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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.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.