Can Sumo survive? The crossroads facing Japan's national sport – video

13-12-2018 The ancient Japanese ritual of Sumo is in crisis. Only last week, a Mongolian wrestler was forced to retire after assaulting a teammate – but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Years of controversy and scandal, coupled with the country's declining population, have greatly impacted the sport's ability to attract new talent. The Guardian visits Tokyo's Ryōgoku district, the birthplace of Sumo, to see how this iconic institution is adapting to life in the 21st century, and why - despite women being banned from the ring itself - young female fans are flocking to watch it like never beforeYokozuna, controversies and a 'Dump Truck': a sumo history – in pictures Continue reading...

Paul Sherwen obituary

13-12-2018 Cyclist, television commentator and broadcaster who became one of the defining voices of his sportPaul Sherwen, who has died of a heart attack aged 62, was a pioneering member of the group of English-speaking cyclists nicknamed the Foreign Legion, a doughty five-times Tour de France finisher and, together with Phil Liggett, half of the Channel 4 commentary pairing that brought the race into British sitting rooms daily for the first time during the late 1980s.“Phil and Paul” became the voices of the Tour de France across the English-speaking world: the voluble Liggett described the action and the more measured Sherwen detailed moves and personalities. For a generation of fans – initially in the UK, later across most of the English-speaking world – they were the defining voices of the sport. By this year, Sherwen had attended 40 tours. Continue reading...

Why should someone like Raheem Sterling be seen as ‘fair game’? | Daniel Taylor

13-12-2018 Stan Collymore argues that nothing will be done about abuse of Sterling because nothing ever is, but if there was more diversity in the newsrooms it might shape the thinking differentlyBefore going into football journalism full-time I spent a few years on the news beat for various tabloid newspapers. That may surprise a few people because, outside the industry, there seems to be a perception you are either one or the other: broadsheet or red-top, luvvie or rotter. But it doesn’t actually work like that. I worked for a freelance agency in the Midlands, covering for virtually all the national titles, and there was no room for journalistic snobbery for a young reporter with a provisional driving licence and 40-words-per-minute shorthand.But it was definitely an eye-opener. One story was of a car being stolen in Leicester while, unbeknown to the thief, a baby was strapped into the back seat. The car was still missing and the police had organised a press conference for her mother, who had not been identified, to make a public appeal. It was a big story and there were a lot of national newspaper journalists in attendance. But I can still remember the awkwardness when she came in and the vibe from several reporters – not just the tabloids – that there was an issue, news-wise. The woman in question wasn’t white. She was Indian and that was a problem, I was told, because the relevant newspapers might no longer think it was a photograph, or story, their readership wanted. Continue reading...

The Dozen: the weekend’s best Premier League photos

13-12-2018 Our picture editors choose their favourite images from the weekend’s Premier League actionView the Dozen archive Continue reading...

Rob Cross: ‘After the world darts final it was like I’d hit rock-bottom’

13-12-2018 The world No 2 darts player went from winning £7 in pubs to winning the PDC world championship within 18 months, but, he says, quick success ‘drained me’“Do you ever get these feelings that something’s going to happen?” Rob Cross asks with surprise in his voice. “You don’t know where they come from but you can feel that something’s going to happen. I had that feeling when I won the worlds. I had that feeling when I won the Challenge Tour. They’re like premonitions.”Cross shakes his head and smiles at the mysterious force of the past two years. His life has been transformed from being an electrician who won £7 after victory in a pub tournament, to becoming the world champion of darts 18 months later. Cross won £400,000 on 1 January 2018 when, in the PDC world championship final, he crushed his hero, Phil Taylor, at the end of his first year as a professional. Since then, Cross put on five stone in weight and was disconcerted when the lives of his wife and three children were threatened by a crank who was offended by his stunning rise. Continue reading...

Who is the greatest F1 driver ever?

13-12-2018 After Lewis Hamilton won his fifth world title on Sunday, BBC Sport is asking you just who is the greatest F1 driver ever?

Klopp hails 'exceptional' Salah as Liverpool brush Bournemouth aside – video

13-12-2018 Jürgen Klopp heaped praise on Mohamed Salah after the Egyptian's second hat-trick for Liverpool powered his team to victory over Bournemouth. The 4-0 win extended Liverpool's unbeaten streak to 17 league games, equalling the club's all-time record. Klopp insisted that all credit for Liverpool's 'massive' Premier League form should go to his players. Continue reading...

David Squires on … the mistreatment of Raheem Sterling

13-12-2018 Our cartoonist on why it’s hard to exaggerate the vilification Raheem Sterling has been subjected to in recent yearsIf you like David’s cartoons, buy his book Goalless Draws Continue reading...

What is the smallest football ground a European champion has lost at? | The Knowledge

13-12-2018 Plus: the longest delay for any new stadium in history and the worst goal difference you can get away with and still qualify in the Champions League. Mail us or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU“Real Madrid recently lost 3-0 to Eibar in a stadium that holds just 7,000 people,” begins Robin Tucker. “That got me thinking: have any former European champions lost a competitive match in a smaller stadium? This would be only counting results after their first European success, so games such as Liverpool’s 1959 defeat to Worcester City would not count.”A fine question, but it’s not even the smallest stadium a former European champion has lost in this season. The 1986 winners Steaua Bucharest, now snappily known as FCSB, have suffered plenty of turmoil recently, including a defeat earlier this month to Sepsi OSK. That was in front of an estimated 2,500 at the 5,200-capacity Stadionul Municipal. Continue reading...

Sri Lanka v England: Pick your England team for first Test

13-12-2018 Who do you think should be in the England side for the first Test against Sri Lanka? Choose your XI and share it with your friends.

Champions League roundup: Juventus and Real Madrid suffer shock defeats

13-12-2018 • Real Madrid 0-3 CSKA, Young Boys 2-1 Juventus• Bayern top Group E after 3-3 draw with AjaxJuventus and Real Madrid may have won their groups but both suffered shock defeats on Wednesday, while Ajax and Bayern Munich contested a six-goal thriller as they battled for top spot in Group E.Juve needed a win against Young Boys to make sure of top spot in Group H, but slumped to their first competitive away defeat in more than a year as Guillaume Hoarau scored twice to earn the Swiss side’s first ever group stage win. Continue reading...

Nick Philippoussis child rape charges dropped after stroke

13-12-2018 Father of Australian tennis star Mark Philippoussis will no longer face trial in US because he is ‘completely incapacitated’A California judge has dismissed child sexual assault charges against Nick Philippoussis because the Australian tennis coach “is completely incapacitated” and near death after suffering a massive stroke in jail.Philippoussis, the father of former world top 10 Australian tennis player Mark Philippoussis, faced spending the rest of his life behind bars after he was accused of repeatedly raping two nine-year-old girls he trained in San Diego. Continue reading...

‘Creative’ AlphaZero leads way for chess computers and, maybe, science | Sean Ingle

13-12-2018 Former chess world champion Garry Kasparov likes what he sees of computer that could be used to find cures for diseasesGarry Kasparov is not only humanity’s greatest ever chess player but its highest-profile victim of artificial intelligence. His loss to IBM’s super computer Deep Blue in 1997 made global headlines and left him feeling bitter and, well, blue. Yet there is a warm glint in his eye when he talks about AlphaZero, the game-changing chess program that took just four hours to teach itself to become the strongest in history. Related: Magnus Carlsen beats Caruana in tie-breakers to retain World Chess crown Continue reading...

Mourinho praises Manchester United's improved attitude with Pogba on bench again – video

13-12-2018 José Mourinho praised his team’s effort after Manchester United thrashed Fulham 4-1 at Old Trafford. The result ended United’s run of four games without a win and Mourinho said the convincing nature of their victory should earn the ‘respect’ of fans.He confirmed that Paul Pogba, an unused substitute against Fulham, will return to the starting lineup against Valencia next week, adding that the game would be a chance for the France midfielder to ‘show everyone how good he is’.Marcus Rashford seals comfortable win for Manchester United over Fulham Continue reading...