RED Bull Leipzig face Real Madrid this week in the other match in Celtic’s Champions League group.

There will no doubt be a minute’s silence and players of the Bundesliga side will likely wear black armbands as a mark of respect for Dietrich Mateschitz, the Austrian owner of the club and chief executive officer of the Red Bull drinks company, who died on Saturday night.

Certainly there have been plenty of tributes for the 78-year-old who went on a trip to Thailand in the early 1980s where he first tasted a syrupy concoction called Krating Daeng and subsequently turned it into an energy drink behemoth and himself into a multi-billionaire.

In the years that followed Mateschitz launched or transformed a number of teams and helped redraw the landscape in their respective sports.

“A great man has unfortunately left the world too early. 10000S of athletes, including many young people, are grateful to him for the opportunities and perspectives for ever. A bitter loss,” wrote the Le Mans 24-hour driver Sophia Floersch on Twitter yesterday.

But it is doubtful that large sections of his own fans (or German football fans in general who hated his “plastic club”) will feel his departure from this mortal coil so keenly. For all the money that Mateschitz pumped into the Leipzig and Salzburg football teams, Formula One and a number of other franchises including an ice hockey team in Munich, he was not exactly known for his tolerant views, particularly on refugees.

In 2015, he said “none of the people that shout ‘refugees welcome’... were preparing their own guest rooms to accommodate refugees” and he was often quoted using phrases associated with populist politicians and was a vocal supporter of Donald Trump during his time as US president.

Meanwhile, Servus TV, an Austrian television channel owned by Red Bull Media House, whose editor reported directly to Mateschitz, broadcast a show that gave a voice to a number of Germany’s far-right extremists.

Red Bull ultras group, Rasenballisten, clashed with their owner frequently. In one interview with German website DW, a member of the group is quoted as saying: “It’s not a secret that Mateschitz’s worldview is populist, some would even say racist.”

As of yesterday afternoon – despite Mateschitz’s death 24 hours earlier – the Rasenballisten group’s official website remained noticeably free of any tribute to the club’s owner and tellingly a pinned tweet displaying a fan banner from 2017 sat at the top of its Twitter page, which read: “Heute und fur alle zeit, Nazis keinen metter weit” or simply “Today and forever, don’t give Nazis an inch”.

Another World Cup masterclass by Scotland

Scotland play their final match of the Rugby League World Cup against Fiji on Saturday, to put the seal on a feckless campaign that has mirrored so many others, across multiple sports (yes, you women’s rugby and men’s cricket), for national teams from good old Alba.

Nathan Graham’s side suffered utter humiliation at the hands of Australia, who while admittedly the holders, came up against resistance akin to a Wendy house in a hurricane in Friday’s Group B match that has likely sealed Scotland’s fate. The Scots conceded at a rate of one point per minute, a ratio that caused one wag to enquire how anyone watching on television knew what the difference was between the clock and the scoreboard.

The Scots must now beat Fiji (who thrashed an Italy team that beat Scotland) and hope Italy also lose to Australia on the same day while also relying on points differential and given the rate at which they conceded to Mal Meninga’s side that seems about as likely as Scotland lifting the World Cup – any World Cup.

“Fiji is another big ask for us but we’ll do a body count – we’ve had some sickness in the camp – and hopefully we’ll be good to go next week,” said Graham after the mauling, sounding like a man who is already resigned to his fate.

Sport On TV

Unlike Rangers and Celtic, Hearts still have an outside chance of reaching the knockout stages of European competition, albeit a tenuous one. Of course, a couple of things need to happen in order for that scenario – no matter how unlikely – to materialise such as Fiorentina failing to beat Istanbul Basaksehir at the Artemio Franchi Stadium in Thursday’s early evening kick-off and then the Edinburgh club travelling to Turkey and taking all three points next week.

What absolutely has to happen, however, is that Robbie Neilson’s side must defeat Latvian cannon fodder RFS in Thursday’s night time kick-off in Europa Conference League Group A (BT Sport 3, 8.00pm). Hearts made heavy weather of their 2-0 victory over RFS earlier in the group against a team that limped past Linfield in the qualifying rounds. Defeat cannot be countenanced.

Some early lessons to be learned from VAR

The Scottish FA appealed for patience as they announced the launch of VAR a couple of weeks back. The technology made its debut in Friday night’s encounter between Hibernian and St Johnstone and passed off hitch free whereupon everyone involved inside Clydesdale House would have been justified in dishing out the high fives.

The bonhomie would not have lasted long, however. Saturday’s televised lunchtime game at Tynecastle was a disaster for the VAR Steven McLean, who incorrectly disallowed a goal for Celtic and failed to give a penalty so stick-on the only thing missing was a strip of Velcro on the back of Hearts defender Michael Smith’s hand. One look at Smith’s face and subsequent reaction – tucking his arm behind his back and attempting to vanish into thin air – was enough to tell anyone watching that he was guilty of an offence.

The Monday kick-off speculated on VAR’s success and failure last week concluding that its main obstacle to a successful implementation was incompetence. Events at Tynecastle this weekend did nothing to dispel that notion. Better communication from officials in the aftermath of such howlers would be a useful place to start.

Effective communication 101: always check your facts

Howlers have always been something of an occupational hazard in newspapers but the demise of the regal sub-editor helps explain in part why errors have become ever more prevalent – so it is with a degree of sympathy that the Monday kick-off notes the contents of a press release announcing last weekend’s Farm Foods European Senior Masters at La Manga. A banner headline proclaimed: Phillip Price Wins Title at the Return of the Farmfoods’ European Senior Masters at La Manga Club.”

Nothing wrong with that surely? Price was even quoted, the press release reading: “Obviously I’m delighted – This is back-to-back Legends tour wins for me this year. I played really solid this week and, in the end, holed a few puts, which you need to do!” Price finished.

There was just one thing. Price had finished in joint 13th place and the tournament had in fact been won by none other than Paul Lawrie, the Aberdonian’s final round 70 for a total score of 202 proving good enough for the title.

There was but a simple solution, of course: to the sound of ferrets reversing everywhere, the press release was recalled and every reference to “Price” was simply altered to “Lawrie”. Yes, even that supposedly verbatim quote.


No manager bounce: the number of games Aston Villa had gone since scoring four goals in a game prior to yesterday's 4-0 win over Brentford, a victory that came three days after the sacking of former Rangers manager Steven Gerrard.