Transfers Chelsea target Richarlison refuses to rule out move away from Watford Alex Fisher 23:38 2/15/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Transfers Chelsea Watford v Everton Watford Premier League Plenty of big Premier League sides have been linked with the Brazilian, but the forward claims he is happy with the Hornets Richarlison has not ruled out a move away from Watford but the Brazilian insists he remains fully focused on life at Vicarage Road.The forward swapped Rio de Janeiro for Watford in July after the Hornets agreed an £11.5 million deal with Fluminense.He quickly adapted to the Premier League with five goals in the first half of the season, and he has been an ever-present under both Marco Silva and Javi Gracia. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player His performances have reportedly attracted the attention of league rivals Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea, whose alleged interest could spark a bidding war for the 20-year-old.Richarlison remains focused on Watford for now, though, with the forward deferring to his representatives.”In the future you never know but I leave all things like that up to my agents,” he told the London Evening Standard.”At the moment my head is completely in Watford. “I am not thinking about anything else and I want to help the team get as far as possible in the league. “That is my objective, that is my focus and nothing else.”Remaining in England is definitely a top priority for the youngster. “I want to play in this country for as long as possible,” Richarlison added. “It is a great league and has been a great experience for me. I want to improve and playing in England can help me do that.”
If you’re a fundraiser who is struggling to get your executive director or board to understand why you should launch an online fundraising program or invest more in online giving tools, try these talking points to help plead your case.Online giving boosts individual giving.You might have experienced push back on launching online fundraising because your leaders want to focus more on grants and major gifts from foundations. Remind them that individual giving is the biggest slice of the fundraising pie, and online fundraising is a key way to help diversify your funding. Having an online presence (and a way to give online) will help you recruit and retain donors who are likely shifting away from writing checks.Online giving allows you to interact with your donors where they are—online.Are your board members questioning how many of your target donors are really online? Send them these statistics from Pew Research:· 85% of American adults use the Internet· 61% of Internet users bank online · 73% of American adults use social mediaWhen potential donors find your nonprofit on social media or through a Google search, you’ll miss out on gifts without an easy online donation option. If you don’t make it simple for donors to support your mission, they may think you don’t need help! You don’t have to set up a merchant account.Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to set up a merchant account, payment gateway, or other fancy money-processing component to accept online donations—and you don’t have to be a tech whiz, either. In 2001, Network for Good made it easy for donors to give to any registered 501(c)3 online. Thirteen years and $1 billion dollars later, we still make it easy! You can get up and running with a branded donation page over your lunch hour.It’s not just a fad.Every year online giving continues to grow. Organizations like Crowdrise and Causes have leveraged the power of social networks to help encourage peer-to-peer giving. National giving campaigns like Giving Tuesday and Give Local America are here to stay. Wonder how areas affected by natural disaster get the instant funds they need? The answer: through online giving disaster relief campaigns. Consider these four conversation starters the next time you bring up online fundraising with your board. What other things do you want to teach your board about online fundraising? Do you have advice for those who are still trying to convince their leaders? Share your thoughts in the comments section.This post was created as part of this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival. The roundup of February’s submissions will be featured on The Fundraising Coach blog later this month.
(Part two in our series on the Millennial Impact Project)Millennials: A powerful force for change.Earlier this month, I shared my perspectives on the 2014 Millennial Impact Report and MCON14. Hopefully, that post got you thinking about how Millennials are shaping our culture and social sector in profound new ways.As a refresher, this is a summary from Derrick Feldmann, President of Achieve, on the growing significance and power of Millennials:Approximately 80 million Millennials live in the U.S. today. Collectively, they spend about $300 billion annually on consumer discretionary goods. And by the year 2020, they will make up 50% of the workforce.Soon, Millennials will no longer be the “next generation;” rather, they will be the majority of your co-workers and employees. [And I’d add, the majority of your donors and supporters.]Millennials are building a culture that knows how it feels to contribute to a cause and attempt to solve social issues…It is not overstating to say that a big part of the nonprofit sector’s future relies on its ability to respond to these young people’s charitable inclinations.Invite them. Inspire them. Seven steps to get started.How do you begin to engage Millennials? Here are seven ways you can bring Millennial energy, innovation and advocacy to your organization.1. Bring Millennials onto your team. Hire Millennials. Invite one or two to join your board. Even if you have a give/get for board members, encourage Millennials to run a race or do a crowdfunding campaign as a way to fulfill their commitment. They’re worth it. With their robust social networks, youthful passion and idealism, they can contribute in ways that are more important than money. Think of Millennial team members as beacons that can shine a light on your organization with huge networks of friends, family and colleagues.2. Inspire with images and video. Shift your marketing focus from facts and data to people and impact stories. Check out how our client, the United Way of Central Maryland uses a beautiful image and video to present a clear, simple fundraising message. Click here for a guide to using visuals effectively.3. Enlist with emotion on social channels. Inspire young supporters to share your mission by capturing their attention in your social channels with emotion: empathy, humor, pain, triumph. Investments in photography and video can pay big dividends, as inspiring content is more likely to be shared. The campaign of actress Lauren Luke, Don’t Cover it Up, inspired women, especially Millennials, to confront partner violence, not to “cover it up.”4. Empower them to get involved, not just to give. Inspire Millennials to volunteer based on their top motivators for getting involved: Passion (79%); Meeting people (56%); Gaining expertise (46%). Get them involved through activism, professional groups, and leadership opportunities. The United Way of Central Maryland has built a passionate base of Millennial supporters with its Emerging Leaders United program, by focusing on these motivations.5. Focus on your website. Meet Millennials where they are: online (and on their phones). With the rise of social media, many organizations focus their online outreach, updates, and photos on these platforms, often neglecting their core website. Your website is the center of your online universe – the sun to your orbiting social media planets. And leaving out of date or generic information on a website is a major turn-off for Millennials, and everyone else!.Also, your website has to be mobile-friendly. 87% of Millennials are carrying smartphones everyday. A mobile-friendly online environment will keep mobile users engaged and enable impulsive action from an impulsive generation.6. Launch a monthly giving program. One of the hottest trends in philanthropy mirrors a trend we see in consumer purchasing: the growth in subscription giving. According to the report, 52% of Millennials are interested in giving monthly. A small monthly gift can really add up over months and years. Here are some recommendations on how to start your monthly giving program.7. Move them to action by ASKING. You’re changing lives every day. And everyday you need support. Millennials want to be inspired, to inspire others, and to make a big impact with their actions and generosity. Tell them how they can help: start a fundraising page, sign a petition, recruit volunteers, host an event, join your leadership. It starts with an ask.
This final quarter can shine as the time to generate the donations you need to move your organization’s mission forward, if you do it right. In fact, 40% of online donors make their gifts in December, and that 40% to 60% of those gifts are made the last two days of the month according to superstar fundraiser Gail Perry. Offline giving is up as well in December, says Perry. But…Just don’t wait until December to ramp up the start or strengthen your campaign, and don’t stop too early that month! Start the Nurturing NOW with these 3 Simple Steps1. Thank your current supporters—of all stripes—enthusiastically and frequentlyThat includes clients, board members, donors, volunteers, partners and others who help your organization move its mission forward. So many organizations lose out on prospective donations when they focus thanks on current and recent donors only. Others who dedicate their time, passion and/or partnerships to your organization are just as loyal, and likely donors. Thank them:Meaningfully with personality and passion, Memorably—Show, rather than tell, supporter impact with profiles of their fellow supporters (ideal for folks like board members or major donors) or client profiles and testimonials Often, across all channels. For example:o Fire up your program staff to thank program participants and the person who cultivates new donors to give them an extra personal (real signature or the occasional call—even if you can’t do it for everyone)o Get out there with your appreciation signage. If you have a physical plant where supporters work and/or visit, put those walls to work. Nothing brings on a smile—and a connection—than photo-driven success stories as surround sound! 2. The more personal and relevant the betterSegment your prospects by what youdo know about them is the most reliable way to do so.Ways to segment include:Donors: By average annual dollar value of gifts (e.g. High-dollar vs. middle vs. entry-level donors)Volunteers: By length of volunteer involvementPartners: By type of partnership (e.g. event sponsorship vs. advertising vs. collaborative program delivery)Board members: and prospects; or five-year or more volunteers, two- to five-year volunteers and new volunteers)Supporters who are already in two “supporter silos” but not yet donors—for example, a volunteer who is also the parent of a program participant. Their dedication is proven and current – these folks deserve special attention.If the number of personal notes required is unreasonable, consider sending hand-signed custom holiday greeting cards to members of your Tier 1 network: Board members, loyal volunteers who are top prospective donors, donors (or at least some donors—returning, new, young or any other group that deserves special recognition). That personal signature makes all the difference.We all want to know that our effort (be it money, time or attention) is valued. Don’t miss this natural opportunity to appreciate your supporters. And encourage colleagues, who many have slightly different networks, to do the same.3. Reach out right now to rejuvenate relationships that have gone dark this yearIn selecting and segmenting your lists, you’re likely to find a group of former supporters (don’t limit it to donors) who have gone quiet in the last year or six months.Now’s the time to nudge them out of hibernation, by thanking them for their prior support and sharing stories that showcase how your organization has moved your cause forward in the last year. Focus on established programs they’re likely to be familiar with rather than new funding or volunteer needs.Select the channel that fits best with each sub-group’s habits and preferences, and—if you have the data—feature messages that have generated response in the past. I recommend a multi-part campaign (preferably multichannel, try a mix of email and direct mail, with a call thrown in if possible for high-value supporters).Most importantly—Don’t forget the strategic ask in this outreach. The strategy comes in the way you say it. After all, if you didn’t hear from a friend in a year would you call him up and ask for an invitation to his famed Oscars party? Doubt it.Apply that same logic to your rejuvenation asks—love ‘em up first, then do the asking.Get your nurturing going on all burners today! It’ll pay off this year and beyond.How do YOU nurture your donors? Please share what works for you—and what doesn’t—in the comments below!
For more about setting goals and calculating expenses, download a copy of the eGuide How to Create a Fundraising Plan. You’ll also have access to free Excel templates to help you map out your plan. The same principles apply when you are planning your fundraising for a new fiscal year. You need to know where you want to go, internal and external factors that may help or hinder the success of that plan, and the steps to take to reach the finish line. The new eGuide I co-authored with Network for Good, How to Create a Fundraising Plan, is a step-by step overview of how to create a plan that’s realistic. It will also help you build a sustainable fundraising model from which you can grow in future years. The key to crafting a plan is the prep work you do before you begin to map out your course. I call it the “Getting Ready” stage.The first and most important step is determining how much you will need to raise this year. When your organization begins its budgeting process for the next fiscal year, your senior staff (executive director, board, development director, senior leaders) can discuss anticipated overall expenses (be sure to include both programmatic and administrative costs!) and how much funding is needed to support your operations. This is essential. You want everyone on the same page when it comes to expenses so that you avoid unrealistic fundraising expectations and goals.Equally important to these planning discussions is ensuring everyone understands the fundraising trends you’ve experienced in your current and previous fiscal years. These can be one-off events, bequests, or other anomalies that may not be sustainable or guaranteed future sources of funding. Sit down with appropriate staff members and discuss anticipated income. Understanding what’s expected through committed and potential sources will help you better calculate your fundraising goal.After you have determined your projected expenses and income, you can then calculate your “left to raise” goal for the year. This is the gap between what you have identified as income from various sources that you know you can count on and your overall organizational budget for the fiscal year. The “new money” you need to raise is the missing part of the equation.If you can, think about adding up to 10% over that goal to start growing a financial cushion for your organization. When you start to write the plan, you’ll develop a fuller pipeline of prospects and anticipated solicitations. If you don’t think you will have the donors and asks needed to reach your budget, now’s the time to discuss this with senior staff so there are no surprises later in the fiscal year. It might mean you adjust the fundraising goal by scaling back new initiatives or programming. It could also be a call to action to engage your board and other volunteers to fundraise in new ways.Once you have a good handle on your financial needs and potential, take a look at revenue and expenses from your current fiscal year and the past few years to spot patterns in your donors’ behavior as well as overall industry and economic trends. This helps you identify where you should make course corrections in the future. For example, are there noticeable trends in giving to your issue area? How has donor confidence been generally? How has donor confidence been toward your organization? How did your fundraising revenue break down, and what were your fundraising expenses for each donor type? What motivates your donors? Do they tend to give through events or to restricted programs? Learn and grow from what you know.Don’t worry about spending too much time finding the exact answers to the broader industry analysis questions. It’s most important to understand your donors’ giving patterns and the external factors that can affect your organization’s fundraising (for example, remember the stock market plummet of 2008 and the many years it took to restore donor confidence?). Once you’ve assessed all of your data, you’re ready to start building your plan. In my next blog post, we’ll review how to use this information to set your course for the next year. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” —Benjamin FranklinI’m what you’d call “a planner.” Before I take a trip—even if it’s a place I know—I research the latest restaurants, places of interest, stores, theater shows, and museum exhibits. I make reservations well in advance. I sketch out a general itinerary to make sure I maximize my time. I have emergency contact information and multiple contingency plans. It took one crazy cab ride late at night on what should have been a transit through (not throughout) Naples to teach me to have alternative backup plans. Having a full sense of my options, needs, and resources well in advance puts me at ease and makes my trips much more enjoyable.
ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on May 23, 2012June 21, 2017Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)On Wednesday, May 16th, the Maternal Health Task Force at the Women and Health Initiative hosted Deborah Maine for a seminar on cervical cancer at Harvard School of Public Health. The seminar was titled, “HPV Vaccine: Does it make sense?”Deborah Maine, an epidemiologist with a background in anthropology and over 30 years of experience working on reproductive health programs in developing countries, developed the three delays framework for understanding maternal mortality—a framework that continues to guide the work of maternal health program implementers and researchers alike.In recent years, Maine has been working extensively on the issue of cervical cancer. Her May 16th presentation focused on the controversy around priority setting for cervical cancer prevention, screening, and treatment in developing countries.Maine explains the controversy:“Even a successful vaccine program won’t help women already sexually active. Focusing only on the vaccine means writing off 2 generations of women who have already been sexually active and have already been exposed but will not benefit from this. And I wonder: Would anybody even propose a child health intervention that would take effect in 20 years? I don’t think so. I think this is something that happens preferentially with women. And I think it is a human rights issue. I really do.”A few of Maine’s recommendations:Retire the pap smear. “It is like a horse and buggy. It was great when that was all we had.”Visual inspection and DNA tests are both more sensitive, cost less, and have lower loss to follow up.Increase coverage of screening in both developed and developing countries.Focus on neglected groups.Focus on women over 30.Avoid over screening.Dr. Maine wrapped up her presentation by reminding the crowded room of public health students, researchers, and implementers of a very important point: “I would just like to remind everyone that 5 million women who have already been infected with HPV will die before the vaccine can have effect. Improving screening programs is the first priority in both developed and developing countries.”The presentation was followed by a lively Q&A session.Watch the video of the presentation here.Click here to read a recent paper by Maine and colleagues, Cervical Cancer Prevention in the 21st Century: Cost Is Not the Only Issue.Learn more about Deborah Maine here.Share this:
Posted on September 29, 2017September 29, 2017By: Michael Ezeanochie, Obstetrician/Gynecologist, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, NigeriaClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Shortages in the availability of well-trained health workers have been well documented in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Even in cases where there are relatively large numbers of health care providers, inadequate pre-service and in-service training, suboptimal proportions of different clinical specialties and a lack of strong health system support remain major challenges to providing high quality maternity care.The question therefore arises: How do developing countries facing severe shortages in well-trained, equitably distributed health workers ensure access to high quality maternal health care for all women?Perhaps the most logical long-term solution is to invest more resources into the expansion of training capacity to meet the health needs of the population. However, amid widespread poverty and competing needs for scarce resources, as well as migration of health workers across geographic boundaries, this may not be attainable for most developing countries. There are several other potential solutions that may be feasible in the short-term, which are currently being tested in Nigeria.The Midwives Service SchemeThe National Primary Healthcare Development Agency launched the Midwives Service Scheme in 2009 to expand skilled birth attendance to reduce maternal, infant and child mortality, especially in rural communities. Since 2010, more than 2,600 midwives have been recruited and deployed to over 650 rural primary health centers across Nigeria. The program incorporates training of midwives and medical officers to improve the quality of maternity care while strategically adding to the health workforce.West African College of Surgeons training program and curriculaLessons learned from the Midwives Service Scheme partly stimulated the development of other innovative strategies involving redistribution of the health workforce to rural areas. For example, the Faculty of Surgery, West African College of Surgeons revised its training program and curricula in 2016 to include a mandatory six-month “rural posting” for senior trainees before their exit fellowship exams. It is expected that this will make senior health workforce team members available in underserved communities to work with and mentor non-specialist physicians in the provision of maternal health services.The Volunteer Obstetrician SchemeSimilarly, the Volunteer Obstetrician Scheme (VOS) was launched in Nigeria in July 2016 as an initiative of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Primary Health Care Development Agency. Under VOS, experts in obstetrics and gynecology who work in referral hospitals volunteer to commit some of their regular work hours in designated lower level health facilities where they treat patients and provide in-service training. This program gives experts in obstetrics the opportunity to share their knowledge and skills with caregivers working at community-based and primary health care centers.What is next?Nigeria, like many other developing countries in Africa, is confronted with severe health workforce shortages, but the resources needed to expand training capacity for health workers to meet the needs of the population are not readily available. Therefore, it is necessary to explore innovative solutions that maximize efficient use of the available health workforce, including redistribution to vulnerable communities. Programs like these could help to ensure equitable access to maternal health services with skilled providers. Rigorous research is needed to evaluate the effects of these interventions.Have you tried these strategies in your country? If so, tell us about it!—Read other posts from the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF)’s Global Maternal Health Workforce blog series.Access resources related to the global maternal health workforce.Are you interested in sharing your perspective on the MHTF blog? Read our guest post guidelines and send us an email with your idea.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:
Posted on March 1, 2018March 2, 2018By: Kayla McGowan, Project Coordinator, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Innovations in health care delivery are crucial to improving maternal health worldwide. Introduced in Northern Europe, Canada and the United States in the early 20th century—and now available in many areas around the world—maternity waiting homes (MWHs) provide a place for women at high risk of pregnancy complications to await labor and delivery near a qualified health facility. MWHs seek to reduce the distance to timely, high quality health care, which is often a major obstacle in the decision to seek care—especially for pregnant women living in rural areas. While the evidence on their effectiveness remains mixed, researchers have linked MWHs to reductions in maternal and perinatal mortality throughout Africa. Further research has explored the barriers that prevent use of MWHs as well as the factors that contribute to their uptake and success.Two open access studies recently published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth provide insight into MWHs through the lenses of women and other stakeholders. The first, a community-based cross-sectional study conducted in the Eastern Gurage Zone of Southern Ethiopia by Vermeiden and colleagues, explored factors associated with intended use of maternity waiting homes among more than 400 recently postpartum and pregnant women. The second, a mixed-methods, cross-sectional study in Zambia’s Luapula Province by Chibuye and colleagues, investigated both expectations as well as experiences of MWHs among women, community groups and traditional leaders. While the context of each study was distinct, the findings offer three keys to unlocking the full potential of maternity waiting homes around the world.Improve community knowledge and gain supportVermeiden and colleagues found that less than 10% of approximately 400 recently postpartum and pregnant women had prior knowledge about MWHs. This is consistent with previous findings. In Kenya, for example, researchers found that about a quarter of women they interviewed knew about the existence of a MWH two years after it was constructed.As outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO) more than two decades ago, community and cultural support is a crucial element in the success of MWHs. In Zambia, support from community groups—including Safe Motherhood Action Groups, Neighbourhood Health Committee members and faith-based organizations—played a major role in the development, construction and operation of MWHs, as well as communication between the community and health staff.Address quality of care issuesAs with any service along the continuum of maternal health care, MWHs must meet women’s needs in a dignified, respectful environment. Even when the concept of MWHs is accepted and valued, poor quality of care can deter women from using them. Women and community groups in Zambia expressed the need for better infrastructure, services, food, security, privacy and transportation:“When I delivered last year, I went home immediately […] it was impossible to keep myself clean without water in the maternity ward and maternity home despite the midwife advising me to stay until the following day.”–Woman who gave birth at a rural health centerGiven that MWHs serve as a point of referral for nearby health facilities, efforts to improve quality of care must extend beyond the MWH itself. According to WHO, MWHs “…cannot function effectively in a vacuum. Rather, they are a link in a larger chain of comprehensive maternity care, all the components of which must be available and of sufficient quality to be effective and linked with the home.”As Vermeiden and colleagues articulated, it is vital to address the needs of the whole health system:“If the Ethiopian health care system is incapable of absorbing an influx of women for childbirth, encouraging women to use MWHs could lead to more women receiving substandard care, which may backfire on Ethiopia’s attempts to reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality.”Adapt to context and make it sustainableWorking with the local environment and culture is critical to the uptake and success of MWHs. In rural Ethiopia, for example, former traditional birth attendants have been trained to refer women to maternity waiting areas. In rural Liberia, collaboration between traditional midwives and skilled birth attendants along with the use of MWHs was associated with increased facility-based births and decreased maternal and perinatal death.Considering the health system structure and capacity is another fundamental element of success. Chibuye and colleagues found that most participants remained skeptical that women would pay for services at MWHs because the health system services for reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health are free of charge in Zambia. Securing funding from governments and other sources as well as establishing strong partnerships are also key to ensuring sustainability of MWHs.As Vermeiden and colleagues emphasize, “MWHs alone will not reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity; they are merely a tool to increase the number of women who are able to access care.” Efforts to gain community support and engagement, improve quality of care and leverage local context can help ensure that MWHs are effective in linking pregnant women to timely, life-saving services.—Learn more about maternity waiting homes>>Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:
For a man not known for openly praising players, Jose Mourinho perhaps put it best when describing Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic. “I’ve wanted to say this for a long, long time,” the Portuguese began during an appearance on beIN Sports in March. “Rakitic is one of the most underrated players in the world.“He is a fantastic player at every level: he does defensive work on the right side to compensate for [Lionel] Messi, he runs miles. In ball possession, he’s fantastic. He’s simple. He’s effective.” Article continues below Editors’ Picks Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Since moving to Camp Nou in 2014 from Sevilla, Rakitic has won four Liga titles, four Copa del Rey trophies and the Champions League – a collection of silverware that should demand respect. Yet, despite playing a key role in Barcelona’s recent success, the Croatian has been underappreciated by the majority of the Catalan faithful, and horribly mistreated by a select few.Though playing 54 games for the club last season in all competitions, scoring five goals and contributing 10 assists as a central midfielder, Rakitic has been deemed surplus to requirements by the Blaugrana board.In their desperation to re-sign Neymar, Barca are offering Rakitic as a makeweight.Of course, the 31-year-old is no stranger to being linked with moves away from Camp Nou. “I am used to seeing my name mentioned [in transfer stories] every season,” Rakitic said in July.”Since I got here, it has always been the same. I spoke with the club and with [Ernesto] Valverde and my idea is to stay here and its the club’s plan too, but I am open to everything.”Indeed, Rakitic is now ready to leave the Blaugrana, with the only stumbling block in relation to his move to Paris the length of the contract on offer. The Croat wants a four-year deal; PSG are presently only willing to offer him three years.He would be missed at Camp Nou, at least on the field.Happily pulling the strings in midfield as he allows the likes of Messi and Luis Suarez to shine, the midfielder has never looked for the limelight but deserves far more praise than he receives. Upon arriving from Sevilla, Rakitic very quickly proved his worth by playing a crucial role in Barca’s 2015 Champions League triumph, notably scoring the opening goal in the final against Juventus.From that point on he’s made himself one of the most reliable players at Camp Nou. While rarely stealing the show, Rakitic has rarely missed a game, playing over 50 matches each season, and, in the process, provided the side with a key point of stability following the departure of veterans like Xavi and Andres Iniesta.But despite becoming such an integral part of the Catalan’s side, Rakitic has somehow – along with Valverde – become the focus of Barca fans’ frustration with their side’s inability to add to their European Cup collection.Just after last season’s shocking semi-final capitulation at Anfield, when the Catalans blew a 3-0 first-leg lead over Liverpool, Rakitic was confronted by an angry group of ultras at his own home.The mob was upset that he had travelled with his family to a fair in Seville the day after the game. It was deemed symbolic of his perceived lack of commitment to the cause.However, despite his laconic style, Rakitic has never treated playing for Barcelona as anything other than a privilege.“I’ve had four and a half years here that have been so good,” he told GQ in April.“I’m part of the biggest team in the world and that makes me very proud. I love football. A lot. It still feels amazing to be able to play football every day and if you love something then you tend to be better at it. I would never describe football as a job because it doesn’t feel like a job.”But I also know that there’s a responsibility to play here, that people are looking at you every minute and that they want to know what you are doing. “Every player is different but I try to treat everyone the same. On a day-to-day basis, I come across other footballers and club staff and I try to treat all the same, from the security guard to Lionel Messi.”Rakitic once recalled his seven-month pursuit of his now-wife Raquel Mauri.The Croatian first spotted the Spaniard serving at a bar in Seville and returned every day for months in an attempt to convince her to go on a date with him. “I was drinking so much coffee it was ridiculous. I probably asked her out 20 or 30 times,” Rakitic wrote in The Players Tribune. “It was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. It was harder than winning the Champions League, and it took nearly as long.”Ultimately, Rakitic eventually won Mauri over by improving his Spanish just to speak to her in her native tongue. The pair are now happily married and the proud parents of two daughters. That touching tale of perseverance had a happy ending. But Rakitic’s relationship with Barcelona’s fans looks set to end in a messy divorce.Even a quick look at his mentions on Twitter this week illustrates just how desperate the more unsavoury element of Barcelona’s online support is to see Rakitic gone.He does not deserve such vitriol. He has represented the club with great class. The same cannot be said of many of the club’s supposed supporters.Rakitic will be better off without them.
The Red River Showdown is always one of the more intense rivalries in college football. It was certainly no different today, as Oklahoma and Texas got into a serious scuffle ahead of the game.Luckily, things didn’t escalate too far. The two teams had to be separated, but officials kept things from getting overly ugly.After the two teams were separated, the entirety of both teams were issued unsportsmanlike penalties. That meant that any player flagged for it during the game itself would be ejected.Referee Mike Defee than addressed the two teams’ captains at the coin toss and drove home the point that the game was going to be played with sportsmanship and he wouldn’t allow for it to get out of hand. Things were chippy, especially early, but ultimately the game was played without another major incident. Still, Defee was not happy with what transpired before the game.He was interviewed after Oklahoma’s 34-27 win in Dallas, and expressed his discontent.Big 12 referee Mike Defee to a pool reporter: “What happened out there is an embarrassment to everyone. It shouldn’t happen. At the end of the day, that’s why we did what we did.”(He added much more. See photos.) pic.twitter.com/YKBLhMzPSC— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) October 12, 2019From the report, via the pool interview:Q: Once you got to the coin toss, it seemed like you had had enough. Can you talk about how you addressed the captains and what your mindset was there?Defee: At the end of the day, I guess disappointment to a certain extent. We’ve got two of the best teams in the country, let alone the Big 12 COnference. This is the 115th playing of this great game and to have that kind of thing happen is disappointing. We can’t control that as officials. The primary responsibility of the officials is two-fold outside of just the playing rules. one is player safety and two is the integrity of the game. What happened out there is an embarrassment to everyone. It shouldn’t happen. At the end of the day, that’s why we did what we did and issued a warning. unfortunately you put that UNC (unsportsmanlike conduct) on everybody and any action that results in an additional unsportsmanlike results in a disqualification.We all like a fiery rivalry game, but it is good that things didn’t escalate beyond that.
Scotland face Russia in a Euro 2020 qualifier at Hampden on Friday that is already vital for Steve Clarke’s side.A 3-0 loss away to Kazakhstan in the very first match of the Group I hastened the demise of former boss Alex McLeish but also left the Scots requiring a tremendous effort against one of the group’s big guns to progress.Clarke’s men will get two cracks at the whip this week on home soil, with Russia and Belgium both visiting, although the latter already seem likely to claim top spot. Article continues below Editors’ Picks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream The side ranked No.1 in the world by FIFA have inflicted the only defeat thus far onto Russia, who know that a win in Glasgow would represent a giant step towards qualification next summer. Game Scotland vs Russia Date Friday, September 6 Time 7:45pm BST / 2:45pm ET TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch In the United States (US), the game can be watched live on ESPN 3 and streamed via TUDN En Vivo. US TV channel Online stream ESPN 3 TUDN En Vivo In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will be shown live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football and can be streamed via Sky Go Extra. UK TV channel Online stream Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Football Sky Go Extra Squads & Team News Position Scotland squad Goalkeepers MacGillivray, Marshall, McLaughlin Defenders Bates, Cooper, Devlin, Mulgrew, O’Donnell, Robertson, Taylor Midfielders Armstrong, Christie, Jack, McGinn, McGregor, McLean, McTominay, Snodgrass Forwards Forrest, Fraser, McBurnie, Naismith, Phillips, Russell Scotland are extremely light in defence, with only 85 caps between their seven recognised defenders – and 71 of those won by Charlie Mulgrew and Andy Robertson combined. As such, it was a blow that Grant Hanley and Liam Palmer pulled out of the original squad.Leigh Griffiths has not been deemed ready to feature after a long period out of the game due to personal troubles, though Steve Clarke does not have significant riches to choose from in attack.Steven Naismith missed training of Thursday and is a doubt as such, but should be ready to play some role.Possible Scotland starting XI: Marshall; O’Donnell, Bates, Mulgrew, Robertson; McGinn, McGregor; Forrest, Christie, Fraser; Russell Position Russia squad Goalkeepers Guilherme, Lunyov, Dzhanayev Defenders Zhirkov, Kudryashov, Mario Fernandes, Dzhikiya, Neustadter, Semenov, Petrov, Belyayev, Karavayev Midfielders Golovin, Yerokhin, Zobnin, Cheryshev, Ionov, Ozdoyev, Kambolov, Akhmetov, Barinov, Bakayev Forwards Smolov, Dzyuba, Komlichenko Russia have seen Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Aleksei Miranchuk pull out of the squad due to injury. Meanwhile, World Cup 2018 star Alan Dzagoev is in the late stages of returning from a cruciate knee ligament injury and is a notable absentee.Goalkeeper Anton Shunin and midfielder Yuri Gazinskiy are both out with shoulder issues.Possible Russia starting XI: Guilherme; Mario Fernandes, Semenov, Dzhikiya, Kudryashov; Ozodoev, Zobnin; Ionov, Golovin, Cheryshev; DzyubaBetting & Match Odds Scotland are 2/1 to score an upset victory with bet365. Russia are slight 13/8 favourites while a draw is on offer at 11/5 – making this a match the bookies are struggling to call.Click here to see all of bet365’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more. Match Preview Scotland’s hosting of Russia on Friday promises to be a pivotal match in Euro 2020 qualification. If the hosts win and claim the three points, they will find themselves firmly in the running to reach the finals, yet a defeat would surely be fatal for their chances.While Hampden was once a venue where even the biggest teams struggled – it was barely a decade ago that Scotland claimed maximum points from matches against France and Ukraine, sides that had recently contested the World Cup quarter-finals – the Scots have lost some of that lustre that made them a force to be feared.Under Steve Clarke, however, there is renewed optimism, despite the team struggling to overcome Cyprus in June then falling to a 3-0 loss away in Belgium three days layer.“It’s been a long time since we turned over one of the big boys,” the manager admitted. “Russia, having been in the last eight of the last World Cup, are one of the bigger teams. We need a big win as a country.“It’s about time that we as a nation, rather than being on the receiving end, are dishing out a result that’s deemed an upset. Hopefully Friday night can be the case.“Over a number of years, we haven’t reached a major finals. The more often that happens, the less people start to believe in it. So one big result could change the mindset, not just of the squad, but of the whole nation.”The former Chelsea assistant, though, says the fixture is not a make-or-break affair, with a home match against Belgium to follow on Monday then a trip to Russia in October.“If you’re optimistic, you think you can win any game,” he said. “Rather than put the pressure on the one game, over the next three games we have to make sure we get enough points to make sure we’re still in the group.”Stanislav Cherchesov, the Russia boss, has taken a different view of the fixture.“We are looking at our opponents, we are looking at the table and we might say that this match is for six points rather than three,” he said. “Nonetheless there will still be five games ahead of us and 15 points to play for. We are not going to talk about maths at this time. We just understand that both teams have similar chances to win.”
Micah Richards says he would give his remaining healthy knee for the chance to play for Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. The 31-year-old retired at the end of last season due to ongoing knee injuries that saw him play just a handful of games for Aston Villa across three years. Richards began his senior career with City and, though he won the Premier League under Roberto Mancini, revealed in an interview with The Athletic how much he’d enjoy lining up for Guardiola’s side. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream Time for another transfer? Giroud’s Chelsea spell set to end like his Arsenal career “I would give my other knee to play for Pep’s City,” Richards said.”A fit Micah Richards would be up there but I am not bitter towards these boys about their money and success.”A lot of the older pros – I won’t name names – they need the money and are bitter about the money in modern football. In my position, Trent Alexander-Arnold is a £100 million footballer now. “I am happy for Kyle Walker, who has kicked on under the best manager in the world.”While Richards’ career ended in disappointment as he struggled with a knee injury, he did lift a league title and FA Cup with City. Though a big admirer of Guardiola, Richards stressed he thrived working under Mancini, who spent four seasons in charge at the Etihad. “Mancini was unbelievable. He wanted the best. Some players want an arm around them but he didn’t care,” Richards said. “He cared about results and pushed people. Some didn’t know how to deal with that. I really enjoyed someone saying: ‘You’re good but let’s improve you’.“A lot thought they were ready-made stars and could not be improved. Every player can improve! It got difficult between the manager and players but he won the Premier League and FA Cup, and he will always be the manager who broke the duck and won the title.”Manchester City have made a shaky start to their league defence this season after losing 3-2 against Norwich City on the weekend. That result, combined with an earlier 2-2 draw with Tottenham, leaves Guardiola’s side five points adrift of league leaders Liverpool.