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Company drags ex-Trump campaign manager to court over alleged fraud

By Balogun Alabi with News agency report,

The President of United States, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has been sued to court by a company, named, Surf Horizon Limited, over allegations that Manafort misappropriated more than $18.9 million.

It was gathered that the former manager was sued alongside his business partner, Richard gates, after committing alleged financial fraud.

The company on Wednesday told a supreme court sitting in New York state, U.S., that that they had invested in Ukrainian telecom companies known collectively as the “Black Sea Cable.”

However, the accused were said to be currently under criminal indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, after allegations that they failed to register as foreign agents.

Mueller added that the duo conspired to commit money launder, as well as, conspired to defraud the United States as a whole.

Serena eyes Margaret Court’s all-time record

By EmmanueL Onminyi with Agency report,

United States tennis star, Serena Williams, has declared her intention to  “absolutely” surpass Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, and she believes being a new mother can help her achieve that goal.

The 36-year-old, who gave birth to her first daughter, Alexis Olympia, in September 2017, decided to pull out of the Australian Open following concerns over her ability to make an impact in Melbourne.

Williams won the last of her 23 Grand Slams in 2017, defeating her sister Venus in the final when, it would later emerge, she was in the early stages of her pregnancy.

The American former world number one had returned to the court on December 30 2017, at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, where she lost an exhibition match against Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion.

Despite admitting she was not where she wanted to be, as she announced her withdrawal from the Australian Open, which starts on January 15, Serena revealed that she is determined to return to a competitive level sooner rather than later.

“Maybe this goes without saying, but it needs to be said in a powerful way: I absolutely want more Grand Slams. I’m well aware of the record books, unfortunately. It’s not a secret that I have my sights on 25, and actually, I think having a baby might help,” Williams told Vogue magazine.

 

Serena withdraws from Australia Open

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

United States tennis star, Serena Williams, has withdrawn from the season-opening Grand Slam, Australia Open, in Melbourne, Australia, and will not defend the title she won in 2017.

The 36-year-old was hoping to return to the court after the birth of her daughter, Alexis Olympia, in September.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner defeated her sister, Venus, in the 2017 Australia Open,  6-4 6-4, and had a second consecutive title in her sights when the tournament serves off later in January, 2018.

She has won the tournament seven times, with her first victory coming in 2003. But on Friday morning, January 5, the former world number one said she was withdrawing from the tournament, which starts on January 15.

“After competing in Abu Dhabi I realised that although I am super close, I’m not where I personally want to be. My coach and team always said ‘only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way’.

“I can compete – but I don’t want to just compete, I want to do far better than that and to do so, I will need a little more time.”

Serena returned to the court on December 30 at the World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, where she lost an exhibition match against Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 3-6 10-5.

Federer, Bencic shoot Switzerland into Hopman semi-final

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Swiss tennis players, Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic, overcame Jack Sock and CoCo Vandeweghe respectively, to help Switzerland secure a 3-0 victory over the United States and book a place in the final of the Hopman Cup on Thursday, January 4.

Federer stepped up his preparation for the Australian Open with a 7-6(5) 7-5 win in a thrilling encounter to give his side a 1-0 lead in front of a packed Perth Arena, with a record crowd of 14,029.

According to reuters, the 19-times Grand Slam champion opened up a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker of an evenly-matched first set but Sock levelled at 4-4 with a rush of powerful drives. Federer then took control, producing a neat backhand volley to close out the first set.

The second set went with serve up to 4-4 before Sock missed an opportunity to break. The world number eight Sock, then double-faulted at 5-5 as Federer pounced to snatch a decisive break and went on to seal the win.

“I’ve maintained a high level in all three matches, which is a great thing,” Federer said after the match.

“This was another step up in terms of ranking and I thought it was a very entertaining match for both of us… I thought it was a good step forward.”

In the mean time, Bencic secured the victory for Switzerland with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Vandeweghe. Federer and Bencic then won the mixed doubles 4-3(3) 4-2.

Group B winners Switzerland will face the winner of Group A in Saturday’s final, with Germany, Belgium and Australia all capable of sealing top spot.

Venus not to appear in court after car accident

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

United States tennis player, Venus Williams, will not face any criminal charges in relation to a fatal traffic accident she was involved in near her Florida residence, in the month of June, 2017.

According to the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, the driver of a car that struck Williams’ SUV in an intersection will also not be charged, after Palm Beach Gardens police concluded that none of them violated the right-of-way.

Police had initially said Williams was to blame for failing to yield the right-of-way.

But by July, Palm Beach Gardens police said video evidence had surfaced that showed that the seven-time Grand Slam champion entered the intersection lawfully, and that a car not involved in the collision forced Williams to stop in the intersection. The traffic light changed, and a sedan that struck Williams’ SUV had a green light.

A 78-year-old Jerome Barson, who was a passenger in a Sedan that collided with the SUV Williams was driving, died 13 days after the June 9 accident. His wife, Linda Barson, 68, was the driver of the Sedan.

The Barson family has filed a wrongful death suit against Williams.

Turkey wants NBA player, Kanter, jailed for insulting her president

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

A Turkish prosecutor has reportedly asked for NBA’s New York Knicks star, Enes Kanter, to be jailed for up to four years for insulting Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan.

According to state-run news agency, Anadolu, Kanter’s passport was revoked by Turkish authorities earlier this year, and an arrest warrant was issued after he was named a “fugitive” by a Turkish court following his support for U.S-based Islamic preacher, Fethullah Gulen, who was accused of orchestrating an attempted coup in July 2016.

Kanter is a long-time supporter of Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999 and whose extradition Erdogan is seeking. Gulen denied involvement in the failed coup.

The news agency disclosed that the indictment on December 20, followed Kanter’s use of Twitter to “defame and deride” Erdogan.

The 6-foot-11-inch center tweeted on Wednesday in response to the indictment, adding screenshots of the media reports.

“I have said less than that honorless (man) deserves. Add another 4 years for me, master,” he told his 526,000 Twitter followers.

Kanter was detained in Romania in May when authorities learned his Turkish passport had been revoked. He later returned to the United States.

Kanter lashed out at Erdogan at a news conference following his detention, calling him the “Hitler of our century.”

He holds a U.S. green card that allows him to live and work in the country on a permanent basis.

In 2016, Turkish media published a handwritten letter signed by Kanter’s father, Mehmet, disowning a son he accused of having been “hypnotized” by the Gulen movement.

In response, the 25-year-old Kanter, the third pick in the NBA draft when he joined Utah Jazz in 2011, said he was dedicating himself to Gulen and the cleric”s Hizmet movement.

FIFA threatens to kick Spain out of World Cup over government interference

Spain were in danger of being thrown out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Friday, December 15, over alleged government interference in its football association activities.

FIFA wrote to the Royal Spanish Football Federation, RFEF, warning it would be in breach of the world governing body’s statutes if  Consejo Superior de Deportes, CSD, the Spanish government’s national sports council, forced it to stage a presidential election following the arrest and suspension of Angel Villar Llona.

The letter followed a complaint allegedly lodged by Villar Llona himself, who resigned as the senior vice-president of FIFA and vice-president of UEFA following his arrest in July, but he is still the existing president of the RFEF despite pressure from the CSD for the federation to elect a successor.

FIFA confirmed on Friday that its letter expressed “concern” about the situation and reminded the RFEF it must manage its own affairs independently, without third-party interference. And any member of the association that fails to do so can be suspended, causing its national team to be banned from playing.

Spain were previously at risk of being thrown out of the 2008 European Championship, also over alleged government interference in RFEF electoral business. They eventually won the tournament, before their World Cup triumph two years later.

FIFA and acting RFEF president 2008 European Championship, both confirmed on Friday that talks would take place over the controversy after Christmas.

Meanwhile, Friday also saw FIFA’s ethics committee ban Brazil’s Football Federation, CBF, president, Marco Polo Del Nero, for 90 days amid an investigation into charges against him in the United States.

FIFA bans Brazilian football official for 90 days

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

Following earlier reports of the trial of three South American football officials charged with bribery, Brazilian soccer chief, Marco Polo del Nero has been banned for 90 days by  the Federation of International Football Association, FIFA, on Friday, December 15, while he is investigated over possible unethical conduct.

Del Nero, a former member of FIFA’s executive committee, was among 42 football officials and sports marketing executives indicted in the United States in 2015 in a corruption scandal that sparked the biggest crisis in FIFA’s history.

According to reports, the 76-year-old Del Nero denied wrongdoing while the Brazilian Football Federation, CBF, could not immediately be contacted for comment on the case.

However, his two immediate predecessors, Jose Maria Marin and Ricardo Teixeira, were also among those indicted in the United States.

Marin is currently standing trial in the U.S. alongside former South American Football Confederation president, Juan Napout, and former Peruvian football boss, Manuel Burga.

The three have pleaded not guilty to allegations that they were involved in a conspiracy to take bribes from sports marketing companies in exchange for lucrative marketing rights to football tournaments, including Copa America and Copa Libertadores.

FIFA further announced that the ban could be extended for an additional 45 days to allow investigations to continue.

 

 

FIFA bribery scandal set to begin in New York

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

All is set for deliberations over the trial of three former South American football officials charged in the bribery scandal sweeping the Federation of International Football Association, FIFA, on Friday December 15, in New York .

Closing arguments at the United States corruption trial of three former South American soccer officials concluded on Thursday with the lawyer for an ex-president of Brazil’s soccer federation claiming his client had no clue about a bribery scheme, and a prosecutor saying the testimony of the government witness was “devastating” for the defense.

On the second day of closing arguments in federal court in Brooklyn, where jury deliberations are set to begin, the defense attorney, Charles Stillman, said Jose Maria Marin “never joined in the conspiracy… He sits here today an innocent man,”

Stillman also said that the 85-year-old became president of Brazilian soccer in 2012 to fill out the term of a predecessor who resigned. But he was a mere figurehead, while a younger soccer official, Marco Polo del Nero, who’s the current president, took command and got in on the scheme.

Lawyers for Marin, Manuel Burga, of Peru, and Juan Angel Napout, of Paraguay, have sought to discredit several cooperating witnesses who testified that the football officials took millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for their influence in awarding lucrative commercial rights to some of football’s biggest tournaments.

Meanwhile, another cooperator in the bribery scheme, Brazilian businessman, Jose Hawilla, made recordings played at the trial, including one of a conversation he had with Marin in 2014 in which prosecutors say the defendant negotiated a bribe by saying, “It’s about time to have it coming my way. True or not?”

Hawilla responded: “Of course. That money had to be given to you.”

NFF in talks with Egypt FA over pre-World Cup friendly

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

The Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, are holding talks with the Egyptian Football Association over the possibility of playing a pre-World Cup friendly in Abuja before the Super Eagles travel to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

NFF’s Secretary General, Mohammed Sanusi, revealed that one of the countries Nigeria would face in the build up to the tournament is Egypt, but no decision has been finalized yet.

Sanusi, who spoke at NFF’s 2018 budget defence with the House of Representatives Committee on Sports said, ”We’re looking at three countries. We want to play in Abuja. We haven’t finalized, but Egypt is one of them, ”

NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, confirmed that Super Eagles will trade tackles with an unnamed team on May 27, 2018, as part of their preparations for the World Cup.

The Polish Football Federation have announced that their national team would play a friendly with Nigeria on March 23, and the 42,000 capacity Municipal Stadium in the United States, is likely to host the game.

It would be recalled that the last meeting between both side was an African Nations Cup qualifier where Nigeria lost 1-0 to Egypt at the El Arab Stadium on March 29, 2016.