Chinese football stars and officials held in Xi’s corruption crackdown

Stadiums are reopening but detentions of major football figures overshadow the sport, as scandal engulfs basketball

Sergio Agüero may be one of the greatest strikers of his generation, but he won an even rarer accolade in 2015, when he became the first – and last – Premier League footballer to take a selfie with Xi Jinping, China’s football-loving leader.

The photo, taken at Manchester City’s stadium – with then prime minister David Cameron – comes from an era when Xi was fostering warm relations with the UK and pushing China to become a world football superpower by 2050, both ambitions that seem distant possibilities today.

Continue reading...
Sport is indifferent to the Uyghur genocide: the Warriors investor said the quiet part out loud

The NBA has owned the inside track on the sports world’s most coveted growth market, with operations worth about $5bn

The US state department has described the Uyghur human rights issue as a genocide and the largest-scale detention of an ethno-religious community since the second world war. And yet to hear one leading professional sports owner tell it, “nobody cares”.

Chamath Palihapitiya, a billionaire investor in the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, used the most recent episode of his All-In podcast to weigh in, dismissing the Uyghur crisis as “a very hard, ugly truth” that’s “below my line”. When his co-host David Sacks countered that the Uyghurs were a great, if not pressing, concern, Palihapitiya dug in: “If you’re asking me do I care about a segment of a class of people in another country? Not until we can take care of ourselves will I prioritise them over us.”

Continue reading...
‘We lost everything’: Afghan wheelchair basketball team captain speaks out

Nilofar Bayat begins rebuilding her life in Spain after days of fear for her life under Taliban rule

When the Taliban entered Kabul, Nilofar Bayat, the captain of Afghanistan’s female national wheelchair basketball team, knew she had to get out.

“There were so many videos of me playing basketball. I had been active in calling for women’s rights and the rights of women with disabilities,” she said. “If the Taliban found out all of this about me, I knew they would kill me.”

Continue reading...