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Maradona’s comments on Messi divide Argentina

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Maradona Messi

Buenos Aires, June 11 : Legendary footballer Diego Maradona’s statements criticizing his countryman Lionel Messi’s lack of leadership has divided fans in Argentina.

“He doesn’t have the personality to be a leader,” Maradona said of Messi when asked by Brazilian soccer legend Pele, without knowing that a microphone was working during a pre-Euro 2016 five-on-five friendship match held in Paris on Thursday.

Pele had only asked Maradona if he knew Messi personally and if he thought he was “a good person”, reports Xinhua.

Maradona’s reply went round the whole world and triggered controversy in Argentina, where many agree with Maradona while many others have repudiated him.

Sergio Batista, Argentina’s former coach (2010-2011), said on Friday that he believed Messi “has a lot of personality when playing”.

“Maybe he is missing a little bit when in the group but when he talks in the changing rooms, they listen,” said Batista who also used to coach China’s Shanghai Shenhua.

Former champion with Argentina in Mexico 1986 and runner-up in Italy 1990, Jorge Barruchaga, believes that the Barcelona’s star player “is a leader in his own way”.

“Messi is a leader. He is a different type of leader. The leaders of the past no longer exist. There are different leaders. Messi is there to carry the team on his shoulders and, in fact, this is what he is doing,” said Barruchaga.

Former Bulgarian forward Hristo Stoichkov showed his outrage at Maradona’s comments by saying that “if Messi is the best player in the world, he has personality”.

“If he is Barcelona’s captain, it is because he has personality,” Stoichkov told Fox Sports.

On social networks opinions were divided. There was support for both players who are considered the best Argentinian players in history.

Maradona coached Messi during the South Africa 2010 World Cup where Argentina was knocked out in the quarterfinals by Germany.

“We all pamper him so that he can be what he deserves to be, the leader of the team,” the former Argentine coach said of Messi before travelling to the African country.

“We don’t need him to make speeches, we never need him for that. When he is playing, if you don’t pass the ball to Messi, it is an error,” joked Maradona.

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Australia suspends Olympic bid amid COVID-19 recovery

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Sydney, May 25 (IANS) Australia’s Queensland has suspended its bid to host the 2032 Olympics recently as the state government focuses on economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed the bid process had been paused, reports Xinhua news agency.

“It’s just on hold. I wouldn’t read too much into that,” Palaszczuk told reporters last weekend.

“We’re focused absolutely on the economic recovery at the moment.”

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said it fully supported the Queensland government’s position in placing the Brisbane 2032 candidature on hold.

AOC President John Coates said in a recent statement that meetings of the Olympic Candidature Leadership Group (OCLG) scheduled earlier this year were deferred, allowing governments to focus on dealing with COVID-19.

Coates said he’d proposed to OCLG members that the meetings would not proceed while all three levels of governments dealt with the pandemic.

He also told the AOC Annual General Meeting on May 9 that discussions with the IOC on the candidature would resume when appropriate.

“We all understand there are pressing issues of public health and community wellbeing for governments to address,” Coates said.

“The candidature will have its role to play in terms of jobs and growth in the Queensland economy once we have seen our way through the current crisis.”

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‘Hockey has lost its brightest star’: Balbir Singh Sr passes away

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Balbir Singh Senior

New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Hockey India has expressed condolences on the sad demise of legendary player Balbir Singh Sr who breathed his last on Monday morning in Mohali. The triple Olympic Champion and World Cup-winning team manager had been battling for life since May 8 when he was hospitalised.

“Today, we have not only lost our greatest hockey legend but we have also lost ‘our guiding light’. While his achievements in post-independent era have been well-documented, Balbir Sr remained the greatest fan of the sport and was always there when we needed his advice. Hockey has lost its brightest star and everyone at Hockey India is pained by this news,” said Hockey India President Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad.

He further said: “Balbir Singh Sr’s exemplary achievements, his passion for the sport, his life as an icon of the game will remain an example for generations to come. On behalf of the federation, I express my deepest condolences to his family.”

He was the most decorated athlete in Indian sports history with Olympic medals in 1948, 1952 and 1956 Summer Games. He coached the Indian team which won the bronze medal at the 1971 World Cup and was manager of the Indian team that won the gold medal at the 1975 World Cup.

He had scored five goals in India’s 6-1 victory over the Netherlands in the gold medal match of the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. Under his captaincy, India scored 38 goals and conceded none on its way to the gold medal in 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

Beating England 4-0 in their own backyard during the final of the 1948 Olympic Games as an independent nation was Balbir Sr’s ‘greatest moment’.

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Former Pak batsman Taufeeq Umar tests positive for COVID-19

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New Delhi, Former Pakistan opener Taufeeq Umar tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. Umar featured in 44 Tests and 12 ODIs, amassing 2,963 and 504 runs respectively for Pakistan.

He played his last international match in 2014, a Test against New Zealand in Dubai.

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