What can soccer learn from the NBA’s stance on racism?

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When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life from the league on Tuesday, and fined him $2.5 million, the entire sporting world sat up and took notice.

Acts of racism are now being treated with the severity they deserve. At least in one sport.

Soccer’s governing bodies, specifically UEFA and FIFA, please stand up and take notice of the NBA’s zero tolerance approach towards racism.

The big difference here is that, of course, none of the owners of soccer have acted in the way Sterling has. Plenty of soccer fans have though. Yet the fact that so many different governing bodies hold power across the sport means that FIFA doesn’t have the kind of power the NBA does. Plus the issue we are talking about here is trying to eradicate the beliefs of a large number of people across the globe, not one NBA owner.

That said, the heavy sanctions the NBA have placed against Sterling needs to be replicated by FIFA.

In the last 10 years alleged and proven racist abuse has come from fans of Zenit St. Petersburg, the Spanish national team, Juventus, CSKA Moscow and many others. Those are just some of the high profile cases. Sadly, the list goes on and on and many of the teams involved are from similar regions and in some cases the same clubs continue to be involved.

(WATCH: Dani Alves’ perfectly-dismissive reaction to racist banana toss)

Soccer’s problems with racism seem to be more widespread and deep-rooted than in the NBA, as we could rattle off a whole list of deplorable acts of racism from clubs across the planet. Although Europe, time and again, seems to be the hub of racist abuse towards players.

Earlier this week in Spain, Barcelona’s Brazilian defender Dani Alves was taking a corner kick away at Villareal’s El Madrigal Stadium. As he lined up to whip the corner in, a banana was thrown on the pitch which landed right next to Alves. To try and diffuse the situation, Alves picked the banana up and ate it. It has been revealed that Barcelona’s Brazilian teammates Alves and Neymar have been planning this reaction for a while after yet another racist incident back in March.

Players, managers, owners and governors across the soccer world have since been pictured eating bananas in order to try and ridicule the idiotic fan who has since been banned for life by Villareal and send the message to the world. Racism in soccer must stop. Now.

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Earlier this week Barcelona’s Dani Alves had a banana thrown at him during a game in Spain by a racist fan.

In the past the Premier League has been plagued by allegations of racism, with both John Terry and Luis Suarez embroiled in lengthy investigations into apparent racist abuse on the pitch. In recent years England has cleaned up its act, with the ‘kick racism out of football’ campaign helping to almost eradicate it from the game. Yet in the 70s and 80s there was widespread problems with monkey chants, bananas being thrown on the pitch at black players and other awful acts of racist abuse.

Elsewhere in Europe, they’re now going through the issues England had 20-30 years ago. In 2012 Zenit’s fans posted an open letter against black and gay players playing for the club as “the absence of black players at Zenit as an important tradition.” There are numerous instances of racist abuse among Russian and Eastern European clubs who have been fined, had their entire, or sections of, their stadiums closed and other sanctions placed against them.

Is that enough?

I don’t think so.

My suggestion to stop the sickening racism, and discrimination of any kind for that matter:

  • Hand out instant bans, no fines, and stop teams from competing in domestic and European competitions if their fans are found guilty.

If this comes into action, the fans in question will soon halt their absurd stance of thinking racist abuse is okay if they no longer have a team to support as a consequence. If they don’t, the team is not worth having in the global soccer community. Yes, you can blame other cultural and social issues in certain parts of the world for racist attitudes, but why should behavior that is somehow deemed acceptable outside the soccer stadium suddenly become acceptable inside it? That punishment I outlined is harsh and swift, as many would prefer hefty fans before any ban is put in place. Fines have not been working. The issue continues to plague soccer.

I believe instant bans is the only way racism can truly be removed from the world’s most popular sport. What else can you do?

Hearing directors and owners waffling on about “the right steps being taken” to stop racism has gone on for years and that kind of talk got old a long time ago. Fines do not work and partial stadium closures are not useful. Lengthy bans to teams found to have racist supporters is the only way. That is where the Sterling situation differs from soccer, as that was one influential individual who will now no longer being involved in the game. The soccer authorities have to target billions of fans but there needs to be a charge from the top to stop racism in soccer. Fans of the NBA and other members of the pro basketball community in the USA now know the repercussions for being a racist. The soccer world still doesn’t know how it will be punished, although the only certainty is that the sanctions will be nowhere near as tough as the NBA’s.

Enough is enough, the time has come for soccer’s governing bodies, and its global community of fans, players and administrators, to stand up to the racists with affirmative and swift action.

The NBA has led the way. Can soccer act in a similar stirring and admirable fashion?

Premier League TV, streaming schedule

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The Premier League TV schedule is set and we have your stream links as Matchweek 28 is going to be a lot of fun. Get in there.

Remember, there are eight games this week due to the League Cup final between Aston Villa and Man City.

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The full TV schedule for the games this weekend are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today, Sky Sports News, NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: Premier League live here ] 

You can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” for all the goals as they go in around the grounds. Goal Rush is available via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App.

[ MORE: Premier League “Goal Rush” ] 

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Here’s your full TV schedule and Premier League stream links for the coming days.


FULL TV SCHEDULE

Friday
3 p.m. ET: Norwich v. Leicester – NBCSN [STREAM]

Saturday
7:30 a.m. ET: Brighton v. Crystal Palace – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Bournemouth v. Chelsea – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Newcastle v. Burnley – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Ham v. Southampton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
12:30 p.m. ET: Watford v. Liverpool – NBCSN [STREAM]

Sunday
9 a.m. ET: Tottenham v. Wolves – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
9 a.m. ET: Everton v. Man United – NBCSN [STREAM]

In the Mixed Zone with JPW: Episode 2

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NBC Sports’ Pro Soccer Talk lead writer and editor Joe Prince-Wright shares his behind-the-scenes access into the Premier League mixed zones highlighting the intriguing interviews from this week’s marquee matches.

This week, JPW shares his mixed zone interviews from Southampton-Aston Villa, Chelsea-Tottenham and Man United-Watford, talks Champions League and previews Matchweek 28.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

He also spoke exclusively with Will Smallbone, Southampton’s latest top academy product who made his PL debut in their win against Aston Villa.

“We’ve had quite a lot of players come through the ranks and you look up to them when you’re younger. To come through myself and hopefully do the best I can, it is very special,” Smallbone said.

To listen to more from the mixed zone with Joe Prince-Wright as he takes you deep inside stadiums, subscribe to In the Mixed Zone with JPW Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

And you can follow him on Twitter @JPW_NBCSports here.

Click here for In the Mixed Zone with archive ]

Click play below to listen to Episode 2 in full.

Handshake bans as coronavirus precautions hit soccer

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The threat of coronavirus has already led to Europa League games being played behind closed doors, games in Serie A being postponed and now clubs across Europe are telling their staff to not shake hands as the virus continues to spread.

Premier League clubs are taking extra precautions as both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have asked visitors to their training grounds to fill in a health form when they arrive, Bayern Munich have told players not to sign autographs for fans or take selfies for them, while games across Europe have been impacted as Switzerland have banned all games until mid-March and five Serie A games will be played in empty stadiums.

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce explained to reporters that staff and players will no longer be encouraged to shake hands when they arrive each day around their training ground.

“There’s a ritual here that everybody shakes hands as soon as we see each other every morning – we’ve stopped that on the advice of the doctor,” Bruce confirmed. “Thankfully, we’ve got a superb doctor here and he will keep us informed of what we have to do. We’re like everybody else, we’re glued to the TV for where it’s going to go next and let’s hope it doesn’t get any worse in this country.”

Bruce was asked if he remembered any precautions like this is in the past.

“No, not at all. Look, in confined areas like we’ve got here… There was a time over Christmas when if there’s a virus knocking around – which is not coronavirus – then you have to be careful so we’re a bit mindful of it, the fact that a bug can sweep through. We had four or five at Christmas and two of my staff, so you stay at home, basically. But it’s always something you’re looking at,” Bruce added.

West Ham’s manager David Moyes has revealed that West Ham have a similar plan in place, with fist bumps allowed but no handshakes and every Hammers player has been given some hand gel to use.

“After consulting with the medical team, we have supplied all the players with hand gel to keep with them,” Moyes said. “We’ve also agreed to no shaking hands at the moment, just fist bumps. If we score tomorrow, of course they’ll be able to celebrate.” 

Latest injury news from Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City

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Ahead of Matchweek 28 in the Premier League plenty of the big boys have released some interesting injury news with stars out for Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City.

Below we round up the latest injury news, which could be very handy for your Premier League Pick ‘Em selections this weekend.

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Okay, now to the injury news…


In another big blow for Man City and Aymeric Laporte, the Frenchman will be ruled out for another three to four weeks after injuring his hamstring in their UEFA Champions League win at Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Laporte has missed a huge chunk of the season so far and Pep Guardiola was sad to see his star center back unavailable once again this season.

“Three weeks out more or less, a month. Unfortunately this happens after four or five months out. Life is not easy and always in the world the people who survive are the ones who cope with the bad moments. It is what it is. Accept it, work hard to come back as soon as possible,” Guardiola said.

When asked about Laporte’s latest injury and the impact not having their main man in defense has had on their non-existent title battle with Liverpool, Guardiola was in a buoyant mood as he replied to Laporte’s injury being the big difference between Man City and Liverpool. “Absolutely,” said Guardiola. “A manager needs the players to rotate, to be fresh. The manager depends on the quality of our players.”

Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi will now be the first-choice pairing at center back for the rest of this month as City have the League Cup final against Aston Villa on Sunday, plus the second leg against Real Madrid and big Premier League games against Man United and Chelsea.

Leroy Sane will make a big step on his recovery from the knee injury he suffered in August, as he will play for City’s U23 side against Arsenal on Friday.

“I don’t want to put targets on him, we want him to play the game then speak with him, (about) how he felt,” Guardiola said.


Frank Lampard has started every news conference in recent weeks by listing off the injuries.

That list is getting longer ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Bournemouth on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

“[Christian] Pulisic is injured. [N’Golo] Kante injured and Tammy Abraham is injured. We are trying to find a solution with Tammy. It’s the same,” Lampard confirmed.

Abraham’s injury is one which has got worse over the past few weeks as he’s been in and out of the team while he struggles to overcome the ankle issue.

“I don’t know, we need to see. I speak to the doctors every day about it but we are not actually clear on that one. At the minute he’s not doing anything active for the next couple of days. So I don’t know. And I don’t know how long that will be,” Lampard added.

The one positive for Chelsea is that Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be on the bench again as he continues the final stages of his nine-month recovery from an Achilles injury.

“Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] is in the squad again tomorrow. It would mean a lot for him. It is a lonely place to be injured. With the ability that he has got he is one of the most exciting English midfield players,” Lampard said.


Moving on to Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp confirmed that Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri are all recovering well but the trio will not play against Watford this Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Klopp revealed that Milner could return for the FA Cup fifth round clash at Chelsea on Tuesday.

“[They are] all coming closer, much closer. Hendo is running, Millie is running and even more. It was not enough for this game now, but we will see – especially with Millie – what we can do for Tuesday,” Klopp said. “I’m not sure about Hendo, and Shaq not yet, but they are all coming closer.”

With Liverpool four wins away from winning the Premier League, Klopp will not rush any players back and risk long-term injuries.

That said, with the FA Cup last 16 clash and the second leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie against Atletico Madrid coming up, Klopp can now start looking at other trophies to win given their 22-point lead atop the table.