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.

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

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Now that Cristiano Ronaldo has taken to sporting a reasonable hairstyle atop his head, people are talking about the foliage on his face.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

Ronaldo, 33, drew speculation when he stroked his chin following a goal in his hat trick performance against Spain in the World Cup opener. Some said he was demonstrating defiance against Lionel Messi posing with a goat (Greatest Of All Time) in a recent photograph.

Ronaldo scored again on Wednesday, and there was seemingly little doubt his goatee was a wink to the speculators. But what did it mean, CR7? From ESPN:

“This goatee? It’s a joke I had with [Ricardo] Quaresma. “We were in the sauna [before Friday’s match against Spain] and I started to shave and I left the goatee. I said if I score tomorrow, I would leave it for the rest of the tournament. And it gave me luck.

“I scored in that game, I scored in this one, so it stays.”

Personally, I like to imagine Ronaldo starting to get as wild with his facial hair as he did his head hair.

Perhaps a beatnik style, or something like Serj Tankian from System of a Down. Get nuts, C-Ron.

Report: Southampton could sell Tadic to Ajax for $20m

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Could Southampton be selling one of its most creative forces?

Dusan Tadic, 29, is in the middle of a World Cup run with dark horse Serbia, but the Saints star is also being talked about as a purchase item for Ajax.

[ MORE: Serbia tops Costa Rica ]

The celebrated Eredivisie has traditionally been a selling club for the Premier League, but could be a $20 million buy for Ajax.

The report says director of players Marc Overmars and financial director Jeroen Slop have flown to Southampton to work out a deal.

Tadic starred for Dutch sides Groningen and Twente between 2010-14 before moving to St. Mary’s for a reported $12 million.

He’s scored 24 goals with 35 assists in 162 appearances for Saints, 21 and 30 of which came in the Premier League.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE