Nigeria women openly discuss faith, but can’t be openly gay

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – For Nigeria’s women’s national soccer team, the word “inclusive” has different meanings.

Nigeria is a deeply faithful team, praying in small groups on the field before beginning warm-ups for each match and dropping to their knees to do the same following goals they score. Reporters were held from viewing the start of Monday’s practice until the team was done with an on-field prayer session. The faith is part of “tradition” in Nigeria, coach Edwin Okon says.

“Nigeria wants to add God to everything,” he said last week when I asked him about the team’s faith. “We are very serious about it. And we don’t joke with it once the name of God is mentioned in that particular thing, because the name of the Father, God, has been mentioned. And the players are aware of this. Everybody in Nigeria is aware of this.”

[KASSOUF: USA expecting Nigeria to ‘fight for their lives’ on Tuesday]

Forward Francisca Ordega said last week that Christians and Muslims on the team pray together. But the country is divided, the North predominantly Muslim and the south mainly Christian.

“We believe in God. We worship,” she said last week. “We are all Christians – well we have Muslims among us, but we believe and so we are one. Muslim, Christian, nothing – we serve the same God.”

“Same songs. We say the same prayer.”

But whether or not lesbian players are allowed on the team remains unclear.

It is illegal to be involved in homosexual behavior in Nigeria, punishable by up to 14 years in prison according to a law passed last year.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Women’s World Cup coverage | EqualizerSoccer.com ]

A source tells Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl that at least two players who would be on the team for the 2015 World Cup are not because they are thought to be gay.

“If a player comes out and says, ‘I’m gay,’ then the trouble doesn’t just start and end with the player,” the source tells Wahl. “It goes all the way back to the family: parents, sisters, brothers, cousins, everything. One person just sparks off a chain reaction. That’s why it’s so tough.”

Asked about the topic in a press conference on Monday, Okon said he does not address sexuality within the team.

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘homosexual,’ he said. “I don’t deal with personal lives. I think of the game proper. I don’t think of my players. I only think of what they do on the pitch. That is what concerns me.”

Four years ago, the Nigerian Football Federation was investigated by FIFA after Uche Eucharia detested homosexuality as a “dirty issue,” and “spiritually, morally very wrong.”

Homophobic attitudes remain entrenched in Nigerian culture. It is unclear if any players have been left off the team because of their sexuality. The federation denies any such doing, according to Wahl. Players and coaches, often guarded about on- and off-field manners, won’t discuss the topic.

They will very happily discuss their faith, however.

“The passion, the grace – when you sing and dance, you feel the passion of God,” Ordega said. “You see everything just turning around, even on the field of play and the pitch, even outside the pitch. You see yourself, you see God, the Spirit. I don’t even know how to express it, but that gives us joy. That gives us the spirit.”

Premier League injury news, 2022-23 season

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Premier League injury news: It’s time to take a look at which players might be unavailable for matchweek 8 of the 2022-23 Premier League season, due to injury.

[ MORE: How to watch the Premier League on NBC ]

Prior to every matchweek this season, we’ll update this Premier League injuries page with the latest news and update, so make sure to check back regularly to see how your favorite — or least-favorite — club is getting on.

Let’s check out the latest Premier League injury news, below.


Arsenal injuries

OUT: Oleksandr Zinchenko (calf), Emile Smith Rowe (groin), Mohamed Elneny (thigh), Reiss Nelson (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Thomas Partey (knee), Kieran Tierney (head), Cedric Soares (knock)

Aston Villa injuries

OUT: Diego Carlos (achilles), Matty Cash (hamstring), Lucas Digne (ankle), Boubacar Kamara (knee)

Bournemouth injuries

OUT: David Brooks (fitness), Lloyd Kelly (knee), Joseph Rothwell (thigh), Benjamin Pearson (undisclosed), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed)

Brentford injuries

OUT: Christian Norgaard (achilles) | QUESTIONABLE: Keane Lewis-Potter (knock), Ethan Pinnock (knee)

Brighton & Hove Albion injuries

OUT: Jakub Moder (knee), Adam Lallana (calf) | QUESTIONABLE: Enock Mwepu (illness)

Chelsea injuries

QUESTIONABLE: N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Edouard Mendy (knee)

Crystal Palace injuries

OUT: James Tomkins (undisclosed), Jack Butland (hand), Nathan Ferguson (foot) | QUESTIONABLE: James McArthur (groin)

Everton injuries

OUT: Jordan Pickford (thigh), Ben Godfrey (broken leg), Yerry Mina (ankle), Nathan Patterson (ankle), Mason Holgate (knee), Andros Townsend (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (knee), Jordan Pickford (thigh)

Fulham injuries

OUT: Harry Wilson (knee), Joao Pahlinha (suspension), Manor Solomon (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Antonee Robinson (ankle)

Leeds United injuries

OUT: Rodrigo (shoulder), Stuart Dallas (thigh)

Leicester City injuries

OUT: Ricardo Pereira (achilles), Ryan Bertrand (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Wilfried Ndidi (knock), Patson Daka (illness)

Liverpool injuries

OUT: Naby Keita (undisclosed), Curtis Jones (calf), Calvin Ramsay (undisclosed), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) | QUESTIONABLE: Ibrahima Konate (knee), Andrew Robertson (knee), Caoimhin Kelleher (groin)

Manchester City injuries

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United injuries

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Anthony Martial (achilles), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Marcus Rashford (thigh), Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

Newcastle United injuries

OUT: Aleksander Isak (leg), Jonjo Shelvey (thigh), Emil Krafth (knee), Karl Darlow (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Bruno Guimaraes (thigh), Allan Saint-Maximin (hamstring), Callum Wilson (thigh), Chris Wood (ribs), Elliott Anderson (knock)

Nottingham Forest injuries

OUT: Omar Richards (calf), Moussa Niakhate (thigh), Orel Mangala (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Emmanuel Dennis (knock), Morgan Gibbs-White (knock), Scott McKenna (knee), Joe Worrall (broken nose)

Southampton injuries

OUT: Valentino Livramento (knee), Romeo Lavia (undisclosed)

Tottenham Hotspur injuries

OUT: Lucas Moura (achilles) | QUESTIONABLE: Hugo Lloris (quad), Ben Davies (knee)

West Ham United injuries

OUT: Nayef Aguerd (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Benjamin Johnson (hamstring)

Wolverhampton Wanderers injuries

OUT: Raul Jimenez (groin), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Nathan Collins (suspension), Chiquinho (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Diego Costa (undisclosed)

Fulham vs Newcastle: How to watch, live stream link, team news

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Fulham and Newcastle United look set to entertain when Aleksandar Mitrovic entertains his old mates for a Saturday morning tilt at Craven Cottage on Saturday (watch live, 10am ET online via Peacock Premium).

STREAM LIVE FULHAM vs NEWCASTLE

The Magpies are injury-hit but Eddie Howe has enjoyed pushing for offense and has largely found chances regardless of who’s been on the field, while Marco Silva’s Cottagers are healthy and have been on the front foot as often as possible during their Premier League return.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Fulham vs Newcastle.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Fulham vs Newcastle live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel/Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Somewhere in the multiverse, Mitrovic’s tied for the Golden Boot lead because Erling Haaland is an actual superhero. The Fulham man has six goals to tie Harry Kane five behind Man City’s prolific Norwegian hitman. Kenny Tete’s assisted three of those goals, and Tete’s also top six in tackles. Teammate Joao Palhinha is first.

Newcastle, meanwhile, is dealing with a ridiculous amount of injuries to key players, as Bruno Guimares, Chris Wood, and Alexander Isak were both hurt on international break to join Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin as walking wounded attackers.


Fulham team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Antonee Robinson (ankle) OUT: Palhinha (suspended), Manor Solomn (knee), Harry Wilson (knee)

Newcastle team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Chris Wood (chest), Callum Wilson (thigh), Allan Saint-Maximin (thigh), Bruno Guimares (thigh), Elliott Anderson (undisclosed). OUT: Alexander Isak (other), Emil Krafth (ACL),

Liverpool vs Brighton: How to watch, live stream link, team news

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Liverpool plays its first Premier League match in 25 days when high-flying Brighton and Hove Albion debut a new manager as visitors at Anfield on Saturday (watch live, 10am ET online via Peacock Premium).

Roberto De Zerbi takes the wheel for the Seagulls following Graham Potter’s move to Chelsea, and Brighton will be staging its first match since a 5-2 demolition of Leicester City on Sept. 4.

STREAM LIVE LIVERPOOL vs BRIGHTON

That was one day after Liverpool drew Everton 0-0 at Goodison Park in a Merseyside derby that came on the heels of back-to-back wins for Jurgen Klopp’s team.

Liverpool’s currently four points back of fourth-place Brighton; Both clubs have played six matches, one fewer than 14 other Premier League sides.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Liverpool vs Brighton.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Liverpool vs Brighton live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel/Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Is Liverpool ready to turn chances into goals at a more familiar rate? The Reds’ expected goal total for this season is close to leaders Manchester City and Arsenal but its actual goal production is fifth and somewhat-inflated by their nine-goal beatdown of Bournemouth previously this season.

Brighton, meanwhile, has to show that it’s getting a handle on life after Graham Potter, as De Zerbi’s credentials say things might not look too different. The former Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk boss craves possession in his teams and delivers chances as a boss in the manner you’d expect from a former attacking midfielder.


Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Caoimhin Kelleher (groin), Ibrahima Konate (knee), Andrew Robertson (knee). OUT: Calvin Ramsay (lower back), Curtis Jones (tibia), Ibrahima Konate (knee), Naby Keita (thigh), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (thigh).

Brighton team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Enock Mwepu (illness). OUT: Jakub Moder (knee), Adam Lallana (lower leg)

Crystal Palace vs Chelsea: How to watch, live stream link, team news

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Chelsea looks to keep up its top-four pace when it visits Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday (watch live, 10am ET on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com).

The match is Graham Potter’s first in the Premier League since leaving Brighton for new digs in London. The Blues drew Salzburg in 1-1 in Potter’s first match with Chelsea, and many eyes will be trained on his Starting XI.

STREAM LIVE CRYSTAL PALACE vs CHELSEA

Palace is winless in its last three Premier League matches including back-to-back draws versus Brentford and Newcastle. Patrick Vieira would love to make that a three-match unbeaten run with a good result Saturday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Crystal Palace vs Chelsea.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Crystal Palace vs Chelsea live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

What will Graham Potter’s first Premier League XI look like come Saturday? Kepa Arrizabalaga could be in goal if Edouard Mendy is not ready, but will Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remain a starter? Are Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic locks for the midfield? Lots to monitor as Christian Pulisic, Conor Gallagher, Ben Chilwell, and Hakim Ziyech will hope to have made a major impression.

Palace has played well against the “Big Six” this year, leading Man City 2-0 before an Erling Haaland hat trick, drawing Liverpool, and losing on Opening Day vs Arsenal while holding 57% of the ball and matching the Gunners in shots and shots on target. A win over the Blues sure would do the trick.


Crystal Palace team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: James McArthur (groin). OUT: James Tomkins (calf), Nathan Ferguson (ankle), Jack Butland (hand)

Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Edouard Mendy (knee), N’Golo Kante (thigh).