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Sir Mo Farah to pull on his boots for #Game4Grenfell charity football match honouring victims

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DANIEL O’MAHONY, JUSTIN DAVENPORT

Sir Mo Farah will swap his running spikes for football boots to play in a charity match in aid of victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Britain’s greatest athlete joins a stellar line-up of celebrities and stars of the game, with funds raised going through London Community Foundation to the Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund before being distributed to survivors and towards community projects.

Farah will join actor Damian Lewis, singers Olly Murs, Tinie Tempah and Marcus Mumford and former footballers Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand and David Seaman in Saturday’s match.

Four-time Olympic champion Farah said he was left “heartbroken” by the tragedy and issued a rallying cry to Londoners to get behind the #Game4Grenfell match at QPR’s home ground, Loftus Road, and show “we haven’t forgotten about them”.

Farah, who grew up in Hounslow, said: “The whole world was shocked by what happened at Grenfell Tower but, as a born-and-bred Londoner, it was properly heartbreaking to see. I just hope that this match shows the community that we haven’t forgotten about them and that we will do everything we can to support the surviving victims.”

He quipped that normally he “wouldn’t be nice about a London club that isn’t Arsenal”, the team he supports, but paid tribute to QPR for aiding survivors and helping rebuild the community. After the fire in June, the club turned its ground, which is minutes from the tower, into a relief centre distributing aid. It hosted counselling sessions and provided free summer school training sessions for child survivors and others at the Westway Sports and Fitness Centre.

Farah, who won his last track race in Zurich on Thursday, said: “It’s great to see everything that QPR is doing to help. I grew up in a part of London that wasn’t posh and was quite tough at times. But sport has that power to bring people together, from all backgrounds. That’s what football is doing here. It’s great to see.”

Farah said he was at a training camp in France preparing for the World Athletics Championships when the fire broke out. “I remember seeing the footage on the news and not believing what I was seeing. It was like it was a disaster movie, just shocking. I think every father would see something like that and just think, ‘What if that was my family?’ Everyone is thinking the same thing — this can never be allowed to happen again.”

With refugees among the victims and survivors, he said the fire made him think of when he came to Britain aged eight after fleeing war-torn Somalia to join his father. He said: “It is not what should happen when people come to the UK for a safe haven. As a Londoner, and someone with a family, it did make it so hard to see what happened.

“People have come together to help the community to recover and that’s what this match is all about.”

He said the fact that 180 households left homeless were still in hotels 10 weeks on was “concerning”. “The situation may be complicated, but we need to support the victims and help them get their lives back on track as soon as possible. New and fair housing is the first step.” More than 2,000 complimentary tickets will be given to those directly affected by the fire, including families, the emergency services, volunteers, residents and others who helped with recovery efforts.

Tickets for #Game4Grenfell, which kicks off at 3pm on Saturday, are £15 for adults, £5 for concessions. To buy, call the QPR box office on 08444 777 007 or visit game4grenfell.com, where you can also donate. The match will be aired exclusively on Sky 1 and Pick.

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Looking back on my Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace | Mo Farah

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I recently had the honour of being knighted by Her Majesty The Queen at Buckingham Palace. When I came to the UK from Somalia aged 8, not speaking any English, who would have thought that my running would eventually lead me here? This was another very special gold medal for me and I am so honoured to have received it. Here’s a little glimpse of how the day went for me.

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Somalia, Sudan pull out of CECAFA Cup in Kenya

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THE VANGUARD — Somalia and Sudan have pulled out of next month’s CECAFA Challenge Cup in Kenya, reducing the field to only 10 teams from the central, northern and southern African zones.

Organisers of the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) tournament said Somalia, which has been mired in internal conflict, was having difficulty getting a team together for the December 3-17 championships.

Three-time champions Sudan have asked to be left out of the competition because their national football league is still in progress. North African team Libya has been invited to take part for the first time as a guest team, alongside five-time Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA} champions, Zimbabwe. Libya have been drawn to play hosts Kenya in a tough Group A, alongside Rwanda, Tanzania and Zanzibar.

Defending champions Uganda have been drawn in the relatively easier Group B against Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Kenya are hosting the CECAFA Challenge Cup as a consolation after losing the right to stage the 2018 African Nations Championships due to concerns around the uncertain political situation in the country.

The CECAFA organisers hope the two-week tournament — to be played in the towns of Kisumu, Kakamega and Nakuru — might help unite Kenya after a drawn-out and divisive presidential election period.

The draw for the December 3-17 event is: Group A: Kenya, Libya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zanzibar Group B: Uganda (holders), Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Zimbabwe.

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Italy fails to qualify for 2018 World Cup after drawing with Sweden

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ITALY has missed out on qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1958 after being held to a 0-0 draw by Sweden at the San Siro in Milan.

After suffering a shock 1-0 loss in the first leg in Sweden, the men in blue couldn’t find the back of the net on Tuesday no matter how hard they tried. The scoreless draw meant Sweden won 1-0 on aggregate and the Azzurri will now be watching the 2018 World Cup from afar.

Before the match the prospect of Italy missing out on football’s showpiece event was described as the “apocalypse”, and that apocalypse has now arrived.

Italian ‘apocalypse’ is real

Italy will be watching the 2018 World Cup from home after it drew 0-0 with Sweden in their do-or-die World Cup qualifier on Tuesday morning.

Heading into the clash with a 1-0 deficit after suffering a shock loss to the Swedes in the first leg of the two-match tie, the Azzurri were unable to find a breakthrough at the San Siro in Milan and will now miss their first World Cup since 1958.

“I’m not sorry for myself but all of Italian football. We failed at something which also means something on a social level. There’s regret at finishing like that, not because time passes,” Italian goalkeeper and captain Ginaluigi Buffon said.

“There is certainly a future for Italian football, as we have pride, ability, determination and after bad tumbles, we always find a way to get back on our feet.

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“I leave a squad of talent that will have their say, including Gigio Donnarumma and Mattia Perin. I want to give a hug to Chiello, Barza, Leo and Lele, who I had almost 10 years alongside. I thank the lads who were with us and, although it wasn’t enough, I hope that we gave them something.
“In football you win as a group, you lose as a group, you divide the credit and the blame. The coach is part of this entire group.”

It’s a crushing blow for a country that has won football’s most prestigious tournament four times. Despite finishing with 75 per cent of the possession after 90 minutes and taking 23 shots to Sweden’s four, luck deserted the home side and the scoreless draw crushed Italian hearts.

Italy enjoyed its fair share of luck as Sweden was denied what looked like two clear-cut penalties for handballs, first by Matteo Darmian and then Andrea Barzagli. Italy had a penalty appeal of its own waved off by referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz when Marco Parolo was tripped from behind by Ludwig
The Azzurri struggled to carve out clear chances against a solid Sweden side, and tested goalkeeper Robin Olsen only once. Of its 23 shots, only six were on target. El Shaarawy’s powerful shot at the death was the best of the opportunities but Olsen was up to the task and parried it away.

The Brazilian-born Jorginho was handed his competitive debut by Italian coach Gian Piero Ventura, and the midfielder impressed with some deft passing. He created Italy’s best chances with two throughballs for Ciro Immobile, who hit the netting from a tight angle from one. Immbobile beat Olsen with another but Andreas Granqvist got back for a decisive goal-line clearance.

Alessandro Florenzi was also back following a year out after twice tearing a knee ligament, and the midfielder forced Olsen into a neat save, while a cross of his was also deflected onto the crossbar in the second half. Meanwhile, the highly rated Lorenzo Insigne surprisingly didn’t get onto the pitch at all.

Sweden has been a giant killer in qualifying as it surged towards a World Cup berth. It had already knocked out 2010 finalist The Netherlands before taking care of Italy on Tuesday.

The last major competitions Italy missed were the 1984 and 1992 European Championships.

It would be easy to lay the blame squarely on Gian Piero Ventura. The Italy coach will naturally take the lion’s share of the responsibility but his side’s problems run much deeper, the rot starting long before he took charge.

After winning the World Cup in 2006 for a fourth time, Italy went out at the group stage of the next two editions. It has fared somewhat better at the European Championships, reaching the final in 2012 and going out in the quarterfinals in 2008 and 2016.

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