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Kremlin says Brittney Griner prisoner swap with USA must be discussed without publicity

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The Kremlin says it is open to talking about a possible prisoner exchange involving American basketball star Brittney Griner but strongly warned Washington against publicising the issue.

A judge convicted Griner, 31, on Thursday of drug possession and smuggling, and sentenced her to nine years in prison.
Griner, recognised as one of the greatest players in WNBA history, has been detained since February 17 after police said they found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage upon landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. She was returning to Russia, where she has competed since 2014.

The two-time US Olympic champion and an eight-time all-star with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, listened with a blank expression as an interpreter translated the verdict by Judge Anna Sotnikova, but her lawyers said later she was “very upset.” Griner also was fined one million rubles (about £13,400).
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke last week to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about a trade to free Griner, and the two of them were both in Cambodia for an Asian summit on Friday.
US President Joe Biden denounced as “unacceptable” the verdict and sentence, which came amid soaring tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine.
Lavrov said Moscow was ready to discuss a prisoner swap but that Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin only could talk about a deal via confidential channels.
Lavrov said: “There is a special channel [of communication] agreed upon by presidents. No matter what anyone says publicly, this channel remains relevant. If the Americans decide to rely on public diplomacy and make loud statements that they are going to take some steps, that is their business, and I would say, their problem.

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“Because Americans often can’t stand agreements on quiet, professional work, not only on this topic, on many other topics. That’s the answer: we are ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework agreed upon by the presidents, (Vladimir) Putin and (Joe) Biden.”

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2022 World Cup: Unwanted history for hosts Qatar against Ecuador

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Qatar on Sunday, became the first host country to be defeated in their opening game in the 92-year history of the World Cup.

Ecuador beat the Middle East country 2-0 courtesy of two first-half goals from captain Enner Valencia. Ecuador’s captain also saw a goal ruled out for offside. The result means Qatar become the first host nation ever to lose their opening game at a World Cup.

It’s obviously not the start Qatar will have wanted to make to a competition that had been plagued by controversy before a ball had even been kicked.

Supporters also made their feelings clear about the match at half-time as they abandoned the game in large numbers with the hosts already 2-0 down. Initial estimates suggest around 20,000 supporters left the game at the break.

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There were just 11 shots in this game (five for Qatar, six for Ecuador) – no World Cup match on record (since 1966) has seen fewer attempts.

The hosts return to action on Friday against Senegal.

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Victor Osimhen Bags Huge International Award And Recognition

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Nigeria and Napoli forward Victor Osimhen has received a huge international award and recognition for his relentless contribution at the international and club level.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria and Napoli forward Victor Osimhen received a huge international award from the Globe Soccer Awards. The talented player was recognized for his immense contribution to both club and country.

He was crowned the Emerging Player Of The Year 2022, which was deserved on every level as the player has continued to show his importance at the club level for Napoli by contributing towards the impressive run of the club in the new season as well as the previous season.

Although the Super Eagles of Nigeria would not be going to the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, he had been one of the stand-out players for the Eagles in their qualifiers.

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Contragulations Victor.

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2022 World Cup: I am totally, absolutely focused on Portugal- Ronaldo says amid Man Utd criticism

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In the wake of his scathing interview about Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo declares that Portugal will be his “absolute focus” during the World Cup.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, in an interview with Piers Morgan for TalkTV, which will be made public in its entirety on Wednesday, criticised United manager Erik ten Hag, Ralf Rangnick, and senior officials at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo claimed that United had “betrayed” him and that the team had not advanced since Alex Ferguson left in 2013.

Man Utd react to Ronaldo’s interview with Piers Morgan

After the interview, United reacted with a statement on Monday mentioning it and promising to respond “after the full facts have been established.”

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Prior to Portugal’s November 24 match against Ghana in Group H, the 37-year-old declared on Monday that his entire attention would be on playing for Portugal in Qatar.

“Total and absolute focus on national team work. United group, towards one objective: realise the dream of all Portuguese people!,” he posted on Instagram.

Despite missing United’s previous two games due to “illness,” he posted a photo of himself with his Portugal teammates during a training session.

Without Ronaldo, the Red Devils defeated Fulham 2-1 on Sunday, moving them up to fifth place in the Premier League, three points behind Tottenham with one game remaining.

In the Middle East, where Fernando Santos’ team will also play Uruguay and South Korea, Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo hopes to lead his nation to World Cup triumph.

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