Colin Kaepernick to file lawsuit against NFL owners over collusion

Colin Kaepernick, who many believe has been blackballed by the NFL, is reportedly filing a suit against the leagues owners.

Colin Kaepernick, who many believe has been blackballed by the NFL following his protest against racial injustice in the US, is reportedly set to file a suit against the league’s team owners.

According to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, the former San Francisco 49 ers quarterback has hired attorney Mark Geragos and will claim NFL owners have colluded to keep him out of the league. Under the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement squads and the NFL are forbidden from coming together to deprive a player of employment.

” If the NFL( as well as all professional sports teams) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful protest- which the owners themselves stimulated great theater imitating weeks ago- should not be punished and athletes should not be denied job based on partisan political provocation by the Executive Branch of our government ,” Geragos said in a statement.

” Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest days as a nation. Protecting all athletes from such collusive conduct is what compelled Mr Kaepernick to file his grievance. Colin Kaepernick’s goal has always been, and remains, to simply be treated fairly by the league he performed at the highest level for and to return to the football playing field .”

Kaepernick chose to kneel last season during the national anthem. He was joined by other NFL players and the protests have continued into this season: on Sunday seven San Francisco 49 ers players knelt during the anthem.

The movement has angered Donald Trump, who ordered Vice-President Mike Pence to leave a game last week in which players were protesting.

The protests have also been blamed for autumns in the league’s Tv ratings this year, although other factors, such as the decline of television viewership in general, could also be at play. Surveys help find the majority of white fans are opposed to the protests while most black fans support them.

Kaepernick, who led the 49 ers to the Super Bowl in 2013, left San Francisco last season and has not been picked up since. The fact that many teams with a need for a quarterback have passed up the chance to sign Kaepernick left many to believe owneds are either punishing him for his stance or believe his presence would alienate fans.

” It’s difficult to see because[ Kaepernick] played at such a high level, and you assure guys, quarterbacks, who have never played at a high level being signed by squads. So it’s difficult to understand ,” said Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman earlier this year.

” Obviously he’s going to be in a backup role at this point. But you see quarterbacks, there was a year Matt Schaub had a pretty rough year and got signed the next year. So it has nothing to do with football. You can see that. They signed guys who have had off year before .”

Another potential opening for Kaepernick appeared on Sunday when the Green Bay Packers lost their star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, to a broken collarbone.

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The decline of Holland: how Dutch are doomed by total obsession with past | Priya Ramesh

Nostalgia, arrogance and an insular group of Dutch legends turned coach-and-fours have stalled the Oranje Machine and left Holland failing to qualify for a second successive competition

In Graham Swift’s novel Waterland his narrator, a history teacher going through a mid-life crisis, says:” And where history does not undermine and set traps for itself in such an openly perverse style, it creates this insidious longing to revert. It begets this bastard but pampered child, Nostalgia. How we hanker turning now to that time before history claimed us, before things went wrong .”

At some phase analysis of decline has become a ordeal, particularly when the causative factors seem numerous and varied and not independent of each other. Nostalgia gives itself to convenient explanations of why things are not as good as they were, which may overshadow the fact it is perhaps more important that one seems back has progressed and not vice versa. Dutch football has assured four talented generations of players, right from Cruyff and Van Hanegem‘s cohort in the 70 s, Gullit, Rijkaard, Van Basten and Koeman in the 80 s, Bergkamp’s batch in the 90 s and the 1983 -8 4-born class of the 00 s led by Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder.

In the wake of failing to qualify for next year’s World Cup finalsin Russia Dutch footballers are now criticised for a lack of” winning mentality “. Marcel Brands of PSV, in a discussion in 2014 with his fellow technical directors of the so-called big three, Marc Overmars of Ajax and Feyenoord’s Martin van Geel, remarked:” We develop many intelligent, tactically strong players. We simply need to improve substantially in the win factor. I went to Portugal recently: Sport, Benfica and Porto. There it is completely different. There it is all about winning. With us, it’s the exact opposite:’ 80% possession, played well, yes but we lose 1-0 .’

” That’s not how it was necessary to. If you look at Germany, they have taken a step. There was always physical football, a lot of running. Now, there is a lot more[ technological] football than 10 years ago. They also find us[ the Dutch] a lot .”

Arjen
Arjen Robben retired after Holland failed to qualify for a second major tournament in a row. Photograph: Hoogte/ REX/ Shutterstock

Tellingly, nearly all of the successful recent exportations from the Eredivisie have been players who were scouted between the ages of 16 and 19- Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, Denmark’s Christian Eriksen and Belgium’s Toby Alderweireld find the Netherlands a prime location to hone their talent, having developed initially elsewhere. But even if the current Holland side absence extraordinary talents, there was sufficient quality for them at least to construct academic qualifications play-offs. That suggests there are deeper structural problems with the national squad. It is clearly more complicated than simply Memphis Depay’s preference for wearing hats.

In 2014 all the big three’s technological directors agreed that the KNVB, the Dutch FA, required a strong technical director. Jelle Goes had functioned as” technological manager” since 2013 and played a big role in drafting the Winnaars van Morgen ,” Winners of Tomorrow”, plan for resurrecting Dutch football; and, when Hans van Breukelen was induced technological director in 2016, Goes’ focus shifted to youth.

However, this summer both Goes and Van Breukelen left their roles, with the latter resigning, having made a mess of the national coach-and-four situation after Danny Blind’s departure and saying he had not been able to build” his- and the KNVB’s — ambitions come true “.

The KNVB’s lack of a clear long-term vision seemed evident as they let Hakim Ziyech slip through their fingers. The 24 -year-old, who played for Dutch youth teams up to the under-2 1s and was the outstanding Dutch midfielder of his generation, was injured on his first call-up in May 2015 and could not play, but then seemed to be overlooked. He then elected to represent Morocco, building his debut in October 2015.

In March 2016 Blind was asked why there had not been more of an effort to tie down Ziyech. The then Holland manager responded with the specious excuse that Ziyech was not playing as a” true No10″ at Twente at the time but as more of a second striker. Immediately his then-assistant coach, Marco van Basten, sitting at the back of the room, turned to the reporter who had suggested the KNVB had failed in this regard and said:” Why? He has run with the choice with his heart? Then, in my opinion, you should ask him .”

In May 2016 Van Basten called Ziyech and the St-Etienne winger Oussama Tannane” stupid sons” for not having the patience to wait for their chance:” How stupid can you be to choose Morocco if you are in contention for the Dutch national team ?”

This, beyond the contempt, indicates some delusions of grandeur and superiority persist despite Holland’s shortcomings on the pitch. Nearly two years later another young talent- Sofyan Amrabat -is set to follow Ziyech. He still has a chance of playing at the World Cup finals with Morocco, while the Dutch must watch a second consecutive international tournament on their Tv screens, still absence direction in their long-term planning as well as a player are worth constructing a new side around.

The way in which Van Basten conveyed his view is indicative of the way dynamics can change when there are many big personalities vying for influence. For the Dutch this is not a new phenomenon. In 1981, as Ajax trailed Twente 2-3 at De Meer, Johan Cruyff, then in a vague directorial role, constructed his style from the stands to the bench and propped himself beside the coach-and-four, Leo Beenhakker, shouting instructions and attaining tactical changes. In 2004, when Ronald Koeman was manager of Ajax, Louis van Gaal, then technological director, used to sit on the sidelines and commentate on training sessions.

Recently Ruud Gullit, assistant coach to Dick Advocaat, recorded a video for his Twitter feed in the Holland dressing room. Advocaat was unaware of and unhappy with the breach of protocol, yet Gullit was excused. Less than a month later Advocaat indicated Gullit would be his ideal successor because of the way the France players seemed to approach him in reverence at full-time, after they had easily defeated Holland 4-0 in September.” The Netherlands genuinely forgets what a great Gullit is ,” said Advocaat. There is bias in choosing to remember the great player- but not the reasonably mediocre manager.

Dick
Dick Advocaat, right, and his assistant Ruud Gullit are the latest familiar faces who have failed to halt Holland’s slide. Photo: Hoogte/ REX/ Shutterstock/ Hoogte/ Rex/ Shutterstock

Robert Maaskant, who has managed NAC Breda and Willem II, pertinently told De Volkskrant in August:” When I started as a trainer, I believed:’ I did not have a great career as a player, so I need to get into[ management] early. Because between the ages of 42 and 50, all those former internationals[ Frank de Boer, Phillip Cocu, Giovanni van Bronckhorst] will start to get involved, and they will get the best undertakings first .’ But the leading I had, ultimately led to nothing more. Because experience is no longer as important.

” It started with Marco van Basten’s appointment as Holland coach, without any experience. Since then you do not’ build’ a career in Dutch football any more: it will’ happen’ to you .”

Peter Bosz , now at Borussia Dortmund, is a Dutch rarity in breaking that ceiling in recent years but seemed to be swiftly pushed out by the powers that be at Ajax. So a painting emerges of an insular, constricted group of coach-and-fours who are granted opportunities with little or no coaching experience. Most share a common notion of possession-based 4-3 -3 football, which attains Dutch squads predictable while other nations have either bettered 4-3-3 or moved on.

The most successful exponents of the “Dutch” style are no longer Dutch, and given there is little to lose now, perhaps a step in the right direction would be to experimentation with appointing a foreign coach-and-four. The last one- the Austrian Ernst Happel- did not fare too badly.

Dutch football has always been a battleground of “philosophy” and winning football matches in the somewhat arbitrary “right” way over merely winning. That there is also pride in losing the 1974 World Cup final to West Germany– when Cruyff’s talented side squandered a one-goal lead to their greatest contenders in Munich- seemed to set forth the faith that results were, to an extent, expendable in the pursuit of the ideal of total football.

Now, in the friction between the nostalgia for their great footballing inventions of the past and the reality of being outshone in tactical relevance today, the Dutch seem to have lost their standing and objective up compromising on both the style for which they were renowned and the results they fail to achieve.

In retrospect their shock 5-1 drubbing of Spain at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil signified a strange fork-in-the-road of a game, in which the defending champs had fallen into a predictable rhythm and the team who had lost the 2010 final seemed to be one step ahead. But Spain have recovered while the Dutch have regressed because that is where the insidiousness of nostalgia can lead- to regression, in the assumption that to attain glory in the future we need to “go back” and recreate a past that has long been lost. Clearly Holland and Dutch football must now look to the future instead.

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Liverpool left frustrated again by David de Gea and Manchester United

Liverpool and Manchester United depicted 0-0 at Anfield for the second year in a row, with David de Gea again to the fore , notably when stretching out a foot to deny Jol Matip

If nothing else, Liverpool was likely to take it as a compliment that Manchester United would choose to approach the game this style. It was the second successive season this fixture has ended goalless and it did not need a suspicious intellect to deduce that Jose Mourinho had decided that would be enough to make it a satisfying day- and to hell with anyone who might topic his lack of adventure.

His team had averaged three goals a game from their previous seven Premier League fixtures but this was the first time they had faced a side in the top-1 2 places. Mourinho altered his tactics accordingly and the second half, in particular, was an exercise in defensive parsimony directly in front of the Kop. Liverpool were unable to break them down and Mourinho has already made it clear what he thinks about the people who might blame him for ruining games as a spectacle. For the story of this match, refer to what he said after last season’s Europa League final against Ajax:” There are lots of poets in football, but poets don’t win many titles .”

He tends to know what he is doing but it was a risky strategy and it would have been intriguing to ensure Mourinho’s back-up plan if one of those Liverpool attacks had determined a way behind United’s defence.

Instead, the home side did not have the witticism or imagination in decisive areas and, regrettably for Jurgen Klopp, three points have never been awarded for moral victories. Liverpool have won only one of their last eight games in the various competitions and it all seemed rather flat at the end.” What did Jose Mourinho say ?” Klopp wanted to know.” That we were the more defensive side? That would have been funny .”

Mourinho has heard it all before and will reflect on a chore well done , no matter how much it grates with him when he is accused of groups together teams that do not play the classic United way. They did not manage a single noteworthy attack in the second half but the most extraordinary statistic of the afternoon was that it was not until the 17 th minute that Romelu Lukaku managed a touch of the ball.

Lukaku is often accused of absence his best work in the most difficult assignments but his failure to rating here owed more to the circumstances. The Belgium striker had one chance in the first-half when he aimed his shot too close to the Liverpool goalkeeper, Simon Mignolet, but he was isolated for most of the game and perhaps there was a measure of frustration in current challenges that sent Joe Gomez flying close to the touchline.

Instead this was an afternoon where Phil Jones and Chris Smalling demonstrated their improvement under Mourinho, Lukaku could be seen helping out in defense, Anthony Martial spent most of the game inside his own half and in the one moment of old-fashioned excitement there was another reminder about David de Gea’s extraordinary ability to prevent the ball from going into his net.

Anfield was already rising to its feet when Roberto Firmino misled Nemanja Matic inside the penalty area and Joel Matip reached the cross first. The Liverpool defender made a solid connect, eight yards out, but in that split second De Gea was already adjusting his body, protruding out his left foot to block the shot on the goal-line. It was an exceptional piece of improvisational goalkeeping and when De Gea rose to his feet he still did not have a hair out of place. What an incredible keeper he has become.

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Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp react to Anfield stalemate- video

That apart, there was not a great amount of penalty-area activity during a first half that was far too hectic to expect either side to pass the ball with their normal accuracy. Mohamed Salah presented, in flashings, some lovely, deft touches but there was so little time on the ball, with a challenge never too far away, it was difficult to build possession. Both sides were guilty of not taking enough care of the ball and perhaps that was inevitable when everything was so fast and furious.

The second half was a more controlled affair, with Liverpool pressing forward, forcing a succession of corners but without ever giving the impression they were wearing down their adversaries. Klopp’s men played many pass, but never the killer one. Gomez came the closest with a clipped pass into Emre Can’s path but the German’s shot went into the Kop and, after that, there were only sporadic moments when De Gea was threatened again.

Mourinho brought on another centre-half, Victor Lindelof, in the final exchanges for Ashley Young, a converted defender playing here as a right winger, and video games huffed and puffed to its objective under the glare of the autumnal sunshine. It was the first time ever there have been back-to-back 0-0 draws in this fixture and Klopp was asked afterwards if he would ever put up a team in the way that Mourinho had.” You could not play this style at Liverpool ,” he responded,” but it’s OK for Manchester United .”

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Mike Ditka rips NFL protests: ‘There has been no oppression in the last 100 years’

The Hall of Fame coach said on Monday that he doesnt believe theres been oppression in the United States in the last 100 years

Hall of Fame coach Mike Ditka said on Monday that he doesn’t believe there has been persecution in the United States” in the last 100 years “.

The 77 -year-old Ditka stimulated the remarks during an interview on Westwood One’s Monday Night Football pregame show when asked about the ongoing wave of NFL players opting to sit or kneel during the national anthem as a route to protest social injustice in America.

” All of a sudden, it’s become a big deal now, about persecution ,” Ditka said.” There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now perhaps I’m not watching it as carefully as other people. I believe the opportunity is there for everyone . … If you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put endeavour into yourself, I think you can accomplish anything .”

He added:” Is that the stage for this? If you want to protest, or what it is you want to protest, you’ve got a right to do that, but I think you’re a professional athlete, you have an obligation to the game. I think you have to respect the game. That’s what I think is the most important thing. I don’t see a lot of respect for video games. I just see respect for their own individual opinions. Sentiments are like snouts, we all have one. Some are good. Some are bad .”

Steve Smith, a five-time Pro Bowl broad receiver who played 16 seasons with the Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens before retiring in January, was among those who took objection with Ditka’s remarks.

Steve Smith Sr (@ 89 SteveSmith)

Really? Civil rights act of 1964, voting act of 1965, Rosa parks 1955, #mikeditka go sit ur dumb a $$ down somewhere. I respect my elders https :// t.co/ liHBMqS9sF

October 10, 2017

Steve Smith Sr (@ 89 SteveSmith)

But to say this dedicates us a peek into you’re heart. Jim crow statutes, brown v. Board of education
Great coach-and-four …….. Clueless person https :// t.co/ liHBMqS9sF

October 10, 2017

It’s not the first time Ditka has spoken on the issue. The longtime NFL coach said last year he had” no respect” for quarterback Colin Kaepernick, then with the San Francisco 49 ers, shortly after he first kneeled during the course of its anthem, triggering their own nationals debate and inspiring dozens of NFL players to follow suit.

” I think it’s a problem, anybody who contempts this country and the flag ,” Ditka said then in a radio interview on KRLD-FM in Dallas.” If they don’t like the country, if they don’t like our flag, get the hell out. That’s what I think.

” I have no respect for Colin Kaepernick. He probably has no respect for me, that’s his selection. My option is that I like this country, I respect our flag, and I don’t see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on.

” I ensure opportunities if people want to look for opportunity. Now if they don’t want to look for them, then you can find problems with anything, but this is the land of opportunity because you can be anything you want to be if you work. Now if you don’t work, that’s a different problem .”

Ditka, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988, is one of two people in NFL history to win a league title as a player, an deputy coach and a head coach-and-four. He graduated from local hero to Chicago icon during an 11 -year coaching stint with the Bears that included the team’s only Super Bowl win during the course of its 1985 season, then retired permanently after a failed comeback with the New Orleans Saints in 1999.

The outspoken conservative publicly flirted with running against Democratic candidate Barack Obama, who was then a nation senator, for the open seat in the US Senate vacated by Illinois senator Peter Fitzgerald in 2004- an election that jump-started Obama’s ascent to the presidency in four years’ time.

” Biggest mistake I’ve ever stimulated ,” he told the Dickinson Press in 2013.” Not that I would have won, but I likely would have and he wouldn’t be in the White House .”

Last year, Ditka called Obama” the worst chairwoman we’ve ever had “.

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Call for athletes to be fitted with microchips in fight against drug cheats

Athletes need to be fitted with microchips in a similar way to dogs as part of the fight against narcotic cheats in sport, according to Mike Miller, the chief executive of the World Olympians Association

Athletes need to be fitted with microchips, in a similar way that puppies are, in the fight against drug defrauds in athletic, according to a leading representative of world sports people.

Mike Miller, the World Olympians Association chief executive, claimed that radical anti-doping techniques- including implants to recognise the effects of banned substances- are needed to protect clean sport.

” Some people say we shouldn’t do this to people ,” Miller said.” Well, we’re a nation of dog devotees, we’re prepared to chip our dogs and it doesn’t seem to harm them, so why aren’t we prepared to chip ourselves ?”

Miller claims a breakthrough in microchip technology is on the horizon and testers need to be aware of developments. His fear is that drug defrauds could exploit the technology to avoid detecting through self-monitoring, alerting them when their blood has returned to “normal” levels before testers arrive.

Speaking to anti-doping leaders at a Westminster forum on integrity in athletic, Miller said:” In order to stop doping we need to chip our athletes where the latest technology is there. Some people say it’s an intrusion of privacy, well, sport is a club and people don’t have to join the club if they don’t want to, if they can’t follow the rules.

” Microchips get over the issue of whether the technology can be manipulated because they have no control over the device. The problem with the present anti-doping system is that all it says is that at a precise moment in time there are no banned substances but we need a system which says you are illegal substance-free at all times and if there are changes in markers they will be detected .”

The WOA supports the 48 national Olympian associations and 100,000 living Olympians, although Miller said he was not speaking on behalf of the organisation.” I’m just throwing the idea out there ,” he said.” I’m gauging reaction from people but we do need to think of new ways to protect clean athletic. I’m no Steve Jobs but we need to spend the money and use the latest technology .”

The idea of microchips being inserted into athletes would likely be met with mixed reaction. Some athletes are ferociously protective of their right to privacy and feel the existing Adams whereabouts system is already too invasive. Whereabouts rules dictate that athletes must declare on an online database where they will be every day for a one-hour window between 5am and 11 pm, so narcotic testers can turn up without warning. The athlete biological passport system has been the most crucial developed as anti-doping in recent years, with blood test results analysed over a period of time for the effects rather than presence of drugs.

Nicole Sapstead, the UK Anti-Doping chief executive, was wary a move to microchips would represent an intrusion of athletes’ privacy.” We welcome verified developments in technology which could assist the fight against doping. However, can we ever be sure that this type of thing could never be tampered with or even accurately monitor all substances and methods on the proscribed listing?

” There is a balance to be struck between a right to privacy versus demonstrating that you are clean. We would actively foster more research in whether there are technologies in development that can assist anti-doping organisations in their endeavors .”

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Pence follows Trump order and walks out of 49ers-Colts after players kneel

VP leaves NFL game after about a dozen San Francisco players kneel, before Trump corroborates walkout was planned and says he is proud

Vice-president Mike Pence left the 49 ers-Colts NFL game in Indianapolis on Sunday in a schemed stoppage, after about a dozen San Francisco players kneeled during the course of its playing of “the member states national” anthem.

Pence announced his deviation from the Lucas Oil Stadium on Twitter. A White House statement follow, with a tweet from President Donald Trump which corroborated the stoppage was not spontaneous.

” I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country ,” Trump wrote.” I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen .”

Protests of the anthem by NFL players, almost all African American, began last year when the then 49 ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled in protest against racial injustice and police brutality. 49 ers players have been prominent among those kneeling this season and could have been expected to kneeling on Sunday.

Nor was Pence scheduled to take up the whole game. Us air force Two was due to take off from Indianapolis International Airport at 4pm on Sunday, in order for the vice-president to attend a political fundraiser in Los Angeles. The Colts-4 9ers game kicked off at 1pm ET and finished after 4.30 pm, after going to overtime.

At a rally in Alabama last month, Trump launched aggressive criticism of players and the NFL. Though Kaepernick had kneeled to protest unpunished police killings of African Americans, the president and the White House insisted that protesting the anthem showed disrespect to the flag and to American troops, veterans and first responders.

Senior administration figures including Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin and Attorney General Jeff Sessions were deployed to say that in this instance, freedom of speech did not apply. In answer, large numbers of players knelt, teams co-ordinated actions and owners criticised Trump’s terms.

Though debate continued about the meaning of the protests, until Pence’s walkout the issue had seemed to be receding from public view.

Players and some NFL writers guess Kaepernick, who took the 49 ers to the Super Bowl in 2013, has been blackballed by the league. On Sunday, CBS reported that he said he would not protest the anthem if he ever returned. The reporter then recanted the narrative and Kaepernick tweeted a quote attributed to- but not coined by– Winston Churchill:” A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its gasps on .”

Members
Members of the San Francisco 49 ers kneel during the course of its playing of the national anthem. Photograph: Michael Conroy/ AP

Many commentators have also accused the president of seeking to use the NFL protests as a distraction from his own political woes.

Trump has recently been criticised for his response to the catastrophic effect of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, for his approach to North Korea, and over his relationship with secretary of state Rex Tillerson. On Sunday, the president was embroiled in an embarrassing exchange of insults with Bob Corker, the chair of the Senate foreign relations committee and a senior is part of Republican leadership.

The New York Times reported in September that attacking protesting NFL players was ” a calculated attempt to shore up” Trump’s political base.

In the statement issued by the White House, Pence said:” I left today’s Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem .”

The statement then seemed to allude to Pence’s visit to Las Vegas on Saturday, when he gratified survivors and first-responders from the mass shooting at a music celebration last week in which 58 people were killed and virtually 500 injured.

It read:” At a period when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their fortitude, resolve, and resilience , now, more than ever, we should rally around our flag and everything that unites us .”

The White House released a picture of Pence and his wife stand for the anthem at the stadium in Indianapolis, with their hands on their hearts.

Pence’s Las Vegas visit mean he missed an unveiling of a statue of the great Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning on Saturday. Manning’s jersey was retired on Sunday.

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Glut of goals, fresh talent and unpredictability fuel Serie A revival | Paolo Bandini

Only a few seasons ago Italys top league was regarded as a defensive, Juventus-dominated turn-off but now it is game on

There was a time when Italians might have been insulted by the suggestion of theirs being the third-best football league in Europe. Serie A was always il campionato piu bello del mondo – the most beautiful championship in the world. How else to describe a competition that produced 12 European Cup finalists between 1983 and 1998, a place where you could watch Diego Maradona take on Franco Baresi, or Zinedine Zidane battle Ronaldo for the Ballon d’Or?

Nobody is blind, though, to the power switching since. Between TV deals and billionaire owneds, Premier League clubs became able to offer wages the Italians could not match. Barcelona and Real Madrid maintained pace by using the Champions League to solidify their status as global brands. Serie A’s most marketable teams were too busy squabbling over the Calciopoli scandal.

Even the Bundesliga, rich with well-run clubs and domestic talent, moved ahead in the continental pecking order. By 2014, the columnist Gianni Mura was writing in the newspaper La Repubblica that he had” ever seen a Serie A of such scarce technical quality “.

So when Italy climbed back up to third in Uefa’s country coefficient rankings last month, it was a cause for modest festivity. In practical terms it entailed nothing, since the top four nations will each send four teams to the Champions League from 2018 in any case. But to move ahead of Germany for the first time in seven years was a salve to wounded national pride.

The hope is that it also provided confirmation of Italian football being back on a positive trajectory. At the time of Mura’s lament, the opposite seemed to be true. Juventus were ploughing towards a record points tally but had failed to reach the last 16 of the Champions League. The only Italian side who did, Milan, got flailed 5-1 on aggregate by Atletico Madrid.

Domestically, the tactical tendency was towards ever more defensive formations. “ Catenaccio has returned in its most rudimentary kind ,” wrote Mura, painting a picture of” bad full-backs dressed up as wingers”, playing in” three-man defences the hell is, in fact, a back five “.

Since then, however, Juventus have been in two Champions League finals and Serie A has transformed into a Wild West of attacking football. The goals are flying in at a higher rate in the Italian top flight( 2.88 per game) this season than in any of Europe’s other top five leagues. The same was true last season as well. Only one game out of 49 since the start of September has ended goalless.

After six straight titles, Juventus’s hegemony is finally under threat. Napoli have not only won their opening seven games but scored at the least three times in each. Just as Milan were elevated in the late 1980 s by a former shoe salesman, Arrigo Sacchi, so Napoli’s rise has been masterminded by a man who was working in a bank at the age of 43. Perhaps it is easier to take risks when you are doing, as Maurizio Sarri describes it,” the only chore I would do for free “.

And perhaps that boldness is catching. Serie A has not traditionally been a welcoming place for teenage talent but these days it is awash with it. Pietro Pellegri, born in 2001, was already the youngest player to take part in a Serie A game, and became the youngest to score a bracing where reference is struck twice against Lazio last month. The 19 -year-old Federico Chiesa stirs memories of his father, Enrico , at Fiorentina, and Milan, after spending more than EUR2 00 m on new signings, have started games with a homegrown teenager, Gianluigi Donnarumma, in goal and another, Patrick Cutrone, leading the attack.

It has been a challenging start to the season for the Rossoneri , beaten three times already, but the ambition shown by their new owneds, as well as those of neighbours Internazionale, has restored exuberance in the stands.

Milan attained the highest attendance for a Europa League qualifier when 65,673 fans came to see them crush Craiova. A few weeks later, 51,752 turned out to watch Inter beat Fiorentina in Serie A, the biggest crowd the Nerazzurri had achieved for an August fixture since their treble-winning campaign in 2009 -1 0.

Average attendances in Serie A are up by more than 1,500 per game from last season. The Milan clubs have played a part but so too have sides such as Napoli and Atalanta, the latter continuing to defy gravity with a core of players developed through their academy system.

We are not quite back in persons under the age of the Sette Sorelle – Seven Sisters- when Juventus, Milan, Inter, Fiorentina, Lazio, Roma and Parma were all considered legitimate title contenders. But Serie A’s pond of starrings is spread more evenly than it has been in the recent past, letting eight or nine squads to at least aspire to a place in the top four.

Dries
Dries Mertens, second left, and Napoli have shone so far this season. Photograph: Ciro Fusco/ EPA

Dries Mertens has been the greatest revelation, with 24 aims and 11 shall take part in the league since the start of 2017. But even outside the most obvious clubs, Lazio can boast Ciro Immobile- whose 13 ten-strikes this season are bettered only by Lionel Messi across Europe’s top five leagues- Torino have Andrea Belotti and Atalanta the irrepressible Papu Gomez.

Not everything is positive. Although a handful of clubs have followed Juventus’ result by either constructing stadiums or taking ownership of their existing practice, advance remains painfully slow. Figures published by KPMG prove Serie A revenues grew at a slower rate between 2011 -1 2 and 2015 -1 6 than in any of Europe’s other top leagues.

The gap between the top and bottom of the division, furthermore, has rarely seemed wider. A survey be carried out in Gazzetta dello Sport find 58% of readers in favour of reducing the number of teams in the division to 18 or even fewer.

Overall, though, there is more good than bad. The introduction of the VAR system for reviewing major refereeing decisions appears to be making a positive impact, despite some heated debate, with the number of fouls per game down across the board.

Serie A has a route to go before it can confidently call itself the most beautiful championship in the world again. But more objectives, fewer fouls and fresh talent coming through feel like a good place to start.

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Outer space: the Russia World Cup stadium with a novel seating extension

Architects working on the Ekaterinburg Arena have come up with a unique answer to the tricky question of how to fulfill World Cup minimum capacity of 35,000 spectators

World Cup stadia come in all shapes and sizes but next year’s tournament in Russia will violate new ground with fans at one venue seated outside.

Architects working on the Ekaterinburg Arena have come up with a unique answer to the tricky topic: how do you seat the Fifa-sanctioned minimum of 35,000 spectators when the stadium has a capability of many thousands less? Simply build a stand outside.

FIFA World Cup (@ FIFAWorldCup)

The Ekaterinburg Arena is beginning to look

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Facebook is not ruling out bidding for Premier League live matches

Facebook has refused to rule out entering the bidding to stream live Premier League matches following mounting speculation over a looming rights battle

Facebook has refused to rule out entering the bidding to stream live Premier League matches following mounting speculation over a looming rights battle.

Ed Woodward, Manchester United’s vice-chairman, told investors in New York last week that Facebook and Amazon were interested in the last round of Premier League rights deals for 2016 -1 9, which were sold primarily to BSkyB and BT for PS8. 4bn, and predicted that the tech companies will enter the next auction, which covers the 2019 -2 2 period.

The sale of live rights for increasingly large sums of fund has been crucial to the success of the Premier League since 1992 and England’s top clubs could prosper even more if newer media companies, eager to build business through subscriptions, decide to challenge Sky and BT’s dominance of a hugely popular market. The threat to traditional broadcasters was become clear when Amazon outbid Sky, paying a reported PS10m a year, for the UK rights to the tennis tour last month, its first major live athletic acquisition outside the US.

” The Premier League is a very important partner of ours ,” Dan Reed, Facebook’s global head of athletics partnerships, said on Wednesday.” We work with them to help them reach their audience. It would be premature to speculate on how we might approach that. But they are a very important partner. That speaks for itself. We continue to have an ongoing relationship with the Premier League .”

Reed evaded questions about whether Premier League clubs are talking up interest from Facebook and Amazon as a negotiating gambit and refused to reveal whether deliberations about rights have already taken place.” I’m not going to theorize on what or why the club in the Premier League are saying what they’re saying ,” he said.” They’re going to make their decision. We have very productive the partnership agreement with clubs in virtually every league in the world. We work with them to help build their audience and content .”

Reed said that it is difficult to imagine enter into negotiations with English clubs individually and denied that traditional broadcasters should feel threatened by Silicon Valley, citing the instance of Facebook streaming Fox Sport’s coverage of live Champions League matches.

” We aim to collaborate with broadcasters and rights holders ,” he said.” Our partnership with Fox shows that we can have a mutually beneficial relationship. Put aside streaming of games- we help broadcasters all around the world.

” We work with Fox in the US to help them to get people to tune in to events on television, which is the bedrock of our relationship with broadcasters. There are a number of examples where we assist broadcasters and we have an excellent relationship with Sky and BT in the UK .”

However there are times when Facebook will induce direct approaches to rights holders.” We aim to collaborate with broadcasters where possible, but there are also situations where we will collaborate with the rights holders ,” Reed said.

Reed explained that Facebook’s interest in sport stems from its potential to connect communities digitally and insisted that it would not veer away from its current model of streaming live events for free.” Sport is very relevant ,” he said.” It does bring people together. You can’t say about every content .”

Reed would not speculate about when Facebook would be ready to bid for important events. So far the platform has proved a more attractive locating for smaller sports looking to enhance their profile and reach new audiences.

” Some of the biggest successes come from athletics which you wouldn’t inevitably expect ,” Reed said.” We have darts and snooker on our platform and they found an audience .”

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Barcelona in the strange and symbolic eye of a storm over Catalonia | Sid Lowe

Baras nuanced identification with Catalonia is part of what devotes the club an explicitly socio-political dimension. And that meant this was always going to be more than a match even if in the end it was less than one

At every Camp Nou game for virtually six years now, chants for Catalan independence have gone up when the clock reaches 17 minutes and 14 seconds, commemorating the year the city fell to Felipe V, but not this time- not on the day the latter are perhaps closer to freedom than ever before. This time, Europe’s largest stadium was silent. No fans could be heard, only footballers. Occasionally, the referee’s whistle rang out or somebody clapped yet there were no chants , no sungs and no one to sing them. At the side of the pitch where Barcelona played Las Palmas, stewards in orange bibs lined up to keep an eye on stands that had no one in them. Ninety-eight thousand seats sat empty; scarcely got a couple of hundred people were there, and many of those wished they weren’t.

It was late Sunday morning when Barcelona’s international defender Gerard Pique therefore voted in the referendum on independence called by the Catalan government and declared illegal by the Spanish government and the constitutional courts. He, like many others, had insisted he would vote anyway so “hes having” done, shaking hands with staff at the polling station, smiling and defining off for the stadium. But while that scene was repeated in many places it wasn’t the suit everywhere and by the time he left the Camp Nou seven hours later, there were tears in his eyes. So much had happened and so much more could still happen, a future uncertain and scary. Barcelona had won 3-0 but Pique called it the worst day of his career and the worst thing the state had done in 50 years.

” The images speak for themselves ,” he said. They had gone around the world: pictures of violence and pictures of the stadium, surreal and still, gates closed in protest, fans standing outside seeming through the bars as the match was played before a television audience of millions and an actual audience of substitutes, coach-and-fours, physios, cameramen, journalists and stadium personnel. “Strange,” Sergio Busquets called it. Symbolic too- which this game was always likely to be, simply not like this.

They say athletic and politics shouldn’t mix, by which they tend to entail other people’s politics. It’s a line Spain’s secretary of state for athletic has use, and one Espanyol manager Quique Sanchez Flores recurred on Sunday night after his side were defeated 2-0 at the Bernabeu, where the 12 th minute ensure Spain flags unfurled and a rendition of Y Viva Espana in response to the referendum.” I’m not going to mix politics or athletic or take part in this indicate ,” he said, but athletic and politics do mix, especially with Barcelona, who the Marxist novelist Manuel Vazquez Montalban described as the” symbolic unarmed army of Catalonia “.

That identification with Catalonia, while nuanced, changing, unequally espoused, sometimes vague and often problematic, is part of what devotes Barca an explicitly socio-political dimension. It comes together, of course, in the slogan: mes que un club , more than a club. And that meant this was always going to be more than a match even if in the end it was less than one.

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Emotional Pique offers to end Spain career after Catalonia violence- video

In September 1976, Las Palmas came to the Camp Nou for the first Barcelona game broadcast in Catalan on Radio Barcelona. In October 1977, they were again the visitors when Barcelona invited Josep Taradellas, former head of the Catalan government, in exile since 1939, to preside over video games.” I’ll come on one condition ,” he said:” You win .” Before the match, he told advocates they shared the” same religion” he had 40 years earlier, insisting they had inherited a Barcelona” rooted in Catalanism “. Later in 1978, Las Palmas were again their foes when they won the Cup for the first time since the transition to democracy, Johan Cruyff collecting the trophy from Juan Carlos. And then on Sunday, the day of the referendum, Las Palmas arrived once more.

This time they said they didn’t want to be silent witnesses: they came here with special shirts, Spain flags stitched to their chests.

During the week, national police and civil guard had arrived in Catalonia charged with preventing a referendum that had been declared illegal. Videos proved civil guard policemen setting off to Catalonia, praised by friends and families who sang the football chant “ A por ellos !”. Roughly: run get them! Bizarrely, others had turned up at the port of Barcelona in a barge with a gigantic picture of Tweety Pie on the side. Apprehends were made, ballot papers destroyed and websites blocked, a suit for sedition brought. The government claimed to have dismantled the referendum. Of 2,315 polling stations, more than half had been sealed off, “theyre saying”. They would enforce the law, they added. We’ll still vote, came the reply. “ Votarem !” the chant.

The government said that preventing the referendum was defending republic. Not many footballers spoke but some did. Barcelona released a statement defending the right to vote; not necessarily to choose freedom but to choice.” Voting is republic !” the former Barcelona player Carles Puyol said.” Tomorrow is not about independence, it is about republic ,” Pep Guardiola insisted.” You can vote yes , no, or blank, but you vote ,” Pique said afterward.” For a long time people couldn’t vote and now it’s something we have to defend .”

People
People clash with the civil guard outside a polling station in Sant Julia de Ramis. Photo: Raymond Roig/ AFP/ Getty Images

Electoral colleges were occupied to keep them open, voting slip-ups printed privately, plastic ballot boxes brought in. In those conditions it was flawed, few guarantees offered, but it was going ahead, and while some- particularly those against secession- bided away, large numbers came out. Polling stations opened on Sunday morning and some were forcibly closed down. But by the end of a day of tension and violence that felt like a point of no return, the Catalan government said over two million people had voted, and Spain’s Interior Ministry admitted that all but 79 of the 2,315 polling stations had opened. The Camp Nou, that sounding box of Catalan sentiment, on the other hand, had not.

In some places, police in riot gear fired rubber bullets. They smashed through doorways of polling stations and took ballot box. There were charges, sticks utilized, people hurt. There was blood and balaclavas, anger and aggressivenes. Some of the images were brutal, horrifying. In some places national police tackled firemen who protected people; there were cases of confrontations between the national police force and the Catalan police.” We did what we had to do ,” the Spanish chairperson Mariano Rajoy later said. He called Spain two examples to the world, but the reaction suggested that much of the world didn’t concur. The Catalan government claimed 850 people had been hurt.

The images travelled; you’ll have assured dozens of them by now. On Sunday night, mob gathered at the Puerta del Sol in central Madrid to show support. The images had reached the Camp Nou too, where there was a protest as well, but this was different.” Sadly, I grew up in a place that’s seen similar before ,” their Basque manager Ernesto Valverde said.” We don’t live in a bubble. We’re all conscious of what happened .” In those circumstances, things changed. Barcelona’s identification with Catalonia demanded it.

The traditional pre-match snack between directors of the two clubs was cancelled and sessions were held. There were many who wanted to refuse to play. The grada de animacio , the fans behind the north aim, said the game should be called off and if it wasn’t they would ask people to invade the pitch. Rumours started going around that it would be deferred and at 1.40 pm the Catalan Football Federation announced the suspension of all games due to be played after 2pm. Barcelona-Las Palmas, kick off 4.15 pm, was one of them, but nothing explicit was said. So they waited.

If it was to be cancelled, most initially assumed it was a security issue- even though four days before, when they eventually broached the fact that, hang on, video games is on the same day as the referendum, authorities had said there would be no problem. The referee said as much in his report. Barcelona though said differently. The league said there was no security menace and refused requests to postpone the match. If Barcelona pulled out, they were informed they would automatically lose 3-0 and have a further three points taken off.

At 2.40 pm reports started circulating that it was off, but no one knew for sure. At Camp Nou, the gates were still closed to fans. The concourse around the stadium was deserted but for a handful of staff with no notion what the fuck is up, standing there awaiting. In the offices, the premise was that it was off, but nothing had yet been confirmed. At 3.14 pm, sporting director Robert Fernandez walked in.” I don’t know anything ,” he said. Another director privately said it was off. The teams, though, were already inside. Players and the board were discussing it. Most players wanted to go ahead. There was still no news and still no advocates. They waited outside. Inside, passageways were empty. At the stallings, they prepared food for fans who weren’t coming. Stewards went through the motions and hostess stood there with no one to greet.

At 3.30 pm, 45 minutes before kick-off, Jesper Cillissen came out to warm up in an empty stadium, followed soon after by Ter Stegen. Up in the directors’ box, Fernandez sat with Ariedo Braida, simply the two of them. 3.34 pm, still no idea. Down below, two members of staff strolled across carrying a board saying ” democracy” on it. It was 3.42 pm and there was no news, but the players were out now in their normal yellow-and-red-striped training tops, the colour of the Catalan flag. The thud-thud of the ball echoed around the stadium. Then, 24 minutes before kick-off, it was finally official: Barcelona would play Las Palmas, but behind closed doors.

Sid Lowe (@ sidlowe)

98, 000 empty seats. And a game that feels empty too. pic.twitter.com/ B1aSGK3JIY

October 1, 2017

” I understand that some didn’t want to play ,” Pique said afterward.” There were arguments for and against .” Two directors resigned, Jordi Mones and Carlos Villarrubi walking immediately. Josep Maria Bartomeu explained that with six points the punishment for pulling out they had decided to stay, but to play behind closed doors as a route of making a point, sending an image around the world. It was a decision in keeping with his presidency- a kind of” yeah but no” that didn’t really please anyone. As Gazetta dello Sport’s Filippo Ricci put it, ultimately the decision fulfilled neither tourist nor purist. The former left disillusioned; the latter felt that if you really are more than a club, then forget the six points. Ex-president Joan Laporta called it an “abstention”. Headlines on Monday called it a disgrace.

If not everyone concurred. Not everyone knew, either. Outside fans awaited by the gate, wondering what was going on. There were 13 minutes to run until kick-off but the loud speakers there bided silent. Journalists has broken the bad news. Then at 4.05 pm, an announcement was at last made and the supporters headed home. They’d waited a long time for nothing.

At 4.13 pm, Barcelona’s anthem blared out. The referee came out of the passageway and picked up the ball from that absurd plinth, hurriedly hurling down the one “hes having” in his hand, and the players followed. Echoing round, the anthem opens with the line:” The whole stadium cheers; we’re the blue and claret people .” When it closed, a” brave yell “, the place fell silent and the whistle ran, heard by all. There was no one in stands, where the mes que un club slogan sat exposed. The directors’ box lay empty. The committee watched it from somewhere inside. So did the players’ families, a lift-load of children leaving together at the end.

Every shout was audible. A free-kick was greeted with” oh, so you give this one ?”, there was something about a” mother’s shell”, and the standard call of any park anywhere: get off, push up, human on, quick, that’s it, near post , no pollute, good. There’s something odd about actually hearing someone holler:” Leo! Leo! Here, Leo !” at Messi. Something odd about it all. Something sad too, a kind of what’s the point when it’s like this ? But it was fascinating too. You could close your eyes and more or less follow video games, imagining the kind of pass delivered by the noise, the ball struck or stroked. Phwump or tac .

From way, style up, you could hear Messi get hit, and the fulfilling audio of his free-kicks being saved: leather then latex on the ball. From route down there they could hear the radio commentators screaming when Busquets scored. And when Messi got the second and third there was gentle applause from a ballboy behind the goal. Suddenly, somehow, in an empty stadium there was also person operating on the pitch, swiftly removed by stewards. He appeared to be wearing an freedom shirt and carrying a piece of paper. With barely seconds to run Luis Suarez put a shot wide. His shriek rolled round the seats and he tore at his shirt, ripping it wide open and walking off. Somehow it didn’t seem to matter so much on an empty stage, like this didn’t really count. But the three points did- which was why they played. Perhaps sport did trump politics? At the end, the players shook hands but didn’t swap shirts and left quietly.

At the end , it says there. Could this be the end? The beginning of the end, anyway.

An
An empty net and empty seats as Messi ratings. Photo: Aflo/ Rex/ Shutterstock

By late evening, the Catalan government announced that 2,262, 422 referendums had been cast; 2,020, 144 of them voting Yes to independence. On Sunday morning Marca had led with a front cover-up depicting Neymar and Cavani embracing insisting that it is never too late to sort things out. Perhaps they should have used Pique and Ramos, for a start, and by Sunday night, it felt more difficult than ever.” This was not a referendum, it was just a demonstrate ,” Rajoy said. He said the responsibility lay solely with those who had brought the referendum, defying the law. He also belatedly talked about dialogue, but something changed and that feels further away than ever. Although those voting figures are flawed- general elections had already been suggested that Catalonia is divided on such issues, split almost exactly down the middle- Puigdemont says it is a mandate and that a unilateral statement of independence may follow in 48 hours.

Then what? How does the Spanish state react? And what happens next? And what happens to Catalonia’s football teams? It doesn’t matter, you might believe, but it does. Perhaps more than it should. It has been a recurring topic in recent years, a question asked over and over. The president of the league says that in the event of independence, they would not be able to play in La Liga. Some of them didn’t want to play on Sunday.” We discussed it ,” Pique said.” After everything that happened today in Catalonia and the pictures, which speak for themselves, the violence that everyone has seen, it was very hard to play without our fans .”

As he spoke, his voice began to break. He left just before 7pm. Although he offered to step aside if the manager thinks he is a problem, Pique will arrive in Madrid, to play for Spain.” I truly believe there are loads of people in Spain who are totally against this and believes in democracy ,” he said.” There has been no act of aggressivenes[ from Catalonia] and the national police and the civil guard had to come and act the style they have.

” I think this will stimulate things much worse. It’s one of the worst decisions in 50 years, and it will only separate Spain and Catalonia more. I’m very proud of Catalonia and all its people. They were peaceful, they didn’t react. I’d tell them to keep doing it the same. However much they are incited, however much they want them to fall into the trap, remain peaceful and sing, sing loud .”

Talking points

* So, just the 34 goals this week, then.

* For a few moments, Madrid lived a little dangerously against Espanyol. A shooting against the post before half-time ushered in a second half when they suffered and, although they had a one-goal result, you wondered if they might even go a fourth league game at home without a win. But just as the pressure built, there was Isco again to score his second.” It was about day we won at the Bernabeu ,” he said.

* Real Sociedad ultimately transgressed a run of four consecutive games in which they confessed three- by letting in four. Still, at the least they scored four as well, in a wet, wild and wonderful match with Real Betis at Anoeta which ran from 0-1 to 1-1 and from 2-1 to 2-3, then 3-3, 3-4 in the 84 th minute and 4-4 in the 85 th. And it could have been 4-5 as well, when Sergio Leon, who’d belted in the 3-4, raced away at the very end and was brought down on the edge of the area.

Sociedad
Sociedad defender Diego Llorente celebrates after scoring. Photo: Javier Etxezarreta/ EPA

* ” New director, certain victory ,” they say. Then again, they say a lot of things. This time, though, they were almost right. Pako Ayesteran’s Las Palmas were beaten at the Camp Nou but there were debut victories for Calleja at Villarreal, where Bakambu scored a hat-trick against Eibar, and for Alaves’s new director Di Biasi. Their win over Levante gets them off the mark … and off the bottom.” It doesn’t always work like that, but today it did ,” he said. It’s Malaga who are bottom now.” We’re not playing so badly as to only have a phase but we have to accept the reality ,” Michel said.” The numbers are horrible .”

* ” I’ve saved a match ball ,” Pepe Mel acknowledged. Florin Andone saved it for him with three minutes to go.

* Malaga were beaten 2-0 by Sevilla, who are now second without altogether convincing. Mind you, it was hot: 36 degrees at the Sanchez Pizjuan.” You don’t have to be a genius to know that you can’t play a game in Sevilla at four o’clock ,” Berizzo said.” And it’s not even the players who are at the greatest danger: the fans spent 3 hour in the oven .”

* Atletico couldn’t rating at Butarque for the second season in a row. And the main reason it finished 0-0 again was Jan Oblak.

* Time to take Valencia seriously.” We’re get full marks, but there’s a long way to go ,” Marcelino said when they are won 3-2 against Athletic, for whom Aduriz scored a gorgeous objective. That was not all he said. He also nailed international week:” It gives you life ,” he said.” I get out of here, get at Asturias, forget it all for a few days .”

Results : Celta 3-3 Girona, Deportivo 2-1 Getafe, Sevilla 2-0 Malaga, Levante 0-2 Alaves, Leganes 0-0 Atletico, Real Sociedad 4-4 Betis, Barcelona 3-0 Las Palmas, Villarreal 3-0 Eibar, Valencia 3-2 Athletic, Real Madrid 2-0 Espanyol.

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 Barcelona 7 21 21
2 Sevilla 7 6 16
3 Valencia 7 8 15
4 Atletico Madrid 7 8 15
5 Real Madrid 7 7 14
6 Real Betis 7 3 13
7 Leganes 7 2 11
8 Real Sociedad 7 0 10
9 Villarreal 7 0 10
10 Levante 7 -2 9
11 Celta Vigo 7 2 8
12 Getafe 7 2 8
13 Athletic Bilbao 7 0 8
14 Espanyol 7 -4 8
15 Deportivo La Coruna 7 -7 7
16 Girona 7 -5 6
17 Las Palmas 7 -8 6
18 Eibar 7 -1 4 6
19 Alaves 7 -7 3
20 Malaga 7 -1 2 1

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