As the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine rumbles in Eastern Ukraine, six soccer players have refused to return to the highly volatile region.
Alex Teixeira, Fred, Dentinho, Douglas Costa, Facundo Ferreyra and Ismaily all play for Ukrainian champions Shakhtar but have all voted against returning to the highly-volatile region ahead of the new season.
After Shakthar played French side Lyon in a friendly over the weekend, the six aforementioned refused to get back on the plane to Donetsk. The city is currently being controlled by pro-Russian rebels but the Ukrainian army are trying to gain control of it.
Simply put, it’s not a safe place to be.
Donetsk is located less than two hours away from where Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was believed to have been shot down by pro-Russian rebels on Friday. Ahead of the new Ukrainian season the club still doesn’t know where it will be playing its home games, as a neutral venue must be organized.
The six players in question are all from South America, five from Brazil and one from Argentina, and the club’s billionaire owner Rinat Akhmetov has issued the following warning.
“If they don’t come then in the first instance they will suffer,” Akhmetov said in a statement on Shakhtar’s website. While also going on to state that refusing to fulfill their contracts could cost the players “tens of millions of euros” in compensation payments to the club.
There is also a twist as Shakhtar’s Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu blamed super-agent Kia Joorabchian as the players did not return to Ukraine. According to Lucescu, their agent Joorabchian turned up in Lyon and took the players away. Shakhtar believe Joorabchian wants to make all the players free-agents and profit from them signing new deals at other clubs. The likes of Costa have been linked with a switch to Manchester United.
With Shakhtar set to play in this seasons UEFA Champions League and the Ukrainian season set to begin this weekend, plenty of question lie ahead as to how safe it is to play soccer in the Ukraine.
The Internet exploded at around 12:50 p.m. ET on Saturday after Jamie Vardy — yes, Jamie Vardy — broke Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record for most consecutive games with a goal.
[ WATCH: The goal | The game — Leicester City vs. Manchester United ]
Yes, an Englishman is back atop the charts. An Englishman who was playing for Stocksbridge Park Steels, Halifax Town and Fleetwood Town before heading to Leicester.
He’s perhaps the reminder, as Rio Ferdinand Tweeted below, that the most unlikely of scenarios is still not impossible.
He did it. He actually did it.
Jamie Vardy made Premier League history on Saturday, scoring for the 11th consecutive game to become the first player in history to achieve that magnificent feat.
[ MORE: Twitter reacts to Vardy ]
Tied with Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistelrooy heading into Leicester’s clash against United on Saturday, it took Vardy just 24 minutes to set the new record as Christian Fuchs played a delicate ball in-behind United’s defense and Vardy did the rest.
[ MORE: Can Vardy, Leicester achieve unthinkable? ]
Watch the video below to see the King Power Stadium erupt as a truly memorable moment arrived.
Now, the next record for Vardy to break is from the 1931-32 English top-flight season, before the PL was formed. Sheffield United’s Jimmy Dunne scored in 12-straight games way back then.
Anyway, congratulations Mr. Vardy for making PL history.
This was an all-timer.
Bournemouth came back from a 2-0 halftime deficit only to watch Ross Barkley hand Everton a one-goal lead with a score in the final minute of stoppage time.
[ MATCH RECAP: Bournemouth 3-3 Everton ]
But after fans were cleared from the field, Junior Stanislas provided the dramatic answer for Bournemouth to force a 3-3 draw at Dean Court.
Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew tried hard not to throw shade on his former side, or at least put in a post-match press conference that choked down his passive aggression.
The Eagles thumped Newcastle United 5-1 on Saturday at Selhurst Park behind braces from Yannick Bolasie and James McArthur, as well as a tally from Wilfried Zaha.
[ MATCH RECAP: Crystal Palace 5-1 Newcastle United ]
And the former Newcastle boss held back, mostly, from further embarrassing his old side, instead heralding the starring role of former Sunderland forward Connor Wickham, who put in a Team of the Week performance despite not scoring himself.
“We caused problems everywhere,” Pardew said. “Connor Wickham gave a centre forward’s performance we always hoped he would. We were irresistible today.”
“We are sixth in the division because we are a good team, it was not about the opposition today. I have a lot of friends and family at Newcastle but I don’t want to say a lot about them because I get criticised whatever I say.”
Newcastle, for its part, was mostly useless after scoring early on a classy chip pass from Daryl Janmaat to Papiss Cisse. Could Steve McClaren be fired after just 14 games in charge? Newcastle’s 19th place status says it wouldn’t be unfair.
And after losing to Sunderland last week, Pardew doubled-down on his status as a Newcastle plague in the Northeast.