Terminally-ill supporter gives Bristol City a heck of a pregame speech

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It’s been a tough season for Bristol City, relatively speaking. The League One team is in a relegation scrap, having won just seven of 34 matches, and spirits aren’t exactly high in those trying times.

But the Robins knew there was nothing to complain about as they were given a speech prior to Saturday’s match against Gillingham. That’s because the man giving the talk was a supporter… a supporter than did not expect to be alive for Bristol City’s next match.

Mark Saunders, 54, is suffering from lung cancer and is considered a terminal patient. He loves his Robins and was invited by the team to speak to them. He made quite an impact, according to Bristol City manager Steve Cotterill:

“We were quite choked in the dressing room,” Cotterill told the club website.

“He wanted to have a little chat with the players as he didn’t feel as though he was going to see next Friday out, which puts football into a bit of perspective.

“It was tough to listen to him, it’s quite emotional just thinking about it, but hopefully we’ve given him a good weekend.”

The Robins went on to win the match 2-0, which boosted them out of the relegation zone on goal differential. So what did he say before the match? This is from Saunders’ brother Bill:

“Mark spoke to them about the fact he’d been a follower for 30 years and how they fought together as fans. But he said the players hadn’t been fighting together this season and hadn’t been playing as a team.

“He also said it was his dying wish to see them win three points.

“At the end, the players all stood up and clapped. He was delighted – it was a wonderful day.”

Without looking for laughs, I’d imagine it’s hard not to be inspired by someone who says you doing your job better than another guy for 90 minutes is his dying wish.

What a sport. What a world.

source:
Mark Saunders speaks to the Bristol City players (photo: Bill Saunders & BBC Sport)

Liverpool complete signing of Hull’s Robertson

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Liverpool has added to its defensive depth with the signing of one of Scotland’s bright young stars.

The club announced the signing of left back Andy Robertson for a reported $10.4 million, which can rise to $13 million with add-on clauses.

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Robertson made 33 appearances for Hull City last season in the Premier League, scoring a goal and assisting on two others. While Robertson is joining Liverpool, midfielder Kevin Stewart is heading the opposite direction, joining the Championship club for a reported $5.2 million.

Robertson will likely compete with Alberto Moreno for the starting left back position, and with Liverpool competing in the Premier League plus three cup competitions, depth at every position will be crucial when injuries and fatigue sets in.

Report: FIFA president Infantino in hot water

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The more things at FIFA change, the more they stay the same.

According to a bombshell report from The Guardian, FIFA president Gianni Infantino was under investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee before the president disbanded the committee in May. The report states that Infantino spent around $1.16 million on his election campaign, despite declaring publicly he had only spent around $583,000 on flights around the world to meet with national FA presidents.

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The report claims Infantino was also being investigated by then committee chairman Cornel Borbely over whether he influenced the election of a new president in the Confederation of African Federations, or CAF.

FIFA rules state that presidential candidates must declare campaign expenditures publicly.

The latest bad press on FIFA follows the arrest of Spanish Football Federation president and UEFA vice president Angel Maria Villar and his son among other national and regional officials on charges of corruption and improper management.

Villar appeared in court on Thursday, and a judge denied he and his son bail.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Liverpool rejects Barca bid for Coutinho, Roma offer for Mahrez turned down

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Liverpool isn’t planning on cashing in on one of the Premier League’s stars this summer.

Jurgen Klopp and Co. gave Barcelona a resolute “no” after Barcelona submitted a transfer bid of more than $93 million for Philippe Coutinho. Coutinho signed a new five-year contract with the club in January.

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“The main thing I think about is how we can make the next step with the players we had last season,” Klopp told reporters in Hong Kong earlier this week. “The good news is that actually we didn’t lose – and we will not lose – a player we want to keep this summer. That’s the best news actually and then we’ll see who can bring into the squad.”

Coutinho signed for Liverpool in 2013 but had a breakout year in 2015-2016, earning the PFA Young Player of the Year. Last year Coutinho became an even more consistent goal-scorer and playmaker, scoring 13 goals with seven assists in 34 Premier League appearances.

Keeping Coutinho is of supreme importance for Liverpool, which is back in the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

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La Liga releases schedule: First El Clasico coming in December

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It’s Christmas in July for fans of La Liga Friday as the Spanish league published its schedule for the upcoming season.

Defending champions Real Madrid travel to Deportivo La Caruña on August 20, the opening match of the season while its rival Barcelona hosts Real Betis.

As it’s La Liga, the first date most fans searched for was the first El Clasico of the season, and the biennial battles between Real Madrid and Barcelona will take place on December 20 and May 6, with Real Madrid hosting the first match.

The first match comes just ahead of the Spanish winter break, while the second match comes at a busy period at the end of the season, where both teams will be hoping to still be competing in the UEFA Champions League.

Other interesting matches to keep an eye on in the first few weeks of the season include Real Madrid hosting Valencia in week two, the Barcelona derby between Barca and Espanyol in week three and Atletico Madrid taking on Sevilla in week six.

Here’s a look at this year’s La Liga schedule.