IOC President Bach Urges Ukraine to Drop Paris Boycott Threat

Olympic rings to celebrate the IOC official announcement that Paris won the 2024 Olympic bid are seen in front of the Eiffel Tower at the Trocadero square in Paris, France, September 16, 2017. (Reuters)
Olympic rings to celebrate the IOC official announcement that Paris won the 2024 Olympic bid are seen in front of the Eiffel Tower at the Trocadero square in Paris, France, September 16, 2017. (Reuters)
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IOC President Bach Urges Ukraine to Drop Paris Boycott Threat

Olympic rings to celebrate the IOC official announcement that Paris won the 2024 Olympic bid are seen in front of the Eiffel Tower at the Trocadero square in Paris, France, September 16, 2017. (Reuters)
Olympic rings to celebrate the IOC official announcement that Paris won the 2024 Olympic bid are seen in front of the Eiffel Tower at the Trocadero square in Paris, France, September 16, 2017. (Reuters)

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has called on Ukraine to drop threats of a boycott of the 2024 Olympics over the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes.

Ukraine hopes to secure widespread international support for a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes after the IOC opened the door for them to compete as neutrals in Paris.

Athletes from Russia and neighboring Belarus, which aided Moscow's invasion of Ukraine a year ago, have been banned from many international competitions since.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged the IOC to ban Russia from the Olympics, and Olympic bodies and lawmakers in the Nordic and Baltic regions have backed Ukraine.

In a letter to Ukraine's National Olympic Committee (NOC)president Vadym Huttsait, seen by Reuters, Bach said claims that allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes back into the Games would promote the invasion were "defamatory".

The IOC has said a boycott will violate the Olympic Charter and that its inclusion of Russian and Belarusians is based on a UN resolution against discrimination within the Olympic movement.

"The participation of neutral athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 has not even been discussed in concrete terms yet," Bach said.

"Therefore, your letter... to your fellow NOCs, to the International Federations, IOC Members and to future Olympic hosts, pressuring them in an attempt to publicly influence their decision making, has been perceived by the vast majority of them as, at the very least, extremely regrettable.

"It is the responsibility of every NOC... to uphold the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter."

The IOC announced last month that athletes from the two countries might be allowed to earn slots for the Olympics through Asian qualifying and compete as neutrals, with no flags or anthems.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has said it is inconceivable to have Russian athletes marching as a delegation while "bombs are still raining down on Ukraine".

"There are no plans for a Russian or Belarusian delegation or the flags of these countries at the Olympic Games Paris 2024," the IOC said in a separate statement on Thursday.

"The only option that could be considered are individual, neutral athletes."

Paris 2024 organizers have said they will abide by the IOC's decision on the issue.



Nadal Still the Ultimate Test on Clay, Says Tsitsipas 

Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal takes part during a training session ahead of the ATO Barcelona Open tennis tournament in Barcelona, Spain, 10 April 2024. (EPA)
Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal takes part during a training session ahead of the ATO Barcelona Open tennis tournament in Barcelona, Spain, 10 April 2024. (EPA)
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Nadal Still the Ultimate Test on Clay, Says Tsitsipas 

Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal takes part during a training session ahead of the ATO Barcelona Open tennis tournament in Barcelona, Spain, 10 April 2024. (EPA)
Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal takes part during a training session ahead of the ATO Barcelona Open tennis tournament in Barcelona, Spain, 10 April 2024. (EPA)

Rafa Nadal could return to action this week in Barcelona and play just his second event of an injury-hit season and while the Spaniard lacks match practice Stefanos Tsitsipas said it would be no surprise to see him battling for the title in the final.

Nadal, who has said he expects to retire after the 2024 season, returned to the tour in Brisbane in January after nearly a year out with a hip flexor injury and the 37-year-old has not played an ATP tournament since due to a muscle issue.

The 22-times Grand Slam champion looked set to make another comeback at the Monte Carlo Masters this month but withdrew days before the start of the claycourt tournament, saying his body would not allow him to play.

Nadal has won the Barcelona title 12 times and is drawn to play Flavio Cobolli on Tuesday, and while there has been no word on his status Tsitsipas said the Spaniard would have no trouble finding form on his favorite surface.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we saw Rafa in the final of Barcelona, because that's something he has done over and over again for years and years," Tsitsipas, who won the Monte Carlo title for a third time on Sunday, told reporters.

"What he does have is this competitiveness and this fierce tennis when he gets into the momentum that sometimes feels like on the outside perspective unstoppable ... I think he's the ultimate challenge on clay.

"Whether he's playing now at, let's say, later stages of his career or the ones before, what he has now that he didn't before is experience, and he for sure knows ways to win points and to prevail more in economy mode than before."

World number seven Tsitsipas, a three-times runner-up in Barcelona, will aim to carry his good form from Monaco to Spain after winning his first title of the season with a 6-1 6-4 victory over Casper Ruud.

"I did need a week like this a lot, especially (after) the rough months I've been through the latter half of 2023 until now," Tsitsipas said.

"It hasn't been the best of times in terms of where I wanted to be, so getting back here and winning the title is something I was definitely not aiming for and it came naturally."


Mallorca Investigating Alleged Racist Gesture Towards Real’s Tchouameni 

Real Madrid's Aurelien Tchouameni celebrates winning the Spanish LaLiga soccer match between RCD Mallorca and Real Madrid, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, 13 April 2024. (EPA)
Real Madrid's Aurelien Tchouameni celebrates winning the Spanish LaLiga soccer match between RCD Mallorca and Real Madrid, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, 13 April 2024. (EPA)
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Mallorca Investigating Alleged Racist Gesture Towards Real’s Tchouameni 

Real Madrid's Aurelien Tchouameni celebrates winning the Spanish LaLiga soccer match between RCD Mallorca and Real Madrid, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, 13 April 2024. (EPA)
Real Madrid's Aurelien Tchouameni celebrates winning the Spanish LaLiga soccer match between RCD Mallorca and Real Madrid, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, 13 April 2024. (EPA)

Mallorca are working with the police to investigate an alleged racist gesture made during a 1-0 home defeat by Real Madrid on Saturday, the LaLiga club said.

Videos on social media appeared to show a fan at the Son Moix Stadium making a racist gesture towards Real midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, who scored the only goal of the match.

In the same fixture last year, Mallorca fans were filmed racially abusing Real's Brazilian forward Vinicius Jr., with Mallorca revoking a fan's membership card for three years.

"In yesterday's match between RCD Mallorca and Real Madrid, images have been identified in which a person made racist gestures," Mallorca said in a statement on Sunday.

"The club has activated the protocol against violence in football and is collaborating with the National Police in the identification of this person."


Liverpool Must Be Perfect in Run-In, Robertson Says 

Liverpool's Scottish defender #26 Andrew Robertson runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 14, 2024. (AFP)
Liverpool's Scottish defender #26 Andrew Robertson runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 14, 2024. (AFP)
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Liverpool Must Be Perfect in Run-In, Robertson Says 

Liverpool's Scottish defender #26 Andrew Robertson runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 14, 2024. (AFP)
Liverpool's Scottish defender #26 Andrew Robertson runs with the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 14, 2024. (AFP)

Liverpool cannot afford any more slip-ups if they are to keep their title hopes alive, defender Andy Robertson said after Sunday's 1-0 Premier League home defeat by Crystal Palace.

Eberechi Eze scored the only goal of the game in the 14th minute to leave Juergen Klopp's side third on 71 points, level with second-placed Arsenal, who were stunned 2-0 at home by Aston Villa.

Manchester City lead on 73 points with six games left.

Liverpool, who were held 2-2 by Manchester United in their previous league game, also face an uphill task in the Europa League after losing the first leg of their quarter-final against Atalanta 3-0 at home.

"We need to be perfect from here on in, for sure," Robertson told reporters. "We can't drop any more points and let's see what the other two teams (Manchester City and Arsenal) do. We have to stay positive. We don't stop fighting.

"We have to pick everyone up in the changing room because there's a lot of people who are down, whether they missed a chance, gave the ball away or whatever it is. We pick up, we go again on Thursday and we give everything we've got."

Liverpool next travel to face Atalanta on Thursday before returning to league action against Fulham.


Man City Players Enjoy the Pressure, Says Guardiola 

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Luton Town - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - April 13, 2024 Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne with manager Pep Guardiola after being substituted. (Reuters)
Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Luton Town - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - April 13, 2024 Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne with manager Pep Guardiola after being substituted. (Reuters)
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Man City Players Enjoy the Pressure, Says Guardiola 

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Luton Town - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - April 13, 2024 Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne with manager Pep Guardiola after being substituted. (Reuters)
Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Luton Town - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - April 13, 2024 Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne with manager Pep Guardiola after being substituted. (Reuters)

Manchester City thrive on the pressure of playing when everything is on the line, manager Pep Guardiola said, as last season's treble winners continue their pursuit of another three titles.

City lead the Premier League by two points with six games left, host Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday and play Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals three days later.

Asked about his side's chances of lifting more silverware this season, Guardiola said after their 5-1 win over Luton on Saturday: "They like to play with the pressure. They like to know - dead or alive.

"I am pretty sure we will be there till the end. Because I know them. I see the faces before the games in the meetings. How they prepare.

"That means win Premier League, Champions League? No. I am not saying that. But that we will compete? That's for sure. We have to be prepared but at the same time impose our game and try to put pressure through our game onto the opponent."


France Has Plan B to River Seine Olympics Opening if Security Requires 

This photograph taken on April 9, 2024 shows the sun going down above the Eiffel Tower and the Seine river in Paris. (AFP)
This photograph taken on April 9, 2024 shows the sun going down above the Eiffel Tower and the Seine river in Paris. (AFP)
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France Has Plan B to River Seine Olympics Opening if Security Requires 

This photograph taken on April 9, 2024 shows the sun going down above the Eiffel Tower and the Seine river in Paris. (AFP)
This photograph taken on April 9, 2024 shows the sun going down above the Eiffel Tower and the Seine river in Paris. (AFP)

France has prepared alternatives to holding the July 26 Olympics opening ceremony on the river Seine should security reasons require, President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday.

Conflict in the Middle East and Ukraine as well as a threat of terrorist attacks have led the French government to raise its security alert to its highest level.

Macron said he was confident the planned Games ceremony with huge crowds around the Seine, where some 160 boats would set off for a 6 km journey, would be a huge success.

But France, he added, is not naive.

"If we think there are security risks we'll have plan Bs, and even plan Cs," he said.

One option, he said, would be to restrict the ceremony to the central Paris Trocadero square facing the Eiffel Tower. Another would be to move the event indoors to the Stade de France stadium.

Macron then tried - and failed - to convince a mother, worried about security risks, to let her son go to the river Seine ceremony.

"If there is one place where your son will be safe it will be there," Macron told the mother, who asked her question during a BFM TV and RMC radio interview.

"Let him go, it's once every 100 years, the Olympics."

The unconvinced mother responded that she hoped her son would work that day and be unable to attend.

Macron, who gave his interview from Paris' Grand Palais museum, which has just been refurbished to host the fencing and taekwondo competitions, said he had not changed his mind about swimming in the Seine.

Paris has been working on cleaning up the Seine so that people can swim in it again, as was the case during the 1900 Paris Olympics. But a sewer problem last summer led to the cancellation of a pre-Olympics swimming event.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is also promising to swim in the Seine - more than three decades after her predecessor Jacques Chirac famously promised to do it but never did.


Eze and Palace Deal Liverpool Big Blow to Title Chances with 1-0 Victory

 Crystal Palace's Eberechi Eze celebrates with Crystal Palace's Tyrick Mitchell after scoring his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, England, Sunday, April 14, 2024. (AP)
Crystal Palace's Eberechi Eze celebrates with Crystal Palace's Tyrick Mitchell after scoring his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, England, Sunday, April 14, 2024. (AP)
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Eze and Palace Deal Liverpool Big Blow to Title Chances with 1-0 Victory

 Crystal Palace's Eberechi Eze celebrates with Crystal Palace's Tyrick Mitchell after scoring his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, England, Sunday, April 14, 2024. (AP)
Crystal Palace's Eberechi Eze celebrates with Crystal Palace's Tyrick Mitchell after scoring his side's opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, England, Sunday, April 14, 2024. (AP)

Liverpool's quest for a Premier League title in manager Juergen Klopp's final season with the team suffered a huge blow with a 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace at Anfield on Sunday that left them third in the table.

Eberechi Eze scored in the 14th minute to stun the Anfield faithful in the third consecutive disappointing result for Liverpool. Klopp's men are even on 71 points with second-placed Arsenal, who were playing later on Sunday, and two behind provisional leaders Manchester City.

Tyrick Mitchell found Eze unmarked in the box after some good passing and Eze slotted home with his first touch to put Palace ahead. Poor finishing by Liverpool, including Curtis Jones's shot on a breakaway that he fired wide, secured the win for the visitors.

Liverpool were coming off a 3-0 loss to Atalanta in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday and a costly 2-2 draw with Manchester United in their previous league game on April 7.


All to Play for in Champions League Quarterfinals as Mbappe Looks to Rekindle Form for PSG

 Paris Saint-Germain's French forward #07 Kylian Mbappe reacts during the UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and FC Barcelona at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on April 10, 2024. (AFP)
Paris Saint-Germain's French forward #07 Kylian Mbappe reacts during the UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and FC Barcelona at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on April 10, 2024. (AFP)
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All to Play for in Champions League Quarterfinals as Mbappe Looks to Rekindle Form for PSG

 Paris Saint-Germain's French forward #07 Kylian Mbappe reacts during the UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and FC Barcelona at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on April 10, 2024. (AFP)
Paris Saint-Germain's French forward #07 Kylian Mbappe reacts during the UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and FC Barcelona at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on April 10, 2024. (AFP)

Eighteen goals. Talking points aplenty. And, crucially, all four matchups are still very much alive.

The Champions League quarterfinals are certainly living up to their billing heading into the second legs.

If the drama wasn't enough on Tuesday when Real Madrid drew 3-3 at home to defending champion Manchester City and Bayern Munich was held 2-2 at Arsenal, there was even more on Wednesday as Barcelona won 3-2 at Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid conceded late in its 2-1 home win over Borussia Dortmund.

It sets up some intriguing plotlines.

Is this the end of Kylian Mbappe's hopes of finally winning a Champions League title in his last season at PSG, or can he rediscover his best form to spark a turnaround at Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys? After all, he scored a hat trick in his last visit to Barcelona, in 2021.

Can Madrid, the record 14-time European champion, lean on its mythical status in this competition to end City's title defense? Remember, City thrashed Madrid 4-0 in the second leg of the semifinals last season after a first-leg draw in Spain.

Will Bayern keep going in Europe in a season when Germany's top club has abjectly surrendered its Bundesliga title?

And can Atletico hold out in front of Dortmund's storied “Yellow Wall” and get back to the semifinals for the first time since 2017?

Here's a closer look at the four matches:

TUESDAY:

BARCA'S RUN

When Xavi Hernández stunned Barcelona in January by saying he'd had enough of his team's inexplicable losses, he added he hoped his players would respond to his shock therapy by playing better before his summer exit. That ploy appears to have worked — Barcelona has yet to lose in 13 games since Xavi said he was renouncing the final year of his contract.

Reaching the Champions League semifinals would be a step forward for a team that hasn't reached that stage since 2018-19. It would also boost the debt-ridden club's finances with an additional 12.5 million euros ($13.3 million) in prize money.

While Xavi has rejuvenated his team by giving bigger roles to teenagers Lamine Yamal and, especially, defender Pau Cubarsí in recent weeks, he will again turn to the established players Barca signed at considerable expense two seasons ago after they led the team in Paris. Like Raphinha, who scored twice in the first leg, and Robert Lewandowski, who will be well rested after serving a suspension over the weekend.

PSG will need an improved performance from Mbappe, who failed to hit the target from three shots, lost the ball 13 times and was caught offside three times.

THRIVING IN ADVERSITY

Adversity seems to be bringing the best out of Dortmund this season, so a one-goal deficit to Atlético Madrid from the first leg might be just the challenge needed to motivate Edin Terzić’s team. Dortmund beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1 in the Bundesliga on Saturday despite Karim Adeyemi’s sending-off but the win came at the expense of injuries to forwards Sébastien Haller and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens.

Dortmund’s league campaign has been disappointing after almost winning the Bundesliga last season but the team has shone in the Champions League, finishing top of a group containing PSG, AC Milan and Newcastle and then finishing the job against PSV Eindhoven at home to reach the quarterfinals.

Atletico is reviving memories of that spell from 2014-17 when it got to the final twice — losing both times to Real Madrid — and the semifinals once under current coach Diego Simeone.

WEDNESDAY:

TOUGH TASK

Madrid might be the king of European soccer, but the team has a tough task heading to Etihad Stadium. City hasn't lost any of its last 27 matches in all competitions, and is unbeaten in the Champions League in 22 matches — since a 3-1 loss at Madrid in the semifinals in 2021-22. Indeed, the defending champions have scored exactly three goals in each of their nine matches in the competition this season — an unprecedented achievement.

Most of the spotlight is on Erling Haaland, whose performances aren't matching those of last season — despite being the top scorer in the Premier League with 20 goals and tied for the second most in the Champions League with six. Haaland failed to score in either of the games against Madrid last year and was well-shackled by Antonio Rudiger again last week. With Aurelien Tchouaméni suspended, Nacho is likely to partner Rudiger at center back.

KANE A PAIN

Put simply, Harry Kane loves playing against Arsenal. After converting a penalty at Emirates Stadium in the first leg, make it 15 goals in 18 games against the team that was his biggest foe when the England captain played in the Premier League with Tottenham. He was part of a Bayern attack that was a menace on the counterattack last week, causing Arsenal's defense more problems than it has had in any game this season.

The second leg might be different, though, with Bayern expected to have more of the ball and Arsenal playing on the counterattack, hitting Bayern's often-fragile defense through the pace of wingers Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka. Arsenal has only reached the semifinals once (in 2009) since getting to the final in 2006 and losing to Barcelona. Bayern, a six-time European champion, has lost in the quarterfinals in each of the past three seasons.


Jessica Pegula Powers US Past Belgium to Billie Jean King Cup Finals

Jessica Pegula of the United States walks off the court after her match against Daria Kasatkina during the semifinal match on Day 6 of the WTA 500 Credit One Charleston Open 2024 at Credit One Stadium on April 06, 2024 in Charleston, South Carolina. (Getty Images/AFP)
Jessica Pegula of the United States walks off the court after her match against Daria Kasatkina during the semifinal match on Day 6 of the WTA 500 Credit One Charleston Open 2024 at Credit One Stadium on April 06, 2024 in Charleston, South Carolina. (Getty Images/AFP)
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Jessica Pegula Powers US Past Belgium to Billie Jean King Cup Finals

Jessica Pegula of the United States walks off the court after her match against Daria Kasatkina during the semifinal match on Day 6 of the WTA 500 Credit One Charleston Open 2024 at Credit One Stadium on April 06, 2024 in Charleston, South Carolina. (Getty Images/AFP)
Jessica Pegula of the United States walks off the court after her match against Daria Kasatkina during the semifinal match on Day 6 of the WTA 500 Credit One Charleston Open 2024 at Credit One Stadium on April 06, 2024 in Charleston, South Carolina. (Getty Images/AFP)

The United States earned a berth in the Billie Jean King Cup final rounds Saturday, as Jessica Pegula and pairs Caroline Dolehide and Taylor Townsend powered their country to a 4-0 victory over Belgium at the Billie Jean King Cup qualifying series at Orlando.

"I love being in a clinch position," Pegula said. "I love being able to get that win. That can also be a lot of pressure. At the same time, I try to embrace it the most that I can."

The Americans capitalized on a 2-0 lead from the previous day, when world No. 5 Pegula and Emma Navarro each earned wins. On Saturday, Pegula defeated Hanne Vandewinkel 6-2, 6-0 and then Dolehide and Townsend defeated Belgium's pair of Marie Benoit and Kimberley Zimmermann 6-3, 6-1.

"Being able to watch most of (Vandewinkel's) match yesterday, obviously I feel like it prepped me visually being on the court, getting used to seeing her ball, how she plays, what she likes to go for," Pegula said. "I had a good idea of how to play. Luckily, I was just kind of feeling it today, too. It made everything a lot easier."

Down the coast in Fernandina Beach, Fla., the most competitive matchup of the day unfolded between Romania and Ukraine, with Romania completing a comeback from down 2-0 to advance with a 3-2 win.

Ana Bogdan started the rally with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Elina Svitolina, then Jaqueline Adina Cristian downed Lesia Tsurenko 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Bogdan and Cristian completed the comeback by defeating the Ukrainian pair of Lyudmyla and Nadiia Kichenok.

Two other countries joined the US in earning sweeps on Saturday. Poland defeated Switzerland 4-0 in Biel, Switzerland, and Slovakia defended its home turf in Bratislava with a 4-0 win over Slovenia.

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek coasted past Celine Naef 6-4, 6-3 to help propel Poland.

In other action, Great Britain defeated France 3-1 in Le Portel, Japan defeated Kazakhstan 3-1 in Tokyo and Germany beat Brazil 3-1 in Sao Paulo.

The seven qualifiers Saturday joined Australia, which became the first team to advance out of qualifying Friday, as well as reigning champion Canada, 2023 runner-up Italy, host Spain and wild-card nation Czech Republic.

The eight qualifying series were held this weekend around the world. Each best-of-five series consisted of two singles matches on Friday, then two reverse singles matches and a doubles match on Saturday.

The event's final rounds will be held in November at Seville, Spain.


Man Utd Must Step up for FA Cup, Says Dalot

Manchester United's Portuguese defender #20 Diogo Dalot chases the ball during the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Manchester United at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on April 13, 2024. (AFP)
Manchester United's Portuguese defender #20 Diogo Dalot chases the ball during the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Manchester United at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on April 13, 2024. (AFP)
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Man Utd Must Step up for FA Cup, Says Dalot

Manchester United's Portuguese defender #20 Diogo Dalot chases the ball during the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Manchester United at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on April 13, 2024. (AFP)
Manchester United's Portuguese defender #20 Diogo Dalot chases the ball during the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Manchester United at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on April 13, 2024. (AFP)

Manchester United cannot afford the errors they have made in their recent Premier League fixtures if they want to win the FA Cup, defender Diogo Dalot said after Saturday's 2-2 draw at Bournemouth.

United, who take on Coventry City on April 21 in the FA Cup semi-finals, have been winless in their last four league games and slipped to seventh place on Saturday.

Bruno Fernandes equalized twice to salvage an unconvincing 2-2 draw after goals by Dominic Solanke and Justin Kluivert had put Bournemouth in front.

United were again guilty of allowing opponents far too many attempts at goal, Bournemouth having 20 to United's eight. Erik Ten Hag's side have scored 47 goals this season, the lowest among the top 10 teams in the standings, and conceded 48.

"It's something we have to improve because it's been nowhere near good enough for the level of this club," Dalot told reporters on Saturday when asked about United allowing opponents so many attempts on goal.

"We need to take responsibility for, we cannot hide from it. The standards are always high at this club."

"We have to be accountable for these types of mistakes that we are making as a team that we cannot if we want to fight for the big trophies. We have a huge opportunity to be in the FA Cup final"

United have picked up 50 points from 32 league games and trail sixth-placed Newcastle United on goal difference. They take on Coventry at Wembley on April 21 and host Sheffield United in the league three days later.


The Sports Business Is Growing Faster, Attracting More Money, than Anyone Imagined

Lowa basketball star Caitlin Clark drove viewership of the women’s national championship game to a record 18.9 million - AFP
Lowa basketball star Caitlin Clark drove viewership of the women’s national championship game to a record 18.9 million - AFP
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The Sports Business Is Growing Faster, Attracting More Money, than Anyone Imagined

Lowa basketball star Caitlin Clark drove viewership of the women’s national championship game to a record 18.9 million - AFP
Lowa basketball star Caitlin Clark drove viewership of the women’s national championship game to a record 18.9 million - AFP

Every facet of our society—business, politics, entertainment—has its own calendar, marked by matters such as earnings seasons, elections, and the Oscars, in the examples above. The world of sports has a circadian rhythm, too, of course.

We’re now at a familiar transition point, moving from winter sports and a spectacular March Madness, which ended this past Monday, to that harbinger of spring, the Masters, which started on Thursday.
This spring, though, shifts in the sports world are of a more seismic nature. Digitization; gambling; the NIL (name, image, likeness) market for college athletes; globalization; and the rise of women’s sports are reshaping sports at a breakneck pace—much of which was front and center at the global sports leader conference on Kiawah Island, S.C., earlier this month.

“All of these changes are generating even more interest in sports,” says George Pyne, CEO of investment firm Bruin Capital, which produces the event with Jay Penske’s Sportico. Sports, adds Pyne, is an “undervalued category. You’ll see more sophisticated capital—sovereign-wealth funds, private equity—come in as things evolve.”
The numbers in this sprawling trillion-dollar business, which includes sports events, broadcast rights, gaming, merchandise, and apparel, are already eye-popping. The world’s 50 most valuable sports teams are now worth a combined $256 billion, up more than 15% from a year ago, according to Forbes—highlighted by Apollo Global Management co-founder Josh Harris buying the Washington Commanders for $6 billion, the most ever paid for a sports team. The National Football League, which dominates the list with 30 teams, has seen the average value of its top franchises double over the past five years to $5.1 billion, outpacing the S&P 500 index, Barron's reported.
Athletes are benefiting, too, with the 50 highest-paid ones of all time cumulatively reaping $35.5 billion, according to Sportico. The superstars come from 17 countries, though 32 are Americans, led by Michael Jordan and his career haul of $3.75 billion, much of that from his Nike shoe deal.
The Kiawah confab, now in its third year, brings together a who’s who of the sports world, including the commissioners of the Big Four sports leagues plus heads of other leagues and college conferences and nearly 50 teams from myriad sports—as well as boldface team owners (Steve Cohen, Greg Maffei, Ted Leonsis, Joe Tsai) and top TV sports executives.
The program isn’t about sports, however. Attendees are there to listen to panels and fireside chats by former US presidents (George W. Bush and Barack Obama); presidential candidates; central bankers; generals; Fortune 100 CEOs (Hans Vestberg, Brian Moynihan); high-profile market players (Mohamed El-Erian, Cathie Wood); scientists; and doctors.
The real action comes after the sessions over aged bourbon, or at lunch over she-crab soup, or on the resort’s famous packed-sand beach, or on its five golf courses. Here, like any great “elephant bumping” ground, alliances are struck, investments made, and megadeals, such as the sale of an NFL team, go down.