Category Archives: News

Former Ballon D’Or winner George Weah elected Liberian president

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Former Ballon d’Or winner George Weah has won Liberia’s presidential election, defeating the vice-president, Joseph Boakai, in a runoff with 61.5% of the vote.

“My fellow Liberians, I deeply feel the emotion of all the nation,” the elect tweeted following his victory at the ballots. “I measure the importance and the responsibility of the immense task which I embrace today. Change is on.”

Weah will succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as Liberia’s president next month, after an election fraught with accusations of fraud and irregularities. However, It will be the country’s first democratic transition since 1944 and follows two devastating civil wars, after the electoral commission said Weah had taken 61.5% of the vote, based on 98.1% of ballots cast.

Weah starred at top-flight European football clubs Paris St-Germain (PSG) and AC Milan, before ending his career in England with brief stints at Chelsea and Manchester City. He is also the only African footballer to have won both FIFA World Player of the Year and the prestigious Ballon D’Or.

Weah, whom Nelson Mandela once described as the “pride of Africa” when he collected his individual accolades, topped the first round of voting in October with 38.4% but failed to win the 50% necessary to avoid a runoff. Boakai came second with 28.8%.

The runoff was delayed twice after several parties took their allegations of malpractice to the supreme court , but it finally took place with a low turnout on 26 December.

Weah’s win tops off what was already an inspirational story to a generation of Africans: he grew up in Clara Town, a poor suburb of Monrovia, and played football across the river in West Point, Liberia’s biggest informal settlement, where he still has a large fanbase. Many see his becoming president as a fitting next chapter in the rags-to-riches fairytale and one that gives them hope.

Kaka retires at 35 to pursue manager/directorial role

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Former Real Madrid and Milan star Kaka has announced on Sunday that he is retiring from the professional football scene.

Kaka, who was in Brazil’s World Cup-winning squad in 2002, said the time was right to call it a day as he announced his retirement on Twitter, as well as during an interview to Brazilian commentator Galvao Bueno, aired by TV Globo.

“It was much more than I could ever imagined. Thank you!” he tweeted. “I’m now ready for the next journey. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Earlier this year, 35-year-old Kaka had announced that he would not extend his contract with Orlando City but opened the door to a possible return to Milan, the club where he made his name.

“I would like to participate in the club in another way, as a manager, a sporting director, as someone who is between the pitch and the club,” he said in a farewell interview with Globo TV in Brazil. “I prepared very hard to be a professional footballer and I want to prepare for this new role.”

Kaka also added that Milan, with whom he won the Champions League in 2007, had offered him a role but did not specify the exact nature of the job or say if he would accept it.

Both Milan and Kaka’s very first team, Sao Paulo, had offered him contracts in the capacity of a player to extend his career but were turned down.

The Brazilian joined Milan in 2003 and stayed for six years before joining Real Madrid for €65m, the second highest transfer fee ever only behind the €77.5 million fee Real paid for Zinedine Zidane at the time. But after limited success in which he only won one league title and one Copa del Rey in Spain, he returned to Milan in 2013 before joining the new MLS side Orlando City, becoming the highest-paid player in MLS history.

Kaka was the last player apart from Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to win the Ballon d’Or, winning in 2007 after leading Milan to the Champions League, scoring 10 goals in the process.

Gareth Bale marks return from injury with winning strike

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Gareth Bale scored moments after coming on as a substitute for only his second appearance since suffering a calf injury in September. to score Real Madrid’s winning goal with his first touch in their FIFA Club World Cup semi-final match against Al Jazira.

Bale, 28, scored after Al Jazira had taken a first-half lead through Brazilian forward Romarinho, who capitalised on a mistake from his Brazilian compatriot Casemiro to score four minutes before the break at the Zayed Sports City Stadium.

Mbark Boussoufa then had a strike ruled out for offside by the virtual assistant referee before Cristiano Ronaldo equalised for Madrid with a fine strike, as the Portuguese becomes the all-time top scorer in FIFA Club World Cups with six goals — one above Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Cesar Delgado’s five.

The Club World Cup features FIFA six reigning confederation champions plus the league winners, Al Jazira, of the host country, United Arab Emirates. Their loss meant that Zinedine Zidane’s side will now play Brazilian side Gremio in Saturday’s final.

“It is great to get a goal,” Bale said. “When you come on you like to make an impact like that. The most important thing is to get the win and get into the final.”

“I have still got some way to go get back to full fitness. It takes time but I have to be patient and listen to my body.”

Before falling behind Madrid had two first-half goals ruled out for infringements, with Karim Benzema’s header being disallowed for a foul by Ronaldo in the build-up and Casemiro denied after the video assistant referee gave offside against Benzema.

Benzema also hit the post twice between Ronaldo’s equaliser and Bale’s winning goal.

Real Madrid, who won the competition in 2014 and 2016 would equal Barcelona’s record amount of tournament wins if they are able to achieve a third success on Saturday.

Unveiled Diego Maradona statue at India attracts ridicule

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A bronze sculpture of the Argentina football legend Diego Maradona was unveiled at a club in Kolkata, although the dubious likeness to the 1986 World Cup winner has attracted online ridicule.

Maradona was in Kolkata for a charity event, nine years after making his first appearance in the capital of India’s West Bengal state and three months after he was due to visit again. His trip had been postponed several times.

The Times of India reported that Maradona, 57, handed out cheques to 11 cancer patients at the event, which was attended by around a thousand people, some of whom were standing on rooftops of the adjoining buildings.

The 12-foot statue features the 1986 World Cup winner with a healthy head of hair and holding aloft the trophy he helped Argentina win in Mexico, although it bears little resemblance to the then 25-year-old captain.

The Argentine guided his country to their 1986 World Cup success with a series of stunning individual performances at the time.

“I am not god of football but a simple footballer,” a smiling Maradona said through an interpreter after the unveiling. “I’m happy to be here in Kolkata again. It’s amazing to have my statue here.”

Some online commenters claimed that the statue bears more likeness to any other personality imaginable including the former England manager, Roy Hodgson, the former NBA star, Susan Boyle or “someone’s gran”.

The incident echoes the case of FIFA Best player of the year and Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, whose bust unveiled earlier this year when Madeira airport was renamed to Aeroporto Cristiano Ronaldo in honour of the Real Madrid star. Reaction to the bronze effigy then had been scathing and eventually prompted an update to be made.