Jack Wilshere apologizes for smoking, promises to learn from mistake

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One of the silliest controversies of the summer may be over, though given the zealotry behind some’s criticism of Jack Wilshere, the Arsenal midfielder may have to wear a scarlet cigarette butt until we can trust him to stop being a 22-year-old. Though it’s common for a 22-year-old to enjoy a random cigarette outside a club, for a England international, it’s a sin, one that requires you to make an apology when paparazzi catch you enjoying a smoke.

“I regret it. I’ve been seen before doing it. I said then I made a mistake and I made a mistake again,” Wilshere said from New York, where Arsenal face the New York Red Bulls this afternoon. “It’s unacceptable and I will accept the consequences and move on.”

Beyond the public ridicule that’s been enacted through the press, are there consequences? Because that alone seems excessive.

While everybody should learn about the dangers of cigarette smoking, this public shaming has become excessive. It also holds soccer players to a standard we don’t extend to other celebrities, one that doesn’t apply to alcohol conception, eating fast food, or reckless behavior behind the wheel. All those acts can hurt your career, but only smoking makes the front pages of London’s broadsheets.

“I’m young, I’ll learn from it,” Wilshere explained, from reporting by The Guardian. “I realize the consequences it has and the effect on kids growing up. I have kids and I don’t want them growing up to think their dad smokes and it’s OK for a footballer to smoke because it’s not.”

It feel strange typing something that could be misconstrued as pro-smoking, but given where we are in this conversation, it’s worth saying: While it’s nice Wilshere realizes his potential influence, he doesn’t need to take this much responsibility. Most people are capable of distinguishing between others’ poor choices and behaviors they should replicate, and while we constantly hear “what about the children” arguments, anybody beyond their parents’ influence is consuming much worse via television and the internet. Jack Wilshere smoking outside a club is a non-issue.

If Wilshere wants to apologize to anybody, he should apologize to himself. Obviously, smoking is not good for him. For everybody else, the media furor is more interesting than the act itself.

If the subtext is about the hypocrisy of a world-class athlete doing something so destructive, why is smoking singled out while other vices never get a second thought?

El Tri star Lozano staying focusing amid Barcelona rumors

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Hirving “Chucky” Lozano was a player everyone needed to pay attention to heading into the 2018 World Cup, and through two matches, the El Tri star has been every bit the price of admission for his country.

[ MORE: Group scenarios heading into the final group stage matches ]

Mexico sits atop Group F with six points at the moment, and much of the team’s success can be attributed to Lozano’s endless motor and creative attacking vision when he finds space down the wing.

The PSV Eindhoven attacker has been linked with various big clubs, including La Liga giants Barcelona, but that hasn’t halted Lozano’s pursuit of guiding Mexico to an unprecedented run at the World Cup.

“The important thing is to focus on the next [Mexico] game, do as well as possible and go step by step,” Lozano said.

Despite winning their first two games, El Tri needs at least a point in its final Group F match to ensure qualification without any complications.

Mexico will take on Sweden on Wednesday, as Juan Carlos Osorio’s side aims to remain perfect in the group stage.

Meanwhile, Andres Guardado — who has been a mainstay of the Mexican national team for years — only confirmed the work ethic of his teammate and hopes that a dream move becomes a reality for Lozano in the near future.

“It makes me very proud to say he is a kid that is very centered, despite everything he is going through,” said Guardado after Saturday’s 2-1 win over South Korea. “He is conscious that he has to continue like he’s not achieved anything.”

“He’s the same kid I met the first time he came with us,” continued Guardado. “Hopefully he stays like that and the rumors about a possible transfer to a big team become reality. It would be marvelous, he’s a great teammate.”

Video: Salah lob has Egypt off and running in first half

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Egypt’s run at the World Cup didn’t go according to plan, but the Pharaohs are looking in control on Monday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Mohamed Salah‘s second goal of the tournament has given the Egyptians a 1-0 lead over Saudi Arabia in their Group A finale.

After a Saudi giveaway in the attacking half of the field, Salah latched onto a beautiful long ball from Abdallah Said, before lofting a shot over goalkeeper Yasser Al Mosailem.

Video: Suarez gives Uruguay early lead over hosts Russia

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It only took Uruguay 10 minutes to break through, and the South American side could be on its way to capturing a third consecutive victory at the 2018 World Cup.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Barcelona star Luis Suarez scored his second goal of the tournament on Monday, as the veteran striker gave Uruguay the lead early on against hosts Russia.

Suarez stepped up for a free kick just outside the penalty area, and slotted the ball brilliantly past the Russia goalkeeper at his near post.

Both teams have already advanced out of Group A after winning their first two matches, however, Monday’s victor (if there is one) will likely decide who tops the group.

Argentine players likely selecting lineup for Nigeria match

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The Albiceleste entered Russia among the favorites to win the World Cup, but now Argentina is on the brink of disaster and possibly crashing out of the group stage.

Through two Group D matches, Argentina sits on one point, and needs a victory over Nigeria to have a shot at advancing to the knockout phase.

Drastic changes appear to be coming for the CONMEBOL nation, after relations with manager Jorge Sampaoli have soured significantly over the last week-and-a-half.

Rumors have suggested that Lionel Messi and the elder players in the squad will select the starting XI for Argentina’s do-or-die fixture on Tuesday, with Sampaoli simply staying on as manager to avoid further embarrassment to the federation.

Sampaoli is expected to still be on the sidelines for the match, though.

Meanwhile, Argentine television outlet TNT Sports LA revealed a potential lineup ahead of Tuesday’s Group D finale against Nigeria.

The starting XI, if true, would feature four changes from the Albiceleste’s 3-0 defeat to Croatia last Thursday, including the introduction of River Plate goalkeeper Franco Armani for Chelsea’s Willy Caballero.