Thanking Sportpesa

The Kenyan sports industry has been neglected by stakeholders in the country for a very long time. This has seen talent in the country go to waste in enormous levels. Very few of those who get to exploit their talents manage to live up to their potential due to poor levels of support and facilitation in the industry. It is such a sorry state of affairs that has led to a lot of cases of broken dreams and high levels of youth unemployment that is accompanied with poverty. As always, whenever a people are left in such a desperate conditions they get easily taken advantage of. In Kenyan social circles, there is a term that has become very popular. “Team Mafisi” (Team hyenas)is a term that has become popular referring to people who salivate at potential partners that they can’t have while taking advantage of those that are desperate. A hyena is the last animal any straight thinking person would want associated with his name. Unfortunately, the people who have been showing up to support sports in Kenya have all been “Team Mafisi” until recently.

Politicians in Kenya have been the worst culprits when it comes to misuse of the sports industry. Only when the general elections are around the corner is when you will see a lot of sports activities happening all over the country. From Wajir in the farthest North East to Sirare in the furthest South West.From Lodwar in the Furthest North West toKilifi in the furthest South East. Even places like Moyale where we have almost been meant to believe that no sport talent exists will have numerous sporting events during this political season. It is an interesting period where you will come across many youths across the country with low quality t-shirts emblazoned with tournament names named after the sponsor who will always be among those eyeing a political seat. 

Corporates on the other hand have not failed in emulating the political class. They come up with all manners of gimmicks in the name of sports sponsorship just to get their brands into the media. Some have decided to come up with CSR outfits in the name of sports clubs while others arrange disorganized events in the name of tournaments.  You will be left laughing when you come to learn that these clubs that corporates come up with and boast of do not enjoy support of more than ten employees in from the sponsoring companies let alone the general public. For instance Tusker F.C, one of the oldest clubs in the Kenyan topflight and the third most decorated after AFC Leopards SC  and GorMahia has more media staff than fans who show up to watch their matches. Even EABL employees who would be quite a number don’t show up to support their own club in the stadium.

“Kenyans don’t like football, they only like gossiping and drinking beer in bars,” this is an infamous quote by the CECAFA Secretary General Nicholas Musonye. He said this out of anger in his heavy Luyha accent while he was commenting on the poor crowd turn-out in the 2010 CECAFA tournament that was hosted in Kenya. I almost agreed with him on this but after my heavy involvement in the sports industry for close to six years now I have come to totally disagree with him. Kenyans love not only football but many of the sports disciplines played in Kenya. The problem is the packaging and management of sports related institutions and activities.

To better explain this to you, kindly allow me to use football as an example. During the weekends, I see a very big number of Kenyans putting on jerseys of their favorite teams, many of them from European leagues especially the English Premier League. The number of people who show up in the smallest pub in my neighborhood to watch a match involving Arsenal or Manchester United is usually more than the number of fans you will find in a KRA versus KCB match at Nyayo stadium. The loudness of the groans when a player misses a goal scoring chance or the cheers and jeers that usually emanate from these joints in the neighborhoods where people watch European matches will tell you how much Kenyans are into football. The love that is shown by Kenyans for European football is because of two things, the management and packaging.

The management of Kenyan football has had numerous challenges for a long time. These challenges range from incompetence and lack of resources to blatant corruption. Despite this there has been some improvement. Some of the challenges that Kenyan football and sport in general suffer have been proven to not only exist in Kenya but even at the highest levels (i.e FIFA and IAAF).  It is this challenge that many corporates have used as an excuse to completely avoid or partially participate in Kenyan football. In my own opinion, this is an argument that is neither here nor there. If these corporates indeed believed that the mismanagement in Kenyan football will not be good for their brands they would not come up with the numerous teams that take up huge slots in the various leagues in the country. 

Kenyan corporates are being selfish and opportunistic. Selfish in the sense that they are not ready to fully engage in areas that will see them genuinely give back to society and opportunistic in the sense that they have always been in a rush to harvest where they never sow. East African Breweries (EABL) for almost three decades had been the company recording the highest amounts of profits in the country. Even though the brand has been associated with sports for quite a while, their contribution to the industry is almost negligible. It is until 21 August 2012 that EABL decided to sponsor the Kenyan Premier League (KPL). This is sad! Many will try to argue that by founding Kenya Breweries Football Club (Now Tusker Football Club), EABL has done a lot for Kenyan football. This is an example of one of the opportunistic decisions made by Kenyan corporates. 

For you to understand this better let me give you some numbers to crunch. On August 21st 2012 KPL signed what was referred to as the most lucrative deal in Kenyan football history. It was a partnership with EABL which saw the giant brewery take the league title naming rights through its Tusker brand to rename it the Tusker Premier League for a three year period.  Sources reported the deal to be worth Kshs. 170 million (USD 2 Million). Tusker is a brand that has existed in Kenya for over fifty years; the brand has come to be synonymous with the country’s name. After EABL failed to convince the KPL management to extend the deal that ended in June 2015, a very young firm less than two years old at the time grabbed the opportunity. Sport Pesa, an East African betting firm signed a four-and-a-half year deal which sources reported to be worth Kshs. 450 million (approx.. US$ 4.36 million). This saw the league renamed to SportPesa Premier League. The deal which is nearly three times the value of the previous deal with Tusker, if calculated critically is more than the total amount of spending EABL has done on football for the past four and a half years. This means that SportPesa has invested more money that EABL had put in the league through Tusker F.C and league sponsorship in the four and a half years before Sport Pesa signed the deal with EABL for the same period of time. The only deal by EABL that could come close to this is the Kshs. 330 million that was announced in 2005 that was to cover sponsorships in East Africa for a three year period.

The only other firm that has put more money than SportPesa into the league is Super Sport, Kenyans will not really appreciate their effort that much though. The reason being that, the sports broadcaster has for a long time taken a key role in killing of Kenyan football and sports in general. Their sponsorship has been seen by many as a case of compensation for the evil they have being doing. Super Sport has been on the spot for giving preferential coverage for foreign leagues over Kenyan football. This has seen more people in the country develop a strong affection for the English Premier League (EPL). Many Kenyans spend a lot of money in the pubs drinking EABL beer brands and watching EPL matches on Super Sport creating profits for the two African firms in millions of dollars at the cost of Kenyan talent.

Corporates in Kenya have been good at coming up with gimmicks that are aimed at taking advantage of the football industry where they put very little effort to support talent. A case in point is a recent activity that I watched on Nation Media Group’s main broadcast channel NTV. On their Saturday live programe “Top Sport” that aired on May 28th 2016, they were asked viewers to say which team they thought would win the UEFA Champions League between rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid and the winners were to be rewarded with a GorMahia F.C or AFC Leopards S.C branded jacket. In a week, the total number of minutes Kenyan football coverage gets on NTV or QTv cannot go beyond fifteen minutes. The total amount of space Kenyan football gets in the Daily Nation and Taifa Leo will never on a regular day be more than that which EPL coverage gets. At most it will be half a page. The amount of time Kenyan football gets discussed on Nation FM and Q Fm cannot be more than one hour. All these media outlets are owned by Nation Media Group (NMG) the biggest media house in the country which is listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange bourse.

Despite contributing almost nothing to grow football in the country or the Kenyan sports industry NMG found a way to make money. This was through manufacturing of merchandise for the most followed clubs in the country, AFC Leopards and GorMahia. They argue that through this they are helping build the Kenyan game. Wouldn’t it have made sense if they made merchandise for all league participants and sold it at cost instead of producing only for the two clubs and selling it for a profit? The optimist came and saw the glass half full, the pessimist saw it half-empty, and the opportunist saw the water and drank it all.

In February 2013 Kenya Power, an organization that is mostly talked about thanks to their poor client relationship management and frequent poor outages came up with the “Kenya Power Charity Cup” tournament which was to be an annual event. The originators of the idea probably thought it would be a good avenue to help bridge the wide gap that they have been having with their customers. You shouldn’t   wonder why they didn’t come up with this before creating many clubs across the country including Western Stima under their management. As I had told you earlier in this article, Kenyan corporates are selfish and opportunistic.

The Kenya Power Charity Cup was to be like the Community Shield in England, the aim was to raise money that would be distributed to community-based sporting initiatives “to encourage and promote sport as a healthy means of livelihood among the youth.” The funny part is that the event was to take place in a single day. Yes, in one day KPLC was to host an event like the Charity Cup which happens in England. It wasn’t a shock when this tournament disappeared as fast as it came up. An event that was to encourage youth to take sport as a means of healthy livelihood was being used to sell the KPLC brand name at the expense of the players’ health.  Why should a well moneyed corporate like Kenya Power subject players to an exhausting assignment of playing two matches in a single day!

Just like their brothers and sisters in crime, Kenya Power a company that spends only 1% of their net profits on corporate social responsibility was not really after developing football in the country through their Charity Cup idea. They had come to take advantage of the football industry. If the company took the amount of money they use on their clubs participating in the different leagues they to sponsor the league, the FKF Cup or a community based club, they would have managed to get far much better publicity for their brand than what they get. The poor publicity levels that they have managed through their clubs could obviously be the reason why they came up with the Charity Cup idea. Corporates should understand that they can’t eat the cake and have it at the same time. We have been told through poorly published articles on sports websites and social media posts by KPLC with scant information about the amounts of revenue that were raised through the first Charity Cup edition and how they were used. 

The organizers of the Kenya Power Charity Cup communicated through the KPLC social pages that the Kshs. 5,626,445.80 which was collected in the first edition of the tournament was used in lighting city stadium, refurbishing a football pitch in Kawangware and refurbishing Dandora Social hall. They went further to state that the funds were distributed through Red Cross for social good.  By the time this article was being published, City Stadium didn’t have proper lighting and thus couldn’t host a match under floodlights.

If you take all the above into consideration you will realize that SportPesa is the best thing to have happened in Kenyan football. Within less than five years of existence, Sport Pesa has shown both by acts and intent that they are taking Kenyan football and sports industry as a whole with the seriousness it deserves. Within their short stint as sponsors in the Kenyan sports industry, they have managed to scoop the Best African Sponsorship Award at the Discovery Sports Industry Awards. To lift this award, they beat big names on the continent like Kenya’s Safaricom who would rather paint the whole Kasarani Stadium including the toilet seats and urinals with their brand name in the name of sponsorship than sponsor a national team, league or local club. 

The SportPesa marketing manager in his speech when receiving the award was quoted saying, “We are delighted to have won this award ahead of global brands and campaigns that are strong and present on several mediums around the world. What excites us more is that our investment in the SportPesa Premier League is buoyed by a need to showcase Kenya club football as an engaging, exciting and a competitive league. This is therefore a win for local football in general and we are truly honored.” No one can doubt this. The seriousness of this statement can be supported by the fact that the league sponsors unlike their predecessors, went to Italy and shopped for a good/sleek looking 12 kilogram handcrafted trophy for the league. This goes a long way in improving the packaging of the league.

In his comments after receiving the award, SportPesa Marketing Manager Kester Muhanji said, “In a bid to revolutionize the face of football in Kenya we took up sponsorship of the Kenyan Premier League effective on August 1, 2015. Our aspiration is to have the Kenyan national team Harambee Stars compete in the 2022 World Cup.” Looking at the history Kenyan football has had with corporate sponsors, one will easily doubt this statement but when you look at the action that has come with the words from SportPesa you would be left with a lot of optimism. Apart from sponsoring the league, the betting firm has signed lucrative shirt sponsorship deals with GorMahia and AFC Leopards. The firm has also brought into the country Arsenal coaches to conduct coaching clinics with their Kenyan counterparts in a bid to raise the quality of the game in the country. KPL for the first time together with “K’Ogalo” and “Ingwe” were put in a very tight corner by the sponsor after they suspended their sponsorships for the two clubs due to hooliganism incidents involving fans of the two rival clubs. The big stick that was wielded by SportPesa saw for the first time docking of points happen as a punishment for hooliganism in the Kenyan Premier League. Not forgetting that the company has been sponsoring other sporting disciplines, isn’t this enough to show how serious they are with developing sports in the country?

SportPesa has set the bar high in terms of corporate participation in Kenyan football. It will be very encouraging to know if their counterparts are learning something. Imagine if the firms decided to form their own club and have it participate in the KPL, would they get as much publicity? It will be hard for anyone to refute the fact that Mumias Sugar got more publicity through their partnership with AFC Leopards than that which they got throughout the existence of their defunct Mumias Sugar F.C. The numbers of jerseys all over the country emblazoned with the brand say it all.

Instead of Kenyan corporates trying hard to always come up with shortcuts to get publicity through sports they should try and find workable ways of partnering with sports institutions to reap the benefits of the industry without diverting their energies from their core-businesses. SportPesa Ltd is a trailblazer and we Kenyan sports lovers wish others would follow suit. It is good that now much of the money that was being spent in pubs by those watching EPL matches is now being put into the SportPesa betting platform. This is the money that many of them would have spent on EABL products while shouting themselves hoarse cheering clubs that don’t know they exist here in Kenya. It is great that a genius company while teaching other corporates how to genuinely partner with sports institutions is now reinvesting the attention that Kenyans would have given to their own football in monetary terms.

Thank you SportPesa.

Kenya Rugby Union Chairman,  Richard Omwela, has told off the government for their intent to set up a Sports, Arts and Culture Fund, saying that the money placed there is likely to be embezzled.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday at the Sarova Hotel where several sports bodies’ officials had convened to issue a statement on the government’s proposal to slap a 50% tax regulation on the gaming industry, Omwela said that they[Sports people] receive very little funding from the government.

 "From a rugby perspective, we have checked our records from five years ago and seen that we have received less than twenty Million in funding directly from the government."

" I have no fault in asking about the setting up of a fund. Yes it is nice to set up a fund, but this country is full of funds that have been set up and money has been embezzled. What happened to the Youth Fund? What happened to NSSF? What happened to NHIF? What happened to Women’s Fund? What has happened to the Maize Fund?" 

"Let us face reality. Reality is that even if we were to set up a fund, the management of that fund is so critical that we don’t trust if they[Government] will do the right thing.’’

Omwela did not stop there, The Rugby Boss highlighted how SportPesa have massively helped the Kenyan Rugby team in their day-to-day activities.

"When SportPesa came on board,  we agreed on a  five-year program of funding with them.  This means that for the next five years, we are not sitting every day to find who is going to sponsor us.  Right now our team is in London and if it is not for SportPesa, we don’t know how we would be able to fund the team’s expenses." 

 "We have ten assignments every year around the whole world and I can tell you that the government just hears that we went and came back. They have no clue how we went , how we got to the airport and how we came back. We go and come back thanks to companies like SportPesa who are able to support us.’’

Despite being critical of the Government, Omwela called for dialogue between various parties to come up with a symphonic solution.

"Let us reason and discuss, …. Rotich talk to Wario, Wario talk to other members of Parliament and let us make sure that this Bill does not see light of the day or if it does, at a more reduced level."

Omwela completed his address with a challenge to the Government to fund sports through the Consolidated Fund. 

"Why aren’t sports being funded from the consolidated Fund? Is it that we are a different breed of Kenyans? Aren’t we paying taxes like everybody else?", Posed Omwela.

Read: The state of Kenyan Rugby - Richard Omwela

 

Kenya Hockey Union is the latest sport to hit the news for all the wrong reasons after reports that some matches are played without medical readiness.The latest incidence took place over the weekend as panic rent the air after a player was hit on the forehead suffering a cut with lack of a proper emergency plan clearly showing.

Pauline Naise scored ['a much needed'] Chase Amira's second goal in a 2-0 win over Kenyatta University in Women's Hockey Premier League Match played at City Park on Sunday May 21.

Naise's goal came just a week after she was part of a horror show that saw her football team, Vihiga Leeds, suffer an 8-1 humiliating defeat to defending champions Vihiga Queens in the FKF Women's Zone B Premier League.  This was Naise's first football match of the season having spend most of her time in Hockey with Amira. 

Her goal on Sunday maintained her position as the Hockey Women's premier league top scorer with 9 goals to her name so far this season.  Speaking to Kenyanstar shortly after the Hockey Match, Naise insisted she would continue playing in both sports and was looking forward to another football match to help turn the fortunes of Vihiga Leeds. 

"I definitely needed this goal. The result last weekend when i played football for Vihiga leeds got to me a little bit so this goal will definitely up my spirits."

However while Pauline made headlines in Hockey over the Weekend, Her football team recorded their first victory of the season after three straight defeats[one being a walkover]. Vihiga Leeds won 6-2 against Bulemia on Sunday(21 May), a match Naise missed due to her Hockey duties for Amira.

Kenya Police on Sunday (21 May ) made it 9 wins out of 9 matches played with a 3-1 win over Sikh Union in a Men's Premier League match played at the City Park Stadium. 

Shabaz Shah of Sikh Union scored the first goal of the Match in the fifth minute but that was all they would get. Police would equalize in the 19th minute through Samuel Oungo, a goal resulting from a short corner.  Police got their second through Samuel Wokila in the 22nd minute and a the final one through  Edmond Mabona in the 29th Minute. 

Elsewhere, Butali sugar kept the chase alive with two more wins over the weekend also maintaining their 100% win record in the season so far. Butali on Friday (19 May) won 3-0 against USIU-A before winning again 7-0 against Kenyatta University on Saturday(20 May).

Full Weekend Results 

Men's Premier League

Butali Sugar 3-0 USIU-A  

Strathmore University 0-0 Chase Sailors

Butali Sugar 7-0 Kenyatta University 

Kenya Police 3-1 Sikh Union, Nairobi 

Green Sharks 2-1 Nakuru 1

National League

Multimedia University 3-3 JKUAT

 Youngstars 1-0 Kabarak University 

 Mvita XI 3-1 Gorilla ; 

Bay Club 1-1 Kabarak University 

Park Road Tigers 1-3 Impala

Premier League Women

Vikings 0-1 USIU-A 

Chase Amira 2-0 Kenyatta University 

USIU-A 2-1 Sliders

Both course records fell at the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon as Kenyan duo Wilfred Kimitei and Yvonne Jelagat triumphed at the IAAF Gold Label Race on Saturday (20).

A group of eight men passed through 10km in 28:59. Kenya’s Peter Lemuya and Morocco’s Moussab Hadout fell back from the pack before the leaders passed through 15 kilometres in 43:22, paced by Timothy Kimeli.

But Kimeli decided to stay in the race and ran alongside Kimitei, Edwin Kiplagat and Evans Cheruiyot for the final few kilometres. Kimitei proved to have the stronger finish and stormed home to win in 1:00:54 as just five seconds separated the first four men to cross the finish.

Kimitei’s winning time took seven seconds off the race record with compatriots Edwin Kimutai Kiplagat and Timothy Kimeli following closely behind, sharing a time of 1:00:57.

“The race wasn’t at all easy,” said Kimitei, the African 10,000m silver medallist. “The hills were pretty tough but I kept enough strength for the finish.”

Just two athletes remained in contention before the half-way point of the women’s race as Sutume Asefa and Yvonne Jelagat reached 10km in 32:04, more than 20 seconds ahead of their nearest pursuers.

Asefa then gradually pulled away from Jelagat and the Ethiopian looked as though she was on her way to victory. But Jelagat found another gear in the final kilometre and reeled in Asefa, winning in 1:08:19 to take 48 seconds off the race record.

Asefa was second in 1:08:40, also finishing well inside the previous race record, while Kenya’s Marion Limo took third in 1:11:21.

“I’m pleased that I pulled it off and made my coach happy,” said Jelagat, whose previous best of 1:09:04 was set on her debut at the distance in Prague last month. “I had quite a lot of energy left at the end which meant I was able to speed up. When I saw Sutume was struggling, I seized the opportunity and it paid off.”

Jelagat broke the race record of Joyciline Jepkosgei who debuted here in 2016 with 1:09:07. Jepkosgei is now the world record-holder with her 1:04:52 run in Prague last month.

Although the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon course is pretty rugged, the ‘city of colonnades’ offers plenty of opportunities to run fast. “Today we got to see just how fast Karlovy Vary can be,” said RunCzech Running League President Carlo Capalbo. “I’m delighted that the men and women have met our expectations and ran so competitively and fast.”

LEADING RESULTS

Men

1 Wilfred Kimitei (KEN) 1:00:54

2 Edwin Kimutai Kiplagat (KEN) 1:00:57

3 Timothy Kimeli (KEN) 1:00:57

4 Evans Cheruiyot (KEN) 1:00:59

5 Shadrack Korir Kimining (KEN) 1:01:37

6 Donald Mitei (KEN) 1:02:11

7 Moussab Hadout (MAR) 1:02:20

Women

1 Yvonne Jelagat (KEN) 1:08:19

2 Sutume Asefa (ETH) 1:08:40

3 Marion Jepkirui Limo (KEN) 1:11:21

4 Ayantu Gemechu (ETH) 1:11:49

5 Mercy Jerotich Kibarus (KEN) 1:13:44

6 Polline Wanjiku Njeru (KEN) 1:13:51

7 Olga Kotovska (UKR) 1:14:18

Alex Korio and Irene Cheptai made it a Kenyan double at the TCS World 10K Bengaluru 2017 race, winning at the 10th edition of this IAAF Bronze Label Road Race in 28:12 and 31:51 respectively, on Sunday.

Cheptai caught the eye in particular with an impressive performance that will confirm her rising status in the world of distance running and reinforce the belief that she can be among the medallists over the same distance on the track at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 this coming August.

She continued her unbeaten year, which includes a win at the World Cross Country Championships in March, with the second fastest time ever seen in the Bengaluru women’s race.

A conservative first half saw nine women pass three kilometres in 9:51 and five runners – Cheptai and her Kenyan compatriots Gladys Chesir, Helah Kiprop and Magdalyne Masai as well as Ethiopia’s Worknesh Degefa – were still together as the halfway point was reached in 16:19, at this stage well outside course-record pace.

However, Cheptai was looking comfortable and always to the fore during the first five kilometres and soon took matters into her own hands.

She gradually went through the gears in the seventh and eighth kilometres as her rivals one-by-one slipped away as they struggled to stay with the race favourite.

Despite being on her own at the front, her tempo didn’t drop over the final two kilometres and she crossed the line in the Sree Kanteerava Stadium just three seconds outside the course record of 31:48, set by another Kenyan runner Lucy Kabuu in 2014, after running the second half of the course in 15:32.

“I wasn’t confident at the start,” said Cheptai, partially explaining why she had not pushed the pace harder during the opening kilometres. “But from eight kilometres I grew in confidence and knew that I was going to win, and I was trying for the course record from seven kilometres.”

Degefa, the last of Cheptai’s opponents to succumb, hung on to take second place in 32:00 while the 2012 women’s winner Kiprop closed the gap on Degefa in the closing stages of the race but was third on this occasion in 32:02.

Korio, another former champion of the TCS World 10K, regained the title he won in 2013 with a strong second half of the race which also saw the winner run a negative split.

New Zealand’s Zane Robertson pushed the pace along with designated pacemaker Stephen Kissa, from Uganda, during the early part of the race as a nine-man pack went through three kilometres in 8:30 and then the midway point in 14:09.

However, a sharp increase in pace from the halfway point, initially instigated by Kenya’s Edwin Kiptoo and then Korio, saw the leading pack quickly disintegrate.

Korio then threw down the gauntlet midway through the seventh kilometre and no one could stay with him.

Even though pain seemed to be etched across his face for the final third of the race, Korio didn’t falter and the gap between himself and his nearest challengers – Kiptoo and Kissa having a duel for the other places on the podium – kept on gently growing.

Korio won in 28:12 with Kiptoo winning the battle for second in 28:26 with Kissa – who later said he’d decided to finish the race around the halfway point – taking third on his debut over the distance in 28:28.

“My experience after winning the race in 2013 certainly helped me today. I knew the course and I knew where would be a good place to push,” reflected Korio. 

“I realised I could win the race at around six kilometres. I was watching Zane until the 6km mark and when Zane dropped, I knew I could push it even more,” he added.

Robertson, highly favoured after his outstanding 2016 which saw him lead the world over 10km on the roads with his 27:28, struggled during the second half of the race and finished down in seventh in 28:49.

Kenya’s world record holder Leonard Komon and Ethiopia’s defending champion Mosinet Geremew were off the back of the leading group by the fifth kilometre and eventually finished eighth and 10th in 28:55 and 29:31 respectively.

An estimated 24,000 runners took to the roads of Bengaluru on Sunday for the five different races in Asia’s leading run over distance. Korio and Cheptai each took home a winner’s cheque for US$ 26,000.

Fancy Chemutai enhanced her reputation as one of the rising stars of the road racing circuit with a course record on a warm and blustery day in the Gothenburg Half Marathon on Saturday (20) in 1:07:58.

Chemutai has only raced twice internationally but the 22-year-old excelled in both races. She finished third at the Prague Half Marathon on 1 April, clocking 1:06:58 on her debut at the distance before claiming her first overseas win in Gothenburg ahead of one of the in-form athletes on the roads this year.

After a steady opening 5km split of 15:51, defending champion and course record-holder Violah Jepchumba asserted the pressure on Chemutai with a 15:32 split through 10km in 31:23. Chemutai lost contact for the first time in the eighth kilometre but fought back to level terms with her fellow Kenyan, who finished one place ahead of Chemutai at the Prague Half Marathon last month in 1:05:22.

Rocking from side to side, Jepchumba was visibly working hard and her front-running efforts seemed to be reaping their reward. She eked out another small gap just before the 15km checkpoint in 47:48 but Chemutai countered it again on the gradual incline over the Gota Alv Bridge, one of two bridges on the course.

Despite slowing markedly after an aggressive start, the course record – and the event’s first ever sub-68-minute winning time – were still in touch as they raced back through the city centre and out towards the finish-line in the Slottsskogen Stadium.

Chemutai opened up a small gap on Jepchumba through the 20km checkpoint in 1:04:31 which she duly extended on the series of small undulations in the last two kilometres to ensure her first ever international win. Chemutai broke the tape in 1:07:58 to eclipse the course record by three seconds and take the scalp of Jepchumba, who had to settle for second in 1:08:10.

Margaret Agai made it a Kenyan clean sweep in 1:09:43 with Beatrice Mutai, the older sister of Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon, fourth in 1:10:14.

Geoffrey Yegon provided the first half of the Kenyan double in Gothenburg with victory in 1:00:19.

Three athletes were still in contention heading into the last kilometre but the runner-up from last year went one better this time, defeating Seoul Marathon winner Amos Kipruto (1:00:24) and Leonard Langat (1:00:33) while 2013 world cross-country champion Japheth Korir finished fifth in 1:01:39.

Defending champion and course record-holder Richard Mengich dropped out before the 15km checkpoint.

Nakumatt FC registered their fourth win of the Kenyan Premier League after overcoming Chemelil Sugar 2-1 on Sunday 21 May in Ruaraka.
Nakumatt had the first chance in the 10th minute, Aswani setting up Kiasavuki but the latter was already in an offside position. Ten minutes later, Kepha Aswani gave Nakumatt the lead after he headed home a corner. Chemelil then had two corners in quick succession shortly afterwards but were futile.
Just one minute into the second half, Eugene Ambulwa doubled the lead for Nakumatt, heading home a Nzuki free kick. In the 65th minute, Chemelil got a consolation goal, Mwita and Echesa combining very well for Mwita to tap in the ball. Chemelil then pressed hard in search of an equalizer but were unable to find one. The result takes Chemelil’s number of losses this season to four and they now sit 12th in the table standings while Nakumatt move to 10th with sixteen points.
Sony Sugar vs Western Stima
At the Awendo Stadium, Sony Sugar made the most out their home advantage to thrash Western Stima 2-0. Sony lost a good chance in the 14th minute, Marwa shooting into the hands of the goalkeeper after receiving a good pass from Boniface Muchiri. He however compensated for the miss in the 26th minute to give Sony the lead.
Sony were awarded a penalty in the 62nd minute after Muchiri was broth down by Victor Oduor and Amos Asambeka duly converted from the spot to duple the hosts’ lead. Western Stima were unable to pressure Sony Sugar and the match ended 2-0. Sony Sugar are now in 13th place with fourteen points Western Stima now occupy thre last place of the table with nine points

 

Lionel Messi is set to draw level with Cristiano Ronaldo and win the European Golden Shoe for a record-equaling fourth time. He finished the Liga season as top scorer on 37 goals, giving him 74 Golden Shoe points with each goal worth two points in the table. Sporting Lisbon striker Bas Dost scored a hat trick in his final match against Chaves to go clear in second with 34 Portuguese Primeira Liga goals and 68 points.

Gerard Pique: "The Ballon d’Or? Lionel Messi is the best player in the world and in history. This year he’ll win the Golden Boot as a goalscorer and he would deserve the Ballon d’Or another time. But it would be nice if Buffon won it. He has won the Scudetto, the Coppa Italia and he could still win the Champions League. He’s deserved it for his career, for this reason and because it would be nice to see another goalkeeper win it after Lev Yashin.”

Arsenal are favourites to beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final as they will be motivated to end their season on a high after failing to qualify for the Champions League, the Premier League champions' manager Antonio Conte said.

Chelsea began their title celebrations after beating relegated Sunderland 5-1 on Sunday and can win the domestic double by beating Arsenal, who fell short of a top four finish despite a 3-1 win over Everton, on Sunday.

"If you ask me who is the favourite now, it's Arsenal," Conte told reporters on Sunday. "They have this chance to find a good season, to have a successful season.

"Arsenal missed out on the Champions League and we must prepare in the right way. I'm not talking about tactically -- I'm talking about motivation.

"The right fire in our soul and heart. If we have more than Arsenal then we'll have the possibility to win."

Conte can become the second manager to win the double in his first season after fellow Italian Carlo Ancelotti achieved the feat in the 2009-10 campaign.

German Alexander Zverev says he cannot rest on his laurels after beating Novak Djokovic to win the Italian Open on Sunday and has set his sights on bigger titles in order to retain his place in the world's top 10.

The 20-year-old stunned world number two Djokovic 6-4 6-3 to become the youngest winner of a Masters 1000 tournament since the Serb himself in Miami in 2007.

The win also helped Zverev surge up to number 10 in the world rankings for the first time in his career.

"I could not imagine top 10 by the age of 20," Zverev told reporters. "It's something truly amazing. Getting there is one thing, but staying there is going to be very, very difficult.

"Even though I won this title, I will be back on the practice courts very soon trying to improve my game."

Despite an impressive claycourt season, Zverev downplayed his chances of winning the French Open, which starts on Sunday, saying nine-time winner Rafa Nadal would start as the man to beat.

Nadal had won all 17 matches on clay this year before losing to Austria's Dominic Thiem in the Rome quarter-finals.

"The strong favourite is still definitely Nadal. Novak is playing great again. Thiem has been showing he's been playing very well," he added.

"I just won here, so I've got to put myself on that list, even though I don't want to say that I'm the favourite myself. But the guys who have been playing the best over the past few weeks are definitely the favourites."

Tottenham Hotspur have laid solid foundations over the last three years but must now start winning trophies, manager Mauricio Pochettino has said.

Pochettino took over in 2014 and has led the London side to a top-three finish in two of the last three seasons but has yet to win a trophy. They finished the 2016/17 Premier League campaign seven points behind champions Chelsea.

"After three seasons where we work a lot and set the bases it will be important in the next few seasons to try to win trophies," Pochettino told Sky Sports after Sunday's 7-1 win over Hull City.

Striker Harry Kane scored a hat trick against Hull to take his tally to 29 goals from 30 league games and win the Premier League's Golden Boot for the second consecutive season.

"For him to play 30 games and score 29 goals is unbelievable," Pochettino said.

"He is the top scorer again and it's fantastic for him, a big achievement. It helps the team to play well and finish second. Next season is a big challenge again."

Tottenham last won a major trophy in the 2007-08 campaign when they won the League Cup.

After a disappointing football season with only one title, Bayern Munich have announced they are considering to invest a record over $100 million into new footballers.

Uli Hoeness, President of the German champions, announced that the club will overhaul its investment policy. More than 100 million euro ($112 million) will be made available to reinforce the current squad in order to attack Europe's top dogs in football such as Real Madrid, Juventus and FC Barcelona.

Hoeness made it clear that a single trophy is not enough to satisfy the club's ambitions. The 65-year-old is well aware that the club will have to go beyond its previous outlay, saying, "to make our squad better, we will have to buy some of the top players in world football", reports Xinhua news agency.

After the retirement of team captain Philipp Lahm, who will be succeeded by keeper Manuel Neuer and Spanish veteran midfielder Xabi Alonso, it will be hard for Bayern to keep the same level of quality.

Having been eliminated in the Champions League as early as in the quarter-finals by Real Madrid and in the German Cup in the semi-final by Borussia Dortmund, Hoeness said the club will be forced to pay sums that it had so far never considered but that are normal on the current transfer market.

The main task will be to find the right mixture of experienced and youth on a top level, Hoeness emphasised.

In addition to Niklas Suele and Sebastian Rudy (TSG Hoffenheim), rumours abound that international stars such as Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) and Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain) and FC Schalke's young midfielder Leon Goretzka are Bayern targets. "If Bayern wants a player, we'll definitely invest what is needed," Hoeness said.

Additional investments will increase expectations when it comes to head coach Carlo Ancelotti. The 57-year-old Italian star coach's second season is considered to be his last chance to satisfy the demands of the Bavarian club.

For now, the club's top management of Hoeness and CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge are willing to overlook the coach's lenient working style and his preference for experienced players over budding stars like Joshua Kimmich or Renato Sanches.

Insiders are saying that Ancelotti will be required to find a proper assistant to fill the gap left by Paul Clement's departure and that he will have to search for more youngsters.

A lack of game time, combined with the coach's standard training methods that do not help to develop talented young players tactically and technically have resulted in a lost year for the German international Kimmich, as well as for Sanches and Kingsley Coman. Bayern's leading officials want to prevent Kimmich and others from going through another year like the last one.

It is an open secret that Bayern are keeping a close eye on Julian Nagelsmann, the 29-year-old coach of TSG Hoffenheim, who finished a remarkable season as fourth in the table. Rumours seem to suggest that Bayern's management expect Ancelotti to stay with the club for one more year and then depart if he is not willing to accept the demanded changes.

The club also recently opened its youth academy. A sum of 70 million euro ($78.5 million) have been invested and Hoeness expects results within the next few years.

Since David Alaba, none of the club's youth players have progressed to become a first team regular, said Hoeness. The club will have to catch up and improve, in the future. "The board's demands will increase," he warned.

The coach's name was not mentioned, but Hoeness' statement is a clear message for Ancelotti, because the coach has so far not shown himself to be much of a mentor for young players needing direction and practical advice.

Another underestimated problem is the absence of a sporting director. Hoeness and Rummenigge know it is vital to install a link between the club board and the team in order to identify problems and deal with them before they become public. For a long time, Matthias Sammer was the ideal man to solve conflicts and mediate, but he left the club some months ago.

Just recently, other problems have surfaced like Jerome Boateng's displeasure at being not picked for some games or Kimmich's frustration as he felt neglected by Ancelotti -- both of which could have been solved by a sports director.

According to Hoeness, Bayern will strive towards finding a solution within the next months. Both Lahm and Max Eberl, managing director of league rivals Borussia Moenchengladbach, have declined the job, indicating that their decision making powers would be restricted with Hoeness around.

Manchester United must not underestimate Ajax Amsterdam in the Europa League final on Wednesday, defender Daley Blind has said. United finished sixth in the Premier League, 24 points behind champions Chelsea, while Ajax finished second in the Dutch league, one point behind champions Feyenoord.

"They fought to be in the final and they are there for a reason," he says. "When you reach a final you absolutely cannot afford to underestimate your opponents.

"They came second in their league by a point, we missed out on the top four...Right now there is only one game that counts, and that is the final."

Blind won four consecutive Dutch titles with Ajax before moving to United in 2014 while his father, Danny, also played for and managed the club.

"Everybody knows I support Ajax, I am from Amsterdam and I played there since I was seven, but now I am at United I am a Red and I want to win this final more than anything in the world," the 27-year-old said.

Blind was rested on Sunday as United beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in their final league game of the season.

John Terry thanked Chelsea fans for standing by him throughout his career. Terry, who has led Chelsea as their captain since 2004, announced that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season. “The best supporters in the world without a doubt,” he said while addressing the Chelsea fans after their final match of the season against relegated Sunderland.

“You have given me everything. From the age of 14 when I signed, you picked me up when I was down, you sung my name when I had bad games and disappointed you,” he said in his speech after the match. Since becoming captain, Terry has lifted the Premier League trophy five times under three different managers. “Thank you will never ever be enough. I am going to come back here one day, supporting this team,” he said.

Terry also thanked club owner Roman Abramovich. The Russian millionaire took over the club in 2004. His financial backing has helped Chelsea becoming one of the biggest brands in world football and also a European powerhouse. “I think we all have to thank Mr Roman Abramovich. I personally want to thank him and the board, for me the best owner in world football without a doubt. He cares and loves this club and looks to improve year and year out.”

Terry had hinted that he may be thinking of retiring from the game altogether after leaving Chelsea. He is yet to give any confirmed information about his future.

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Those who love him, love him with so much passion. Those who hate him, also do so with the same gusto. If a book on ‘The most hated footballers’ were ever to be written, several chapters would be dedicated to him.

Matatu culture is part of living in Nairobi City and the transport means used by all. Soccer fans use their own cars, buses and matatus for traveling to away matches.

The day is September 26th 2010. Kenya U-20 coach Vince Ombiji brought on a young and promising player as the national junior side took on Lesotho. The rookie had an almost immediate impact, as he ran down the Lesotho defense rugged. Fleet foot works, pacy and pin point crosses made him a darling to the fans instantly. Kenya’s next big thing was alive.

Eric Ochieng' aka Cantona is one of most iconic soccer athletes to grace Kenya Premier League in the 1990s.

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has landed 0.75 billion shillings from FIFA in a grant that is aimed to make the federation set up and manage their inhouse media activities.

Kenyanstar has learnt from sources privy to the deal that the world governing body has agreed to hand the Federation a grant of USD 7.5M to set up their own media production for the league matches.

The news coming barely weeks after Supersport suspended their broadcast deal with Kenyan Premier League (KPL) and later on laying off staff earlier on this week, will be welcome to the soccer industry.

FKF president has been in the news saying how FKF and the KPL would be produced in-house and availed for free to air (FTA) TV channels.

To reduce pressure in starting up, our sources say, FKF will absorb the staff that were working for Supersport to do the production and there is likelihood they may buy the studio Supersport had set up in Nairobi.

The figure of Ksh. 600,000 released by Gor Mahia today, as the total gate collections for the Gor Mahia vs Zoo Kericho match in Kisumu are ‘stupid figures’,  Gor Mahia Organizing Secretary Judith Anyango has told Kenyanstar in a long ranging Interview.

He is the Kenyan version of Portuguese super agent Jorge Paulo Agostinho Mendes. He is many things to many people, and recently added another feather to his cap by venturing into player and coaches representation. Starting off as a journalist, he grew through the ranks to become a Television producer, took the big risk and ventured into football administration, before jumping ship to start what has been a largely successful venture of talent management.

A terrific dribbler with an eye for goal. His skills and potential on the pitch have always left fans ecstatic. His dazzling runs and fantastic crosses have raised his profile in the local scene. He slowly grew through the ranks both at club and national level. He recently added to the statistics of players who have made the bold move from AFC Leopards to bitter rivals Gor Mahia where he penned a long term contract. 

Besides the magic on the pitch, critics have continually accused him of laziness and being a party animal. Is he? Kenyanstar sat with John ‘Softie’ Ndirangu and here is his story.

Kenyanstar: Thank you for your time. Tell us about your football journey so far.

John Ndirangu: I started playing competitive football at Nakuru AllStars when I was in form 2, by then the club was in playing in Nationwide League. I was with them all along, even when they got promoted in 2014 to the Kenya Premier League.  As a footballer, I have faced both difficult and easy times.

KS: Where did this nickname Softie come from?

JN: I rarely talk too much, and people say my face is soft. So, Softie.

KS: Please tell us about your time at Nakuru AllStars.

JN: It was a bit hard for me since there were the demands on the pitch and at the same time I was schooling. I had to carefully plan my time. However, sometimes it was difficult for me because I had to leave school for training and when I got back to class I was so tired and couldn't focus fully.  

KS: You made a name for yourself  while you were at Allstars. Tell us about your time playing there and your relationship with the players, coach, management etc.

JN: First, I would like to thank Robert Muthomi. He took me as his son, he took care of me,he used to advise me and  managed me well. I also thank everyone who coached me. During my time there, I learnt something from all coaches and this made me grow to who I am today. My teammates were also supportive, as football is a team sport and you support each other. 

KS: You would later join Bandari. However, you never stayed there for long...

JN: I would not wish to discuss about my time at Bandari. It was very difficult for me.

KS: What exactly affected you?

JN: Lack of play time.

KS: Well, you at one point joined Kariobangi Sharks. What necessitated the move?  

JN: After Bandari I went back to Nakuru Allstars to get my form back. However, at the end of the season the team got relegated and so we agreed with Robert Muthomi, the CEO,  that since I had already made my name and was still young, it wasn't proper to play in the lower tier. Therefore I joined Kariobangi Sharks. We agreed with President Nick Mwendwa that if the team won't get promoted to the top league he releases me and that's what happened when I joined AFC Leopards.

KS: Leopards - You joined the club, lots of expectations, but left. Kindly tell us about your time at Leopards.

JN: I enjoyed my time at Leopards and would like to thank the management and coaches. They believed in me and I wish them all the the best. In December, I was asked by Leopards to look for a suitable club where I would go on loan and I felt it was not good for me. Therefore I  asked them to just release me instead. As a team last season we were unlucky not to do well and meet the expectations but I personally think that I played my part and was very surprised when they suggested a loan move for me in the transfer window. 

KS: You have some serious football skills. Very good running, very good dribbles. What's the tactical secret for you?

JN: Apart from talent in me I do watch skillful players like Neymar, Ronaldinho and Cristiano and try apply what I see on the pitch. Besides, I also work very hard.  

KS: Harambee Stars: You have grown from U-23 to the senior team. Tell us about your time and experience so far at Stars

JN: Each and every coach has his style of coaching and the kind of players he wants. I think during Bob Williamson's time I was called several times to the national team. He liked my dribbling skills and speed and he would tell me to just do that in the pitch, since that is what made him like me and give me a call up.  

KS: We haven't seen you at the national team in recent days. Why?

JN: As I have said each and every coach has his style of coaching and kind of players he wants. However, while at AFC Leopards I earned a call up.  

KS: You made what many call a 'daring move' by switching from Leopards to Gor. Do you feel it was a daring move or just any other normal transfer?

JN: I believe if you have talent and you work hard everything is possible. Talent can never be hidden. Kama unajua unajua. For me I see it as a normal move. My time will come and I'll shine.

KS: Gor Mahia - How is life there. What are your targets/goals?

JN: I am enjoying life at Gor. They do things professionally and think that's what differentiates Gor with other clubs. My target is to play as many games and help the team lift the title and in future I go to Europe. 

KS: You have been accused of the following: Missing training at times intentionally, partying a little too much and alcoholism. Your response?

JN: In life you must have friends and enemies and for you to make in life you must have enemies. All these stories came up when I was at Leopards. When Ivan Minnaert left a Luhya coach took over and he only wanted Luhya players. Therefore, Ian otieno and  I decided to stay at home because no matter how hard we worked in training, we weren't being considered.  On the issue of alcohol, I even cannot tell how it tastes. Yes, I used to go to clubs and watch football while drinking Delmonte juice.  

KS: Any closing words? 

JN: I just want to thank God for the gift of life and talent. I also want to tell my fans that they should  not lose hope in me. I know they believe in me and I won't fail them. 

KS: Thanks for your time Softie!

 

READ: John 'Softie' Ndirangu: Major Transfer Or Forced Out? 

Following the news that Serena Williams was two months pregnant when she won the Grand Slam, Rev. Fred Nile MP, has called for the world champion to be stripped of the title, claiming “foetal personhood” means she was unfairly advantaged.

“She was playing doubles in a singles tournament!” Nile screamed at the ‘Day of the Unborn Child’ protest.

“I believe that ‘life at conception’ should be the law, and that clearly means two people won the Grand Slam,” said Nile, who is both an avid fan of professional tennis and aggressively campaigning to legislate how people use their uterus.

“That’s clearly against the rules!”

However, feminists argue Nile’s view that pregnancy is a sporting advantage shows ignorance to the realities facing those who are pregnant.

“Serena Williams was in control of her own body during the Grand Slam tournament, and as such has the right to her title, and the right, always, to bodily autonomy”, said Immy Grantson, an outspoken activist campaigning for progress on women’s issues.

“Williams, like all people, has the right to choose what she does with her body: whether that be powerful backhands, and/or be pregnant”, said Grantson.

This comes at a crucial time in New South Wales legislation. Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi’s End12 Campaign hopes to make it legal for world class athletes to choose whether or not they are pregnant.

When asked for comment by The Garter Press, Venus Williams, who lost to Serena Williams under the now contentious circumstances, said she was “excited to be an aunt”.

Former Inter Milan midfielder McDonald Mariga has come out to praise the Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino for the key role he has paid in developing the career of his brother Victor Wanyama.  

The Kenyan International skipper has been a vital part of the Spurs midfield, prove of just how much Pochettino trusts Wanyama. Big Vic first played under the Argentine gaffer at Southampton and were later reunited at Tottenham last summer.

“He (Wanyama) said Pochettino is the coach who has made him. He’s the one who, when Victor came to Southampton, he taught him what to do and how to play, all the things. He’s the one who taught him everything and made even more qualities for Victor. He gave him exposure and confidence. If you don’t have confidence from the coach, you cannot perform well. He’s helped him a lot,” Mariga told ESPN.

Pochettino’s favorite 3-4-2-1 formation has suited Wanyama perfectly as he provides cover to the wing backs when they move forward to attack, something that has put Wanyama in favor with both the manager and the Spurs supporters.

The midfielder will be expected to take his spot back in the starting XI for the FA Cup semi-final meeting with Chelsea at Wembley this Saturday evening after a minor injury.

As the title race stiffens and Spurs still on track for the cup glory, Wanyama may just be the rock Tottenham needs to win the first trophy in over years.

Everton are considering a pre-season friendly in Tanzania as part of their expected new sponsorship deal with SportPesa.

Drogba had been without a club since leaving MLS outfit Montreal Impact in November, after rejecting a move to Brazilian giants Corinthians in February.

However, the 39-year-old Ivorian striker has finally found a home in Phoenix, where he will also be part of their "MLS expansion franchise ownership group."

Phoenix are in their fourth season in the USL, 12th in the Western Conference with one win after three games.

"I have taken my time in deciding what I wanted to do next and am really excited about the opportunity at Phoenix Rising FC," said Drogba.

"After seeing firsthand the potential for expansion of the sport in North America and getting to know the ownership group in Phoenix, I am convinced that I can help them develop their organization on and off the pitch.

"I look forward to their continued success in the USL, and no city is better positioned than Phoenix for expansion into the MLS."

Drogba - a two-time African Footballer of the Year – scored 23 goals in 41 competitive appearances for the Impact, having won four Premier League titles and the Champions League among other trophies with Chelsea.

"We want our club and our city to be synonymous with international excellence, and Didier Drogba is a testament to Phoenix Rising FC's commitment to that mission,” said Phoenix Rising club governor Berke Bakay.

"Soccer is an international language understood by sports fans all over the world, and we want to help inspire fluency among new fans everywhere we play throughout North America."

Work has been completed on the first proposed venue for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar - the Khalifa International Stadium. More than five years before the tournament kicks off, Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) has confirmed extensive renovations on the 40,000-seater venue are now finished.

The renovations include the installation of revolutionary cooling technology promised during Qatar's successful bid, which will keep the pitch at an optimum 26 degrees and the stands somewhere between 24 and 28 degrees.

SC secretary general H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi said: "The completion of our first stadium more than five years before the Qatar World Cup begins is an important milestone that reflects our determination to deliver a tournament the entire Arab world is proud to be a part of.

"As we promised in our bid, our innovative stadiums offer an unrivalled experience to fans and players alike. I'm proud we can show these off to the world and welcome fans with the hospitality this World Cup will be remembered for."

The stadium, originally constructed in 1976, will first host the 2017 Emir Cup final on Friday and will also be the venue for the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships.

Qatar Football Association (QFA) president Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani added: "Khalifa International Stadium is close to Qatari hearts and has seen some of Qatar's biggest sporting occasions over the years since it was first launched in 1976.

"It is therefore a fitting venue for the biggest match of Qatar's football calendar, the 2017 Emir Cup final between Al Rayyan and Al Sadd, and we look forward to welcoming fans into the magnificent remodelled stadium on Friday evening."

Wilfried Zaha has rejected Gareth Southgate’s suggestion that he had imposed a timescale to be selected again by England, effectively holding the national team to ransom, and has defended his right to instead represent the country of his birth, Ivory Coast.

Bale and Ronaldo both played as Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 yesterday. Goals from Karim Benzema and Casemiro strengthened their grip on the La Liga title.

However, despite the victory, all is not well at the Santiago Bernabeu. Spanish outlet Diario Gol claimed yesterday that Ronaldo was fuming with Zinedine Zidane for substituting him late on.

The former Manchester United star provided the assist for Benzema's goal but was replaced by Isco in the 79th minute. It was said that Ronaldo believed Bale should have been substituted instead after an abject display.

But Diario Gol claim Bale was also angry after the game. The former Tottenham star's stock is rising in Spain after helping Madrid win the Champions League twice in the past three years. And the Wales international reportedly believes Ronaldo is preventing him from becoming the club's main man.

Bale has to play on the left wing due to Ronaldo's desire to play further up the field. He feels that Zidane is making a mistake by deploying him in that position as he prefers to play on the right, where he can cut inside.

Club chief Florentino Perez is now monitoring the situation as Madrid's two biggest stars aim to do outdo the other. 

Ireland and Everton defender Seamus Coleman faces up to a year on the sidelines after breaking his leg during a World Cup qualifier against Wales.

The ever-present risk of serious leg injuries in football was unfortunately realised once again as Wales’ Neil Taylor was shown a red card for a poor tackle during the 0-0 draw.

Once he realised what had happened, Coleman held onto his damaged leg while waiting for help.

Coleman was given oxygen on the field as medical staff attempted to immobilise his leg before taking to and ambulance and then hospital.

The final score took a back seat to Coleman’s well-being  after the match.

“It’s a bad break. Seamus is a fantastic player and character - it’s a major blow for the lad, for his club and for us,’’ Ireland manager Martin O’Neill told the UK’s Sky Sports.

“Apparently it wasn’t the best challenge in the world - I haven’t seen it back - but naturally disappointed. He’s gone to hospital and I think it’s broken.

“I saw Seamus’ reaction - he was holding his leg up and it didn’t look good.”

The length of Taylor’s suspension is yet to the decided but one this is for sure – Coleman is facing a lengthy stint of rehab before his professional career resumes.

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