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Liverpool moves closer to Premier League title

Takumi Minamino of Liverpool in action during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace at Anfield Wednesday.Pool/2020 Pool

Liverpool is on the verge of ending its 30-year English Premier League soccer title drought after cruising to a 4-0 victory over visiting Crystal Palace on Wednesday with an attacking display that exemplified a dominant campaign. Jürgen Klopp’s side can even clinch the titleThursday without playing if Manchester City fails to beat Chelsea. It then plays City, the second-placed defending champion, next Thursday. Football returned to Liverpool’s home stadium Anfield for the first time since March 11, when Liverpool lost in the Champions League to Atletico Madrid on the day the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic and some medical experts believed mass gatherings should already have been shut down in England. The victory moved Liverpool 23 points ahead of City with seven games remaining of a campaign that will end without any fans in the stadium to celebrate the Reds’ first championship triumph since 1990.


Marshall dropped from Redskins material

Workers removed the George Preston Marshall memorial outside RFK Stadium in Washington on Friday.Rick Maese/The Washington Post

Five days after the city tore down George Preston Marshall’s statue outside RFK Stadium, the Washington Redskins said they would remove his name from all official team material, including their Ring of Fame, History Wall and website, marking the team’s latest actions amid a nationwide reckoning with racial inequality. Marshall, the franchise’s founding owner, was the last NFL owner to integrate his team’s roster, and the removal of his statue followed years of lobbying by residents who opposed memorializing an owner who was against desegregation. Jordan Wright, Marshall’s granddaughter, recently said she did not oppose the removal of his statue. ‘‘No, not at all - not one damn bit,‘' she said. ‘‘I was glad to see it come down. It’s past time to see it go.‘' … Don Banks, whose 36-year sports writing career included more than 16 years at Sports Illustrated’s website, has been selected as the Dick McCann Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America. Banks, who died last August while covering the Pro Football Hall of Fame weekend, had recently been hired by the Las Vegas Review-Journal as its NFL correspondent before his death.


Djokovic’s father defends son

Novak Djokovic’s parents defended their son and blamed another tennis player for spreading the coronavirus at a series of exhibition matches hosted by the top-ranked player. Djokovic and his wife tested positive for the virus on Tuesday. The 17-time Grand Slam champion then apologized online for organizing the Adria Tour events, which brought together professional players from various countries to play matches in Serbia and Croatia. Thousands of spectators attended the matches and no social distancing was observed. Djokovic’s outspoken father blamed the cancellation of the tour on Grigor Dimitrov, one of the three other players to test positive in the last few days. There is no evidence to suggest Dimitrov spread the virus to others. “Why did it happen? Because that man probably came sick, who knows from where,” Srdjan Djokovic told Croatian television. “He didn’t test here, he tested somewhere else … I think that’s not fair. He inflicted damage to both Croatia and to us as a family in Serbia. Nobody is feeling well because of this situation.” … The US Tennis Association changed its plans and now will include wheelchair competition at the scaled-down US Open after athletes complained about the original decision to drop their event entirely this year. The USTA announced that wheelchair tennis will be played at Flushing Meadows from Sept. 10-13, the last four days of the Grand Slam tournament … Tennis players in Australia will have a chance to compete for prize money for the first time since March in a UTR pro series starting this weekend in Sydney and continuing in city hubs across the country from next week.



Social justice top priority

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association that dealing with racial matters will be a shared goal during the resumed season. The league and union announced they will “take collective action to combat systemic racism and promote social justice” when the season restarts at the Disney complex near Orlando, Florida next month. Specific plans have not been finalized. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts led a meeting that included league officials and players Tuesday to go over plans, including how best to ensure greater inclusion of Black-owned and operated businesses in league matters and forming an NBA foundation “to expand educational and economic development opportunities” in the Black community … William Wesley, known for his connections throughout basketball, joined the New York Knicks as executive vice president/senior basketball adviser. A decision on a coach could be next, with the Knicks hoping by the end of July.



White House threatens to cut funds

The White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy is urging Congress to consider pulling back its funding to the World Anti-Doping Agency if the international body fails to take on serious reform measures. The ONDCP issued a series of recommendations in a report to Congress this month, offering a stern critique to the structure and governance of the embattled anti-doping body and questioning the use of federal dollars that continue to bolster the organization. The United States contributes $2.7 million annually to WADA, more than any other nation, according to the report. The International Olympic Committee matches government funding, so the United States’ contribution helps generate more than $5.4 million annually, about 14.5 percent of WADA’s 2020 budget. WADA took issue with the report , saying it ‘‘contains multiple inaccuracies, misconceptions and falsehoods that will cause unnecessary misunderstanding as a result.‘'



Players walk out after tweet

All 18 players for Scrap Yard Fast Pitch cleaned out their lockers and pledged to never play again for the softball organization after general manager Connie May bragged to President Donald Trump on Twitter that the team was standing during the national anthem at the the first game of what was supposed to a seven-game series against USSSA Pride in Melbourne, Fla. The tweet, sent from the team’s official account by Connie May, the team’s general manager, said: “Hey @realDonaldTrump Pro Fastpitch being played live … Everyone standing for the FLAG!” The players objected that May had spoken for all of them without their consent and that she ascribed political intent to their actions during the anthem that suggested opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement. The tweet was quickly deleted, apparently after it had drawn backlash online. May and Scrap Yard Fast Pitch did not respond to requests for comment. Trump has frequently criticized athletes who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.



Changes at Bleacher Report

Howard Mittman left Bleacher Report.Denise Truscello/Photographer: Denise Truscello/G

The media-wide reckoning with diversity and representation in newsrooms across the country erupted at Bleacher Report on Tuesday as CEO Howard Mittman left the digital sports media company after staff raised concerns about a lack of diversity there. Bryan Graham, a content executive, also left the company, which is owned by Warner Media. Graham announced on Twitter that he was resigning. ”My intent was to disassociate myself from a company that has undervalued thoughtful, forward-thinking black employees for quite some time — particularly those in leadership,” Graham wrote in a tweet. In an email to staff, Lenny Daniels, president of Turner Sports who will take over responsibility for Bleacher Report, wrote that plans to overhaul Bleacher Report were already in the works but “based on the many conversations I’ve had with B/R colleagues over the past few weeks, candidly, it’s accelerated the timeline. It’s become clear to me that significant change needs to occur now.” A Turner spokesman described Mittman’s departure from the company as a parting of ways. Mittman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.



Florida law requires more protection from heat stroke

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a measure requiring schools to do more to protect student athletes from heat strokes, including having water-filled tubs at games and practices to rapidly cool the body. The Zachary Martin Act is named after a 16-year-old 300-pound offensive lineman who collapsed during practice three years ago. He had just finished running sprints with his teammates in the sweltering South Florida heat. His mother, Laurie Giordano, lobbied the Florida Legislature to approve legislation that would require high schools to act more quickly when student athletes show signs of heat stroke and other heat-related stresses.