Força Chapecoense

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Click to enlargeFernando Remor/EPA

“Que essa seja a última imagem dos nosso guerreiros”

❝ Police in Colombia have confirmed that at least 75 people were killed when a plane carrying, among other passengers and crew, the first-team squad of Brazilian top-flight team Chapecoense, went down close to the town of Cerro Gordo in the early hours of Tuesday. Initial reports said there were six survivors, including players and a travelling journalist, but police said one person had died in hospital. The plane was carrying 72 passengers and nine crew members.

❝ Based in the city of Chapecó in the state of Santa Carina, Chapecoense were en route to Medellín to play the first leg of the final of this year’s Copa Sudamericana (South America’s answer to the Europa League), against the current Copa Libertadores holders Atlético Nacional. Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper reported there were 22 players from the squad on board as well as 22 football journalists. A 23rd Chapecoense player, whom the newspaper did not name, had been supposed to travel with his team-mates but was not on the plane…

Team sports are a special part of athletic life. They were a year-round part of my childhood. Growing up when I did, where I did, meant The Beautiful Game wasn’t central to my young life. For most of the world – that centrality would be automatic.

Once in a great while a disaster claims the lives of athletes, a whole team, managers, medicos, trainers, heros and hardly-ever starters. They had a life together that also was something with a life of its own. And now death.

Top UK football league players and officials support LGBT community with rainbow weekend


Click to enlargeGary Cahill, captain of 1st place Chelsea FCGetty

❝ The Premier League showed their support for the LGBT community this weekend with players and officials alike wearing rainbow laces in matches across the country…

Players from the 20 top flight clubs wore rainbow laces as a show of support while captains from each side had their armbands donned with the rainbow colours.

❝ “The Premier League is all about exciting, passionate and unpredictable football that is for everyone, everywhere.

“The Rainbow Laces campaign complements the work clubs are doing to promote inclusion and diversity in their stadiums, and across all levels of the sport”…PL chief Richard Scudamore on the campaign.

❝ A number of Premier League clubs…changed their social media backgrounds to the rainbow colours as did various media outlets.

The Premier League has also become a member of TeamPride, an organisation’s whose mission is to make sport everyone’s game…TeamPride works with fans and supporters and encourages them to show their support for the LGBT community so as to create an environment in which they can feel safe and accepted.

Every top flight team took part in the awareness push…Officials also wore the laces with massive rainbow flags opening each game…

The rainbow laces campaign was designed by charity Stonewall UK with the Scottish FA following the Premier league’s lead with their own efforts this weekend.

Anyone holding their breath for a campaign this all-encompassing in American professional sport?

Celtic fans raise money for Palestinian charities after protest — UEFA suits want to fine the football club

Celtic fans support Palestine
Click to enlargeRussell Cheyne/Reuters

UEFA began disciplinary proceedings against Celtic last week after a number of fans displayed Palestinian flags during their 5-2 home victory against Israeli club Hapoel Be’er Sheva in a Champions League qualifier. In an attempt to match an impending UEFA fine for displaying the flags, supporters of the Glasgow club have exceeded their initial target of raising £15,000 for Palestinian charities.

Since UEFA’s threat against the club went viral, supporters have now raised over £140,000 for Palestinian charities. Here’s the link if you wish to donate.

The Green Brigade group of supporters set up an appeal on the gofundme website on Sunday to match the anticipated fine. The fans are raising money for Medical Aid Palestine, which delivers health and medical care to those “worst affected by conflict, occupation and displacement,” and the Lajee Centre, a cultural and sports project for children in Aida refugee camp, in Bethlehem.

BTW, the away leg was played in Israel, this week, and though Hapoel won the match, aggregate score gave victory to Celtic. Hapoel is now out of the tournament. In Israel’s “traditional spirit of fair play”, they limited the number of Celtic supporters allowed to attend the match to 250. They were searched by police before entering the stadium and threatened with arrest if they demonstrated support for Palestinians during the match.

#matchthefineforpalestine

Sometimes you get what you need, sometimes you lose what you deserve to lose – eh, North Carolina?


Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports

The NBA has decided to hold the 2017 All-Star Game in New Orleans after taking the midseason event out of North Carolina because of a state law that limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people.

New Orleans, announced Friday as the new location of the game, replaces Charlotte, which was set to host the game until the NBA decided last month to move it elsewhere.

Unlike several other Southern states, Louisiana has not been swept up in legislative efforts to pass laws similar to that in North Carolina — a fact Gov. John Bel Edwards has touted while lobbying the NBA to bring its All-Star weekend to New Orleans.

“We embrace our rich cultural heritage and see our diversity as a virtue,” Edwards wrote in a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in late July. “Should the NBA choose to bring the All-Star Game back to New Orleans in 2017, it will strongly reaffirm its commitment to communities that value fairness and inclusion.”

The NBA’s decision — and the economic boost it will bring — provides a timely dose of good news following disastrous flooding across large swaths of southeast Louisiana that has killed at least 13 people and damaged an estimated 40,000 homes…

This marks the third time New Orleans, which became an NBA city for the second time in 2002, has been selected to host the league’s All-Star Game.

A number of entertainment acts, including a Bruce Springsteen concert, have canceled North Carolina events because of its so-called HB2 law…

The Human Rights Campaign, a national civil rights group working on behalf of lesbian, gay and transgender people, applauded the NBA’s decision to choose New Orleans.

The boycott is an old and honorable political act. The opportunity to stick it to a state controlled by voters who elect and re-elect bigots – and take away $100 million in revenue that would have landed in the North Carolina business community – is enough to make an cynical old Leftie like me smile for days.

That the process ends up benefitting the people of a state traumatized by natural disaster – and expands upon services rendered to needy folks by the kindness and social understanding of NBA athletes – is a special bonus.

Evidence that birds sleep while flying

We already know that some birds can fly for weeks or even months at a time without landing, but this remarkable ability has raised a few questions about how, if at all, these creatures find the time to sleep. In the first study of its kind, scientists have monitored the brain activity of seabirds in flight and discovered that they regularly squeeze in some shut-eye while out searching for food, though how they perform on such little rest remains a little unclear.

If there was ever a bird well-suited to sleeping on the job, it might be the frigatebird, a large seabird that scans the ocean surface for flying fish and squid. Recent research has shown that these elite gliders can stay aloft for months by hitching rides on clouds and are among the longest-flying creatures in the seabird world. But even frigatebirds need their sleep, so scientists have been perplexed as to how they maintain performance without regularly coming down for rest…

To find some conclusive answers, an international team of scientists hooked up frigatebirds nesting on the Galápagos Island to a device to monitor electroencephalographic (EEG) activity and head movement during flight. This recorder was carted along for 10-day flights across 3,000 km (1,864 mi) with a GPS module on the bird’s back to monitor their position and altitude.

The data showed that during the day, the birds remained awake while searching for food, so business as usual. But when the sun went down and the birds soared, the awake EEG pattern changed to a slow-wave sleep pattern, sometimes for minutes at a time. This SWS often occurred in one half of the brain, but interestingly, sometimes in both hemispheres at the same time, suggesting that unihemispheric sleep isn’t critical to maintaining aerodynamic control.

Compared to how frigatebirds sleep on land, however, the SWS sleep mode was more frequent. By tracking the head movements of the birds, the researchers found that as they circle on rising air currents while sleeping in this way, it allowed them to keep one eye open in the direction they were turning.

The big surprise was that the frigatebirds were only sleeping for 42 minutes per day — compared to the usual 12 hours a day on land. Working out comparisons with what we know about sleep and sleep deprivation in other species – like us – will be part of where these studies will be going next.

Unfortunately, I never worked for anyone who thought of employee bonuses like this


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As Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title win continues to refuse to sink in, the club’s owner has once again reminded us all that our collective daydream is actually a work of non-fiction.

Indeed, a batch of photos taken outside the Foxes’ King Power stadium appear to show that the owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha has splashed out on a fleet of matching BMWs, which are to be doled out among the squad.

We’re reliably informed that we’re looking at 19 brand new BMW i8s, which retail at around £75,000-80,000 a pop depending on the model…

Dreams for motorheads.