain — whom Ibis now compare themselves to, given that neither team have had any luck winning the Champions League.

Lovable Losers 

“We’re known all over the planet as the worst in the world. But let’s not mix that up with our professional side. We’ve got highly competent people,” Ramos told AFP.

The sponsorship deal with Betsson has allowed Ibis to upgrade their sporting infrastructure and pay actual salaries to their footballers, who formerly played out of “love for the jersey”, Ramos said.

Last season, the club won promotion from the Pernambuco second division to the state’s top-flight league for the first time in 21 years.

The championship is the gateway to Serie D, the bottom rung of Brazil’s national league system — though Ibis, returning to form, have struggled for results, and risk being relegated again.

It is only a temporary setback, says coach Paulo Jesse.

“Today, we only work with winners. We’re going to ditch our reputation as the worst in the world,” said the coach, a school security guard in his day job.

Ibis have certainly come a long way since their worst ignominy, when they went from July 20, 1980, to June 17, 1984, without winning a match — racking up 48 losses and six draws, with 25 goals for and 225 against.

The losing streak was so bad sports magazine Placar wrote a profile of the club, declaring them “the worst team in Brazil” — a nickname that soon became more famous than the club’s official one, the Black Birds.

Ibis claim they even hold a Guinness record for the world’s worst losing streak — though there is no register of that.

Universal Appeal

Israel Leal, author of a book on the team, says Ibis have universal appeal.

“Ibis is resistence. It’s like any one of us who’s going through a bad time and then starts fighting to win,” he said.

“For many years the club did nothing but lose, and now they’re winning.”

Owner Ramos says Ibis have a way of conquering people’s hearts.

Among fans who support Pernambuco’s most popular sides, Nautico and Sport Recife, “Ibis are everyone’s second-favorite team”, he said.

Even the club’s best-loved legends tend to be everyman stars, such as Mauro Shampoo, a barber with a massive mane of hair who played as a midfielder for Ibis in the late 1980s.

He claims to have scored one goal, in an 8-1 loss to Ferroviario do Recife.

But there is no record of it.

The club president at the time said it was actually an own goal.

AFP

Brazil Supreme Court Judge Bars Messaging App Telegram

In this file photo taken on November 08, 2021 of the mobile messaging and call service Telegram logo on a smartphone screen in Moscow. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP
In this file photo taken on November 08, 2021 of the mobile messaging and call service Telegram logo on a smartphone screen in Moscow. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

 

A Supreme Court judge in Brazil ruled Friday to block popular messaging application Telegram nationwide, barring one of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s favorite communication channels.

Citing Telegram’s failure to comply with orders from Brazilian authorities and remove messages found to contain disinformation, Judge Alexandre de Moraes ordered the app blocked immediately in Brazil, in a ruling dated Thursday and published Friday on the high court’s website.

“Telegram’s disrespect for Brazilian law and repeated failure to comply with countless court decisions… is completely incompatible with the rule of law,” wrote Moraes.

He said the company had repeatedly refused to comply with rulings and requests from police, the Superior Electoral Tribunal and the Supreme Court itself.

READ ALSO: TikTok Suspends Posting Of New Videos From Russia

That includes a Supreme Court-ordered investigation into allegations against the Bolsonaro administration of using official communication channels to spread disinformation, he said.

Bolsonaro reacted on Twitter, posting a link to subscribe to his channel on Telegram — which was still operational in Brazil Friday afternoon.

“Our Telegram informs people every day of many important actions of national interest, which many regrettably omit,” he said.

“Welcome, and share the truth.”

Telegram is hugely successful in Brazil, where it has been downloaded on 53 percent of all cell phones.

Bolsonaro, who has had various posts blocked on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for violating their rules on misinformation, has been eagerly encouraging his base to follow him on Telegram as he gears up to seek reelection in October.

 

AFP

Brazil Football Great Carlos To Play For English Team

Brazilian football legend Roberto Carlos (C) scores from the penalty spot playing a friendly match for Shrewsbury and District Sunday League side “Bull in the Barne United” outside Shrewsbury in north-west England on March 4, 2022, after he was purchased by the club in an auction.  Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Brazil and Real Madrid great Roberto Carlos will get a taste of English grassroots football when he turns out for a pub team on Friday.

The 48-year-old retired full-back will appear for Bull in the Barne United in Shrewsbury, western England after the team won a charity “Dream Transfer” raffle on eBay in January.

Carlos is set to be involved as the team face fellow Shrewsbury and District Sunday League side Harlescott Rangers in a friendly.

The Brazilian, who won the World Cup in 2002, most recently had a brief spell in India with Delhi Dynamos in 2015.

READ ALSO: Brazil ‘Neutral’ In Russia-Ukraine Conflict, Bolsonaro Says

When it was announced in January that he would be turning out for Bull in the Barne for one game, Carlos said in a statement: “I’m excited to play for Bull in the Barne in Shrewsbury, paying homage to when I nearly signed for Birmingham City in the 90s, which is very close by.

“I’ve heard that the team’s been down a number of players this season so here’s hoping my training is enough to help them up their game and bring what Bull in the Barne’s fans want to see.”

Bull in the Barne manager and goalkeeper Ed Speller said: “Roberto Carlos is one of those legends who’s inspired so many young players’ love of the game.

“My jaw absolutely dropped when we found out Bull in the Barne won the Dream Transfer and he’ll be playing alongside the team in Shrewsbury.

“It should be a right laugh for him to come see what we’re made of, with some tense free-kicks and hopefully no dodgy tackles.”

Money raised from the raffle has gone to Football Beyond Borders, a charity that helps disadvantaged young people.

AFP