Luxembourg’s popular grand duke, Jean, dies at age 98



Luxembourg’s popular grand duke, Jean, dies at age 98


His son and successor Grand Duke Henri said Jean died “in peace and surrounded by the love of his family.’’

“I had great esteem for this man of commitment, kindness and courage who, throughout his reign, and in all circumstances, gave the best of himself to his country.

“His passing away is a great loss for the grand duchy and for Europe’’ European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, a fellow Luxembourger, said.

Luxembourg’s royal family was exiled during the German occupation in World War II.

As heir apparent, Jean joined the Irish Guards in the British armed forces in 1942 and took part in the 1944 Normandy landings.

He was enthusiastically greeted by his people when Allied troops liberated the city of Luxembourg in September 1944.

Jean, from 1964 to 2000, served as head of state of Luxembourg, the only grand duchy in the world.

He was widely respected for his discreet manner and absence of scandals.

“He was a role model for all of us, through his commitment, he has left a mark that will last forever,’’ Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said on Twitter.

The state funeral will be held in May, in Luxembourg’s cathedral.


Cycling thrown into fresh turmoil with Tour doping investigation



Cycling has been thrown into fresh turmoil after French judicial authorities opened a preliminary investigation into potential doping at Nairo Quintana’s team Arkea-Samsic.

The probe began on Monday, a day after the Tour de France ended in Paris.

Two people had been taken into custody, Marseille prosecutor Dominique Laurens said.

He added that the probe was targeting a “small part of the team” and that those in custody were part of the “close entourage of the main rider”, without naming him.

Arkea-Samsic’s leader on the Tour was Colombian Quintana, a two-time runner-up, and Vuelta and Giro d’Italia champion.

He finished 17th overall on this year’s Tour.

The French team confirmed their hotel in Meribel was searched by the OCLAESP, the Central Office for the Fight against Environmental and Public Health Damage, after last Wednesday’s 17th stage.

Laurens said the search had resulted in the “discovery of many health products, including drugs and especially a method that can be qualified as doping”.

A source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters that a “saline solution” and “injection material” had been found.

Injection material can only be in possession of doctors as per the `no needle policy’ in place in cycling since 2011.

Arkea-Samsic team manager Emmanuel Hubert said on Monday that the investigation did “not target the team or its staff directly.

Quintana was allowed to continue working with his own doctor when he signed a three-year deal with Arkea-Samsic this year.

Quintana’s management have not responded to a Reuters request for comment.

This year’s Tour was won by Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, who produced one of the most stunning performances in recent history in the final time trial last Saturday.

The 22-year-old is with Team UAE Emirates.

It is managed by Mauro Gianetti and Matxin Fernandez, sports directors at Saunier Duval in 2008 when the team left the Tour in the wake of Ricardo Ricco’s failed doping test.

The duo were also managing the Geox-TMC team when Spaniard Juan Jose Cobo won the Vuelta in 2011.

He was however stripped of the title because of a “violation of the anti-doping rules (use of a banned substance) based on irregularities found in his Athlete Biological Passport in 2009 and 2011”.

“I am too young to remember that era,” said Pogacar when asked about his entourage at UAE Emirates.

“I was 10 in 2008 and it’s weird to be talking about this because it goes against everything I believe in.”

The last notable rider to fail a doping test on the Tour was Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck in 2012.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Source: NAN
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Messi wins court case against cycling company over logo



FC Barcelona and Argentina captain Lionel Messi has won a legal battle over trademark rights relating to his own logo.

This was after the European Union’s top court on Thursday dismissed an appeal against the player from a Spanish cycling clothing brand.

The EU’s Court of Justice in Luxembourg said in a statement it had authorised the player to register the trademark Messi.

It dismissed an appeal from the EU’s intellectual property office EUIPO and the Spanish company Massi.

Messi first filed an application with the property office in 2011 to trademark his surname as a sportswear, footwear and equipment brand.

This was in spite of opposition from the owners of Massi, who argued that the player’s brand would cause confusion to customers.

The EU property office upheld their complaint in 2013.

While an appeal from Messi the following year was dismissed, an appeal to the EU’s General Court in 2018 led to the original ruling being annulled.

The statement added that the Court of Justice had dismissed an appeal by the clothing brand and EUIPO against the annulment.

It said the General Court was correct to say Messi’s reputation was a relevant factor in establishing a difference between the player’s brand and the cycling company.

The 33-year-old Messi has been named the world footballer of the year a record six times and is the all-time top scorer for FC Barcelona, Argentina and in Spanish football.

He was named the world’s wealthiest football player by Forbes earlier this month, pocketing an estimated 92 million dollars from his salary from Barca plus 34 million dollars in endorsements.

The Argentinian made global headlines last month for declaring his intention to leave FC Barcelona, where he has spent his entire career.

He eventually decided to stay because he did not wish to face a legal battle with the club.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Source: NAN
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Benfica out of UEFA Champions League qualifying round



Former European Cup winners Benfica crashed out of the 2020/2021 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round on Tuesday after a shock 2-1 defeat at PAOK Salonika.

Serbia winger Andrija Zivkovic scored against his former club Benfica a week after leaving them.

Dynamo Kiev also advanced to the play-off round with a 2-0 home win over Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, as did Belgians Gent after they beat visitors Rapid Vienna 2-1.

PAOK’S reward is a two-legged play-off against Russians Krasnodar, while Dynamo Kiev face Gent for berths in the money-spinning group stage featuring 32 teams.

Benfica, who won Europe’s premier club competition in 1961 and 1962, saw last season’s woes spill over into this term.

This was as Zivkovic, who endured four difficult seasons in Portugal, rubbed salt into their wounds.

Having seen the domestic league and Cup double go to Porto last term, Benfica missed a string of chances against PAOK in a one-sided first half as they enjoyed 72 percent of possession.

They were punished after the break as Dimitrios Giannoulis poked in the opener from close range in the 63rd minute.

That was after a one-two with Chuba Akpom, and substitute Zivkovic made it 2-0 in the 75th with a sweet shot inside the near post.

Rafa Silva pulled one back with a stoppage time header but it came too late to avoid an embarrassing defeat.

This will pile pressure on manager Jorge Jesus, who returned to Benfica during the close season for a second spell in charge.

Having been in charge from 2009 to 2015, Jesus went on to win the elusive double of the Brazilian league title and Copa Libertadores with Flamengo in 2019.

But he now faces a mammoth task to get Benfica back to winning ways.

Dynamo Kiev soaked up pressure on home soil against Alkmaar in the first half.

Then, Luxembourg forward Gerson Rodrigues fired them ahead just after the break with a neat finish into the roof of the net, thanks to good work by Vitaliy Buyalskiy.

Mykola Shaparenko sealed their passage with a late header after visiting goalkeeper Marco Bizot misjudged Tomasz Kedziora’s cross from the right.

It left the midfielder with the simple task of nodding the ball into an empty net.

Niklas Dorsch headed Gent into a 36th minute lead against Rapid Vienna from a pinpoint Sven Kums assist.

Roman Yaremchuk added the second with a penalty kick on the hour, before Yusuf Demir netted a stoppage time consolation for the visitors.

In Wednesday’s stand-out fixtures, 1991 European Cup winners Red Star Belgrade visit Cypriots Omonia Nicosia while Dinamo Zagreb are at Hungarian champions Ferencvaros.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Source: NAN
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EU lacks unity to mitigate Chinese investment risks – Report



The European Union (EU) lacks strategic and unified approach to Chinese investment among members, to effectively mitigate risks, such as becoming overly indebted to a strategic competitor, an EU watchdog said.

The European Court of Auditors – a body that checks how EU money is spent – identified 18 risks associate with Chinese state investment in the EU.

China is one of the 27-member EU’s biggest trading partners, but concerns have been raised about unchecked investment in the bloc.

These risks include, for example, over-indebtedness that could lead to the loss of strategic collateral and lower environmental standards, as well as competitiveness challenges.

At the end of 2018, Chinese direct investments billed at 202 billion euros (234 billion dollars).

Of this, the lion’s share went to Luxembourg at 82.5 billion euros.

According to a non-public European Commission database, total assets by Chinese investors, including foreign direct investment, amounted to 2.1 trillion euros at the end of 2017.

But data on Chinese investment was not comprehensive, the ECA said.

With too little data available, Chinese investment posed a “black hole for data,” ECA member Annemie Turtelboom said.

Official Eurostat data were fragmented, not timely, and incomplete, the report found.

“Is the EU driving blind toward China?” she asked, adding: “It certainly appears that we are sailing with no compass.”

According to the report, the EU also lacks a formalised comprehensive analysis of the risks involved.

With no overarching EU approach, multiple member states had signed agreements with China without notifying the European Commission.

This lack of coordination had led to a piecemeal approach that lacked unity, she said.

“We need 27 players on one team,” she said – not 27 individual teams.

According to European companies, China must make big improvements if it is to finalize an investment deal with the EU.

“The European side has made it very clear that it cannot meet China in the middle,” said Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce, on Thursday.

According to Wuttke, fair competitive conditions already apply in Europe – both for domestic and Chinese companies.

In China, however, this is still not the case. Therefore it is up to Beijing to “close the gap,” he said.

Wuttke’s comments come ahead of summit talks between the EU and Beijing planned for next week.

The chamber president said he was not very confident that a comprehensive deal satisfying EU companies could be made.

According to Wuttke, the window of opportunity for an agreement with China is also closing and the deal must come this year.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU Council President Charles Michel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen intend to join forces with China’s President Xi Jinping for the talks next Monday via videoconference.

One of the topics will be the planned investment deal, which has been under negotiation for six years.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Source: NAN
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