Iran condemns its soccer players for match with Israeli team

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

Iran condemns its soccer players for match with Israeli team

 August 4 at 10:17 AM
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s soccer federation condemned two Iranians who play for a Greek team on Friday for participating in a match against an Israeli team, Iranian media reported.The federation “strongly condemns” the participation of Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi in a match for Greece’s Panionios against Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv a day earlier in Greece, it said in a statement reported by the semi-official Fars news agency.

On its Farsi-language Twitter account, Israel’s foreign ministry praised the players for ignoring what is considered a taboo in Iran by playing against the Israelis. Maccabi won the UEFA Europa League match 1-0.

Israel and Iran are bitter adversaries and traditionally, Iranian athletes refrain from playing Israelis. Iran’s government usually rewards such behavior.

The federation said it is reviewing the case and will make a final decision after speaking with both players who in the past have also played for the national soccer team. Fars reported that the two may now be banned from playing on that team again.

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At a previous match against Maccabi in Tel Aviv, both refused to play.

The last competition between Iranian and Israeli sportsmen on the international level dates back to a wrestling match in 1983 in Kiev, Ukraine. From time to time, Iranian players who play for foreign teams have played Israeli teams.

In February, a teenage Iranian chess player angered authorities when he played, as an individual, against an Israeli competitor in the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival.

Iran does not recognize Israel, and supports anti-Israeli militant groups like Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas.

 

Teenager dies after being mauled by bear during race in Alaska

 

Teenager dies after being mauled by bear during race in Alaska

Authorities say a black bear killed a 16-year-old runner while he was competing in a race near Anchorage, Alaska, on Sunday.

Anchorage television station KTUU reports that the teenager, whose identity has not been released, was a participant in the juniors division of the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb three-mile race between Anchorage and Girdwood.

Race director Brad Precosky said the runner had apparently made it to the halfway-point turnaround for juniors on steep Bird Ridge trail and was on his way down when he texted a family member that he was being chased by a bear.

Officials from a number of agencies responded up the mountain to locate the boy, whose body was found about a mile up the path, at about 1,500 vertical feet.

“This is the worst thing that could happen,” Precosky said.

Alaska State Troopers released a statement Sunday saying the boy’s remains were transported from the scene and his next of kin was notified.

A park ranger shot the 250-pound bear in the face, but it ran away.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Fakhar, Amir Sparkle As Pakistan Stuns India

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS)

Fakhar, Amir sparkle as Pakistan stun India

By Ed Osmond | LONDON

Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Amir shone as Pakistan defied the odds to overwhelm arch-rivals India by 180 runs and pull off a major upset in the Champions Trophy final at The Oval on Sunday.

Fakhar capitalised on a lucky escape to strike a superb 114 and lift Pakistan to a commanding total of 338 for four and fast bowler Amir ripped out India’s top three batsmen before the defending champions subsided to 158 all out.

Pakistan had come into the tournament as the lowest-ranked team and lost heavily to India in their opening group match but they beat South Africa and Sri Lanka to make the semi-finals where they knocked out hosts England.

After India had won the toss, Fakhar, on three, was caught by wicketkeeper Mahehdra Singh Dhoni off a Jasprit Bumrah no-ball and the 27-year-old left-hander took full advantage to make his first international century.

He shared a fluent century opening partnership with Azhar Ali (59), the pair unleashing a barrage of crisp attacking strokes all around a sun-kissed ground.

Azhar also continued his fine form, reaching fifty off 61 balls before he was run out following a mix-up with his partner.

Fakhar lofted Ravindra Jadeja over long-on for six and got to three figures by sweeping Ravichandran Ashwin to the boundary.

He celebrated with an extravagant twirl of his bat and kissed the turf as the Pakistan supporters sensed an unlikely win.

Fakhar hit 12 fours and three sixes before skying a catch off Hardik Pandya but Pakistan had the perfect platform to make the highest total in a Champions Trophy final.

THREE SIXES

Babar Azam chipped in with a solid 46 and Mohammad Hafeez struck three sixes in a punchy unbeaten 57 that left India needing to produce the highest successful run chase in the tournament’s history to lift the trophy for the third time.

Within three overs, however, their reply was in tatters as Amir produced a devastating spell of bowling.

He trapped Rohit Sharma lbw for nought with a swinging delivery and removed India talisman Virat Kohli with another fine ball which the captain could only edge to point for five.

Kohli, the world’s top-ranked one-day batsman, had been dropped off the previous delivery in the slips and the India fans looked shell-shocked as he trudged off.

Their hopes now rested largely on the shoulders of Shikhar Dhawan who had been in fine form in the tournament but he made only 21 before nicking the inspired Amir to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.

Spinner Shadab Khan snared Yuvraj Singh lbw for 22 and Dhoni, India’s former captain who has saved the team on many occasions, pulled Hasan Ali to Imad Wasim at deep square leg to depart for four.

Shadab picked up his second wicket when Kedar Jadhav, on nine, gave Sarfraz a simple catch and India appeared to be crumbling meekly at 72 for six.

Pandya, however, briefly raised their spirits with a quickfire 76, reaching his fifty with three successive sixes off Shadab and hitting six maximums in all before he was run out.

Jadeja nicked Junaid Khan to slip for 15, Hasan had Ashwin caught by Sarfraz and Hasan forced Bumrah to lob another catch to the wicketkeeper, who pouched it gleefully to complete Pakistan’s first Champions Trophy win with 19.3 overs to spare.

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Why are Spanish football stars in legal trouble?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Why are Spanish football stars in legal trouble?

  • 25 minutes ago
  • From the section Europe
L-R Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Lionel Messi (file pics)Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAll three players: (L-R) Ronaldo, Neymar and Messi

Spain has attracted arguably the three brightest lights of world football, with Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Neymar all plying their skills in La Liga.

Over the past year, football fans have become used to seeing the trio caught up in accusations of tax fraud and other financial crimes by the Spanish courts.

And they are not the only players in the crosshairs of the Spanish judiciary. In 2016, Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Barcelona team-mate, Javier Mascherano, received a one-year suspended prison sentence for tax fraud.

Three players, three trials

Lionel Messi and father Jorge were last year convicted of defrauding the Spanish state of €4.1m (£3.6m; $4.6m) in unpaid taxes on the striker’s image rights, controlled by offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay.

The pair were both handed 21-month jail terms in a ruling recently confirmed by Spain’s supreme court.

Barcelona's Argentine footballer Lionel Messi (L) in court with his father Jorge Horacio Messi during their trial for tax fraud in Barcelona (June 2016)Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionMessi and his father Jorge were convicted of tax fraud in 2016

Now the original Barcelona trial court must decide whether the sentences should be suspended in accordance with Spanish custom for first-time offenders whose prison terms do not exceed two years.

Prosecutors have asked for a two-year sentence and a €10m fine for Neymar, who was cleared of fraud but ordered to stand trial over alleged corruption in his 2013 move from Brazilian club Santos to Barcelona.

Now Ronaldo has become the third and final member of the elite La Liga trio to face criminal accusations, after prosecutors announced they were pursuing the 32-year-old former Manchester United man on four counts of tax fraud.

A source close to Ronaldo told the BBC that “he’s very sad and really upset” about the allegations. “He doesn’t want to stay in Spain. At this moment, he wants to leave,” the source said.

Why has footballers’ paradise turned sour?

Soon after David Beckham joined Real Madrid in 2003, he was able to enjoy a new tax-exemption scheme aimed at attracting foreign talent to Spain across all sectors. That scheme became known as the Beckham Law, when he became one of the first players to sign up to a six-year-long tax ceiling of 24%, roughly half what Spaniards paid on six-figure-plus incomes.

File pic 2006 of David Beckham and Zinedine ZidaneImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionReal Madrid’s top players, such as a Beckham and Zidane became known as the “galacticos”

Spain was in the midst of an unprecedented economic boom, a perfect playground for “galacticos” of the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo, before the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo and the emergence of Barcelona prodigy Lionel Messi.

But in 2010 the Beckham Law was scrapped for salaries of more than €600,000, and since then tax inspectors have begun to wise up to the use of complex financial operations using offshore shell companies to get around tax laws.

“The line between avoidance and evasion is very fine in these cases. In the past few years Spain’s tax agency has intensified its control over footballers and their companies, checking to see if they are mere fronts or whether they are really active economically,” explains Carlos Cruzado, president of tax inspectors’ union Gestha.

Case against big three

Neymar is the odd one out. His case involves alleged wrongdoing towards a contractual party regarding his transfer fee, but the forward has been found guilty in his native Brazil for tax fraud on money earned while playing for Santos.

La Liga rich list

Who earned what?

$93m

Cristiano Ronaldo: $58m salary, $35m endorsements

  • $80m Lionel Messi: $53m salary, $27m endorsements
  • $37m Neymar: $15m salary, $22m endorsements
Getty Images

The Messi and Ronaldo cases are similar. Both are accused of avoiding tax on sale of image rights by using offshore companies. However, the Portuguese was registered as a non-resident taxpayer under the Beckham Law, while the Argentine has spent his entire adult life registered in Spain.

Prosecutors accuse the Real Madrid star of evading tax of €14.7m between 2011 and 2014 via an alleged shell company called Tollin Associates, registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Spanish investigators say the company, owned by Ronaldo, is a “screen” and has no economic activity apart from having bought and then ceded the player’s image rights to a firm based in Ireland that “genuinely manages [his] rights sales”.

Prosecutors also claim that money earned from image rights was incorrectly described as capital gains, to benefit from a lower tax rate.

What is their defence?

Lionel Messi was informed by the judge in his case it was no defence to plead ignorance and argue that his father was the only person who knew how his money was being managed.

Neymar of FC Barcelona leaves the National Court on February 2, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionNeymar spent 90 minutes before a judge in Madrid in February 2016

Neymar has denied any wrongdoing and told the court investigating his case that his father and associates dealt with off-field business matters.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s representatives and legal team say the only dispute can be about quantity and that there has been no intention to commit fraud. “There is no tax evasion scheme… There has never been any hiding nor any intention to hide anything,” they say.

They argue he has paid tax to the Spanish treasury on 20% of his total image rights when, in fact, more than 90% of these are generated outside Spain as he is such a global name.

“The tax agency clearly thinks that if he is being paid for wearing certain boots, shirts or caps in Spain, then he cannot claim this money is being earned abroad,” explains Mr Cruzado.

Will any of them go to jail?

Neymar and Lionel Messi look set to be spared prison due to Spain’s unwritten two-year-sentence rule, even if Neymar is eventually found guilty.

Cristiano Ronaldo may be a different matter. Three of the four accusations of tax fraud are considered by prosecutors to be “aggravated”, so they carry a minimum sentence of two years each. Four guilty verdicts and he could face as many as seven years.

However, an investigating judge needs to ratify the prosecutors’ accusations, and that could take many months or even years.

Even if the investigating magistrate does take up the case, the Portuguese will have several options and a guilty verdict would not necessarily mean jail.

He could admit guilt, pay taxes and fines in advance and reduce any eventual jail term to a half or quarter of the statutory minimum. That way he would slip under the standard two-year bar for first-time offenders and see his sentence suspended.

Gleyber Torres is about to take over third base in the Bronx

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ESPN SPORTS)

Gleyber Torres is about to take over third base in the Bronx

His Triple-A skipper says he’s not ready. But Gleyber Torres is taking reps at the hot corner — and the Yankees believe he’s a quick study. Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire

MOOSIC, Pa. — Gleyber Torres is 6-foot-1, but during spring training his play towered over a New York Yankees camp that included the 6-7 Aaron Judge. Torres hit .448 in 29 at-bats, leaving GM Brian Cashman to swat down questions about Torres moving all the way from A-ball to the big leagues to replace an injured Didi Gregorius.

These days, Judge is the biggest story in baseball, hitting home runs at rookie-record pace, leading the All-Star voting, emerging as the candidate to beat for American League MVP and making Torres sound just like any other 20-year-old Yankees fan.

“He is destroying the baseball,” Torres said in the clubhouse at PNC Field, home of the Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

The Yankees are in the process of creating a new homegrown core, reminiscent of the Core Four dynasty group comprising Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada. And, often omitted but not forgotten, Bernie Williams.

The new core looks as if it already has two members in Judge and Gary Sanchez. Dellin Betances, who arrived just four seasons ago, could be another cog. Greg Bird showed in 2015 that he could be the Yankees’ long-term first baseman — if he can stay healthy. Soon, Torres, ranked the fourth-best prospect in baseball by ESPN’s Keith Law, will get a chance.

While his Triple-A manager, Al Pedrique, said Tuesday that Torres isn’t ready yet — the natural shortstop is still learning to play third and second — the Yankees seem to be grooming Torres to replace the struggling Chase Headley at third. After 21 games at Triple-A, he was hitting .280, but that was after a very slow start.

There are officials in the organization who like the idea of adding more talented, youthful energy for the stretch run to an already dynamic roster. Torres could be an everyday addition to the lineup before the trade deadline.

“We are trying to give Torres more playing time at third so he can feel comfortable — the quicker, the better,” Pedrique said.

It takes time, which is why Pedrique’s comments Tuesday made sense. Torres might be asked to play in October, and the Yankees need him to be prepared and confident. The reaction time at third base is much faster than the middle infield positions, and while Torres doesn’t have to be perfect, he needs to understand the nuances that only come with experience.

“It is a new position for him,” Pedrique said. “He is just trying to react, adjust. He understands it is a reaction position. A lot of balls will get to you quicker. Your preparation needs to be done early.

“I think he is taking longer at third than second. You can tell he is starting to figure some things out at third base. With the work ethic he has and the softness of his hands, he is going to be fine. He has enough arm strength at third. It is a matter of time for him to feel comfortable at third.”

What has stood out about Torres since the Yankees traded for him nearly a year ago in the Aroldis Chapman deal is his maturity. Speaking a second language, Torres, a native of Venezuela, handles questions like a 10-year veteran — respectfully, with a little insight. It was easy to believe him when he said his focus is here at PNC Field, not daydreaming about the Bronx.

“When I get time, I watch a couple of innings when the Yankees play,” Torres said. “I stay focused here to get better every day.”

With each day, Gleybermania’s arrival in the Bronx seems to get closer. For the Yankees, there might be a third rookie act after Sanchez at the end of last year and Judge in the first half of this season. It could be Torres’ turn.

“He’s got a lot of tools,” Pedrique said. “He can be a special player.”

Afghanistan cancels friendly T20s against Pakistan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ESPN)

Afghanistan cancels friendly T20s against Pakistan

The ACB did not offer any official reason for cancelling the T20s AFP

The short-lived détente between the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) and the PCB is seemingly over, barely a week after it had begun. In the wake of a bomb blast in Kabul on Wednesday that killed over 80 people, the ACB has cancelled the friendly T20 matches it had scheduled with Pakistan, to be played in July and August in Kabul and Lahore.

No official reason has been provided by the ACB but the board tweeted:

@ACBofficials cancells friendly matches including initially agreed terms of mutual cricketing relationship with @TheRealPCB

 

The two boards had come to an agreement last week to revive broken ties by playing two friendly matches in each country. As part of the agreement, the PCB was also to provide Afghanistan with venues for training and conditioning camps, and the possibility of reciprocal tours between the youth and senior teams.

A similar deal between the boards was also struck in 2013, when Afghanistan cricketers were given access to the National Cricket Academy in Lahore. Eventually, however, the ACB took to using facilities in Greater Noida in India to train players for tournaments.

Last Saturday Atif Mashal, the ACB chairman, met his PCB counterpart Shaharyar Khan in Lahore and after the meeting stressed that both boards were eager to renew ties. In it he hinted at the complex geo-political scenario that inevitably has an impact on cricket relations.

“We want this relationship and rebuilt this relationship with mutual respect and mutual understanding,” Mashal had said. “Relations with Pakistan doesn’t mean we don’t have relations with India. We’re always thinking of balancing the relations between Pakistan and India.

“India is also a strategic partner, a friend, and they also support Afghanistan cricket. Pakistan did a great job in the development of Afghanistan cricket and we value both nations.

“We know there is tension in the border but it’s my job to keep this interaction between two cricketing nations going and to help governments start something positive. We are trying our best to keep sports, especially cricket, away from politics as well as looking for our national interests.”

The PCB was set to write a letter to the Pakistan government seeking permission to play in Kabul. And a number of Pakistan players – including Umar Akmal, Sohail Tanvir and Kamran Akmal – were part of the auction for the Shpageeza T20 League, Afghanistan’s six-team franchise-based tournament.

But ESPNcricinfo understands that Pakistani participation in the T20 league may now be in jeopardy.

Nike Blasted For Fraud In Advertising Forced To Pay Triple Compensation By China Law

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

Nike offers to pay triple compensation after CCTV report blasted it of fraud

SPORTSWEAR manufacturing giant Nike has agreed to pay triple compensation for its Hyperdunk 2008 FTB basketball shoes after it came under fire in a CCTV report on Wednesday.

Nike China issued a statement today, saying it will pay 4,500 yuan (US$1,861) to consumers who want a refund. The shoes cost 1,499 yuan.

The statement said Nike would start refunding from April 4 for 90 days. Consumers can call 800-820-8865 or 400-880-6453 for further inquiry.

Nike China claimed it had mistakenly used the promotion materials of Zoom air cushion and apologized for that.

Nike Hyperdunk 08 FTB was found to be of lower quality, CCTV reported, and accused Nike of false promotion. The shoes, sold as a limited edition, did not incorporate the patented Zoom air cushion, as the sportswear manufacturing giant claimed on its Chinese website, China Central Television’s annual “3.15” quality investigation program said.

The shoes were advertised as copies of those worn by basketball legend Kobe Bryant at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

Nike had earlier offered a full refund to customers, but refused their demand for triple compensation, CCTV reported.

According to China’s consumer rights law, businesses should honestly describe the quality, property and use of product, failing which, they have to pay triple compensation.

A total of 300 Hyperdunk shoes were up for sale in China, according to Shanghai Yangpu Market Supervision and Management Administrative Bureau. All of them were sold out.

China Gearing Up For Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

HOME » NATION

China gearing up for Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games

WHEN Chinese cross-country skier Man Dandan grabbed the country’s first gold medal at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan on Feb. 20, winter sports fans nationwide were thrilled.

The prize was regarded as a breakthrough for the Chinese delegation, which used to fair better on the ice rink than on the skiing track.

Before the competition, Man had taken the first place in the ladies’ sprint final at the FIS China Tour de Ski Changchun stage. As a rising star, she began to terminate the domination of Nordic countries and regions in some tough games. These years’ Vasaloppet China Festivals, an annual cross-country skiing race launched in Sweden in 1922, also witnessed the rise of young athletes like Man.

“China began to learn how to improve its competitiveness in cross-country skiing events in 2003, several years before China’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics,” said Zhao Xiaolu, deputy director of Changchun sports bureau.

As we enter the second full year after Beijing was awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics, Chinese fans are noticing that many national winter sports teams have been established for the first time, such as the alpine skiing and bobsleigh & skeleton teams.

Chinese athletes also competed in all 64 events at the Sapporo Asian Winter Games, eager to test themselves in as many winter Olympic events as possible.

PREPARATION WORK FOR THE GAMES

As it prepares to host another edition of the Olympic games, Beijing’s preparation work is so far going smoothly, with construction on a new airport and venues on schedule.

Construction on the new airport, located in Beijing’s southern Daxing district is expected to be completed in 2019. It will have a capacity of 100 million trips per year, and will be 30 minutes’ ride to downtown Beijing via subway.

Beijing is also converting the 2008 Summer Olympic venues into sites for the Winter Games in an effort to keep costs under control.

Wukesong sports center, which hosted the basketball events in 2008, will host the ice hockey events in 2022. The National Aquatics Center, also known as the Water Cube, will become the curling rink.

According to the Organizing Committee for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Beijing will host three events, namely curling, ice hockey and skating, in 12 venues, including eight legacies of the 2008 Summer Games, three newly built venues, and one temporary venue.

President Xi Jinping stressed the need for solid preparation work for the Games when presiding over a symposium this week on the subject, saying that the work should embody the spirit of green, open and shared development, along with fairness and honesty.

He also vowed zero tolerance in regards to doping and corruption, saying China “should make the Winter Olympic Games as pure and clean as snow and ice.”

A HIGHER GOAL

Eyeing a successful tournament at home in 2022, China is also determined to become a winter sports powerhouse in the next decade.

The efforts are two-fold. On the one hand, China is focusing on improving its technical and tactical skills and gaining advantage in individual events. On the other hand, it aims to popularize winter sports among the general public.

In its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, China promised to the world that the country would attract more than 300 million people to take part in winter sports.

To achieve part of that goal, Changchun, capital of Jilin Province, has motivated one million teenagers to enjoy the city’s abundant skating rinks and ski resorts during the just-ended Chinese New Year holiday.

The central government also approved a 10-year plan on developing winter sports in November, 2016, aiming to expand the scale of the winter sports industry to one trillion yuan (about 145 billion U.S. dollars).

According to a document released by the municipal government in January, Beijing will have 40 new ice rinks across the city by 2020. Among them, 16 rinks, including 11 indoor rinks, have been built in 2016. Construction of another 10 venues will be completed this year. The rest will be constructed by 2020, the document said.

In Her Quest For Revenge And Pride: Ronda Rousey Lost Her Own Way

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ESPN SPORTS)

 

LAS VEGAS — The first time Ronda Rousey met UFC president Dana White, she asked for a few minutes of his time to make her pitch for creating a women’s division in the UFC.

She was passionate and charismatic. She had a vision for what the sport could do for women and how she could lead the way.

“Fifteen minutes into a 45-minute conversation, I was like, ‘Holy s—, I’m in. If we’re ever going to do it, this is the woman to do so,'” White recalled.

The last time he spoke to Rousey, late Friday night after a brutal first-round knockout loss to Amanda Nunes, White was the one doing all the talking. She barely said a word.

“I must have tears, blood and boogers all over my f—ing jacket. I went in there and hugged her for 45 minutes,” White said. “I told her, ‘I love you so much, and whatever you want to do next, I got your back. You built this. This doesn’t exist without you. You’re the best decision I ever made.'”

Less than five years separated these conversations, and yet everything was different — the world, the sport and, most of all, Ronda Rousey herself.

She wasn’t making the case to fight anymore; White was.

In many ways, Rousey had outgrown a fighter’s life years ago. She talked openly of wanting to get married, have children and start a new life for herself outside of the spotlight. She had movie roles waiting for her. She was signing on for executive producing positions in various other projects. She had made tens of millions of dollars from the UFC, endorsements and other projects. She’d written a bestselling autobiography. She’d become a feminist hero with her message of fierce strength and ambition.

By themselves, none of these things meant she couldn’t still be a champion fighter. But collectively, they meant she didn’t have to be one anymore.

She didn’t have to fight. And for the better part of a year, she’s been trying to find the right reasons to keep doing it.

Was she after revenge or respect?

Was she simply trying to right a wrong after she’d lost to Holly Holm in November 2015?

Maybe it was about legacy and pride. The baddest woman on the planet couldn’t just fold after one loss. She had to try to come back so she could leave with some dignity.

“I want to be able to walk away with my head held high,” Rousey said before the fight. “It’s like a painter looking at what he made and knowing it’s not done yet. You could get away with it. You could sell that painting and it would sell. But you’ll always know it was never as good as it could have been. I don’t want ‘good enough’ to be my legacy.”

Eventually she settled on a mix of pride and revenge. But even the fact that she needed to ask herself why she was fighting spoke volumes.

There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of opportunities. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more.

That desire to keep pushing and stretching and growing is at the core of her being. It’s part of what made her such a compelling figure to her fans in the first place.

Women are terrible about wanting more, expecting more or demanding more. Rousey went after it and refused to apologize for her ambitions.

She was able to talk that talk because she’d previously always backed it up.

After the loss to Holm though, it was as if she didn’t know how to be if she couldn’t be the invincible superwoman champion. How could she have swagger when she was still so embarrassed at how she’d performed? How could she talk about beating Nunes when she was still beating herself up for losing to Holm?

I walked out of the arena and people were crying, men and women. She has been an amazing role model and amazing partner, an amazing friend.
Dana White

So she mostly stayed silent before the fight, explaining that there was nothing she could say that would help win the fight in front of her. She would do a few interviews with Ellen DeGeneres and Conan O’Brien and ESPN The Magazine, but she would not participate in the traditional fight-week promotional and media activities.

She was doing things on her terms, not anyone else’s.

That did not sit well. A couple of weeks ago, as I finished a feature story on her comeback attempt, a male colleague said to me, “Boy, I hear she’s just getting worse and worse. She’s storming off the stage in New York. She’s refusing to help promote the fight.”

It was an arresting statement. “Worse and worse?”

In reality, she’d gotten better and better after the loss to Holm. Being out of the spotlight had helped her spirit and psyche.

“I’m just getting my life back,” she said.

But to many men, she was just another woman they didn’t want to be around after she’d fallen apart. There was too much emotion, too much intensity and unpredictability to deal with. So in the great tradition of giving women tranquilizers to help calm their nerves or of women running into the bathroom at work to avoid crying, it was easier to call her broken and bitter than try to understand her.

Rousey’s problem is that it wasn’t just men who had a hard time dealing with her in this state. It was just as uncomfortable for her.

She never truly accepted the loss to Holm. She just tried to compartmentalize it.

But whether it was stubborn competitiveness or residual embarrassment, when she fought Nunes it was as if she’d been frozen in amber from a year ago. She stood in front of her with very little head movement or defense. She got tagged in the face repeatedly with powerful right hands. After 48 seconds of punishment, it was abruptly over.

Rousey stood and leaned against the cage with a sad, defeated look on her face. Nunes came over, grabbed her by the shoulders and paid her respects by saying, “You did so much for this sport.”

The pro-Rousey crowd inside the T-Mobile Arena was stunned and saddened.

“I walked out of the arena and people were crying, men and women,” White said. “She has been an amazing role model and amazing partner, an amazing friend.

“For the millions of people who admire her, she is somebody who is actually worth the admiration. Believe me, there’s a lot of celebrities out there that are popular. I meet them all the time. They are not worth your admiration. They suck. But Ronda Rousey is all of that. She’s incredible.”

White spoke with resignation about Rousey’s future in the sport. This likely is her final fight, though both White and her camp said she’d need some time to make a final decision.

“It’s very rare that people go out on this glorious ride, on top,” he said. “It almost never happens. Either people stick around too long and they get too old or things happened like what happened with Ronda.”

What exactly happened to Ronda these past two fights?

Is she the proverbial goose who finally ran out of golden eggs? Or was this just the inevitable turnover of the fame cycle?

Did she lose confidence in herself once her invincibility was gone? Or did she train the wrong way?

Those are questions she must answer before she decides whether to fight again.

But if this was her last fight, if she has grown out of the fighter’s life, White wanted her to know her legacy was secure.

“None of this happens without Ronda Rousey,” White said. “She built this whole thing.”

Turkey: Twin Bombs Outside Istanbul Football Stadium Kill Dozens

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

Turkey: Twin explosions outside football stadium kill 29 in Istanbul

WORLD Updated: Dec 11, 2016 07:51 IST

AFP

Highlight Story

Smoke rises from a car after a blast in Istanbul, Turkey. (Reuters Photo)

Twenty nine people were killed — mainly police officers — and 166 wounded in double bombings that struck Istanbul on Saturday after a home football match hosted by top side Besiktas, Turkish interior minister Suleyman Soylu said.Twenty-seven of those killed were police and two were civilians, he told reporters in Istanbul, adding that 10 suspects had already been detained over the bombing.

A car bomb detonated outside the Vodafone Arena football stadium on the shores of the Bosphorus after the Super Lig match between Besiktas and Bursaspor while a suicide attacker struck a nearby park, officials said.

The authorities did not say who was behind the blasts but the attacks were the latest in a year that has seen Istanbul and other Turkish cities rocked by a string of attacks blamed on Islamic State jihadists and Kurdish militants.

The health ministry said in a statement that 15 people were killed and 69 wounded.

“An act of terror targeted our security forces and citizens at Besiktas tonight,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement. Besiktas is also the name of the neighbourhood around club’s arena.

Erdogan said the blasts shortly after the end of the match sought to cause maximum loss of life.

“We have witnessed once more here in Istanbul the ugly face of terror which tramples down any form of value and morals,” he said.

Interior minister Suleyman Soylu said one blast took place outside the stadium and another at Macka Park, a popular meeting place just above the sports venue.

“The explosion at Macka Park is believed to have been carried out by a suicide bomber.”

He said the stadium attack targeted a bus of riot police.

‘We will stand firm’

State broadcaster TRT showed images of the wreckage of a car, engulfed in flames with emergency services swarming around the scene outside the sports venue.

Other footage showed severely damaged police vehicles, while witnesses said the force of the blast had shattered the windows of several nearby homes.

An AFP correspondent near the stadium saw ambulances gathering in the aftermath of the explosion, as well as broken glass on the road.

“I heard two explosions in less than one minute, followed by the sound of gunshots,” one witness told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Police and ambulances arrive the scene after a blast in Istanbul. (Reuters Photo)

Besiktas football club issued a statement condemning the attack and confirming none of the fans or players were hurt.

“Terrorists… attacked our heroic security forces who ensure that both our fans and Bursaspor’s supporters are safe. We will stand firm against the vile attackers who will never achieve their goal.”

Police cordoned off the area around the stadium immediately after the blasts, which occurred near the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce palace that houses Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s offices in Istanbul.

The scene is also about a kilometre (0.6 miles) from the busy Taksim Square, a magnet for tourists.

Erdogan was in Istanbul at the time of the blast at his residence in the suburb of Tarabya further down the Bosphorus, state media said.

The government slapped a broadcast ban on footage of the attack, as is becoming typical in the aftermath of major incidents in the country.

‘We will defeat terror’

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday’s attack.

In his statement, Erdogan said that “the name or the method of the terrorist organisation which perpetrated the vile attack” did not matter.

“Nobody should doubt that we will defeat terror, terror groups, terrorists and of course the forces behind them, with God’s help,” he said.

In June, 47 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, with authorities blaming IS.

Another 57 people, 34 of them children, were killed in August in a suicide attack by an IS-linked bomber at a Kurdish wedding in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.

But there have also been deadly bombings claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), seen as a splinter group of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The US embassy in Turkey condemned the latest attack.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the people of #Istanbul tonight,” the embassy wrote on Twitter. “We condemn tonight’s cowardly attack, and salute the courage of the Turkish people as we stand with them against terror.”

Turkey is still reeling from a failed July 15 coup blamed by the government on the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen that has been followed by a relentless purge of his alleged supporters from state institutions.

Saturday’s attack came after the Turkish army and its Syrian rebel allies on Saturday entered the IS bastion of Al-Bab in northern Syria, according to a monitoring group.

Wounded police officers are helped after a blast in Istanbul, Turkey. (Reuters Photo)

Al-Bab is the last bastion IS has in Syria’s northern Aleppo province.

The explosions also came hours after Turkey’s ruling party submitted a parliamentary bill that would expand the powers — and possibly the tenure — of Erdogan, a move his opponents fear will lead to one-man rule.

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