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Zambia soccer captain Barbra Banda fails ‘gender verification’ test

Despite being barred from competing in this tournament, Banda was cleared to play in last year’s Olympic Games

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Barbra Banda of Zambia (Screenshot/YouTube Our African Football)

RABAT, Morocco – International soccer star Barbra Banda of Zambia sat out Wednesday’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations contest against Tunisia and has been ruled out of competing for the rest of the tournament, because of a test to prove she’s a woman. 

Banda’s testosterone levels were found to exceed those allowed by the Confederation of African Football, according to the BBC. Those rules are established by the global governing body, FIFA, and match those of World Athletics, which required South African Olympian Caster Semenya to medically lower her naturally high testosterone levels in order to compete against other female athletes. 

The 22-year-old striker and team captain traveled with her teammates to the tournament in Morocco, and is training alongside them, despite not being able to play. Banda also plays for Chinese club Shanghai and is reported to be contemplating an offer to join Spain’s team.

ESPN reports the head of the Zambian Football Association is pressing the CAF for a review. 

“Our FA President is in Morocco and has been pursuing this matter with his colleagues in CAF,” FAZ communications director Sydney Mungala told ESPN about the efforts by ZFA president Andrew Kamanga. “The Barbra case is just one example, but the broader picture is to strive to see how these regulations can be more responsible for the general situation — not just Zambia. Many players can be affected by these regulations, and football is their livelihood. I think the CAF regulations are a lot more stringent [than Olympic regulations], and they put too much stress on testosterone levels.”

Barbra Banda of Zambia (Screenshot/YouTube Our African Football)

Despite being barred from competing in this tournament, Banda was cleared to play in last year’s Olympic Games. Banda scored back-to-back hat-tricks in Zambia’s debut in the Tokyo Summer Games last year, the first woman to have done so, and to net six goals across two matches in the history of the women’s competition.

But because of her T-levels, Banda was not permitted to play in Sunday’s match with Cameroon, which ended in a 0-0 draw, nor Wednesday’s 1-0 victory over Tunisia. Striker Siomala Mapepa wore her number 11 uniform for the Copper Queens. 

At a news conference Sunday, the BBC asked CAF’s communications director Lux September how it was possible for Banda to have played in the Olympics but not in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations. September denied his organization barred Banda, claiming “There is no such decision from the CAF medical committee.” 

Kamanga responded with irritation, according to the BBC, saying “whatever happened was purely a CAF requirement.” The team president called it “unfair” to pin the decision to bench Banda on his team, and labeled the gender verification regulation “discriminatory.”

Barbra Banda of Zambia (Screenshot/YouTube Our African Football)

“If you take it to the next level in the FIFA competitions,” said Kamanga, “you now start questioning why it should only be enforced in this competition, when it should really cut across all competitions.”

FIFA’s regulations, which date back to 2011, say “Androgenic hormones have performance-enhancing effects which may provide an advantage in football.”

What’s unclear is what Banda did or didn’t do in order to comply with the rules. The BBC reported she took “medication to help reduce her levels of testosterone” but the team spokesperson, Mungala, told ESPN that Banda and other players declined a course of hormone suppression treatment. 

“I think there are possible side effects,” he said. 

Semenya knows all about those. The two-time 800-meter Olympic gold medalist is currently awaiting a verdict in her case from the European Court of Human Rights after previously losing appeals at the Court of Arbitration for Sport and Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court. 

“It made me sick, made me gain weight, panic attacks, I don’t know if I was ever going to have a heart attack,” Semenya recently told HBO Real Sports about trying hormone suppressant medication earlier in her career. “It’s like stabbing yourself with a knife every day. But I had no choice. I’m 18, I want to run, I want to make it to Olympics, that’s the only option for me.” 

Semenya has since decided to not take testosterone suppressing drugs and attempt to compete in other track and field events that don’t require she take medication. When World Athletics officials questioned her sex, she was blunt: 

“They thought I had a dick, probably,” she said on the HBO program. “I told them: ‘It’s fine. I’m a female, I don’t care. If you want to see I’m a woman, I will show you my vagina. All right?’”

From ‘African Football league channel:

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The voice of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball, legendary Vin Scully has died

“The game is the thing, not me,” he told The LA Times in 1998. “I am just a conduit for the game. I am the guy between the expert & the fan. I am not the expert”

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Courtesy of the Los Angeles Dodgers

LOS ANGELES – The iconic phrase “It’s time for Dodgers baseball” voiced by Vin Scully, ringing out at the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers for over 60 years was termed  “the heartbeat of the Dodgers,” by the team as it sadly announced the legendary broadcaster’s passing at age 94 Tuesday.

“We have lost an icon,” said Dodger President & CEO Stan Kasten. “The Dodgers’ Vin Scully was one of the greatest voices in all of sports. He was a giant of a man, not only as a broadcaster, but as a humanitarian. He loved people. He loved life. He loved baseball and the Dodgers. And he loved his family. His voice will always be heard and etched in all of our minds forever. I know he was looking forward to joining the love of his life, Sandi. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this very difficult time. Vin will be truly missed.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom expressed his condolences Tuesday evening after the news broke of Scully’s death. In a statement the Governor said:

“Vin Scully was a master of his craft. A native son of New York, his unmistakable voice will forever be synonymous with Los Angeles.

When the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn in 1958, Vin came with them. For more than six decades, he provided the soundtrack for generations of baseball fans. He was a master storyteller whose calls had an unparalleled musical quality that was a source of comfort for millions.

Over his remarkable career, Vin consistently demonstrated the remarkable ability to improvise poetry, a true artist whose love for the game rang through every Dodgers broadcast. He was quite simply the greatest of all time, and will be sorely missed not just by his family and friends but by millions of baseball fans.”

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Dodgers

LA’s hometown station KTLA 5 reported that Vincent Edward Scully was born on Nov. 29, 1927, in Bronx, New York. He began his legendary career at Fordham University, where he worked on the school paper and for the college radio station.

He latched onto the then-Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s and followed the team to the West Coast where he would become synonymous with Dodgers baseball for the next 67 season.

Scully retired from calling Dodgers games after the 2016 season, eight years after announcing his original plans to step away from the game he loved.

He was a MLB Hall of Fame inductee in the 1980s, becoming one of only a handful of announcers to receive the honor. In 2016 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Earlier this year, he was awarded the Baseball Digest lifetime achievement award.

California U.S. Senator Alex Padilla remembered the Dodger broadcaster in a statement:

“Angela and I join Los Angeles—and baseball fans around the world—in mourning the passing of Vin Scully. From Opening Day to the World Series and every inning in between, for generations of fans, Vin Scully’s voice meant it was time for Dodger baseball. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley in the 1980s, I spent many evenings dreaming of playing baseball in the major leagues while Vin’s voice narrated the action.

“Vin’s unparalleled storytelling and love of sports allowed him to transcend baseball. Many fans recall Vin’s unique calls on some of the most memorable football games and golf tournaments of the 20th Century.

“While he became a legend for his talents behind the microphone, he will be remembered best for his decency beyond the broadcast booth. A few years ago, as California’s Secretary of State, I had the opportunity to introduce Angela and our boys to Vin at a voter registration event before the game. He was incredibly gracious to my family, as he was to all fans. He always made time for fans—regardless of age or occupation—whenever and wherever he met them. Vin Scully was truly an ambassador for the Dodgers, Los Angeles, and the entire sport of baseball. Our hearts go out to the entire Scully family.”

In a Facebook post, Out Dodgers executive Erik Braverman expressed his sadness at the passage of the team’s legendary broadcaster:

From KTLA:

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The LA Sparks donate shoes to homeless youth honoring Brittney Griner

The shoe drive was originally an initiative by Griner to help those in need in the Phoenix metropolitan area

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Los Angeles Sparks guard Brittney Sykes (Photo Credit: WNBA/LA Sparks)

HOLLYWOOD – Led by Los Angeles Sparks guard Brittney Sykes, the WNBA championship team’s executive staff donated dozens of pairs of shoes to Covenant House California for children experiencing homelessness this past Monday.

The shoes were donated, in part, to honor WNBA Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner who currently remains detained in Russia.

The shoes were collected throughout the WNBA season in collaboration with Griner’s team, the Phoenix Mercury, and her annual Heart and Sole Shoe Drive. As the Mercury visited all 12 cities with WNBA teams, people were encouraged to bring new or lightly used shoes to be donated to local causes. The nonprofit HavASole also contributed to the shoe drive.

The shoe drive was originally an initiative by Griner to help those in need in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Los Angeles Sparks guard Brittney Sykes (Photo Credit: WNBA/LA Sparks)

As Griner remains detained in Russia, the drive was expanded throughout the league in her honor. The local shoe drive was held in Los Angeles on July 4 when the Sparks and Mercury faced off in the Crypto.com arena, KTLA reported.

Covenant House California (CHC) is a non-profit youth shelter that provides sanctuary and support for youth experiencing homelessness, ages 18-24. In their mission statement the organization notes: “We believe that no young person deserves to be homeless; that every young person in California deserves shelter, food, clothing, education … and most importantly, to be loved.”

CHC provides a full continuum of services to meet the physical, emotional, educational, vocational, and spiritual well-being of young people, in order to provide them with the best chance for success in independence.

(Photo Credit: WNBA/LA Sparks)

Officials at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February detained Griner — a Phoenix Mercury center and two-time Olympic gold medalist after customs inspectors allegedly found hashish oil in her luggage. The State Department has determined that Russia “wrongfully detained” her.

“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor, but there was no intent,” Griner told a Moscow judge during the second hearing in her trial, according to the New York Times. “I didn’t want to break the law.”

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Cherelle Griner earlier this month and U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Elizabeth Rood delivered a letter from the president to the WNBA star in answer to a letter Griner had written to Biden pleading for his assistance in gaining her freedom.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken after Brittney Griner’s guilty plea reiterated the Biden administration remains committed to securing her release.

“We will not relent until Brittney, Paul Whelan, and all other wrongfully detained Americans are reunited with their loved ones,” tweeted Blinken.

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Los Angeles to host 2028 Olympic Summer Games July 14 through 30th

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Courtesy of The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission (Photo by Bryan Pugh)

LOS ANGELES – In a news conference Monday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach alongside IOC member Nicole Hoevertsz, the Los Angeles Olympic coordination commission chair, announced that the City will play host to the Summer Games in 2028.

The Games will begin with a dual opening ceremony at the Coliseum and SoFi Stadium on July 14, 2028, and continue through July 30. The Paralympics will follow, starting on Aug. 15. There will be venues across Southern California for the various international sporting events and completions.

“With set dates in hand, Los Angeles is ready and excited to host the Olympics for the third time and the Paralympics for the first time in history,” said Mayor Garcetti. “The Games represent a once in a lifetime opportunity for LA — a bold investment throughout our communities with equity and progress as the main focus. This will bring vast opportunity into every corner of the city ensuring a lasting legacy for future generations of Angelenos.”

“Los Angeles is a special place for sport,” Hoevertsz remarked. She had competed in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, which were also held in Los Angeles, as athlete in the synchronized swimming competition for Aruba.

“It’s wonderful to see the continued progress of the LA28 Games and especially terrific to witness the positive impact the Games can have on the community well before the Olympic flame ever reaches American soil. We have much to continue to plan and celebrate as we prepare to deliver the beauty and excitement of sport to the world. The confirmation of the Games dates now gives LA a firm deadline when it will need to be ready to welcome the world.”

The Orange County Register reported that LA 2028 will receive at least $2 billion from the IOC, up from $1.7 billion had the city hosted the 2024 Games and the largest payout ever to an Olympic host city. Los Angeles also will receive the IOC’s 20 percent share of the 2028 Games surplus. With the deal, LA 2028 will receive 80 percent of those Olympics’ surplus. LA 2028 initially projected a $166.1 million surplus in 2015 documents, an estimate considered conservative by several longtime Olympic bid analysts.

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