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Liverpool Crowned Premier League Champions; Australia, New Zealand Win Bid to Host 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup and More (Football Round-up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): Liverpool win first league title in 30 years | Australia and New Zealand beat out Colombia to win 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup bid | David Beckham invests in esports with London-based start-up | Final day Bundesliga drama as Werder and Leverkusen battle for different futures | Bangladesh men fined for celebrating Lionel Messi’s birthday during pandemic
Liverpool fans celebrate the English football club's Premier League title victory at Anfield

Despite appeals from the police, thousands of Liverpool fans congregated outside Anfield and road blocks were set up around the stadium as they celebrated the Premier League title.

It took 30 years, 58 days and the return from a three-month lockdown caused by a global pandemic. But, finally, Liverpool are champions of England. For an older generation of supporters, this is a feeling to have returned ‘once again’. For those born into the globalised digital age, this is a first, a new beginning.

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The club’s 19th championship and first of the Premier League era was confirmed after Manchester City’s 1-2 defeat to Chelsea late last night. An emphatic victory against Crystal Palace on Wednesday had put Liverpool within two points of the title but that proved academic after City’s slip at Stamford Bridge.

Jürgen Klopp and his team watched the City game at Formby Hall golf club together, and the scenes that erupted at full time will be iconic for generations of Liverpool supporters, age no bar. This legendary club has finally won the title it has always craved. No team has won the Premier League this early in the season (Liverpool’s nearest rivals trail them by a scarcely believable 23 points), and no team has won the Premier League this late in the year.  

Despite appeals from the police, thousands of fans congregated outside Anfield and road blocks were set up around the stadium. Fireworks and car horns could be heard. In an interview with Sky Sports even Klopp couldn’t hide his emotions in the aftermath. 

“It is a big moment, I have no words. It is such a big moment and I’m completely overwhelmed. I never could have thought it would feel like this, I had no idea …” he said, eyes filling up with tears, and broke off the interview at this point with: “Sorry gentlemen, I’m sealed.”

The last time Liverpool won the league was when Kenny Dalglish led the club to its last championship on April 28, 1990. To put things in context: This was an entire year before the fall of the Berlin Wall. MC Hammer and his harem pants were sliding their way to the Grammys (U Can’t Touch this indeed) And quite crucially, Tim Berners-Lee created the first ever web server -- something that would eventually lead to the platform you are reading this on, the World Wide Web. 

Australia, New Zealand to Host Women's World Cup

Australia and New Zealand have won the vote to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, despite their competitors Colombia winning the backing of UEFA, the confederation with the largest number of members on the FIFA council. The final vote was not as close as anticipated though: Australia and New Zealand received 22 votes to Colombia’s 13.

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Australia and New Zealand had received public backing from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), which has seven votes, and won support from all members of the council from the Confederation of African Football and Concacaf, which represents North and Central America and the Caribbean.

UEFA delegates to the FIFA council appeared to have swung the result in Colombia’s favour criticising FIFA technical reports into bids. Additionally, UEFA delegates argued that because the Women’s World Cup was a ‘development tournament’ representatives should back Colombia.

UEFA explained its decision by saying: “Even though the Colombian bid was not the one rated highest technically by FIFA, European members of the FIFA council felt it represented a strategic opportunity for the development of women’s football in South America thanks to the legacy and increase of attention for the women’s game that the tournament would bring to the continent.” 

In the end though, there was enough support for Australia and New Zealand to win the bid.

Beckham Invests in eSports

Former England football captain David Beckham has turned to eSports as co-owner of the London based start up Guild eSports. 

In a statement, Guild said that it will launch player academies and run teams in several eSport arenas including Rocket League, EA Sports, FIFA and Fortnite.

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“We have a vision to set a new standard, supporting these players into the future,” Beckham who is also a co-owner of Major League Football team Inter Miami said.

“We are committed to nurturing and encouraging youth talent through our academy systems and I am looking forward to helping our Guild Esports team grow.” 

According to a report by the Financial Times, Beckham is set to hold a significant minority stake through DB Ventures which will make him the second biggest shareholder of the company. Reports suggest that Guild Esports was seeking a valuation of  around £100 million ($124.42 million) following a £25 million fundraising.

“David will be instrumental in helping shape the coaching programme implemented at our academies and we welcome his valuable mentoring as well as the inspiration he gives the younger generation of athletes,” Guild executive chairman Carleton Curtis said.

Final day Bundesliga Drama 

Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen are preparing for the important games of the Bundesliga season for two very different reasons. The sword of relegation hangs over Bremen and a highly lucrative Champions League spot is on the line for Leverkusen on Saturday -- the Bundesliga’s final match day.

Champions Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig already hold three of the four Champions League spots and Leverkusen would have been the front runner for the fourth spot but for a shock 2-0 defeat at Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

That loss cost Leverkusen the fourth spot with Borussia Moenchengladbach two points above  now. Leverkusen, must now beat Mainz 05 on Saturday and hope Gladbach slip up at home against Hertha.

“For Saturday there is only one goal and that is to win our home game against Mainz,” Leverkusen’s attacking midfielder Nadiem Amiri said. “We must be fully alert from the start and hopefully score an early goal and add to that. That could put Gladbach under pressure.” 

“The frustration of the Hertha defeat was big. But we must only look ahead now.”

Messi Fans In Bangladesh Fined

Fifteen Bangladeshi fans have been fined for celebrating the birthday of Argentine legend Lionel Messi for flouting Covid-19 lockdown protocol.

Bangladesh fans were seen enjoying the occasion at a cafe in the Indian border town of Damurhuda on Messi’s 33rd birthday. However, they were raided by magistrates thereafter and were fined.

The men aged between 17 and 32 were made to appear before a mobile court in the streets and were fined 100 taka (roughly US$1.15) each, while the cafe was fined US$70, said magistrate Firaz Hossain. 

"They flouted social distancing rules and went out in the evening. They breached our lockdown order," Hossain told AFP.

Zahidul Alam, owner of the Old Town Coffee House, where the celebration took place, said that despite paying the fine he felt for the football fans.

"I could not just send them home as they were very excited about Messi's birthday," Alam told AFP.

Bangladesh has recorded over 122,000 Covid-19 cases and 1,582 deaths till now. 

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