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Racism exists but we have to stop it, says Neymar

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Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) striker Neymar has said he could not leave the field with- out responding to Alvaro Gonzalez after claiming the officials ignored his accusations of racism against the Marseille defender.

Neymar was one of five players sent off on Sunday as Marseille clinched their first victory against PSG in nine years after Andre Villas Boas’ side beat PSG 1-0 in a game which will be remembered for aggressive fouls and a late brawl.

The Brazilian was sent off for slapping Gonzalez in injury-time, who he accused of racism as he left the field and also on social media following the match.

In a lengthy post on Instagram, Neymar has now said he “acted like a fool” to earn a red card but said that it is important that those in power reflect on the role of racism in sport.”Yesterday I revolted. I was punished with red because I wanted to hit someone who offended me,” Brazillian ace striker Neymar Jr.
Neymar said.

“I thought I could not leave without doing something because I realised that those in charge would not do any- thing, did not notice or ignored the fact. During the game, I wanted to answer as always: playing football. The facts showed that I did not succeed. I revolted.”

“In our sport, aggressions, insults, swearing are part of the game, of the dispute. You can’t be affectionate. I understand this guy partly, all is part of the game, but racism and intolerance are unacceptable.”

“I am black, son of black, grandson and great-grand- son of black also. I am proud and do not see myself as different from anyone. Yesterday, I wanted those in charge of the game (referees, assistants) to position themselves impartially and to under- stand that there is no longer such a place for a prejudiced attitude.

“Reflecting and seeing all the manifestation of what happened, I am saddened by the feeling of hatred that we can provoke when, in the heat of the moment, we snap. “Should I have ignored it? I don’t know yet… Today, with a cool head, I say yes, but in due course, my companions and I asked the referees for help and we were ignored. That’s the point!”

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Gurpreet, Sanju named AIFF Players of the Year

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Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Sanju were on Friday declared as winners of the 2019- 20 AIFF men’s and women’s footballer of the year awards respectively. 

This is the first time Gurpreet has received the award, and in the process, he became the second goalkeeper after Subrata Paul in 2009 to be named the AIFF Player of the Year.

 “There was always a desire to reach this point and this is an award which I have always looked up to. Chhetri-bhai (Sunil Chhetri) has won it so many times and I have always thought when I can be worthy enough to win it,” the 28-year-old, who had also received the Arjuna Award last year, said.

 “Garnering the all-important draw against Asian Champions Qatar in Doha, eleven clean sheets in last Indian Super League edition, winning the Golden Glove award could not have been possible without the team,” he added. 

Meanwhile, midfielder Sanju was selected the winner for an excellent season while Ratanbala Devi was the winner of the 2019-20 Emerging Women’s Footballer of the Year Award. Both the winners were selected by national women’s team head coach Maymol Rocky in consultation with AIFF Technical Director Isac Doru.

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To quit or not to quit? That’s the dilemma!

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Footballers hang up their boots. Boxers hang up their gloves and cricket commentators hang up their microphones! It’s difficult to know when it’s the best time to quit and move on to something else. Knowing when to quit is never easy. Usually, there are two parts to quitting, or to use the more appropriate term to ‘transitioning’. First, our performance drops to a point where others are clearly better than us. So we drop out or get de-selected. Second, our enjoyment drops.

 It’s understandable to want to keep going, doing what we love to do, for as long as possible. Being realistic and adaptable about how well we can perform as we get older is very important. Adaptable by positively changing our training, rest and recovery, nutrition, and mental attitude. 

From the new science of applied positive psychology we find 8 key ideas that are the difference between quitting now and perhaps while you’re ahead and performing longer, optimally, and with joy. What connects them all is the need to adopt a positive mindset. 

1. Savour the good times: Savouring is the process of not letting the good moments pass without celebrating them. It’s important to enjoy the positive emotions that you feel. Savour past achievements as these will be strengthening and uplifting. 

2. Develop self-compassion: Most people who play sport can be overly self-critical. We are tough on ourselves. We listen too much to the negative voices within us. This leads to anxiety, self-blame, and depression. So it’s important to change the chatter in our heads. 

3. Avoid losing sight of your strengths: What is critical to performing optimally and for as long as we can, is knowing what we are good at doing and playing to our strengths. This often requires some self reflection and ‘checking out’ with coaches and others you trust, to give you their honest opinion. As we become more experienced, with age, it’s perfectly natural that our strengths change also. For example, early in our career, we might have physical strengths of pace and agility. Later in our career, these might change into being able to read the game better and anticipate what the opposition might do 

4. See the glass half full: It’s very important to be optimistic about the future and to focus on the positives when moving forward. There is something called ‘learned optimism’ which means that we can learn to see the future as opportunities and possibilities, rather than as problems to be solved, fixed, or got rid of in our lives. 

5. Review the quality of your sleep: To perform well and for longer, requires some serious thinking about the quality of our sleep. Adequate sleep helps us feel well and perform at our best. Seven hours per night is the recommended minimum for optimal functioning.

 6. Beware of imposter syndrome: Sometimes, although we know we are doing ok and even performing well, inside we don’t feel successful, or not successful enough. We feel a bit like a fraud, when in fact we’re not! This mental state can be really debilitating. Talking these feelings through with someone we trust, who can offer a perspective on things, is essential if we are to take control of imposter syndrome. 

7. Prepare for the transition: There are many examples in sport, where careers end, and life, all of a sudden, becomes scary and uncertain. Preparation for life after competitive sport needs to happen early and there be no better place to start this than with some serious attention to the re-setting of goals. This is about being clear about what we really want and need in our lives after we ‘quit’. A conversation about new meaning and purpose of life is essential. 8. Undertake regular wellbeing check-ups: Thriving involves both success and development. It’s a blend of achievement and growth, accomplishment, and learning. It requires balancing the demands for success with the demands for wellness and personal development. If you are performing well and pushing yourself hard, but you’re perpetually stressed and not enjoying yourself, that is the success of a kind, but it’s not thriving. Thriving occurs when success, development, and fulfillment are in harmony. This needs to be a central part of your check-up.

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Rivals Kolkata, Hyderabad fight for their maiden win

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It’s a game between two currently bottom-placed teams. Twice champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will face 2016 winners SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) here on Saturday. So far, both have played one match each and lost. 

After a dismal show against defending champions Mumbai Indians in their campaign opener, KKR will face the David Warner-led SRH, who went down to Royal Challengers Bangalore in their tournament opener. Both teams will now be craving for a win to gain confidence. 

With the likes of Andre Russell and Eoin Morgan in their middle-order, KKR have the capability to overhaul any given target. However, the duo failed to capitalise against Mumbai and the Dinesh Karthik-led KKR ended up on the losing side. 

Despite the losses, both the sides are well aware of each other’s strengths and will surely not take the contest lightly. Against Mumbai, explosive Caribbean batter Sunil Narine opened the innings with Shubhman Gill but the pair disappointed after falling cheaply and the KKR team management might make a change in their opening combination. Similarly, Nikhil Naik is likely to be axed from the playing XI as the 25-yearold could only contribute a single run against MI. 

The middle-order featuring Karthik, Nitish Rana, Russell, and Morgan will need to step up. If any of them gets going, things would pretty much become easier for KKR. The KKR bowlers too need to raise the bar. Pat Cummins was snapped by the franchise for a whopping Rs.15.5 crore for this edition. However, the Aussie quick failed to prove his worth after being hammered for 49 runs from his three overs.

 The 27-year-old, however, was handy with the bat with a 12-ball 33-run cameo and demonstrated that he was capable of rescuing his team while batting down the order. Cummins, however, first needs to perform with the ball and he will definitely try to silence his critics.

 If KKR want to make a comeback, the pace duo should receive support from their spinners Narine and Kuldeep Yadav. 

On the other hand, SRH’s middleorder instability was exposed in their opening match against RCB. Opener David Warner, too, had a flop show with the willow and it was his partner Jonny Bairstow, who showed resistance in the middle with his 43-ball 61.

 However, after the England batsman departed, the entire SRH team fell like a pack of cards, barring Manish Pandey, who chipped in with valuable 34 but failed to take his team to victory.

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Fiery bowling helps DC decimate Dhoni’s CSK

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Prithvi Shaw’s 64 and a clinical bowling performance led by South African duo Kagiso Rabada (3/26) and Anrich Nortje (2/21) helped Delhi Capitals (DC) beat Chennai Super Kings (CSK) by 44 runs in their IPL encounter on Friday.

 Chasing a target of 176, CSK hardly ever looked capable of reaching the score and were restricted to 131/7 at the end of 20 overs. This is the threetime champions’ second consecutive defeat this season.

 This is the first time since 2010 that DC have started an IPL season with two consecutive victories. They are on top of the table now with four points. 

DC’s Axar Patel continued his successful run against Shane Watson, dismissing the veteran Australian in the fifth over while he was on 14 off 16 balls. Watson’s opening partner Murali Vijay (10) also struggled to get runs on board and succumbed to Nortje in the next over. 

CSK captain MS Dhoni again decided to stay in the lower middle order and it was 23-year-old Ruturaj Gaikwad who came in at no. 4. Gaikwad’s innings was short-lived as he was run out for 5.

 Faf du Plessis and Kedar Jadhav managed to temporarily stem the flow of wickets and put up 54 runs for the fourth wicket. But the run rate was never what it needed to be and by the time Jadhav fell, CSK were 98/4 in the 16th over. Du Plessis, Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja and Sam Curran’s efforts in the end proved too little too late. 

Earlier, DC openers Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan started patiently before dictating the flow of the game throughout the first half of the innings. After the openers’ dismissals, Rishabh Pant (37 not out) and captain Shreyas Iyer (26) added 58 for the third wicket to help DC to 175/3. 

CSK finally got the breakthrough in the 11th over as Dhawan (35) was adjudged leg-before wicket while trying to play a reverse sweep off the bowling of Piyush Chawla.

 Delhi Capitals was given yet another big blow in the 13th over as Shaw (64) was sent back to the pavilion as CSK skipper MS Dhoni stumped him off the bowling of Chawla and this reduced Delhi to 103/2. Skipper Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant then got together at the crease to retrieve Delhi’s innings.

 In the final over, Marcus Stoinis (5*) and Pant (37*) were able to score 14 runs to take Delhi’s total past the 170-run mark. 

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Kings XI skipper Rahul displays King-size cricket

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Everybody is aware of the talent of Kings XI Punjab skipper K.L. Rahul. But he deserves a special applause in view of power-strokes he displayed against the bowling attack by Dale Steyn, Umesh Yadav and Navdeep Saini. Rahul has definitely kindled a hope for future by smashing like this in death overs. 

He made 49 runs in the last two overs and 74 runs in the last four overs. What else any team needs in the death overs. Four sixes and two fours in two overs of Dale Steyn, two sixes and one four off Shivam Dube, and two sixes of Navdeep Saini came as a delightful spectacle of bold batting of Rahul. And these shots were smashed despite the big ground and particularly the big square boundary of the Dubai stadium. When Rahul was out of form, he was finding it difficult to score runs for Team India. But the team management had spotted the hidden talent in him. He got tremendous opportunities and Rahul used the opportunities to the hilt. 

The result of this is that he is now the only batsman in Team India who always gets ready to accept every responsibility of the team. He got the responsibility of opening the innings for Team India and he rose upto the expectations. He was sent to play at number 5 and there also he proved to be a good finisher. When he was given glove work, he again performed well behind the wickets. He performed well with bat in whatever format he got the chance and proved his utility. 

Now he has got a chance of captaincy in IPL 2020 and in this role also he has risen to expectation. He worked for building innings against RCB in Dubai. While building up the inning, he avoided hitting sixes, but after it was consolidated he shifted the gear and did explosive batting and made huge runs. He did not care who the bowler was. However, he got a benefit of being dropped by Virat Kohli at one point of time in the match. This way he got the reputation of a skipper having played the biggest innings in IPL. This is also the biggest inning by an Indian player in IPL. Last year, Rahul had completed his century off 65 balls against Mumbai Indians at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.

The most remarkable speciality of Rahul’s batting is that he takes the ball in the middle of the bat. He displayed this by playing cover and midwicket drive against RCB. A trainee practising at any cricket academy can learn a lot from such shots. Neither Saini’s pace could frighten him, nor Chahal’s googly nor Steyn and Umesh Yadav’s slower off cutter could give him any nervousness. He blasted such off-cutter balls in trademark ease and style.

 Rahul has also become the fastest Indian player to have completed 2,000 runs in IPL. He also broke Sachin Tendulkar’s eight-year-old record. He took three innings less than Sachin to have completed 2,000 runs. 

The Board and team management should focus on such an all-rounder and a talented player. He should be given rest at regular intervals to save him from injuries. It is better that he is given responsibility of wicketkeeping in T20 matches only; for, if he is given this responsibility with the opening task in ODIs, then he will be under a lot of pressure, mental as well as physical.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic tests positive for coronavirus

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 Veteran AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has tested positive for Covid-19, the club confirmed in a statement on Thursday. The 38-year-old will hence not be available for Milan’s Europa League match against Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt. “Zlatan Ibrahimovic has tested positive for Covid-19 following a second round of swab tests ahead of tonight’s game against Bodo/Glimt,” Milan said. “The Club has informed the relevant authorities and the player has been promptly placed in quarantine at home. All other team members and staff have tested negative.” 

Ibrahimovic had before the start of the season extended his contract with the 18-time Serie A champions by a year.

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