The Queen: 'She served her country with dignity and grace' - Beckham, Federer and Pele lead tributes to Her Majesty

By Sports Desk September 08, 2022

David Beckham has joined the likes of Pele, Jose Mourinho and Roger Federer in paying tribute to The Queen following the death of Her Majesty at the age of 96.

Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday that the UK's longest reigning monarch had passed away peacefully in Balmoral, where members of the Royal Family travelled to be by her side.

Tributes have subsequently poured in from around the world, while some of the biggest names in sport have taken to social media to pay their own respects.

Former England men's football captain Beckham posted on Instagram: "I'm truly saddened by the death of Her Majesty, The Queen. What an outpouring of love and respect we saw for the Platinum Jubilee for her life of service.

"How devastated we all feel today shows what she has meant to people in this country and around the world. How much she inspired us with her leadership. How she comforted us when times were tough.

"Until her last days, she served her country with dignity and grace. This year, she would have known how loved she was. My thoughts and prayers are with our Royal Family."

Meanwhile, footballing legend Pele added on Twitter: "I have been a great admirer of Queen Elizabeth II since the first time I saw her in person, in 1968, when she came to Brazil to witness our love for football and experienced the magic of a packed Maracana.

"Her deeds have marked generations. This legacy will last forever."

Speaking after Roma's Europa League clash with Ludogorets, head coach Mourinho said: "I'm so sorry. I have lived in England for many years, my family is there. I don't think there's anyone who doesn't appreciate this great woman."

Current Three Lions skipper Harry Kane described the Queen as "an amazing inspiration," while team-mate Marcus Rashford also paid tribute to the late monarch.

Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer tweeted: "I am deeply saddened by the passing of Her Royal Majesty. Her elegance, grace and loyalty to her duty will live on in history.

"I would like to send my thoughts and condolences to the entire Royal Family and Great Britain."

"We all knew the end was near but to me, our Queen was like a member of our family," former boxing world champion Frank Bruno posted. 

"I was lucky and blessed to meet her a few times. She was the Matriarch, mother of our nation. My thoughts are with the Royal Family - sad, sad day."

Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah added:  "My condolences to the Royal Family at this very sad time. The Queen was loved all over the world and meant so much to so many.

"Meeting her was one of the greatest honours of my life. We will remember her for her warmth and dedication to the British people throughout her reign."

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    Carlo Ancelotti suggested Spanish football has a "problem" with racism after Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior was abused again on Sunday.

    LaLiga launched an investigation on Monday after social media footage showed racist insults being directed at Vinicius during Madrid's 1-0 defeat at Real Mallorca on Sunday.

    The 22-year-old was subjected to racist abuse in both of Madrid's matches with city rivals Atletico Madrid this season, while LaLiga filed hate crime charges to Spanish courts after similar incidents in December's game with Real Valladolid.

    Vinicius accused LaLiga in December of "doing nothing" to combat racism, and his head coach feels Spanish football must face up to the issue.

    "The question I ask is this: What is the problem?" Ancelotti told reporters. "Vinicius? Vinicius' team-mates? What's the problem? To defend himself? What does Vinicius have to defend himself against? What do his team-mates have to defend themselves against? I don't know.

    "It seems like the problem is Vinicius, but the problem is what happens around him. Period.

    "It is a problem of Spanish football. I am a part of Spanish football and I think it's a problem that we have to solve. Because it seems that Vinicius is the culprit, but he is the victim of something that I don't understand."

    Federico Valverde defended Vinicius' exuberant playing style after he was fouled 10 times against Mallorca – the most by any Madrid player in a Spanish top-flight match since Isco against Real Betis in August 2013.

    Vinicius has won 79 fouls in LaLiga this season, 25 more than any other player, and Valverde feels Madrid's players must stand up for him to counter any opposition roughhouse tactics.

    "He is an incredible person, with a lot of values," Valverde said ahead of Madrid's Club World Cup semi-final against Egyptian side Al Ahly on Wednesday. "On the pitch, he tries to enjoy it, that's the way he is.

    "I always say that so many fouls on the pitch is part of the game, we have to defend him as team-mates.

    "Another thing is racism and what happens on the pitch, [there is] so much anger. He is a 22-year-old boy. I think Vinicius deserves respect."

  • Man City probe could lead to rivals facing scrutiny, says finance expert Man City probe could lead to rivals facing scrutiny, says finance expert

    Premier League clubs have become "incentivised to sometimes push the rules to the limit, if not beyond" and Manchester City may not be the only team to face an investigation into their affairs, according to a leading football finance expert.

    The Premier League announced on Monday it had referred a number of alleged breaches of the competition's rules to an independent commission, with some of those dating back as far at the 2009-10 season.

    In response, City said they had "irrefutable evidence" that would be presented in their defence against the accusations.

    Kieran Maguire, author of the book The Price of Football, said isolating City could be seen as making a "scapegoat" of the Premier League champions, and he suspects investigators will also look closely at the finances of other clubs.

    Speaking to Stats Perform, Maguire said: "Certainly we have seen some clubs, in terms of the financial submissions that they've made, make fairly significant claims as to the impact, for example, that COVID had on their finances, and they've claimed that COVID cost them money in a myriad of ways, some of which have certainly raised eyebrows as far as observers are concerned.

    "So if Manchester City are charged, you would think that Manchester City would say to the Premier League, 'well, you've investigated us and charged us, then surely you have a responsibility to do this for other clubs as well'.

    "If the Premier League don't do that, it could be seen that they're trying to make a scapegoat of Manchester City, who are unpopular with certain other elements of the English football establishment because they represent new money, and old money doesn't like new money in all aspects of life, it doesn't have to be sport.

    "Therefore you can understand why there's likely to perhaps be enthusiasm for this to move on. And that's going to be bad news for football as a whole because then it becomes who's got the best lawyers, and the best accountants, as opposed to who's got the best strikers and centre-halves and midfield players."

    If the independent commission finds City to have breached financial guidelines, they could face a variety of punishments, ranging from fines to points penalties, or even expulsion from the league.

    City are controlled by the City Football Group, which is owned by Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Since a 2008 takeover, the club have invested heavily in infrastructure and players to develop the dominant team in England.

    It remains to be seen how City come out of this saga, if found to have transgressed.

    "There's a lot of politics in English football," said Maguire. "I think that the preferred punishment would be a points deduction, because the argument would be that if it was just a financial punishment, given the wealth of the owners, given that it is effectively a sovereign wealth fund which is the benefactors of Manchester City, that a financial penalty would not actually particularly harm the club.

    "Therefore, you need to do something which would be seen within football itself as being a punishment, and also acting as a deterrent should any other clubs with equally benevolent owners decide to take or consider a similar action."

    Maguire said City face jealousy and "resentment" from rival clubs, and he believes there would not be such interest if a smaller Premier League club came under the microscope.

    "It's because it is Manchester City who have won the Premier League for four years out of the last five, who have reached the Champions League final, who have spent around about $1.3billion in building their squad, that we're having this conversation," Maguire said.

    "There is jealousy, there is resentment, there is envy. And there's not a lot of admiration, because football doesn't operate like that. Football is a very, very snarky business, where everybody's trying to put each put other clubs down.

    "Changing the culture of football into one of ethics, morality, sustainability, is very difficult because of the nature of the people that own the clubs. They tend to be very successful in their own right. And therefore, they are used to getting their own way.

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    Maguire said world governing body FIFA, having been tarnished by scandal itself in recent years, was "unlikely to be in a position to take a moral high ground".

    "And it then just simply becomes a game of whack-a-mole, as the authorities find one loophole, they bring a sticking plaster to solve it," Maguire said. "And then you're always in a room with a smarter accountant and a smarter lawyer who will come up with yet another scheme."

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    Ten Hag's men have rattled off 13 straight victories in home matches, helping United to third in the Premier League while also securing their place in the EFL Cup final and the fifth round of the FA Cup.

    United will look to make it 14 consecutive victories at Old Trafford when they host rivals Leeds United on Wednesday, looking to capitalise on Arsenal and Manchester City both losing over the weekend.

    Ten Hag was asked about the importance of getting teams to dread facing United in their own backyard, to which he replied: "It was one of our aims this season to get that back.

    "It's part of the process to restore Manchester United. It's great to have the connection with Old Trafford."

    Despite United's impressive home form, Ten Hag wants his team to play with the same confidence and freedom on the road, having won just five of their 11 league games away from Old Trafford this season.

    "I think home form is good," he added. "The next step is to have that same personality away as we do at home.

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    The Red Devils will fancy their chances of picking up another three points against Leeds, who sacked head coach Jesse Marsch on Tuesday with the team winless in seven league games and only outside the relegation zone on goal difference.

    Ten Hag acknowledged how important the rivalry was for the two sets of supporters, while also expressing his sympathy for Marsch following the American's dismissal.

    "It's the match of the roses," Ten Hag said. "It's definitely a big game in this part of England and a big game for us.

    "We have City, we have Liverpool, but as well for our fans this game means so much. Our players are aware of that and will know what to do.

    "It's always sad if a manager gets sacked. In general, I don't believe it that you sack a manager and get better results.

    "Most of the time it doesn't work. But the pressure is high with decision-makers at football and they turn, but if you see the facts, most of the time it doesn't work out well."

    Ten Hag will be without a number of key players for Wednesday, with Scott McTominay, Antony and Anthony Martial all absent with injury while Casemiro will serve the first game of his three-match suspension for grabbing the throat of Will Hughes in the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday.

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