The Staples Center will be renamed Crypto.com Arena

Crypto continues to elbow its way into major-league sponsorships.

With just 16% of the US population using or investing in cryptocurrency, the name change may come as a shock to many sports fans — and players. When Clippers point guard Reggie Jackson was told of the change, he responded, “What?”

But this name change is only the most recent example of a cryptocurrency exchange launching the type of high-profile promotional effort previously undertaken by traditional financial services and Fortune 500 corporations. The Miami Heat now play in FTX Arena, named for another crypto exchange (that is also the official cryptocurrency exchange of Major League Baseball). And FTX has purchased ad time during the upcoming Super Bowl.

The new logo for the Crypto.com Arena will debut on Christmas Day this year, when the Lakers face off against the Brooklyn Nets. The arena’s signage is scheduled to be completely replaced with the new name by June 2022.

NASCAR Cup Series Championship: How to watch the race today without cable

You don’t need cable TV to watch the racin’ and rubbin’ at the Phoenix Raceway on Sunday.

Kyle Larson will race against Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship on Sunday on NBC.

If you live in an area with good reception, you can watch races broadcast on NBC for free on over-the-air broadcast channels just by attaching an affordable (under $30) indoor antenna to nearly any TV.

Sling’s $35-a-month Blue package offers NBC but only in a handful of areas.

Read our Sling TV review.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Read our YouTube TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

FuboTV’s Family plan costs $65 a month and includes NBC. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

Formerly AT&T TV, DirecTV Stream’s basic, $70-a-month Entertainment package includes NBC. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our AT&T TV review.

All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials, allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live-TV streaming services guide.

Read more: How to watch, stream the NFL in 2021 without cable

Social networks struggle to shut down racist abuse after England’s Euro Cup final loss

Social media users have been frustrated at having to perform moderation duties to keep racist abuse in check.

Bukayo Saka of England is consoled by head coach Gareth Southgate.

The vitriol presented a direct challenge to the social networks — an event-specific spike in hate speech that required them to refocus their moderation efforts to contain the damage. It marks just the latest incident for the social networks, which need to be on guard during highly charged political or cultural events. While these companies have a regular process that includes deploying machine-automated tools and human moderators to remove the content, this latest incident is just another source of frustration for those who believe the social networks aren’t quick enough to respond.

To plug the gap, companies rely on users to report content that violates guidelines. Following Sunday’s match, many users were sharing tips and guides about how to best report content, both to platforms and to the police. It was disheartening for those same users to be told that a company’s moderation technology hadn’t found anything wrong with the racist abuse they’d highlighted.

It also left many users wondering why, when Facebook, for example, is a billion-dollar company, it was unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with the easily anticipated influx of racist content — instead leaving it to unpaid good Samaritan users to report.

For social media companies, moderation can fall into a gray area between protecting free speech and protecting users from hate speech. In these cases, they must judge whether user content violates their own platform policies. But this wasn’t one of those gray areas.

Racist abuse is classified as a hate crime in the UK, and London’s Met Police said in a statement that it will be investigating incidents that occurred online following the match. In a follow-up email, a spokesman for the Met said that the instances of abuse were being triaged by the Home Office and then disseminated to local police forces to deal with.

Twitter “swiftly” removed over 1,000 tweets through a combination of machine-based automation and human review, a spokesman said in a statement. In addition, it permanently suspended “a number” of accounts, “the vast majority” of which it proactively detected itself. “The abhorrent racist abuse directed at England players last night has absolutely no place on Twitter,” said the spokesman.

Meanwhile, there was frustration among Instagram users who were identifying and reporting, among other abusive content, strings of monkey emojis (a common racist trope) being posted on the accounts of Black players.

According to Instagram’s policies, using emojis to attack people based on protected characteristics, including race, is against the company’s hate speech policies. Human moderators working for the company take context into account when reviewing use of emojis.

But in many of the cases reported by Instagram users in which the platform failed to remove monkey emojis, it appears that the reviews weren’t conducted by human reviewers. Instead, their reports were dealt with by the company’s automated software, which told them “our technology has found that this comment probably doesn’t go against our community guidelines.”

A spokeswoman for Instagram said in a statement that “no one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t want it on Instagram.”

“We quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England’s footballers last night and we’ll continue to take action against those that break our rules,” she added. “In addition to our work to remove this content, we encourage all players to turn on Hidden Words, a tool which means no one has to see abuse in their comments or DMs. No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to keeping our community safe from abuse.”

The social media companies shouldn’t have been surprised by the reaction.

Football professionals have been feeling the strain of the racist abuse they suffer online — and not just following this one England game. In April, England’s Football Association organized a social media boycott “in response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football.”

English football’s racism problem is not new. In 1993, the problem forced the Football Association, Premier League and Professional Footballers’ Association to launch Kick It Out, a program to fight racism, which became a fully fledged organization in 1997. Under Southgate’s leadership, the current iteration of the England squad has embraced anti-racism more vocally than ever, taking the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before matches. Still, racism in the sport prevails — online and off.

On Monday, the Football Association strongly condemned the online abuse following Sunday’s match, saying it’s “appalled” at the racism aimed at players. “We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team,” it said. “We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”

Social media users, politicians and rights organizations are demanding internet-specific tools to tackle online abuse — as well as for perpetrators of racist abuse to be prosecuted as they would be offline. As part of its “No Yellow Cards” campaign, the Center for Countering Digital Hate is calling for platforms to ban users who spout racist abuse for life.

In the UK, the government has been trying to introduce regulation that would force tech companies to take firmer action against harmful content, including racist abuse, in the form of the Online Safety Bill. But it has also been criticized for moving too slowly to get the legislation in place.

Tony Burnett, the CEO of the Kick It Out campaign (which Facebook and Twitter both publicly support), said in a statement Monday that both the social media companies and the government need to step up to shut down racist abuse online. His words were echoed by Julian Knight, member of Parliament and chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

“The government needs to get on with legislating the tech giants,” Knight said in a statement. “Enough of the foot dragging, all those who suffer at the hands of racists, not just England players, deserve better protections now.”

As pressure mounted for them to take action, social networks have also been stepping up their own moderation efforts and building new tools — with varying degrees of success. The companies track and measure their own progress. Facebook employs its independent oversight board to assess its performance.

But critics of the social networks also point out that the way their business models are set up gives them very little incentive to discourage racism. Any and all engagement will increase ad revenue, they argue, even if that engagement is people liking and commenting on racist posts.

“Facebook made content moderation tough by making and ignoring their murky rules, and by amplifying harassment and hate to fuel its stock price,” former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao said on Twitter on Monday. “Negative PR is forcing them to address racism that has been on its platform from the start. I hope they really fix it.”

Why Naomi Osaka dropped out of Wimbledon: What you need to know

Naomi Osaka intends to return at the Olympics in July.

Osaka has now withdrawn from Wimbledon in addition to the French Open.

Osaka’s current plan is to make a return to professional Tennis is her home country of Japan at the Olympics in July.

“Naomi Osaka will be greatly missed by all of us at Wimbledon this year, but we completely understand her decision,” Wimbledon reps told CNET in an emailed statement. “We wish her a happy time with her friends and family and look forward to welcoming her back to Wimbledon next year.”

Osaka’s withdrawal is the latest in a series that began with controversy at Roland Garros.

After canceling press obligations during the French Open as a result of mental health issues, Osaka — one of the top-ranked women tennis players in the world — was fined $15,000 and threatened with expulsion by tournament organizers. Ultimately, Osaka decided to take matters into her own hands and left the tournament of her own volition.

“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” Osaka, 23, wrote in a statement describing her struggles with depression. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly.”

After initially criticizing Osaka’s unwillingness to meet the press in person and answer questions after matches (see below), Gilles Moretton, president of the French Tennis Federation, delivered a statement on Osaka’s decision to exit the match — a statement he delivered in French and English before walking out of the media room without taking questions from the press.

“First and foremost, we are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka. The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland-Garros is unfortunate. We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery, and we look forward to having Naomi at our Tournament next year,” Moretton said. “We remain very committed to all athletes’ well-being and to continually improving every aspect of players’ experience in our Tournament, including with the media.”

A stream of support has since come out for Osaka from fans and professional athletes alike. Here’s everything you need to know.

Naomi Osaka is a Japanese tennis player and the current world number 2, behind Australian Ash Barty, having won four Grand Slam championships. Born in Japan to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, Osaka grew up in the US and won her first Grand Slam — the US Open — aged 20.

Since then she has become a global superstar in the world of tennis, holding the position of number one in 2019 and winning three more Grand Slam tournaments.

Osaka is famously shy and soft spoken, but has regularly pushed past this to use her platform for activism. In 2020 she withdrew from the Cincinnati Open to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake. During the 2020 US Open she famously wore a series of masks bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile, and Tamir Rice to raise awareness during Black Lives Matters protests.

Last week Naomi Osaka posted on her social media accounts, stating she wouldn’t be taking part in press conferences during the French Open, to protect her mental health.

“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health,” she wrote, “and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.”

In response Roland Garros posted a statement on its website and issued a $15,000 fine.

“Following this announcement,” read the statement, “the Roland-Garros teams asked her to reconsider her position and tried unsuccessfully to speak with her to check on her well-being, understand the specifics of her issue and what might be done to address it on site.

“Following the lack of engagement by Naomi Osaka, the Australian Open, Roland-Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open jointly wrote to her to check on her well-being and offer support, underline their commitment to all athletes’ well-being and suggest dialog on the issues. She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them and that rules should equally apply to all players.

“Naomi Osaka today chose not to honour her contractual media obligations. The Roland-Garros referee has therefore issued her a $15,000 fine, in keeping with article III H. of the Code of Conduct.”

In the statement, Roland Garros claimed mental health was of the “utmost importance”, but also posted a now-deleted tweet, that made light of Osaka’s mental health concerns.

In response to the fine and the threat of expulsion, Osaka withdrew from the tournament.

“This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago,” she wrote. “I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my wellbeing is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.

“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly.

“The truth is I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.”

Osaka wrote that she was already feeling “vulnerable and anxious” about the French Open and the prospect of having to face the press, that she was exercising “self care” by skipping the conferences. Osaka also claimed she privately wrote to the organizers of the Grand Slam tournaments to apologize.

“I’m going to take some time away from the court now,” she said, “but when the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans.”

Observers were quick to note that Moretton’s follow up statement expressing his sadness and support for Osaka seemed disingenuous. “The immense irony of the FFT President not taking questions from the media in the wake of this Osaka withdrawal is not lost on anyone,” wrote journalist Ben Rothenberg, describing Moretton.

In the wake of Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open multiple athletes across different sports came out in support.

Serena Williams, who Osaka famously defeated to win her very first Grand Slam recently commented on the situation.

“I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it’s like,” she said. “I’ve been in those positions

“We have different personalities, and people are different. Not everyone is the same. I’m thick. Other people are thin. You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to, in the best way she thinks she can.”

Venus Williams, had a different response. Speaking out on how she dealt with press conferences — during a press conference.

“[M]e personally, how I cope, how I deal with it, was that I know every single person asking me a question can’t play as well as I can and never will,” Williams said. “So no matter what you say, or what you write, you’ll never light a candle to me.”

Tennis legends like Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova — alongside athletes like Steph Curry — tweeted messages backing up Osaka.

“Right now, the important thing is that we give her the space and time she needs,” said Billie Jean King.

“You shouldn’t ever have to make a decision like this,” said NBA star Steph Curry, “but so damn impressive taking the high road when the powers that be don’t protect their own.”

Osaka received support from all corners. Not just for standing up for herself, but for raising awareness of mental health issues.

Calm, an app dedicated to helping with sleep and meditation, is donated $15,000 — the equivalent of Osaka’s initial fine — to Laureus Sport in France, a company that does work in the mental health space.

It’s also offered to the same if any other tennis athletes are fined for taking the same stand in the future.

Thank you, Tokyo Olympics, for bringing us the ‘beast mode’ we all needed

Many wanted the Tokyo Olympics cancelled, but in the end, they were incredible.

The best.

Pushing past the flimsiest steel barrier ever constructed, into a restricted area he clearly shouldn’t have had access to, Boxall ripped off his required mask and proceeded to… dry hump a fence like The Ultimate Warrior circa Wrestlemania 6?

Like I said. Beast Mode.

The best part: In the background, a Japanese Olympic official, doing her level best to provide resistance, raises her hands like a frightened gazelle and then succumbs. Slowly those raised hands are lowered, evolving into confused claps. OK, she seems to say. You’re here now. There’s nothing I can do about this. I’m just going to try and enjoy this front row seat to Beast Mode, starring Dean Boxall.

In this metaphor, Boxall is the Tokyo Olympics. Both as an event and an idea. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic both probably shouldn’t be here. As the world reels from the effects of the delta strain and global vaccine hesitancy, this is the Olympics no one asked for. Dean, what are you doing here? Bugger off, Dean. Now is not the time.

High jumpers Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi gave each other their gold medals. This is too much.

Me? I’m the Japanese official. We’re all the Japanese official. Nervous, unsure how to react, ultimately acquiescing to this moment completely out of our control. Even in Japan, the host country, people were protesting the Olympics. First we collectively raised our hands in passive resistance. Seconds later we were all clapping.

And we were clapping because Dean Boxall is awesome. Reckless, sure. But so awesome. The Olympics were reckless too — but also awesome.

This is what the Olympics delivers: Beast Mode direct to your screen and your heart. It’s in the business of providing iconic moments like Boxall’s. Moments that simultaneously inspire and subvert our sense of what’s possible. Weird shit, displays of pure athleticism.

Two men collapsing into one another’s arms when they realize they can share a gold medal instead of duelling to the death for it. Skateboarding girls cheering each other on, making quick friends in the face of fierce competition. Runners stumbling, falling over in potentially race-ending collisions, miraculously recovering to win races.

Incredible, awe-inspiring moments.

Maybe it’s because we live in a universe where moments like these are worshipped, contorted and shaped into GIFs, tweets and memes in an infinite social media content spiral, but it somehow feels like we’ve had more of these moments compared to previous Olympics. That these Olympic Games have meant more than we ever could have expected when we cynically, reluctantly invited them into our homes.

Personally, as a man living in Sydney, a city wrestling with strict lockdowns that could potentially last for months, the Olympics was been a salve I didn’t realize I needed. It was a welcome distraction as I juggled home-schooling, work and a near-permanent dread at the daily ritual of waiting for Sydney case numbers to drop so we can all go back outside and live relatively normal lives.

There were a million reasons why the Olympic Games shouldn’t have happened in 2021. A million reasons why we shouldn’t have watched and supported what is arguably an irresponsible event run for the wrong reasons. But it’s also equally possible that — this year — the Olympics were more useful than ever.

The Tokyo Olympics probably shouldn’t have happened because of COVID-19. But I’m also happy it happened — because of COVID-19. If that makes sense.

None of it makes sense.

But right now, sport — with its simple rules and digestible outcomes, with its warm blanket of normalcy and straightforward narratives of triumph over adversity — is maybe the only thing that makes sense.

The Olympics, much like Dean Boxall, busted its way into our homes and televisions and refused to leave. An unwelcome guest. But, like the uncertain Olympics official dealing with the uncontainable Boxall as he dry humped a fence, I’m glad the Olympics forced their way into my life. I couldn’t have done lockdown without it.

NFL 2021: How to watch Packers vs. Ravens, Saints vs. Buccaneers, RedZone and Week 15 on Sunday

The NFL action continues on Sunday.

Here’s how to watch Sunday’s games, as well as the rest of the NFL season, with or without cable.

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on Sunday Night Football tonight.

Major streaming providers such as YouTube TV, Hulu Plus Live TV, FuboTV and DirecTV Stream offer nearly all the major channels you will need for football. This includes CBS, NBC and Fox, as well as ESPN, which is needed for Monday Night Football.

Sling TV offers NBC and Fox in some markets with its Blue package, but it lacks CBS. It’s also worth noting that to get ESPN you will either need to switch to its Orange package or go for its Blue and Orange bundle.

Those who are fine with watching on phones or tablets, meanwhile, can also use the Yahoo Sports app to stream the games that are broadcast on your local stations for free.

All of those services above, with the exception of DirecTV Stream, offer the option to get RedZone and the NFL Network. RedZone will usually require you to spend another $10 or $11 per month as an add-on.

If RedZone is all you care about, the cheapest option is getting Sling TV Blue for $35 a month and adding the $11-per-month Sports Extra add-on. This gets you all the football channels with the exception of ESPN and CBS.

If you do have cable or satellite, here is where you can find the NFL Network on a few of the bigger providers. Note: The exact channel numbers may change depending on your area, so for best results check your channel guide.

Most Thursday Night Football games will be broadcast on Fox, NFL Network and Amazon Prime Video. Check out the full Thursday Night Football schedule here and our recommendations for the best ways to watch NFL without cable throughout the season.

Paramount Plus offers live CBS feeds with its Premium tier for $10 a month. Depending on where you live, however, your local CBS station (and those NFL games) might not be available. CBS offers livestreaming services in many markets; you can check if your area has live CBS streaming here.

All of NBC’s regular-season NFL games will be available to stream on its Peacock streaming service, so long as you pay for one of its Premium subscriptions.

There are two of these tiers, a $5-a-month Premium option that has ads (when watching nonlive content) and a $10-per-month Premium Plus option that will stream nonlive content ad-free (and let you download some content to watch offline).

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes all the major football channels, with RedZone available for an extra $11 a month. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Note that YouTube TV is offering a $15 discount, bringing the price down to $50 per month, during its contract dispute with Disney.

Read our YouTube TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes all the major football channels, with RedZone available for an extra $10 a month. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

FuboTV costs $65 a month and has all the major NFL channels with RedZone available as an $11-per-month add-on. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Blue plan includes NBC, Fox and the NFL Network. Enter your address here to see which local channels are available where you live.

Note: This version of Sling TV does not include ESPN. For that, you’ll need to switch to the similarly priced Orange plan or go for the combined $50-per-month Orange and Blue bundle. RedZone is also available for an extra $11 a month.

Read our Sling TV review.

Formerly AT&T TV, DirecTV Stream’s basic $70-a-month package includes nearly all the major channels for football with the notable exceptions of RedZone and the NFL Network. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our DirecTV Stream review.

Those looking for CBS games will be able to stream them on Paramount Plus with its $10 per month Premium tier. You can check for yourself if your area has live CBS streaming here.

Peacock will show NBC’s full slate of Sunday Night Football games. You will, however, need one of the service’s Premium plans to watch Sunday Night Football live and full-game replays, though highlights are available on the free tier.

The ad-supported Premium plan costs $5 a month, and the ad-free Premium Plus plan costs $10 a month.

Read our Peacock review.

Most Thursday Night games will be available on Amazon Prime Video. For millions of Amazon Prime subscribers, the Prime Video channel is already included at no extra cost. But if you’re not a subscriber, it might be worth it to shell out the $9 a month for the stand-alone TV service fee.

All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials (except Peacock, which just has a free tier that doesn’t stream live NFL games), allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live-TV streaming services guide.

Facebook eyes sports for its next push in online events

A pay-per-view-like option for sports leagues wouldn’t be out of the question, apparently.

The next sports event you watch may be on Facebook.

The social network launched its paid online events product last summer, inviting some people running Facebook pages to use tools designed to create, promote, host and monetize virtual live events. Since launch, event hosts have received 100% of revenue from ticket sales through Facebook Pay. However, that is set to expire in August, after which Facebook may take a cut.

Facebook is reportedly targeting smaller leagues and sports events since the top sports leagues — such as the National Football League and National Basketball Association — are restricted by broadcast media rights. The social network sees potential for monetizing things outside of games, such as team practices or behind-the-scenes videos, Shaw told CNBC.

A Facebook spokesperson on Wednesday said the company’s paid online events feature is available to all publishers, and sports is one area where it’s being adopted.

NFL heads to Twitter Spaces to produce content for the 2021 season

The NFL is taking to Twitter Spaces to talk football throughout the 2021 season and beyond.

“The commitment to Twitter Spaces represents another innovative step forward in the longstanding partnership between the NFL and Twitter,” said Blake Stuchin, the NFL’s vice president of digital media business development. “We’re excited to bring NFL fans a new way to engage with live audio ahead of our biggest events of the year and every week throughout the NFL season.”

The news comes on the heels of the NFL’s previous partnership with the Twitter Spaces rival Clubhouse, which saw the league host live audio content on the platform during the 2021 NFL draft in May. Moving forward, the league says to expect to see live audio content like that, including during upcoming drafts, exclusively on Twitter Spaces.

UFC 261 Usman vs. Masvidal: Start time, how to watch or stream online

UFC 261 is about to start! Here’s everything you need to know…

Usman and Masvidal face-off today before their fight at UFC 261

Usman defeated Masvidal in their first encounter in what was a fairly one-sided battle. But, given the fact Masvidal took the fight on extremely short notice (and the fact Masvidal is probably the biggest draw in the division) this contest is still a compelling one. Masvidal showed flashes of a skillset that could trouble a wrestler like Usman. This fight could be a close one. Certainly much closer than in the first.

The co-main event is perhaps the most exciting for hardcore fans. Zhang Weili is UFC’s first Chinese champion and her last fight — against Joanna Jędrzejczyk — wasn’t just the best women’s fight in MMA history, it might be the best fight ever, period. The thought of her facing off against former UFC strawweight champ Rose Namajunas is a salivating one. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is another fight of the year candidate.

The third title fight pits one of the most dominant champions currently fighting in the UFC against one of its most notorious buzzsaws. Valentina Shevchenko has looked utterly indestructible at flyweight but in Jessica Andrade, she’s facing an ex-champion who will pressure and come forward no matter what.

This will almost certainly be Shevchenko’s toughest title defence yet.

The main card starts at 10 p.m ET (7 p.m. PT) but here are all the details…

This year the UFC entered into a new partnership with ESPN. That’s great news for the UFC and the expansion of the sport of MMA, but bad news for consumer choice. Especially if you’re one of the UFC fans who want to watch UFC live in the US.

In the US, if you want to know how to watch UFC 261, you’ll only find the fight night on PPV through ESPN Plus. The cost structure is a bit confusing, but here are the options to watch UFC on ESPN, according to ESPN’s site:

You can do all of the above at the link below.

MMA fans in the UK can watch UFC 261 exclusively through BT Sport. There are more options if you live in Australia. You can watch UFC 261 through Main Event on Foxtel. You can also watch on the UFC website or using its app. You can even order using your PlayStation or using the UFC app on your Xbox.

Need more international viewing options? Try a VPN to change your IP address to access those US, UK or Australian options listed above. See the best VPNs currently recommended by CNET editors.

Earlier this week, at he UFC media day, some of the fighters on the main card had their first face-offs ahead of the fights this Saturday.

Normal disclaimer, given COVID-19 and the general chaos of UFC cards, this line-up could change at any time. We’ll keep this as current as possible.

Before the billionaires and oligarchs, the unlikely story of football’s first foreign owner

Way before international money flooded in, the first American owner in English soccer came to the rescue of a dying club.

Prenton Park, home of Tranmere Rovers.

This international spending spree started when Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC in 2003, but the largely forgotten first step toward today’s globalized era occurred way back in 1984. Football clubs were traditionally owned by local businessmen until California lawyer Bruce Osterman bought Tranmere Rovers, a proud but impoverished team in the unemployment-lashed north of England. It was the beginning of a new era — but you wouldn’t have known it at the time.

“The game as a whole was at its nadir,” remembers Mark Palios, a former footballer turned businessman who played for Tranmere in those dark days of the 1980s. “Gates were low, there was hooliganism, there was a complete lack of investment. It was a sick industry.”

What followed is more than a quirky footnote in sporting history — it’s a story of conflict between passion and business that any fan of any team in any country will recognize. Palios played an unexpected secret role in the ensuing drama, only to face a horribly familiar crisis threatening the club three decades later.

Mark Palios played for Tranmere in the 1970s and 1980s, taking an unexpected role in the drama behind the scenes — before returning to the club 30 years later.

Former Tranmere player Ken Bracewell was coaching a professional team in San Francisco in the early 1980s when he was approached by attorney and keen amateur goalkeeper Bruce Osterman. The glamour had faded from The National American Soccer League’s 1970s heyday, so Bracewell was surprised when Osterman wanted more than a chat about soccer teams — he wanted to buy one.

Why would a Californian lawyer want to invest in an impoverished sports team on the far side of the Atlantic?

“I was young and it seemed like a good idea,” says Osterman, now in his late 70s. “I had some extra money as I’d done well in my law practice,” he remembers in his unhurried California drawl over the phone from his home near San Francisco. “Tranmere was in real trouble so it was a number to purchase the team that I could afford.”

Tranmere chairman Bruce Osterman filmed at Prenton Park for a TV documentary.

Tranmere’s stadium Prenton Park is only a brief ferry ride away from footballing titans Liverpool and Everton, but in 1984 it might as well have been on a different planet. Barely clinging to professional status at the wrong end of the English leagues, with no money and plummeting attendances, Tranmere had special permission to hold matches on Friday evenings instead of Saturday afternoons so locals wouldn’t disappear to watch the team’s more glamorous neighbors.

“Tranmere will never compete with Liverpool and Everton,” one of the club’s managers later said. “They’re big liners like the Queen Mary, but I see Tranmere as a deadly submarine.”

In 1984 Tranmere was about to emulate a submarine in the worst possible way: by going under.

Osterman took advantage of the strife and a disastrously weak pound to buy the club, installing Ken Bracewell in charge. “I relied on Kenny for the day-to-day things,” Osterman recalls, “because frankly what the hell did I know?”

Bruce Osterman (crouching third from left, wearing glasses), lines up with a team of sports journalists playing a friendly at Prenton Park in August 1986. Eagle-eyed fans might recognize the chap on the far left: popular TV and radio pundit Ray Stubbs, who played and worked at Tranmere.

Today’s game is full of players, managers and owners from other countries. In the 1980s it was more insular. English clubs were banned from European competition throughout the second half of the 1980s, foreign players like Tottenham’s Argentine duo Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa were still a novelty, and there wouldn’t be a foreign manager until Jozef Vengloš arrived from Czechoslovakia to join Aston Villa in 1990.

Having staved off the club’s short-term woes, Bruce Osterman showed up at Tranmere for a few weeks at a time, a few times a year. There was occasionally a language barrier with the distinctive Merseyside accent. “I used to go to sportsman’s dinners for people who had shares in the club, and I was usually the brunt of the after-dinner comedian,” Osterman remembers. “I know he was speaking English but I couldn’t understand a word!” Osterman’s family came too, although his wife found herself excluded from men-only areas such as the boardroom and team coach. “She tolerated my doing this, but it wasn’t a pleasant time for her,” Osterman admits.

Journalists were delighted by the sight of the bespectacled 43-year-old chairman diving around in the training field mud, while players mischievously blasted balls at him. This was all highly unusual, but still — Tranmere were saved.

In the days before television revenue, a lesser club’s main income was ticket sales. Larger-than-life characters attracted paying fans through the turnstiles, so Osterman made the unexpected choice to appoint Frank Worthington as the team’s player-manager.

Worthington, who died in March 2021, had two decades of experience on the field but had never managed a team. The mulleted Elvis fan was certainly an entertainer, a prodigious goalscorer and even more prodigious playboy. His autobiography, suggestively titled “One Hump Or Two,” lists more nightclubs than football clubs. Worthington joked that when he took charge at Tranmere the players thought they’d be in trouble if they got home before 2 a.m.

Larger-than-life character Frank Worthington playing for England.

In his first game before the Prenton Park faithful the dashing player-manager bagged three goals in a 6-2 victory, and he ended up scoring 20 that season. He also made shrewd use of Osterman’s limited budget — one of Worthington’s acquisitions, Ian Muir, remains the club’s all-time top goalscorer. But defence was poor and Tranmere couldn’t afford new blood.

“We didn’t have the players or the money,” Osterman admits. “I had no idea of the difficulty of handling a team even in the fourth division.”

One player understood the economics of Osterman’s situation more than most. Tenacious midfielder Mark Palios was a local lad in his second stint at Tranmere when Osterman arrived. Unlike most footballers, who typically spend their time between matches wasting money, Palios worked a unique parallel career managing money as he trained to be an accountant.

Mark Palios playing for Tranmere the night they beat Arsenal in 1973.

One day Tranmere’s directors walked into Palios’ office looking for advice. They wanted to push Osterman out. The surprised player found himself in the awkward situation of offering advice on the club’s financial future mere hours before pulling on his team shirt and running onto the pitch.

Tranmere’s cash flow crisis came to a head when the well-intentioned but overstretched Osterman tried to sell Prenton Park to make way for a supermarket. Fans, directors and local authorities turned against him.

The American dream had soured.

Thirty years later, in 2015, history repeated for Tranmere Rovers — and for Mark Palios. The club was again in dire straits on and off the field. And just like in the 1980s, a new owner stepped in. But this time, it was Palios who bought the club.

After combining his playing days with a successful accounting career, Palios had been CEO of the Football Association. A specialist in turning around failing businesses, he and his wife Nicola now tackled Tranmere’s turmoil.

Palios began a three-step process he’d applied to many dying companies: Find cash for breathing space. Use that breathing space to fix the business. And finally, bring in new investment.

Most important, the club had to break the cycle of lurching from savior to savior. Palios compares football clubs to gamblers gifted more chips who continue betting on the same old numbers. To really fix the ailing business, Mark and Nicola had to make new bets.

Tranmere chairman Mark Palios and vice chair Nicola Palios took charge in 2014.

Back in 1985, Palios quit Tranmere and distanced himself from the boardroom shenanigans to avoid a conflict of interest. Ultimately the directors exploited changes to insolvency legislation to get rid of Osterman, Bracewell and Worthington, earning Tranmere another dubious distinction as the first football club to go into administration under the new laws.

In 1987, a new buyer offered less than Osterman paid for the club. Luckily for the American, a strengthened pound took the sting out of the loss.

A new owner and manager took over, but Tranmere’s troubles weren’t over. To ensure survival they had to beat Exeter City on the last day of the season or be disastrously dumped out of the professional league.

Kickoff was delayed as 7,000 fans crammed into one of Prenton Park’s signature Friday night matches on May 8, 1987. Mark Palios was there, although in another bizarre twist he could have been on the field — for either side. Exeter previously tried to sign him, while injury-plagued Tranmere desperately searched for Palios to see if he could help out in the crucial match. “We didn’t have mobile phones in those days,” Palios jokes. “[Tranmere] should have asked the administrators — they knew where I was…”

As the sky darkened above the floodlights neither side could break the deadlock — until six minutes from time, when Ian Muir’s pinpoint cross was headed home by defender Gary Williams. At the final whistle, the delirious crowd poured onto the pitch.

After this fairytale escape, new manager John King — another former Tranmere player, who coined the “deadly submarine” nickname — kicked off a resurgence in the 1990s. The team went to multiple finals at Wembley, rising through the divisions and almost surfacing alongside Liverpool and Everton in the Premier League.

Ian Muir (right), signed by Frank Worthington and still Tranmere’s top scorer, celebrates the first of Tranmere’s many trips to the hallowed Wembley Stadium in the 1990s.

Sadly the golden era didn’t last, and in 2015 a run-down Tranmere sank out of the professional league entirely. Under different leadership that could have destroyed the club, but Mark and Nicola Palios had a plan to stay afloat. They developed new revenue streams which didn’t rely on a benefactor’s deep pockets, earned money from the stadium not just on matchdays, and built on the club’s standing in the community with training schemes for vulnerable youth. “The business model I’ve tried to produce is football-agnostic,” Palios explains. “So if I go, the business stays.”

The club is into phase three of the Palios plan: tempting investors. Palios contemplates leveraging the local area’s rich footballing heritage for projects such as a hotel, and perhaps even leaving Prenton Park (an idea that backfired for Osterman). Palios has his eye on building a new stadium at the £4.5 billion Wirral Waters dockland regeneration scheme, one of the largest development projects in Europe.

Tranmere returned to Wembley in 2017, 2018 and again in 2019, when Connor Jennings scored another last-gasp goal to secure Tranmere a second successive promotion.

Palios notes these long-term plans are “embryonic” and depend on factors like promotion to higher leagues, millions added to the bottom line, and major investors.

“It’s a way off,” Palios says of his potential vision for the future, “but if somebody comes in with serious money, you have to have a business plan. And the one thing I won’t do is limit ambition.”

To bring things full circle in terms of foreign backers, the Palios’ have shared photos of themselves courting international investment since this interview. This time Tranmere’s seeking funding from soccer-mad Indonesian businessman Simon Nainggolan, also known as Simon N.

The chaos at Bury and Bolton Wanderers in 2019 shows how precarious the football business can be even with TV money and global investment. At Tranmere, smart commercial decisions and dedicated supporters kept the club alive. To fans’ delight, under manager Micky Mellon — yet another former player — the team won promotion in 2018 and again in 2019 (only to be summarily relegated again when the Covid pandemic ended the next season early).

Devoted Tranmere Rovers fans celebrate.

Bruce Osterman still practices law, although he stopped playing soccer at 60. “If I had to do it all again I would,” he says of his experience with Tranmere. “No foreigner had ever done this before, and I met a lot of great people. It was an adventure for me.”

For today’s US-based investment consortiums, owning a sports team is all about profit. For Bruce Osterman, it was an adventure. And for Mark Palios, sport offers a unique combination of both business and passion. When fans tell him they’re proud of the club, he says, “that’s the reward.”