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Iranian champion wrestler Navid Afkari executed despite global outcry | Iran

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Iran has executed a champion wrestler convicted of murdering a security guard during anti-regime protests in 2018, state media said on Saturday, despite an international campaign to spare his life.

Navid Afkari, 27, was executed “this morning after legal procedures were carried out at the insistence of the parents and the family of the victim”, the Islamic Republic News Agency quoted the head of the justice department in the southern Fars province as saying.

His case had created a global outcry, including from the US president, Donald Trump, and from the World Players Association (WPA), a major athletes’ union representing 85,000 people, which had called for Iran’s expulsion from world sport if the execution went ahead.

“The horrific act of executing an athlete can only be regarded as a repudiation of the humanitarian values that underpin sport,” the WPA director, Brendan Schwab, had said in a statement.

Afkari, a Greco-Roman wrestler, was arrested along with his brother Vahid Afkari in September 2018 and accused of stabbing to death a security guard the previous month during protests in the city of Shiraz.

They were charged with murder along with offences such as “waging war against the state” for participating in the demonstrations. Navid Afkari was sentenced to death while Vahid Afkari and another brother, Habib Afkari, were sentenced to 54 and 27 years in prison respectively.

Navid Afkari filed a complaint with the Iranian judiciary in September 2019, claiming he had confessed to the killing under torture. “The evidence is there if the court wants to investigate [the acts of torture],” Afkari said in a tape obtained by an Iranian human rights group.

“There is not one shred of evidence in this damned case that shows I’m guilty. But they don’t want to listen to us. I realised they are looking for a neck for their rope.”

Iranian state media broadcast Afkari’s recorded confession last week after Trump tweeted about his case. Iran’s judiciary has denied the torture claims.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the British minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth, also asked the Iranian government to show mercy.

The International Olympic Committee as well as the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Dana White, had also urged that Afkari be spared.

Rights groups had warned in recent days that his execution was feared to be imminent after he was moved from a general ward to an undisclosed location by prison authorities.

Iran executed at least 251 people last year, according to Amnesty International, the second highest in the world after China.

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Champions League: Kingsley Coman dazzles in Bayern Munich’s 4-0 demolition of Atletico Madrid | Football News

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MUNICH: Winger Kingsley Coman scored twice and set up another goal as holders Bayern Munich crushed Atletico Madrid 4-0 in the Champions League Group A opener on Wednesday to stretch their winning run in the competition to 12 games.
The France international put the hosts ahead with a fine effort in the 28th minute and then set up Leon Goretzka to fire in their second in the 41st.
Fellow France international Corentin Tolisso killed off any Spanish hopes of a comeback with a sensational shot in the 66th minute before Coman twice shook off defender Felipe to bag his second goal of the evening six minutes later.
Bayern, who had won all 11 of their games en route to the Champions League title last season, are top on three points in group, with Lokomotiv Moscow and Salzburg on one following their 2-2 draw.


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Kings XI Punjab: KXIP showing why they were deemed ‘dangerous’ at the start of IPL 2020: Harsha Bhogle | Cricket News

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NEW DELHI: A hat-trick of wins from a sorry position at the halfway stage of IPL 2020 has taken Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) to a position where they are looking a good bet to finish in the top four for a place in the playoffs.
POINTS TABLE | FIXTURES
Languishing at the bottom of the table a week ago, the Punjab unit, led by KL Rahul and his inspired batting, has shown teeth lately in all departments to come back into reckoning.
In his column for The Times of India on Thursday, noted cricket expert and commentator Harsha Bhogle listed the reasons that have made Punjab the “dangerous” team they always promised to be.
“You can see now why they were deemed a dangerous team at the start of the tournament,” Bhogle wrote. “Chris Gayle has led the revival by offering a robust follow-up to the outstanding opening combination and letting the ridiculously gifted (Nicholas) Pooran play freely.
“When you have those two, the opposition is always concerned, especially if Pooran is free to play the match-winner’s role with the bat.”

Gayle hit a half-century to announce his late arrival to the IPL following an illness and Pooran’s fifty against Delhi in KXIP’s last match completed the team’s three wins on the bounce to storm up to their current fifth position in the points table.
Punjab have eight points from four wins in their 10 matches, with four more to play.
Bhogle went on to add two more “areas of note”, which have helped Punjab churn out those wins they narrowly missed in the first half of the season.
“There are two other areas of note: one they have handled well and one they have benefited from. Let us look at the second first: Mohammed Shami.
“Some of his end-overs bowling has been at par with the very best in the world, and defending five in a Super Over (against Mumbai Indians) is the stuff of a legend. (Jasprit) Bumrah and Shami in that Super Over will be one of the highlights of this tournament,” Bhogle reckoned, before mentioning the second reason.

“They have also handled (Glenn) Maxwell wonderfully. We are talking of an extraordinary T20 cricketer who just slips into Russian Roulette sometimes. You don’t know if he is going to fire a bullet or a blank. Most teams would have dropped him by now,” he added.
Maxwell had a forgettable tournament until his four-over spell of 1/31 followed by a 24-ball 32 against Delhi.
“(KXIP) Offered him a Powerplay bowling option (against Delhi). I have always rated his ability to bowl fast off-breaks from round the wicket and with that string to his bow working, the confidence has started returning. I won’t be surprised if he delivers a match-winning performance with the bat soon,” Bhogle further wrote.
He then rounded off his opinion by highlighting one last missing link in the Punjab armoury.
“If they can find a balanced line-up that allows them to play another fast bowler with Shami, I think it would complete the team. They are struggling with that and hence are choosing to bolster the batting with Jimmy Neesham, an exquisite striker, but more a batsman than a bowler.
“This Punjab revival has been excellent for the tournament which ran the risk of the top four teams separating themselves from the rest,” Bhogle concluded.


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KKR vs RCB: I don’t think a lot of people have belief in RCB, says Virat Kohli | Cricket News

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ABU DHABI: After gaining a comprehensive eight-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper Virat Kohli said that many people do not have faith in the side’s abilities but all players do have the desired confidence.
SCORECARD | POINTS TABLE | FIXTURES
RCB chased down a total of 85 with eight wickets in hand and 39 balls to spare. Devdutt Padikkal and Gurkeerat Singh Mann played knocks of 25 and 21 respectively as RCB gained victory in the 14th over.
With this win, RCB has gone to the second position in the points table with 14 points from 10 matches while KKR is at the fourth spot with 10 points. Earlier in the match, Siraj had taken three wickets to put KKR on the backfoot.
“It was a late call to be honest to give Siraj the new ball. Was thinking of giving it to Washington Sundar. I obviously have thought about the things we can do on the field. Management has brought in a proper culture. We have plan A, we have plan B, and people are executing it that’s why it’s looking good. Don’t think lot of people have belief in RCB. Guys in the changeroom do and that’s all that matters,” Kohli said.

“You can have the best players in the world but if you don’t have the belief it’s no good. Morris is loving the responsibility. He likes to be in a leadership role in the team. Even against Kings, he tried to york Gayle. His energy is amazing. A great, great addition to our squad. Last year he had a tough year. Lot of people went hard at him. But he worked hard. He’s seeing the result now and we want him to continue,” he added.

Earlier, spectacular bowling performance by Mohammed Siraj and Yuzvendra Chahal restricted Kolkata Knight Riders at 84/8 in the allotted twenty overs.
Morgan played a knock of 30 runs and he was the top-scorer for KKR in the match against RCB.
For RCB, Siraj returned with the figures of 3-8 while Chahal clinched two wickets.



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