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After playing in empty stadium, FC Barcelona joins strike in Catalonia

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FC Barcelona signaled its unhappiness with the Spanish government Sunday by closing the doors to its stadium and playing a La Liga match before over 99,000 empty seats.
On Monday, the team said it would join a general strike set for Tuesday in Catalonia, one meant to protest the violent crackdown on an independence vote held in that region.

Spain sent riot police to try to stop the vote, in which Catalans were asked Sunday whether they wanted to remain part of the country, resulting in hundreds of injuries and scenes of armored officers using truncheons to forcibly remove the elderly, women and children from polling stations.

While the government has declared the vote an illegal act engineered by a troublesome group of secessionists, the heavy-handed approach may result in greater sentiment for a sovereign Catalonia.

With a game against Las Palmas held on the same day as the referendum, FC Barcelona officials wanted to postpone the match but were denied by the Spanish league. They didn’t want to forfeit the three points they would gain from an expected win, let alone face further sanctions, so they decided to make a statement by having Lionel Messi and his star-studded teammates square off with Las Palmas in an eerily silent Camp Nou.

In announcing Sunday that its match would be played behind closed doors, Barcelona said in a statement that it “condemns the events which have taken place in many parts of Catalonia today in order to prevent its citizens exercising their democratic right to free expression.”

“It was the hardest game to play,” Barcelona’s Gerard Pique said after the 3-0 victory over Las Palmas. “The Board tried to suspend the match, but it wasn’t possible. We debated it, and the club decided we should play.”

“We knew that an empty Camp Nou would send a powerful message,” Josep Maria Bartomeu, the team president, said in a news conference Monday. “Everybody would be asking about what was happening in Catalonia. The game was broadcast around the world. It was an extraordinary measure for an extraordinary moment.”

In a statement Monday, Bartomeu said Barcelona would “support the call for strike action tomorrow.” None of the club’s professional or youth teams will practice Tuesday, and the club’s headquarters will be closed.
In addition, two other La Liga clubs based in Catalonia, Espanyol and Girona, announced Monday their intentions to join the strike, which was called by more than 40 unions and associations in the region under the umbrella organization Democracy Board.

“In our position as a club of such global scope, we shall continue to tell the world about the reality of what’s happening in our country and our commitment to its people and their freedoms, a commitment to which the club has remained faithful throughout its 118 years of history,” Bartomeu said. “We shall be making use of our presence on international sporting bodies and shall take every opportunity we have to do so.
“We would like to express our solidarity with all the anonymous citizens who yesterday stood up for something so valuable as is our democracy. Here at Barça we also stand beside the 893 people that were victims of these aggressions, and wish them a rapid and complete recovery.”

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Cristiano Ronaldo wins fifth Ballon d’Or to equal Lionel Messi

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Goal — Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has won the 2017 Ballon d’Or.

It is the fifth time the Portugal international has won the prize, drawing him level with his great rival Lionel Messi for the most Ballons d’Or of all time.

Ronaldo scored 42 goals across all competitions during the 2016-17 season, leading Real Madrid to a La Liga and Champions League double.

The 32-year-old netted 25 times in La Liga last term and added 12 goals in the Champions League, including a brace in the final against Juventus.

“I’m very happy. To get this prize in Paris is a great experience, it’s marvelous,” Ronaldo told L’Equipe TV.

“It’s a great moment of my career. It’s something I wish I have every year. We had a marvelous year. I was the [top] goalscorer of the Champions League, so I want to thank my team-mates.
“They were important for me. And also thanks everybody who helped me to be in great form during the season.”

It’s the second straight year Ronaldo has won the award presented by France Football, and he was also named the Best FIFA Men’s Player of 2016-17 in October.

Ronaldo also took home the Ballon d’Or in 2008, 2013, and 2014.

FIFA formerly awarded the Ballon d’Or in conjunction with France Football, but the two entities split their prizes last year.

The Portugal star was joined in the top 30 by six of his Real Madrid team-mates: Karim Benzema (25th place), Toni Kroos (17th), Marcelo (16th), Isco (12th), Sergio Ramos (sixth) and Modric (fifth).

Ronaldo has picked up where he left off last season in this year’s Champions League, scoring in all six of Madrid’s group-stage matches – a feat that had never been accomplished before .

But he hasn’t matched that form in La Liga, netting just two times in 10 appearances thus far.

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Political Pundit Falsely Claims Colin Kaepernick Donated Money To Terrorists (Somalia Famine Relief)

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VIBE — On Friday (Dec. 1), “Fox & Friends” contributor Kevin Jackson shared his views on the award while downplaying Kaepernick’s legacy. The former NFL player was essentially isolated by the league in 2016 for taking a knee against police brutality, a moment that has later been repeated by supporters this year. As Salon points out, Kaepernick was also given the award for his deep-rooted relationship to social justice, but Jackson disagreed.

“Look, Kaepernick is no Ali,” he continued while calling the award a participation trophy. “And the idea that the left continue to want to sell this lie to America, that this man stands for something that supposedly is happening in this country that’s not, just shows you that the left will never give up on this narrative.”

He also accused the athlete of donating money to radical groups.

“Colin Kaepernick gives money to terrorists,” he said. “Look at the people he’s donated money to. These are “radicalists,” in many cases, ethnocentric racists black organizations and again, built on a lie. It would be different if we can really get behind this and feel like it was done in the spirit of the the guy getting a raw deal. Muhammad Ali got a raw deal. Colin Kaepernick did not get a raw deal.”

Kaepernick has donated to plenty of organizations such as the Coalition for the Homeless, Meals on Wheels, Somalia famine relief, NY groups Coalition for the Homeless, DREAM and many more detailed on his website. None have any ties to radical views or movements.

Lonnie Ali, Muhammad’s widow, presented Kaepernick with the award while praising his passion for social justice.

“I am proud to be able to present this to Colin for his passionate defense of social justice and civil rights for all people,” Ali said. “Like Muhammad, Colin is a man who stands on his convictions with confidence and courage, undaunted by the personal sacrifices he has had to make to have his message heard. And he has used his celebrity and philanthropy to the benefit of some of our most vulnerable community members.”

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The 2018 World Cup draw is set — Here is where all 32 teams are grouped

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The 2018 FIFA World Cup draw is here!

There 32 countries were divided into four “pot.” The top seeds were all placed in Pot 1 and were assigned to groups first. Those were followed by the teams in Pot 2 and so on, with the lowest seeded teams in Pot 4 grouped last. A handful of adjustments happened along the way to keep teams from the same region out of the same groups.
Here are the four pots that determined the draw, based on the FIFA world rankings in October:
Pot 1: Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France
Pot 2: Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Croatia
Pot 3: Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran
Pot 4: Serbia, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea and Saudi Arabia
Here are the groups:

GROUP A — Russia is the top seed
A1 — RUSSIA
A2 — SAUDI ARABIA
A3 — EGYPT
A4 — URUGUAY

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GROUP B — Portugal is the top seed
B1 — PORTUGAL
B2 — SPAIN
B3 — MOROCCO
B4 — IRAN

GROUP C — France is the top seed
C1 — FRANCE
C2 — AUSTRALIA
C3 — PERU
C4 — DENMARK

GROUP D — Argentina is the top seed
D1 — ARGENTINA
D2 — ICELAND
D3 — CROATIA
D4 — NIGERIA

GROUP E — BRAZIL is the top seed
E1 — BRAZIL
E2 — SWITZERLAND
E3 — COSTA RICA
E4 — SERBIA

GROUP F — GERMANY is the top seed
F1 — GERMANY
F2 — MEXICO
F3 — SWEDEN
F4 — SOUTH KOREA

GROUP G — BELGIUM is the top seed
G1 — BELGIUM
G2 — PANAMA
G3 — TUNISIA
G4 — ENGLAND
GROUP H — POLAND is the top seed
H1 — POLAND
H2 — SENEGAL
H3 — COLOMBIA
H4 — JAPAN

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