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Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano put Clash dust-up on simmer

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Joey Logano-Brad Keselowski emotional boil-up after both crashed in Sunday’s Busch Clash exhibition race at has turned to a slow simmer.

The Team Penske drivers appeared Wednesday during NASCAR Media Day at Daytona International Speedway with a low-key tone about the incident.

“I think we’ll be fine,” Logano said with a smile.

“My comments to Joey, well, I’ll keep those to him and I,” Keselowski added.

Keselowski has been lobbying his counterparts for two years not to throw a block if a pack of stock cars has built more speed and can make a clean pass on a car ahead.

“I think I have been pretty consistent and verbal about blocking on the race track,” Keselowski said. “I don’t have anything that I feel different about in respect to that.”

The 2012 NASCAR champion was visibly angry following the wreck on Lap 66 of the Busch Clash after Logano threw a block on Kyle Busch. Neither Keselowski nor Busch were able to continue. Keselowski had led 33 laps before the multi-car crash.

Keselowski slapped the side of the ambulance with both hands before getting in for a mandatory on-site medical elevation.

After exiting the Speedway’s infield care center, Keselowski did not mince words.



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Anne Marion, founder of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, dies

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Texas oil and ranching heiress Anne Marion, who founded the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has died

DALLAS —
Texas oil and ranching heiress Anne Marion, who founded the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has died. She was 81.

Cody Hartley, director of the O’Keeffe museum, said in a statement that Marion died Tuesday in California. He called her a “passionate arts patron, determined leader, and generous philanthropist.”

Marion and her husband, John Marion, established the museum in 1997. She served as the chair of the board of trustees until 2016.

In an interview when the museum opened, Anne Marion said, “I’ve always loved her work. I grew up with it in my home — my mother had two of her paintings.”

Former President George W. Bush said in a statement that he and former first lady Laura Bush were mourning the death of their friend. He said she was “a true Texan, a great patron of the arts, a generous member of our community, and a person of elegance and strength.”

She was the great-granddaughter of Samuel Burk Burnett, founder of the 6666 Ranch in Texas.

Under Marion’s leadership, the museum grew to also include O’Keeffe’s two historic homes and studios in northern New Mexico, at Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch.



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Freed from impeachment drama, Trump to press ahead with re-election campaign

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump emerged confident and ready to press on with his re-election effort on Wednesday after the Democratic-led impeachment drive that he denounced as illegitimate crashed to a halt in the Republican-led Senate.

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures to gathered news media as he welcomes Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Trump plans to speak about the issue at the White House on Thursday. A source close to the president described his address as a “vindication speech” that would combine some magnanimity with an “I told you so” tone.

Next, advisers said, Trump would proceed at full steam on his political and policy goals, throwing himself fully into his re-election campaign and efforts to fulfill promises he has made to his supporters and the electorate.

“The president is pleased to put this latest chapter of shameful behavior by the Democrats in the past, and looks forward to continuing his work on behalf of the American people in 2020 and beyond,” the White House said in a statement after the verdict.

Trump was acquitted largely along party lines on two articles of impeachment approved by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives that accused him of abusing his power by pressing Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a contender for the Democratic nomination to face him in the Nov. 3 election, and obstructing Congress’ attempts to investigate the matter.

But he did not come out of the process unscathed.

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear, the impeachment will be part of his legacy, and Republican Senator Mitt Romney’s vote to convict him on the abuse-of-power charge deprived the president of the ability to dismiss the process as entirely partisan.

But Republican officials noted record fundraising during the impeachment process, leading Trump’s re-election effort to bring in $155 million in the last three months of 2019 alone, boosted by a support base that is both pumped up and ticked off.

‘TOTAL VINDICATION’

Although the bruising impeachment battle is certain to be a factor for voters considering whether to re-elect Trump in November, his campaign is claiming victory.

“Acquittal means total vindication,” said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director. “The Democrats’ decision to move forward with impeachment will go down as the worst political miscalculation in American history.”

In a sign of confidence, minutes after senators found him not guilty, the president tweeted a video of himself with campaign signs projected well into the future, suggesting he wanted to be president for decades to come.

U.S. presidents are constitutionally limited to two elected terms in office. Trump faced accusations of being autocratic and king-like during the Senate impeachment trial.

Trump released another video several hours later that referred to Romney as a “Democrat secret asset” and said the senator tried to “infiltrate” the president’s administration when Trump considered him for the position of secretary of state.

As the impeachment drama dragged on over the weeks, Trump gyrated between feeling upbeat and aggrieved. Advisers said he complained that his trade deal with Mexico and Canada did not get the media coverage it deserved because of the focus on impeachment.

With the threat of removal from office behind him, Trump is expected to bask in the glow of a strong economy and hammer Democrats for their efforts to take him down, even as supporters anticipate that Democrats will keep investigating him.

“I think President Trump and all of his allies are keenly aware of the fact that Democrats are going to keep this barrage up all the way through the November election,” said Jason Miller, a campaign adviser in 2016.

Trump plans to headline a rally in New Hampshire next week and more frequent rallies are expected in the coming months.

Reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Peter Cooney



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Lionel Messi launches attack on Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal

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Former Real Betis coach Quique Setien replaced Valverde in January despite Barca being top of La Liga and having progressed to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

The Argentine superstar, who rarely uses his platform for venting his own opinions, reacted angrily to Abidal’s comments which were made in an interview with Spanish newspaper Sport.

Abidal, who is a former teammate of Messi, said the players “were not satisfied nor worked hard” under Valverde, adding that he thought there was an “internal communication issue.”

“The coach-dressing room relationship has always been good, but there are things I can smell as an ex-player. I told the club what I thought and a decision had to be made,” he said.

Lionel Messi has launched an attack on the club's hierachy.

‘Dirtying everyone’

In response, the six-time Balon d’Or winner challenged Abidal to name the players he was referring to and said the club’s hierarchy should take responsibility for their own decisions.

The spat could have far-reaching consequences for Barca as Messi reportedly has a clause in his contract which would allow him to walk away from the club at the end of the season.
“Honestly, I don’t like doing these things but I think everyone should be responsible for their tasks and take ownership of their decisions,” the 32-year-old Messi wrote on Instagram, circling Abidal’s quotes.

“The players should own up to what happens on the pitch and additionally, we are the first ones to admit when we weren’t good.

“The sporting directors should also take their share of the blame and above all else own up to the decisions they make.

“Lastly, I think that when one speaks about the players, they should give names because if not they’re dirtying everyone and feeding things that are said and are not true.”

Messi and Eric Abidal were teammates together at Barcelona.

‘Messi could leave’

Barca is currently second in La Liga, three points behind fierce rivals Real Madrid, but long-term injuries to Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele have left the Catalan team short of forward options.

CNN World Sport contributor Darren Lewis says the public fall out could be a signal that things are going to change at the club.

“It might be a very small one but there is a possibility that Messi could leave Barcelona,” he told CNN’s Christina MacFarlane.

“They will have to do something about this because a lot of jobs will rely on Barcelona fans being able to enjoy not only their best player but the best player in this sport.”

Setien attempted to pour cold water on the crisis ahead of Barcelona’s Copa del Rey quarterfinal against Athletic Bilbao, saying he was just focused on the football.

“This situation doesn’t affect me, all I can do is give the players the tools they need to make the most of their talent,” he told reporters Wednesday.

“Every single club has its problems but there are things I can’t control, so please, only talk to me about football.”





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Kirk Douglas, acclaimed actor, dead at 103

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“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103,” he wrote on his verified Instagram account. “To the world he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to. But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to Catherine, a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband.”

Michael Douglas said that his father’s life “was well lived, and he leaves a legacy in film that will endure for generations to come, and a history as a renowned philanthropist who worked to aid the public and bring peace to the planet.”

He added: “Let me end with the words I told him on his last birthday and which will always remain true. Dad- I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son.”

Douglas was far more than just a leading man, although he was certainly that. The actor was a larger-than-life character, a titan of the entertainment industry, and someone — by virtue of his longevity — one of the last surviving links to a particular era of Hollywood’s past.

1956:  American actor Kirk Douglas (left) and actor Anthony Quinn (1915 - 2001; right) in a still from director Vincente Minnelli's film 'Lust for Life', in which Douglas plays Vincent Van Gogh and Quinn plays Paul Gauguin.

Rarely was he an unvarnished hero. Douglas’ protagonists were full of shades of gray.

Douglas’ tough-guy persona often overshadowed a shrewd business acumen and thoughtful intellect. In the interview with the late critic Roger Ebert, he attacked film critic Pauline Kael for her misconceptions.

“Don’t crucify me because of what your idea of a movie star is,” he said, referring to Kael. “I didn’t start out to be a movie star. I started out to be an actor. … You lose track of the human being behind the image of the movie star.”

Born to Russian immigrant parents, the self-made star established himself as an actor following World War II, capitalizing on his looks and athleticism. In that regard, he had a good deal in common with another titan of those years, Burt Lancaster, with whom Douglas co-starred in seven movies, including “Gunfight at O.K. Corral” and the political thriller “Seven Days in May.”

The athletic Douglas, who had acted in plays while growing up, attended St. Lawrence University on a wrestling scholarship, paying his way by working as a gardener and janitor. He then won a scholarship to the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and moved to the Big Apple. His classmates included a young woman named Betty Perske — soon to become Lauren Bacall — and another beauty named Diana Dill.

In 1941, Douglas made his Broadway debut. Two years later, he married Dill. The couple had two children, Michael and Joel, before divorcing in 1951.

Upon being discharged from the Navy, where he served during World War II, Douglas expected to return to the stage. However, his old colleague Bacall recommended him to Hollywood producer Hal Wallis, and Douglas found himself heading for the West Coast.

Made for movies

After a handful of nondescript films, “Champion” — which cast him as a ruthless boxer, who stepped on those around on him on the way up — made him a star and earned him an Oscar nomination.

Douglas exhibited a range that went beyond what was available to stars during an earlier stretch of the studio system. And like Lancaster, he seized control of his career in the mid-1950s by forming his own production company, using that leverage not only to find interesting parts for himself but to champion prestige material, as well as talent like director Stanley Kubrick, with who he collaborated on two memorable films, “Paths of Glory” and “Spartacus.”

1951:  American actor Kirk Douglas sits at a picnic table on the desert location for director Billy Wilder's film, 'Ace In The Hole.'

Perhaps foremost, Douglas was as comfortable — and as good, if not better — playing a bad guy, a heel, as he was a traditional hero. His steely edge shone through starting with the film noir classic “Out of the Past” in 1947, followed by “Champion,” “The Bad and the Beautiful” and “The Vikings.”

Douglas was equally adept playing action and serious drama, combining a nasty streak with a wry sense of humor. He excelled at playing terrible characters who nonetheless left the audience feeling a measure of sadness, in spite of themselves, when they met an untimely end.

The actor earning Oscar nominations for playing Vincent Van Gogh in “Lust for Life,” “Champion” and “Bad and the Beautiful,” but never won. He did receive a lifetime achievement award in 1996, and crooned a memorable duet with Lancaster at the 1958 Academy Awards, insisting how happy they were not to be among the nominees.

Spirit of a gladiator

Douglas famously used his clout in other ways, perhaps most famously by allowing blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo to put his name on “Spartacus.” Although there has been some dispute over just how significant that was in “breaking” the blacklist, as Douglas suggested in his autobiography, it did make clear his commitment to working with top talent, also employing Trumbo on one of his best films, “Lonely Are the Brave,” which cast Douglas as a modern-day cowboy.

Studios were nervous about giving credit to blacklisted writers, who struggled to find work and gave their credits to “fronts.” Actors in the same position sometimes found themselves unemployed, though a handful — such as Edward G. Robinson — eventually worked again.

“All my friends told me I was being stupid, throwing my career away. It was a tremendous risk,” Douglas wrote in “The Ragman’s Son.”

With the blockbuster success of “Spartacus” and another Trumbo-penned film, Otto Preminger’s “Exodus” (1960), the blacklist finally faded away. Douglas later wrote a memoir about the period, “I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist.”

Like those of many of his old Hollywood cohorts, Douglas saw his career go into decline in the late ’60s, though he had occasional success in such films as “The Fury” (1978) and “The Man From Snowy River” (1982). He did better on television, where he starred in such TV movies as “Victory at Entebbe” (1976) and “Amos” (1985).

Actor and president of the jury Kirk Douglas gives a press conference on May 17, 1980 during the 33th Cannes International Film Festival.

He also devoted time to charitable works, founding the Douglas Foundation with his wife, Anne Buydens, whom he married in 1954. The charity worked on such causes as elder abuse and homelessness.

Douglas also remained a colorful and outspoken figure even after a 1996 stroke impaired his speech — mounting a one-man show in its aftermath.

The stroke temporarily deprived him of his ability to speak intelligibly and was even more damaging to his psyche, he told People magazine in 1997.

“I must admit I’m not as brave as I am in the movies. I’m human, and like many people after a stroke, I faced severe depression,” he said.

His aforementioned 1988 autobiography, “The Ragman’s Son,” was a classic Hollywood tell-all, detailing various affairs with well-known actresses and settling some old scores. As the New York Times described it, the book read “like a collection of stories the actor has been telling over dinner for years.”

Douglas and his second wife had two sons, Peter and Eric. Eric Douglas, an actor, died of a drug overdose in 2004.

However, Kirk Douglas always tried to look forward. Among his many honors — which included an honorary Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Kennedy Center Honors award and a prize named for him at the Santa Barbara Film Festival — was making the list of the American Film Institute tally of greatest film legends. Douglas was No. 17 on the men’s list.

In perhaps the most famous — and certainly most lampooned — scene from “Spartacus,” his fellow rebels, captured by the Roman army, rise to proclaim, “I’m Spartacus!” when told their lives will be spared if they identify him.

Many actors, before and since, have played the sort of roles at which Douglas excelled. But in terms of breadth, volume and variety, there was only one Kirk Douglas.



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Na’Quisha Lost the Weight, But Found Happiness Beyond the Scale

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Na’Quisha tied her weight to her happiness, until she realized self-love is much deeper than physical appearances.

The post Na’Quisha Lost the Weight, But Found Happiness Beyond the Scale appeared first on Under Armour.



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Coronavirus: The economic cost is rising in China and beyond

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IKEA shopfront in Hangzhou, ChinaImage copyright
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The furniture store Ikea closed all its 33 shops in China in response to the outbreak

The human cost of the coronavirus outbreak is climbing across China and beyond. The economic cost is also mounting, mainly, but not only, in China.

That damage is, for the most part, not due to the virus itself so much as efforts to prevent it spreading.

There are strict restrictions on moving out of Wuhan, where the outbreak began, a city with a population of 11 million.

The lockdown, also now extended to other parts of Hubei province, prevents business-related travel as well as the movement of goods and workers.

Fear of the virus also means many people will choose to avoid activities they think might expose them to the risk of infection.

So restaurants, cinemas, transport providers, hotels and shops are all quickly feeling the impact.

And the timing of the health crisis, during the lunar New Year break, means those industries have been particularly exposed to commercial losses.

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Fewer people are choosing to take public transport

The New Year holiday was extended for a few days by the national Chinese authorities and there have been longer extensions imposed by some provincial authorities, delaying the return to work for some businesses even longer.

Any delay resuming production and selling goods is likely to lead to cash-flow problems, especially for smaller operations.

Many companies will have to continue paying bills, including employees’ pay.

And for manufacturers selling goods abroad, there may be some issues with buyers becoming more reluctant to buy from China.

Herbert Wun, who owns Wing Sang Electrical, which makes products such as hair-straighteners and blow-dryers in Guangdong province, told BBC News, many companies would not have much slack to take this kind of impact, coming, as it did, on top of the US-China trade war.

And the epidemic “will add to the pressure on customers trying to shift their supply chain away from China”.

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Starbucks have closed their outlets in China

The impact is not confined to China.

International retailers have closed operations in China – the furniture seller Ikea and the coffee shop chain Starbucks, for example.

Several overseas airlines have stopped flights to China and international hotel chains have been offering refunds.

And beyond that, there is growing concern about integrated international supply chains.

China has a much bigger role in these networks than it did at the time of the last major health problem that emerged from the country – the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) virus 17 years ago.

Hyundai, of South Korea, has suspended its car production because of problems with the supply of parts from its operation in China – an early warning sign of possible extensive disruption ahead.

China is an important supplier for the global motor industry and the electronics sector.

Many mobile phones and computers are made in China or at least have components manufactured there.

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Disinfectant being sprayed outside Shanghai exchange

Financial markets have also felt the effect of the health crisis.

Stock markets around the world are lower than they were two weeks ago. China’s market fell 8% on the first day of trading after the holiday.

There has been a particularly marked impact on the prices of industrial commodities, as China is such an important buyer.

Crude oil hit its lowest level in more than a year.

It has dropped by about 15% in the past two weeks, reflecting declining demand from China – underlined by reports the country’s leading refiner, Sinopec, is cutting back.

A group of oil exporting nations is considering production cuts in an effort to reverse the price fall.

Copper is also cheaper – by about 13% over the past two weeks.

It is an important material for the construction industry, which is also sure to be affected in China.

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Getty Images

Many of the suppliers of these commodities are emerging and developing economies.

It is early days to attempt to quantify the likely economic effects.

Much will depend on how well the Chinese authorities are able to contain the virus.

But some forecasters have made rather tentative efforts to put some numbers on the impact.

One example is the consultancy Oxford Economics which predicts the Chinese economy will grow less than 4% in the first quarter of 2020 from a year earlier.

For the full year, the forecast is average growth of 5.6%.

For both figures, the previous, pre-virus forecast was 6%.

It also expects the global economy to grow slightly less – by 0.2 percentage points – than it would have done otherwise.

But Oxford Economic says this is all based on an assumption the “worst case scenario” will be avoided. So there is a risk of the economic damage turning out to be more severe.

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Tokushoryu: Underdog sumo wrestler bursts into tears after first title

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A previously unknown sumo wrestler upset the odds Sunday to win the first major tournament of the year.

No one at the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament was ranked lower than Tokushoryu but the 33-year-old managed to surprise everyone to conquer almost all ahead of him.

His final victory over ozeki champion Takakeisho was met by adulation in the Tokyo arena as the underdog burst into tears in the dohyo.

Such emotional responses are scarcely seen in such a reserved sport but his tearful reaction has endeared himself to fans across the world.

“It feels like a dream. I don’t feel like myself. I feel I’m walking on clouds,” he said, according to Kyodo News Network.

“I’ve always said this, but there were no wrestlers below me in rank and I had my own fight to fight every single day, so I tried not to worry about anything else.”

‘Relieved’

Tokushoryu had spent most of his previous grand tournaments in the second division but found inspired form to win his latest competition with a record of 14-1.

Needless to say, this was the 188 kilogram wrestler’s first title of an 11-year career and his tears at the end of the 15-day event showed exactly what his victory meant to him.

“I didn’t think about what it would take for me to win the championship. I couldn’t even remember how many bouts I won or what day it was. I was that focused,” he said, per Kyodo.

“I might have cried too much, but at that moment I felt relieved from all the pressure.”



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Canadian Sinclair breaks international scoring record

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(Reuters) – Canadian forward Christine Sinclair became the all-time top scorer in international soccer, breaking the mark held by American Abby Wambach when she netted her 185th goal against St. Kitts and Nevis in south Texas on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – Women’s World Cup – Group E – Canada v New Zealand – Stade des Alpes, Grenoble, France – June 15, 2019 Canada’s Nichelle Prince celebrates scoring their second goal with Christine Sinclair REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Sinclair, playing her 290th international, scored the milestone goal from close range in the 23rd minute of Canada’s opening game at the CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers at H-E-B Park in Edinburg after tying the record with a seventh-minute penalty.

“Just unbelievable,” Sinclair said on what it means to be soccer’s most prolific goal scorer. “When I first started with the national team I could never have imagined standing here with the number of goals I’ve scored.”

The 36-year-old Canadian captain opened the scoring when she scored from the spot and later tucked away an Adriana Leon cross with a right-footed shot from inside the box to make it 4-0 and take the record.

Sinclair left the game in the 47th minute and Canada ran out comfortable winners 11-0.

“Christine: History is made. Your victory is our victory. We celebrate with you,” Wambach, who amassed her 184 goals over 255 games, posted on her Twitter account shortly after Sinclair surpassed her total.

“And to every girl coming up in the Pack with a dream to achieve that which doesn’t yet even exist: We believe in you. Your Pack is with you. And history awaits you.”

Wambach, who retired in 2015 after a 15-year career, had sole possession of the goalscoring mark since 2013 when she broke fellow American Mia Hamm’s record of 158.

Sinclair has been the backbone of the Canadian team since making her debut as a 16-year-old at the 2000 Algarve Cup where she scored her first international goal.

She has established herself as one of the best players in the women’s game and has competed at two Olympics, including in 2012 where she was the tournament’s leading scorer with six of Canada’s 12 goals.

“We have watched her grow from teenage star on the local grounds to international superstar who is adored around the world,” said Canada Soccer President Steven Reed.

CONCACAF President and FIFA Vice-President Victor Montagliani also offered congratulations and thanked Sinclair for her contribution to the sport.

“To have scored an all-time international record goal haul, and to still be going strong, is truly outstanding. Christine’s achievements have made her an icon in Canada,” said Montagliani.

“She transcends the sport and is a wonderful role model for people across the country.”

Iranian great Ali Daei holds the men’s international scoring record with 109 goals in 149 appearances.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ian Chadband and Richard Pullin



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Mumford & Sons feel ‘deep responsibility’ to help new bands

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Lafayette

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Ben Lovett is due to open his second venue in London in March

“This place was no man’s land when I was growing up.”

Dressed in a hard hat and hi-vis jacket, Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett is stood in front of what will soon be his new venue, Lafayette, in north London.

“It’ll be done in six weeks,” he laughs as a pneumatic drill interrupts him.

A building site might not seem the natural habit for a former Glastonbury headliner, but it’s all part of the “deep responsibility” that he says lies behind his involvement in the UK’s live music scene.

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Lafayette

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The venue will be part of a new development in London’s King’s Cross

Not everyone can pick a plot of land in King’s Cross, build a venue from scratch and attract the buzz that comes with the involvement of one of the world’s biggest bands.

But for Ben, who also launched London’s Omera in 2016, getting to this point “has been a lifetime of work”.

“Spending my life around independent music meant it felt like a natural progression to dive into venues…

“I’m not doing this because it’s a laugh or to make money. I genuinely believe in the ecosystem of this industry.

“Even when no one knew who Mumford & Sons were and we were playing in pubs, I cared just as much.”

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Adele shared stages with Ben and the rest of Mumford & Sons at small venues

Ben, who has done much more than just lend his name to Lafayette, says venues like this are “vital” for the next generation.

“There was a great regular event we played years ago in the back room of a London pub.

“I remember one night it was Adele, Jamie T, Florence [Welch] and us playing to a room of about 200 people.

“There will be acts playing here that will go on to headline Glastonbury.”

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Ben Lovett says acts like singer-songwriter Sam Fender will play to bigger and bigger crowds

‘You don’t have to be from Mumford & Sons’

Lafyette will join the hundreds of venues across the UK offering stages to future headliners.

Many of those spaces have struggled recently though.

“There’s been venues that, just this last week, have announced they’re closing,” says Chloe Ward, Independent Venue Week’s UK director.

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Chloe Ward at London’s 100 Club where Oasis and The White Stripes have played

The event, which runs in the last week of January, was started “as a celebration of venues and the people that own and run them”.

Five venues which have been open for less than a year are taking part this year, but it follows industry body UK Music estimating that 35% of the country’s venues have closed down in the last decade.

“It’s not that we’re ignorant of those closures,” says Chloe “but new venues are coming through.”

The rate of closure in recent years has slowed with the introduction of laws to help venues stay open and defend themselves from new developments.

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More than 35% of grassroots venues in the UK have closed in the last decade, including The Cellar in Oxford

The government has also just announced a 50% reduction in business rates for small and medium-sized “grassroots music venues”.

Chloe adds: “We see a lot of support from established artists for those venues but you don’t have to be Ben from Mumford & Sons to build and maintain a venue.

“There are people in local communities willing to give their time because they appreciate these spaces. There’s a lot to be said for the history of venues and keeping them going.”

Ben agrees that an all-hands-on-deck approach is key.

“I can’t remember the last time a week went past without being on the phone with someone who either owns venues or is trying to support one… This is a team effort, honestly.”

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The Rolling Stones are among the legendary acts who have played at the 100 Club

‘We need sweat on the walls’

Something that Ben feels the UK scene could build on is nurturing new spaces when they emerge.

“What we don’t have here, which some venues like the 100 Club do, is that Eric Clapton sweat on the walls – legendary stories of people that have played here,” he says, while showing Newsbeat around what will be Lafyette’s toilets.

Despite acknowledging “there isn’t a perfect way” to open a new space, Ben says he has “an epic 2,000-word note” filled with plans to help his new opening make a big impact around the world.

“When an artist growing up in Venice Beach, LA, says ‘If I get to London and play somewhere like Lafayette’ that would be cool.”

“As long as everyone remembers we’re all aiming towards the same goal – to have more venues to see bands that you get to know and love – then we’re going to be okay.

“We rely on the fact that people want to check out bands, that underpins the entire thing.”

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