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Lesbian couple left ‘overwhelmed with anger’ as South Africa venue declines their wedding


Megan Watling, 25, and Sasha-Lee Heekes, 24, said they contacted the owners of Beloftebos, a popular event place in Cape Town, inquiring about potential dates for their wedding.

However, they received an email response that the venue does not accommodate weddings between couples of the same gender, Watling and Heekes wrote on Facebook.

Watling said she cried and became overwhelmed with anger after reading the response last Friday.

“At first I cried, but then I was overwhelmed with anger,” Watling wrote in her post.

“How, in 2020, is this still a reality? Same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since 2006, but yet people still believe that they can justify hate and bigotry and quote a God that I don’t believe would stand for said hate and bigotry.”

“We do not ask that anyone approves or even accepts our love, but we do deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, just like anyone else.”

Orthodox Christian beliefs

Beloftebos spokesman Micheal Swain told CNN the owners declined the couple’s request because it contradicted their orthodox Christian beliefs that marriage should be between “one man and one woman.”

Lesbian couple viciously beaten in homophobic attack on London bus

Swain argued that the venue owners were not homophobic, and forcing them to host the nuptials also violates their rights to express their religious beliefs.

“LGBT rights do not trump religious rights under South Africa’s constitution. The owners don’t just rent out the venue, they are also actively involved in the arrangement, which they are simply saying they do not believe they can do in good conscience,” Swain said.

The couple has complained about the venue to the South Africa Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). They will announce further actions to be taken on the matter, a spokesperson told CNN Monday.

Boycott of the venue

It is not the first time the venue has been embroiled in controversy regarding gay marriage.

Another lesbian couple was turned down in 2017 when they inquired about using the venue for their wedding.

South African ruling African National Congress called at the time for a boycott of the venue. It threatened to bring the matter before the country’s equal rights commission.

Beleftbos owners responded to the criticism on its website, saying they were not “homophobic,” but their venue policy based on their Christian faith only permits heterosexual marriages.

“We, the owners of Beloftebos are Christians who seek to honor and obey God in everything we do, including the way in which we operate our business (the wedding venue). While the venue is available to people of all race, our Biblical conviction is that marriage is reserved for a life-long commitment between one man and one woman,” a statement on the venue’s website reads.

A dangerous reality

Heekes said she decided to share her experience to help to spotlight the challenges people of different sexual orientations face in their relationships.

The 24-year-old said despite being with her partner for seven years and laws that protect their rights as a couple, they have been afraid to share their relationship because of their reality.

South Africa legalized same-sex marriage in 2006 following a court ruling that the previous law violated the country’s constitution that guarantees equal rights for citizens.

Faith-based organizations and civil officers are, however, not bound to conduct marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples under the law, according to Pew Research Center.

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The Latest: morning rain delays play on outside courts


Morning rain has delayed the start of play on outside courts at the Australian Open by one hour

MELBOURNE, Australia —
The Latest on the Australian Open (all times local):

11:20 a.m.

Morning rain has delayed the start of play on outside courts at the Australian Open by one hour.

The sun was shining and the rain had cleared at Melbourne Park when play started on the three covered arenas but the outside courts were still wet from from earlier heavy showers.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza opened play at Rod Laver Arena when she took on Ajla Tomljanovic. Top-seeded Rafael Nadal was scheduled to play the final match on the same court against Federico Delbonis.

The forecast was for clear but windy conditions for the remainder of the day.


More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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Taylor Swift, Olivia Colman lead diverse Sundance 2020 lineup


PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) – Women directors and stars will be at the forefront of this year’s Sundance Film Festival starting on Thursday, at a time when a lack of diversity among nominees has been the focus of the Hollywood awards season.

FILE PHOTO: 77th Golden Globe Awards – Arrivals – Beverly Hills, California, U.S., January 5, 2020 – Taylor Swift. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Women directed 44% of the 118 feature-length films to be previewed at the 10-day festival in the ski resort town of Park City, Utah. Minorities have directed 34%, and directors identifying as LGBTQ 15%.

Last year, women directed 40% of the official selection at Sundance.

At the upcoming Academy Awards on Feb. 9, no female directors are up for an Oscar, and stories by or about men dominate the Best Picture lineup.

“It’s part of a trend at Sundance,” said Brent Lang, executive editor for film and media at movie trade magazine Variety.

“Over the last decade the festival’s put a real premium on providing a platform for female filmmakers, for under-represented filmmakers of all stripes, and I think this is a continuation of that effort.”

Kicking off Sundance, the biggest U.S. showcase for independent cinema, will be director and Emmy winner Lana Wilson with her Netflix documentary, “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana,” which the streaming service says promises a “raw and emotionally revealing look” at the pop star.


Organisers of the festival founded by actor Robert Redford say they received a record-breaking 15,100 submissions this year.

Angelina Jolie stars in the children’s movie “Come Away,” which explores the stories of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland; Olivia Colman plays a daughter trying to look after her elderly parent in “The Father” and Carey Mulligan is a woman who seeks revenge after a tragic event in “Promising Young Woman.”

Elisabeth Moss plays horror author Shirley Jackson in “Shirley,” Ethan Hawke plays Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla in “Tesla,” and Benedict Cumberbatch is a spy during the Cold War in “Ironbark.”

Across the documentary categories, Ron Howard’s “Rebuilding Paradise” shows the wildfires in California that destroyed the town of Paradise in 2018; “Be Water” explores the life of Bruce Lee, and the 4-part Hulu series “Hillary” centers on former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Meanwhile, streaming platforms hope to use Sundance to generate buzz around their offerings.

Along with the opening film, Netflix titles include “Crip Camp,” a documentary about a camp for disabled teenagers from Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions.

Reporting by Sarah Mills; Writing by Bernadette Baum; Editing by Mike Collett-White

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What can you do to reduce the risk of birth defects? – Harvard Health Blog


You’ve done it! You’ve taken that last birth control pill, removed your IUD, or stopped using your contraceptive method of choice. You’ve made the decision to try to conceive a pregnancy, and while this is an exciting time in your life, it can also feel overwhelming. There is so much advice around fertility and pregnancy, and sifting through it all just isn’t possible. For many mothers, their goals crystallize around ensuring that their baby is healthy.

Evidence-based steps that may prevent birth defects

January is Birth Defects Prevention Month, so we want to focus on things you can do to reduce the risk of birth defects. I always encourage my patients to think about the steps they can take to make sure their baby is healthy. Scheduling a preconception visit is a good place to start. At that visit, we can review any medical problems women have, which medications they are taking, and which medications they can continue during pregnancy. While many medications are safe during pregnancy, there are others that should be stopped prior to conception, as those are known to cause birth defects. It is particularly important that women with other medical problems, such as diabetes, attend a preconception counseling visit, as having better control of their diabetes can decrease their risk of birth defects.

Get vaccinated

It is also important that women are up to date with their vaccinations, including the ones for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), influenza, and varicella (chicken pox, which some women may be naturally immune to if they had it as a child). Rubella exposure and infection can cause birth defects, and rarely chicken pox can develop into a severe infection in some pregnant women, as can the flu, so protecting yourself and your baby by ensuring that you are adequately vaccinated is extremely important.

Lifestyle changes can help prevent birth defects, especially taking folic acid daily

This preconception visit can also encourage women to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. I counsel all of my patients that they will gain weight in pregnancy, and so they should start the pregnancy at a healthy weight. I encourage regular exercise even prior to becoming pregnant, and then continuing that level of activity during pregnancy. Being at a healthy weight prior to conceiving and maintaining a healthy weight throughout pregnancy can help decrease your risk of developing diabetes or elevated blood pressure during pregnancy. Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above can also increase your risk of birth defects, which is why maintaining a healthy weight is also important.

All women who are trying to get pregnant should start a daily prenatal vitamin containing at least 400mcg of folic acid, at least one month prior to attempting to conceive. Folic acid helps to decrease the risk of certain birth defects, such as neural tube defects. Another risk factor for neural tube defects is increased core body temperature in a pregnant woman, particularly during the first trimester. I recommend that all of my patients avoid hot tubs, saunas, and hot yoga, and that they treat any fever promptly with acetaminophen (which is safe during pregnancy, unlike ibuprofen).

Reduce substances that can increase the risk of birth defects

Similarly, it is important to avoid substances that increase the risk for birth defects, such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and retinoid medications. There is no safe limit of alcohol use during pregnancy, and while it is known that binge drinking during pregnancy increases the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, there has been no clear definition of the amount of alcohol intake that is connected to fetal alcohol syndrome. I recommend that my patients abstain from alcohol during their pregnancies.

If you are smoking or using alcohol or other drugs, an ideal time to quit is prior to pregnancy. Planning for a pregnancy can be a powerful motivator to quit unhealthy habits, not just during pregnancy but beyond. There are many resources that can help you quit smoking, including medication and nicotine replacement. There may be clinics that specialize in recovery from drug use for pregnant women in your area; starting the conversation with your doctor will help you better understand how to ensure a safe pregnancy for you and your baby.

Doing all you can to ensure a healthy baby

Unfortunately, knowing and following these guidelines does not guarantee that your baby will not have a birth defect. Many birth defects are detected by specialized ultrasounds of the fetal anatomy, although some may not be detected until birth. At the very least, following these recommendations will help ensure that you have done all that you can to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby.

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Boeing’s new CEO orders rethink on key jetliner project


LONDON/CHICAGO (Reuters) – Boeing Co’s (BA.N) new chief executive has sent the aerospace giant back to the drawing board on proposals for a new mid-market aircraft, effectively shelving in their current form plans worth $15 billion-$20 billion that had been overtaken by the 737 MAX crisis.

FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, U.S., August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

A decision on whether to launch a New Midsize Airplane (NMA) seating 220-270 passengers, which seemed imminent barely a year ago, had already been postponed as Boeing gave all its attention to the grounding of the smaller 737 MAX after two fatal crashes.

But days after taking the helm with a mandate to lift Boeing out of its 10-month-old reputational crisis, Chief Executive Dave Calhoun said the competitive playing field had changed.

“Since the first clean sheet of paper was taken to it, things have changed a bit … the competitive playing field is a little different,” he told journalists on a conference call on Wednesday.

“We’re going to start with a clean sheet of paper again; I’m looking forward to that,” Calhoun said.

He also spoke of a fresh approach to the market.

A Boeing spokesman said Calhoun had ordered up a new study on what kind of aircraft was needed. New aircraft typically take 6-7 years or more to bring to market once a decision is made, though Boeing aims to shorten that in part through digital technology and new business models designed around the NMA.

Calhoun “has asked the team to do an assessment of the future market and what kind of airplane is needed to meet the future market,” spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

Noting that the original assessments on the NMA were made about two and a half years ago, he said the new study would “build upon what has been learned … in design and production.”

In further evidence of a change of pace, people familiar with the matter said a meeting between Boeing and a major potential supplier, originally scheduled for next week, had been abruptly canceled with no new date set.

That contrasts with the approach just weeks ago when Boeing was still presenting new details of the NMA to some airlines, including a working logo – “theNMA” – and details of an “advanced composite” structure, according to a slide seen by Reuters.

The NMA had been designed to address a slender gap between single-aisle workhorse jets like the 737 MAX and long-haul wide-body jets like the 787.

But most of the effort revolved around a new production system designed not only to support the NMA but to lay the groundwork for the next single-aisle aircraft after the 737 MAX.

Calhoun said he expected the MAX, whose return to service was delayed again earlier this week, to resume its previous place in the market and remain in service for a generation.

Traditionally toe-to toe-with Europe’s Airbus SE (AIR.PA), Boeing has fallen behind in sales for the largest category of single-aisle planes, such as the 200-240-seat Airbus A321neo, which overlaps with the niche being targeted by the NMA.

By delaying a decision on the NMA, Boeing already risked losing the sweetest part of the market, especially after Airbus seized contracts with two major U.S. airlines, analysts said.

Analysts have also questioned whether Boeing, facing costs equivalent to a new program to repair the MAX crisis, as well as delays on its large new 777X jet whose maiden flight is set for Thursday, would have appetite for such a costly project now.

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago and Tim Hepher in London; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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Pakistan avalanches kill at least 77 people


The avalanches were triggered by heavy snowfall in the Neelum Valley, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, according to local authorities.

Dozens of houses had been wrecked and buried by the snow, with most of those killed and injured in their homes when the avalanches hit, said Ahmad Raza Qadri, state minister for disaster management and rehabilitation, on Tuesday.

The death toll may continue to rise, as there are fears that many people may still be trapped.

In the aftermath, desperate villagers conducted a search and rescue attempt to find those buried in the avalanche, carrying shovels and wading into the deep snow.

Emergency personnel are also on the ground responding to the crisis. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday he had asked the national disaster agency, the military, and federal ministers to provide humanitarian assistance to the affected residents.

Authorities fear more may be dead, buried under the snow.

Several of the injured victims were airlifted by army helicopters to the region’s capital, Muzaffarabad, for treatment, and more helicopters will airdrop food and essential supplies to residents cut off by snow.

In a tweet on Tuesday, the region’s Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan extended his condolences to those affected, adding that his administration would “leave no stone unturned to alleviate the sufferings of (the) affected population.”

The avalanches come during one of the harshest winters in 20 years. Daily life in Pakistan-administered Kashmir had been severely affected, with roads blocked by snow, communication services down, and disruptions to electric power supplies.

The avalanches were triggered by heavy snowfall in the Neelum Valley, Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Separately, in the country’s southwestern province of Balochistan, 16 people have died in 48 hours this week due to rain and snow related incidents, said Imran Zarkoon of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority.

Heavy snowfall is normal for this time of year, said Zaheer Ahmed, director of the National Weather Forecasting Centre in the capital, Islamabad. But “due to climate change, this year the intensity of cold is much higher than the previous few years.”

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College football champions of the decade ranked, starting with LSU


College football decided its national champions during the 2010s without any major controversy compared to previous decades, thanks to the tail end of the Bowl Championship Series and the advent of the College Football Playoff.

(Well, except for 2011, when Oklahoma State was left out in the cold as Alabama and LSU met in a rematch. Or in 2016 and 2017, when two non-conference champions were included the national semifinals. This still pales in comparison to previous postseason controversies.)

And now the decade is complete, with LSU closing the door with a win against Clemson to become only the second team to finish 15-0 in more than a century. With its unbelievably potent offense, the Tigers have made a case for being included among the best teams of any decade, let alone the 2010s.

LSU wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase avoids the tackle attempt by Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons during the College Football Playoff national championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The decade saw championships split among six programs: Alabama with four, Clemson with two and Auburn, Florida State, Ohio State and LSU each with one. And the best national champion of the decade is …

1. 2019 LSU (15-0)

The Tigers’ place in college football history is secure. LSU’s offense is the best to ever come out of the SEC. Quarterback Joe Burrow had an unbelievable senior season. The schedule features several hugely impressive wins, the last coming against a Clemson program aiming to join the shortlist of college football’s top dynasties. There’s no doubt that 2019 LSU will join 2001 Miami (Fla.), 1995 Nebraska and 2018 Clemson in the conversation for the best teams of the past 30 years.

LOOKING AHEAD:Clemson leads early Top 25 for the 2020 season

DYNASTY DELAYED:After loss, Clemson knows it’ll be back for another run

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Rocky Johnson, father of actor Dwayne Johnson, dead at 75


The father of actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has died

Rocky “Soulman” Johnson, a WWE Hall of Fame wrestler who became better known as the father of actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has died. He was 75.

WWE issued a statement on Johnson’s death Wednesday night. Johnson and Tony Atlas became the first black world tag team champions in WWE history when they defeated The Wild Samoans on Dec. 10, 1983.

Johnson later helped train his son, who adopted the Rocky moniker from his father. Johnson came to his son’s aid after a match at WrestleMania in 1997. The Rock inducted his father into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.

Former professional wrestler Brian Blair, another 1980s WWE star, was friends with Johnson for decades and they still went to church together in the Tampa, Florida area. Blair told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Johnson had complained of an unspecified illness of late and had missed church that he attended with Blair and other former wrestlers. Blair said Johnson’s wife, Sheila, was distraught over her husband’s death.

“He was just under the weather, he thought he had the flu or something,” Blair said by phone. “I said, ‘You, need to get checked out, Rocky.’ He said he’d be OK. Then he missed this Sunday, a few days ago. When I talked to him again, he said he still wasn’t feeling good and he still missed church. He still didn’t get checked out. I talked to Sheila and she said he was just being stubborn. He died at home, today.”

Johnson was born Wayde Douglas Bowles and started his wrestling career in the mid-1960s. He spent the bulk of his career in the National Wrestling Alliance and later joined the then-World Wrestling Federation in the 1980s. He formed a tag team with Atlas known as “Soul Patrol” and became of one the popular teams of the era. Johnson retired in the early 1990s, but helped introduce his son to officials at WWE.

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Plastic packaging ban ‘could harm environment’


Plastic packagingImage copyright

Consumer pressure to end plastic packaging in shops could actually be harming the environment, a report says.

Firms are swapping to other packaging materials which are potentially even worse for the environment, the cross-party Parliamentary group warns.

Glass bottles, for instance, are much heavier than plastic so are far more polluting to transport.

Paper bags tend to have higher carbon emissions than plastic bags – and are more difficult to re-use.

The change in packaging materials has been prompted by concern from shoppers about the impact of plastic waste in the oceans.

But the report’s authors say the consequences of using new materials has not been properly assessed.

Several supermarkets, for instance, are selling more drinks in coated cartons under the assumption that they can be recycled.

In fact, the Green Alliance says, the UK only has the facilities to recycle a third of the coated containers in circulation.

Compostable confusion

The group has been working with recycling organisations to survey shops’ anonymous responses to public anxiety about plastic polluting the oceans.

Its spokeswoman, Libby Peake, told BBC News: “A lot of shops are selling packaging described as biodegradable or compostable.

“In fact the items might only be composted in an industrial composter – and, even then, some items might not be fully digested.”

The report says: “Over 80% of consumers think biodegradable or compostable plastic is environmentally friendly, but there is little understanding of what the terms mean and how the material should be dealt with.

Image copyright
Getty Images

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Paper bags can’t be re-used with as much ease as plastic ones

“Our interviewees wanted a clearer approach to where it should be used and how it should be marked to avoid confusing consumers and potentially causing more problems.”

The retailers worried that confusion could potentially harm the environment if people either put “compostable” plastic in with conventional plastic, or littered it, wrongly assuming it would biodegrade like an apple core.

Some companies that had tried using this type of plastic also suggested that the material did not degrade as expected in real world conditions.

Be braver?

One firm is quoted as saying: “Consumers are hugely confused about what bio-based, compostable and biodegradable mean.

“We are aware that [by switching from plastic to other materials] we may, in some cases, be increasing our carbon footprint.”

Another said: “If I could have a magic wand, I’d like to see more joined up, top-down government intervention… We would like to see government be braver.”

A different firm said: “Packaging technology innovations can be quite the competitive advantage in the current climate.”

Andrew Opie, from the British Retail Consortium, echoed calls for a clearer strategy.

He said: “All responsible retailers agree that climate change needs to be at the heart of their business, whether that is sourcing products or changing packaging.

“Plastic remains the most effective material in many circumstances – for example cucumbers wrapped in plastic last 14 days longer, reducing food waste.

“A coherent waste and resources strategy is one that prioritises reducing the environmental impact of the things we buy, not simply reducing plastic use.”

What the government is doing

The government published its resources and waste strategy in December 2018, and has conducted initial consultations on three policies: extended producer responsibility for packaging; introducing a deposit return system for drinks bottles; and bringing in greater consistency for recycling and waste collections.

Ministers say businesses will pay for 100% of costs for dealing with material when it becomes waste, as opposed to around 10% currently.

Consultations on the three topics are expected later this year, but the timeline for their implementation remains unclear, and the government has not confirmed if the deposit return will apply to all materials and container sizes.

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Image caption

There are also efforts to target plastic straws

The government has partially banned microbeads, and a ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds is set to come in later this year.

A ban on expanded polystyrene has also been mooted and the Treasury has promised to introduce a tax on plastic packaging that does not include at least 30% recycled content.

The UK has committed to adopting the EU’s Circular Economy Package, which includes much more stringent recycling targets, but has not committed to transposing the Single-Use Plastics Directive, which requires more widespread action on plastic reduction, including bans on plastic cutlery.

They have said, however, that they will meet or exceed whatever the EU does in this area.

It is also not clear if the UK will adopt the EU’s much more wide-ranging ban on microbeads.

Follow Roger on Twitter.

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Sadio Mane crowned Africa’s best footballer having emerged as Liverpool’s key man


But these days it’s Mane, named African footballer of the year for the first time on Tuesday night in Cairo to deny Salah a third consecutive crown, who is the one scooping individual awards.
The Senegalese star has helped Liverpool win the Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup this year — making the Merseysiders the first English side to hold all three trophies simultaneously — as well as steering his country to the Africa Cup of Nations Final.

“I’m really happy and proud to win this. Football is my job, I love it,” said Mane.

While Salah has been Liverpool’s most prolific goalscorer over the course of the last two seasons, Mane’s contributions haven’t gone unnoticed.
He scored 26 goals in 50 appearances last season as Liverpool finished second in the league, and his 22 league goals were enough to see him share the English Premier League Golden Boot with Salah and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
“I think Mo Salah tends to get more headlines than Mane does and other players get mentioned more than he does,” Gareth Roberts, editor of Liverpool fanzine The Anfield Wrap, tells CNN Sport.

“There’s probably a million and one reasons why that is, but certainly at Anfield, at Liverpool, amongst fans, he’s appreciated as much as anyone else. We love him.”

Mane was the most expensive African footballer of all-time when he was signed from Southampton for $43 million in 2016, and since then has gone on to become a fan favorite at Anfield where, staggeringly, he is yet to lose a Premier League fixture.

“We’ve seen over the years several players come to Liverpool with big reputations for big money and they haven’t really cut the mustard week in, week out,” says Roberts.

“Sometimes you wonder about their passion to win, you wonder about how much they want it. There’s never been that question with Sadio Mane. It’s written large in the way he plays football … you’d feel he would run through a wall now to try and win a football match for Liverpool.”

Mane (right) controls the ball against Wolves last month.

‘Liverpool’s best player for three seasons’

Mane, who signed a long-term contract with the club in November 2018, has contributed 11 goals in 19 games so far this season.

His fitness will be crucial as the Reds — now 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League — negotiate a crowded fixture calendar in a bid to win their first title in 30 years.

Liverpool announces lucrative multi-year kit deal with Nike
“Sadio Mane’s output has got basically better and better to the point where he’s consistently been Liverpool’s best player for three seasons now,” Paul Machin, a Liverpool fan and presenter of the YouTube channel The Redmen TV, tells CNN Sport.

As Mane’s performances have improved, so too, it seems, has his love for the game.

“There’s something about him and the way he plays football,” Machin adds. “I always talk about when Ronaldinho was at the peak of his powers at Barcelona and he played with a smile on his face. Mane looks like that.

“There’s a lot of footballers out there and you get the impression that they’re the best in the world but you don’t get the impression that they love the game. I think there’s something very contagious about Mane’s joy of football.”

Mane (left) celebrates scoring against Sheffield United with teammate Roberto Firmino.
That contagious joy was laid bare during Liverpool’s FA Cup victory on Sunday. When teenager Curtis Jones curled in a spectacular winning goal against Merseyside rival Everton, Mane couldn’t help abandoning his warm-up on the touchline to celebrate.
Teenager Curtis Jones helps Liverpool beat Everton with sensational goal

“I don’t think there’s any front to him,” says Machin. “He’s naturally quite a shy, guarded person but I don’t think he’s that way to protect himself … he’s a very humble, genuine sort of guy.”

A devout Muslim, last season Mane was seen helping to clean at a local mosque hours after scoring for Liverpool against Leicester.
He holds local communities close to his heart. Ahead of the Champions League final in 2018, Mane sent 300 Liverpool jerseys back to his Senegalese village of Bambali as a gift.
He also returned there after last year’s Africa Cup of Nations final to visit a new school he is helping to finance.

Be it back home in Senegal or among the Anfield faithful, Mane is a popular presence.

Arguably his finest moment in Europe last season was a spectacular goal away to Bayern Munich, perfectly cushioning a long ball from Virgil van Dijk before swiveling round Manuel Neuer and slotting into the net from the edge of the area.

For Roberts, it was one of the best goals he’s ever seen.

“The very best players are giving you seven, eight, nine out of 10 week after week and that’s so hard to do in any trade, in any profession,” he says.

“Sadio Mane is a match-winner literally every week for Liverpool, he’s a threat every week for Liverpool. You see him drifting past defenders with ease. He’s so key to what Liverpool do and he’s so key to this Premier League title tilt.”

Former Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas, meanwhile, said this week that he rates Mane as the best player in the Premier League.

If Jurgen Klopp’s side continues its canter towards a long-awaited league title with the Senegalese at the helm, it would be difficult to argue otherwise.

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