English soccer to mark 25th anniversary of Hillsborough disaster, all games to kick off seven minutes late

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With the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy coming up on the weekend of April 11-14, the Premier League, Football League, Football Conference and FA Cup games slated for that weekend will all kick off seven minutes late as a mark of respect.

On Friday the Premier League confirmed the way English soccer would mark the tragedy, as the top-flight said the following in a statement on their website.

“As a mark of respect and remembrance for those who lost their lives as a result of the Hillsborough stadium disaster in April 1989, all Premier League, Football League, Football Conference and FA Cup matches taking place on the weekend of 11-14 April will kick off seven minutes later than originally scheduled.”

The disaster took place at 3:06 p.m. on April 15, 1989 as 96 fans were killed during Liverpool’s FA Cup semifinal with Nottingham Forest. The game was ended after six minutes following fans being crushed in the Liverpool end of Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium, which was acting as a neutral venue.

Now all PL matches that were originally meant to kick off at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday 12 April will now start at 10:07 a.m. ET, with a period of silence observed at all stadiums from 3:06-3:07  p.m. GMT. Apart from the Saturday games, ties taking place on Friday 11, Saturday 12, Sunday 13 and Monday 14 April will also observe start seven minutes later than originally scheduled.

Liverpool’s huge title clash against Manchester City take place on Sunday April 13, and will now kick off at 8:37 a.m. ET as an emotional atmosphere is sure to be in place at Anfield. Since the tragedy, blame was initially put on the Liverpool fans involved by the police and the UK government, but since then several investigations have finally got to the bottom of what caused the tragedy as a huge cover up was finally unraveled, and the Hillsborough Independent Pannel concluded that no Liverpool fans were responsible in any way for the disaster.

A moving gesture from the entire English soccer community will make the weekend of April 11-14 a reflective and emotional one, as those fans lost 25 years ago will be remembered across England.

Zlatan confirms Manchester United departure

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed myriad reports he’s leaving Manchester United with a perfectly-Zlatan Instagram message.

Ibrahimovic is expected to join the LA Galaxy next week.

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The words aren’t too important, but Ibrahimovic posted an old graphic of him in Greek god garb, arm-wrestling a devil. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

The living Swedish legend, 36, has been limited to seven appearances, one start, and one goal in returning from a season-ending knee injury, but finishes his Manchester United tenure with an impressive 29 goals and 10 assists in 53 games (deduct the seven and one for peak impressiveness).

Bale breaks Wales scoring record

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Gareth Bale has now unquestionably written his name into Wales history.

The 28-year-old Real Madrid scored a hat-trick for Wales in its 6-0 demolition of China, taking his overall tally to 29 goals, breaking Ian Rush’s record.

“It is right up there, maybe as the best,” Bale told reporters after the game. “I suppose when I was a little boy I never dreamed of being a record-breaker for Wales. It is a massive honor. I was not thinking about it, but now it has come it’s an incredible honor and one of the best things I’ve achieved in my career. On a personal note it’s great to break the record, but I could not have done it without my team-mates.”

Bale was unable to carry Wales to the 2018 World Cup, but he first became a National Team legend by helping take Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals, scoring three goals along the way.

Here’s a look at Bale’s record-breaking goal.

Sporting KC giving away creative “Bike Opara” bobblehead

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In his ninth Major League Soccer season, Ike Opara has scored just a dozen regular season goals.

He’s known more for his physicality in the backline, for creating space for teammates on set pieces, or heading balls on to teammates with slightly more fleeter feet.

But in June 2017, it all came together for Opara in a magical moment, where he beat an offside trap from the LA Galaxy and scored an insane bicycle kick for Sporting Kansas City.

Now, to honor Opara’s ridiculous goal, Sporting KC has announced the first 10,000 fans through the gates at Children’s Mercy Park on March 31 will get a “Bike Ike” bobblehead, with him in flight kicking the ball towards goal over his shoulder.

You’ve gotta love the creativity and fun the Sporting KC marketing department is having. Hopefully, Opara can give the team another memorable goal in 2018.

Van Dijk named new Netherlands captain

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Virgil Van Dijk has had a pretty decent last three months since moving to Liverpool, and the towering defender earned a new personal achievement on Thursday.

Van Dijk was named the newest captain of the Netherlands National Team, where he’ll play under former manager Ronald Koeman. Van Dijk’s first game as captain will be against the nation where he currently plies his trade, England, on Friday.

“I am very happy with it, it is a great honor to be the captain of your country,” van Dijk said at a pre-match press conference Thursday. “Everyone knows that Koeman gave me the chance at Southampton, I am very grateful to him. This is very special.”

Van Dijk’s commanding presence in the Liverpool backline and previous stops at Southampton and Celtic make him an obvious choice for captain, taking the place of the now-retired Arjen Robben. At just 26-years old, van Dijk could carry the armband for a half dozen years if he keeps up his strong form.