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Pakistani-American billionaire Shahid Khan looks to buy Wembley Stadium

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Pakistani-American billionaire Shahid Khan looks to buy Wembley Stadium
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan has made an offer to buy Wembley Stadium from the English Football Association (FA). The London Evening Standard reported that Shahid Khan, who owns Championship club Fulham and the NFL´s Jacksonville Jaguars, is behind the £500 million ($698 million) bid to buy the national stadium. “We can confirm that the FA has received an offer to buy Wembley Stadium,” an FA statement read. The shocking proposal was put before the full board of the domestic game´s governing body on Thursday. “I am very pleased to learn today that The Football Association board of directors received our offer to purchase Wembley Stadium, our home away from home in London, from the FA,” Khan said in a statement. Khan denied the bid for the stadium is the first step in relocating his franchise overseas. “Today´s news changes none of what we envision for the long-term promise for the Jaguars here in Jax, and it changes nothing as to the goals we have for your downtown,” Khan said. “If anything, today´s news is the embodiment of the ethos we adopted several years ago of being proud, bold and committed.” Wembley, which has a 90,000-capacity, was reopened in 2007 after the FA´s seven-year, £757 million rebuilds of the home of English football. The flamboyant Khan is a Pakistan-born American billionaire, who made his fortune in the car parts business.

Ibrahimovic turns down World Cup comeback after speculation

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Ibrahimovic turns down World Cup comeback after speculation
Ending weeks of speculation, the Swedish football federation announced Thursday that star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who quit the national squad in 2016, will not make a comeback for the World Cup in Russia. “I spoke with Zlatan on Tuesday. He said that he has not changed his mind regarding the national squad,” the managing director of the national squad, Lars Richt, said in a statement after the player dropped numerous hints of a possible return. “It’s a no,” Richt added. In an appearance on ABC television’s late-night Jimmy Kimmel show on April 18, the new star of LA Galaxy teased fans that he may come out of retirement to play in Russia. Known for his swagger, Zlatan said “it wouldn’t be a World Cup” if he didn’t play, adding: “I’m going to the World Cup, yes.” The 36-year-old who last played at a World Cup with Sweden in 2006, retired from the Swedish team after the 2016 European Championship. He said last month he wanted to concentrate on settling into his new life in Major League Soccer before thinking about the World Cup. Following an injury-blighted stay at Manchester United, the father of two became the latest in a long line of ageing stars to leave European football for the United States. The 6ft 4ins (1.95m) striker tweeted on April 15: “The chance of me playing in the World Cup is skyhöga (sky high).” He later told Swedish media that “high odds — that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.” Ibrahimovic had just weeks earlier become a global brand ambassador for Swedish betting company Bethard, prompting some Swedish commentators to lament that his World Cup teasing was nothing more than an advertising gimmick. “It feels like the whole thing was just aimed at building up his brand in the US and it even seemed at times like he thought it was funny,” Daniel Nannskog, a commentator for Swedish public broadcaster SVT, said.

– ‘Doesn’t change anything’-

At home in Sweden, Ibrahimovic’s possible World Cup return has elicited mixed reactions. Sweden coach Janne Andersson has been coolly indifferent. “It doesn’t change anything for me,” he said last month. “Zlatan is very welcome to call me” if he wants to join the squad, Andersson added. Richt declined to specify whether the team had asked Ibrahimovic to join. He “has always said that he won’t play and he quit the national team,” Richt told AFP. Some Sweden fans would love nothing more than to see the country’s most prolific goal-scorer — he notched 62 goals in 116 games — don the blue-and-yellow kit again. But others argue he has no place on a squad that managed to qualify without him, memorably eliminating World Cup giants Italy in a playoff. Ibrahimovic has 31 winners’ medals in spells with Ajax, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United. But his 2017 season and ultimately his United career was brought to a premature end by cruciate ligament damage suffered in April. He never returned as a regular in the United side. In trademark style, he announced his arrival in Los Angeles with a full-page advert in the LA Times reading simply: “Dear Los Angeles, You’re welcome.” However, his salary will be limited to around $1.5 million (1.2 million euros), a fraction of what he was paid by United.

Cricket: 2019 World Cup fixtures

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Cricket: 2019 World Cup fixtures
2019 World Cup fixtures by venue (d = day game, d/n = day/night) after the International Cricket Council announced the schedule on Thursday: Cardiff: Jun 01: New Zealand v Sri Lanka (d) Jun 04: Afghanistan v Sri Lanka (d) Jun 08: England v Bangladesh (d) Jun 15: South Africa v Afghanistan (d/n) Bristol Jun 01: Afghanistan v Australia (d/n) Jun 07: Pakistan v Sri Lanka (d) Jun 11: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka (d) Taunton Jun 08: Afghanistan v New Zealand (d/n) Jun 12: Australia v Pakistan (d) Jun 17: West Indies v Bangladesh (d) Edgbaston, Birmingham Jun 19: New Zealand v South Africa (d) Jun 26: New Zealand v Pakistan (d) Jun 30: England v India (d) Jul 02: Bangladesh v India (d) Jul 11: – Second semi-final (2 v 3) (d) Jul 12: Reserve day Southampton Jun 05: South Africa v India (d) Jun 10: South Africa v West Indies (d) Jun 14: England v West Indies (d) Jun 22: India v Afghanistan (d) Jun 24: Bangladesh v Afghanistan (d) Headingley, Leeds Jun 21: England v Sri Lanka (d) Jun 29: Pakistan v Afghanistan (d) Jul 04: Afghanistan v West Indies (d) Jul 06: Sri Lanka v India (d) Lord’s, London Jun 23: Pakistan v South Africa (d) Jun 25: England v Australia (d) Jun 29: New Zealand v Australia (d/n) Jul 05: Pakistan v Bangladesh (d/n) Jul 14: Final (d) Jul 15: Reserve day Old Trafford, Manchester Jun 16: India v Pakistan (d) Jun 18: England v Afghanistan (d) Jun 22: West Indies v New Zealand (d/n) Jun 27: West Indies v India (d) Jul 06: Australia v South Africa (d/n) Jul 09: First semifinal (1 v 4) (d) Jul 10: Reserve day The Oval, London May 30: England v South Africa (d) Jun 02: South Africa v Bangladesh (d) Jun 05: Bangladesh v New Zealand (d/n) Jun 09: India v Australia (d) Jun 15: Sri Lanka v Australia (d) Chester-le-Street Jun 28: Sri Lanka v South Africa (d) Jul 01: Sri Lanka v West Indies (d) Jul 03: England v New Zealand (d) Trent Bridge, Nottingham May 31: West Indies v Pakistan (d) Jun 03: England v Pakistan (d) Jun 06: Australia v West Indies (d) Jun 13: India v New Zealand (d) Jun 20: Australia v Bangladesh (d)

Chief of Naval Staff Amateur Golf Cup to start from Friday

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Chief of Naval Staff Amateur Golf Cup to start from Friday
The three-day Chief of Naval Staff Amateur Golf Cup will kick off in Islamabad from Friday, under the aegis of Pakistan Golf Federation in collaboration with Islamabad Golf Association. The event will be comprised of competitions in the amateurs, seniors, ladies and junior categories. Senior’s match will be played over 36 holes on April 27 and 28, seniors over 55 years and with handicap 18 and below are eligible to take part in the match, junior’s match will be played over 18 holes on April 28, while Women’s competition will be played on April 29 respectively. Sheikh Imran Nasir SI (M), Commodore North, Patron Pakistan Navy Golf for the North region said the championship will continue till April 29. “For a healthy competition, it has been decided to give the participation rights to all those having the handicap up to 12 strokes,” he said. During the press conference, Commodore Imran also said, “Pakistan Navy has always tried to promote sports at the national level”.

Sethi plays down Hasan’s antics at India border

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Sethi plays down Hasan's antics at India border
Pakistan cricket chief Najam Sethi Thursday played down allegations that the national team’s star pacer Hasan Ali overstepped the mark during an appearance at the border where he squared off with Indian soldiers. The viral video of the 24-year-old pacer at the main border crossing at Wagah in Pakistan’s Punjab province over the weekend sent shockwaves through social media in the subcontinent. During the incident Ali puffed out his chest mimicking gestures made by Pakistani border guards and also slapped his thigh while staring down Indian security forces, a gesture he often does on the pitch after taking a wicket. The performance was largely cheered by Pakistani cricket fans but drew protests from Indian users who slammed the display as jingoistic. “No bro, just no. Use your platform to do something constructive, not spread hate!” one Indian fan tweeted. However, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Sethi played down Hasan’s antics, dismissing attempts to politicise the incident. “Our national cricket teams always go to the Wagah Border for the flag lowering ceremony,” Sethi told Pakistan media. “It’s unfortunate that social media has given it a political colour, what he did he usually does after taking a wicket.” Hasan became the top-ranked one-day international bowler in global rankings last year following his 13 wickets in Pakistan’s Champions Trophy triumph in England. He has so far played two Tests, 20 one-day international and 16 Twenty20s. During the same ceremony at the border, senior batsman Azhar Ali offered more conciliatory gestures, saying he hoped for eventual peace between the arch-rivals — who have not played a bilateral series since January 2013. “Peace is the way forward,” tweeted the batsman along with a picture, where he posed with Indian and Pakistan forces at Wagah. India-Pakistan ties, including sports and cultural contacts, plummeted after the 2008 militant attacks in Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistani militant groups. Delhi has suspended most bilateral sporting ties with Pakistan since 2008, with high-profile cricket tours bearing the brunt of the moratorium. They have, however, continued to play each other in multinational events like the World Cup.

Champions Trophy to be replaced with world T20 tournament

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Champions Trophy to be replaced with world T20 tournament
The International Cricket Council said Thursday it will kill off the Champions Trophy tournament and replace it with a world T20 championship that will be held every two years. The death-knell for the 50-over Champions Trophy is the latest stage of efforts to use 20 over cricket in a new campaign to get wider recognition and a potential Olympic place. “The T20 format we always knew was the vehicle for growing the game and transforming the game from being a sport played by a few countries to a truly global sport,” ICC chief executive Dave Richardson said after the world body met in Kolkata. The next Champions Trophy “will be turned into a world T20 and that fits in with our strategy to use T20 as a way of growing the game,” Richardson added. It means there will be a World T20 in Australia in 2020 and another the following year. But Richardson said after 2021 the World T20 would be held every two years “to provide more teams with more opportunities to play”. The 50-over World Cup will remain a four-yearly event. It is in England next year and India in 2023. Richardson said cricket still holds out hope of getting an Olympic place by the time of the 2028 Los Angeles Games. In a further boost to the T20 game, the ICC has also decided to give “international status” to all 20 over matches between the world body’s 100-plus member nations. “New minimum standards will be introduced making it as easy as possible for members to play international cricket in a sustainable and affordable way,” said an ICC statement. Global rankings will also be introduced from November for women’s teams and May 2019 for men.

Messi scores in trademark tussle in EU court

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Messi scores in trademark tussle in EU court
BRUSSELS – Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi may register his name as a trademark for sports equipment and clothing, the EU’s second-highest court said, as he was famous enough to overcome phonetic similarities with Spanish bicycle clothing brand Massi. The case reached the EU General Court after the Spanish brand successfully complained to the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The EUIPO said that Messi and Massi were almost identical visually and phonetically and some would find it difficult to the tell the two apart, but the court disagreed. “Mr Messi is, in fact, a well-known public figure who can be seen on television and who is regularly discussed on television or on the radio,” the court said on Thursday. Widely considered one of the world’s greatest soccer players, Lionel Messi, 30, scored his 600th professional goal last month and is the all-time highest scorer for both Barcelona and Argentina’s national team. The court said that even though some people may not know Lionel Messi, this was unlikely to be the case for those buying sports equipment. Massi can still appeal the decision at the EU Court of Justice.

All 104 member countries granted T20I status by the ICC

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ICC T20I David Richardson
The International Cricket Council (ICC), after a meeting in Kolkatta, announced on Thursday that all 104 members countries will be granted T20I format. There are currently 18 members having T20I status, including 12 full members and Scotland, Netherlands, Hong Kong, UAE, Oman and Nepal.
“All Women’s team matches will be awarded T20 International status on July 1st 2018. All the men’s team matches will be given T20 International status on January 1st 2019,” CEO, David Richardson said.He also stated in the press conference that the global ranking system for the shortest format of the game will also be launched. He also discussed the stricter approach of the international cricketing body to control these infringements like ball-tampering and sledging.
“Stricter and heavier transactions for ball tampering and using abusive language, sledging, dissent. We want penalties in place. Fines are not proving to be the answer. The cricket committee will come back with plans,” Richardson said.Richardson also addressed Pakistan and India’s bilateral series matter and said that they all want Indo-Pak series to take place, but it will require more than the two boards to resolve the matter.
“There is a common desire that it will be great if India and Pakistan can play each other, specifically in bilateral series. The issue is quite complicated I am afraid, it is going to take a lot more than just two boards agreeing,” he told.
He also suggested that in ‘all likelihood’ Champions Trophy 2021 will be replaced with a World T20. This provides opportunities for 16 teams to compete at a global level with a sub-regional, regional and global qualification process every two years, giving more regular cricket to more Members.

Iniesta move ‘a rumour’ says Chongqing coach

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Andres Iniesta Barcelona Chongqing
SHANGHAI: Andres Iniesta’s move to Chongqing Lifan is just “a rumour”, the Chinese club’s coach said, as the Barcelona captain gets ready to reveal his future plans. Reports in Spain and China say the 33-year-old Spanish international midfielder is close to sealing a transfer to the Chinese Super League (CSL), with Chongqing said to be his most likely destination. Chongqing coach Paulo Bento, who was in charge of Portugal at the last World Cup, said: “This is a rumour and it is very difficult to comment on rumours. “But I don’t think there is any fan or coach in the world that doesn’t like a player like Iniesta,” the Portuguese said, according to Chinese media reports, after Chongqing won 2-0 at Anhui Hefei in the fourth round of the Chinese FA Cup on Wednesday. Iniesta, who has been central to Barcelona and Spain’s success over more than a decade, looks set to leave his boyhood club at the end of the season. He is keeping tight-lipped about his future, but he has been strongly linked for months with a move to the CSL and most recently Chongqing, whose only major trophy was the Chinese FA Cup in 2000. PPTV, a Chinese online broadcaster which holds rights to La Liga in China, last week cited “anonymous internal sources” from Chongqing as saying that “it’s already confirmed that Iniesta will sign up”. Chongqing Lifan’s chairman, Jiang Lizhang, is spearheading attempts to lure Iniesta to China, Spanish sports newspaper Marca previously reported. The club have declined to comment on the reports.

Wasted chances prove Real are vulnerable, says Bayern’s Heynckes

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Jupp Heynckes Bayern Munich Real Madrid
Jupp Heynckes gestures from sidelines in the contest against Real Madrid - AFP
BERLIN: Bayern Munich spurned a hatful of chances in their 2-1 home loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final first leg on Wednesday but coach Jupp Heynckes said the fact they created so many opportunities proves the Spaniards are vulnerable. Bayern should have been several goals to the good in the first half with Thomas Mueller, Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels and Franck Ribery all coming close. But the Germans were let down by some unusually sloppy finishing that allowed defending champions Real to escape with a win and left Bayern in danger of being eliminated from the competition by a Spanish club for a fifth straight season. “We are not giving up,” said Heynckes, who led Bayern to a treble of titles in 2013. “When you create so many chances against a team like Real then this is also an indication that the opponent is vulnerable. “We have nothing to lose and we will be playing freely. Maybe more so than in the first leg because our game was not as fluid as we would have liked.” Bayern suffered early setbacks with injuries to Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng but kept penetrating the Real defence seemingly at will in the opening 45 minutes, with the Spanish fullbacks struggling with the speed of Ribery and Lewandowski. But instead of adding to Joshua Kimmich’s 28th-minute opener, they conceded an equaliser a minute from halftime through Marcelo’s well-taken volley. A defensive blunder by Rafinha then allowed Real to complete the comeback and leaves Bayern needing a win in Madrid next week to advance to the final. “I am not blaming anyone but our defensive operation in both their goals was very bad,” Heynckes said. “Our finishing was also not good. We were not as efficient as usual.” Bayern had been near flawless in 2018, having scored 69 goals in their 20 matches in all competitions until Wednesday. Heynckes had won his previous 12 consecutive Champions League matches while Bayern had lost just once in their last 22 home games in the competition going into Wednesday’s encounter. That one defeat, however, was to Real in last year’s quarter-finals. “At the end of the day it is 2-1 for Real and we did not do ourselves any favours,” said Bayern captain Mueller. “How they (Real) did it is their thing but it shows that there is still a lot possible in the return leg.”