David Alaba, defender of the FC Bayern München, celebrated the Champions League title expressing his Christian faith.
The German football club had just won the final of the most important European championship against the French Paris Saint-Germain (0-1) in Lisbon, on 23 August 2020.
As the players celebrated on the pitch and in front of millions of television viewers (the stadium was empty due to Covid-19 security restrictions), Alaba took his team’s tricot off and put on a white shirt with the message “My strength lies in Jesus” written in big black letters.
On the back, another message saying “Black lives still matter” could be read. Later in the night, he posted a message on his social media profiles, saying: “Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Ghost! Champions of Europe!”
Alaba has played for Bayern München for over a decade and has won in this time 2 Champions Leagues, 9 German Leagues and 1 Clubs World Cup.
David was born in Austria and plays for its national team, but his father is Nigerian and his mother Philippine. He has often expressed his Christian faith in public. “My strength lies in Jesus” is a motto he has used in several occasions, an example is this tweet during the Euro 2016 championship, where he quoted Philippians 2:4.
Iraqi football star Ahmed Radi dies from COVID-19
Bagdhad: Iraqi football legend Ahmed Radhi died Sunday from complications linked to COVID-19, the health ministry said, just hours before he was to be flown for treatment in Jordan.
Radhi, 56, scored what remains Iraq’s only World Cup finals goal in 1986 against Belgium.
He had been hospitalized last week in Baghdad after testing positive for coronavirus but had checked out on Thursday after his condition improved.
But he relapsed a few hours later and was readmitted but passed away early Sunday.
In a video reportedly from his hospital bed on Saturday, Radhi could be seen struggling to breathe as medics in full protective gear try to treat him.
“Sometimes it’s hard to breathe but that’s normal,” he could be heard telling the medical team, his voice strained.
Radhi, a striker, led Iraq to victory in the Gulf Cups of 1984 and 1988, when he was voted Asian footballer of the year.
In the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, he scored against Belgium but Iraq went on to lose the match 2-1 and exited the tournament in the group stage without a point.
He fled Iraq in 2006 after its Olympic Committee head was kidnapped during the height of the sectarian violence that followed the US-led invasion of 2003.
Radhi moved with his family to the Jordanian capital Amman but returned to Iraq in 2007 for a career in politics, replacing a member of parliament who defected to join the bloody insurgency raging across the country.
He was an unsuccessful candidate in the 2014 and 2018 elections with the National Alliance, a coalition of Sunni and Shiite figures.
When news of his death broke, football fans in Iraq exploded in grief.
“With great sadness and sorrow, we mourn our lifelong companion, our fans’ ardent star, the unrivalled athlete and son of Iraq, Ahmed Radhi,” said Iraq’s new sports minister Adnan Darjal, himself a former football star.
“Farewell, Abu Faisal, goodbye to my brother Ahmed Radhi,” wrote former star and Iraqi League President Hussein Saeed.
The director of Jordan’s Football Association Ali Al-Hussein said the world had lost “a sports star whom we cherish and are proud of.”
Iraq has registered nearly 30,000 cases of the coronavirus and deaths topped 1,000 earlier this week.
The country’s health system — worn down by years of conflict and insufficient maintenance — has been overwhelmed by the spiking numbers.
Tajikistan Football League Suspended Until At Least May 10
One of the few football leagues in the world still playing will be suspended next week after authorities in Tajikistan ruled to temporarily ban sports events over coronavirus concerns. The Tajik football federation said that domestic league matches would go ahead on Sunday before a suspension until at least May 10. The federation “completely supports” the government’s decision to halt sporting events, it said in a statement Saturday.
Tajikistan’s authoritarian government insists there are no coronavirus cases in the country, despite reports of several suspicious deaths.
Authorities on Saturday also ruled to shutter schools for two weeks and block grain exports.
Tajikistan’s football season began on April 4 after leagues the world over stopped, with matches being played in empty stadiums.
Another Central Asian country that has yet to record any COVID-19 cases, Turkmenistan, restarted its league with fans in attendance on April 19 after a hiatus enforced as a precaution against the virus in late March.
The league in ex-Soviet Belarus has also continued despite 67 COVID-19 deaths in the country, attracting a new soccer-starved global fan base, despite dwindling local spectators.
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