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World Cup final stirs memories of 1998 victory in France

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, July 16th, 2018

Soccer Football – World Cup – Final – France v Croatia – Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia – July 15, 2018 France coach Didier Deschamps celebrates winning the World Cup with Alphonse Areola and Blaise Matuidi REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

France’s place in the World Cup final on Sunday (July 15) has left many hoping that Les Bleus will be able to recreate the magic that saw them crowned world champions on home soil in 1998.

The 3-0 victory over Brazil on July 12, 1998, remains seared in the memories of a generation of French football fans and made legends of the team which included current France coach Didier Deschamps, Zinedine Zidane, Laurent Blanc and Thierry Henry.

Crowds watched the match on giant screens in front of the Paris town hall then headed to the 2 kilometer-long Champs Elysees avenue where the party continued into the night.

Interviewed by France Inter radio on Friday morning, member of the winning team Lilian Thuram, who scored two goals against this year’s finalists Croatia in the 1998 semi-final, said he would love to be back on the pitch.

“When I found out that it was going to be France-Croatia in the final I said to myself, ‘Lilian, get ready’,” he joked, adding he would be watching the final in Moscow from the stands.

The ’98 heroes were treated to a victory parade down the Champs Elysees and a reception at the Elysee Presidential Palace with then-president Jacques Chirac and the same star treatment is expected for the 2018 team if they bring home the cup. -Reuters

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Macron says keeping Assad in power would be a ‘disastrous mistake’

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2018


French President Emmanuel Macron. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Macron said on Monday (August 27) keeping Bashar al-Assad in power in Syria would be a “disastrous mistake,” although it was not France’s duty to assign the country’s future leader.

“Who provoked the flow of these millions of refugees?” Macron said during a speech at a Paris conference of ambassadors. “Who massacred his own people? It is not for France to designate Syria’s future leader, no more than any other country. But it is our task and in our interest to make sure that the Syrian people are well in a position to do it.”

The Syrian conflict, which has killed 300,000 people and pushed 5.6 million Syrian refugees towards neighboring countries and Europe, has turned into a war of attrition as the regime tries to contain rebels and extremists.

Assad’s regime has taken back control of most of the territory except for the province of Idlib, the remaining refuge of rebels and the Islamic State.

On Libya, Macron said it was France’s role to move forward a Paris accord to secure reunification in the country, which he said was an “essential factor for the stability of the region.”

In May, the four principal actors in Libya’s political crisis convened in Paris to put in place a constitutional foundation for elections and to adopt electoral laws for the December 10 polls.  — Reuters

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FIBA suspends 13 players, 2 coaches, match officials over World Cup brawl

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, July 20th, 2018

The FIBA Disciplinary Panel on Thursday (July 19) sanctioned Australia and Philippine players over a World Cup qualifying brawl in Manila on July 2.

According to FIBA Basketball’s official website, the decision suspends 10 Philippine Gilas players – Japheth Aguilar, Matthew Wright, Terence Romeo, Jayson Castro William, Andray Blatche, Jeth Rosario, Roger Pogoy, Carl Cruz and Jim Gallon – and Assistant Coach Joseph Uichico for unsportsmanlike behaviour. Head coach Vincent ‘Chot’ Reyes was also suspended for inciting unsportsmanlike behaviour and was ordered to  pay a disciplinary fine of $13,500.

Likewise, the Philippines’ national federation Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas, Inc. (SPB) is sanctioned for the unsportsmanlike behaviour of its team and of its public, and for “insufficient organisation of the game.” The federation is ordered to pay a disciplinary fine of $337,000

The Philippines will play the next home game behind closed doors while a ban for two more home games has been placed under a probationary period of 3 years.

Meanwhile, FIBA suspended three Australian Boomers – Chris Goulding, Then Maker, and Daniel Kickert – also for unsportsmanlike behaviour.

No sanction was imposed, however, on Australians Nathan Sobey and Jason Cadee, who were also on the court during the brawl.

Basketball Australia also ordered to pay a disciplinary fine of $134,850 for the unsportsmanlike behaviour of its players for abusing and tampering of equipment.

The money from the fines will be used to support a social program called “Basketball for Good” launched by International Basketball Federation (IBF). – UNTV News and Rescue

Philippines Sanctions

Japheth Aguilar (1 game)

Matthew Wright (1 game)

Terence Romeo (3 games)

Jayson Castro William (3 games)

Andrey Blatche (3 games)

Seth Rosario (3 games)

Roger Pogoy (5 games)

Carl Cruz (5 games)

Jim Jalalon (5 games)

Calvin Abueva (6 games)

Assistant Coach Joseph Uichico (3 games)

Head Coach Vincent ‘Chot’ Reyes (1 game and $13,500 fine)

Philippines’ national federation (Fined $340,000 and 3 years probation)

Australia sanctions

Chris Goulding (1 game)

Then Maker (3 games)

Daniel Kickert (5 games)

Basketball Australia (Fined $135,000)


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French hostage’s son searches for mother in West African desert

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

French citizen Sophie Petronin who is being held hostage at an unknown location in Mali is seen in this still image taken from an undated video released by al-Qaeda-linked JNIM. REUTERS/ via Reuters TV


Sebastian Petronin sat slumped over a laptop watching a video of his mother, in a headscarf and looking frail and tearful, the latest proof the 72-year-old is alive nearly two years after she was kidnapped by jihadists and held somewhere in the Malian desert.

Now, fearing for her deteriorating health, he hopes her captors will allow him to visit her just once, even if there is scant chance he will be able to take her back.

“We are really concerned. She is a fighter but I feel like she has suffered blows to her morale that affected her,” Sebastian, 38, told Reuters as the video played in his hotel room in the Nigerian capital Niamey.

Gunmen kidnapped Sophie Petronin in December 2016 in the northern Malian city of Gao, where she ran a charity for malnourished and orphaned children.

She is being held by fighters loyal to the main coalition of Islamist groups in the Sahara, the Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM).

Her family has tried locate her and get her released, but in the last propaganda video, filmed and distributed to jihadist websites last month, she said she would like to see her son and that if her captors say he can come safely, he can believe them.

The video was enough to launch Petronin on a mission to try to track his mother down. It has taken him to parts of the Sahara as far afield as Mauritania and Niger, where he is meeting a negotiator he hopes can put him in touch with Sophie’s captors.

On one such trip into the desert, filmed by Reuters TV, he sat on the sand with a former acquaintance of hers, whose face was covered by a green turban.

“The desert is a huge territory but paradoxically a lot of people know each other,” he said. “We must not disregard anything and make connections with people in the city but also with people who are connected to the desert.”

French citizens are prime targets for kidnappers, both because of a perception that the government pays ransoms to get them out and because of their country’s role in the fight against so-called Islamists.

France, a former colonial master to most of the countries across the Sahara and the semi-arid Sahel, has 4,000 troops on a mission to try to crush the Islamist threat. — Reuters

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