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Messi wins seventh Ballon d’Or

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Paris St-Germain and Argentina forward, Lionel Messi, won the Ballon d’Or – awarded to the best footballer of the year – for a record seventh time.

Messi, 34, helped his country win the Copa America, his first international honour, and has scored 40 goals in 2021 – 28 for Barcelona, four for Paris St-Germain and eight for Argentina.

While the Argentine great, Messi, had cause to celebrate a feat that will take generations to break, his main rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, released a furious statement few hours before the results were released hitting out at claims from Ballon d’Or chief Pascal Ferre that his career ambition was to finish with more awards than his rival Lionel Messi, after the forward finished sixth in the rankings.

Ronaldo was absent from yesterday night’s awards ceremony – run by publication France Football – and the Manchester United star sent out a lengthy retort to comments made by Ferre to the New York Timesthat he always had Messi in his sights amid their bitter rivalry to win the year gong.

He ended up being beaten by the Argentine having missed out on a place in the top five. He had edged ahead of Gigi Donnarumma, Kylian Mbappe, Kevin de Bruyne and Mo Salah, but didn’t have enough votes to win his sixth award.

Ferre had said: “Ronaldo has only one ambition and that is to retire with more Ballon d’Or than Messi and I know because he told me.”

But the player hit back at that claim, saying Ferre had used his name to promote his name, his publication and the ceremony – insisting he wins for himself and his clubs and that his career goals are to leave an impact on the game, win as many trophies as possible and leave an example to youngsters.

“Today’s outcome explains Pascal Ferre’s statements last week, when he stated that I confided in him that my only ambition was to finish my career with more Golden Balls than Lionel Messi,” he wrote on Instagram.

Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski came second, Chelsea and Italy midfielder Jorginho was third and Real Madrid’s French striker Karim Benzema finished fourth.

The Ballon d’Or is voted for by 180 journalists from around the world, although there was no award in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Either Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo (five wins) collected the award every year from 2008 to 2019, apart from in 2018 when Croatia midfielder Luka Modric won it.

Messi had already won the trophy more times than any other player and his seventh success comes after wins in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019.

Lewandowski, who scored 53 goals in all competitions in 2021 for Bayern, was awarded the ‘Striker of the Year’ prize, a new award that was only announced hours before the ceremony began.

Paris St-Germain’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, who helped Italy win Euro 2020, won the Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper, while Champions League winners Chelsea were named Club of the Year.

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Google set to invest $9.5bn in US

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Google has announced plans to invest $9.5bn in its US offices and data centers around the country in 2022, up from more than the $7bn it spent in 2021.

According to CNN, the big bet on office space was coming at a point Google was embracing a hybrid work model. The Alphabet-owned company has called for many of its employees to work in an office three days a week after two years of being fully remote.

The Chief Executive Officer of Alphabet and Google, Sundar Pichai, said, “It might seem counterintuitive to step up our investment in physical offices even as we embrace more flexibility in how we work.

“Yet we believe it’s more important than ever to invest in our campuses and that doing so will make for better products, a greater quality of life for our employees, and stronger communities.”
Google said it would open an office in Atlanta this year and continue to develop and expand office space in Austin and New York. It added that it planned to continue investing in data centers in Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee, among other states.

As part of the announcement, Google said it expected to create at least 12,000 new full-time jobs at the company this year.

Google and other tech companies were among the first businesses to shift to remote work when the pandemic hit in early 2020. But that shift always appeared to be temporary. Like others in Silicon Valley, Google had previously invested billions in expansive campuses and lavish office benefits for workers.

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European markets pull back amid doubts over latest Russian pledges over Ukraine

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European stocks retreated on Wednesday following the latest round of talks between Russia and Ukraine, aimed at finding a solution to the conflict.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.8% in early trade, with autos shedding 1.9% to lead losses, while oil and gas stocks gained 1.7%.

In terms of individual share price movement, Finland’s Nokian Tyres fell 6.6%, while Sweden’s Lundin Energy added 4.7%.

Investor sentiment was boosted on Tuesday following negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian officials in Turkey, at which Russia’s deputy defense minister claimed Moscow had decided to “drastically” cut back its military activity near Ukraine’s capital.

Alexander Fomin, who spoke following the talks in Istanbul, said Russia would slow its military operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv in order for peace talks to progress. Russia previously claimed that it would reduce military operations in other parts of Ukraine but then continued its advance.

Growing hope for a cease-fire appeared to boost investor sentiment Tuesday, as Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 200 points, or 0.6%. S&P 500 futures also climbed 0.6%, while Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 0.7%. Meanwhile, the price of U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil, which spiked on the heels of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, fell more than 4% to $100 per barrel.

Doubts have set in over the pledge, however, and while the Russian military has begun moving some of its troops in Ukraine away from areas around Kyiv to positions elsewhere in Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby warned the troop movements do not amount to a retreat.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Wednesday trade as investors watch for developments surrounding the war in Ukraine. Stateside, traders are keeping tabs on a slew of key economic reports, while also monitoring the Federal Reserve’s planned interest rate hikes.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey on Tuesday showed 11.3 million job openings, higher than the 11.1 million expected. The ADP will also release its private payrolls data ahead of the closely watched monthly jobs report, on Friday.

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Lagos Assembly kicks against harassment of residents by police

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Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, yesterday, cautioned police in the state against harassment, intimidation and extortion of residents.

Obasa said this on the floor of the House when lawmakers honoured outgoing Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, who has been promoted to Assistant Inspector-General, and is due to retire in January 2022.

Obasa said Odumosu was honoured as the first Commissioner of Police in the state to stand before the lawmakers and address Lagosians on his experience policing the state.

The Speaker thanked Odumosu for his openness and responsiveness to issues affecting the peace of the state.

“It is important to call on those behind you to know that the relationship between the police and the people need to be constantly improved upon,” Obasa said, adding that men of the Nigeria Police Force need to build more trust among the people.

“Everybody must be treated with respect, dignity and honour. And that is how we can earn respect. Policing should not be about harassment and extortion but building trust among the people and making them comfortable,” Obasa said.

The Commissioner of Police, who led a team of officers to the House, thanked the lawmakers for their support. According to him, nothing could have been achieved in terms of security and peace in the state without assistance of the House.

He said he would remain grateful to Lagosians for making it possible for him and his team to effectively manage the security of the state.

Odumosu, who described Lagos as ‘mini-Nigeria’, said proactivity of the Assembly led to the creation of laws that helped the police remain successful in the state.

He said the Cultism Prohibition Law also helped to reduce illegal associations in tertiary institutions in the state and enlightened property owners and residents.

“We promise to continue to excel in providing watertight security for people of the state,” he told the lawmakers. He also promised he would encourage his successor to sustain the relationship between the police and the House, while urging the lawmakers to extend their support to his successor.

“Policing Lagos is not a tea party. Without the laws in Lagos, it would have been difficult to police the state. Don’t get tired, don’t relent in making laws that would make Lagos maintain its place as the most peaceful state in Nigeria,” he said.

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