Was Infantino just too busy to get involved in freeing Hakeem al-Araibi? | Marina Hyde

Fifa has a new human rights policy, yet its president appears to have been too caught up with other things to help out a footballer jailed under false pretencesTo the Middle East, where Fifa’s brilliant plan to bring peace via the medium of football continues apace. Last month, Qatar’s extraordinary win in the Asian Cup was noisily welcomed by Fifa, presumably as retrospective justification for its decision to award the tiny Gulf state the 2022 World Cup. And in some of the regional countries currently blockading Qatar, the headlines on news coverage of the final show just how close the whole peace-dream is to becoming a reality. Which is to say, not very close, if they still can’t mention the match winner in a match report. As the UAE’s Gulf News had it: “Japan come up short in Asian Cup final.” That said, it did have two articles about the final. The headline on the other was: “The Samurai’s extra confidence caused their loss.” Related: Privileged sport officials willing to sacrifice Hakeem al-Araibi's life should be expunged | Craig Foster Continue reading...



The Fiver | Unfit to face inferior players who have hardly run a lap since Christmas

Sign up now! Sign up now! Sign up now? Sign up now!Buoyed, cheered and generally heartened by the sight of Tottenham Hotspur piling some Big Cup hurt on German league leaders Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night, Arsenal fans can look forward to some fun of their own when their team goes toe to toe with the works team of a tractor factory in Belarus tonight in Euro Vase. Bate Borisov are the opposition in the first knockout round and while most of their players are unknown outside their native country, there will at least be one recognisable face among the ranks. Continue reading...



Everything’s a little too cosy in football’s game of family fortunes | Daniel Taylor

Why do managers keep signing their sons and using them as agents? And just what persuaded Cardiff to give contracts to Willie McKay’s twins?By now, I expect you might have seen that old video clip of the time Harry Redknapp was hosting a question-and‑answer session at West Ham and taking a bit of heat from someone in the audience who seemed to suspect they might have taken their reputation as a family club a little too far.The irate fan didn’t seem to care when Redknapp said the 18‑year‑old sitting to his right was destined for the “very, very top”. That player was a young Frank Lampard. “Not good enough,” complained the punter. Why, he wanted to know, was Lampard getting a game? Why had the manager’s nephew been fast-tracked into the team when a better player by the name of Scott Canham had been let go for peanuts? Continue reading...



Arjen Robben: ‘If you ask what is the worst stadium for me, it’s Liverpool’

In his tenth and final season at Bayern Munich the Dutchman talks about his extraordinary decade in Bavaria and burning desire to avenge Champions League traumas at Anfield“‘Enjoy it, enjoy it,’ that’s what you say to young players.” Arjen Robben is wrestling with the question of whether, across two decades of dedication to his art, he has managed to practise what he preaches. “But then you ask yourself: ‘Are you also enjoying it?’ Maybe it’s good, also, for yourself to enjoy it.”It comes to be a recurring theme during a lunchtime at Bayern Munich’s training ground that finds Robben in mellow, reflective mood. Outside, the snow is melting and the sky getting brighter but, with every lengthening day, the winter of his career with the German champions creeps in a little more. In June he will draw a line under 10 years’ service and he fully admits the scale of what he has achieved takes some working through. Continue reading...



Cougars claw back in a heartwarming tale of rugby league resurrection | Tanya Aldred

Keighley were in special measures and heading nowhere in November. Now they are back on the sporting mapIn dark times, stories of resurrection have always worked a treat for those trying to flog a religion or sell a little hope. And in a small Yorkshire town once sustained by textiles, resurrection is exactly what a likable offbeat collective is trying to bring.Keighley Rugby League Club, a regular member of the last-chance saloon, was placed in special measures in November for failing to pay the players’ wages. It looked to be in dire trouble, only to be rescued at the 11th hour by a consortium of familiar faces, the men in charge during the glory years of the 1990s, when the waiting list for boundary boards was so long that the club flogged advertising space on the roof. Continue reading...



Sports quiz of the week: a birthday present, a record and a whiskey cup

Who wants a miracle? Who needs a drink? Who ran the world?What did Susannah Gill achieve in 24 hours, 19 minutes and nine seconds?She rowed from Botany Bay to Belfast She cycled from Asia to AfricaShe ran seven marathons across seven continents in seven daysShe swam from England to FranceNeymar celebrated his 27th birthday this week. In his speech at his party, what did the PSG forward say he wanted as a present?For his teammates “to stop losing without me” To move back to Spain A new metatarsal To become “the Tom Brady of soccer”Where is the Centenary Quaich being contested this weekend?DublinEdinburghLondon Chicago53% of households in New Orleans watched the Super Bowl last year. Why did that figure fall to 26% this year?People listened to the radio instead as Barack Obama was doing guest commentary Fans boycotted because a dubious refereeing decision ruled out their team Donald Trump was in the city so people were out protesting The main broadcast company mistakenly sold rights to New Zealand rather than New OrleansIn which of these leagues has one of the teams not lost yet this season?Bundesliga La Liga Ligue 1 Premier League Serie AAnd which league has a team who have not drawn a game yet this season?BundesligaLa Liga Ligue 1Premier League Serie A What world record did golfer James Nitties equal this week at the Vic Open in Australia?He went 18 straight tournaments without dropping a shot He hit nine birdies in a row He missed the cut at a tournament for the 21st time in a row He lost 10 balls on one roundWhy did Newport County goalkeeper Joe Day sprint off the pitch at the final whistle after his team had beaten Middlesbrough in the FA Cup?To brush his hair and "look smart" for the post-match interviewsHe was “absolutely busting for a number two”He is a Middlesbrough fan and “felt a bit teary”To see his partner, who was in labourDulwich Hamlet signed Simon Bloch Jørgensen this week. What makes Jørgensen stand out?He plays as a goalkeeper but refuses to wear gloves He is the tallest professional footballer playing in EnglandHe wears glasses while playing He insists on wearing a shirt with no branding or sponsorship PSG play Manchester United in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Which of these footballers has not played for both teams?Gabriel Heinze Ángel Di María Zlatan Ibrahimovic Ray Wilkins Laurent Blanc David Beckham It’s the Madrid derby this weekend, which pits Diego Simeone against Santiago Solari, the sixth different Real Madrid manager he has faced while in charge of Atlético. Who did Simeone face in his first Madrid derby as a manager?Rafa BenítezFabio Capello José MourinhoCarlo AncelottiWhich of the last-16 ties features two clubs that have won the competition three times in a row?Manchester United v PSGAtlético Madrid v JuventusLiverpool v Bayern MunichAjax v Real Madrid 11 and above.You've done very well there. Good work. Have a super weekend12 and above.You've done very, very well there. Good work. Have a super weekend1 and above.It's not a good score but fret not. It's a Friday. Go forth and have fun2 and above.It's not a good score but fret not. It's a Friday. Go forth and have fun3 and above.It's not a good score but fret not. It's a Friday. Go forth and have fun4 and above.You've done OK there. Not great but certainly OK5 and above.You've done OK there. Not great but certainly OK6 and above.You've done OK there. Not great but certainly OK7 and above.You've done well there. Good work. Have a super weekend8 and above.You've done well there. Good work. Have a super weekend9 and above.You've done well there. Good work. Have a super weekend0 and above.It's not a good score but fret not. It's a Friday. Go forth and have fun10 and above.You've done very well there. Good work. Have a super weekend Continue reading...



Phil Foden ‘brilliant’ for Manchester City against Newport, says Pep Guardiola

• Manager praises 18-year-old’s influence in hard-fought win• ‘He’s a player who is ready – ready to play’Pep Guardiola praised Phil Foden for producing a “brilliant” performance against Newport County after the 18-year-old scored twice to help Manchester City reach the quarter-finals. Leroy Sané and Riyad Mahrez scored the other goals as the Premier League champions won 4-1 to break Newport’s brave resistance. Related: Sané and Foden send City through as dogged Newport are finally downed Continue reading...



Mark Wood: ‘You almost feel like a superhero … you’re absolutely flying’

England fast bowler was thrilled to make an explosive impact in the third Test against West Indies after years of frustrationWhat is it like to bowl at 95mph? For Mark Wood, whose scorching return to England’s Test team sent everyone a bit gaga in St Lucia, the answer is wonderfully simple: “You almost feel like a superhero. I’ve been playing Mario Kart recently and yeah, it’s like when you get a magic mushroom and you’re just absolutely flying.”It will come as little surprise to learn Wood is still glowing from victory in the third Test against West Indies and his maiden five-wicket haul. The 29-year-old sat down for a chat this week and, in that inimitable Ashington twang, his delight at finally becoming a match-winner shone through. Continue reading...



David Beckham sees Salford City beaten on first visit since becoming co-owner

• Salford lose in National League to struggling Dover Athletic• Beckham watching for first time since buying 10% stakeDavid Beckham saw Salford City suffer a surprise home defeat as he watched the National League club in action for the first time since becoming co-owner.Beckham last month followed his former Manchester United teammates Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt in securing a 10% stake in the club from Peter Lim, making the Class of 92 majority shareholders, with the Singapore businessman retaining 40%. Continue reading...



Soccer and soju: The football match that kicked off Korean peace

How a friendly chat on the sidelines opened the door for North and South Korea to start talking.



Root joins Murray and Southgate in standing up for social tolerance | Tim de Lisle

England captain has done cricket a great service – his reaction to a perceived homophobic remark was cool, calm, collected … and rightCricketers call it sledging, or chirping: the business of trying to undermine your opponent with verbal abuse. It’s a dismal habit that shows us sport at its most small-minded and should have been banned long ago. But this week it has done the world a favour.In the Test in St Lucia, the West Indies bowler Shannon Gabriel was bad-mouthing the England captain, Joe Root. What Gabriel said the stump microphone did not catch but it did bring us Root’s reply: “Don’t use it as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with being gay.” Continue reading...



FA Cup: Ashley Cole heads Derby back into contention against Brighton

Ashley Cole scores his first FA Cup goal to give Derby hope in their fifth-round tie, but hosts Brighton hold on to secure a 2-1 victory and a place in the quarter-finals.



Who is the greatest F1 driver ever?

After Lewis Hamilton won his fifth world title on Sunday, BBC Sport is asking you just who is the greatest F1 driver ever?



David Squires on … Chelsea's humiliation at Manchester City

Our resident cartoonist on Maurizio Sarri’s dismay, Mike Dean and a man trying to wear trousers as a jumperTake a look through David’s archive of cartoons Continue reading...



Wigan’s Tom Davies: ‘I came to terms with the fact I wasn’t going to make it’

The winger talks about his arduous road from working in the pavilion at Leigh to lining up in the World Club ChallengeWhen the superstars of Sydney Roosters take to the field at the DW Stadium on Sunday evening in the 2019 World Club Challenge, the Wigan winger Tom Davies may be forgiven if he takes a moment to look around and pinch himself. He is already a Super League winner at the age of 22 but not so long ago Davies would have been thought more likely to be watching his hometown club from the stands as the Warriors aim to be crowned the best club side in the game.“I came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to make it,” he says. The journey for most talented young players in Wigan is often fairly simple: they are signed for the club’s junior development system at a young age and eventually progress to the first team. Davies’s story could not be more different. Continue reading...