Congratulations to Stephen Fry for speaking out on Russian human rights abuses in regards to their anti-gay laws (Report, 8 August).
Considering the $35bn investment the Russians are putting into what for them is a very symbolic event, one wonders whether a larger international boycott could be formed around Moscow’s intransigence over the conflict in Syria.
As all other diplomatic avenues have failed, this could make Putin think twice about his continued refusal to allow the UN security council to speak in a united voice towards a conflict that has killed over 100,000 people.
What is more, we now know that Saudi Arabia offered Russia $15bn worth of deals for them to move on Syria so perhaps Riyadh could host the Winter Olympics instead.
James Denselow London If there is one man who has the power to take steps towards ending the catastrophe in Syria, it is President Obama.
If there is any single leader to whom he needs to talk towards that end, it is President Putin.
Obama should have convened direct high-level talks with Putin and others a long time ago.
His refusal now to meet with Putin (Report, 8 August) amounts to a dereliction of duty by the leader of the free world.
Dr Brendan O’Brien London I find it refreshing that we still have a few independent countries such as Russia that won’t be bullied into submission by the US, nor by people like Stephen Fry who want to dictate how it should behave.
Malcolm Howard Banstead, Surrey
Stephen Fry has joined growing calls for Russia to be stripped of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics due to concerns over new anti-gay laws, with the actor equating the situation to the staging of the 1936 Berlin Games in Nazi Germany.
In an open letter to the International Olympic Committee and David Cameron that was also circulated to Fry’s 2 million Twitter followers, he said Vladimir Putin “is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews”.
“Putin is eerily repeating this insane crime, only this time against LGBT lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Russians.
Beatings, murders and humiliations are ignored by the police.
Any defence or sane discussion of homosexuality is against the law,” said Fry.
The 2014 Winter Olympics, due to take place next February in the Black Sea resort and costing an estimated 35bn, are the most expensive in history and were planned as a show of strength by the Russian president.
But the growing backlash against the new laws, passed earlier this year, has now escalated into calls for the IOC to strip Russia of the Games and, in the US, for the country to boycott them.
Fry said: “An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 in Sochi is simply essential.
Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillehammer, anywhere you like.
At all costs, Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.” The new laws, passed by the Duma, prohibit propaganda in support of “non-traditional” sexual orientation and threaten heavy fines for anyone promoting homosexuality to under-18s.
They have coincided with a sharp rise in reports of homophobia and attacks on the LGBT community in Russia.
In the letter, which was also sent to the London 2012 organising committee chairman, Lord Coe, Fry added: “The summer Olympics of 2012 were one of the most glorious moments of my life and the life of my country.
For there to be a Russian Winter Olympics would stain the movement forever and wipe away any of that glory.” The comedian said that despite opposing the prime minister’s politics he had the “utmost respect” for David Cameron for the way he had pushed gay marriage proposals through parliament and stood up for LGBT rights.
“For that I will always admire you, whatever other differences may lie between us.
In the end I believe you know when a thing is wrong or right.
Please act on that instinct now,” he said.
A Downing Street spokesman said it had repeatedly raised the issue with Russia.
“We remain greatly concerned about the growing restrictions on LGBT freedoms in Russia and have repeatedly raised our concerns, including at the 2013 UK-Russia Human Rights dialogue in May.
The prime minister outlined our concerns with President Putin during a meeting in Downing Street in June ahead of the G8 Summit.” “We are working closely with the IOC and the BOA to ensure that the Games take place in the spirit of the Olympic Charter and are free from discrimination.” The issue has gained momentum just as Moscow prepares to host the world athletics championships.
Four years after the Sochi Games, Russia is scheduled to host the football World Cup.
President Obama, who has refused to rule out a US boycott of the Games amid strained relations between the two countries over a number of issues, said he had “no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.” Asked about the issue by Jay Leno on his Tonight Show, Obama added: “I think they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently.” Talk of a boycott recalls the 1980 summer Games in Moscow, which were boycotted by the US at the height of the cold war, and the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, which were boycotted by the Russians.
Last month the IOC said it would “work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media”.
It said: “To that end, the IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.” An official of Russia’s main law enforcement authorities on Wednesday condemned any attempts to politicise the Games.
“We are going on the assumption that all guests and participants at the Olympics will be met with hospitality, but that at the same time they will strictly follow Russian law and will respect our country’s customs and traditions,” said Konstantin Dolgov, human rights commissioner of the interior ministry.
Lawmakers had previously gone back and forth over whether Russia will enforce the gay propaganda law at the Games.
The IOC said in July it had received assurances from the Russian government that athletes and spectators would be exempt from the law, and Igor Anansky, the chairman of the state Duma committee on physical culture, sports and youth affairs, said in August the law would not be invoked during the event.
But the sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, said on 1 August the law would apply to athletes in Sochi in a statement that is likely to set the state’s policy.
“No one is forbidding an athlete with non-traditional sexual orientation from coming to Sochi, but if he goes on to the street and starts propagandising it, then of course he will be held accountable,” Mutko said.
Russia has recently cracked down on homosexuality, banning gay pride parades in Moscow and passing laws banning adoptions by same-sex couples and the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientations” among minors.
The gay propaganda law, as it is widely known, imposes fines for virtually any public discussion of LGBT issues, and foreigners face larger fines, detention for up to 15 days and deportation for violating it.
Four Dutch activists who were filming a documentary about LGBT people in Murmansk were arrested under the law in July and banned from Russia for three years.
A prominent gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeev said although Fry’s letter “won’t change anything” at the Olympics, it will help raise awareness of the plight of LGBT Russians.
“When respected people around the world call this out, it highlights what’s going on in Russia,” Alexeev said.
He said the parallels Fry draws between Russia’s crackdown on LGBT rights and the start of Jewish persecution in Nazi Germany are “ever more relevant as of late”.
“Today it’s just laws, but these laws can lead to more repression and persecution of homosexual people in the future,” Alexeev said.
In March, Fry met St Petersburg lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, who authored a citywide ban on gay propaganda in 2012 that helped lead to the federal ban enacted in June.
After a private discussion, Milonov promised to pray for Fry’s soul, and the comedian referred to the meeting in his letter, describing it as an encounter with what Hannah Arendt called the “banality of evil”.
On Wednesday, Russia’s investigative committee questioned television host Ksenia Sobchak on accusations of slander against Duma deputy Yelena Mizulina, a sponsor of the gay propaganda law.
Mizulina has asked the committee to charge Sobchak and Alexeev with slander for their criticism of her on Twitter.
This is funny:
Just so you know, he was not fishing for bluegills This is a bluegill:
A nice bluegill
Bluegills live in fresh water and are like sunfish and pumpkinseeds and crappies etc. all of which are in the bass family.
Bluefish live in the ocean and roam along littoral regions in large schools. This is what large bluefish look like:
Of course, when one is fishing for bluefish, there is always the possibility of catching the fish that eats them, such as striped bass.
The striped bass is not in the bass family referred to above.
Striped Bass are Moronidae, bluegills, largemouth bass, etc.
Anyway, sometimes you catch a shark.
Celebrating here in Leeds.
How about a parade float full of bottles of Green Spot? Photograph: John Baron/guardian.co.uk I’ve just been doing the Guardian ‘s early weather story, a process a bit like quilting where you sew together bits and bobs from the avalanche of news pouring in.
One titbit was about the Cheltenham Gold Cup meeting which looks like going ahead all week in spite of the ice and snow, with inter alia an estimated 220,000 pints of Guiness expected to be downed.
Hey Presto! In comes info a few minutes later from Northumbria University about an academic study of shopping habits which includes the forecast that 13 million pints of the black stuff will be drained worldwide to mark St Patrick’s Day, this coming Sunday.
It posits the idea that: Irish people will feel compelled to drink alcohol to celebrate St Patrick’s Day this Sunday whether they want to or not; even those who declare themselves as teetotal for the rest of the year.
The author of the study Matthew Kearney, a marketing lecturer at Northumbria who is himself from Coleraine, says: Alcohol consumption, when placed in the context of Ireland becomes instantly romanticised, attributed to one’s underlying Celtic soul.
Ireland is synonymous with alcohol; although Ireland boasts world heritage sites, titanic museums and the birth and death sites of numerous authors and poets, its most popular tourist attraction is the Guinness Storehouse.
When Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip make a point of publicly enjoying a Guinness experience while visiting Ireland, it starts to become even more apparent that alcohol consumption is so completely intertwined with ‘Irishness.’ His evidence, over and above a lifelong experience of the phenomenon, is a collection of shopping diaries kept by 70 Irish men and women in their twenties and thirties, which record both purchases and the group’s feelings and analysis of the things that they buy.
In-depth interviews followed with a third of the example and all manner of interesting findings emerged.
If you can’t beat them…
Matthew Kearney prepares to make it 13,000,001 Photograph courtesy Northumbria University The St Patrick’s Day one is timely, obviously, but the correlation of alcohol and especially Guinness with Irishness has counterparts in, for example, Northumbria’s neighbour Newcastle Brown, an Englishman’s pint of bitter or the Scottish obsession with whisky.
Should Alex Salmond win the day in 2014, he will surely be toasted by many who screw up their faces in disgust as they knock back the mixture of fire and medicine.
Kearney’s work for his doctorate found that every one of the 70 participants spent heavily on drink on St Patrick’s Day which all of them celebrated as opposed to St Valentine’s which some did not bother about.
The idea of ‘lad’s culture’ was dispelled by the fact that the sample was half men, half women and the latter included someone who spent 350 on largely alcoholic celebrations last year.
Kearney says: Many of the people who took part in the research seemed to feel an inescapable pressure to drink as though it is part of Irish consumers’ culture and heritage.
When this is combined with the expectations of others, created by the concerted efforts of marketers, the result appears to be inevitable.
However, many of those I interviewed expressed extreme regret in the aftermath of the day while others demonstrated a learned helplessness towards stopping drinking on the day.
There seems to be a perception that it’s their duty.
I had a cousin, now departed, who made a non-alcoholic wine on Guernsey called Green Spot.
Maybe we could revive it as a wholesome alternative way of celebrating the great saint, with Matthew Kearney in charge of the marketing.
The news of Ryan Giggs’s contract extension comes ahead of his 1,000th competitive appearance, which could be this weekend if he plays for Manchester United against Norwich.
Photograph: Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty Images Ryan Giggs has signed a one-year contract extension with Manchester United.
The deal, which runs until June 2014 and will take Giggs beyond his 40th birthday, has been agreed after a series of influential performances from the Welshman and ends speculation of him retiring at the end of the season.
The midfielder is already the most decorated player in British football history and will win his 13th league championship should United press home their 12-point advantage over Manchester City in the Premier League.
He has also won two European Cups, four FA Cups and four League Cups during his 22 years at Old Trafford.
The news of Giggs’s contract extension comes ahead of his 1,000th senior appearance, which includes games for Wales and Team GB at the London Olympics.
He will reach the milestone on Saturday if he features in United’s home game against Norwich City.
“What can I say about Ryan that hasn’t already been said? He is a marvellous player and an exceptional human being,” said the United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.
“Ryan is an example to us all, the way in which he has, and continues to, look after himself.
He has fantastic energy for the game and it is wonderful to see.
“Ryan seems to reach a new milestone every week and to think that he now has 23 unbroken years of league goals behind him is truly amazing in the modern-day game.
His form this year shows his ability and his enjoyment of the game are as strong as ever and I am absolutely delighted that he has signed a new contract.” Giggs made his United debut on 2 March 1991 and has scored 168 times in 931 appearances.
His goal in United’s 2-0 win over Everton last month meant he had scored in each of the 21 Premier League seasons.
“I am feeling good, enjoying my football more than ever and, most importantly, I feel I am making a contribution to the team,” Giggs said.
“This is an exciting team to be part of, with great team spirit, and we are again pushing for trophies as we head towards the business end of the season.”
Kevin MacDonald is the new manager of the League One side Swindon following the departure of Paolo Di Canio.
Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Swindon have appointed the former Republic of Ireland assistant Kevin MacDonald as their new manager.
The 52-year-old, who was caretaker manager at Aston Villa in 2010, has been handed the reins at the County Ground after Paolo Di Canio resigned last week.
MacDonald inherits a Swindon side who are fourth in League One and three points behind the leaders, Doncaster, and will be in charge of Saturday’s trip to Coventry.
“This is a hugely important appointment at a significant moment in Swindon’s recent history and we are delighted to appoint a football man of Kevin’s calibre as our new manager,” said the chairman, Jed McCrory, who took over the Wiltshire club this week.
“This is a clear message that the new board is determined to drive on for promotion this season and continue to try and bring success to Swindon.” “Kevin has fantastic football credentials as a double-winner with Liverpool during his playing days and he is an excellent coach.
“He has great connections with top players and he is a proper football man.
We have every faith for Kevin now to lead Swindon from the front at a pivotal moment in the campaign.
“It is a new start for Kevin and for our new board of directors and we move forward together with every confidence.” MacDonald, a midfielder in his playing days, was a member of the 1986 double-winning side at Liverpool, while he was involved with the Ireland set-up during Steve Staunton’s reign.
Chelsea fans may forgive Roman Abramovich anything for as long as the Champions League trophy resides at Stamford Bridge.
Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA The official line from Stamford Bridge was that it was “business as usual” and presumably they did not appreciate the rich irony of that statement when television crews were lined up on the pavements and the questions, once again, were about a form of chaos and familiar sense of astonishment about the speed at which a club of Chelsea’s ambitions manage to locate crisis.
For Chelsea, business as usual means a disenchanted fan-base torn between their appreciation for the glories of the Roman Abramovich era and the diminishing hope that he might refrain from simultaneously involving the club in so much that feels cheap and unpleasant.
It means another manager living in permanent insecurity, the rest of English football rubbernecking in their direction and another batch of hostile headlines as we wait for the official announcement, knowing that it may not be far away.
The statement, when it comes, will be short and to the point.
A couple of bland lines from one of the directors, maybe.
Nothing too grand.
Then back to the business of recruiting a 10th manager in nine years and buying the silence of the chap who has just left.
This is what a cherished old club has come to, operating from a ground that has witnessed so many exhilarating moments in recent years but also so many public relations disasters and where, just across the road, you will now find their 50m striker, Fernando Torres, pointed towards a job cooking burgers in the billboard one bookmaker has erected.
Brutal, you might think, but so is the fact that just inside Stamford Bridge’s boundaries the huge picture that used to adorn the wall behind the West Stand, where supporters could have photographs taken beside the image of Roberto Di Matteo and his players and assorted trophies, has been replaced with another picture of the Champions League celebrations excluding, with some precision, the manager of the time.
A small ignominy, perhaps, compared with the other indignities heaped on Di Matteo.
In another sense it feels like a pretty accurate snapshot of the way the modern-day Chelsea go about their business.
Everyone knows the routine by now: appoint, marginalise, isolate and sack.
Then comes the pay-off in total, 86m so far since 2004 and then the moments when they give the impression they would happily airbrush the last manager out of the club’s history.
Rafael Ben tez, as a politician, might not be as clever as he would like to believe but he was smart in one respect: at least Chelsea’s interim manager got his retaliation in first before the lawyers became involved.
That word again: “interim”.
Until a few years ago people in this position always tended to be known as the “caretaker” manager.
Before it became the word of choice at Stamford Bridge, “interim” felt more like office jargon.
It was the name of an album by The Fall.
One thing it was not was a football term.
Now it is the one word by which Ben tez’s short, joyless reign will be associated.
“A temporary or provisional arrangement; stopgap; makeshift,” is the dictionary definition.
It will be there on Saturday in the match-day programme against West Bromwich Albion, just as it is for every home match.
It will be on the team-sheets.
It is on the letterheads of official Chelsea paper.
The club could hardly have done more to promote the idea Ben tez was merely passing through and it is almost bizarre that Abramovich and his nomenklatura expected the team to thrive from such a position.
Sir Alex Ferguson always said the first reason Manchester United finished third in the 2001-02 season was because the players thought he was retiring in the summer and started to think beyond him.
A manager counting down the months is inevitably going to struggle to exert full authority and, when the dressing room is as hard-faced and unflinching as Chelsea’s, the players were always going to look at Ben tez as just a short-term measure, not even good enough to get a proper title.
These are basic facts of football life.
They really should not need to be explained to a club of serious ambition.
A poll on the Guardian’s website has 63% of people blaming the club’s hierarchy.
Yet there are solid reasons, whether we like them or not, why Abramovich can make one unpopular decision after another and still be spared the crowd’s hostility.
Many Chelsea supporters will be dismayed by a lot of what Abramovich does.
Just do not expect them to turn on the owner when there is a magnificent hulk of silverware, bearing the Uefa stamp and decorated in blue and white ribbons, residing at Stamford Bridge.
At the same time there is also gathering evidence that Chelsea is becoming the place to demonstrate how a culture of short-termism can eventually destabilise a football club.
At the end of this season it will be one title in seven years.
For the last two seasons they have not even challenged.
The interims/managers are sent to the guillotine with such frequency that anyone worth his salt must have to think long and hard about whether he wants to work in this environment.
Pep Guardiola smiled politely and decided he did not want to spend every day watching his back.
Ben tez, out of work and so far removed he had taken to writing an internet blog, could hardly be so fussy when, perhaps most shockingly of all, the truth is that any well-adjusted football person could have told Abramovich appointing the former Liverpool manager was the equivalent of unloading diesel into a petrol engine.
This, maybe, is what happens when a billionaire appoints men such as Bruce Buck and Ron Gourlay who tick off every demand like zombies.
The regime at Stamford Bridge does not seem to realise what can happen when there is never stability or clarity, just the sense that they are stumbling along.
It breeds malcontents, insecurity, selfishness, people looking after their own interests rather than the team’s.
It is not an exact science but a “good dressing room” can generally be gauged by how watertight it is against the outside world.
Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool all understand that and Manchester City are slowly getting there.
Chelsea operate in a different way.
It is a culture of leaks, strategic positioning, undermining others.
Not everyone but a concerted number, nonetheless.
One of the players his identity would be a grave disappointment to Chelsea’s supporters has been behind a lot of it.
Agents, staff and all manner of other people are involved.
They are clever, too, eluding all sorts of investigations, and the longer that culture goes on, the more embedded it becomes.
It is the English equivalent of Real Madrid, just not in a good way.
The next manager Avram Grant, Jos Mourinho or whoever has it all to sort out and, when one thinks back to that epic, wonderful night in Munich last May, it is difficult to imagine another Champions League winner has ever lurched around so miserably the following season.
Chelsea have become the object lesson in how not to defend the most cherished title of them all.
One interim is gone, another is on his way and the atmosphere at every match is just toxic.
It is a mess and it might get worse before it can get better.
Former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o's internet hoax drama has lead to teams asking inappropriate questions during the NFL Combine.
Photograph: Michael Conroy/AP When it comes to the acceptance of LGBT individuals, the world of professional sports might very well be the last frontier.
Despite growing public acceptance, there has yet to be an active openly gay player in any of the major US professional sports leagues.
Reports surfacing from the NFL Scouting Combine suggest this is not at all surprising.
The NFL Combine is a yearly event where NFL teams evaluate eligible college football players that might be available in the upcoming NFL draft.
Although most of the focus is on what players do on the field in various drills, teams also interview potential draft picks.
This week, reports surfaced that claimed some NFL teams were asking, directly or indirectly, questions pertaining to athletes’ sexual orientation.
Tight end Nick Kasa of the University of Colorado seemed to confirm these reports when he told ESPN Radio that teams have asked him questions such as “Do you have a girlfriend?” and “do you like girls?”.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, while saying that he hasn’t heard of a team flat-out asking a player if they were gay, claims that sexual orientation is, in fact, an issue in this year’s combine: It’s been described to me as the proverbial elephant in the room and I don’t think anyone knows how to solve this dilemma yet.
It’s just that they want to know what they’re getting.
They want to know what issues they may be dealing with down the road.
We just assumed that at some point there would be an openly gay player in an NFL locker room and the team would have to work with the realities and make sure that everything’s fine.
Floria says that teams are thinking about this possibility because of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.
Te’o, a projected first round pick in the Draft and the number one attraction at this year’s combine, is still facing questions about the strange Lennay Kekua affair (or non-affair).
During his last year at Notre Dame, Te’o claimed to be motivated by the death of his girlfriend Lennay Kekua, who was later revealed to be an entirely fictional on-line construct.
When the story was revealed as a hoax, many speculated that the highly religious Te’o was attempting to cover up a same-sex affair, a theory seemingly bolstered when the perpetrator of the hoax, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, admitted that he was “in love” with Te’o.
This incident, and particularly the subsequent media firestorm, has apparently led to teams thinking about the ramifications, good or bad, that having an openly gay player on the roster would cause.
Now, keep in mind that the teams could be asking Kasa, and presumably other players, these questions with the deliberate goal of testing a young athlete’s maturity level when put in uncomfortable situations.
It’s not an uncommon practice: several combines ago, Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland asked wide receiver Dez Bryant if his mother ever worked as a prostitute.
In this particular case, the media backlash was swift and Ireland later rightfully apologized, but that doesn’t mean that teams aren’t still asking questions with the same purpose.
In the football world, an environment where straightness is often conflated with manliness, asking “do you like girls?” could be considered nearly as a provocative move as suggesting that a player’s mom used to be a hooker.
This is something of a depressing thought.
If this was the reasoning behind teams asking about the sexual orientation of their potential draft picks, they should have picked a different subject.
Opening up this line of questioning, for whatever reason, not only contributes to an environment hostile to gay individuals, it also opens them up to potential legal troubles.
Openly questioning potential employees about their sexuality falls into the category of discrimination in many states.
The NFL itself is very aware of potential ramifications, following Kasa’s comments, NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello responded : “We will look into the report on the questioning of Nick Kasa at the Scouting Combine.
It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process”.
Teams may not have the right, either ethically or legally, to ask potential players about their sexuality, but that doesn’t mean that the “elephant in the room”, as Florio puts it, isn’t still standing there.
NFL teams could actually be right to worry about acquiring the first openly gay player.
For example, the media attention would probably be an unwanted distraction, it would be one of the biggest sports story of the year.
Then there’s a question about whether an openly gay player could be a problem in the locker room.
Former NFL quarterback and current CSN Chicago analyst Jim Miller certainly seems to think so: Last time I checked, whether it’s Christianity or Muslims or other religions that are out there, they’re just not going to accept it.
They’re just not.
It’s just not realistic for Mike Florio or any progressive or liberal to think that everything is going to be OK in the locker room and we should all just wise up and accept it.
It’s easy to just mock Miller, as Deadspin points out he’s a journeyman ex-jock turned undistinguished football analyst who acts as if the NFL locker room is the only workplace that employs religious people, but his comments echo those of Chris Culliver of the San Francisco 49ers earlier this year.
In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, Culliver balked at the idea of having a gay teammate: “I don’t do that.
No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do”.
Comments like these don’t just reflect a strand of homophobia within the NFL community, they also act to reinforce it by treating it as the natural state of the clubhouse.
The more insiders repeat the league is not ready for openly gay players, the longer it will be accepted as true.
This is why things like Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s very public activism in support of gay marriage, or the popular “You Can Play” campaign are vitally important.
The more pro-gay and anti-bigotry voices there are within the NFL community, the easier it will get for openly gay athletes not just in the NFL but in all levels of the sport.
The key term here is “openly gay” because, just by going with basic percentages, it’s extremely unlikely that Culliver has not already had a gay teammate.
Right now, however, gay NFL players remain at least publicly unwilling to be open about their sexuality (although presumably there are already some gay athletes who are out to their teammates and coaches but not to the general public).
If these reports from the NFL Scouting Combine are accurate, it’s easy to see why this is.
In asking players, directly or indirectly, about their sexual orientation, with the implicit suggestion that being gay could negatively affect their value on draft day, NFL teams are effectively treating gay players the same way they would treat players with “character defects”.
This is simply not acceptable.
Juan Mart n del Potro returns the ball to Germany’s Daniel Brands in their quarter-final at the Dubai Championships.
Photograph: Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images Thunderous serving from the former US Open champion Juan Mart n del Potro helped the Argentinian overwhelm the German qualifier Daniel Brands 6-4, 6-2 in a sweat-soaked quarter-final at the Dubai Championships on Thursday.
Del Potro faces a likely semi-final duel with Novak Djokovic, although the Serb must first get past Italy’s Andreas Seppi, against whom the world No1 has a 9-0 winning record.
“If I am ready and I’m very solid with my forehands and serve it’s going to be a very big chance for me,” Del Potro said when asked about the prospect of a 10th meeting with Djokovic.
That confidence is a reflection of the Argentinian’s improving form in Dubai following a scare in the first round in which he saved three match points before beating Marcos Baghdatis.
He has eased through the next two rounds without losing serve.
Del Potro won the US Open in 2009 but has not gone beyond the quarter-finals of a grand slam tournament since.
The third seed Tomas Berdych continued his imperious form, swatting aside the wildcard Dmitry Tursunov 6-3, 6-2.
It is Berdych’s second trouncing of the Russian in the past week following a similarly one-sided match in Marseille.
The Czech, ranked sixth in the world, has yet to drop a set in Dubai and will play Roger Federer or Nikolay Davydenko in Friday’s semi-final.