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British government yet to OK Chelsea sale by sanctioned Roman Abramovich

The $3.1 billion sale of Chelsea Football Club remains on hold.Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The British government has yet to approve the sale of Premier League club Chelsea to a consortium fronted by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly. Outgoing Russian owner Roman Abramovich is not allowed to profit from the proceeds of the sale since he was sanctioned and his assets were frozen for his links to President Vladimir Putin after the invasion of Ukraine. An update to the license allowing Chelsea to continue operating as a business is required from the government to approve the buyout. The club was put up for sale in March and a rapid process ended with Boehly’s group being chosen as the new owner on May 6. The license expires on May 31, and there’s a risk to the club continuing to operate if an agreement cannot be reached over the structure of the sale. Chelsea issued a statement this month from an unnamed spokesperson for Abramovich saying he would not ask to be repaid loans of 1.6 billion pounds ($2 billion). The government still wants those proceeds placed in a frozen account before being sure they will eventually go to charity. Abramovich said he hopes the proceeds of the 2.5 billion-pound ($3.1 billion) sale will go to charitable causes, having previously said they would go to help victims of the war in Ukraine. The government wants assurances that Abramovich will not have a say in the foundation that is planned.

English soccer player Jake Daniels says he is gay

English soccer player Jake Daniels said he is gay in a trailblazing moment for the European men’s game. The 17-year-old forward made the announcement at the end of his first season as a professional player with second division club Blackpool. “This season has been a fantastic one for me on the pitch,” he said in a statement. “But off the pitch I’ve been hiding the real me and who I really am. I’ve known my whole life that I’m gay, and I now feel that I’m ready to come out and be myself. It’s a step into the unknown being one of the first footballers in this country to reveal my sexuality.” While women’s soccer features many prominent LGBTQ+ players, the men’s professional game lacks players who are publicly gay and has seemed to have even hostile attitudes in locker rooms. Daniels said he was inspired by Josh Cavallo of Australian team Adelaide United, who is the only openly gay man currently playing in a top division in world soccer following the 22-year-old midfielder’s announcement in October. “I’ve hated lying my whole life and feeling the need to change to fit in,” Daniels said. “I want to be a role model myself by doing this. There are people out there in the same space as me that may not feel comfortable revealing their sexuality. I just want to tell them that you don’t have to change who you are, or how you should be, just to fit in. You being you, and being happy, is what matters most.”

TENNIS

ATP spares two British tournaments for banning Russian players

The Queen’s and Eastbourne tournaments were spared punishment from the for banning Russian and Belarussian players. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted the British Lawn Tennis Association and the All England Club — the host of Wimbledon — in April to bar players from Russia and its war ally Belarus from the coming British grass-court season. The ATP and WTA objected at the time. On Monday, the ATP said “Queen’s and Eastbourne will proceed as normal, offering full ATP ranking points.” The governing body of the men’s tour added it consulted with its player and tournament councils. The likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray were against the ban. “LTA’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes is, however, contrary to ATP rules and undermines the ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination — a fundamental principle of the ATP Tour,” it said in a statement. “Sanctions related to LTA’s violation of ATP rules will now be assessed separately under ATP governance. ATP’s response to Wimbledon’s decision remains under review, with more to be communicated in due course.” The LTA said it welcomed the ATP decision.

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Former US Open champ Thiem still winless after early Geneva exit

Two-time French Open runner-up Dominic Thiem is still without a win in an injury-affected season after another first-round exit in his last tournament before Roland Garros. Thiem, ranked No. 194, was beaten by No. 134 Marco Cecchinato 6-3, 6-4 at the Geneva Open. The loss dropped Thiem’s record to 0-5 in 2022, all on clay courts. He returned in April from a 10-month absence because of a right wrist injury that prevented him from defending his 2020 U.S. Open title. The high point of Thiem’s match was two between-the-legs shots for winners in the same sixth game of the second set, leaving Cecchinato looking bemused at the net as the balls passed his forehand side. Still, Cecchinato held serve in that game and saved all seven break chances Thiem had in the match. Cecchinato clinched on his second match-point chance with a forehand winner down the line.

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