Published: October 17, 2017 10:25 PM EDT SHARE Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know. NFL players, owners hold ‘constructive’ talks on issues NEW YORK (AP) NFL players and owners held an unusual meeting Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session both sides termed positive and productive.What was not discussed at any length was the divisive topic of the national anthem that has caught the attention of President Donald Trump.“We spent today talking about issues that the players are trying to bring attention to,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “That was the entire focus.”Asked if the players committed to standing during the anthem, Goodell responded: “We did not ask for that.”A group of 11 owners and more than a dozen players met for more than two hours at the league’s headquarters. Among the topics discussed was enhancing the players’ platforms for speaking out on social issues.“We heard what they had to say and they heard us,” Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said. “It’s open talks and that’s a good thing.”The NFL’s policy on the national anthem did not come up. That policy states that the players “should” stand for the anthem, and some have suggested the league would seek to change that to “must” stand. Goodell said in a memo to the teams last week that the NFL prefers for players to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”“Very little of the meeting was about the actual anthem,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “We were really more talking about solutions and how we get the results that we want to get.”Ross called the session “constructive,” and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed it “positive.”Goodell spoke briefly before heading to further league meetings. He emphasized the commitment on the part of the players and the NFL “to work together on issues of social justice.”“Our players are men of great character,” he added, “and they have a deep understanding and tremendous knowledge of the issues going on in all our communities. This is something our owners said we want to support you in.”Butler, who played Monday night in Nashville before attending the meeting hours later, said both sides are headed in the right direction. He said the players delivered “our perspective. Obviously it’s a different perspective. I think that’s the most important thing when it comes to these issues is perspective and respecting everyone’s rights regardless of how they feel.”The players’ union and the league issued a joint statement just before the annual fall owners meetings began. The owners meetings continue Wednesday, when the anthem could be discussed.“Today owners and players had a productive meeting focused on how we can work together to promote positive social change and address inequality in our communities,” the statement said. “NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change. We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together.“As we said last week, everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military. In the best American tradition, we are coming together to find common ground and commit to the hard work required for positive change.”On hand at the meeting were Goodell and the league’s football operations chief, former player Troy Vincent; and owners Michael Bidwill (Arizona), Arthur Blank (Atlanta), Terry Pegula (Buffalo), Robert McNair (Houston), Shad Khan (Jacksonville), Ross, Robert Kraft (New England), John Mara (New York Giants), Art Rooney (Pittsburgh), Jeffrey Lurie (Philadelphia) and Jed York (San Francisco).Representing the players were NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, union president Eric Winston, former player Anquan Boldin, and current players Butler (Indianapolis), Russell Okung (Los Angeles Chargers), Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas and Michael Thomas (Miami), Mark Herzlich (New York Giants), Kelvin Beachum and Demario Davis (New York Jets), Jenkins and Chris Long (Philadelphia), Eric Reid (San Francisco) and Josh Norman (Washington).Jenkins has been one of the leading spokesmen among the players, as well as highly active in the community. He said the discussion was about “everything to do with the state of the NFL now, obviously anthem protests, activism that players have been doing, and how we can move this forward to really amplify players’ voices and amplify these issues and make some long sustainable changes.”“I’m not sure we’re close to a resolution, but conversations are ongoing,” he added. “It went from just phone calls to obviously this is the first time meeting. So I don’t think we could come up with a whole plan and solution in two hours, but we are happy that these things are happening. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to really put a good plan together.”Earlier, outside of the hotel where the owners are meeting, two dozen supporters of Black Lives Matter New York held a rally backing the players for speaking out – particularly former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem last year in protest of racial injustice in America. Demonstrations during the anthem increased when Trump called the players unpatriotic if they knelt during the anthem, with both players and league executives saying the meaning of the protests has been misconstrued by the president and his supporters.At a game earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence walked out of Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium after several 49ers knelt during the anthem.Jenkins said after the meeting that Kaepernick had been invited by the players but didn’t attend.Also Tuesday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was confronted by two people in the lobby of the Manhattan hotel where the owners are meeting. The protesters shouted at him about the issue of white supremacy while Jones was surrounded by bodyguards. Jones stopped to listen but said nothing, and the protesters were peacefully led away.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director, Christine Lagarde is in Nigeria on a 4-day visit to advise Africa’s largest oil producer on how to recover from the shock of falling oil prices on the international market.The oil price has slid to $37 a barrel, a tough feat for Nigeria where 70% of revenue is realized through oil sales internationally.Lagarde is meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and newly installed Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun.The Nigerian President recently announced a record budget for 2016. He plans to triple expenditure in a move to help the country adjust to the downturn in oil, which lost almost two-thirds of its value in the last year.Nigeria’s Central Bank has also issued a directive restricting the use of debit and credit cards abroad as a temporary measure to limit the flow of foreign currency out of the country.Nigeria’s currency Naira has also weakened further against the dollar, this on the heels of a forecast that announced a budget deficit of 2.2 trillion naira, about $11-billion.Lagarde will deliver a speech to lawmakers from Nigeria’s National Assembly and will also meet with business leaders during the visit. Also on the agenda for the IMF chief is a meeting with finance ministers from the six member nations of the economic and monetary community of Central Africa – CEMAC – she’ll address hat group on January 8th.
Kroos lined up for a free kick as if he was going for goal but just tapped the ball to Reus, who held it with his toe as the defenders paused. Kroos swung his right foot, curling the ball past a spinning Sebastian Larsson and over the outstretched hand of diving goalkeeper Robin Olsen.The Swedes watched the ball go in, mouths open in disbelief.The Germans ran to Kroos and erupted in emotional relief.“Happy of course. It was a tough game again today for us,” Kroos said. “We suffered. … If you don’t score an early goal and we have the chances then it’s going to be difficult until the end. It was, but now of course we’re happy because I think we also deserved the victory.”Coming off an opening loss to Mexico, Germany fell behind again when Kroos’ early mistake led to Ola Toivonen’s goal in the 32nd minute. Reus equalized in the 48th. A point for a draw would have been enough to stay alive for the knockout stage, but the Germans would have needed help on the final day.Now Germany has some control of what happens. Mexico leads Group F with six points, and Germany and Sweden both have three. Mexico faces Sweden and Germany takes on winless South Korea in the final group matches.“Of course this was a thriller, full of emotions and a rollercoaster ride right up until the final whistle,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said.Crazy as it seems, all four teams still have a chance to advance on the final day.“There’s nothing strange to get ready for that match,” Sweden coach Janne Andersson said. “We still have an excellent opportunity to qualify.”For 90-plus minutes, Germany looked as if it would enter the final match facing the same possible fate as Spain and Italy and potentially become the third straight defending champion to fail to reach the knockout stage. They played the final 10 minutes without Boateng.Toivonen gave Sweden the lead, but Germany controlled every aspect by playing aggressive and attacking soccer. Germany forced Sweden to play defensively for almost the entire second half and eventually the attack paid off.“Something that I did appreciate today was that we didn’t lose our nerve, we didn’t panic after going down after conceding a goal,” Loew said. “We kept a level head.”Reus scored to pull Germany even, finishing Timo Werner’s cross that was tapped by halftime substitute Mario Gomez and caused the ball to pop up perfectly for Reus to finish with his leg.Olsen made a major save by stopping Gomez’s header in the 88th minute and Julian Brandt hit the post in the 90th, but he had no chance at Kroos’ strike.“This is probably heaviest conclusion that I’ve experienced in my career,” Andersson said. (AP) Sweden’s Viktor Claesson (left) challenges Germany’s Toni Kroos during the group F match between Germany and Sweden at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia on Saturday, June 23 (Sunday in Manila). AP SOCHI, Russia – The desperate world champions from Germany were seconds from losing control of their World Cup fate when Toni Kroos whispered to Marco Reus just outside Sweden’s penalty area.With the score tied in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Kroos seemed to remind Reus of a tricky set play from training that will live in World Cup lore.Down to 10 men after Jerome Boateng was given a second yellow card, Germany rallied for a 2-1 victory over Sweden on Saturday to suddenly revive its title defense thanks to a strike from Kroos that caught the Swedes by surprise and won’t soon be forgotten in Germany.“The fact Toni Kroos put it away is just incredible,” Reus said. “He’s shown that talent on previous occasions but really in this case it was practically the very last opportunity to win this match.”