TIME Sports

Meet the British Soccer Player Bringing Lance Armstrong Back to the Tour de France Route

during stage twelve of the 2010 Tour de France from  Rodez to Revel on July 17, 2010 in Revel, France.
Bryn Lennon—2010 Getty Images Lance Armstrong during stage twelve of the 2010 Tour de France from Rodez to Revel on July 17, 2010 in Revel, France.

The disgraced cyclist took drugs to help him win the famous race

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong is this month heading back to the scene of some of his most celebrated, and infamous, victories—the route of the Tour de France—and he has a retired English soccer player to thank. Armstrong will cycle stages 13 and 14 a day ahead of the professional peloton at the Tour de France in mid-July. He will be joining former soccer player Geoff Thomas’s 21-day charity ride, One Day Ahead.

Despite the controversy Armstrong’s involvement has caused—the president of the world’s cycling body International Cycling Union’s (UCI), Brian Cookson, has called it disrespectful—Thomas thinks it has made the world take notice of his fundraising race, which will benefit a leukemia charity.

“It is all about publicity and about raising funds,” says Thomas, who formerly captained the English soccer team, Crystal Palace. “I knew I opened a can of worms by doing this.”

Armstrong has acknowledged he foresaw trouble. Thomas “and everybody involved caught a ton of grief. We knew there would be criticism,” Armstrong told the Telegraph last month. The cyclist famously won the Tour seven times before being stripped of his titles for using performance-enhancing drugs.

On July 3, Thomas and his team of 12 cyclists, who have raised close to $1 million, will start the first stage in Utrecht, in The Netherlands, one day ahead of the professionals. Armstrong will join them two weeks later in France on July 17.

While there might be some who would like to see Armstrong attack a mountain again, as he used to do with such eyebrow-raising success, Thomas was careful to not put Armstrong on any iconic climbs, where fans tend to line up days before the event. “We don’t want to show disrespect to the Tour itself and he [Armstrong] doesn’t want to do that either.”

Thomas says that what convinced Armstrong to join One Day Ahead was the opportunity to work with the cancer community again, something he missed since leaving the foundation he started, Livestrong. “All he wants to do now is get back on that track where he can just be an influence in the cancer community,” says Thomas.

Armstrong’s book It’s Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life, detailing the cyclist’s struggle with testicular cancer, pushed Thomas onto the road to recovery after the soccer player was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer in 2003. When he went into remission in 2005, Thomas cycled the full 2,200 mile-long route two days ahead of Armstrong, who was competing in the Tour de France that year.

Despite both being professional athletes who battled cancer and started their own charities, the parallels end there. “I am a sportsman. And what he did as a sportsman I don’t agree with,” says Thomas. “I think he was a great sportsman…but the sad truth is the culture of cycling then and for a long time during his career was tainted by the doping scandals. And he played a part in that.”

For Thomas, Armstrong’s reconciliation with Emma O’Reilly, the Dublin-born massage therapist whom Armstrong sued for slander when she attempted to talk about his doping, signals a change in a person who was known back in 2000 for being, according to Thomas, a “nasty guy.”

“I thought if she can forgive him, then other people have as well and there is probably a few that never will,” Thomas tells TIME. “I separate the sportsperson and the person himself… what I see is a guy who survived cancer himself, inspired millions and raised over $500 million for his foundation.”

Thomas, who has been fundraising assiduously over the last 10 years, hopes One Day Ahead will have a positive impact for his charity, Cure Leukemia. But it may come at a cost: giving Armstrong a chance to revisit the route where he cheated his way to victory might leave some spectators with a sour taste.

TIME NFL

Chargers and Raiders Propose Joint Los Angeles Stadium

Charles Woodson #24 of the Oakland Raiders congratulated Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers after the Chargers defeated the Oakland Raiders 13-6 in the game at Qualcomm Stadium on Nov. 16, 2014 in San Diego, Calif.
Donald Miralle—Getty Images Charles Woodson #24 of the Oakland Raiders congratulated Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers after the Chargers defeated the Oakland Raiders 13-6 in the game at Qualcomm Stadium on Nov. 16, 2014 in San Diego, Calif.

Chargers and Raiders Propose Joint Los Angeles Stadium

The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are pursuing the possibility of building a joint stadium in the Los Angeles area, the teams announced on Thursday.

The plan would be to build a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson that they would share, according to the Los Angeles Times. The venue would be privately financed.

Both teams will continue to look to get a deal done for new stadiums in their home markets and are looking for public subsidies, according to the Times. From the joint statement:

We are pursuing this stadium option in Carson for one straightforward reason: If we cannot find a permanent solution in our home markets, we have no alternative but to preserve other options to guarantee the future economic viability of our franchises.

The teams said they understand the NFL’s rules for relocation and “respect the right of the NFL’s owners to decide on all Los Angeles-related relocation issues.” All relocations most be approved by three-fourths of the league’s owners.

Both teams are currently in year-to-year leases in their home stadiums and have long been the subject of relocation talk.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Australia

Australians Outraged by Revelations of Greyhounds Trained With Live Baiting

Greyhound racing,dogs in red and black/whites striped coats
Bob Thomas—Getty Images

Live animals were filmed being tied to lures and torn apart by the dogs

Animal lovers are in uproar after a television report in Australia showed racing greyhounds trained using live animals as bait.

Secret footage aired on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Four Corners program Monday showed live piglets, possums and rabbits being fixed to a mechanical lure and flung around the track, as dogs chased and ultimately killed the animals. One possum was used as bait for almost an entire hour.

Governing body Greyhounds Australasia has begun an urgent review of animal welfare and has suspended more than 20 trainers, owners and trial-track operators in the past week.

“I am appalled at some of the footage shown on the Four Corners program. The use of live animals to train greyhounds is disgusting, illegal, unethical and totally rejected by the industry,” Scott Parker, CEO of Greyhounds Australasia, said in a statement.

If found guilty of using live bait, the accused will face heavy fines and up to five years in jail.

Live baiting is outlawed but some trainers continue with the practice, believing it improves the performance of dogs.

Caution: The below clip contains graphic images that some viewers may find distressing.

TIME celebrity

Tennis Star Andy Murray’s Fiancée Drops the F-Bomb Courtside, Internet Goes Wild

You need to have this girl on your side

Scottish tennis star Andy Murray may have just beaten Czech Tomas Berdych to make it through to the finals of the Australian Open, but it’s his fiancée Kim Sears who has taken social media by storm.

Cameras caught 27-year-old Sears’ apparent expletive-filled reaction to Murray’s break in the first set.

 

And professional lip-readers have been called in to suggest what Sears — an artist who specializes in animal portraits — was actually saying, the Telegraph reports.

Lip reader Tina Lannin believes Sears says,“F—— have that you flashy Czech, you flashy f—. If that’s what you get…”

Whereas lip reader and teacher Martine Monksfield thinks it was, “F—— have that Czech you fat old f—.”

But Jessica Rees, a forensic lip reader says it could be, “F—— hell! That f—— Czech could fight to five now he’s one down.”

Murray came to her defense after the match, saying the outburst was “completely normal.”

The Internet too found little wrong with somebody voicing, shall we say, impassioned support for her partner. German tennis player Andrew Petkovic summed up the feelings of many when she tweeted:

[Telegraph]

TIME College football

Chaos as Miami Beach Bowl Turns into Brawl

Helmets were thrown and sucker punches were seen as well

Celebrating a bowl victory is supposed to be a proud moment. Unfortunately, Memphis and BYU turned in one of the uglier postgame bowl moments seen in years. After Memphis picked off a pass from BYU quarterback Christian Stewart to seal a wild 55-48 double-overtime victory, joy quickly turned ugly as players from both teams started exchanging punches instead of postgame handshakes.

Helmets were thrown and sucker punches were seen as well. It was eerily reminiscent of another college football game played in Miami years ago between Miami and FIU…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME World Cup

Watch: The History Behind the Germany vs. Argentina Rivalry

This Sunday, Germany and Argentina will face off in the World Cup final. But this is not the first time that the two countries played against each other

This weekend, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Trophy will go from the current holder of the gold statue, Spain, winner of the 2010 World Cup, to either Argentina or Germany. But this is not the first time the two countries have faced each other in a World Cup final.

In 1986, Argentina beat Germany 3-2, in a magic match where Maradona became Maradona. And it happened a second time in, 1990, when the Germans won 1-0 in what was considered at the time a less than exciting performance from the two teams.

Will Sunday’s match be a 1986-type final – energetic, surprising, memorable – or a 1990 final?

TIME’s Bill Saporito takes a look back at the rivalry between the countries.

TIME China

Welcome to China’s Evergrande, the World’s Biggest Soccer Academy

It has 2,400 boarding students, dozens of pitches and the ambitious aim of transforming China into a global soccer powerhouse

China, the world’s most populous country, tends toward the superlative. So, too, with the Evergrande International Football School in southern China’s Guangdong province, which bills itself as the world’s largest such sporting academy. Photographer Kevin Frayer documented life at the sprawling soccer school, which boasts 2,400 boarding students, dozens of fields, Harry Potter towers and coaches “assigned by Real Madrid,” according to Evergrande’s website.

Conceived of by property tycoon Xu Jiayin — who also has ownership stakes in the nation’s most successful football club — the Evergrande academy opened in the fall of 2012 with the decidedly ambitious aim of transforming China into a football dynamo. (Most of the school’s students are boys, but there are some girls.)

China has cultivated athletic dominance in a mind-blowing array of sports by funneling thousands of kids into state-run athletic schools. At the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, China topped the gold-medal rankings for the first time. But China remains a men’s soccer laggard, having qualified for the World Cup only once.

Whether the Evergrande school will fulfill its motto of “Boosting China’s football and cultivating football stars” isn’t at all assured. (There is another competing private football academy gathering talent in southern China.) Still, in a country where kids rarely gather for a pickup match, just seeing so many children playing soccer together is a definite game changer.

TIME Bangladesh

You’ll Never Guess Where Some of the Most Fanatical Fans of the Argentina and Brazil Soccer Teams Can be Found

Bangladesh Soccer WCup
A.M. Ahad—AP A man examines a T-shirt in the style of Brazil's national soccer team, being offered by a street vendor in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on June 1, 2014

Hint: it's a long way from South America

Correction appended, June 20, 2014

On June 7, groups of Argentina and Brazil fans clashed over the World Cup — but not on the streets of Rio or in a sports bar in Buenos Aires. Instead, the unlikely location was Barisal, which is not — as it vaguely sounds — some upcountry Amazon backwater. It’s a port city of some 270,000 souls on the Kirtankhola River in Bangladesh. And the fans were Bangladeshi.

The trouble began when a Brazil fan, called Mahmud Hasan, was sitting in the dining room of the Barisal Polytechnic Institute and began chanting that the infamous 1986 “Hand of God” goal against England scored by Argentine star player Diego Maradona’s was “illegal.” Argentina fans sitting nearby took umbrage — and the subsequent clash injured 11.

Then, on June 18, in the town of Hatibandha in Bangladesh’s far north, an 18-year-old restaurant worker, Milon Hossain, was killed when rival groups of Argentina and Brazil fans began hurling stones at each other.

Bangladesh is a country in the grip of World Cup madness — and the two South American giants are luring fanatical levels of support.

The flags of Argentina and Brazil are flying everywhere. Local authorities in the western town of Jessore have gotten nationalist angst over the sight of so many foreign flags and tried to ban them, but in vain.

“We don’t mind people wearing jerseys of their favourite teams or [using] billboards or banners,” Mustafizur Rahman, a government administrator, told AFP. “But it does not look good when flags of foreign nations are flying on your rooftops. We have become a nation of Argentina and Brazil.”

The danger isn’t just limited to outbreaks of violence. In the capital Dhaka, at least three enthusiasts have died hanging Argentina flags from the city’s precarious electric wiring. They were later dubbed “World Cup martyrs” by the local press.

Ifty Mahmud, a journalist at Bangladesh’s largest daily newspaper, the Prothom Alo, says support for Brazil is rooted in Bangladeshi poverty. The Brazil team also “looks like us,” explains Ifty, “just see Pelé, Romário and Neymar, they are dark-skinned so are we, [Brazil] are poor, so are we.”

Support for Argentina, meanwhile, has an “anticolonial character, because Maradona beat the English,” the country’s former colonial ruler. “Beckham is not popular here.” Maradona meanwhile, “is crazy, Bangladeshis love crazy people!”

“The way he cheated the colonial power, because it was daylight cheating, had symbolic resonance,” concurs Abu Ahasan, a researcher and anthropologist at BRAC (formerly the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, though these days it is known solely by the acronym). “The same thing happened with Muhammad Ali and the West Indies cricket team; it captured the imagination.”

The Argentina team, perhaps aware of their huge support base in Bangladesh, made a rare visit to the country in September 2011 playing Nigeria in a friendly match at Bangladesh’s packed national stadium. Current Argentina and Barcelona star Lionel Messi shimmied his way into the nation’s affections, and giant screens were erected around the city for fans who could not get tickets.

Such is the fanaticism for the two South American teams that members of an E.U. mission have been trying to understand why European teams aren’t more popular. Despite the game being introduced in the country by the British, its mournful memo pointed out, “there are hardly any visible England flags on the streets.”

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the name of a journalist. He is Ifty Mahmud, not Ifty Islam.

TIME Soccer

Soccer Bosses Are Turning the Heat on Sepp Blatter, Days Before the World Cup Starts

FBL-WC-2014-BRAZIL-FIFA-CONGRESS
Fabrice Coffrini—AFP/Getty Images FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been under mounting criticism in recent days. Here he takes part in the opening ceremony of the FIFA Congress in São Paulo on June 10, 2014

Sepp Blatter is being urged to not seek re-election following the latest flurry of corruption allegations

Days before the World Cup kicks off, and Sepp Blatter, the head of soccer’s global governing body FIFA, is facing a barrage of criticism from his peers, whose frustrations at the lack of action over corruption allegations is forcing them to become increasingly vocal.

The Royal Dutch Football Association head Michael van Praag, and David Gill, vice president of UEFA, which governs European soccer, have called on Blatter to not seek re-election next year, according to the BBC.

“Few people still take FIFA seriously and, however you look at it, Blatter is mainly responsible,” said van Praag.

The appeal comes amid reports that illegal payments were made by disgraced Qatari soccer official Mohamed bin Hammam in return for support for its bid to host the 2022 World Cup. Qatar was awarded hosting rights, outdoing Australia, South Korea, Japan and the U.S.

But yesterday Blatter dismissed the latest corruption claims as racist, prompting a critical response from soccer bosses in Europe.

“These allegations need to be properly investigated and properly answered,” said Greg Dyke, chairman of the English Football Association.

Asked by BBC if Blatter ought to step down next year, UEFA vice president Gill replied: “Personally, yes. I think we need to move on.”

So far, Blatter has yet to respond to the calls.

[BBC]

TIME Man on the Wire

Face to Face on the Front Lines: TIME Talks to Bulent Kilic

TIME talks to Bulent Kilic, a bold young photographer whose compassion and integrity are as strong as his imagery.

This year Bulent Kilic’s powerful, assured work — made most recently in the aftermath of the deadly coal mine collapse in Soma and earlier amid the political unrest in his native Turkey and the turmoil in Ukraine — brought him wide attention and established him as a force to watch on the news wires. TIME talked to Kilic about his pictures and his formative years — and discovered a bold young photographer whose compassion and integrity are as strong as his imagery.


Bulent Kilic was born 35 years ago in the Eastern Turkish province now known as Tunceli—an area dominated by Alawite Kurds and haunted by the memory of the Dersim Massacre, a mid-1930s Turkish military campaign against the region’s minority groups that claimed the lives of thousands and displaced many more. When Kilic was just five-years-old his father, a teacher, relocated the family to Istanbul. There, living in the city’s Uskudar district, “opposite a famous mosque, from where prayers rung out loudly,” Kilic says he was awakened to the fact that “he had entered an entirely different world.”

Kilic studied journalism and photography at the University of Ege during which time he became a correspondent and a journalist for the socialist newspaper Evrensel, taking, developing and printing his own pictures. By 2003 he had aspirations to work in mainstream media; but two years later, after meeting with a foreign photo agency and realizing “that my real dream was through this path,” he joined AFP as a stringer.

Kilic, like most photojournalists who work for news agencies, has covered his fair share of sport, fashion, conflict, and politics over the past decade, mostly in his native Turkey while major stories unfolded elsewhere. “We can’t excel in all of these [disciplines] but we can adapt to a few, ” Kilic says. “The benefit of shooting sports is that you become faster at processing what you see, your reflexes improve.”

Things changed dramatically for him in 2011, when AFP assigned him to northern Syria, to cover the civil war.

“When they started to shoot artillery into Idlib [in northwestern Syria] I quickly realized that I wasn’t ready for this experience,” Kilic says. “It was like a game of roulette, with artillery dropping left, right and center around us.”

During 2012 and 2013, Kilic visited Syria seven more times and, although he felt more prepared, he says the conditions remained extremely difficult. “There are no laws, the situation in those lands is like the movie Mad Max,” he says. “Civilians are forced to migrate from one spot to another while they are attacked by inhumane murderers.” Kilic found making photographs of those displaced in large cities and in the refugee camps distressing, while the kidnap and murder of a fellow photojournalist Olivier Voisin affected him deeply, but he kept working.

Kilic’s compassion for his subjects is evident. Earlier this year he covered the unrest in Kiev and says he felt a connection with the activists: “The solidarity in the communal squares, the 24 hours of tea and food preparations and the kindness and sincerity of the people really touched me.” He says he also felt their loss.

Beyond his powerful photographs from the barricades, Kilic also focused on quieter moments—heavily etched portraits of the protesters that reveal the emotional weight of their struggle. Of a picture he made of a protestor who threw a molotov cocktail, for example, he says that “it is important to see the portrait, because the facial expression is strong enough to give you the story.”

As many photographers moved to Crimea, Kilic chose instead to return to Turkey.

“The events in Turkey are complicated and I had to make time for my own country,” he says. “Sometimes a photo that you spend months trying to capture in a foreign country can be found a few miles away from your own home.” Kilic’s arrival in early March coincided with the death of Berkin Elvan, a 15-year-old teenager who died of injuries he sustained amid the 2013 demonstrations when he was hit by a police tear-gas canister while buying bread for his family. Kilic covered the funeral and the surrounding unrest. As the Turkish government closed down YouTube and Twitter and international condemnation over censorship within the country grew, Kilic documented election rallies — photographing with the same confident, sure eye that marked his work in Ukraine.

“The national and international agencies in Turkey have an important job to do,” he says. “Censorship is our country’s biggest problem.”

Kilic’s most recent work documents the horrific explosion and collapse of the Soma coal mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa, which killed more than 300 miners. It was the deadliest industrial disaster in Turkish history, with many saying it highlighted Turkey’s abysmal work-safety record. Emotions in the crowds who gathered at the scene of the explosion were high, Kilic says. “People were shouting and crying as miners, most of them already dead, were carried out by emergency staff,” he adds. “They were poor workers, neglected by the government.”

In the wake of the catastrophe, much of the public’s anger has been directed at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose reaction to the disaster was widely seen as abrasive and insensitive.

“It is important how you take a picture,” Kilic notes. “It is also important what kind of a person you are and how you choose to live your life.”


Bulent Kilic is a photographer for AFP based in Istanbul.

Phil Bicker is a senior photo editor at TIME.


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