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Germany football coach Joachim Löw: ‘My role is to be a visionary’

Germany are aiming to become the first team to successfully defend a World Cup since 1938. In an exclusive interview with DW, Germany coach Joachim Löw reveals how he plans to achieve that and how he views his role. DW: We would like to start with the future. Joachim Löw: The future? Then I need to go because I am not a fortune teller. Maybe we could dream a little and philosophize, perhaps a bit about how to become world champions again. But I have some bad news for you: the chances are, you might not be the 2018 world champions. Only one team has defended their title and that was almost a century ago. Maybe you could explain something: What is so hard about defending a World Cup title? To play at the highest level requires tremendous effort, concentration and above all, never giving up. If you are successful, then it is only human that you are sometimes a bit saturated. You might also lose that hunger which means that others who are more ambitious will knock you off your pedestal. Therefore, the hardest task is to always play at this high level without falling off. What can you do to ensure everyone plays their best? What is your task now? My task is to pay attention to particular situations, inform myself where football is going and of the latest developments. We want to always be trendsetters somehow. We want to be a little bit ahead of other teams. That's why we look into the future. We are also kind of visionaries and sometimes consider totally crazy things, even when they seem a little absurd. But we want to try them once. By the same token we want to keep the pressure consistently high and to establish a certain competition because, in the end, that is what accounts for the extra percentage points. Let's compare the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to this upcoming one. What are the big differences? The temperatures are maybe a little different. It was very warm in Brazil and the kickoff times were also different. We often played at midday in Brazil. We were not as focused from the start because of the heat. No European teams had ever won a title on South American soil up to that point. The entire focus was on Brazil and everyone kind of wanted Brazil to reach the final. We were played a little bit as favorites. In Russia we are maybe the favorite at this tournament — there is no avoiding it. World champions, Confed Cup winners, we played a good qualification. The pressure is always there and I believe it will be even higher in Russia. Can you plan success? To some extent. Without planning there will be no success. In the end, there are maybe some situations where luck and outside influences play a role. But you can get pretty far with a plan, with a clear goal and with consistency. What exactly do you demand from your team, not just the squad? What do you demand so that the whole project in 2018 succeeds and you become world champions once more? It can be expressed in one sentence, even if it may be corny or banal: everyone has to focus 100 percent on his task. What is the head coach? Are you a craftsman? Are you an artist? Are you sometimes also a father? The role of a coach is varied. We have many tasks. To be a visionary that always looks a little bit towards the future: How should the team develop? How should it play at a tournament? Of course you also have to be the contact person for the players, where social competence also plays a role. I am kind of someone who should lead the team and therefore need a certain relationship with my players. On the other hand I am the public relations worker that needs to represent the team and the sport to the outside world. Multilayered and multifaceted. Thank God I have a good team that supports me in every respect. Joachim Löw replaced Jürgen Klinsmann as Germany's coach following the 2006 World Cup. He led Germany to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the first time they won the title since the country reunified in 1990. Germany also won the Confederations Cup in Russia in July of this year and reached the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the final of the 2008 European Championship and the semifinals of the 2012 and 2016 Euros. Löw has also coached at club level in Germany, Turkey and Austria.

Germany are aiming to become the first team to successfully defend a World Cup since 1938. In an exclusive interview with DW, Germany coach Joachim Löw reveals how he plans to achieve that and how he views his role. DW: We would like to start with the future. Joachim Löw: The future? Then I need to go because I am ... Read More »

US soccer star Hope Solo accuses Sepp Blatter of sexual harassment

Former US goalkeeper Hope Solo has said ex-FIFA boss Sepp Blatter groped her backside during the 2013 Ballon d'Or ceremony. Sexual harassment wasn't just a problem in Hollywood but in women's football as well, she said. Hope Solo, a star goalkeeper and former member of the US football team, accused former FIFA President Sepp Blatter of sexually harassing her, in an interview published on Friday. "Sepp Blatter grabbed my ass, it was a few years ago at the Ballon d'Or ceremony just before I got on stage," Solo told Portuguese newspaper Expresso. Read more: Louis C.K., Steven Seagal latest stars to face sexual assault allegations The 36-year-old soccer star said that 81-year-old Blatter made the move as she was about to present an award to her teammate Abby Wambach at the ceremony. Solo, a World Cup winner and two-time Olympic champion, said that sexual harassment in sport was "rampant" and that she hoped more athletes would speak out against it. "I wish more women, especially in football, would speak against it, about their experiences," she told the paper. Read more: Kevin Spacey sex assault allegations mount as UK police launch probe "I think it is important to acknowledge that this doesn't just happen with the powerful white men. It can happen all across the board, it can happen between women," she continued. "It's out of control, not just in Hollywood but everywhere," Solo said, referencing the wave of sexual harassment and assault allegations against high-profile men in entertainment and politics, which was triggered by a scandal involving movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Blatter dismissed Solo's claims, telling the Guardian newspaper that the allegation "is ridiculous." Blatter has a history of sexist behavior when it comes to women's soccer. In 2004, he argued that the popularity of the women's game could be boosted if the players wore tighter shorts. In 2012, US forward Alex Morgan said that Blatter failed to recognize her during that year's Ballon d'Or, even though she was one of three nominees for the women's Player of the Year. The former FIFA head was suspended from office and banned from the sport for six years in 2015 following a corruption scandal.

Former US goalkeeper Hope Solo has said ex-FIFA boss Sepp Blatter groped her backside during the 2013 Ballon d’Or ceremony. Sexual harassment wasn’t just a problem in Hollywood but in women’s football as well, she said. Hope Solo, a star goalkeeper and former member of the US football team, accused former FIFA President Sepp Blatter of sexually harassing her, in ... Read More »

DFB part ways with VAR project manager Hellmut Krug

The German football association (DFB) have announced that Hellmut Krug will no longer act as VAR project manager and cease his supervisory role at the league's Control Centre in Cologne. The decision comes as a result of a DFB meeting on Monday which involved, amongst others, DFB President Reinhard Grindel, vice-president Ronny Zimmermann and Head of Referees Lutz Michael Fröhlich, who will assume Krug's role in the interim. Read: Grindel did not approve "secret" VAR changes The DFB are allegedly reacting to a report in BILD am Sonntag which accused Krug, who will also cease working as a supervisor in the German Football League's (DFL) Control Center in Cologne with immediate effect, of influencing the decision of the VAR in a manner not befitting his role. Krug has denied the claims. "As a supervisor, we are not authorized to influence or overrule the decisions of video assistants," said the 61-year-old. Marco Fritz, the acting VAR for the match in question, Matchday 10's 1-1 draw between Schalke and Wolfsburg, also came out in support of his boss: "In all situations that are checked at the review centre in Cologne, the decision to intervene is made by the video assistant. That was the case for Schalke against Wolfsburg." The VAR experiment has sparked controversy and debateamongst fans, players and officials, becoming a bigger source of irritation than justice. "The whole communication from the DFB is currently catastrophic," fumed Borussia Mönchengladbach's Sporting Director Max Eberl. "If you have a test phase and you want to adapt the entire system, that's justified, but then everyone should know it. We should only need the video assistant in a situation which is really crucial to the game." Nevertheless, even in the face of intense scrutiny and criticism, DFB President Grindel remains in staunch support of VAR: "I still believe in the project, once everyone clearly defines their roles and then sticks to them, I'm pretty sure that this can be something very good for football".

The German football association (DFB) have announced that Hellmut Krug will no longer act as VAR project manager and cease his supervisory role at the league’s Control Centre in Cologne. The decision comes as a result of a DFB meeting on Monday which involved, amongst others, DFB President Reinhard Grindel, vice-president Ronny Zimmermann and Head of Referees Lutz Michael Fröhlich, ... Read More »

Lewis Hamilton crowned 2017 Formula One champion after Mexico GP

He didn't win the Mexican Grand Prix, but his ninth-placed finish was enough to secure Lewis Hamilton an historic fourth Formula One championship. Sebastian Vettel drove superbly, but fell short. It didn't go as planned, but Lewis Hamilton's ninth-placed finish at the Mexican Grand Prix was enough to make him Britain's first four-time Formula One world champion. "It doesn't feel real. It is not the kind of race I wanted, 40 seconds behind, but I never gave up. That is what is important and in my heart. I am grateful for today," Hamilton said. Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen won the race comfortably ahead of Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. Hamilton joins Vettel and Alain Prost as a four-time champion. Only two drivers have achieved more - Michael Schumacher (seven) and Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio (five). Hamilton has now won more world championships than Sir Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna. On the first corner, Hamilton's worst fears came true as a collision with Sebastian Vettel dropped both drivers to the back of the field. Hamilton's tire was punctured and Vettel's car needed a new nose. Vettel drove brilliantly to finish fourth from 19th, but he fell short of the top-two finish he needed to keep Hamilton from celebrating. The Briton diligently worked his way back into ninth, constantly checking on Vettel and his progress. Although ninth proved somewhat anti-climatic for Hamilton, it didn't stop the 32-year-old from celebrating his record-breaking title. Hamilton had to turn things around this season after Vettel took the lead in the early part of the season. After finishing fifth and fourth, Hamilton's stunning win at the British GP restored his belief. Winning at Ferrari's home track in Monza might have been the turning point though. Vettel finished third as Hamilton took charge in the championship, leading by just three points. Once Hamilton had established a 34-point lead in Malaysia, Vettel's retirement after four laps in Japan left Hamilton on the home straight. And in Mexico, he crossed the finishing line as world champion for a fourth time. The 2017 season still has two races left, in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Relive the Mexican GP below: — Neymar even sent a message over the radio to Hamilton to congratulate him. He is the first Briton to have won four titles - a really stunning achievement. All eyes on him now. — "Thank you to everyone on this team for all the fantastic work. God bless you," Hamilton says over the radio, with a wavering voice. He hardly has time to get out of his car before F1 reporters jump into action. Talk about not having a chance to enjoy his moment of history. LEWIS HAMILTON IS YOUR 2017 F1 CHAMPION! FINAL LAP — Verstappen takes the win! Sebastian Vettel with a great driver, but his fourth place finish means Lewis Hamilton, who crosses the line in ninth, is the 2017 F1 Champion! It is Hamilton's fourth Formula One title! 69/71 — A proper battle there, but Hamilton does take him in the end and with three laps remaining, Hamilton is into ninth and can feel pretty safe about the title now. He won't win it by winning in Mexico, but I'm not sure he'll care by the end of it. Verstappen close to his third ever race win, Bottas and Raikkonen the others on the podium. 67/71 — Alonso making life difficult for Hamilton to pass. Old dog, same tricks it seems. 66/71 — If Hamilton wins, he will have won as many title as Vettel and Alain Prost, and one more than Jackie Stewart. It would be one almighty achievement. But he has to get there first. His car appears to be cooling the car, or his brakes, because he is driving differently. Not finishing would be a disaster... I think we might be set in these positions. Verstappen to win ahead of Bottas and Raikkonen. Vettel in fourth, Hamilton in 10th. 63/71 — Sainz pits and looks out. Hamilton keeps checking back to make sure where Vettel is and how he's doing. He's very calm, considering he's also driving a vehicle at considerable speed. He's on the verge of winning the title and that must be clearer now as we approach the final few laps. 62/71 — Vettel asks how far ahead Raikkonen is. He's told he's 23 seconds ahead. "Mama mia" is the German driver's response. "That's a bit too much." Is this the end of the charge? It's a massive gap to close and only has 10 laps to do it in. 60/71 — Vettel with the fastest lap, again. Verstappen a huge 17.5 seconds ahead of Bottas in second. Vettel takes Ocon and now makes fourth. It might well be forgotten as Hamilton will likely win the championship, but what a driver this is from Vettel. Ericsson's car on fire as he pits to sort problem. That's his race done. 58/71 — Hamilton asks what position he needs. He's told Vettel is fifth and needs second and won't make it. That is where we are, although no one has told Vettel beause he is still driving like he can finish second. 56/71 — Can anything stop Vettel? He dives inside Stroll at Turn 1 and he has fifth spot. What an effort this is. In doing so he delivers a new lap record, as you do. 54/71 — Kudos to Fernando Alonso. Up into 9th from an 18th-placed start. Hamilton takes Vandoorne to move into 11th. Vettel closing in on Stroll now. The German is driving to the limit. Unless anything dramatic happens with the top two (Verstappen and Bottas), it looks like this epic drive will be in vain for Vettel. 52/71 — What a move! Vettel sneaks in to take Perez, who doesn't close the door through the chicane. The Ferrari driver is into 6th now. 49/71 — Over the radio, Hamilton is told he is forecasted to finish 8th. At the moment, he is 12th. Vettel still in 7th. Feels like everyone has found their spot a bit now, other than Hamilton who continues to make moves gradually. 45/71 — Gasly holding Hamilton at bay... But not for long. He passes and is now into 13th. Both drivers at the top of the standings driving superbly. 42/71 — Worth remembering, Hamilton will be world champion if it stays like this - and will do so by picking up no points. Vettel needs to make up 15 seconds to keep his charge toward second going. Big ask. Verstappen out in front by 10 seconds. Comfortable. 40/71 — Vettel is up into eventh after taking Magnussen. What drama we have here. Hamilton is doing his best to fight back but he's clearly concerned about Vettel's charge. Hamilton sails past Wehrlein to take 14th. Verstappen is on the way to winning his third F1 race. Leading and in charge - and at 20 as well. 37/71 — Hamilton around 29 seconds behind Vettel. The Briton can't believe he is that far back. 15th for the Mercedes driver, Vettel into 8th. The German still needs a top two spot remember. 36/71 — So, how fast can Hamilton go now? Bottas delivers a new fastest lap, then Raikkonen delivers an even faster one (1:20.649). Verstappen's lead is up to 9.1 seconds. His to lose now... Verstappen ahead of Bottas and Raikkonen. 34/71 — Hamilton and Vettel pit, so do the top three (Verstappen, Bottas and Raikkonen). All plans to take them to the end of the race. Hamilton opts for super-softs. 33/71 — Hartley's car is warm. Virtual Safety Car (VSC) is on. Hartley is out of his car and it is doused. Hartley is out. Time for box mayhem with VSC... 32/71 — Perez passes Magnussen, who pits, and the home crowd roars with delight! Vettel up into 8th after passing Alonso. This is going to be quite the finish. Approaching the halfway stage. Vettel just delivered the fastest lap (1:20.698). 30/71 — Hamilton up to 18th, but only because of the retirement. "Is anyone else making it through?" he asks. Vettel is and he is told that - sure that won't go down well. However, moments later, Hamilton takes Sainz and is up into 17th. Long time left yet. Verstappen still leads, but worried about his front left tire. 27/71 — Hulkenberg was well placed, but his car is now off the track! Renault's problems continue. Shame for Hulkenberg, but was told over the radio that the car was no longer safe and he had to get out! 12/71 — No investigation will be made into the incidents between Verstappen, Vettel and Hamilton at the start. That's that then (don't think it will be). Fifth-placed Perez holding off Raikkonen. 9/71 — Ricciardo is out with a turbo issue. 8/71 — Hamilton asking over the radio whether Vettel hit Hamilton's back-right tire on purpose. The Mercedes team say they don't know, and no does know other than the German driver. On viewing though, it did look like he could have got out of the way... 6/71 — Ricciardo is in the box, and drops down to last. Hamilton working hard but still in 19th. Vettel up to 16th. Five cars in the pits early on there. Blimey. 4/71 — Can't believe how fortunate Verstappen was in all that mess. He probably deserves some after his season, though. Massa pits with a puncture, Wehrlein also in. 2/71 — I can barely keep up with what is happening. Verstappen leads from Bottas and Ocon. Hamilton at the back in 20th, Vettel in 18th. Lap 1/71 — And we're off! So much drama I can barely type. Verstappen pushes Vettel in the second chicane, Hamilton tries to take advantage. Vettel loses some of his nose, Hamilton has a flat tire. Wow. Both box, both get replacement parts. Hamilton going to need some drive now... — There's 890 meters between the pole position and the first corner. Plenty of space for an overtake early on... Lights out approaching! — Crowd in Mexico is quite excited. Lots of costumes linked to the Day of the Dead which begins on October 31. The warm-up lap has started... — Just 15 minutes to go until the start of the race and while clouds are in the sky, it is dry at the moment. If Lewis Hamilton wins this, or even does to win the championship, is it time to start the conversation about the greatest British athletes of all time? Certainly an argument that Hamilton has had to work for this title more than any one before... — So with Vettel on pole, Hamilton will have some work to do if he wants to win the race. If you want more on how qualifying for the Mexican GP went, give this a click. — So, what a moment it could be for Lewis Hamilton tonight. He could become the first ever Briton to win four drivers' championship titles. Sebastian Vettel will be trying to stop, and from pole position too. Here's what you need to know about how Hamilton can win the title tonight:

He didn’t win the Mexican Grand Prix, but his ninth-placed finish was enough to secure Lewis Hamilton an historic fourth Formula One championship. Sebastian Vettel drove superbly, but fell short. It didn’t go as planned, but Lewis Hamilton’s ninth-placed finish at the Mexican Grand Prix was enough to make him Britain’s first four-time Formula One world champion. “It doesn’t feel ... Read More »

Formula One: Lewis Hamilton aims to clinch title with a win in Mexico

Lewis Hamilton heads into the Mexican Grand Prix with an excellent chance of clinching the drivers' title with two races to spare. However, Sebastian Vettel is determined to battle to the bitter end. The British Mercedes driver goes into the third-last race of the season on Sunday needing only to finish in fifth place or better to clinch his fourth F1 drivers' championship. The now 32-year-old Hamilton has come a long way since 2008, when he was overjoyed at winning his first F1 title – by finishing fifth in the last race of the season. At this stage of his career, he won't be satisfied with the bare minimum. "I plan to win. I'm not here for anything else but No. 1," Hamilton told a Wednesday press conference in Mexico City. "I was just thinking about it as I was walking in here. It is true that I only need to finish fifth. But I thought, I think to myself, 'How would I feel if I was to finish fifth and win the world championship?' It wouldn't feel great." However, far from being overconfident, Hamilton said that despite his 66-point advantage over his closest rival, Ferrari's German driver, Sebastian Vettel, he was prepared for a tough contest. "It's going to be difficult, I think ... a lot closer between Red Bull and Ferrari and us," he said. "But I love that. And so I'm hoping that if I'm able to drive like I did in the last race, last week, I think it could be a good weekend." 'It's not over' For his part, Vettel, who by finishing second in Austin stopped Hamilton from clinching the title last weekend, has not given up hope of coming from behind to claim his fifth drivers' championship. "It's not over," Vettel said. "It's not in our hands as much as we'd like, but we want to win the last three races." However, as Vettel and his Ferrari team are well aware, even if he were to win all three, he would still need Hamilton to stumble for him to have a chance at the title. Assuming Hamilton does clinch it on Sunday, he will join some elite company, equaling the four career drivers' championships won by both Vettel and Alain Prost. Only Michael Schumacher (seven) and Juan Manuel Fangio (five) have won more career titles. Difficult time for host nation Apart from the possible crowning of a new champion, this weekend's event will also provide Mexican F1 fans with a welcome distraction from the September 19 earthquake that caused much destruction and claimed the lives of more than 200 people. The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez became a staging area for relief supplies in the aftermath of the 7.1 magnitude quake and Mexican driver Sergio Perez, who was in his hometown of Guadalajara when it struck, quickly donated $165,000 (€140,000) to victims. This weekend, Rodriquez is to wear a special helmet with a map of Mexico and the earthquake zone depicted on top with the phrase "Todo Mexico Unido! (All of Mexico united!)" "It's been a very tough couple of months for my country. What happened was horrible, but it was amazing to me not just how Mexico responded but the whole world," Perez said on Thursday. A total of more than 300,000 spectators are expected to attend practice and qualifying, followed by Sunday's race.

Lewis Hamilton heads into the Mexican Grand Prix with an excellent chance of clinching the drivers’ title with two races to spare. However, Sebastian Vettel is determined to battle to the bitter end. The British Mercedes driver goes into the third-last race of the season on Sunday needing only to finish in fifth place or better to clinch his fourth ... Read More »

Timo Werner, Emil Forsberg et al keep RB Leipzig’s opponents guessing

From moments of sublime skill to explosive counter attacks, Leipzig's front line is one of the Bundesliga’s most feared despite an average age of just 22. The rest of Europe is already taking note as well. As Leipzig's stature in world football has grown, so too has the appreciation of their on-the-pitch exploits and the plethora of smartly sourced talent, especially in their front line. While the club's success has been built on the foundation of a collective effort, talented individuals have produced plenty of must-see moments. Read more: Bayern Munich face double dose of Leipzig Last season, two forwards stood out from the crowd as the city of Leipzig celebrated having a club back at the pinnacle of German football. Timo Werner, the highest-scoring German striker in the Bundesliga and Emil Forsberg, the leading assist provider in the top flight. Forsberg, signed from Malmo while Leipzig were still in the second tier, is almost an elder statesman at the age of 26 compared to his teammates, while Werner is on the way to becoming the finished article since signing from Stuttgart. That's not to mention Marcel Sabitzer and Yussuf Poulsen, two regulars for their respective national teams, whose contributions last season caught less headlines, but were just as important in making Leipzig's debut season one for the history books. Read more: Dortmund and RB Leipzig share both brilliance and flaws Coming into the current campaign though, the key was ensuring that the rate of progression was maintained and the early signs are promising. "Last year we were all new in the league," Sabitzer told German mass-circulation daily Bild. "There were always new situations developing in which we didn't really know what was coming at us or how strong we really were. We’ve matured a lot." Strong across the board In light of their growing reputation and rising expectation levels, Leipzig were big winners in the summer transfer window for two reasons. They managed to add strength in depth ahead of competing on three fronts for the first time in the club's history, but perhaps more importantly, successfully avoided becoming another flash-in-the-pan selling club. Only Naby Keita was sold to Liverpool, but remains at Leipzig for the rest of the season. With several rumors linking Forsberg with a number of different Premier League clubs and Real Madrid supposedly interested in star striker Werner, keeping hold of the irreplaceable duo was essential. By further bolstering their attacking options with two valuable signings in Bruma and Jean-Kevin Augustin, Leipzig were able to add two dynamic players that were in keeping with the club's philosophy both on and off the pitch. "We've made big strides forward in several areas in the last 10 months," club chairman Oliver Mintzlaff told German sports magazine kicker earlier this month. "The team have grown up a little and the level of competition in our squad has been raised by our new signings." That level of competition has not only played its part in Leipzig sitting just behind Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich at the top of the table, but also in Bruma and Augustin hitting the ground running. Sporting director Ralf Rangnick referred to Portuguese winger Bruma as "difficult to stop" following the impressive 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund, while 20-year-old Augustin feels "me and RB, it works." Signing the two rising stars to support the aforementioned quartet not only helps coach Ralph Hasenhüttl cope with the difficult balancing act of working with a more intense schedule, but also keeps opponents guessing when trying to solve Leipzig's turbo-charged puzzle. The six rising stars have accounted for 20 of Leipzig’s 25 goals in all competitions so far this season and their contributions will be pivotal in the club maintaining their trajectory.

From moments of sublime skill to explosive counter attacks, Leipzig’s front line is one of the Bundesliga’s most feared despite an average age of just 22. The rest of Europe is already taking note as well. As Leipzig’s stature in world football has grown, so too has the appreciation of their on-the-pitch exploits and the plethora of smartly sourced talent, ... Read More »

Cristiano Ronaldo the favorite to win FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award

Cristiano Ronaldo is the clear favorite to be named the world's top men's football player of 2017. The Portuguese superstar is the holder of the award, which was handed out for the first time in 2016. Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, 32, will be up against strong competition in the form of Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and Neymar, who became the world's most expensive player when Paris Saint-Germain spent €222 million ($260 million) last summer to trigger his release clause at Barca. However, the general consensus ahead of Monday evening's awards ceremony in London was that Ronaldo has the clear edge. Over the past year, the Portuguese superstar fired Real to glory in La Liga and scored 12 goals as they won the Champions League for a third time in four seasons. "In the end, Ronaldo is ahead of the others," former Italy and Roma star Francesco Totti told FIFA's website. "He had an amazing season and also accomplished all of his goals with the most prestigious of teams." World-class peers There's also an argument to be made for the 30-year-old Messi, who scored a total of 54 goals in all competitions last season, and helped Barcelona to a Copa del Rey title. The Argentina superstar is off to a great start to the current season, having scored 15 goals so far. He also earned his country a place at next year's World Cup with a hat trick against Ecuador. "We all know who is the player in the world," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "The truth is, the handing out of a trophy isn't something that worries me too much." At 25, Brazilian star Neymar is the youngest of the three. He was part of the Barcelona side that lifted the Copa del Rey and helped Brazil become the first team aside from hosts Russia to qualify for next year's World Cup. Zidane the favorite to win coaching honor Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is expected to be named "The Best" men's coach for 2017 after becoming the first man to lead his team to a successful defense of the European Cup in the Champions League era. The former France star is up against Chelsea's Antonio Conte and Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri. "To be sincere, if they give it to me, I'll take it with pleasure," Zidane said. "But if the question is, 'Am I the best coach in the world?' No, and I'm sure of it." Neuer up for top goalkeeper Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich and Germany is one of the three candidates to the top goalkeeper of 2017. The 31-year-old is joined on the shortlist by veteran Italy and Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon, 39, and Real Madrid's Costa Rican shot stopper, Keylor Navas. The shortlist for the best women's player includes Venezuela's Deyna Castellanos, American star Carli Lloyd and Dutchwoman Lieke Martens. Fan award Borussia Dortmund's supporters, who won the inaugural award last season, have been nominated again as one of the three finalists for the ward in the fan category. They are up against the supporters of Celtic and FC Copenhagen. The awards were voted on by national team captains, national team coaches, selected members of the media and fans.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the clear favorite to be named the world’s top men’s football player of 2017. The Portuguese superstar is the holder of the award, which was handed out for the first time in 2016. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, 32, will be up against strong competition in the form of Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and Neymar, who became the ... Read More »

Formula One: What has to happen for Lewis Hamilton to win the title in Austin

Lewis Hamilton can win a fourth driver's title on Sunday, which would draw him level with Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost. Vettel can still stop Hamilton, but the Briton holds a lead of 59 points. Lewis Hamilton stands on the verge of a fourth world title with four races to go in the Formula One season. All eyes will be on the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on Sunday, with only Sebastian Vettel being the only driver with a realistic chance of halting the Mercedes driver's charge towards glory. In order for Hamilton, who leads Vettel by 59 points, to clinch the championship this weekend he must outscore the German by 16 points and teammate Valtteri Bottas by just three points. Hamilton will become the drivers' champion if he wins the race and Vettel finishes sixth or lower. If the Briton finishes second, he will need to rely on Vettel finishing ninth or lower and Bottas failing to win. If Hamilton finishes third, he cannot win the title in America and will be forced to wait at least another week, with the Mexico Grand Prix to be held on October 29. In the constructors' championship, Ferrari must outscore Mercedes by 17 points if they are to maintain their slim hopes of winning. Mercedes currently have a commanding 145-point lead over Ferrari, meaning a Mercedes win in Texas would secure victory. Hamilton coy on 'take a knee' In the lead up to Sunday's race, there has been some media speculation about whether Lewis Hamilton could go down to one knee in support of the ongoing protests by National Football League players against racial injustice. However, he has refused to confirm whether or not he intended to 'take a knee' in sympathy in Texas. The Briton, the only black driver to have won the Formula One championship, has said that he was focused on winning the race rather than the widespread protests in the United States. "I don't plan to let all the BS pull me down," Hamilton said. "I've worked hard to be here today and I have feelings about the whole situation, but at the moment I have no plans to do anything." He added: "I know a lot of people in America so I get to speak to a lot of black and white people that live here. I get quite a good view of what's happening here and I get opinions from the Americans about the movement, which I think is pretty huge. "You've seen I've posted about it because I respect it highly and I find the movement that Colin Kaepernick started awesome. I'm very much in support of it. "But I'm here to win. That's really at the top of my priorities at the moment so I'm not really focused on anything else."

Lewis Hamilton can win a fourth driver’s title on Sunday, which would draw him level with Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost. Vettel can still stop Hamilton, but the Briton holds a lead of 59 points. Lewis Hamilton stands on the verge of a fourth world title with four races to go in the Formula One season. All eyes will be ... Read More »

Gold-medal-winning gymnast Tatiana Gutsu adds voice to #MeToo campaign

Tatiana Gutsu, who won gymnastics gold at the 1992 Olympics, has joined the growing number of women sharing their stories of sexual assault and harassment on social media. A former USA gymnast has also spoken out. The now 41-year-old Gutsu, who was the all-around champion at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, used a post on her Facebook account on Tuesday to accuse a former teammate and fellow gold medalist of raping her when she was 15 years old. In the post, Gutsu (pictured above in 1992) alleges that Vitaly Scherbo raped her in 1991 during a competition in Stuttgart. She described Scherbo as a "monster who kept me in my own prison to be afraid for so many years." The claim comes amid thousands of similar ones from women all over the globe who have used the Twitter hashtag #MeToo to report experiences of sexual harassment or assault. The hashtag is thought to have been started by American actress Alyssa Milano. Fellow former Soviet competitors Rustam Sharipov, a 1996 Olympic gold medalist, and Tatyana Toropova also drew criticism from Gutsu in the post for a perceived lack of support. 17 Oct Gutsu and Scherbo competed for the Unified Team at the 1992 Games. The team drew athletes from a wide pool in the former Soviet Union's Olympic program, which produced more than a thousand Olympic medalists between 1952 and 1991. Gutsu retired soon after her win in Barcelona and moved to the United States. She now works as the head coach of the Ohio State men’s gymnastics team. Scherbo also lives in the United States and operates a gymnastics school in Las Vegas. Maroney comes forward Meanwhile, McKayla Maroney, a two-time medalist at the 2012 Olympics in London, has said she was molested for years by a former USA Gymnastics team doctor. In a statement posted via her Twitter account, Maroney, 21, said that the abuse had begun in her early teens and continued for the rest of her competitive career. The doctor Maroney accused, Larry Nassar spent three decades working with athletes at USA Gymnastics but now is in jail in Michigan awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography. Nassar is also awaiting trial on separate criminal sexual conduct charges and has been sued by more than 125 women alleging abuse. He has pleaded not guilty to the assault charges, and the dozens of civil suits filed in Michigan are currently in mediation.

Tatiana Gutsu, who won gymnastics gold at the 1992 Olympics, has joined the growing number of women sharing their stories of sexual assault and harassment on social media. A former USA gymnast has also spoken out. The now 41-year-old Gutsu, who was the all-around champion at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, used a post on her Facebook account on ... Read More »

Champions League: Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig in search of maiden wins

It has been a tough start to European football this season for the Bundesliga clubs. Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig know the time to get their first wins are running out as they face crucial tests on Tuesday. After all the excitement surrounding Peter Bosz's start at Borussia Dortmund, the club's head coach faces question marks whether his side can get it right against bigger teams. In Europe, Bosz and Dortmund have the chance to get their confidence back with a trip to Cyprus, but is pushing for a top-two spot in their group the best plan? "We want to win both games against APOEL," captain Marcel Schmelzer said, who flew with the squad and hopes to return to action after five weeks out. Clearly, Dortmund want to win all the games they play and six points from these two outings will put them back into a competitive spot in their group. But given Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid's strength, Dortmund face the dilemma of whether to push for progression or focus on the Bundesliga where they lead Bayern Munich by two points. "There is no reason to stick our heads in the sand," said Nuri Sahin. "We were defensively very poor. That was not Borussia Dortmund standard," said Bosz after the Leipzig game. Given how poorly German clubs have performed so far in Europe this season, the pressure will be on both Dortmund and RB Leipzig (who are also in action on Tuesday night) to pick up much-needed victories. "If we still want to have a chance of advancing, then we have to win in Nicosia," said BVB sporting director Michael Zorc. "We go there as favorites and must show why." If Dortmund fail to do so, then not only will their European dreams be in tatters but so will their confidence ahead of their trip to Frankfurt next Saturday. Leipzig looking for lift-off RB Leipzig are hoping to get their Champions League campaign off the ground when they host two-time winners Porto. Ralph Hasenhüttl's side has yet to light up the Champions League in the way they have the Bundesliga and are still looking for their first win following a home draw with last season's semi-finalists Monaco and a deflating defeat by Besiktas last time out. Leipzig are coming off the back of a morale-boosting 3-2 win at Bundesliga leaders Dortmundon Saturday - and managed to do it without star men Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg. Hasenhüttl is expected to call upon Forsberg and Naby Keita, but Werner could remain on the bench as he continues to recover from injury. However, the coach said in Monday's pre-match press conference that he believes Jeffrey Bruma can provide the attacking edge Leipzig otherwise lack in Werner's absence. "We're going to have to see how things go with Timo Werner before deciding whether he starts or comes from the bench. But the impetus Bruma provides up front is great and he brings important qualities to the table," Hasenhüttl said. The Leipzig coach has called on his team to maintain the level of performance they showed in Dortmund. "The key for us is ensuring that the team maintain optimum levels of performance. Our added depth has helped. This is a game that will be decided by the smallest of details, but we're confident we can get our first Champions League win," Hasenhüttl said. Now it's time for RB Leipzig's actions to speak louder than the words of their head coach.

It has been a tough start to European football this season for the Bundesliga clubs. Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig know the time to get their first wins are running out as they face crucial tests on Tuesday. After all the excitement surrounding Peter Bosz’s start at Borussia Dortmund, the club’s head coach faces question marks whether his side can ... Read More »

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