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First Call: Flyers social media mishap; Steelers lose data analyst; ex-Pirate is All-Star MVP



There surely have been more than a few instances of Zoom calls originating in Western Pennsylvania that have included the words “Flyers (stink)” and another word that begins with the same letter. But Tuesday, it happened on a call staged by Philadelphia Flyers employees themselves.

During a live stream of a virtual conference call with Philadelphia media and veteran forward Garnet Hathaway, audio came through from Flyers social-media staffers who arranged and facilitated the call. And after at one point a reporter asked Hathaway a question about why an accomplished player such as he would sign with a clearly-rebuilding team like the Flyers, a voice is heard saying, “How many times is she going to ask this (bleeping) question?” Another voice, sarcastically in agreement, can be heard saying what sounds like, “Yeah, the Flyers (stink), why are you even watching?”

While the Flyers apparently took down the post rather quickly, of course in social media nothing is erased, so the exchange made its rounds — to the hilarity of many fans of other teams who dislike the Flyers.

The Flyers ultimately responded with a Twitter post of a statement attributed to new team president of hockey operations Keith Jones apologizing for the “disrespectful remarks” and saying the team reached out to the reporter and her media outlet.

“Any disrespect towards reporters is completely unacceptable, especially when they are simply doing their job,” the statement read, in part. “…(the Flyers) will continue to promote an environment of mutual respect when working with media.”

Forgotten Pirate

The Pirates have had their issues getting offense from the catcher position this season. Just think if they had an All-Star catcher who, say, had 77 hits that were tied for third-most of any catcher across MLB this season — a guy who homered during Tuesday’s All-Star game.

Elias Diaz’s two-run homer off Felix Bautista in the top of the eighth inning Tuesday night was the key hit in the National League’s 3-2 victory against the AL in Seattle.

Diaz indeed was a Pirates catcher — up until 2019. The team’s primary catcher that season, Diaz was the first regular from that team discarded by then-new general manager Ben Cherington. Though Cherington had designated for assignment a handful of fringe pitchers days after he was announced as the Pirates’ baseball operations head on Nov. 15, the first starting position player let go was Diaz, whom Cherington declined to tender a contract to on Dec. 2, 2019, making him a free agent.

Diaz’s non-tender was not without its logic — after all, he ranked dead last in all of the majors at any position in defensive runs saved in 2019 (minus-21). And it’s not as if Diaz has become a star with the Colorado Rockies (he has 38 home runs and a .720 OPS over 317 games). But no one can take away from Diaz that he earned an MVP award in an All-Star game.


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Anniversary: PUNCHERS perfect winning strategies as Agali opens Media Amalgamated training



With just eight more days before the kick-off of the highly anticipated novelty match between The PUNCHERS and Media Amalgamated team as part of celebrations of the 50th anniversary of The PUNCH, The PUNCHERS worked on their winning strategies on Friday at the Mountain Top University, Magboro, Ogun State.


The PUNCHERS go up against Media Amalgamated, a select group of journalists from Tribune, Nation, Vanguard, ThisDay, Leadership, Telegraph and The Guardian newspapers at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, Lagos February 24.


The highly anticipated and potentially explosive novelty match marks the commencement of an array of epoch-making activities for the 50th-anniversary celebration of Nigeria’s most-read newspaper.


In the second training session held at the team’s home ground, Mountain Top University, along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the PUNCHERS, with 31 players from different departments of the company and coaches by AFCON 1992 bronze medallist, Friday Ekpo, intensified training ahead of the clash.

PUNCHERS’ veteran midfielder, Godspower Otor, said along with his teammates, they would concentrate on training and do their talking on the pitch.

“I read what one of our opponents said that they would flog us and I just laughed,” he said.


“We will allow them do their talkings in the media while we focus on training and allow the results to do justice. We are focused and training hard, our coach Friday Ekpo is not leaving any stone unturned as he ensures we get our movements and tactics right.

Friday’s training focused on our strategy, which we will perfect before the game day and I am sure we will be ready for the encounter.”


The PUNCHERS will have their third training on Saturday (today) as they intensify preparations for the novelty game against Media Amalgamated.


Former Super Eagles forward and bronze medallist at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations, Victor Agali, has been handed the task of coaching the Media Amalgamated team, who have their first training session today at the Legacy Pitch of the National Stadium, Lagos.



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Ivory Coast vs. Nigeria: How to watch Africa Cup of Nations, TV channel and live stream



The Africa Cup of Nations will see a true heavyweight clash as hosts Ivory Coast take on Nigeria in Group A.

Back on Saturday, Les Éléphants started AFCON off well, notching a 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau in the tournament’s opening match.

However, one day later the Super Eagles were stunned by Equatorial Guinea, and needed a Victor Osimhen goal to come back for a 1-1 draw.

That leaves Nigeria in need of a result — and possibly even a win — to avoid a must-win situation during the final round of group-stage matches. A loss would leave a star-studded side on the brink of elimination.

For Ivory Coast, meanwhile, a win would guarantee a place in the knockout stages, and a draw in Group A’s other match would secure the top spot in the section.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the match.

Ivory Coast vs. Nigeria (AFCON)
When: Thursday, Jan. 18
Where: Olympic Stadium of Ebimpé (Ivory Coast)
Time: 12 p.m. ET
Channel/streaming: beIN SPORTS, Fubo


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Elegbeleye: NPFL Broadcast Rights still Available, No Exclusivity



Companies seeking to acquire Broadcast rights of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) have been invited to approach the league body with offers for negotiation.

Chairman of the NPFL, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye on Wednesday clarified that the adopted marketing approach of the board is for non-exclusivity which has not foreclosed the signing up of more rights holders.

Elegbeleye described as shocking, claims by an individual alleging that there was an offer for $11m dollars to the NPFL for the rights before the StarTimes deal was executed.

“For the avoidance of doubt and for public records, the NPFL and StarTimes deal took months to conclude and all through the duration of our negotiations, nobody approached us with any offer”, explained the NPFL Chairman.

He further narrated efforts of the defunct Interim Management Committee (IMC) to attract a Broadcast partner including getting the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to broker a meeting with Supersport which at the end didn’t express interest in taking up the offer.

“The NPFL has an office in Abuja and the facilitator of the said $11m offer knows this place and has contacts of the NFF President. We are still very much open to negotiating as our deal with StarTimes provides for a third-party investor. 

“Let the person please come to our office or to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) because we are still open for more partnerships in the Broadcast space”.

The NPFL boss explained that the unbundling of the broadcast bouquet has made it possible to accommodate multiple partners

“It is obvious that we have unbundled the broadcast products and segmented the number of matches any rights owner can show every matchday. So there is still a window to accommodate genuine interests in our league broadcast partnership”, declared Elegbeleye, who also is the NFF’s Second Vice President.

Faulting claims that the League fail foul of the Public Procurement Act which governs sales of government assets in the country, the former member of the Federal House of Representatives, said, “The NPFL is incorporated as a private company limited by guarantee at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and is not captured in government funding.

“We do not receive funding from the Government but run our programme from money generated through sponsorships and we operate a transparent system that accounts for sponsors/investors’ funds to maintain the integrity of the league.

“In any case, we have made sufficient noise right from the inception of the IMC and we were able to have the very successful Super 6 on television, so there’s no person in the industry who is not aware that the League hasn’t been on television for the past six years. Where were they”? he retorted.

So far, the NPFL has secured two Broadcast Partners in Propel Sports Africa (PSA) for the Over The Top (OTT) platform and StarTimes for the Direct To Home (DTH) cable platform.


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