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|WASHINGTON Maillot Michy Batshuayi Mondial 2018 , Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Sports television network ESPN has stirred controversies by deciding to pull one of its announcers from calling a college football game in Charlottesville, Virginia, because his name is Robert Lee.
Lee, an Asian-American sportscaster, was reassigned to a different game "simply because of the coincidence of his name," ESPN said in a statement on Tuesday night.
The broadcaster has the same name as Confederate General Robert E. Lee, whose statue was at the center of violent clashes in Charlottesville earlier this month.
He was supposed to cover the University of Virginia's season opener in the city on Sept. 2. ESPN said it moved Lee to Youngstown State game at Pittsburgh on the same day.
"We collectively made the decision with Rober to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding," ESPN explained. "In that moment it felt right to all parties."
"It's a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play-by-play for a football game has become an issue," it added.
Robert E. Lee was the commander of forces of the slave-holding South in the American Civil War from 1862 until his surrender in 1865.
The decision by the Charlottesville city council to remove Lee's statue from a public park sparked a white supremacist rally on Aug. 12 that later turned into violent clashes between rival protesters.
A 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 others were injured when a sports car driven by a suspected Nazi supporter plowed into a crowd protesting white supremacism.
Two state troopers also died on that day in a helicopter crash after helping monitor the rally, demonstrations, and clashes.
The deadly incident prompted southern U.S. states and cities to work out plans to deal with their own Confederate monuments, many citing safety concerns.
A sportscaster for 20 years, Lee began his career calling games at Syracuse University, his alma mater. He speaks both English and Mandarin Chinese.
But the decision to reassigned him has met backlash from social media, despite a ESPN claim that assignments are switched all the time.
"ESPN did this out of fear of the yowling mob. And is part of it now," columnist John Podhoretz posted in a tweet.
The move was also mocked by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckbee, with a series of tweets.
One of them wrote "ESPN will no longer air football games on TV as referees are dressed in black and white and that could be viewed as binary racism."
"If this society can't tell the difference from 'Robert E Lee' from 150+ years ago to an Asian sportscaster 'Robert Lee' we are in trouble," another Twitter user said.
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UK's Prime Minister Theresa May won parliament's backing for an early election on Wednesday, a vote she said would strengthen her hand in divorce talks with the European Union and help heal divisions in Britain.
May surprised allies and opponents on Tuesday when she announced her plan to bring forward an election that was not due until 2020, saying she needed to avoid a clash of priorities in the sensitive final stages of the two-year Brexit talks.
After addressing a rowdy session of the House of Commons, May won the support of 522 lawmakers in the 650-seat parliament for an election on June 8, an easy victory for the prime minister who could see her majority increase by at least 100 seats in the poll.
"I believe that at this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, not division," May told parliament.
"A general election will provide the country with five years of strong and stable leadership to see us through the negotiations and ensure we are able to go on to make a success as a result, and that is crucial."
The former interior minister, who became prime minister without an election when her predecessor David Cameron quit after last year's referendum vote for Brexit, enjoys a runaway lead over the main opposition Labour Party in opinion polls.
She has also played up the strength of the British economy, which has so far defied predictions of a slowdown - a key campaign theme that her Conservative Party will use to try to undermine Labour in the election.
A victory would give May a powerful mandate extending until 2022, long enough to cover the Brexit negotiations plus a possible transition period into new trading arrangements with the EU - a prospect that has strengthened the pound.
The Sun, Britain's top-selling newspaper, splashed the headline "Blue Murder" - a reference to the Conservatives' color branding and the prospect of Labour losing dozens of seats.
May formally notified the European Union on March 29 of Britain's intention to leave, and has said she is confident of reaching a deal on the terms of withdrawal in the two years available.
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