Lopetegui wants focus on soccer after Pique jeered by fans

first_imgMargot Robbie talks about filming ‘Bombshell’s’ disturbing sexual harassment scene How to help the Taal evacuees FILE – In this Monday, Sept 4, 2017 file photo, Spain’s Gerard Pique takes part in a training session a day prior to the World Cup Group G qualifying soccer match between Liechtenstein and Spain at the Rheinpark stadium in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has defended Gerard Pique from critics who question his loyalty to the national team because of his support for a disputed referendum on Catalan independence. (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP, FIle)MADRID — Spain coach Julen Lopetegui praised Gerard Pique’s commitment to the national team and called on the squad to be focused only on soccer despite the crisis involving Catalonia’s push for independence.Pique, the outspoken Barcelona defender highly supportive of Catalans, was harassed by fans Monday when he reported to the national team’s training camp in Madrid ahead of upcoming World Cup qualifiers.ADVERTISEMENT The national team’s practice on Tuesday was closed to the fans.“We are soccer players and coaches, we have to be focused on our main goal, which is to qualify for the World Cup,” Lopetegui said. “We can’t get distracted by anything. I know that this is an unpleasant situation, but I ask for some reasoning and tranquility so we can all play a great match against Albania.”Spain is three points ahead of Italy in Group G. It has a much better goal difference than the Italians, so it can close in a World Cup spot with a victory against Albania or at Israel on Monday.Only the group winner automatically qualifies for next year’s tournament in Russia.On Tuesday, Barcelona and the two other Catalan clubs in the Spanish league — Girona and Espanyol — joined a strike to protest the Spanish government’s actions in Catalonia. Barcelona said none of its professional or youth teams practiced and its headquarters was closed. The club played in an empty Camp Nou on Sunday to show its discontentment with the government’s actions during the referendum.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Lopetegui said in a radio interview with local radio station COPE on Monday night that the central defender remained “motivated” despite the abuse from fans. He said he talked to Pique and didn’t think he was affected by it.He said Pique’s “behavior with the national team has always been very good” and there was no reason not to have him on the team. He said the player was well liked by his teammates.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’SPORTSFederer blasts lack of communication on Australian Open smog“We don’t analyze the player’s political opinion,” Lopetegui said. “Gerard is an extraordinary central defender and he has been playing with the national team since he was 16. His commitment is tremendous. I don’t see why I shouldn’t bring him to the team. He is available and he wants to play. I know it’s not an easy situation, but I am a soccer coach and I have to prioritize.”The coach said players have the right to express their opinions privately, but have to try to avoid adding to the “unpleasant situation” generated by Catalonia’s bid for independence. LATEST STORIES ‘Very happy’ Nadal survives Beijing scare “We all have the obligation to create the best atmosphere possible ahead of this game against Albania (on Friday),” Lopetegui said. “And I mean all of us. We are playing to make it to the World Cup. After a year and a half we have the chance to finish the job and we obviously need to focus on this game, which is the only important thing for us this week. We all have to contribute to create this good atmosphere, there is no doubt.”Pique was in tears on Sunday as he criticized the Spanish police after violent clashes erupted during the independence referendum that the Spanish government said was unconstitutional. Officials said more than 890 civilians and about 430 members of the police force were injured across the northeastern region.“I see Pique with the same enthusiasm as before,” Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara said. “He is as happyas he has always been inside our locker room.”Pique continued to criticize authorities on social media on Monday, including just before reporting to the national team.Fans in Madrid chanted and held cards against Pique, including some that said “Spain is your nation” and “Out Pique.”ADVERTISEMENT Mos Burger to open in Manila; teases with a pop-up Jake says relationship with Shaina ‘goes beyond physical attraction’ MOST READ DAY6 is for everybody OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ‘a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award In ‘Jojo Rabbit,’ Comedy and Drama Collide It’s too early to present Duterte’s ‘legacy’ – Lacson Nueva Ecija warehouse making fake cigarettes raided, 29 Chinese workers nabbed Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View commentslast_img read more

LEDFC Gets New US$20M Fund for Support to SMEs

first_imgDr. Papa Kwesi Ndoum (5th from left) joins LEDFC, GN Bank representatives in calling on Liberian SMEs to be hopefulThe Liberian Enterprise Development Finance Company (LEDFC) has received another boost in its efforts to support small and medium enterprises in the country through a loan of US$20 million.The signing ceremony of the loan agreement was chaired by Groupe Ndoum, a Ghanian finance company operating in partnership with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).OPIC is a self-sustaining U.S. government agency that helps American business invest in emerging markets.The Liberian Enterprise Development Finance Company (LEDFC), following a performance assessment of its operations by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), has won a chance, for the second time in row to receive US$20 million for lending. The announcement was made by Dr. Papa Kwesi Ndoum, President and chief executive officer (CEO) of Groupe Ndoum, parent company of LEDFC.According to Dr. Ndoum, the money will be used to lend to Liberian-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and it is hoped that an additional US$16 million will come from other sources (not named) to increase the lending pot to US$36 million.Dr. Ndoum added that the signing ceremony was to announce the availability of the second US$20 million so as to provide the space for qualified Liberian SMEs to apply for funding from the LEDFC.LEDFC is the only Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) licensed development finance company in Liberia and is a member of Groupe Ndoum, a multinational company that has investments in Liberia.“It is because of OPIC the first US$20 million came. This second US$20 million demonstrates, on the part of OPIC, not just a common support to the SMEs, but commitment to the revival of the Liberian economy,” Dr. Ndoum said.OPIC was established in 1971 and, since then, it has and continues to provide businesses the needed tools to manage the risks associated with foreign direct investment, fosters economic development in emerging market countries, and advances the United Staes foreign policy and national security priorities.“OPIC helps American businesses gain footholds in new markets, catalyzes new revenues and contributes to jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad,” Ndoum said. He added that OPIC also fulfills its mission by providing businesses with financing, political risk insurance, advocacy and by partnering with private equity investment fund managers.Dr. Papa Kwesi Ndoum affixes his signature to the US$20 million OPIC loan to LEDFC for onward lending to SMEs.For those seeking loans from the LEDFC, the general manager, Ambrose Houphouet, said an applicant must be a Liberian and running a business through which a few or some other Liberians are earning their daily bread and improving their lives through the acquisition of skills in order for them to provide help for others in need.Houphouet said every applicant must be willing to pay back the full amount given him or her.“The interest rate ranges between 11 percent to 15 percent per annum and it is the uncompromising expectation of LEDFC that applicants pay according to the interest rate agreed upon, so as to enable his company return the money to the companies that provide it. Other people, too, need the same money to expand and improve their businesses,” he said.He said applicants, depending on each one’s business case, are encouraged to apply for at least US$10,000 or even up to US$1 million.“LEDFC was founded in 2007 and as of that time, over 500 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have benefited from the loan program and over 5000 jobs have also been created in the Liberian struggling economy,” Houphouet said. According to him, the initial money for the LEDFC to begin administering its loans was provided by the Robert L. Johnson (RLJ) Foundation.“LEDFC has financial inclusion as a priority and, for this fact, three additional offices of LEDFC are now operating outside of Monrovia,” he noted.He pointed out that in 2013 there were concerns that LEDFC could not have survived the tough business conditions in the Liberian economy but, having interest in ensuring that Liberian businesses keep up and running, his company got in touch with Groupe Ndoum for assistance and advice.“Due to Groupe Ndoum’s in-depth experience and knowledge in financial matters in the sub-region, LEDFC accepted that it (Groupe Ndoum) take over the management of our company. This was in 2011,” he said.Houphouet explained further that given Groupe Ndoum’s successful management of LEDFC, GN Bank went ahead to acquire the entity for an ownership transfer consideration of US$2,000. GN Bank also assumed the existing OPIC loan liability of US$20 million.“GN quickly restructured LEDFC’s management and operations. It is significant to note that GN kept all employees of LEDFC as members of its employees. I mean, this was after it took over LEDFC,” he said.He said the SMEs will soon be informed of when the disbursement of loans will begin at LEDFC for the second US$20 million.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more