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Ligue 1

? Top 21 athletes of 2021: 11-7

Throughout a busy 2021 schedule, athletes treated fans to remarkable and awe-inspiring performances. With the year winding down, theScore looked back at an exciting 12 months and voted on its top 21 sportspeople.

21-17 I 16-12 I 11-7 I 6-2 (Dec. 30) I No. 1 (Dec. 31)

11. Tadej Pogacar, cycling

Tim de Waele / Velo / Getty

Cyclists aren’t supposed to dominate in their early 20s. It’s just not something that happens. But Pogacar clearly isn’t one for such conventions. In July, the Slovenian all-rounder became the youngest winner of successive Tour de France titles. Six days after the grueling 3,400-kilometre Euro trek, the 23-year-old captured bronze in the Olympic men’s road race. Add in victories at two of the sport’s most-prized one-day races – Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Giro di Lombardia – and Pogacar’s year is among the best in recent history.

10. Lionel Messi, Paris Saint-Germain

Aurelien Meunier – PSG / PSG / Getty

Messi won the Ballon d’Or a record seventh time in 2021. The 34-year-old was effectively forced to leave Barcelona in the summer due to the club’s huge debts, but he still departed with a Copa del Rey triumph and a remarkable haul of 28 goals in 29 appearances over the 2020-21 campaign. However, his greatest feat was in the Copa America, where he inspired Argentina with four goals and five assists. At long last, victory over Brazil in the final earned Messi his first senior international trophy.

9. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Dan Istitene – Formula 1 / Formula 1 / Getty

For the first time since 2016, someone other than Lewis Hamilton won the Formula 1 drivers’ championship. Verstappen claimed the title on the final lap of the final race of the season. While his victory comes with some controversy, the Dutchman is a deserving champion. He won a season-best 10 races and stood on the podium 18 times, earning top-two finishes in the final eight races. Verstappen also became the fourth-youngest champion at 24 years and 73 days old.

8. Elaine Thompson-Herah, track

Tim Clayton – Corbis / Corbis Sport / Getty

Jamaica’s Thompson-Herah won gold at the women’s 4x100m relay in Tokyo, and she became the first woman to capture the sprint double at back-to-back Olympics. She joined Usain Bolt as the only two who’ve achieved that feat – decent company. Thompson-Herah is also the second-fastest woman ever at both distances – an outstanding accomplishment considering dual record holder Florence Griffith-Joyner’s implausible standards. And, at the Prefontaine Classic in August, the 29-year-old Thompson-Herah ran a personal-best 10.54 in the 100m, just 0.05 seconds back of FloJo’s mark. Blink and you’ll miss her.

7. Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich

DeFodi Images / DeFodi Images / Getty

Lewandowski’s resume speaks for itself. After establishing himself as one of the world’s most prolific strikers in the last decade, the Bayern Munich star elevated his game to another level in 2021. He cemented his place as a Bundesliga legend last season with 41 league goals – breaking Gerd Muller’s 49-year single-season scoring record – on his way to winning the European Golden Boot. Although Lewandowski controversially didn’t get his hands on the elusive Ballon d’Or, 2021 will go down as the year he emerged from the shadows of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to be recognized as one of soccer’s brightest stars.

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Ligue 1

Emiliano Sala flight organizer convicted of endangering safety of aircraft

The man who organized the fatal flight of footballer Emiliano Sala was convicted Thursday.

Businessman David Henderson was found guilty of endangering the safety of an aircraft at a trial at Cardiff Crown Court, according to BBC News.

The 67-year-old will be sentenced Nov. 12. He previously pleaded guilty to a charge of trying to organize a flight without permission or authorization.

Sala and pilot David Ibbotson died when the single-engine Piper Malibu they were traveling in crashed into the English Channel in January 2019.

The Argentine forward was flying to Wales to link up with his new club, Cardiff City, and complete his £15-million transfer from French side Nantes – the city from which the flight departed.

LOIC VENANCE / AFP / Getty

The jury took seven-and-a-half hours to make its decision.

Henderson, who was on holiday in France at the time of the flight, asked Ibbotson to fly the plane. However, Ibbotson did not hold a commercial pilot’s license, which is required to fly at night, and the 59-year-old’s qualifications to fly the single-engine Piper Malibu had expired months before the trip. The Piper Malibu’s owner had also told Henderson not to let Ibbotson fly the plane again because the pilot had committed airspace infringements.

A carbon monoxide leak occurred during the flight, an August 2019 report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch revealed. The plane crashed after Ibbotson’s attempt to pull it up caused the aircraft to break up in midair.

The jury was told that Henderson texted multiple people moments after the plane crashed, telling them to stay silent about the matter out of fear they would “open a can of worms.”

The prosecutor described Henderson as “reckless or negligent” for prioritizing his business interests over the safety of travelers.

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Ligue 1

Emiliano Sala flight organizer convicted of endangering safety of aircraft

The man who organized the fatal flight of footballer Emiliano Sala was convicted Thursday.

Businessman David Henderson was found guilty of endangering the safety of an aircraft at a trial at Cardiff Crown Court, according to BBC News.

The 67-year-old will be sentenced Nov. 12. He previously pleaded guilty to a charge of trying to organize a flight without permission or authorization.

Sala and pilot David Ibbotson died when the single-engine Piper Malibu they were traveling in crashed into the English Channel in January 2019.

The Argentine forward was flying to Wales to link up with his new club, Cardiff City, and complete his £15-million transfer from French side Nantes – the city from which the flight departed.

LOIC VENANCE / AFP / Getty

The jury took seven-and-a-half hours to make its decision.

Henderson, who was on holiday in France at the time of the flight, asked Ibbotson to fly the plane. However, Ibbotson did not hold a commercial pilot’s license, which is required to fly at night, and the 59-year-old’s qualifications to fly the single-engine Piper Malibu had expired months before the trip. The Piper Malibu’s owner had also told Henderson not to let Ibbotson fly the plane again because the pilot had committed airspace infringements.

A carbon monoxide leak occurred during the flight, an August 2019 report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch revealed. The plane crashed after Ibbotson’s attempt to pull it up caused the aircraft to break up in midair.

The jury was told that Henderson texted multiple people moments after the plane crashed, telling them to stay silent about the matter out of fear they would “open a can of worms.”

The prosecutor described Henderson as “reckless or negligent” for prioritizing his business interests over the safety of travelers.

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Ligue 1

Switzerland shocks France, reaches quarters after penalty shootout

Switzerland is through to the quarterfinals of Euro 2020 after beating World Cup champion France 5-4 on penalties following an all-time classic encounter in the competition.

Kylian Mbappe stepped up for Les Bleus’ fifth spot-kick but saw his effort saved by Yann Sommer, meaning France will miss the final eight of a major tournament for the first time since 2010.

The 120 minutes that preceded the shootout ended 3-3 after the two teams combined for 38 shots on goal in a match of numerous twists and turns.

The Swiss led against Didier Deschamps’ reshuffled yet disorganized team at halftime through Haris Seferovic’s header. The underdogs had chances to double that advantage but spurned all of them, including a Ricardo Rodriguez spot-kick that was pushed away by Hugo Lloris.

Karim Benzema flipped the tie in France’s favor with a quickfire double in the four or so minutes that followed that penalty save. Soon after, Paul Pogba bent in a sublime effort from distance. The match was getting away from Switzerland and France was purring.

FRANCK FIFE / AFP / Getty

But, in keeping with a thrilling day of Euro 2020 action, there were more surprises. Seferovic headed in another goal and substitute Mario Gavranovic neatly skipped beside Presnel Kimpembe before firing a 90th-minute equalizer. France’s Kingsley Coman hit the crossbar in the dying seconds of normal time.

Pogba picked out Mbappe with a measured pass for the best chance during extra time, but the forward wastefully smashed his shot into the side-netting. Olivier Giroud, who replaced Benzema, also had a header well saved by Sommer.

A high-quality series of penalties followed until Sommer palmed away Mbappe’s effort from 12 yards. The Paris Saint-Germain superstar finished his campaign with 14 shots (excluding his effort in the shootout) without scoring a single goal.

Switzerland will take on Spain in the quarterfinals on Friday.

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