Beyond the bubble of bumps fever, town v gown boxing and downing Oxford at rackets it's been another madcap week in the world of sport.
The Beautiful Game
Just weeks after Fifa President Gianni Infantino pledged to “promote human rights as a top priority”, football’s governing body approved Chechnya as Egypt’s World Cup base. Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov on the controversy over his rights record: “It’s all an invention by foreign agents who are paid a few kopecks. These so-called human rights activists make up all sorts of nonsense for money.”
In other Russia news
As over 150 Russian athletes compete independently in Pyeongchang, whistleblower and mastermind behind the Sochi doping scheme Grigory Rodchenkov conducted his first TV interview since fleeing to the States. “There is information that my life [is] in jeopardy. Kremlin wants me to stop talking.”
Winning at losing
Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward giving the Old Trafford faithful something to chant about: “The Alexis Sánchez signing generated 75% more social media interactions than Neymar’s world record transfer to PSG.”
In other nihilism-inducing social media news
Jesse Lingard’s apology after banter with Marcus Rashford was tweeted from his account during the Munich disaster memorial service at Old Trafford. It was sent by “a member of my media team. It does not reflect my personality or views on this emotional day.”
Thawing Korean Tensions
"I think we're stronger together than we're divided," said North Korean player Jong Su Hyon on the North-South ice hockey alliance. "As one unified team, I hope we can continue to train together. I think we will excel together as one unified team.” They have lost both of their opening matches 8-0 to Switzerland and Sweden. Nonetheless, in their most recent defeat, fans chanted “We are one” and North Korean cheerleaders sang “Unify the motherland!”
As Manchester City write an open letter to the referee’s association asking for more protection of players, and Raheem Sterling claims that City’s stars are “getting butchered, butchered out there”, Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock took a rather less sympathetic view on the matter post their FA Cup tie: “City dished out a bit, as well. He [Guardiola] is in England. What do you expect? I suppose when you’re like that you want everything to be nice and pretty but you don’t get that in England. You get different challenges, don’t you?”
Shock Australian Open quarter-finalist Tennys Sangren responding to criticism over his Twitter history: “You seek to put people in these little boxes so that you can order the world in your already assumed preconceived ideas. You strip away any individuality for the sake of demonizing by way of the collective. You would rather perpetuate propaganda machines instead of researching information from a host of angles and perspectives while being willing to learn, change and grow… In so doing, you may actually find you’re hastening the hell you wish to avoid, the hell we all wish to avoid.” Trump supporter Sandgren had sagely backed “Spirit Cooking”, a campaign that sought to paint Hillary Clinton as a Satan-worshipping occultist, and “Pizzagate”, a conspiracy theory hoax that Clinton was connected to a pizzeria sex ring. “It’s sickening and the collective evidence is too much to ignore,” he wrote.
Most unconvincing condemnation
Joey Barton on Dele Alli’s involvement in a sex tape that has gone viral after Liverpool fans hacked his iCloud account: “He’s a young lad, I mean it’s not right that it’s got out, obviously that’s someone’s daughter. It’s not right, but, it’s not, I don’t think it’s wrong.”
And closer to home
Three minutes after the final whistle in a 0-0 draw with Lincoln City on Friday, Cambridge United Tweeted that Shaun Derry would be leaving the club by mutual consent.
The U’s sat 14th in the table, Derry having guided them to 9th and 11th place finishes. “I’m not going to pretend that I’m certain – who can be certain on judgement calls like this,” said new owner Paul Berry. “But to my best knowledge we’ve tried to find a fine line between forcing things early and waiting too late.” Derry had been an integral part to the collaboration, Berry went on to claim, “as we look ahead to the beginning of next season.” United currently have 15 games left.