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Iran executes wrestler Navid Afkari for murder

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Iran said it executed a young wrestler on Saturday over the murder of a public sector worker during anti-government protests in August 2018.

Navid Afkari was executed in the morning at a prison in the southern city of Shiraz, provincial prosecutor general Kazem Mousavi was quoted as saying on state television’s website.

The 27-year-old had been found guilty of “voluntary homicide” for stabbing to death Hossein Torkman, a water department worker, on August 2, 2018, according to the judiciary.

Shiraz and several other urban centers across the Islamic republic had been the scene that day of anti-government protests and demonstrations over economic and social hardship.

Reports published abroad say Afkari was condemned on the basis of confessions extracted under torture, prompting online campaigns of support for his release.

The judiciary’s Mizan Online news agency denied the accusations.

The sentence had been carried out at “the insistence of the victim’s family”, said Mousavi, the prosecutor general for Fars province.

Afkari’s lawyer, Hassan Younessi, said on Twitter that a number of people in Shiraz were to meet with the slain worker’s family on Sunday to ask for their forgiveness.

He also said that based on criminal law in Iran “the convict has a right to meet his family before the execution.”

“Were you in such a hurry to carry out the sentence that you deprived Navid of his last visit?”

US President Donald Trump had pleaded for Afkari’s life earlier this month, saying that his “sole act was an anti-government demonstration on the streets”.

“To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate it if you would spare this young man’s life, and not execute him. Thank you!” he wrote on Twitter.

Trump has maintained an aggressive approach of “maximum pressure” toward longtime US foe Iran since becoming president, enacting crippling economic sanctions after withdrawing from a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran and world powers in 2018.

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Chelsea reach £22m agreement to sign Rennes goalkeeper Mendy

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Chelsea has agreed on a fee of around £22m ($29m) with Rennes for goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

The 29-year-old has reached a verbal agreement on a five-year contract with the west Londoners and is set to complete the relevant paperwork and undergo a medical upon his arrival in the United Kingdom.

The Blues have been locked in talks all month after making their first approach, with the Ligue 1 side keen to secure a higher fee while also considering their options for a replacement.

Rennes asked for Fikayo Tomori on loan as part of the deal but the Blues have been reluctant to sanction his exit at this stage of the transfer window.

Chelsea’s technical and performance advisor Petr Cech was heavily involved in the recruitment process for a new goalkeeper, with his expertise having been considered.

The Blues’ head of the goalkeeper department Christophe Lollichon was also consulted in the move for Mendy, with both him and Cech having made the switch from Rennes to Chelsea in 2004.

Mendy spent just one season with Julien Stephan’s side, playing 34 games in their historic effort to earn qualification to the Champions League for the first time.

The move throws Kepa Arrizabalaga’s future into further doubt amid criticism over his form following his £72m ($92m) transfer from Athletic Club in 2018.

Chelsea will keep the Spain international to compete with Mendy, with Kepa proving too expensive for the likes of Sevilla and Valencia, who can’t afford his wages or a transfer fee.

Frank Lampard’s side has spent well over £200m ($252m) in the summer transfer window, having already added six players.

Kai Havertz moved from Bayer Leverkusen, while the Blues added two further attackers in Hakim Ziyech from Ajax and Timo Werner from RB Leipzig.

Ben Chilwell was added to the defense, while there were a further two free transfers – defenders Thiago Silva and Malang Sarr, formerly of Paris Saint-Germain and Nice.

West Ham’s Declan Rice is another key target for Lampard but it remains unclear whether the England international is a viable option, with the Hammers very reluctant to sell a star player to a rival.

Meanwhile, Chelsea is aiming to offload more players before the transfer window closes on 5 October, with Lewis Baker having already joined Trabzonspor on loan with an option to buy.

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Koeman tells Riqui Puig to leave Barcelona, excludes him from game

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Barcelona manager, Ronald Koeman, has told midfielder, Riqui Puig, that he can leave Camp Nou because he’s not part of his plans for the 2020/21 season.

Puig was keen to be officially promoted to Barcelona first-team for 2020-21, but his future now seems to be in serious doubt.

The 21-year-old was not included in the Barcelona squad for Saturday’s Joan Gamper Trophy clash against Elche, and there has been no explanation from the Catalan club as to why he was excluded.

Puig featured in Barcelona’s first two pre-season friendlies against Nastic and Girona and performed well.

The Spanish youngster is now expected to either leave the Blaugrana on loan or on a permanent deal.

Meanwhile, the arrival of Miralem Pjanic from Juventus this summer has reduced Riqui’s chances of first-team football under Koeman’s squad.

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Bayern dismantle Schalke 8-0 in season opener

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BAYERN MUNICH started the defense of their Bundesliga title in ominous fashion as a Serge Gnabry hat-trick helped them to a stunning 8-0 win over Schalke at the Allianz Arena on Friday.

A mere 26 days after winning the Champions League, Hansi Flick’s side showed no signs of tiredness and powered into a fourth-minute lead thanks to Gnabry’s superb strike.

That was added to by Leon Goretzka after 19 minutes before Robert Lewandowski swept home a third from the penalty spot shortly after the half-hour mark.

Gnabry completed his hat-trick with two goals inside the opening 15 minutes of the second half before Thomas Muller, Leroy Sane – making his debut following his July move from Manchester City – and 17-year-old Jamal Musiala completed Schalke’s humiliation.

Bayern started in blistering fashion as Gnabry controlled Joshua Kimmich’s long pass over the top, turned away from his marker with a deft turn and whipped a superb left-footed strike past Ralf Fahrmann from 18 yards.

Flick’s side bamboozled Schalke’s backline with relentless pressure and the hosts were unsurprisingly undone again shortly before the midway point of the first half when Goretzka slotted home from the edge of the penalty area after being picked out by Muller.

Lewandowski – who scored 55 goals in all competitions last season – opened his account for the 2020-21 campaign from the spot in the 31st minute after he had been brought down by Ozan Kabak, while Niklas Sule crashed an effort against the post shortly before the interval.

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