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Neymar injury an opportunity for Julian Draxler at PSG

From rising star to Germany regular, Julian Draxler's career has long been trending upward, but he's struggled for playing time since joining Paris Saint-Germain. Will Neymar's injury offer him a pre-World Cup boost? Six months ago, things were looking pretty good for Julian Draxler. After securing the move away from Wolfsburg that he'd long been angling for, he'd become a regular in Paris Saint-Germain's version of the Galacticos, captained Germany to a Confederations Cup win and had the inside track toward a starting spot in Germany's World Cup defense in Russia. But then, at the beginning of August, the French club broke the world transfer record to sign a Brazilian from Barcelona who played in his position. Since Neymar arrived at the Parc des Princes, there's been little doubt that he's the star of the show, with 29 goals in 29 games to go along with the headline-grabbing birthday parties and public rows over penalty duties. But his arrival has been less than positive for Draxler, who has completed 90 minutes just six times for his club this season, with only a handful of cameo appearances in his favored position on the left wing. Frustrations evident After PSG's 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 — in which Draxler played just nine minutes — the 24-year-old let his frustrations slip to German broadcaster ZDF. “In the Bernabeu, you don’t want to watch 84 minutes from the bench but, with our squad, you don’t always get the choice,” he said. The extent of Neymar's metatarsal fracture, which he suffered in PSG's 3-0 win over Marseille on Sunday, is unclear at this stage, but it appears he'll be out for at least a month. This means he is almost certain to miss the return leg on March 6, despite PSG coach Unai Emery's suggestion there's a "small chance" he'll be ready. Draxler would surely revel in another game against a team he dismantled while playing for Wolfsburg in 2016 . However, his place is not totally assured, with Argentinians Angel di Maria or Javier Pastore among the alternatives for the Parisian club. A chance to make his mark Despite the competition, Emery, who has often tried to shoehorn the German in to a central midfield since Neymar's arrival, spoke highly of Draxler in December as rumors swirled about a switch to the Premier League. "He's in a constant evolution and he still has a lot of energy. At PSG, Draxler is in very good hands, he's a great contributor to our game, he's learning a lot," Emery said. "I talk to him a lot and I'm very demanding with him and he's one of those very ambitious players and he shows that with good performances, also for the national team, and he's a very important player for us." As Emery suggested, Draxler is a key man for Joachim Löw and his name is surely inked in to Germany's 23-man squad for Russia 2018. But, with Leroy Sané impressing for Manchester City, Julian Brandt showing flickers of form at Bayer Leverkusen and Marco Reus impressing in his latest comeback at Borussia Dortmund, Draxler needs regular playing time to find the form and fitness that would secure him a starting spot. With another crunch game against Marseille in the French Cup on Wednesday before the Madrid game and prestige international friendlies against Spain and Brazil at the end of March, Neymar's absence could offer an opportunity for PSG's half-forgotten man to restate his case.

From rising star to Germany regular, Julian Draxler’s career has long been trending upward, but he’s struggled for playing time since joining Paris Saint-Germain. Will Neymar’s injury offer him a pre-World Cup boost? Six months ago, things were looking pretty good for Julian Draxler. After securing the move away from Wolfsburg that he’d long been angling for, he’d become a ... Read More »

Usain Bolt to play charity football match amid pro contract hint

After his retirement from the track, Usain Bolt is making strides towards a new career. The Jamaican sprint great will captain a star-studded side in charity football match and has hinted at a professional contract. Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Usain Bolt is set to make a return to the sporting world in a charity football match which has previously attracted such luminaries as Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, Brazilian legend Ronaldinho, actor Will Ferrell and pop star Robbie Williams. The eight-time Olympic gold medallist announced on Twitter on Tuesday that he will be joining the Soccer Aid World XI - a motley crew put together to help raise funds for the United Nations Children's Fund, Unicef. Since retiring from athletics he's also flirted with playing cricket and been pictured at the US Grand Prix. Read more: Untouchable Usain Bolt bows out in London Bolt, long linked with trials at Borussia Dortmund thanks to both parties' relationship with Puma, will captain the side, with Williams skippering the English XI that will line up against them. "Robbie and his England team better watch out as I won't be going easy on them," said Bolt, who also claimed he has a "special celebration" planned should his side win. Thee announcement came hours after Bolt, 31, had sent out a tweet suggesting that he'd signed for a team before South African Premier Soccer League outfit Mamelodi Sundowns put out a tweet of their own featuring Bolt in their training gear and a knowing hint about his future. But it seems Bolt's tweet was only related to the charity match, with the Puma logo on the Mamelodi Sundowns kit probably explaining their part in the somewhat confusing series of events. The Soccer Aid match will take part on June 10 at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium.

After his retirement from the track, Usain Bolt is making strides towards a new career. The Jamaican sprint great will captain a star-studded side in charity football match and has hinted at a professional contract. Never one to shy away from the spotlight, Usain Bolt is set to make a return to the sporting world in a charity football match ... Read More »

Deniz Naki: A political footballer in fear of his life

Deniz Naki has gone from one of Germany's most promising footballers to hiding in a safe house after an attempt on his life. Naki's political views have long had a big impact on his career. But how did it come to this? A little less than a decade ago, Deniz Naki was part of a German success story, named in the "team of the tournament" as the country picked up a seventh European Under-19 Championship. Naki lifted the trophy with the likes of Sven Bender, Lars Bender, Ömer Toprak and plenty of others still playing at the top level. But at the start of 2018, Naki is now at the center of a story of a very different kind. The 28-year-old with German-Kurdish roots was shot at while driving down the A4 motorway near his home town of Düren, in the west of Germany, on Monday. He is reportedly now in a "safe place" receiving police protection following the apparent assasination attempt, which is being investigated as attempted murder. He told German media how he ducked before pulling over to the hard shoulder and surviving unharmed before claiming that the attack was of a political nature. "I think that this is about a political issue," Naki told Spiegel magazine's online platform Bento. "I am a continual target in Turkey because I make pro-Kurdish statements." While it was initially reported by numerous sources that Naki was suggesting the Turkish secret service were involved in the shooting, his lawyer told DW's Gezal Acer on Tuesday that this was false and the footballer "thought an ultra-nationalist Turkish group in Germany could be behind it." Even before the latest incident, controversy has never been far from the surface of the forward's career, particularly in recent years. The former St. Pauli player has been a vocal critic of the Turkish government's treatment of the country's Kurdish ethnic group and a supporter of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) - who stand for Kurdish nationalism but are considered a terrorist organization by the European Union. Just last year, after initially being found not guilty less than a year earlier, he was handed an 18 month suspended jail sentence for promoting "terror propaganda" for the PKK on social media channels. Naki tweeted his opinion about a Turkish military offensive against the PKK and a curfew was imposed in seven cities in southeast Anatolia, in the west of Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's treatment of dissidents has been condemned in many quarters but DW's Acer says Naki's case is unique. "Until now it had often been journalists or academics or writers who felt threatened, but we haven't heard of this happening with any other athletes," she said. "So we can't say concretely that athletes or sports figures are feeling under threat or in danger." Whether the threat is from government agencies or otherwise, Naki's political beliefs, and the consequences of those beliefs, have had a significant impact on his career. A tally of eight goals in 12 games this season shows at least some of the ability that shone so brightly as a teenager remains, despite the lowly level at which he now plays. After that European Championship win and a couple of caps for the German under-21 side alongside the likes of Toni Kroos, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels, Naki left Bayer Leverkusen for St. Pauli, a famously left wing club based in Hamburg. He was, and remains, a popular figure at the club but his stint is probably best remembered for his throat-slitting gesture during St Pauli's 2-0 win over Hansa Rostock in 2009. Clashes between the two had long been dangerously charged, with the right wing elements of Rostock's fan base opposed to the ideology espoused by St. Pauli, and the gesture was considered to incite violence. Naki received a three match ban for that, nine matches less than he'd eventually get for his social media support of the PKK, and, after a brief spell at Paderborn, he moved to Turkey, the country to which he'd pledged his national team allegiance after a pair of caps for Germany's under-21s — though he's yet to win a cap. Soon after his move to Genclerbirligi, Naki was the victim of an attack, the reason for which was thought to be his Kurdish ethnicity. "They were swearing and asking: 'Are you that dirty Kurd?'" Naki told the BBC after the 2014 attack. "Then they said: 'Damn your Kobane, damn your Sinjar'. I tried to calm them down. But suddenly one of them punched me in the eye. Trying to defend myself, I punched one of them back and started running away." He left the country a few days after, citing the possibility of further attacks as the reason for his departure. "There is no tolerance. I would only go back because I love my country, I love my hometown. That's it. I will carry on with my career in Germany," he said at the time. But it was a stone's throw from his hometown of Düren that his car windscreen was struck by a bullet. “I always knew that something like this could happen, but I would never have thought it could happen in Germany,” he told German newspaper Die Welt on Monday. Less than 48 hours after a gunman made him fear for his life, Naki's future — both sporting and otherwise — is unclear, much like his assailant. What has become increasingly obvious is that he is a sportsman doesn't seem prepared to separate his sport and his politics. The cost of that could have been, and still might be, enormous.

Deniz Naki has gone from one of Germany’s most promising footballers to hiding in a safe house after an attempt on his life. Naki’s political views have long had a big impact on his career. But how did it come to this? A little less than a decade ago, Deniz Naki was part of a German success story, named in ... Read More »

North, South Korea agree to discuss military following Olympics talks

The two Koreas have agreed to hold military talks after their first official talks in two years, where they discussed the upcoming Winter Olympics. They also agreed to reopen a military hotline linking the countries. North and South Korea have agreed to hold talks on reducing military tensions and "actively cooperate" in next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea, they said in a joint statement on Tuesday, South Korean media reported. The decision to hold the military talks comes after the two countries concluded their first talks in two years to discuss the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Read more: What to expect from North and South Korea meeting ahead of Winter Olympics But a discussion of North Korea's nuclear program and its weapons arsenal would negatively impact inter-Korean ties, a North Korean official said. "North Korea's weapons are only aimed at the United States, not our brethren, China or Russia," said Ri Son Gwon, head of North Korea's delegation, adding that Pyongyang's nuclear program was not an issue between North and South Korea. A 'great step forward' North Korea offered to send athletes and a high-level delegation to the games, as well as journalists, a cheering squad, a team of performing artists and a taekwondo demonstration team, according to South Korean officials. The International Olympic Commitee said North Korea's participation was a "great step forward" for the Olympics. Delegations of five senior officials from each side met at the "peace house" on the South Korean side of the Panmunjom truce village as the two countries officially held talks for the first time in two years. South Korea proposed that the athletes from both countries march together at the opening and closing ceremonies, South Korea's Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung told reporters. He also said his country proposed resuming family reunions and military discussions to prevent "accidental clashes" in frontline areas. During the talks, North and South agreed to restore a military hotline, less than a week after an civilian cross-border phone link was reopened. The hotline is due to be fully operational by Wednesday. "Accordingly, our side decided to start using the military telephone line, starting 8 a.m. tomorrow," Hae-sung said. Read more: North Korea 'likely' to take part in Winter Olympics in South Korea 'A New Year's gift' Entering the talks, officials from both countries made positive statements about discussions concerning the Winter Olympics. "I think we should be engaged in these talks with an earnest, sincere manner to give a New Year's first gift — precious results to the Korean nation," Ri said. Cho Myoung-gyon, South Korea's Unification Minister, believed the Pyeongchang Olympics "will become a peace Olympics as most valuable guests from the North are going to join many others from around the world." Ri and Cho shook hands as they entered the peace house and again across the table where the talks took place. "The people have a strong desire to see the North and South move toward peace and reconciliation," Cho said. China, Russia, US welcome talks China said it welcomed the high-level talks between the North and South Korea representatives ahead of the Olympics. "We are very pleased that the high-level talks between the two Koreas could be held," said spokesman Lu Kang. "As a neighbour of the Korean peninsula, China welcomes and supports the recent positive actions taken by the two Koreas to ease their mutual relations." Russia also welcomed the conversation between the two. "This is exactly the kind of dialogue that we said was necessary," a Kremlin spokesman said on Tuesday. US President Donald Trump, who has taken repeated jabs at Kim on his Twitter account, had also called the talks "a good thing." But the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, later said the administration was not changing its conditions regarding US talks with North Korea, saying Kim would first need to stop weapons testing for a "significant amount of time." Tuesday's summit was arranged after North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, recently called for improved relations with South Korea. North Korea's push to develop nuclear weapons in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions had stoked tensions with the South.

The two Koreas have agreed to hold military talks after their first official talks in two years, where they discussed the upcoming Winter Olympics. They also agreed to reopen a military hotline linking the countries. North and South Korea have agreed to hold talks on reducing military tensions and “actively cooperate” in next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea, they ... Read More »

Arturo Vidal header guides Bayern Munich to nervy win over Frankfurt

A first half goal from Arturo Vidal was enough for Bayern Munich to sneak past Eintracht Frankfurt despite a host of changes. The champions weren't at their best but extend their lead at the top of the table. Eintracht Frankfurt 0 - 1 Bayern Munich (Vidal 20') FULL TIME: That's it. A fairly unconvincing win for Bayern but, once again they get the job done while their rivals falter. Arturo Vidal's first half header from Joshua Kimmich's fine cross was enough to get past a Frankfurt side who gave a good account of themselves and kept emergency goalkeeper Tom Starke busy, particularly in the first half. Vidal was perhaps lucky to avoid a red card after a borderline bookable foul after an early yellow while Marius Wolf saw red for Frankfurt before the decision was overturned by VAR. Jupp Heynckes presumably won't be delighted with what he saw but after resting several key players and still extending their lead at the top, he won't lose any sleep either. As it happened 90+3 -- A spot of handbags after a foul on James is broken up by the referee. It's been a feisty contest this one. 90' -- The board goes up to show 5 minutes of injury time but the big news comes from Leipzig, where the hosts have let the lead slip again. Bayern will have an 8 point lead if scores stay the same. 88' -- Lewandowski a little rusty there. The striker was played through but took too long to control a high ball, allowing the Frankfurt defense to recover. 87' -- The home fans express their displeasure after Rebic was adjudged to have shoved Kimmich to the floor. They feel they've had the worst of the decisions today, with some justification. 83' -- Bayern's concerns about the way this game has gone in the second half are made apparent by a substitution that sees Lewandowski replace Coman. The only surprise is that the Pole isn't on for Müller, who has been anonymous. 81' -- Crucial clearance from Süle. The center back slid to deal with a cross from the left that looked destined for Haller's feet. Kevin Prince Boateng whistles one over from the corner. 77' -- Barkok robs Rafinha, who has looked shaky today, and forces it across goal. Frankfurt have three or four bites of the cherry but each shot is blocked. The hosts throw on Tawatha for Willems, they're still in this. 74' -- OVERTURNED! Wolf is back on after the VAR deemed the challenge only worthy of a yellow. Which it probably was. A much-needed success for the system. 72' -- RED CARD! Wolf is sent off. He was late on James and swung his trailing leg through on the Colombian but it looked a little soft. They'll got to the VAR. 69' -- Oh Dortmund, what have you become.... 67' -- It's geting a bit tetchy now. First Bayern get aggravated about a Kevin Prince Boateng challenge on Coman, then Müller clips Willems. The Bayern man then stood over his opponent and shouted in a fairly aggressive fashion. He got a yellow card, probably more for the reaction than the tackle. 63' -- There's not a whole heap happening in Frankfurt but it's game on in Dortmund. 60' -- Wolf tricks his way in to the Bayern area but his low cross is cleared. Bayern don't have the same control they had for periods of the first half and Müller has barely had a kick. 55' -- Heynckes has seen enough from Vidal. He's replaced by Tolisso and exits to a chorus of boos. 53' -- The home fans are screaming for Vidal to be sent off but the referee resists. The Chilean clipped his man on the edge of the box and the free kick was given, but no second yellow. Willems wastes the free kick. 49' -- Frankfurt have had a decent amount of the ball since the restart but Bayern are looking compact. 46' -- It's stopped snowing and we're back underway in Frankfurt- HALF TIME: Bayern lead but it's been a largely even game so far- Tom Starke has been called in to action a few times while Rebic has caused Bayern a few problems. Still plenty of life in this one. Over in Leipzig, the hosts have re-taken the lead courtesy of a Timo Werner penalty. 44' -- Vidal controls a clearance on his chest before looping a volley towards goal. Hradecky does well to tip it over but the linesman ruled that the ball had gone out of play from the initial corner anyway. 43' -- Kimmich gets free down the right but it's a tight angle and he can only find the keeper with his cross. More good news for Bayern though, Mainz have equalized in Leipzig. 40' -- Close. A clever free kick from Frankfurt who went short before laying the ball of to Willems. His strike is decent enough but Starke gets down to it fairly comfortably, for a 36-year-old. 39' -- Jerome Boateng against Rebic once more and the Bayern man comes out on top again, comfortably ending a promising run. Rafinha doesn't do quite so well against the same man moments later, conceding a free kick in a decent position. 37' -- Bit of a strange one here. James started to tie his laces after a strong tackle then decided to go to ground. He's up now. Not quite sure what that was all about. 33' -- The Boateng brothers in the thick of it. Kevin Prince sets Rebic free but Jerome does well to stand him up and make the block. Frankfurt have shown enough to suggest Bayern can't get too comfortable. 31' -- Meanwhile in Dortmund and Leipzig... 28' -- Coman drives rapidly down the right flank and fires one in to the side netting. He's looked dangerous today. 25' -- Frankfurt aren't out of this yet. A twisting run from Rebic ends with a decent curling effort which is pushed behind by Starke. The corner comes to nothing. 24' -- That's now four Bundesliga games in a row in which Vidal has scored. And Kimmich marks his 100th Bayern appearance with yet another assist. 20' -- GOAL! Vidal nods in at the back post. The Chilean's initial shot was deflected behind for a corner. That was cleared straight back to Kimmich who swung in a great ball with his left and Vidal did the rest. 17' -- Fernandes goes in the book for tugging back James in midfield. 15' -- The champions starting to control possession now, and Müller can't quite get on the end of a through ball. Still no shots from Bayern though. 11' -- The visitors string a few passes together in the Frankfurt half for the first time. But there's no real penetration and Frankfurt eventually break upfield before Jerome Boateng clatters Haller to concede a freekick. 8' -- The snow looks to be getting a little stronger but no signs of it settling. The same could be said for BAyern who haven't found much fluency yet. 5' -- Vidal is dispossessed right on the edge of the box, hacks down Barkok and is booked. Rebic forces a decent save out of Stark from the freekick. 3' -- Kimmich is caught by a late tackle by Willems. He's down for a while but gets up in time to take the free kick. 1' -- And we're off in snowy Frankfurt! -- It seems that Bayern keeper Sven Ulreich has injured himself in the warmup. Tom Starke, a 36-year-old who mainly coaches in the club's academy and officially retired last season, will replace him. It'll be his 100th Bundesliga appearance. -- Afternoon all and welcome to the first of four Bundesliga matchdays in the next five days. With midweek matches looming, Jupp Heynckes has rung the changes for Bayern's trip to Frankfurt today, with Robert Lewandowski's omission the biggest talking point. The Polish striker has started every one of Bayern's Bundesliga games up to this point but will be replaced by Thomas Müller, with Sandro Wagner thought to be on the way in the winter break. Both Boatengs will start, with Frankfurt's Kevin-Prince looking to get one over Bayern's Jerome. Frankfurt will be hoping to improve one of the league's worst home records and solidify their position in the top half, while the Bavarians will expect to do what they do best and keeping racking up wins.

A first half goal from Arturo Vidal was enough for Bayern Munich to sneak past Eintracht Frankfurt despite a host of changes. The champions weren’t at their best but extend their lead at the top of the table. Eintracht Frankfurt 0 – 1 Bayern Munich (Vidal 20′) FULL TIME: That’s it. A fairly unconvincing win for Bayern but, once again ... Read More »

Case of wrestler throwing bout sparks anger in Iran

Tehran's ban on any contact with Israel has led to another case of an Iranian athlete being ordered to lose during an international competition. This policy is coming under growing criticism in Iran. "Ali Resa lose!, Ali Resa you must lose!" echoed through the venue in Bydgoszcz, Poland in the final moments of one of the semifinals at the U23 wrestling World Championships. This unbelievable but effective order from the Iranian coach to his athlete, Ali Resa Karimi (pictured above, right), can be clearly heard in a video recording of the semifinal. The Iranian had a 3-2 lead over his opponent, Russia's Alikhan Zhabrailov, with just moments to go in the bout. However, Karimi followed the orders of his coach, who was positioned at the edge of the mat, and demonstrably ceased to put up any resistance. The 3-2 lead morphed into a 14-3 defeat in the last 14 seconds of the bout. The Iranian stayed motionless as he complied with the order, but there was no mistaking how angry this had made him. The reason for this unsportsmanlike move by the Iranian coach was to be found in the other semifinal, which was going on at the same time. The Israeli wrestler, Uri Kalashnikov, was up against Azamat Dauletbekov of Kazakhstan. The Iranian officials expected Kalashnikov to win, meaning that had Karimi won, he would have had to face the Israeli, something they were determined to avoid at all costs. This is because since 1983 the Iranian state has banned all of its athletes from competing against Israelis – officially because Tehran hasn't recognized the state of Israel and out of "solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people." Mockery and criticism on Iranian social media The video of the bout spread like wildfire on the Internet and quickly became the hottest topic of discussion among Iranian users. "It's unbelievable that one KOs oneself. It's the fate of a bitter humiliation that the politicians have condemned our athletes to," one tweet said. Another user wrote: "A national athlete is a representative of his country on an international stage. The national athlete defends his country like a soldier. What do you mean 'you have to lose?' Shame on you. What kind of leadership do we have in our country?" Another comment reads: "It is a disgrace for any public figure to destroy the dignity and pride of an athlete for the sake of preserving his own corrupted power." Another comment, like many others, summed up the hypocrisy of the Iranian position: "It is utterly absurd for Iranians to avoid competing with Israelis out of solidarity with the Palestinians, when Palestinian athletes have no problem competing against Israeli athletes." Karimi heads home empty handed Meanwhile, Ali Resa Karimi posted a line from a well-known song by exiled Iranian dissident Dariush Eghbali via his Instagram account: "Silence is the last protective shield; we will never get our rights." This statement could land Karimi in hot water with the authorities. As if things weren't already bad enough for Karimi, as it turned out there was no reason to throw the fight. The Iranian officials who decided that he needed to do so got it wrong. As it turned out, the Israeli wrestler lost his bout to his Kazakh opponent. This set up a bronze-medal bout between the Iranian and Israeli wrestlers, but Karimi pulled out of it due to "illness." It remains to be seen what, if any action United World Wrestling, the sport's world governing body, could take over the incident. International sports federations have previously pledged to impose sanctions on Iran over this sort of behavior, which Iran has made a habit of over the past more than three decades. There has even been talk of banning entire teams.

Tehran’s ban on any contact with Israel has led to another case of an Iranian athlete being ordered to lose during an international competition. This policy is coming under growing criticism in Iran. “Ali Resa lose!, Ali Resa you must lose!” echoed through the venue in Bydgoszcz, Poland in the final moments of one of the semifinals at the U23 ... Read More »

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 »

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