During the Week: 2018 World Cup Boycott Mooted, Fergie Fires Shots from Autobiography and More

Ahead of the men’s season ending ATP Tour Finals serving off next week in London, the women’s curtain call championship served off in Istanbul, Turkey during the week.

And despite stating her tiredness following her straight sets win over third seed Agnieszka Radwanska, women’s world number one player Serena Williams has nonetheless reached the semi-final of the season ending WTA Championships.

Playing in the Red Group, Williams overcame German Angelique Kerber in her opening match before going past Radwanska and, with the ‘tiredness’ on her, managed to beat Petra Kvitova 6-2 6-3 in her final group match.

But indeed, the American great has a case to be tired having played all three roundrobin matches in successive days unlike Kvitova, for instance, who had a day off ahead of her loss to Williams.

Czech fifth seed Kvitova can however join Williams in the semis if she defeats Kerber; also in with a chance of joining Williams with a win, in the group’s final match.

Third seed Radwanska on her part is out of the Championship having lost all her three roundrobin matches, and most disappointingly all in straight sets too.

Over in the White Group, fourth seed Li Na heads the group with two wins from two matches following a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 win over Jelena Jankovic. All Na needs is to win a set in her final group match against second seed Viktoria Azarenka to seal qualification.

A straight sets loss would however jeopardise her position greatly, see Azarenka go through to the last four and be joined there by Jankovic, who will qualify if she wins her final group match against already eliminated Sara Errani, regardless of the result from the Azarenka-Na match.

From coloured groups in Istanbul to matters of one race abusing people of a different race. Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has suggested quite a few actions against racism since accusing fans of CSKA Moscow of aiming monkey chants at him during a UEFA Champions League match on Wednesday.

Toure, who wore the captain’s armband which had ‘No to Racism’ printed on it, suggested after the match in Moscow that a lengthy stadium ban could be given to CSKA for the incident and that players of African descent could boycott the 2018 World Cup in Russia to drive home the ‘No to Racism’ point.

This way, according to Toure, he hoped that Russia would take responsibility and deal with such “unbelievable” behaviour ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Interestingly, CSKA in a statement denied any racist chants were made by its fans during the match. ”Having carefully studied the video of the game, we found no racist insults from fans of CSKA.”

”In many occasions, especially during attacks on our goal, fans booed and whistled to put pressure on rival players, but regardless of their race (Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko). Why the Ivorian midfielder took it as all being directed at him is not clear.”

The Russian club even went further, and below the belt if you ask me, to release a statement from Toure’s fellow Ivorian Seydou Doumbia, who plays for CSKA.

”Yes, they’re always noisy in supporting the team, and try to put as much pressure as possible on our opponents, but they wouldn’t ever allow themselves to come out with racist chants. So my Ivory Coast colleague is clearly exaggerating.”

UEFA, which had declared this week a Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) Action Week, will have a disciplinary committee convene next Wednesday on the matter to find if CSKA is guilty of the accusation. A guilty verdict would lead to partial closure of the stadium next Champions League home match.

On the field, CSKA lost 2-1 to City with a Sergio Agüero brace cancelling CSKA’s lead and leaving them third in the group with three points, behind City in second with six points and leaders Bayern Munich with nine maximum points after the Germans eased to a 5-0 win over pointless Victoria Plzen.

Olympique Marseille of France is also pointless after three group matches, losing 2-1 at home to Napoli that joined top placed Arsenal and second placed Borussia Dortmund on six points, with Dortmund getting a 2-1 victory at Arsenal.

Elsewhere, Cristiano Ronaldo scored his sixth and seventh goals of this season’s competition in Real Madrid’s 2-1 win over Juventus, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his third to sixth goals in PSG’s 5-0 demolition of Anderlecht in Brussels and Lionel Messi scored his fourth Champions League goal to help Barcelona come away from AC Milan with a 1-1 draw.

And in some other matches, Chelsea got an impressive 3-0 win at Schalke 04, Diego Costa – called up by Brazil for Nobember friendlies, which pretty much ends Spain’s chance of having him with La Roja – scored twice as Atletico Madrid won by the same score while Wayne Rooney’s effort off the post was lapped in by a Real Sociedad defender to give Manchester United a lone goal win.

The win helped to blow some cool wind at David Moyes and indeed all of Old Trafford following the disappointing draw with Southampton last Saturday and the press conference to announce the autobiography of Sir Alex Ferguson, My Autobiography (dead title) on Tuesday.

Revealing ‘excerpts’ from the book, which became available on Thursday, Sir Alex chronicled his sometimes feisty relationship with Rooney whom he says had been told to mind his business after asking for the club to sign Mesut Özil, who then was at Werder Bremen.

The book also chronicles Robin Judas Persie’s move from Arsenal, with Fergie apologising to the Dutch striker for not keeping his word on remaining at the club beyond last season.

Then there’s Pizzagate after United ended Arsenal’s 49 match unbeaten run, stating he didn’t know to this day who threw the pizza at him. Former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas would then like an instagram picture of a pizza posted by Arseblog soon after the conference. So ‘subliminal’.

Fergie also touched on the boot incident with David Beckham whom he accused of making it ”an ambition to be known outside the game”, expressed his spicy view on former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez and reiterated that Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is not a top top player and was perplexed as to why he was chosen ahead of Michael Carrick in the England set-up.

Former Man. United captain Roy Keane and his savage tongue, Rooney and his weight issues, Mark Bosnic’s weight issues too, Ruud van Nistelrooij and Rio Ferdinand were also ‘fondly’ mentioned in the book, while Fergie also suggested Michael Owen would’ve had a better career had he joined United instead of Liverpool.

Whether he would or wouldn’t would matter little to nothing to David Moyes, whose Man. United side will hope to build on the win over Sociedad when Stoke City visit on Saturday in a Premier League match.

Top of the table Arsenal kick the weekend off in their shot trip across town to face second from bottom Crystal Palace that parted ways with manager Ian Holloway.

The big match comes up on Sunday when second placed Chelsea host fourth placed Manchester City in the Premier League’s Clash of the Cash, preceded by the TyneWear derby between Sunderland and Newcastle United.

In Germany, second placed Dortmund visit Schalke in the Ruhr derby while leaders Bayern Munich host capital club Hertha Berlin in another Bundesliga match on Saturday.

The clash of the weekend comes from the Camp Nou where Barcelona host Real Madrid in this season’s first El Clasico. Messi will start, CR7 definitely will. Neymar is set for his first Clasico for Barça while Gareth Bale could feature as well having overcome injury problems.

Real Madrid head into that in confident mood, having cut the gap behind Barça to three points last weekend. One loss in the e
last eight Clasicos further boosts La Decima’s confidence ahead of the encounter.

Anticipation of that clash brings this post to a close. On this day, The Alchemist turns 36 today, The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales are remembered at the latter nation, Shaun Wright Phillips turns 32 and musicians Katy Perry, Ciara and Gyptian celebrate their birthdays as well.

Many happy returns to them and all else celebrating. And a pleasant weekend to the rest of us alive by the grace of God. Cheers!

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