Common sense must prevail in football’s response to George Floyd’s death – even Fifa understands

As is the case with a lot in football right now, many are looking to Germany, to see what’s next. The Bundesliga yet again offers a test case for the game. Except, this goes way beyond football, and the key question is whether it goes beyond politics.

The German federation announced on Monday it was reviewing the cases of Jadon Sancho, Achraf Hakimi and Weston McKennie over their protests against the death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman.

“Part of these examinations is to ascertain whether during matches and on the pitch are the right place for these actions,” DFB vice-president Rainer Koch said. “As is the case internationally, the game should remain free of political statements or messages of any kind.”

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When you look internationally, though, the global governing body is effectively stating the opposite.

“Fifa fully understands the depth of sentiment and concerns expressed by many footballers in light of the tragic circumstances of the George Floyd case,” a statement read. “The application of the laws of the game… is left for the competition’s organisers, which should use common sense and have in consideration the context surrounding the events.”

This, for a body so often criticised for getting it wrong, was an example of Fifa striking exactly the right tone.

They didn’t get it exactly perfect, mind. The Fifa Twitter account initially put up a post celebrating Sancho’s assist stats, featuring a photo of the forward displaying his “Justice for George Floyd” message. That was later deleted, and the photo replaced, which didn’t seem like common sense.

Sancho’s protest is likely to be a common sentiment. Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur all put up social media posts in support – Liverpool’s and Newcastle’s featuring their squads taking the knee in training – to go with countless players from Marcus Rashford to Jordan Henderson.

That makes the Bundesliga example all the more relevant, and instructive, since there are likely to many more following Sancho, Hakimi and McKennie on the pitch.

The German federation should heed Fifa’s advice. This is not the time to get bureaucratically procedural. It is a time for common sense, and a human appreciation for common good.

If a federation ends up punishing players for such protests, we are likely to hear the usual defences that there has to be a blanket attitude to political expression, because the football authorities can’t police every individual action or risk being accused of some kind of bias or favouritism.

There is actually a small amount of logic to the argument, but it only extends so far. The game inherently makes these decisions all the time.

As should really be a pat cliche in its own right now, football and politics cannot be separated. They are intertwined, with the latter inherent to the former. The very organisation of a match can be a political act. You only have to look at Athletic Bilbao’s official player policy, related to Basque nationalism.

Any basic first XI is fundamentally an organisation of people. To go much further, you only have to look at the segregation of teams in Apartheid South Africa. Fifa were one of many sporting bodies to ban the country. The game has thereby always made these distinctions. They’ve also done so very concretely relatively recently.

Law Four of the game was actually rewritten just over two years ago to cover precisely this, and was repeatedly referenced when Pep Guardiola wore a yellow ribbon for Catalan independence. The comments of then FA chairman Martin Glenn are also instructive.

“To be very clear, his yellow ribbon is a political symbol, it’s a symbol of Catalan independence,” he said at the time. “There are many more Spaniards, non-Catalans who are upset by it… things that are going to be highly divisive, and that could be strong religious symbols – it could be the Star of David, it could the hammer and sickle, it could be a swastika, anything like Robert Mugabe on your shirt – these are the things we don’t want.

“We have re-written Law Four of the game so that things like a poppy are OK.”

Many, like James McClean and Nemanja Matic, think that the poppy is not OK. But the wider point is that if that is where the line is drawn, protests about George Floyd are obviously a long way inside the right side. The FA’s own social media post was encouraging in this regard.

Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari was correct in telling the Guardian “this is almost above politics” and is “about right and wrong”. “This is someone who was killed on the streets by the police. This is about seeking justice for him and others like him. I don’t see that as being political. That’s human.”

It is fundamentally political, yes, but – like so many other elements of football – of a wider dimension that should put it beyond reproach and punishment. The game’s authorities now just need to do what’s right.

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Free to play: Rooster Radley the victor at NRL Judiciary

Sydney Roosters lock Victor Radley is free to take on Brisbane on Thursday night following a successful night against the NRL judiciary.

Appearing via a video link, Radley avoided a one-match ban after successfully challenging a grade-one dangerous throw charge on Tuesday night.

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Roosters claim their first win of the season against the Rabbitohs

NRL: The reigning premiers proved to be too good for the Latrell Mitchell led Rabbitohs as the Roosters claimed their first win of the season with a 26-12 win.

The classy utility forward was hit with the charge for a lifting tackle on South Sydney winger Dane Gagai late in the first half of the Roosters’ 28-12 win over the Rabbitohs last Saturday night.

Earlier, Storm forwards Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui both accepted dangerous contact charges.

Asofa-Solomona was charged for an incident involving Raiders prop Dunamis Lui in the 13th minute of the Storm’s loss in Round 3. He could not reduce the one-match ban with an early guilty plea.

Fa’asuamaleaui avoided a one-game ban with an early plea.

Warriors forward Agnatius Paasi accepted a one-match ban for dangerous conduct.

Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs will miss one match after entering an early plea for grade-two careless high tackle on Eels five-eighth Dylan Brown in their loss on Thursday.

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Originally published asFree to play: Rooster Radley the victor at NRL Judiciary

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Chelsea chief Marina Granovskaia set for transfer meeting to discuss £35m swap proposal

Juventus are planning an audacious swap proposal to sign Chelsea star Jorginho, reports claim. Manager Maurizio Sarri wants to be reunited with the Italy international in Turin and is prepared to offer Federico Bernardeschi in exchange.

Jorginho, 28, joined Chelsea for £50million and arrived on the same day Sarri was appointed as Antonio Conte’s successor in July 2018.

The pair worked together at Napoli and combined to good effect in west London – helping the Blues beat Arsenal to win the Europe League and subsequently secure Champions League qualification.

And with the likely departure of Miralem Pjanic, who’s been linked with a move to Barcelona, the Italian tactician wants Jorginho to fill the void.

However, the financial impact of COVID-19 means Juventus will be looking to negotiate swap deals in the upcoming transfer window.

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Calciomercato claim the Italian champions value Jorginho at around £35million and will look to offer Bernardeschi in exchange.

Juventus signed Bernardeschi, 26, from Fiorentina £35million in 2017 but having completed just three 90-minute appearances in all competitions under Sarri this season – the 24-capped Italy midfielder appears surplus to requirements.

Despite his struggles, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard likes Bernardeschi ‘very much’ and would reportedly consider the exchange proposal.

Calciomercato suggest Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici is expected to hold a sit down meeting with Chelsea officials, who include transfer guru Marina Granovskaia.

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The agent of Jorginho, Joao Santos, has recently denied knowledge of any interest from Juventus – but did praise the club.

“Juventus are one of the top teams in Europe and any player would like to play for them,” Santos told Radio Kiss Kiss.

“I haven’t heard from sporting director Fabio Paratici, he hasn’t called me. Jorginho has three years left on his contract with Chelsea, he’s doing well in London.

“I read about the links with Juve through newspapers and various outlets. I repeat, Juventus are one of the top clubs in football.”

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Odion Ighalo wages: How much does Ighalo earn as Man Utd extend loan?

Odion Ighalo has impressed since arriving at Old Trafford on loan from Shanghai Shenhua during the January transfer window. The Nigeria international has scored four goals in three starts, with Manchester United Ole Gunnar Solskjaer extending his stay.

The Premier League season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic plans are in place for the campaign to resume on June 17.

Ighalo’s loan deal initially expired on May 31 but United have managed to extent his deal until January 2021.

Solskjaer said: “They [Shanghai Greenland Shenhua] have been great towards us, allowing him to play for his dream club.

“It’s been a dream for him and hopefully he can finish what he started and win a trophy with us.”

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How much does Odion Ighalo earn?

According to The Sun, Ighalo takes home £180,000 per week with United.

Upon his arrival, the former Watford striker revealed he took a pay cut in order to secure his loan move to Old Trafford.

He was reportedly earning £300,000 per week in China.

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“I didn’t sleep throughout that night, because it was going to end at 7am, Shanghai time, and the transfer [window] is going to close there,” Igalo said of his move.

“So, from 11pm, there was paperwork, negotiating and all that, for the loan deal and all that, so we are talking and other teams are calling them, wanting me, but I told my agent that this is what I want. I want to come here.

“He said you’re going to get a pay-cut to go to United. I said I don’t care. Make this deal happen. I want to go to United.

“I don’t care how much is the pay-cut, I know that, make it happen.”

Ighalo was drafted in following an injury to Marcus Rashford but he has won United fans over with his dedication.

The striker also feels he has improved as a player working under the tutelage of Solskjaer.

“When I moved to United, I learned a few things from him,” Ighalo told MUTV.

“During games… there was even a game I scored in, and he said ‘You should have scored more if you do this or do that’.

“I thought about it and I know if I would have done what Ole said, I would have scored more. He says: ‘You’re a striker, take the chance’.

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“So I’ve learnt a lot from him, in terms of positioning and how to do one or two things in a game.

“As a striker, it’s good when a striker is coaching you.

“And, as a striker, you benefit even more than the defenders.

“He is someone who has scored goals for a long time and has done a lot for United, so it’s good to learn from him.”

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Tyson Fury’s three-year-old son declares he wants to knock out Anthony Joshua

Tyson Fury's three-year-old son appears to be taking after his famous father after declaring he wants to knock out unified world champion Anthony Joshua.

Ever since Fury made his comeback to the ring in 2018, the 31-year-old has often found time to call out his fellow Brit which has led to speculation the pair will eventually meet in the ring in a megafight.

It seems, though, that the old adage of 'like father, like son' certainly rings true in the Fury household with young Prince Tyson Fury II also turning his attention to the Olympic gold medalist from London 2012.

Fury's son joined his dad and mum Paris for Tuesday's workout which was broadcast live on the two-time heavyweight world champion's Instagram page and tried his best to complete a series of exercises.

Midway through the gruelling session, Paris decided to ask her son some questions to inject a little bit of light-hearted humour into Tuesday's workout.

"Tyson, who's the champion?" she enquired, with the youngster replying that he was the king of the world.

Paris then asked what he had won to become world champion, but the three-year-old appeared to misunderstand the question by shouting 'Joshua' in reply.

Not one to miss an opportunity to get one over his fellow Brit, the older Tyson Fury then asked his son what he would do to Joshua.

"Knock him out," was the response from the young kid, drawing a huge smile from his father.

The two-time heavyweight then addressed the camera, saying: "This is the confidence that you instil in these fighting men. That's the confidence I had when I was his age – knock him out."

The 31-year-old certainly appears to be teaching his son a lot during the coronavirus lockdown, having explained to the youngster the importance of telling the truth.

Young Tyson had unfortunately spilled a can of Diet Coke on the floor of Fury's new car, but after the youngster came clean immediately, his dad had no qualms in praising him for admitting what he had done.

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Jens Lehmann details ‘mistake’ Arsenal made with ‘Invincibles’ ’04 squad

Jens Lehmann claims Arsenal paid the price for years for failing to replace their 'Invincibles' squad.

The Gunners romped to the Premier League title in 2004 without losing a game.

However, the North London club have not won the championship since and have struggled to qualify for the Champions League in recent years.

Lehmann believes the Gunners hierarchy did not add enough experience to their squad after selling some of their star names.

He told beIN SPORTS’ The Champions Club : “I think Arsenal made one mistake.

"At the time probably a minor mistake, but now I think it was quite a mistake which was decisive for the coming years.

"In 2008 Gilberto Silva and myself were the last guys from that team, and a year before they changed Thierry Henry, Patrick Viera, Martin Keown was leaving already in 2004, but within two years they got rid of all the personalities.

"I said Gilberto and myself we were the last ones and I was coming to the dressing room when I had my little comeback and there were guys like Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Alex Hleb, Thomas Rosicky.

"All young guys and after one good game, they thought I’m on the top of the hierarchy, but you could feel that there was no hierarchy because they were too young to lead at the time.

"It wasn’t their fault but there was just no in between generation which could actually transfer the old values and the approaches to training and to games onto this new generation because there was a huge gap and in my opinion that was a transition that was too fast.

"They were looking at age and statistics and probably salaries and whatever, but keeping some of the good guys from before was a good sometimes nasty approach would have helped.”

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Mario Balotelli performs Black Power salute as he joins calls for change following George Floyd death

Mario Balotelli has performed the Black Power pose in support of the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd.

Mr Floyd died last Monday after a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck and sports stars have joined in the widespread condemnation.

And Brescia forward Balotelli, who formerly played for both Manchester City and Liverpool, has joined the likes of Manchester United stars Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford in making a stand against racism.

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The 29-year-old posted a photograph of him performing the Black Power salute to his Instagram, along with the caption: “#saynotoracism #blackpower #restinpeacebrother #GEORGEFLOYD.”

He also shared a picture of him playing for the Italy national team, with the caption: “I have nothing against monkeys because I’m totally sure a monkey is smarter than a racist.”

Several stars from the world of sport have sent anti-racism messages as protests following Mr Floyd’s death have taken place over the past week.

On Monday, England striker Rashford and his Manchester United team-mate Pogba posted messages, while a number of Liverpool players – including captain Jordan Henderson and Virgil van Dijk, tweeted messages alongside an image of the squad taking a knee on the centre circle at Anfield.

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‘We won’t tolerate this’: Paul Pogba joins call for change after death of George Floyd

Paul Pogba has sent a powerful anti-racism message sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Mr Floyd died last Monday after a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck and sports stars have joined in the widespread condemnation.

Manchester United midfielder Pogba took to Instagram on Monday to voice his thoughts: ‘During the past few days I have thought a lot about how to express my feelings about what happened in Minneapolis.

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‘I felt anger, pity, hatred, indignation, pain, sadness. Sadness for George and for all black people who suffer from racism EVERY DAY!

‘Whether in football, at work, at school, ANYWHERE! This has to stop, once and for all! Not tomorrow or the next day, it has to end TODAY!

‘Violent acts of racism can no longer be tolerated. I can’t tolerate. I won’t tolerate. WE WON’T TOLERATE. Racism is ignorance. LOVE is intelligence. STOP the silence. STOP racism. #NoToRacismWeAllOne #JusticeForFloyd #GeorgeFloyd #BlackLivesMatter.’

England forward Marcus Rashford posted a message of his own, saying: “I know you guys haven’t heard from me in a few days. I’ve been trying to process what is going on in the world.

“At a time I’ve been asking people to come together, work together and be united, we appear to me more divided than ever. People are hurting and people need answers.

“Black lives matter. Black culture matters. Black communities matter. We matter.”

Rashford has followed his England team-mate Jadon Sancho in addressing the issue after the Borussia Dortmund winger said “we shouldn’t fear speaking out for what’s right”.

‘Justice for George Floyd’ was scrawled on the T-shirt revealed by the Borussia Dortmund winger after scoring the first of what proved to be his maiden senior hat-trick in a 6-1 win over Paderborn.

Liverpool’s players, including captain Jordan Henderson and Virgil Van Dijk, tweeted messages with an image of the players taking a knee during training at Anfield.

Chelsea declared that they stood together with Floyd and “all victims in the fight against discrimination, brutality and injustice”.

“As a club we are committed to being a part of the solution, and we are joining our voice to all those calling for fairness, equality and meaningful change,” their statement added. “Enough is enough. Together we are stronger.”

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Top 10 boxers of all time unveiled as Mike Tyson fails to make star-studded list

Floyd Mayweather has been named the greatest boxer of all time – but the legendary Mike Tyson surprisingly missed out on the top 10.

Online outlet BoxRec have compiled a 'Best Boxers Of All-Time' list and Mayweather takes the No.1 spot, having successfully fought out a glittering 21-year professional career without losing.

The Money Man edged his old-time rival Manny Pacquiao, who had to settle for second place, while Argentine icon Carlos Monzon came him in third spot.

Muhammad Ali was perhaps a surprise fourth, the American great arguably the biggest name in boxing's history, but his record of 56-5-0 wasn't enough to earn him a place in the top three.

But the biggest shock was Tyson's omission from the star-studded list, while Evander Holyfield, Rocky Marciano and Roberto Duran other notable absentees.

Tyson – who is eyeing a comeback to the ring this year at the age of 53 – holds the record for being the youngest heavyweight champion of the world at the age of 20.

The American legend finished his career in 2005 with a record of 50 wins, 6 losses and 2 no contest verdicts – and is widely regarded as the finest fighter of his genartion.

While it's disappointment for Tyson, many fans can have no arguments over Mayweather's placing at the top of the list.

Mayweather bowed out of the sport with an imperious 50-0 record, and won multiple world titles in five different weight classes.

He has once again edged Pacquiao, who he overcame back in 2015 in a fight dubbed the richest bout of all time.

Monzon, who dominated in the 1960s and 1970s and held the undisputed world middleweight belt for seven years, pipped Ali to third.

Behind the top four, Sugar Ray Robinson took fifth ahead of Bernard Hopkins, Jose Louis overcame Archie Moore for eighth and Oscar De La Hoya was ninth ahead of Julio Cesar Chavez.

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Man Utd make Raul Jimenez and Declan Rice transfer call ahead of summer window

Manchester United have decided Declan Rice and Raul Jimenez are lower priorities than the likes of Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish, reports say. The Red Devils have been backed to sign the West Ham and Wolves players ahead of the summer transfer window. But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer doesn’t deem them essential, with the Norwegian having other intentions instead.

Manchester United boss Solskjaer is eyeing a summer spending spree as he plots a path to Premier League title glory next season.

The Red Devils have made strides under the Norwegian since the turn of the year and, now, currently have Sancho and Grealish in their sights.

Interest in the Borussia Dortmund and Aston Villa players has been well-documented ahead of the transfer window, with United putting them top of their priority list.

And the Independent say that United have also decided that Rice and Jimenez aren’t essential signings this summer.

West Ham could have to cash in on Rice in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

United were eyeing the England international last summer but flatly refused to meet the Hammers’ huge asking price.

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Chelsea have since emerged as suitors for Rice, especially given his friendship with Frank Lampard favourite Mason Mount.

And United’s stance will give the Blues a boost in their pursuit of the 21-year-old ahead of the transfer window.

It’s claimed that Solskjaer also doesn’t have Jimenez as a priority.

And the fact the Red Devils have secured Odion Ighalo on loan until January 2021 may be the reason why.

The Nigeria international will be staying at Old Trafford for a little while longer yet after United successfully negotiated an extension with Shanghai Shenhua.

They will be paying £10.5m to keep the former Watford star on their books until the New Year.

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And United are now well-stocked up top with Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial also capable of playing there.

While the pair aren’t priorities for United, Sancho and Grealish are.

They’re hellbent on signing the former, with the Red Devils willing to give the Borussia Dortmund star their prestigious No 7 shirt.

Any potential move for Grealish, though, appears to depend on what happens with Paul Pogba’s Old Trafford future.

The France international continues to attract transfer interest from Real Madrid and Juventus, with PSG now in the hunt as well.

And United are only likely to move for Grealish if their current midfield general departs – something the midfielder himself is still hoping for.

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Meanwhile, speaking last month, Solskjaer opened up on the transfer market and admitted he expected things to be different this summer than in previous years.

“We’re always looking to improve the squad,” said the Norwegian.  

“This uncertainty in the market now, who knows how football and the market is going to be, but I’m very happy with the squad I’ve got.

“Today’s world is different to what it was two months ago.

“We’ve got to adjust, adapt, there’s clubs out there struggling more than us financially.

“It’s a new world, and I think the transfer market this summer will be completely different to what anyone thought it would be.”

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