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      WSL returns, Premier League team news and more: weekend football countdown – live / TheGuardian · 09:40

    Jodie Taylor hangs up the boots. The former Arsenal striker, who scored at two World Cups, played for 17 clubs in six countries and won the Champions League is “at peace” with her decision to retire.

    Are Chelsea the favourites once again? Emma Hayes’ side have won the last four consecutive league titles. They have the star power, the depth, and the experience. But will compalcency come into play? Get in touch and let me know your thoughts. And don’t miss Suzanne Wrack’s preview.

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      Steel pity: rock-bottom United and Wednesday share the pain in Sheffield / TheGuardian · 07:00

    After promotions for both, the Blades and Owls have played 14 league games between them this season – and are yet to win

    Cricket has Lord’s, tennis has Wimbledon and, although the point could be debated at length, there is a strong argument that football’s home is Sheffield. After all, this is the place that proudly boasts the world’s oldest club, Sheffield FC, and somewhere Fifa refers to as “football’s first city” .

    Yes, the sport is arguably bigger in other parts of England – and indeed the world – but there are few places where football dominates the consciousness of its residents as fervently as it does in Sheffield. Football is more akin to a religion in this part of South Yorkshire; the only issue lately is that it has felt more like a traumatic experience than a euphoric one.

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      Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend / TheGuardian · Yesterday - 23:00

    Son Heung-min’s work speaks for itself, Palace visit Old Trafford again and Brentford hit a bump in the road

    If Aston Villa’s defeat to Everton in midweek told us anything, it was perhaps that Unai Emery’s reserves are not as rich as first thought. Robin Olsen does not seem to strike anywhere near the same confidence into the back line as Emiliano Martínez and Leander Dendoncker and Youri Tielemans looked sluggish. Jhon Durán, who has impressed in cameos, endured a forgettable 48 minutes. The cavalry – Ollie Watkins, Boubacar Kamara and Martínez – will be back at home to Brighton on Saturday and at least a quick turnaround gives Villa a chance to shake off the pain of an unusually sloppy showing. Ben Fisher

    Aston Villa v Brighton, Saturday 12.30pm (all times BST)

    Manchester United v Crystal Palace, Saturday 3pm

    Bournemouth v Arsenal, Saturday 3pm

    Everton v Luton, Saturday 3pm

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      Premier League offers EFL extra £358m over three years – with strings attached / TheGuardian · Yesterday - 15:19

    • Extra EFL Trophy games wanted and parachute payments stay
    • Cost controls still an issue as EFL awaits formal proposal

    The Premier League has presented a plan to increase financial redistribution to the English Football League by £358m over the three seasons to 2025-26, with a series of strings attached.

    Under the terms of the deal EFL clubs would receive an extra £88m this season, an extra £101m next season and an extra £169m the season after. Championship clubs would get 75% of the money paid by the Premier League, League One clubs 15% and League Two clubs 10%.

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      Under Hollywood Pressure, Vietnam Cracks Down On….Live Sports Piracy / TorrentFreak · 2 days ago - 18:54 · 4 minutes

    pirate tv When Hollywood sets its sights on something it wants to achieve in the piracy landscape, victory may not come this week or even next year. The MPA has been around for 100 years; it definitely has patience to see out a few more.

    In Vietnam, despite changes in the law and visits by high-ranking MPA and ACE representatives, patience will be required to reduce piracy. The world’s largest pirate sites seem to operate freely there and even when giants like and 9anime came under direct pressure from ACE recently, immediate respawning under new domains was hardly conducive to confidence building.

    MPA/ACE have enjoyed success, the closure of 2embed is just one example. But with Vietnam-based movie streaming giant Fmovies also announcing a domain switch/minor rebranding to Fmoviesz recently, more progress is needed and in an announcement this week, the authorities reported just that.

    1,000 Piracy Websites Blocked

    During an anti-piracy seminar held in Hanoi on Tuesday, data compiled by the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information, a department under the Ministry of Information and Communications revealed that, during the past 12 months, 1,000 copyright-infringing sites were blocked in Vietnam.

    The blocking reportedly took place between August 2022 and August 2023, but there’s not much for the MPA to celebrate, at least not in the short term.

    It appears that most of the targets were sites offering pirate football streams, not the platforms offering movies, TV shows, manga, and anime that the MPA would like to shut down. Reading between the lines, these blocking efforts are considered a step in the right direction but were probably ineffective overall.

    Blocking is 98% Successful Until it Immediately Isn’t

    A representative of the state-run Vietnam Digital Copyright Center said that blocking of the 1,000 sites (a closer view reveals that’s actually the number of domains) was carried out in coordination with Vietnamese internet service providers. A similar approach last year allegedly reduced visits to pirate streaming sites by 98%, but general commentary on the scheme tends to undermine that.

    Current blocking efforts are described as inconsistent, with some ISPs quickly blocking sites but others taking a much more leisurely approach. Given that sites reportedly switch to new domains in a claimed five to 10 minutes, blocking faces immediate challenges. A football streaming site known as ‘Xoi Lac TV’ is claimed to be the most notorious repeat offender and by ignoring bans and switching domains, it has remained online for around five years.

    Pirate Sites Funded By Illegal Advertising

    Media reports from 2018 indicate that Xoi Lac TV and many other sites were blocked on copyright grounds. And when 500 sites were reportedly blocked in 2021/22, copyright was again the headline reason.

    Indeed, Vietnam already has a site-blocking mechanism in place; a verified complaint from a rightsholder can lead to the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information (AEBI) instructing an online platform to remove content. If that doesn’t happen within the allocated timeframe, ISPs can be instructed to block the sites. Why that doesn’t happen to more sites more often isn’t clear, but there are other ways pirate sites can find themselves in more immediate trouble.

    When football streaming sites are blocked in Vietnam, discussion of illegal betting advertising on the platforms usually appears as part of the discussion. Xoi Lac TV has appeared on lists of domains blocked due to illegal gambling promotions and the government seems very willing to bring those involved to justice .

    Late 2022 an expert with Vietnam’s National Cyber Security Center said that the operators of local streaming sites obtain foreign streams, embed their own logos, and then use the content to promote gambling and fraud.

    “The general method of these websites is to steal TV copyrights, ‘push’ the search engine optimization (SEO) to the top on Google to attract traffic, and then receive ads for gambling and fraud channels,” the expert said .

    Xoi Lac TV streams reportedly promote the gambling game portal Zovip and sports betting sites including 1bet88 and fun88.

    Vietnam Faces “Overseas Challenges”

    This type of gambling-focused business model is largely absent from the large sites the MPA would like Vietnam to shut down. Whether that helps them to survive is up for debate but based on comments before and during the event on Tuesday, Vietnam isn’t averse to highlighting enforcement difficulties it faces in ‘other’ countries.

    Xoi Lac TV is reportedly among around 70 football piracy sites that together generated around 1.5 billion views in 2022/23. However, figures cited by authorities in Vietnam claim that 200 local pirate movie sites only attract 120 million visits per month overall. Fmovies – now known as Fmoviesz – receives around 119.5 million visits each month in its own right.

    Traffic estimates aside, Pham Hoang Hai, Director of the Digital Content Copyright Center, notes that all of these sites have something in common; they use foreign domain names and services to hide their identities. It was previously highlighted that when Xoi Lac TV operated from, it was difficult to trace its operator due to the domain’s registration in the United States. That wasn’t made any easier by the site allegedly using a U.S. IP address and U.S. hosting.

    Blocking or shutting down websites isn’t something to be taken lightly and it appears Vietnam will take its time before deciding how to proceed against the largest pirate platforms. Meanwhile, it’s being reported that the government has been drafting new rules that will compel ISPs to kick citizens off the internet if they share “law-breaking information.”

    “The move threatens to throttle web access further in a country where an estimated 1,000 websites, from those of the BBC to Freedom House, are already blocked,” Nikkei reports .

    From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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      Chelsea captain Reece James charged by FA for confronting referee after Villa loss / TheGuardian · 2 days ago - 16:52

    • Defender could be banned after approaching official in tunnel
    • James out of action since picking up injury on opening day

    Reece James could be hit with a ban when he returns from injury after the Chelsea captain was charged by the Football Association with abusing a match official following his side’s defeat to Aston Villa last Sunday.

    It is alleged that the incident occurred when James, who was ruled out of the game, confronted the referee, Jarred Gillett, in the Stamford Bridge tunnel after a fiery encounter against Villa. Chelsea were unhappy with Gillett after a VAR review resulted in Malo Gusto being sent off for a challenge on Lucas Digne with the score still locked at 0-0 at the start of the second half.

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      Refereeing controversies will not go away but Jenas should know better | Paul MacInnes / TheGuardian · 4 days ago - 16:55

    BBC pundit’s criticism of Rob Jones was a mistake – though the handball rule continues to confuse fans and managers alike

    Embarrassing. After another weekend of controversial VAR decisions, it would seem the only appropriate word. Yes, expectations are unduly high. Yes, everyone makes mistakes. But at the end of the day it’s not brain surgery: when Jermaine Jenas got his phone out to call the referee Rob Jones a “sh**house”, he should have taken a deep breath, counted to 10, then walked away.

    Jenas, the BBC pundit and pre-season face of – you couldn’t write it – an Football Association campaign to promote respect for referees, has made himself look permanently stupid. Just another weekend in the Barclays, you might say. But Jenas’s error-strewn social media message (full text: “Complete sh**house off a referee! They’re all ruining the our game!”) is hardly atypical. People are losing their stuff at refereeing decisions on a weekly basis.

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      Blades put to the sword and north London honours shared – Football Weekly / TheGuardian · 4 days ago - 12:02

    Max Rushden is joined by Barry Glendenning , Kate Mason , and Nick Ames to discuss the Premier League action, including the north London derby

    Rate, review, share on Apple Podcasts , Soundcloud , Audioboom , Mixcloud , Acast and Stitcher , and join the conversation on Facebook , Twitter and email .

    On the podcast today: the panel discusses the significance of Newcastle putting eight past a hapless Sheffield United and asks if the jump from Championship to Premier League is too high for clubs.

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      Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action / TheGuardian · 4 days ago - 07:00 · 1 minute

    Spurs are making huge strides, Darwin Núñez has kicked on and Manchester United are a tactical mishmash

    “We’re seeing steps probably quicker than anyone expected,” James Maddison said after an enterprising Spurs left Arsenal with a point. His manager, Ange Postecoglou, was less willing to talk about timelines but it is undeniable that few outsiders expected Tottenham to emerge from the derby unscathed. That they did so was a testament to their bravery, and especially that of Maddison: he was caught in possession glaringly for a chance Gabriel Jesus inexplicably skied, but kept showing up for the ball in difficult areas and finished with two assists. Tottenham looked raw at times, skittish at others, and lived on their nerves for spells, but never strayed from Postecoglou’s fluid, proactive philosophy. “He said today that that’s the way he wants to play,” Maddison said. “If we lose playing his way, that’s on him, his responsibility, and it gives you freedom to go and play as well.” Tottenham are at the start of what will, surely, be a fun and fruitful journey. David Hytner

    Match report: Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham

    Match report: Chelsea 0-1 Aston Villa

    Match report: Liverpool 3-1 West Ham

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