Major League Soccer has announced Austin FC as its 27th team, with the club set to begin play in 2021.The expansion team was confirmed at an event in Austin on Tuesday, with former Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt set to take charge of the Texas-based franchise. Precourt originally tried to move the Crew to Austin but after months of fan protests, he sold the team to new ownership who will keep the club in Ohio. Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Instead, Precourt will be at the helm of the league’s 27th team, as expansion continues apace in the North American top division. FC Cincinnati will join the league in 2019 as its 24th franchise, followed by teams in Nashville and Miami that are expected to enter in 2020. Austin FC will be the first major professional sports franchise in the Texas capital. “We are extremely proud to be the first major professional sports league to become part of the fabric of this important and thriving American city,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a league release. “In their support of a world-class soccer stadium that benefits the entire community, the leadership of the city of Austin has shown tremendous faith in our league and the sport of soccer in North America.”Groundbreaking for a new stadium in Austin will take place later this year and the venue is set to open with Austin FC’s first home game in the spring of 2021.“This is a historic day for Austin, as MLS becomes the first major league to plant roots in our beautiful city,” Steve Adler, the mayor of Austin said“We believe professional soccer will bring a great and especially needed benefit to our city. In two years, this team and an elite soccer stadium will bring together all kinds of people from all over Austin in a way that we do not gather today.”Precourt was also pleased with the outcome and promised to build a contender in central Texas. “This is a very proud moment, and we are so happy to share it with the people of Austin, City leadership, the dedicated soccer fans of the region, and everyone who believed in our mission to bring Major League Soccer to this incredible community,” said Precourt.“The greatest way we can show our gratitude is in our actions as leaders of Austin FC. Our intent is to build a team that will be a perennial contender for MLS Cup, to build a stadium at McKalla Place that rivals the best sporting venues in North America, and to cultivate a club culture that brings people together and always give back.”
“Government air strikes have reportedly killed more than a hundred civilians in the past week. Employing means or methods of combat which cannot distinguish civilian from military objectives is a clear violation of international humanitarian law. Not only has the Government of Syria failed in its responsibility to protect its populations from atrocity crimes, but it continues to attack its own people,” says the statement.The statements was issued by: the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng; the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect, Jennifer Welsh; the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Rita Izsák; and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt.The Special Advisers and the Special Rapporteurs sounded the alarm about the broader consequences of the aerial attacks by Government forces for particular communities in Syria. As a result of such strikes, they said, non-State armed groups could carry out large scale reprisal attacks against religious and ethnic minorities perceived to be associated with the Government, including Shia civilians who live in Aleppo and Idleb governorates, and Druze communities concentrated in As Suwayda governorate.In addition, the experts reiterated their concern about the ongoing threat to the safety of minority groups in Syria, including Alawites, Armenians, Assyrians, Druze, Ismailis and Kurds, who are being killed, persecuted or otherwise targeted – primarily by non-state armed groups, including Jabhat al Nusra and the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ – on the basis of their religious or ethnic identity. “We call on all parties to respect international human rights and humanitarian law and immediately stop targeting people on the basis of who they are or what they believe and to do everything, in action as well as in words, to prevent further rifts and escalation of tensions along sectarian lines.”The Special Advisers and the Special Rapporteurs also condemned advocacy of racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to violence in the traditional and social media against ethnic and religious minorities in Syria. In particular, they expressed outrage at recent speeches and media articles that dehumanise Alawites and Christians and call for their conversion, or death.All parties to the conflict, including the Syrian Government and non-state armed groups, are alleged to have committed grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Syria that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, adds the statementDenouncing the prevailing culture of impunity in Syria, the Special Advisers and the Special Rapporteurs warned that “it must be made very clear to everyone carrying a gun, or holding a command position, that perpetrators of atrocity crimes in Syria will be held to account.” “The protection of the populations in [Syria] is the primary responsibility of the Syrian state. However, in face of the State’s failure to do so, and with a situation of continued attacks against civilians by all parties to the conflict, the international community – and in particular the Security Council – has the responsibility to take timely and decisive action to protect populations in Syria,” stated the group of experts.