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Abramovich Was Not ‘directed’ To Buy Chelsea FC By Putin, Court Hears



Abramovich Was Not ‘directed’ To Buy Chelsea FC By Putin, Court Hears
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Abramovich Was Not ‘directed’ To Buy Chelsea FC By Putin, Court Hears

Author accused of repeating ‘lazy inaccuracies’ about businessman’s role in Russian politics and society

Roman Abramovich’s lawyer said it was defamatory to describe the businessman as having “a corrupt relationship” with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and that he had acted “covertly at his direction” in key business deals such as the purchase of Chelsea football club.

Speaking on the first morning of a preliminary hearing of a high court libel claim against a bestselling book about the modern Kremlin, Hugh Tomlinson QC said the 54-year-old billionaire said he did not “bring this claim lightly” and understood it could be characterised as “an attack on public interest journalism”.

The lawyer also accused the author Catherine Belton in her book Putin’s People of repeating “lazy inaccuracies” about his position in Russian politics and society.

The barrister said Abramovich iswas complaining about 26 extracts in the book at the beginning of a two-day hearing in the high court aimed at determining the meaning of key passages ahead of a full trial, in a case that is being seen as a test of England’s libel laws and their impact on investigative journalism.

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Belton, a special correspondent with Reuters, is also being sued for libel by the Russian state-owned energy giant Rosneft.

At the heart of Abramovich’s complaint is that the billionaire’s £150m purchase of Chelsea FC in 2003 was “directed” by the Russian president. Tomlinson said the words in Belton’s book meant that Putin had ordered Abramovich to purchase the club as “part of a scheme to corrupt the west by corrupting local elites” and to “build a bulkhead of Russian influence”.

Abramovich Was Not ‘directed’ To Buy Chelsea FC By Putin, Court Hears

“The ordinary and reasonable reader would inevitably come out with the view that Roman Abramovich was instructed to buy Chelsea … so he was being used as the acceptable face of a corrupt and dangerous regime,” Tomlinson said.

He added: “At no stage is the reader told that actually Abramovich is someone who is distant from Putin and doesn’t participate in the many and various corrupt schemes that are described,’ Tomlinson said. ’On the contrary, he’s described as making corrupt payments.”

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Andrew Caldecott QC, acting for Belton and HarperCollins, argued that Belton’s argument about the purchase of Chelsea FC was more nuanced. The book cited three sources for the proposition that Abramovich bought the club at the direction of Putin, Sergei Pugchaev, a former member of the President’s inner circle, and two others.

But he added that Belton herself did not draw a firm conclusion. “Now this is a case where we say the authorial position plainly leaves it open,” Caldecott said, indicating that Belton wrote “But whatever the truth of the matter, Abramovich’s choice of Chelsea became a symbol of Russian cash that was flooding into the UK”.

Caldecott said Belton had also incorporated a denial of the claim – from a friend of Abramovich’s in the text – to make clear the position was contested. But Tomlinson argued the phrasing was cursory, that it was “a bare denial”.

In the afternoon, the court also heard that a settlement had been reached in two other related cases: one involving the Russian businessman Mikhail Fridman, 57, who had brought a similar libel claim against HarperCollins, and a data protection claim brought against the publisher Petr Aven, 66, the head of the Russian lender Alfa-Bank.

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Tomlinson told the court the publisher had “agreed to remove” the material in dispute and had agreed to apologise.

Lawyers for HarperCollins said the changes the publisher made to settle Fridman and Aven’s claims were minor, covering three paragraphs. The apology was restricted to the fact that the disputed points had not been discussed with the two men prior to publication.

Earlier, Tomlinson, who is representing Abramovich, as well as Fridman and Aven, had said there was “no relationship” between the claims. He told Mrs Justice Tipples he was instructed to act for the three men “coincidentally and entirely independently” and that there was “not any kind of coordination between these claimants”.

In the week prior to the hearing, the anti-corruption campaigner Bill Browder said the case “threatens to be the biggest legal pile-on I’ve ever seen and it risks deterring future journalists from writing about Putin’s wealth”.

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Aisha Buhari, Oshoala, 1999 Super Falcons Dazzle At NFF-Aiteo Football Awards




Aisha Buhari, Oshoala, 1999 Super Falcons Dazzle At NFF-Aiteo Football Awards
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Aisha Buhari, Oshoala, 1999 Super Falcons Dazzle At NFF-Aiteo Football Awards

The third edition of the annual NFF-Aiteo Football Awards took the City of Lagos by storm on Monday night, with the country’s First Lady, Dr (Mrs) Aisha Buhari, as well as four-time African Player of the Year Asisat Oshoala, home-based professional Gift Monday and the Super Falcons’ class of 1999 the star attraction at the glamour event inside the Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island.

Scuttled by the global coronavirus pandemic that has wreaked havoc worldwide since the beginning of year 2020, the third edition of the showpiece event was planned on a smaller scale but blossomed and and became magnified as the night wore on, with the wife of the Chief Naval Staff, Hajiya Nana Aisha Gambo (representing the First Lady); First Lady of Lagos State, Dr (Mrs) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu; FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura; Edo State Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu; Aiteo’s Executive Vice President Francis Peters; FIFA Executive Member Isha Johansen; CAF Executive Member Kanizat Ibrahim; CAF chieftain Danny Jordaan; daughters of the First Lady of the Federal Republic – Halima, Zahra and Noor; NFF Executive Committee Members and Management; top guns of the Lagos State Sports Commission and FA; NFF partners and sponsors; corporate titans; squad members of the 1999 Super Falcons; squad members of the Women ‘A’ teams of Nigeria and Cameroon and; leading football stakeholders, in the hall.

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Former NFF President, Col. Abdulmumini Aminu (rtd); Sarah Bareman (FIFA Head of Women’s Football); Barr. Allen Onyema (Chairman of Air Peace); Distinguished Senator Obinna Ogba (Chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports); AIG Garba Umar Baba (Nigeria’s Interpol Officer and NFF’s Senior Adviser on Security); Aiteo Group’s Samira Buhari and; Dr Aliyu Oroje Wammako (President of Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria) were also present.

Aisha Buhari, Oshoala, 1999 Super Falcons Dazzle At NFF-Aiteo Football Awards

President of the NFF and FIFA Council Member, Amaju Melvin Pinnick heaped plaudits on Dr Aisha Buhari, in whose name the six-nation invitational tournament concluded on Tuesday in Lagos was held, and disclosed that her passion, interest, attention and commitment to the challenges confronting women, the girl-child and the less privileged in general motivated the Aisha Buhari Cup event. The First Lady was honoured with the award of Best Supporter of Women’s Football.

Silas Nwankwo and Charles Atshimene, who shared the honours of top scorer in the last NPFL season with 19 goals, were joint winners of the Best Performance of the Year (Men; Nigeria-based) while Paul Onuachu emerged Best Performer for the overseas-based crew. Super Eagles’ forward Onuachu scored 35 goals in 41 games for his Belgian club Genk and two crucial goals in the Super Eagles’ successful qualifying campaign for the 2021 AFCON finals.

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Oshoala, who Spanish club FC Barcelona won the UEFA Champions League, emerged best performer (Women; Overseas-based) while Gift Monday, top scorer in the NWFL season, was crowned best performer on the home front.

Akwa United FC, Bayelsa United FC, Kennedy, Boboye, Moses Adukwu, Joseph Ogabor, Patience Madu, Ahmed Musa and NFFTV and NPFLTV were other winners, while Princess Bola Ngozi Jegede was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award (collected by her son, Christopher). There were also post-humous awards to Prince Larry Eze and Ms Henrietta Ukaigwe for contributions to women football development.

Lagos State was honoured with Host State of the Year and Edo State was recognized with Award of Commitment to Women Footbal Excellence.

Comperes Ay (Ayo Makun) and Ufuoma McDermott brought even more glamour and dazzle to the night by calling the members of the Super Falcons class of 1999 to the stage, with 14 of the 20 players present on the night: Nkiru Okosieme, Rita Nwadike, Mercy Akide, Ann Chiejine, Yinka Kudaisi, Marvis Ogun, Maureen Mmadu, Stella Mbachu, Gloria Usieta, Adanna Nwaneri, Florence Iweta, Nkechi Egbe, Judith Chime and Martha Tarhemba. The deceased Ifeanyi Chiejine was represented by her sister.

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Best Performance of the Year (Men; Nigeria-based): Silas Nwankwo/Charles Atshimene

Best Performance of the Year (Men; Overseas-based): Paul Onuachu

Best Performance of the Year (Women; Nigeria-based): Gift Monday

Best Performance of the Year (Women; Overseas-based): Asisat Oshoala

Club of the Year (Men): Akwa United FC

Club of the Year (Women): Rivers Angels FC

Coach of the Year (Men): Kennedy Boboye

Coach of the Year (Women): Moses Adukwu

Referee of the Year (Men): Joseph Ogabor

Referee of the Year (Women): Patience Ndidi Madu

Memorable Performance of the Year: Bayelsa United FC

Host State of the Year: Lagos State

Best Supporter of Women’s Football: Dr (Mrs) Aisha Buhari

Commitment to Women’s Football Excellence: Edo State

Inspirational Award: Ahmed Musa

Innovation Award: NFFTV/NPFLTV

Special Recognition Award: Super Falcons Class of 1999

Lifetime Achievement Award: Princess Bola Ngozi Jegede

Post-humous Award: Prince Larry Eze/ Ms Henrietta Ukaigwe

Aisha Buhari, Oshoala, 1999 Super Falcons Dazzle At NFF-Aiteo Football Awards

Aisha Buhari, Oshoala, 1999 Super Falcons Dazzle At NFF-Aiteo Football Awards

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Chelsea Beat Spurs To Extend Unbeaten Run And Go Joint




Chelsea Beat Spurs To Extend Unbeaten Run And Go Joint
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Chelsea Beat Spurs To Extend Unbeaten Run And Go Joint

Chelsea stretched their unbeaten Premier League run to five games as Thomas Tuchel’s team deservedly beat Tottenham.

After managing no shots on target in the first half, the visitors looked like a different team after the break and scored three second-half goals at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The Blues opened the scoring four minutes after the re-start, when Thiago Silva headed past Hugo Lloris from Marcos Alonso’s corner.

Half-time substitute N’Golo Kante added a second with his first goal in 49 league appearances, though his long-range effort took a massive deflection from Eric Dier.

Antonio Rudiger found the bottom corner in injury time to complete the win.

Spurs started the game brightly and were the better side in the first half, but Nuno Espirito Santo’s side managed just two shots on target throughout and struggled to find a response after going behind.

Silva, Alonso, Rudiger, Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner all came close as the Blues enjoyed 10 second-half shots on target, but Lloris made a number of saves to deny them.

Chelsea are one of only three teams yet to lose in the Premier League this season, along with Liverpool and Manchester United.

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The victory lifts the Blues to joint top of the table, alongside Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Before the game, tributes were paid to Jimmy Greaves who played for both clubs, after he died aged 81.

A tale of two halves

Thomas Tuchel said in his post-match interview that he was “absolutely not happy” with his side’s first-half performance, and whatever he said at half-time clearly did the trick.
Chelsea’s best chance in the first 45 minutes fell to Mason Mount, who ran the length of the pitch after winning the ball in his own half, but the England midfielder scuffed his shot from six yards out after playing a one-two with Lukaku.

It was Mount’s withdrawal at half-time that changed Chelsea’s system and the introduction of Kante was the catalyst for Chelsea’s dominant second-half display.

Chelsea were undoubtedly the better team after the break and two minutes after the restart, a superb ball from Silva found Alonso, but the Spaniard’s goal-bound volley was tipped over by Hugo Lloris.

Chelsea Beat Spurs To Extend Unbeaten Run And Go Joint

Alonso repaid the favour not long after, with his brilliant delivery from the corner finding the Brazilian, who rose above Dele Alli to head in the opener.

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Twelve minutes into the second half, Tuchel’s side had a firm grip on the game after Kante’s long-range effort took a big deflection off Eric Dier and went in off the post.

No team has managed more shots on target in a Premier League match this season than Chelsea did against Tottenham, with all 10 coming in the second half.

Lloris was probably Spurs’ best player as he kept a respectable scoreline, but he was eventually beaten for a third time when substitute Werner picked out Rudiger in the box, allowing the German to drill the ball into the bottom left corner.

There are pleasing signs for Tuchel that his side managed such a comfortable win without any goals from his forwards.

The German said his side still aren’t at their best – a stark warning to the teams expected to be challenging for the title come May.

Spurs continue to struggle in front of goal

After winning their opening three Premier League games, it is now back-to-back 3-0 defeats for Spurs, who have scored just one goal from open play this season.

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Following a difficult Europa Conference League draw against Rennes on Thursday, Spurs started the game full of energy and showed their attacking intent from the first whistle.

Nuno’s side were buoyed by the return of Son Heung-min, who returned to the squad after missing two games with a calf strain.

The South Korean was at the heart of Spurs’ early chances and it was he who managed the only shot on target in the first half.

After being played in by Giovani Lo Celso, Son beat Alonso, but his shot was blocked as he collided with Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga who was off his line.

But Chelsea were resolute and difficult to break down. After the break it was one-way traffic as Chelsea grew into the game and a flat Spurs side looked lethargic after going behind.

Harry Kane was kept quiet and restricted to just two chances and often looked lost at the top of the pitch. It is the first time since 2015-16 that the England striker has failed to score in his first four Premier League appearances of a season.

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Late Linegard Strike & Penalty Drama As Man Utd Beat West Ham




Late Linegard Strike & Penalty Drama As Man Utd Beat West Ham
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Late Linegard Strike & Penalty Drama As Man Utd Beat West Ham

Mark Noble stepped off the bench for an injury time penalty – and saw it saved – as Jesse Lingard’s stunning late goal secured victory for Manchester United against his former club West Ham.

Lingard, who spent a successful loan spell at London Stadium last season, appeared as a substitute in the second half and with two minutes remaining he cut on to his right foot and fired into the top corner.

Further drama followed as Luke Shaw was adjudged to have handballed in the box and De Gea dived the right way to push away the spot-kick that had been taken by Noble, who was making his first touch after coming off the bench in the 95th minute.

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Earlier in the contest, Cristiano Ronaldo had converted his fourth goal in three games since re-signing for Manchester United, poking home from close range on 35 minutes after Lukasz Fabianski had spilled the initial effort.

West Ham had taken the lead five minutes before that when Said Benrahma’s strike from outside the area went in after taking a huge deflection off defender Raphael Varane.

Bruno Fernandes had seen a first-time strike superbly tipped on to the post by Fabianski, who made a string of saves for the home side.

Late Linegard Strike & Penalty Drama As Man Utd Beat West Ham

Victory ensures Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side remain unbeaten in the league this term with four wins and a draw, while West Ham suffered their first loss of the campaign.

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Man Utd preserve unbeaten run on the road

The Red Devils were heavily criticised after a poor Champions League performance in Switzerland against Young Boys in midweek and were looking like being left frustrated in London.

But instead they maintained their incredible run away from home in the league and are now unbeaten in their last 29 top-flight games outside Old Trafford.

The game was meandering towards a draw until Lingard popped up to score superbly and the England international did not celebrate after being given a good reception by the home supporters.

The return of Ronaldo seems to be an inspired move by Solskjaer as the Portugal international continued his impressive return and he could have had more goals, as well as having a number of penalty appeals turned down.

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Ronaldo flashed a shot straight at Fabianski and another effort was brilliantly tipped wide by the Polish goalkeeper, who also kept out efforts from Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

West Ham forwards Nikola Vlasic and Pablo Fornals both flicked efforts wide from promising positions and David Moyes’ side had a golden opportunity to claim a point in the dying seconds.

Andriy Yarmolenko’s cross hit Shaw’s outstretched arm and referee Martin Atkinson awarded the penalty after viewing the incident on the pitchside monitor.

Declan Rice initially took the ball but Noble came on for Jarrod Bowen and assumed responsibility, but his effort was brilliantly saved by De Gea.

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