Magnus Carlsen: You need to be very fortunate to be No 1 in fantasy football

The chess world champion reached the landmark during a highly successful year and now has his sights set on a record unbeaten streak in chess, he tells Sean Ingle

Im not a highly cultured guy, says the worlds strongest chess player and, for a brief giddy moment before Christmas, the No 1 Premier League fantasy football player on the planet. I dont think I do too much different from other people during my downtime. I play and watch football, and some NBA games. And I spend time working on my Fantasy Football team, obviously.

But for all Magnus Carlsens grandmasterly levels of selfdeprecation, there is no doubting that December 2019 was an extraordinary month, as the man called the Mozart of chess in his early teens hit the highest notes on and off the board.

Professionally, victories in the world rapid and blitz chess championships earned the 29-yearold Norwegian the triple crown, alongside the classical world title he has held since 2013. Meanwhile two goals from Liverpools Mohamed Salah against Watford also propelled Carlsen to the top of the official Fantasy Premier League rankings, ahead of 7.3 million people, an achievement that quickly went viral.

But Carlsen is dismissive of suggestions that it has anything to do with his extraordinary brain power, which meant that by five he could recite the populations of all 422 (now 356) Norwegian municipalities and name every capital city in the world and that by 13 he was a grandmaster.

This is the team that Magnus Carlsen assembled to go top of the Fantasy Premier League rankings. Photograph:

It was a great and fun feeling when Salah netted that second goal but I am not pretending that its a metaphor for anything else, he said. Because even if you are good which I do not claim to be you also need to be extraordinarily fortunate to be first overall.

There was no magic secret, Carlsen insists, just a combination of watching a lot of football, poring over the stats, and trying to identify players that others may have undervalued. Its sort of like sports betting, he says. You can give yourself a better chance by looking at the data But you still need to follow your gut feeling too and be fortunate.

And while things have gone a bit south since then, I still feel like having served myself into No 1 in the world is something I will always be very proud of.

But he confesses that the overall experience has been mixed because people kept giving him advice or begging him for tips. I was half thinking: Im competing against you! he says, smiling. And also I am Im not kidding myself into believing I am in a position to give other people advice. I am just a fan who enjoys playing.

We are talking on Wednesday evening in London, where Carlsen is playing a simultaneous display against 21 businessmen and talented children for his Norwegian sponsors Arctic Securities. Beforehand he jokes to his audience that he is looking forward to crushing them all even the kids. He is as good as his word, smashing them all in just over an hour despite stopping to give his youngest opponent, a six-year-old boy, some advice and encouragement.

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When it comes to the games, only one opponents play causes him to break stride. Suddenly Carlsen stops, fiddles with a piece, eyes rapidly blinking as he works out combinations in his head. But soon enough his opponent stumbles into a pitfall and another game is chalked up. No one is surprised. After all, on a previous visit to London he took on 12 players simultaneously while blindfolded and thrashed them all.

For now, his sole focus is on the first big tournament of the year, the Tata Steel Chess event at Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands which begins on Saturday. He has another record in his sights: that of the Dutch-Russian grandmaster Sergei Tiviakov, who went unbeaten for 110 classical games in a row, albeit against lowerquality opposition.

Carlsens streak in the format now stands at 107 despite facing mostly super grandmasters he has not lost since July 2018. I was very happy to get to 100, says Carlsen. But comparing my streak to Tiviakovs is to some extent comparing apples and oranges. And its like being No 1 in Fantasy. It doesnt mean that much, but still its a nice anecdote.

So what explains Carlsens brilliant form in 2019 which has once again taken him well clear of his rivals? He cites three factors: absorbing by osmosis the new strategies from AlphaZero, the Google neural network that taught itself to be the best chess programme in the world, plus a combination of momentum and opening novelties originally devised for his world championship match against Fabiano Caruana in 2018.

I absolutely believe in momentum, he says. I think in chess as in most other competitive areas confidence is crucial and it is also fragile. I think it is very hard to obtain and very easy to lose, at least if you have some sense of reality.

Carlsen cites one stunning victory over the top Dutch grandmaster Anish Giri last April in which he sacrificed a pawn as being influenced in part by what he has learned from AlphaZero. But it is clear he derives more satisfaction from the way he mentally broke down Giri again a month later in 23 moves. He surprised me in the opening. And I just decided that I was going to play something very dubious since I knew that was going to be unpleasant for him psychologically in other words I had confidence to play the man and not the position, he says.

Magnus Carlsen with one of his 21 opponents at the Four Seasons Hotel in London. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

And I could see him for the next hour just agonising, he continues with growing relish. He realised that his position was probably good but it would be very hard to prove it. So I was still in the drivers seat, because I was not afraid and he was. I didnt really care about the result I was just making a very good decision psychologically and it showed.

Another factor might be domestic happiness his relationship with Elisabet Lorentzen Djnne, a 24-year-old criminology student, has been known about in chess circles for months but Carlsen made it public only last week with an Instagram post, saying: Been a great year on and off the board, on to the next one!

Such is Carlsens global popularity that he has modelled for G-Star Raw and appeared on the Simpsons, while three million of Norways population of five million watched at least some part of his world title match against Caruana in 2018. Carlsen is said to be worth about $10m, some of which he has spent on the chess apps Play Magnus and Magnus Trainer and in acquiring the site Chessable. Its really about trying to bring chess to more people, he insists I dont have any aspirations of being a chess mogul, I just want to keeping playing that is what Im good at.

Later this year he will celebrate a decade as world No 1, while his best Fide rating of 2882 is the highest in history. But he bats away suggestions he might be the greatest of all time, insisting that his former mentor Gary Kasparov, a Russian who dominated the sport during the 80s and 90s, should be still considered top dog.

Kasparov had 20 years uninterrupted as the world No 1, he says. And I would say for very few of those years was there any doubt that he was the best player. He must be considered as the best in history.

Suddenly Carlsen starts to smile. But I feel like time is on my side, he continues. Im not 30 yet. If I were to be considered the best in history at 30 I would have had to start dominating at 10.

A question of whether he fears losing motivation at some point is met with a shake of the head. To me, replicating successes is as satisfying as obtaining it in the first place, he replies. And Im still hungry. And with Carlsen still the undoubted master of his domain, would anyone dare bet against Kasparovs record looming ever nearer in his sights?

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NCAA votes to allow college athletes to make money from their fame

Athletes may benefit from use of name, image and likeness as Chair Michael V Drake says NCAA must embrace change

The NCAA, the largest governing body of college sports, has taken the first step toward allowing athletes to cash in on their fame. Its board of governors voted unanimously on Tuesday to clear the way for college athletes to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness.

The NCAA realized that it must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes, the board said in a statement issued after the vote at Emory University in Atlanta.

The NCAA and its member schools must now figure out how to allow athletes to profit while still maintaining rules regarding amateurism. The board has asked each of the NCAAs three divisions to come up with new rules and have them in place no later than January 2021.

The board is emphasizing that change must be consistent with the values of college sports and higher education and not turn student-athletes into employees of institutions, said board chair Michael V Drake.

A group of NCAA administrators have been exploring ways in which athletes could receive compensation for the use of their names, images and likenesses. The task force, which has been working on the problem since May, presented a status report Tuesday to the board, composed of university presidents.

The NCAAs shift comes a month after California passed a law that would make it illegal for NCAA schools in the state to prohibit college athletes from making money on such activities as endorsements, autograph signings and advertising on social media. Californias law goes into effect in 2023. More than a dozen states have followed with similar legislation; some are hoping to have laws in effect as soon as 2020.

The NCAA has said state laws that contradict the national governing bodys rules could lead to athletes being declared ineligible or schools not being allowed to compete.

There is also a federal bill in the works that could prevent the NCAA and its member schools from restricting its athletes from selling the rights to their names, images and likenesses to third-party buyers on the open market.

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Liverpool make bad start as Napolis Fernando Llorente rounds off win

Liverpool lost 2-0 to Napoli in the first game of their Champions League defence, after a disputed Dries Mertens penalty and a late Fernando Llorente strike

Liverpool will accept history repeating itself should another late defeat at Napoli ultimately end in another Champions League triumph but this was a troubling start to the defence of number six for Jrgen Klopp. His European champions were vastly improved on the game they played here last season and on top when Jos Callejn darted into their penalty area in the closing stages. Carelessness at both ends of the pitch, and from VAR, combined to inflict familiar pain.

Andy Robertson was adjudged to have fouled Callejn and Dries Mertens converted the resulting penalty through the despairing grasp of Adrin. It certainly looked a foul to the naked eye and to the two belonging to German referee Felix Brych with the Liverpool left-back hanging out a leg into the run of the Napoli midfielder. And it certainly looked a dive by Callejn on review. VAR decreed otherwise. Not a clear and obvious error, apparently. The game-changer, said Klopp. In the desperate push for an equaliser Virgil van Dijk played a hasty back-pass straight to Fernando Llorente and the former Tottenham striker sealed Liverpools fate by prodding home his first Napoli goal.

Klopp had every right to lament the VAR rule book but the late defensive lapses and the failure to capitalise on several excellent openings also stymied Liverpools improvement in Naples. They were here with a point to prove having produced the worst performance of their campaign here last October. That was the first of three away defeats in the group stage and the Champions League still made its way back to Anfield so there will be no hand-wringing over this setback. Once again, however, Carlo Ancelotti and Napoli served up a frustrating night.

Ancelotti outfoxed Liverpool last season with two No 6s and a central defender, Nikola Maksimovic, at right-back. This time the coach who has won and lost Champions League finals against Liverpool opted for a more offensive approach, with Hirving Lozano partnering Mertens up front and his captain, Lorenzo Insigne, the match-winner at San Paolo last season, targeting Trent Alexander-Arnold down the Napoli left. It made for an open and highly entertaining contest between two teams willing to commit forward in numbers at the earliest opportunity. That it remained goalless so long stemmed in no small part to the quality of the four central defenders on display.

Kalidou Koulibaly is to Napoli what Van Dijk is to Liverpool and the hosts defensive rock was the games dominant force in the first half as he halted dangerous raids from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah. The timing and power of his challenges brought regular roars of approval from the home crowd. With Fabinho equally impressive in central midfield Liverpool frequently created space in which their front three usually wreak havoc. Koulibaly, Kostas Manolas and their fellow defenders were having none of it, however, and Alex Meret had only one save to make from Sadio Man before the break.

Adrin, making his Champions League debut at the age of 32, had earlier produced a fine double save to deny Fabin Ruiz. The Liverpool keeper parried the midfielders powerful shot at full stretch and repeated the trick when the rebound gave Fabin a second bite. Lozano headed home from Adrins second save but was clearly offside and his celebrations were correctly short-lived.

The game continued to flow both ways. James Milner skied over after Salah had escaped Koulibalys attentions for the first time and teed up the midfielder on the edge of the area. Milner almost returned the favour when Liverpool broke dangerously through Jordan Henderson and Man but, with Salah lurking unmarked at the back post, his low cross was cut out by the sliding Mrio Rui. Firmino headed the subsequent corner from Salah just wide.

Neapolitan heads were in hands early in the second half after Adrin produced a stunning save to prevent Mertens making the breakthrough. Liverpool were prised open when Insigne released Mrio Rui down the left Alexander-Arnold received little protection all night and the home full-back floated a delightful cross to the back post that evaded Van Dijk and Mertens met with a flying volley. The Belgium international was imagining his goal celebration when Adrin somehow tipped over a shot that was destined for the top corner at close range. Mertens was left in disbelief instead.

Liverpool should have capitalised when Man beat Insigne to a clearance from a Napoli corner and led a two versus one break deep into the home half. Salah was begging for the ball inside. Man delayed, delayed and eventually overhit the pass into his unmarked teammate. Unlike at Burnley, it was Man offering apologies this time.

Salah did get his chance to beat Meret moments later when Manolas miscued an attempted clearance from Koulibalys header. The ball dropped invitingly for the Egyptian, who swept a left-footed shot towards the bottom corner only for the Napoli goalkeeper to make a superb finger-tip save.

Liverpool took control against increasingly chaotic hosts as the game entered the closing stages and looked the more likely victor until Mertens invited Callejn to attack Robertson. Everything changed in a VAR moment.

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Marc Gasol adds World Cup to NBA title as Spain beat Argentina in final

Spain have captured their second Basketball World Cup, defeating Argentina 95-75 on Sunday to give Marc Gasol a rare double-title year

Spain have captured their second Basketball World Cup, defeating Argentina 95-75 on Sunday to give Marc Gasol a rare double-title year.

Ricky Rubio scored 20 points and Sergio Llull added 15 for Spain, the ninth team to make it through a World Cup or world championship unbeaten. Gasol scored 14 for the winners, who never trailed and added this crown to the one they claimed in 2006.
For Gasol, it was historic.

The Toronto Raptors center becomes the second player to win an NBA title and a Fiba world gold medal in the same year, joining Lamar Odom who did it for the Los Angeles Lakers and USA Basketball in 2010.

When Spain won its first title in 2006, it was Pau Gasol Marcs older brother leading the way. This time, it was the not-so-little brother who led his nation to gold, hoisting the World Cup trophy three months after getting his hands on the NBAs Larry OBrien Trophy for the first time.

In the bronze medal match, France beat Australia 67-59. France caused the upset of the tournament when they beat the reigning champions, USA, in the quarter-finals.

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Ex-NFL player Kellen Winslow Jr convicted of raping homeless woman

The former NFL player has been convicted of raping a 58-year-old homeless woman last year in his beach community of Encinitas, north of San Diego

Former NFL player Kellen Winslow Jr the son of a Hall of Famer who himself earned more than $40m during his career has been convicted of raping a 58-year-old homeless woman last year in Encinitas, north of San Diego.

A jury returned the verdict on Monday in San Diego superior court in Vista but was expected to continue to deliberate on two more counts of rape involving a 54-year-old hitchhiker and an unconscious teenage girl in 2003.

The jury also found the 35-year-old former tight end guilty of indecent exposure and lewd conduct involving two other women, but jurors found him not guilty of one count of a lewd act.

Winslow, who played for Cleveland, Tampa Bay, New England and the New York Jets, faces up to life in prison if convicted of all counts.

All five women testified during the nine-day trial. Winslow did not take the stand.

Defense attorneys pointed out inconsistencies in the accusers testimonies and argued the women invented the allegations to prey on the wealth of Winslow.

Prosecutors say the son of Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow felt empowered by his fame to abuse the most vulnerable.

Prosecutor Dan Owens told the jury of eight men and four women that Winslow is a wolf in sheeps clothing.

The homeless woman in Encinitas, who was 58 at the time, testified that he befriended her and attacked her next to his vehicle after inviting her for a coffee in May 2018.

A 54-year-old hitchhiker said he drove her to an Encinitas shopping center parking lot and raped her in his Hummer in March 2018.

A 57-year-old woman said he exposed himself to her while she tended to her garden in May of 2018. The jury found him guilty of that charge Monday.

After news of the attacks broke, a woman came forward and said Winslow had raped her when she was a 17-year-old high school student in 2003. He was 19 at the time and had come home from college for the summer. She said she passed out at a party in a San Diego suburb and woke up to find Winslow assaulting her.

A 77-year-old woman who went to the same gym as Winslow in the beach community of Carlsbad said he committed lewd acts in front of her, including touching himself, while Winslow was free on $2m bail in February. The jury found him guilty on the charge of touching himself in front of the woman at the gym, but not guilty of committing a lewd act while in the facilitys hot tub in front of the same woman who said it happened on a different occasion.

After the jury sent a note saying it was deadlocked on the eight other charges, the judge sent them back to deliberate. Jurors went home less than an hour later and were ordered to resume deliberating Tuesday.

The panel on Friday sent a note to the judge indicating it was possibly struggling to find agreement.

The jurors could benefit from an explanation as to what being under oath means, the note said. Additionally, how we should follow the law and not what we think the law means.

The judge told jurors being under oath means telling the whole truth and that they should follow the law how it is written.

Defense attorney Marc Carlos questioned the credibility of the womens claims, saying they had lied, misconstrued things or were unable to initially identify him correctly.

Defense lawyers also said the sex was consensual and that Winslow had cheated on his wife repeatedly with no-strings-attached sex.

Prosecutors said the crux of the womens stories didnt change and that evidence included traces of Winslows DNA on one of the accusers pants and GPS locations placing him where the women said the assaults occurred.

The five women testified that they didnt know Winslow was famous when they met him.

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University of Georgia sprinter seriously injured after being impaled on javelin

A University of Georgia sprinter is expected to make a full recovery after he was impaled on a javelin during a practice session

A University of Georgia sprinter is expected to make a full recovery after he was impaled on a javelin during a practice session on Tuesday.

Elija Godwin was participating in a drill in which he and his teammates were sprinting backwards when he ran into the javelin, which had been left pointing out of the ground at an angle. The accident left Godwin with wounds to his back and shoulder and collapsed his left lung. Emergency services attended to him and ground off part of the javelin before he was taken to hospital where the rest of it was removed by surgeons.

He was transported to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center. He underwent surgery and is in stable condition, read a statement from the University of Georgia. A full recovery is expected, according to UGA Director of Sports Medicine Ron Courson.

Georgias athletic director, Greg McGarity, said no one was to blame for the incident. It was truly an accident, McGarity said. Nobody threw anything or anything like that.

Godwin will, unsurprisingly, miss the rest of the season.

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Arsenal fire warning to Spurs that race for north London has not yet been won | Barney Ronay

Unai Emerys Arsenal have Premier League rivals and the Champions League in their sights after a victory over Manchester United

Were coming for you, were coming for you. Oh Tottenham Hotspur, were coming for you. At the end of a raucous, fun, potentially vital Premier League afternoon at the Emirates the home fans had already turned their eyes towards the other power in north London.

Last month, as Tottenham buzzed about just behind the top two, it became fashionable to point out that winning the league was in Tottenhams own hands. Which is, of course, the least secure place of all to be for winning the league. A 2-0 victory here, the first Premier League defeat of Ole Gunnar Solskjrs time at Manchester United, means Arsenal have now made up nine points on Spurs since Valentines Day and lurk a single point behind in fourth.

Unai Emery will be less concerned with the balance of north London enmity. This was a hugely significant result for the trajectory of Arsenals new managerial era, a springboard for the slog through spring that offers the most obvious measure of success in Emerys first season. There were two reasonable goals back in August. First, to make everyone feel better and create a sense of purpose again at the heart of this listing red and white corporate machine. Secondly, and more tangibly, to get back in the Champions League, the stage for which this stadium, this entire era was constructed in the first place.

Quick guide

Premier League top-four race: remaining fixtures

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The four-way sprint for the third and fourth Champions League places


31 Mar Liverpool (A)
7 Apr Brighton (H)
13 Apr Huddersfield (H)
20 Apr Man City (A)
27 Apr West Ham (H)
4 MayBournemouth (A)
12 May Everton (H)
TBCCrystal Palace (H)


1 Apr Newcastle (H)
7 Apr Everton (A)
15 Apr Watford (A)
20 Apr Crystal Palace (H)
29 Apr Leicester (A)
4 May Brighton (H)
12 May Burnley (A)
TBCWolves (A)

Manchester United

30 Mar Watford (H)
2 Apr Wolves (A)
13 Apr West Ham (H)
21 Apr Everton (A)
24 Apr Man City (H)
28 Apr Chelsea (H)
4 May Huddersfield (A)
12 May Cardiff (H)


17 Mar Everton (A)
31 Mar Cardiff (A)
8 Apr West Ham (H)
14 Apr Liverpool (A)
22 Apr Burnley (H)
28 Apr Man Utd (A)
4 May Watford (H)
12 May Leicester (A)
TBCBrighton (H)

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The message from the Emirates is that the first of these has already been accomplished. There is a fairly stiff competition for the title of worst walk-off song at the end of a sporting event. But as Sweet Caroline the thigh-grabbers favourite and a convincing contender parped around the stands, as the rain fell in deliciously violent sheets and spurts, as the crowd stayed to laugh and yell , it was hard once again not to feel the change of mood in this previously rather angsty stadium.

The Emirates had been a beautiful sight at kick-off on a cold hard sunlit March day. By the time the darkness fell it was slightly wild. Their former home, Highbury, had something spiky and nasty about it. There is a little of that in this glass and steel mega-bowl now. The away end was drowned out in a way that just never happened in the slow death of late Wenger-ism. Wheres your fuckin VAR? they sang, in a shared outburst of pointed social commentary. Whatever the future brings, whatever the knotted nature of the clubs hierarchy, you cannot kill the spirit and this place is seething with life these days.

So is the team, in between the odd false step. This game was won on details. Arsenal were a little lucky. Romelu Lukaku might have had a first-half hat-trick. United will move on with the momentum still in their legs. But winning a game in that way, against this kind of team, feels like progress in itself, evidence that, whatever the final level of this team, Emery has already made Arsenal into something they were not.

Romelu Lukaku missed two golden chances to score on a frustrating day for Manchester United. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Victory makes it nine straight home wins in the Premier League, with a real sense of, if not a fortress being built exactly, then a semi-secure gated community. Plus, of course, Arsenal are winning games they approached with fear in their heart until last year. Gone is the collapsible substance of the last few seasons, an Arsenal that fell apart against the better teams like a damp slice of white bread.
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Instead Arsenal attacked United with a wiliness in the clinches, the full-backs working furiously, the midfield ferreting hard. It was a game packed with central midfielders of note, from the lesser-spotted Fred, the colossus of Paris; to a rare sighting of Mesut zil in a major Premier League game, flushed out from his gilded nook on the Arsenal bench like a pedigree chinchilla lured into the light by a piece of cheese on a string.

zil mucked in and made some nice passes. But it was a less celebrated midfielder that gave Arsenal the lead. It was a weird goal. Granit Xhaka shot from outside the box. By the time the ball crossed the line, just to the left of centre, David de Gea was six feet away from it. Xhaka had spanked through the ball with the top of his foot, slicing it to swerve right to left. De Gea misread the cut, took a step for a swerve the other way and was totally beaten, waving a hand vaguely like a man hailing a rush-hour London bus as it speeds past his stop, windows steamed.

Arsenal took advantage of the moment. Alexandre Lacazette, who had a fine game, took the tumble that won the penalty for the second goal, tucked away by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. At the other end Bernd Leno was playing a blinder, making a series of fine saves from Lukaku.

From this point the run-in is as agreeable as these things ever get, with eight winnable looking games to go. It would be deeply Arsenal to trip up now, to lose their way when it suddenly looks clear. But something has shifted here. This might just have been the day when the Emery era found its first real hand-hold.

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West Ham suspend coach who went on Democratic Football Lads Alliance march

West Ham have suspended one of their youth coaches pending an investigation after he said he went on a march organised by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance, a group condemned by anti-racism campaigners.

West Ham have suspended one of their youth coaches pending an investigation after he said he went on a march organised by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance, a group condemned by anti-racism campaigners.

Mark Phillips, who coaches West Hams Under-18s, now faces a fight to keep his job after his support for the DFLA was brought to the attention of Kick It Out, footballs anti-discrimination charity. Phillips tweeted about attending the DFLAs march through central London last Saturday and went on to defend the right-wing organisation in subsequent tweets.

The DFLA, a group formed of mainly middle-aged, white male football fans had planned a mass march from Park Lane to Whitehall. Organisers said on Facebook they were protesting against returning jihadists, thousands of Awol migrants, rape gangs and groomers and veterans treated like traitors. The demonstration descended into violence when anti-racist protesters attempted to block the DFLAs route.

Although there is no suggestion that Phillips was involved in any of the disturbances, his future at West Ham is under threat given the DFLA has been accused of spreading Islamophobia and of having links with far-right organisations.

Kick It Out contacted the club on Monday after receiving a report from an anonymous complainant and is monitoring the situation. It also alerted the Football Association. However, the FA is not in a position to take disciplinary action, because Phillips does not appear to have broken any laws or regulations.

A Kick It Out spokesman said: We can confirm weve received a report about a West Ham coach claiming to have attended the DFLA rally. We have passed it on to the club and are liaising with them about the issue.

West Ham took action on Tuesday evening, although there is a chance Phillips could earn a reprieve if he expresses remorse and agrees to attend one of Kick It Outs educational courses about discrimination. The Premier League warned clubs about the DFLAs growing presence inside stadiums this year.
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Good turnout as usual from the West Ham fans today in W1, Phillips tweeted on Saturday. Always the biggest [party emoticon]. Fair due to Millwall as well, good show south London.

Phillips later told another Twitter user the disturbances during the march were sparked by protesters who confronted DFLA supporters and said it was fake news to label the group a far-right organisation.

The DFLA was set up after the London Bridge terror attack in 2017 and has called itself an anti-extremist group. It has received support from Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the English Defence League.

Responding to a witness who said he was at the march, Phillips said: I was too. The football fans were sticking to the agreed route and Antifa chose to confront the march. They had there face covered up. We didnt. Ask yourself honestly who instigated the trouble??

Phillips mounted a defence of the DFLAs actions and said he left the march at Embankment: The police made a mistake by walking the peaceful football fans march into the aggressive Antifa group and not the other way round. Ask the police on duty for the truth, he said.

Who said they were far right? Not true. Football fans yes. Far right. Fake news. Admittedly there was a lot of EX football hooligans there. But their behaviour was non-aggressive until ambushed by people hell bent on causing trouble. No matter how people look its there behaviour that counts. Ask your ex-colleagues the truth.

I cant comment I got the tube home from Embankment station and did not enter Parliament Square. I only comment on things I actually witnessed.

The club said in a statement: West Ham United is an inclusive football club. Regardless of gender, age, race, ability, religion or sexual orientation, every supporter within our diverse fanbase is warmly welcomed at London Stadium, free to enjoy watching their team play football without fear, discrimination or abuse.

We have a zero tolerance policy to any form of violent or abusive behaviour. We continue to protect and cherish those values and we remain committed to ensuring every single member of the West Ham family feels safe, respected and included.

This is the second time West Ham have been rocked by controversy this year. Tony Henry lost his job as their head of recruitment after making inappropriate comments about African footballers in February.

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Jim Furyks US college boys face stern French test to retain Ryder Cup | Ewan Murray

An exciting young USA team are favourites to retain the Ryder Cup but Europe could upset the odds with home advantage

It is an indicator of how perceptions around the United States Ryder Cup team have altered that the disarray surrounding their last appearance in Europe has been forgotten. Team USA exited Gleneagles with withering criticism of Tom Watson, the captain, by Phil Mickelson reverberating in their ears.

Cue the establishment of a task force, the arrival of a batch of exciting young players and the sense that one of the finest teams in history will take on Europe at Le Golf National.

Among those consumed by the narrative are bookmakers: the US are odds-on to retain the Ryder Cup, despite the fact they have not won on European soil for 25 years. The Americans have a great team, says Thomas Bjrn, Europes captain. But they always have a great team.

Nothing implemented by the US team approaches the realms of rocket science. That so many of their players have relationships stretching back to college days is pertinent. Yet table tennis matches and high fives do not win Ryder Cups. Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie would not win popularity contests, but they knew how to contribute to European success.

The Europeans continue to play an underdog card that may not be entirely legitimate. Questions should surround the Ryder Cup reliability of several American players; Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson fall into that category. Although not thought to be serious, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas have been troubled by recent injuries. While the return of Tiger Woods has been stunning, he and Mickelson have endured a hectic run to the final event of the FedEx Cup play-offs, which will naturally sap energy at this stage of their respective careers.

Bjrns cause for optimism is greater than many are keen to suggest. Justin Rose reached the summit of the world rankings before taking part in this weekends Tour Championship. At the same event, Rory McIlroy displayed further evidence that he may be approaching peak form. Tommy Fleetwood is perfectly at home among the worlds finest players, an assessment that is equally true for Jon Rahm.

Faldo concurs with those who believed the US team looked amazing after the latest of what has become typical Presidents Cup success last year. But then things changed, said the six-times major winner. Europes got some names maybe that people still dont know very well, but guys that can putt. The Ryder Cup, as we know, is having the mettle to hole the putt time after time. Tee to green, they are pretty evenly matched, but its who has got the nerve to hole the putt.

We have some new faces on the team. Alex Norn can putt and Tommy Fleetwood; some strengths there. Ian Poulter is back on the team and we know all about Rose, now top of the world, his great partnership in the past with Henrik Stenson. We put eight players out for the first four matches and to me, on paper, any match can go any way.

It does come down to great playing, simply, or its a little bit of the elements outside the ropes, the course. The weather could be different. Im looking a year ago, and its low 60s in France, might get a bit of rain and that sort of thing. Its autumn in Europe and so that would be different, especially if youre coming from America, boiling hot, still hot in Atlanta. Weve got plenty of players on the European team in Atlanta as well. Its six of one and half a dozen of the other. Bottom line, the strength on both sides is fantastic.

Bjrn agrees, to the point where he senses expectancy or pressure linked to the captaincy has been offset by the general level of excitement attached to these teams facing each other. When they do, history tells us home advantage is significant.

They [the Europeans] know this course extremely well, said Jim Furyk, the US captain. They have played the French Open there for 25 years. They love it. Its a great course, massive greens, a lot of unique pin placements.

Our big work is getting ready for that course and well have a very short period of time in person to do that when we are there in France.

Furyk is intelligent enough to realise the perils associated with strong favouritism. Here cometh the US moment of truth.

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Liverpool confident Sadio Man will commit long-term future to club

Jrgen Klopp is confident that Sadio Man will soon complete a hat-trick of Liverpool forwards who have committed their long-term futures to Anfield

Jrgen Klopp is confident that Sadio Man will soon complete a hat-trick of Liverpool forwards who have committed their long-term futures to Anfield.

Liverpool have secured Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino with new five-year contracts in recent months that have doubled their salaries and the club are in regular dialogue with Mans representatives about the Senegal international following suit.

The 26-year-old has three years remaining on the contract he signed when joining Liverpool from Southampton in 2016 but Anfield officials want to reward the strikers progress in line with Klopps stance on Firmino and Salah. The manager believes the optimism around Anfield will play a part in convincing Man to extend hiscontract.

Klopp said: When I speak about the good mood in the club, that is not only in the stands. We are Liverpool as a team and the boys want to be part of it. Thats really cool and its a big achievement for the club because these boys, Bobby Firmino, Mo Salah and Sadio Man, and a lot of the others as well, could play for pretty much any team in the world. Thats how it is and a good sign for the club that they wantto stay. It is an improved situation that these players dont use us and then go. Its cool but now we all together have to deliver. Sign your contracts but now, go again play and fight, run and shoot, all that stuff. Thats football.

Klopp has repeatedly stated there will be no more incomings before the transfer deadline despite having lined up a 53m move for Nabil Fekir earlier in the summer. The Lyon captain, whose proposed deal fell through on medical grounds, was earmarked as another creative option following Philippe Coutinhos departure to Barcelona in January. Klopp, however, believes the second half of last season confirmed Liverpool had moved on without the Brazil international and that a straight replacement for Coutinho does not exist.

You cannot replace Phil Coutinho with exactly the same kind of player, Klopp said. Hes Phil Coutinho. He has a specific style of play, tactically an outstanding player, can play as the wing, the 10, the eight really great. I dont want to put one of my players in the position where people will say constantly, Hes the Phil replacement.

I think the biggest thing we did in the second half of last season was that we didnt need to speak too much about Phil. That wasnt clear in January. How could we have known that? If we still had Phil then we could have played him in the Champions League final and, when Mo [Salah] goes out injured, Phil goes on the left wing, Sadio to the other side and bring a midfielder on. Then its a different story. That would have been nice but he wasnt here any more and we wish him well.

We dont need to replace Phil. We need to make a squad for the next year. Out there on the market, there isnt a Phil Coutinho-light. Its not there. But there are a lot of good players and we have brought a few of them in.

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