Cristiano Ronaldo Flies to Morocco Defies Real Madrids Travel Ban

Rabat – Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly travelled to Morocco on Sunday defying orders from Real Madrid President Florentino Perez who had banned his travels to the North African country.Following Real Madrid’s match against Espanyol on Sunday night, Ronaldo jumped onboard his private jet to Marrakech, according to Moroccan and Spanish media.After Zinedine Zidane the Spanish football club’s head coach gave his players Monday and Tuesday off following their win against Espanyol, the striker allegedly took advantage of the opportunity to revisit Morocco. Earlier this month both Florentino Perez and Real’s new coach prohibited their players from making trips during football season, claiming that it would affect their performance on the pitch. During the last three months of 2015, it was reported that Ronaldo was flying to Morocco four days a week, leaving Madrid for Rabat and Marrakech on his jet after his training sessions at 3:00 p.m. and returning the same night.Following Real Madrid’s poor performance that led to the sacking of its former coach Rafael Benitez, the club’s directors decided to put a stop the team’s constant recreational travels in order to refocus their game.“Many voices inside Bernabeu suggest that Benitez and many of Real Madrid’s highest paid players, including Ronaldo, have begun a standoff without a happy ending, especially with the ongoing CR7 trips to Morocco in his brand new jet,” Spanish newspaper Extra Confidencial stated last November.Furthermore, according to the same source, the Spanish club’s leadership believes that the friendship between Ronaldo and Moroccan kickboxer Badr Hari could hurt the Portuguese man’s reputation and privacy.Last year, following back-to-back trips that the Ballon d’Or winner made to Morocco with the ‘Golden Boy’ Hadri, Spanish media criticized their outings and called their relationship “controversial.”It is not yet clear whether Perez allowed Ronaldo to fly to Morocco or if the footballer made the trip against presidential orders. read more

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Taxfree incentive draws Bombardier plant to Morocco

MONTREAL • Bombardier Aerospace says it has bought land near the airport in Casablanca’s free zone that offers five years of no taxes and other financial incentives for a manufacturing facility set to open next year.The Montreal-based aircraft manufacturer said Monday it signed a deal with Moroccan property holding and management company Midparc Investment SA for the land in a free zone in Nouaceur. Midparc is owned by a state financial agency and three private industrial companies specializing in aeronautics and electronics fields.Bombardier Aerospace president Guy Hachey said the selection of the site for the manufacturing facility is “an important first step” in establishing the world’s third-largest aircraft manufacturer in the North African country.[np-related]“The site met our stringent requirements and high standards and we look forward to the start of the construction and production of the first Moroccan-built Bombardier aircraft components,” he stated in a news release.Mr. Hachey said it hopes the long-term relationship will serve as a catalyst for the aircraft industry in Morocco.Bombardier joins other aerospace manufacturers in setting up shop in Morocco, which has established an aerospace training program and offers many tax and financial incentives to attract companies.The company will pay no taxes for five years, 8.75% for another 20 years and 17.5% thereafter.On its website, Midparc boasts about low wages being one of Morocco’s advantages. It said the average monthly wage is US$327, lower than in Tunisia and Turkey, 10 times lower than Spain and a quarter of what’s earned in South Africa.It wasn’t immediately clear how Bombardier wages will compare to this average.Midparc said free-trade agreements with Morocco offer investors free duty access to 55 countries with more than one billion consumers and 60 per cent of the world’s GDP.Morocco also offers training subsidies and financial aid from a government fund for new capital goods. Bombardier didn’t disclose the purchase price for the 10-hectare piece of land, but said it plans to invest about US$200-million in equipment, buildings and start-up costs over the next eight years.Construction of the plant will take place in phases starting in 2012. The Midparc free zone is an industrial gated community, with just one main entrance and constant video surveillance.“We’re on track to begin production in 2013,” spokeswoman Haley Dunne said in an interview.Bombardier has about one dozen employees temporarily working to establish the facility in Morocco.Capabilities at the new plant, which will complement Bombardier Aerospace’s existing manufacturing sites, will initially include sub-assembly for simple structures. Details on the type of components to be manufactured are being finalized.By the end of 2020, employment at the Morocco facility is expected to reach about 850.Bombardier said it selected Morocco because of competitive manufacturing costs, low shipping and transportation costs and proximity to Europe.On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Bombardier shares gained 5¢ at $3.96 in afternoon trading. read more

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Ohio State softball tries to regain top spot against Penn State and

OSU freshman pitcher Morgan Ray (6) throws a pitch during a game against Maryland on March 26. Credit: Gabriella DiGiovanni | Lantern photographerAlthough the Ohio State softball team is no longer first in the Big Ten, it is hoping to get back on top when it plays five games this week. In their first midweek matchup of the season, the Buckeyes (19-8-1, 4-1-1) are set to face off against Penn State (17-14, 6-0), the current conference leaders, in a home doubleheader Wednesday starting at 4 p.m.OSU is then scheduled to have Thursday off before traveling to New Jersey to face Rutgers (17-20, 2-4) in a weekend series after going 1-1-1 at Wisconsin last weekend. The first of three games is slated to begin at 3 p.m. Friday.OSU coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly expressed no concern about her players being able to handle the packed schedule. “This is actually their favorite part of the season because they get into a groove and want to play every day,” she said. “I don’t worry about their energy at all.”Scouting Penn StateIn its first two Big Ten weekend series, Penn State swept both of its opponents, Rutgers and Michigan State, averaging nine runs per game along the way. This torrid start comes after the Nittany Lions finished with a .507 win percentage in 2015 and only went 9-14 in the Big Ten.Led by senior Macy Jones, Penn State’s offense is outhitting its opponents .327 to .276, and seven Nittany Lions are batting above .300. Jones, who splits her time between the mound and the outfield, has a .747 slugging percentage. In the team’s final game against Michigan State, Jones tallied two home runs and four RBIs.Both the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes have seven players hitting above .300, but Penn State’s top seven ekes out OSU’s by 18 in the RBI column. From the mound, Penn State boasts this week’s Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, junior Marlaina Laubach. The right-hander has a 0.66 ERA against conference opponents this season and a 2.20 ERA in her 24 appearances overall.OSU junior Shelby Hursh is still putting up destructive numbers when she steps inside the circle for the Buckeyes, notably a 1.93 ERA with 88 strikeouts in 76.1 innings.Against Wisconsin, OSU’s pitching staff had trouble at times limiting big hitting from the offense. Schoenly noted that taking away these decisive innings is a goal for Hursh and her teammates as the season progresses.“We will need to execute some clutch pitches with runners in scoring position. We have done a great job of that in the past and will need to focus in more,” Schoenly said.Scouting RutgersFor the Scarlet Knights, 2016 has not been as fruitful. The team is currently 2-4 in Big Ten play. After being swept in a three-game series by Penn State, Rutgers, which is led by five seniors, clinched two wins against Illinois last weekend.When comparing the Scarlet Knights with their opponents, they are being outhit in all categories except doubles. In the team’s 3-1 win against the Fighting Illini, however, sophomore catcher Sierra Maddox went 3-for-4, including a home run.Infielder Stephanie Huang is currently hitting .385, while shortstop Melanie Slowinski has a .314 batting average and three home runs. The senior duo has combined for 39 RBIs so far this year, already just seven fewer from what they contributed a season ago. The Rutgers pitching staff has a combined 4.18 ERA. Junior Shayla Sweeney has exuded stamina in the circle this season, pitching four complete games so far. The right-hander has also added two saves to her statistics.Clutch hittingAgainst Wisconsin, the bottom of OSU’s order came up big. In Sunday’s doubleheader, sophomore Taylor White and freshman Emily Clark went 5-for-7 and 6-for-8, respectively. White added one home run and a triple to her 2016 total, while Clark chipped in two RBIs and a double.The bottom of the order on Friday, guided by junior Anna Kirk, went 5-for-9, bringing in two runs. Sophomore Becca Gavin, the ninth batter, paved the way for the top of the order with two walks and a sacrifice bunt.Schoenly, while also mentioning the spark Gavin has brought to the team, said she loved the way the bottom of the order delivered.“I love that Taylor White, Emily Clark and Anna Kirk were the catalysts to our success,” she said. “All three are very capable players, and they got hot at the right time.”Aiming for the record bookFor two Buckeyes, 2016 provides a chance to set new program records. Redshirt junior Alex Bayne, a slugging powerhouse despite her 5-foot-5 stature, has already sent 12 shots over the fence this season. The single-season record, held by Sam Marder since 2009, is 19, but Bayne has 23 more games to take the crown for herself.Schoenly acknowledged Buckeye Field’s friendliness toward home runs, though she continued to be enthusiastic about the power her players are showing.“We really hadn’t been hitting too many home runs until we returned home. Now we’re going,” she said. “It’s always nice to see them use their bats in a big way.”Senior catcher Cammi Prantl is pacing toward the career record for doubles. She currently sits in second with 52. The record, held by Krinon Clark, has stood since 1994, but Prantl is only six doubles away from breaking the longstanding number. She already has eight this year and has never put up fewer than 12 during her first three years in Columbus.Coming upThe Buckeyes are set to return home on Wednesday with a nonconference game against Dayton before heading into a weekend series with No. 2 Michigan from April 15 to 17. OSU’s matchup against the Flyers is slated to begin at 6 p.m.This fast-paced schedule is exactly what the Buckeyes need, Schoenly said.“The team has their goals they are working toward, and having less time in between games means they can get there faster,” she said. “And that’s extremely motivating.” read more

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