Soccer star Weah to face vice president in Liberian presidential run-off

MONROVIA (Reuters) - Former soccer star George Weah won the first round of Liberia’s presidential election with 38.4 percent of the vote, 10 points ahead of Vice President Joseph Boakai who will face him in a run-off next month, the electoral commission said on Thursday.

Liberians are slowly waking up to the prospect of the only African ever to win FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d‘Or replace Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as their leader.

FIFA reaches agreement to help unpaid players

ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA has reached an agreement that will help players leave their clubs when they do not get paid on time.

“It was an issue that was stewing for a long, long time and they couldn’t come to an agreement, but because of our impetus they’ve reached one,” Victor Montagliani, head of FIFA’s stakeholders committee, told reporters on Thursday.

“We all like to get’s an employment labour issue and to me that’s very important.”

Hamilton says no plans to 'take a knee' in Austin

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Formula One title favourite Lewis Hamilton said on Thursday he sympathised with athletes protesting racism in the United States but had no plans to kneel during the national anthem before Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix.

The Briton, whose paternal grandparents came from the Caribbean island of Grenada and whose mother is white, told reporters that winning the race was his priority.

Liberia first round election results put football star Weah ahead

MONROVIA (Reuters) - Final official results from Liberia’s presidential election put former football star George Weah ahead with 38.4 percent of the vote, almost 10 percentage points ahead of his closest rival.

Weah will face current Vice President Joseph Boakai, who got 28.8 percent, in a run-off next month.

Reporting by Ed McAllister; Writing by Tim Cocks; editing by John Stonestreet

AS Monaco club owner under investigation in inquiry over art dispute

NICE, France (Reuters) - AS Monaco football club owner Dmitry Rybolovlev was put under investigation on Thursday over allegations of complicity in invasion of privacy linked to a dispute with an art dealer, the principality’s top prosecutor told Reuters.

Being put under investigation in Monaco is not equivalent to being charged. It is the first step in an inquiry, in which judges inform the person in question of the allegations against them before questioning at a later stage.

Silva looking to maintain Watford's competitiveness

(Reuters) - Watford are keen to show their ambition through consistent performances on the pitch rather than get carried away with their splendid start to the Premier League campaign, manager Marco Silva has said.

The Hornets have been punching above their weight this season, sitting fourth in the league standings with 15 points from eight matches.

They are unbeaten on the road in four games but Silva does not want his side to rest on their laurels ahead of Saturday’s trip to champions Chelsea.

Putin says IOC under U.S. pressure to bar Russia from Pyeongchang Games

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was being pressured by the United States to prevent Russia from taking part in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

“We are seeing that the IOC is under strong pressure,” Putin said at a forum with scholars. “It relies on advertisers, television channels, sponsors, and so on. And these sponsors are receiving unambiguous signals from certain American institutions.”

West Ham's Bilic expects Hernandez to be fit for Brighton

(Reuters) - West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic is optimistic that Mexican striker Javier Hernandez will be fit for Friday’s Premier League clash with Brighton and Hove Albion after pulling up in training with a tight hamstring on Tuesday.

Scans revealed that the 29-year-old striker had not suffered any serious injury and Hernandez has rejoined the squad after skipping training on Wednesday as a precaution.

No Premier League games on Christmas Eve

LONDON (Reuters) - Christmas Eve will be free of Premier League football after broadcasters agreed not to schedule any games for that day.

Arsenal’s home clash with Liverpool had been earmarked for a potential switch from its original Saturday (Dec. 23) slot to the Sunday, prompting criticism from Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp and fans’ groups.

FA must learn from 'sorry saga' says Sports Minister

LONDON (Reuters) - The Football Association must learn from the “sorry saga” which led to the governing body apologising over comments made to England women’s internationals Eniola Aluko and Drew Spence, Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said on Thursday.

The public apology came after comments deemed “discriminatory on grounds of race” were made to them by former England women’s coach Mark Sampson.