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France faces pilot strike as Euro 2016 gets underway

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PARIS — France was reveling in a victorious start to the Euro 2016 on Saturday after winning the opening match, but a strike by Air France pilots threatened to disrupt travel for hundreds of thousands of fans.

Police were on high alert in the southern city of Marseille, where England and Russia supporters clashed and hurled bottles at officers in a second night of violence before their first game.

Industrial unrest, fears of terrorist attacks and devastating flooding have overshadowed the buildup to the month-long tournament.

But football fans were in good spirits as more than 80,000 poured into the Stade de France in Paris for the opening match between France and Romania on Friday.

The packed stadium erupted with delight, while supporters watching in bars around the city cheered, when Dmitri Payet gave the host nation a stunning 25-metre goal to grab a last-gasp 2-1 victory.

President Francois Hollande hailed the “smooth” start to the tournament on Friday, despite a 10-day train strike that has caused travel disruption across France.

France needs the championships to be “a sporting success” but also “a big event for the people,” said Hollande, wearing a scarf in the national colours of red, white and blue.

Weeks of industrial action over government reforms to labour law had dampened the party atmosphere around the tournament, disrupting rail and metro services and leaving petrol pumps dry in many places.

Arriving fans have been confronted by stinking piles of rubbish left strewn on the streets of Paris and Marseille after strikers began blockading incineration plants.

The head of the CGT union Philippe Martinez, who is spearheading opposition to the labour market reforms being pushed by the government, has vowed not to be “blackmailed with the Euro”.

In another headache, Air France pilots will begin a four-day stoppage on Saturday, just as crowds of foreign fans are expected to begin arriving on French soil.

Air France CEO Frederic Gagey has promised that more than 80 percent of flights would operate.

AFP

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‘C’ Division League Football tournament set for February

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KATHMANDU— The Martyrs Memorial ‘C’ Division League Football Championship is set to take place in the third week of February 2019.

On Thursday the meeting held between the representatives of All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) and ‘C’ Division clubs at ANFA Complex in Satdobato, Lalitpur set the date for the tournament, shared ANFA Spokesperson Kiran Rai.

League Director Sanjeeb Mishra said, “The ANFA and Club’s representatives have agreed to conduct the competition in the final week of February (second week of Falgun). We will finalize the specific date for the tournament in near future”.

Eleven ‘C’ Division clubs will take part in the Division League.

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