Retired Jamaica international Marlon King recently expressed regret about a checkered and sordid past but insists he can only face up to it and admit his mistakes.

During his time as a footballer, King had his fair share of headlines on the pitch, but they were routinely dwarfed by legal issues that occurred off it. The former Watford and Birmingham striker has three separate jail sentences and a litany of other offenses, which include theft, criminal damage, fraudulent use of vehicle license document, driving without insurance and drink driving.  But even by those standards, the sexual and physical assault of a young woman who rejected his advances at a nightclub in the Soho area of London was a low point.

The 2009 sexual assault case saw King's playing contract cancelled by then club Wigan, after he was convicted of groping the woman in a bar and then breaking her nose. Since then, the former player has moved to Zambia with his wife and three children and admits he is genuinely remorseful about his past.

“I’m sorry for what happened, especially to the young lady and to my family members for letting them down. But I’m at a point now where I can look back and think, ‘Jesus Christ. Some of the decisions I made’,” King said in an interview with The Athletic
.“I can’t get back what I did. That’s the thing. I can’t go back,” King said.
“Everything I’ve done is public knowledge. I can’t run away from it, so I can’t sit here and say, ‘No, I did this. I did that’. It has taken me years to try and figure myself out and work on myself.

“I cannot change what comes up on Google. I cannot change my path.

King has been eager to point out that these days he is a changed man.
"There’s no justification behind any wrongdoings. But my mental mindset right now could not be further from those incidents and those things. Even up to now, I’m finding speaking about issues that I had is therapeutic for me and I think is something I encourage everyone to do in all walks of life, because it helps.

“If you keep things in emotionally, it just builds up and you explode because everybody’s got a limit that they can take. And we give it the ego, ‘I’m alright, Jack, no, we’re OK’ and I think that’s a lot of what I did. I had a lot of things going on, off the pitch. I can openly say I’m one of those people that needed to talk."
King made 24 appearances and scored 12 goals for Jamaica’s national team. 


 

Diego Costa has been fined €543,208 for tax fraud but will not serve any of his six-month prison sentence, as is customary under Spanish law.

Atletico Madrid striker Costa appeared at court in the capital on Thursday, wearing a protective face mask, and entered a guilty plea.

The charges related to the image rights arrangements made on Costa's behalf when he moved from Atleti to Chelsea in 2014.

He was found to have evaded €1.1million in taxes, which the 31-year-old repaid in full last year.

The Prosecutor's Office recommended a six-month prison sentence and a fine of €507,208.

Spain's legal system allows for non-violent crimes carrying a jail term of under two years to be replaced by a fine and, under this provision, Costa will pay an additional €36,000 - calculated as a 12-month fine at €100 per day.

"Diego Costa reached an agreement with the Prosecutor's Office months ago and has already paid the corresponding fine plus interest," said an Atletico spokesman in a statement reported by Mundo Deportivo. 

"The request for a prison sentence was withdrawn."

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Javier Mascherano are among the star footballers to have breached tax laws in Spain over recent years.

Michael Zorc has admonished Jadon Sancho for breaching coronavirus rules, but the Borussia Dortmund sporting director wants criticism of the forward to cease as he praised his George Floyd demonstration.

In photographs published by Bild on Wednesday, Sancho was one of six Dortmund players not wearing a mask while they received haircuts from barber Winnie Nana Karkari at their homes.

That led to a reproach from Zorc, given the German Football League's (DFL) coronavirus protocol says players should have no contact with the public, remain at home and receive no visitors because of the pandemic.

However, Zorc also thinks Sancho's act at the weekend - when he revealed a "justice for George Floyd" t-shirt after scoring against Paderborn - should earn him greater respect.

On the same day the haircut photos were revealed, the German Football Association (DFB) said it would not punish Sancho and others for "actions of anti-racism", which came after Floyd died in police custody in the United States last week.

"I think it's splendid that the DFB president who sits at the very top wonders about this matter, is flexible and takes current events into consideration," Zorc told reporters.

"I don't know in what terms you can look at what the guys did as a political message. It was about humanity, justice and a clear message against racism. How many campaigns have we done together with DFB on this matter?

"Maybe it's about time to put away the criticism which Jadon Sancho often receives, as he was one of the first who have actually made a stand and showed a clear sign against racism in the match against Paderborn."

In the Bild report, it was also suggested Sancho flew back to England earlier in the lockdown period.

He only came off the bench in Dortmund's first three games back after the break due to a calf injury before marking his return to the starting line-up with a hat-trick against Paderborn.

"To our knowledge Jadon has been in Dortmund for weeks," Zorc added. 

"I even read that we have put him into a two-week long quarantine and faked an injury. I can only say that is completely wrong.

"Jadon has had a calf injury for weeks, which is why he could not participate in training."

On what he said to Sancho regarding the haircut, Zorc added: "We have spoken to both the hairdresser and the player.

"Both have ensured us that the measures of hygiene have been respected at all times. They even wore a protection shield and gloves, which were only taken off for the picture.

"Obviously this is not right. We have made that clear once again to the players.

"In this special situation that we are all in due to COVID-19 it is not just the duty of the coaches to keep an eye on discipline. The whole club needs to do that, this includes the board.

"We have spoken to the players in the past. Also with Jadon. We must not forget Jadon is still a very young player, testing his boundaries.

"I don't think I'm accused of protecting him all the time, as I have sanctioned him when there have been misconducts from his side."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is recovering well from the injury to the lower part of his right leg, Milan have revealed.

The veteran striker was the subject of some concern last month after a training-ground injury.

Initial reports suggested Ibrahimovic may have suffered a serious Achilles blow, yet scans showed the tendon was in tact and the Swede had instead damaged his soleus muscle.

Ten days on, the club are happy with how Ibrahimovic is progressing.

"AC Milan announces that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has undergone a check-up following the injury to his right soleus muscle," a statement read on Thursday.

"His recovery is proceeding well, without complications and a new check-up is to be expected in about 10 days."

Milan return to Serie A action amid the coronavirus pandemic on June 22, although they first have a Coppa Italia semi-final second leg against Juventus.

Ibrahimovic, who signed on a free transfer from LA Galaxy in January, has scored four goals in 10 games in all competitions since returning to Milan but was already suspended for the Coppa tie.

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has admitted defeat in the Bundesliga title race as he acknowledged Bayern Munich will be crowned champions again.

When the Bundesliga resumed last month after a two-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, Dortmund trailed Bayern by four points with nine games remaining.

However, last week's 1-0 win in Der Klassiker at Signal Iduna Park increased Bayern's lead to seven points, an advantage they maintained after the weekend's results when they thumped Fortuna Dusseldorf 5-0.

With five games remaining and Bayern in fine form, Zorc has accepted Dortmund's hopes of preventing their rivals winning an eighth straight Bundesliga title are over.

"I think we said it all during the previous week after the match against Bayern," Zorc told reporters.

"From our point of view, the title has been decided.

"We don't believe Bayern will slip, they are just too good, one has to admit that.

"We are currently second and would very much like to finish there."

Dortmund are two points clear of third-placed RB Leipzig and four above Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen.

Lucien Favre's side still need to visit Leipzig but their next game is against Hertha Berlin on Saturday, when teenager Erling Haaland could potentially be missing from the side once more.

The striker came off in the loss to Bayern with a knee injury and was absent for the 6-1 win at Paderborn on Sunday.

"He started to work out with the team for 40 minutes today," Zorc said of Haaland.

"He will be with us tomorrow and we will see. He did not do much since he was slightly injured. We will see."

On captain Marco Reus, who has not played since February due to a thigh injury, Zorc added: "Marco Reus has not been in training with the team for four months.

"He is slowly getting there. He did a lot of running. He has been starting to work with the ball but only in individual training."

Gonzalo Higuain has strained his right hamstring in training and will be monitored ahead of Serie A's restart, Juventus have confirmed.

The Bianconeri are set to return to the field at Bologna on June 22 as the campaign resumes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But striker Higuain suffered a minor injury on Thursday, giving Maurizio Sarri some concern two and a half weeks out from Juve's next competitive match.

"During today's training session, Gonzalo Higuain suffered a muscle strain on the posterior region of his right thigh," an update on Juventus' Twitter account read.


"The tests performed at J Medical have ruled out any lesions. His condition will be monitored in the coming days."

Higuain was widely expected to leave Juve at the start of the season but remained to feature under Sarri, who coached the forward at both Napoli and Chelsea.

The 32-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of next season, has scored five goals in 23 Serie A games this term, ably assisting star duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala.

Gareth Bale could see out the remainder of his playing career at Real Madrid, according to his agent Jonathan Barnett.

While a return to the Premier League would be "unbelievable", it is not a prospect the Wales international is seeking.

Bale, 30, was on the brink of joining Jiangsu Suning in the Chinese Super League last year, amid a strained relationship with Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane.

But seven years after he left Tottenham to move to Spain in a €100million move, Bale is as happy as ever in Madrid.

"He has a very nice lifestyle - I don't see why he doesn't see his career out at Madrid probably," Barnett said to BBC Radio 4.

"As I have always said, he's quite happy in Madrid. It is his life that he wants to lead.

"Financially, he will want for nothing the rest of his life, and his children and grandchildren.

"He has won nearly everything in the world, except the World Cup, but unfortunately he plays for Wales so some things are beyond him. So he has won everything else.

"To come back and play [in the Premier League] would be unbelievable - a big thing [but] I don't think he wants to do that at the moment.

"He's quite happy to play at Real Madrid. I have no idea what his value is. His salary is quite high and also where he wants to go is very important in his life."

Four-time Champions League winner Bale has scored twice in 14 LaLiga appearances this season, with Madrid due to resume their campaign in a home match against Eibar on June 14.

Luis Suarez hopes he can go past Laszlo Kubala on the list of Barcelona's all-time top goalscorers to prove what an impact he has made at Camp Nou.

Suarez has been sidelined since undergoing knee surgery in January but is in line to feature again when the season resumes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The former Liverpool forward will take to the field just three goals behind third-placed Kubala in Barca's record books.

Suarez has the opportunity to boost his tally of 191 Blaugrana goals, narrowly short of the great Hungarian's 194 haul, between now and the end of the campaign.

But with Barcelona locked in a tense title tussle with Real Madrid and still engaged in the Champions League, Suarez - while keen to overtake Kubala - is focused on securing silverware.

"I always say that records or landmarks come by themselves," he told Barca TV. "You just need to focus on helping the team as best you can.

"The chance to move past a legend like Kubala is very welcome. It means you left your mark at a great club like Barca."

Only clear leader Lionel Messi and second-placed Cesar, a star of the 1940s and 1950s, have scored more goals for Barcelona than Kubala.

Suarez anticipates challenges with the unorthodox end to the season, which follows a three-month break caused by the health crisis, adding: "I think it's a mix of everything.

"I think we are not used to playing in such heat in the middle of summer, but we are acclimatising ourselves to playing matches in the heat.

"As for the fans, it will be unusual to play in a stadium without a crowd, but we will adapt.

"I have done it before, so we will just try to focus on the football and doing well and winning matches in the league, which we all want so much to win."

Former Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute has called on LaLiga to throw its full support behind the battle to eradicate the "virus" of racism.

Demonstrations have been taking place across the United States and beyond in support of the late George Floyd, a black American who died in police custody in Minneapolis last week.

Over the weekend, Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho was one of four players in the Bundesliga who displayed anti-racism gestures and messages following Floyd's death.

LeBron James, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Lewis Hamilton and Coco Gauff are among the other prominent stars to have spoken out in the wake of Floyd's death.

LaLiga is set to resume this month after a lengthy enforced suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kanoute welcomed the return of top-flight football in Spain amid the COVID-19 crisis but says racism is a battle LaLiga must tackle head on.

"I'm looking forward [to LaLiga's return] and I don't want to break the positive mood but just to remind, first, many people have struggled with this virus [COVID-19], so our thoughts and hugs from LaLiga to these people who have struggled with the virus," said Kanoute, who was speaking at a LaLiga ambassadors' news conference.

"But also, I wanted to remark there is another virus, unfortunately, which is called racism. 

"And we see that there are still other people who are struggling with this other virus which is very bad too. 

"I expect from us and LaLiga to support all the actions in order not to tolerate any racism gesture anymore, on the pitch and away from the pitch. I just wanted to send this little message."

LaLiga is due to restart on June 11 with the Sevilla derby between Sevilla and Real Betis, with the campaign to wrap up on July 19.

Kai Havertz can be a dominant player for the next decade but no decision has yet been made on his future, says Bayer Leverkusen director of sport Simon Rolfes.

Leverkusen talisman Havertz is widely expected to leave the Bundesliga club at the end of the campaign after an outstanding season.

The Germany international has been linked with Bayern Munich and Manchester United, having contributed 11 goals and five assists in the league this season.

Rolfes, who spent much of his own playing career at the BayArena, foresees Havertz having a big impact wherever he ends up.

"We don't know yet what will happen to Kai," Rolfes told Marca. "We know that all the greats from Germany and Europe are after him and that he has the ability to play anywhere.

"He is a fantastic player and, for many years, Bayern has always been behind the young talents of Germany.

"But we have to wait, there are many factors that can have an influence. His future is not yet decided at all.

"I can only say that I love to see him play, especially for as long as possible in the Leverkusen shirt. I have no preferences when it comes to other teams.

"He will be one of the great dominant players of the next 10 years."

Rolfes acknowledges the coronavirus pandemic could impact rivals' spending in the coming months, potentially allowing Leverkusen to keep Havertz for another season.

Regardless, he says, the club are staying calm.

"The market has changed, although in a year or two everything will be the same again in terms of top players," Rolfes said.

"Kai has a contract until 2022 and we are calm. We speak constantly with him, his family and his representative. We will see."

Havertz is not the only exciting young talent at Leverkusen, however, with 21-year-old centre-back Edmond Tapsoba quickly impressing following a January move from Vitoria Guimaraes.

Rolfes accepts it is to be expected that Leverkusen lose their better players, yet he hopes the club can improve in order to keep their star men for longer.

"We are used to it," he explained. "In each match, we have a legion of scouts in our box. We have a lot of interesting young players and we know that someday they can go to the bigger clubs.

"It is part of our idiosyncrasy as a club, as happened with [Dani] Carvajal, Toni Kroos, [Michael] Ballack, Arturo Vidal.

"With Tapsoba, we have a very long contract, until 2025, and we are calm. In general, we try to raise our level to be an interesting club for these players for a long time."

Chicago Bulls legend Dennis Rodman seemingly made a comical gaffe in a personalised video for SPAL striker Andrea Petagna.

The Napoli-bound forward reportedly paid around $600 to receive a message from Rodman, who won three straight NBA titles with the Bulls playing alongside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen between 1996 and 1998.

Rodman's success with one of the world's most famous sporting dynasties was the focus of the recent ESPN and Netflix docuseries 'The Last Dance', which may have been the prompt for Petagna to request a video.

So, there might have been a bit of a surprise when he was addressed as "honey" and told he may one day come up against Rodman's daughter Trinity on the pitch.

"Andrea, isn't it amazing?" Rodman said in the clip, which Petagna posted on Instagram alongside the caption 'I hope to meet you soon [Trinity Rodman], Keep going'.

"Dennis Rodman is calling you. Andrea, 'The Bulldozer', what does that mean? It means that you score a lot. 

"But I've got something for you right now, Andrea. I got a daughter named Trinity Rodman, she's the number one soccer player in the world right now.

"Come on, man. Look her up! One of these days you're going to face her and one of these days you're going to text me back and say, 'Dennis you know what? You're right, she's good, just like me. She's a bulldozer, but she's a Rodman'.

"Either way, honey, your friends really love you. Respect, respect, respect. Keep doing what you're doing."

Petagna later added to his Instagram story to show he had received a "Hey bro!!" from Rodman, who also won two NBA titles with the Detroit Pistons in 1989 and 1990.

One-cap Italy international Petagna agreed to join Napoli in January but is staying with SPAL until the end of the season. The 24-year-old has 11 goals in 25 Serie A appearances this term.

Borussia Dortmund do not expect a decision on Achraf Hakimi's future until Real Madrid's LaLiga season finishes, says BVB chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke.

Versatile wing-back Hakimi has been an outstanding performer for Dortmund during a two-year loan spell.

The Madrid man, who has formed an effective right-sided partnership with Jadon Sancho, has played 50 times in the Bundesliga, scoring seven goals.

Hakimi's form would appear to make him a genuine option for Madrid's first XI, and agent Alejandro Camano last week said a return to Spain was the player's aim.

But Dortmund are not yet giving up hope of a permanent transfer for the 21-year-old.

"There will definitely be no decision before the Spaniards have ended the season," Watzke told Kicker.

Sporting director Michael Zorc added: "The possibility is still open. We can still imagine Hakimi at BVB.

"But I stick to the facts. Achraf has a contract with Madrid."

While Hakimi's status for next season is uncertain, Dortmund are widely expected to lose Sancho, who has been linked with a host of elite clubs.

The England winger has 17 goals and 16 assists in the league this season and scored his first career hat-trick against Paderborn on Sunday.

Salzburg head coach Jesse Marsch says he has had no contact with Borussia Dortmund over potentially replacing Lucien Favre.

Pressure is building on Favre after a defeat at home to Bayern Munich last week appeared to end Dortmund's Bundesliga title aspirations for another season.

Marsch, who has impressed in his first campaign at Salzburg, is reported to be a leading candidate for the job at Signal Iduna Park.

The former New York Red Bulls boss has experience of the German top flight having served as an assistant at RB Leipzig prior to the switch to Austria.

Marsch worked with Erling Haaland at Salzburg, too, before the talented teenager moved to Dortmund and took the Bundesliga by storm.

But the American coach is focused on Salzburg, where he has two years remaining on his contract.

"First of all, I have to say that I don't know Lucien Favre but I have met him some years ago," Marsch said after a 2-0 win over Rapid Vienna. "He is a great coach.

"Dortmund are doing well, they are second in Bundesliga and it's a great club.

"I have a contract here and my focus is 100 per cent here in Salzburg. It's not necessary to speak about it, and I have to say that I haven't been in contact with Dortmund.

"In the end, I can just say that I am fully focused here in Salzburg and I am really happy here. That's it."

Salzburg boast a five-point lead at the top of Austria's Bundesliga after the first game in the championship round following the season's resumption amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Marsch's men also earned praise in the Champions League this term despite exiting at the group stage, having thrashed Genk home and away and played out an epic seven-goal defeat to Liverpool at Anfield.

Coach Marsch garnered attention when footage of his half-time team talk on Merseyside - with Salzburg 3-1 down - was posted online.

The arrivals of Lautaro Martinez and Neymar at the end of the season had been the dream for Barcelona.

Forming the best attack in the world had been the idea, prising Inter's Martinez to Camp Nou and re-signing Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

But Barca have reportedly been priced out of a deal for Neymar.

 

TOP STORY – PSG SET NEYMAR PRICE

Paris Saint-Germain want €175million in cash for Barcelona target Neymar, according to Sport.

Neymar left Barca for PSG in a world-record €222m transfer in 2017 but the Brazilian superstar continues to be linked with a Camp Nou comeback.

But Barca's hopes have been dealt a blow due to PSG's demands and coronavirus as they prioritise Inter forward Lautaro Martinez.

 

ROUND-UP

- RMC Sport claims Manchester City are interested in Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer. Pep Guardiola has reportedly talked to Bennacer about a move to the Premier League. City are also interested in Barca's Sergi Roberto, claims Mundo Deportivo.

Real Madrid are keen on signing Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, AS says. The England international has been tipped to join United, while Chelsea and Liverpool have also been linked.

- Calciomercato claims Napoli are eyeing a move for Lille forward Victor Osimhen. It comes amid uncertainty over the futures of Arkadiusz Milik and Jose Callejon. Milik has been heavily linked to Juventus, while the likes of Sevilla and Real Betis are reportedly interested in bringing former Madrid winger Callejon back to LaLiga.

Sevilla are prepared to wait until the end of the season for Barca's Ivan Rakitic, reports Mundo Deportivo. Barca are willing to sanction Rakitic's transfer and Spanish rivals Sevilla are looking to bring the Croatia international back to Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

- According to L'Equipe, injury-plagued Barca star Ousmane Dembele has no intention of leaving Camp Nou for Juve.

- ESPN says United need more cash to sign Birmingham City sensation Jude Bellingham. The 16-year-old has also been linked to Dortmund.

Fabian Ruiz is wanted by Spain's two biggest clubs – Barca and Madrid. But Mundo Deportivo says the Napoli star is moving further away from a switch to the Santiago Bernabeu due to Madrid not being able to meet the Italian club's valuation. Luka Jovic and James Rodriguez have been mentioned as possible makeweights but Napoli only want cash.

- Lille defender Gabriel has emerged as a possible replacement for Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly. Le10Sport says Napoli have identified Gabriel as well as Fiorentina pair German Pezzella and Nikola Milenkovic. Sky Sport Italia, meanwhile, says United are offering £71m (€80m) for Koulibaly but Napoli are holding out for at least £89m (€100m).

Pedro is a player in demand. The Chelsea forward is set to become a free agent and AS says Roma are the Spaniard's "priority". Juve, Sevilla, Betis and Valencia have also been credited with interest.

Keylor Navas deserves to be recognised as a Real Madrid legend, according to Fernando Morientes.

Navas, 33, spent five seasons with Madrid, winning a LaLiga title and three Champions Leagues among numerous other honours before joining Paris Saint-Germain last year.

Morientes, a Madrid great, believes the goalkeeper should be considered among the LaLiga club's best.

"In the end, for example, at Real Madrid I tell you that he is a legend," the former striker told ESPN.

"A player like him who has participated in great moments in Madrid must be classified as legends, without any doubt."

Navas arrived at Madrid from Levante in 2014 and established himself as the club's number one after Iker Casillas' departure the following year.

Morientes said Navas' growth at Madrid had been immense, with the shot-stopper starting in all three of their Champions League final wins between 2016 and 2018.

"Keylor Navas came as a substitute player for a great goalkeeper in our history as Iker Casillas was," he said.

"Little by little he gained the respect of the entire public, but he was also decisive in great moments in the history of the Bernabeu."

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