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Birmingham City Fan Jailed for 14 Days for Punching Aston Villa Player

Anthony DiMoro



27-year old Paul Mitchel, a Birmingham City fan has been jailed for 14 days after he plead guilt to assaulting Aston Villa midfielder Jack Graelish during the derby on Sunday.

Mitchell rushed the pitch and took a swing at Graelish when the player’s back was turned at Birmingham City’s St. Andrew’s stadium during the Championship match on Sunday.

Mitchell admitted to invading the pitch and has been officially banned from attending any football match in the U.K. for up to 10 years, and was also ordered to pay £350 in total fines.

Graelish made a statement in which he described how he was “shocked and scared” by the attack.

“I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident,” he said (h/t ESPN). “It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon.”

“He cannot explain what came over himself yesterday morning,” Mitchell’s lawyer, Vaughn Whistance, said on Monday.

“His initial foolish intention was to go onto the pitch to whip up the crowd. He is certainly remorseful today. He is a man with a partner, they have a 2-year-old together and they’re expecting their second child.”

“This weekend a line has been crossed in terms of fan behaviour,” said a spokesperson for the FA.

“On Sunday we saw two separate incidents, at Birmingham City and Arsenal, of individuals entering the field of play and assaulting players.

“Not only is it an offence to enter the pitch, which could result in a club ban and criminal charges for the individual, but it also puts the safety of the players at risk.

“This is entirely unacceptable and we strongly condemn both incidents.

“We will be working with the clubs, the leagues and the police to discuss what collectively needs to be done to protect players and officials on the pitch.

“In addition, we have written to both Birmingham City and Arsenal to seek their observations to examine the security measures they had in place.”

Birmingham City apologized to Grealish and Aston Villa and banned Mitchell for life.

“Birmingham City Football Club would like to apologise to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa Football Club for an incident in Sunday afternoon’s derby match,” a club statement said.

“We deplore the behaviour of the individual who committed this act and rest assured he will be banned from St. Andrew’s for life. The club will also support any further punishment this individual may face in the eyes of the law.

“The club will be working with the relevant authorities to investigate all the circumstances and we will be reviewing our stadium safety procedures.

“What happened has no place in football or society. Jack is a Birmingham lad and regardless of club allegiance should not have been subjected to this — there are no excuses.

“Again, we apologise to Jack and all at Aston Villa Football Club.”


Anthony DiMoro is the creator of Sports Rants and the CEO of Elite Rank Media. Anthony DiMoro is a Contributor for 'Forbes' where he talks Sports, SEO, Social Media and Internet Marketing. Anthony also hosts the 'Forbes SportsMoney Podcast' and is a Contributor to the Huffington Post where he covers sports

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Major League Soccer, Twitch Ink One-Year Partnership

Anthony DiMoro



Major League Soccer (MLS) has inked a one-year sponsorship deal with popular streaming platform Twitch, per an official announcement from MLS.

Starting in March, MLS will start streaming the second season of their eMLS Cup, their esports league in conjunction with EA Sports’ FIFA franchise.

“FIFA is one of the main generators of the fans that we have” MLS Digital Senior VP Chris Schlosser said, via an official statement. “If you look at it historically – radio built baseball, television built the NFL and NBA, and the internet is building soccer.”

The partnership between Twitch and MLS could also include content outside of the eMLS Cup, featuring highlights or media produced by MLS teams, or clips of MLS games moving forward.

“We are looking to do some esports events – this is something we are taking a hard look at” DC United Chief Executive and Managing General Owner Jason Levin said, via an official statement.

“All of esports is a dramatically growing industry. It’s an opportunity to engage our current fans and connect with some younger sports fans who don’t know as much about DC United. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to grow our fanbase more than anything.”

It’s an exciting time for streaming, particularly on Twitch, as live sports such as the NBA’s G League, and MLS are starting to develop Twitch streams to help tap into the streaming market, diversify their digital content, and get more involved with esports teams and esports organizations.

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Manchester United Place Paul Pogba Contract Talks on Hold

Anthony DiMoro



Manchester United is putting a hold on any contract negotiations or talks with Frenchman Paul Pogba, who is two years into a five-year pact he inked with the club when he returned from Juventus back in 2016.

Manchester United remain confident that they can convince Pogba, who has had a roller coaster run at Old Trafford, to stay with the club for the long-term future, according to ESPN FC’s Rob Dawson.

The club had hoped to engage in preliminary negotiations with Pogba, along with his agent Mino Raiola in September following Pogba’s successful stint playing in the World Cup earlier this Summer in Russie, but Pogba’s unhappiness with his situation in Manchester is now coming into play during talks.

While Pogba will not push for a move away in January 2019, he could be tempted by Barcelona next summer should they show a renewed interest in acquiring him.

Pogba’s agent, Raiola, is known for engaging in rather difficult negotiations concerning his clients and had done so during Pogba’s world record £89.3 million move from Juventus, so United was hoping to get an early start on contract talks this time around.

Per the report ESPN FC, after initial talks occurred earlier this month the plan was to step up discussions at the beginning of next season before executing the deal officially in early 2020.

Those scheduled negotiations are now being pushed back.

Per sources cited in the report, United is still relaxed about the situation with Pogba, due to their one-year option that they can fall back on which could be used to keep Pogba at Old Trafford until the Summer of 2022.

However, United is confident that they can reach a breakthrough with Pogba in negotiations prior to then.

It will be interesting to see how the lines shake up as the Pogba negotiations carry on. has the latest free bets and they will surely keep monitoring the latest lines on Pogba’s future with United.

The report goes on to note that sources close to Pogba continue to insist that the cloud of uncertainty surrounding his future with the club is not designed to be a tactic to elicit any sort of pay raise.

Additionally, had executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward not refused to listen to any offers over the summer, Pogba likely would have joined Barcelona.

While Pogba is fine playing for manager Jose Mourinho this season, despite their well-documented rocky relationship in the past, he is not ruling out a move in the future.


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Five Genuine World Cup 2018 Dark Horses

Anthony DiMoro



A stunning Sunday witnessed an historic defeat of the German side by Mexico, along with a puzzling draw between the Swiss and Brazilians, finishing the first weekend of the 2018 World Cup with surprising results. Spain and Argentina, a pair of traditional football powers, struggled out of the gate as well.

Early in the group stage, World Cup 2018 odds favor clubs like Brazil, Germany and France. Given the troubles of some of the top dogs, space opens up for the next tier of contenders in Russia. Two of the previous five World Cups featured first-time champions – will a new king emerge from the shadows as a dominant dark horse this year?

World Cup Odds Courtesy Of

Portugal – +1600

For most international sides, relying on the brilliance of a single player doesn’t work well over the span of a decade. Fortunately for Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo happens to be one of the very best in history, maintaining a stratospheric output as he ages gracefully into his Jesus year.

Now the oldest to net a World Cup hat-trick, Ronaldo started this tournament en fuego against Spain, becoming the first man to score three goals against the Spanish squad in a single match. He’s also emerged as a solid leader on-field, supplementing his superstar offensive skills by raising the quality of play on behalf of his teammates.

Football’s a team sport, of course, so Cristiano can’t do it all himself. A 3-3 draw after a Ronaldo hat-trick would be obscene in most circumstances, but this opener gives Portugal enough breathing space for the team to regain an improved defensive form which helped them lift the Euro a couple of years prior.

Iran and Morocco will not defeat Portugal, giving this side a shot at finishing atop their group by outscoring Spain during the group phase. Spain appears ready to unravel after firing their manager a couple of days before their World Cup debut.

In terms of the knockout round, Russia and Uruguay present matchups which Portugal should handle relatively well, although Uruguay’s a terrific sleeper candidate too. Late in the tournament, the biggest challenge in the top half of the bracket will be the French side. The Portuguese have beaten the French once in FIFA and UEFA competitions, during the 2016 Euro Finals.

Columbia – +4100

Will Columbia repeat their outstanding campaign from the 2014 World Cup? Does James Rodriguez have another Golden Boot performance waiting to be unleashed? These questions hang over the bottom quarter of the draw in 2018.

Columbia will likely win group H over Japan, Poland and Columbia. As usual, the level of difficulty spikes during the first knockout round, but neither England nor Belgium strike the same type of fear which Brazil or France create in their opposition. Columbia had a tough slog to qualify, squeezing into the tournament during the last qualifying match, but they possess the talent and experience to build a head of steam in the round robin.

Columbia will field a stronger side this time around, with striker Radamel Falcao joining the club after missing the entire 2014 World Cup due to knee issues. Midfielders like Rodriguez, Carlos Sanchez and Juan Cuadrado will spend less energy attempting to score with Falcao available to finish. Instead, the midfield will be able to focus on controlling pace and space.

Most eyes will fall on Rodriguez after his career-defining supergoal in Brazil, but the depth of Columbia will define their World Cup odyssey in 2018. If James’ compatriots play up to their talent, there’s a good chance that Columbia will remain in Russia after the first week of July.

Croatia – +2700

Even before they took the pitch for their first match, the Croatian team was gifted a strong start when Iceland fought the Argentinians to a draw. This simplifies the task of winning Group D for Croatia, which would greatly boost the odds of a deep World Cup run for the tiny eastern European country of about 4 million.

The Croats will need to put work in to defeat resilient Nigerian and Icelandic sides, both of whom present unique challenges. Nigeria will attempt to utilize team speed, while Iceland leverages elite teamwork to play far better than the sum of their roster.

Defeating these two lesser sides would create a scenario where Croatia requires only a draw against Messi and company to play against the runner-up in group C during the initial knockout round, instead of France. Despite the sublime talents of Lionel Messi, Argentina appears vulnerable due to a lack of depth and team cohesion.

Despite the small population, some of the finest club professionals hail from Croatia, including midfielders Modric and Rakitic, along with striker Mandzukic. In fact, the Croatian midfield will be their biggest strength, able to creatively push the pace of most matchups. Playing close to home, Croatia will enjoy a superb chance to work themselves deep into the tournament.

Uruguay – +2400

Uruguay should be leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of group A. Saudi Arabia doesn’t look like they belong in the tournament and Russian football isn’t as strong as their 5-0 result over the Saudis suggests. A tense first victory over Egypt was the start that the Uruguayans needed, setting them up for a clean sweep of the group stage.

If Luis Suarez avoids mastication and other poor conduct on the pitch, this team features one of the most devastating strikers over the past decade. Suarez remains capable of dominating matches given a couple of steps and a solid through ball, especially against mediocre defenders. Teams cannot ignore Edinson Cavani, who’s enjoyed superior production over the last half year.

One of the keys to a deep World Cup march will revolve around the quality of the Spanish side. Uruguay’s managed to pull off big World Cup wins in the past, but they’ve never defeated Spain in the big tourney. If the Spaniards continue flirting with mediocrity, Suarez and company will have a shot at avoiding or defeating La Roja.

Portugal will provide another challenge as a fellow dark horse candidate in the World Cup, but Uruguay gets to avoid France, Croatia and Argentina until the semis. If Uruguayan defenders play well and Suarez stays disciplined, sky’s the limit. Winners of two of the first four World Cups, Uruguay could repeat their upset victory in 1950 against the Brazilians.

England – +1300

If international football was a high school yearbook, England would be voted as most likely to underachieve by their classmates for every Euro and World Cup. This edition of the English squad features Harry Kane as their top striker, a considerable improvement over Wayne Rooney. Raheem Sterling’s another man to watch, netting 23 goals with Man City during the previous season.

However, the most important shift would be at midfield, as Dele Alli and Eric Dier hope to leverage their Hotspur chemistry into a strong World Cup showing. The forwards and midfielders will need to be excellent for England to proceed far, as perception of the English defense leaves much to be desired.

Good news for England – they’ll enjoy a relatively easy group stage, and the first knockout round will likely consist of a matchup against Colombia or Poland. Belgium’s considered a favorite over England, which makes their June 28th clash a useful measuring mark for the English squad.

Avoiding teams like Germany and Brazil until the semis will ease the burden on the club, allowing for this side to grow in confidence. Perhaps England will shake ghosts of World Cups past, earning respect on the international stage for the first time in decades.

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