Former England midfielder Scott Parker retires

28 Jun

Former West Ham United and England midfielder Scott Parker announced his retirement on Wednesday.Parker began his career at Charlton Athletic before playing for Chelsea, Newcastle United, West Ham, Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham in a career spanning two …

Knicks, top executive Phil Jackson agree to part ways

28 Jun

Phil Jackson, who won a record 11 NBA titles as a coach, announced Wednesday his resignation as New York Knicks president of basketball operations by mutual agreement with team owner Jim Dolan.The move came after Dolan and Jackson discussed the future …

Germany confident ahead of Confederations Cup Mexico semi

28 Jun

Germany are the kings of the penalty shoot-out — but the world champions hope to see off Mexico in Thursday’s Confederations Cup semi-final without needing dreaded spot kicks.The Germans have won all five penalty shoot-outs they have faced since 1976 …

Novak Djokovic passes first grass test at Eastbourne

28 Jun

Top seed Novak Djokovic passed his first grass court test of the season on Wednesday, defeating Canadian qualifier Vasek Pospisil 6-4, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals at Eastbourne.The Serb is playing a pre-Wimbledon event for the first time since 2010…

Murray Wimbledon top seed for first time

28 Jun

Defending champion Andy Murray’s indifferent form of late did not prevent him being named top seed for Wimbledon for the first time on Wednesday.The 30-year-old Scot and world number one — who suffered a shock first round defeat at the hands of journe…

Top security for Tour de France

28 Jun

A crack unit of elite counter-terrorism officers will be among a deployment of 23,000 police ensuring safety at the Tour de France, which begins in Dusseldorf on Saturday, the French interior ministry said.But while the jihadist terror threat is high a…

Qatar says Garcia report ‘vindicates’ 2022 World Cup bid

28 Jun

Qatar World Cup organisers said on Wednesday that the surprise publication of FIFA’s Garcia report “vindicated the integrity” of its successful bid to host the 2022 tournament.

In a statement, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy also questioned the timing of the publication, which comes as Qatar faces political isolation from many neighbouring countries.

“We believe that the extent of our cooperation with this investigation and the conclusions drawn represent a vindication of the integrity of our bid,” read the statement.

“We will continue to dedicate ourselves toward delivering on the promises we made during our bid and hosting an historic first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East.”

Although the long-awaited report from US independent investigator Michael Garcia highlighted an array of potentially suspect financial dealings, there appeared to be no “smoking gun” which could end up denying Qatar the World Cup in five years’ time.

His report referred to a payment of £2 million ($2.6 million) allegedly sent by a consultant for Qatar, Sandro Rosell, to the 10-year-old daughter of a FIFA official.

The payment was described by an associate as the proceeds from a real estate deal.

But Garcia concluded that no proof existed to link Qatar to the payment.

Rosell, an ex-Barcelona president, is currently in prison under investigation for money laundering related to the sale of the Brazilian national football team’s television rights.

Garcia’s investigation also revealed that one former FIFA executive committee member thanked Qatar by mail for a transfer of several hundred thousand euros just after Qatar was awarded the 2022 tournament.

And it also documents that three executive members of FIFA were flown to Rio de Janeiro for a private party ahead of the vote to decide who would host the 2022 World Cup.

Garcia’s report was commissioned in 2012 and presented to FIFA in 2014.

Following his investigation, the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee said there was not enough evidence to call into question Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup.

FIFA — which had previously only published a 40-page summary of the report – finally made the document public after it was obtained by German newspaper Bild.

Qatar’s statement added that “we question the timing of the leak”, which comes at a time of high political tension in the Gulf.

Countries led by Saudi Arabia announced earlier this month the suspension of ties with Qatar, accusing it of support for extremist groups — a claim Doha denies.

Racing: Cup-queen Payne tests positive for banned drug

28 Jun

History-making Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne has been stood down from riding after testing positive for a banned substance, racing officials said Wednesday.Payne, 31, will go in front of an inquiry by Racing Victoria stewards Thursday aft…

Olympics: Soaring costs threaten Games future, IOC warns

28 Jun

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday praised Japanese organisers for slashing costs for the 2020 Tokyo Games, but warned that soaring Olympic budgets could see future bids dry up.Tokyo 2020 coordination commission chairman John Coates…

Table tennis: Ex-China coach sorry for players no-show

28 Jun

The former head coach of China’s all-conquering table tennis team has denied knowing three top Chinese players would stage a no-show at a major tournament in protest at his removal.Highly respected Liu Guoliang, a former Grand Slam champion who lost hi…

Cricket: Shastri to apply for India coach job

28 Jun

Former captain Ravi Shastri will apply to become India’s head coach after the national cricket board extended the application deadline following Anil Kumble’s shock exit, reports said Thursday.”Yes, I have decided to apply for the job,” the cricketer-t…

Football: Oscar leads big names behaving badly in China

28 Jun

Oscar is suspended for eight games after a brawl. Carlos Tevez riles fans with a trip to Disneyland while his club are playing. Ezequiel Lavezzi and Hulk deny being anti-Chinese.

As the Chinese Super League (CSL) hits the halfway point of the season this weekend, the megabucks lavished on imported players has triggered unprecedented interest, but the headlines have been dominated by foreigners behaving badly.

While nobody is chasing them out of the country just yet, Brazilian international Oscar — who received the mammoth ban for sparking a mass brawl last week — is not even the latest acquisition to run into trouble.

Beijing Guoan’s Turkish striker Burak Yilmaz was sent off on Monday night after appearing to slap an opponent during a melee at the end of a bad-tempered scoreless home draw with Fabio Capello’s Jiangsu Suning.

Prior to the rush of blood in which he lashed the ball directly at two Guangzhou R&F opponents, attacking midfielder Oscar, who cost an Asian-record 60 million euros from Chelsea in the January window, appeared to have settled well into life at Shanghai SIPG with a string of highly-rated performances.

Far better than Argentine forward Tevez who has so far failed to ingratiate himself with fans at neighbouring Shanghai Shenhua and is rumoured to be eyeing a move away from China despite signing a contract reported to be worth a staggering 38 million euros ($40 million) a year in January.

Lavezzi, another Argentine forward on big money following his move last year from Paris Saint-Germain to Hebei China Fortune, was told by the Chinese Football Association (CFA) last month to “regulate his words and actions more” after promotional photos emerged of him in a slant-eyed pose, causing outrage on social media.

– Worth the money –

Forward Hulk, while flourishing with nine CSL goals on the pitch alongside fellow Brazilian Oscar at SIPG, was also hauled before the CFA last month over allegations that he punched the Guizhou Zhicheng’s assistant coach and made anti-Chinese comments in the players’ tunnel at half-time.

The burly striker and the club both denied the claims and the CFA said there was “no evidence” against Hulk after an investigation.

Yang Qinnong, 25, a diehard SIPG fan, said the money his club shelled out on Hulk and Oscar — at a combined cost of 116 million euros ($132 million) — had been worth it.

Yang said it would benefit Chinese players to come up against the likes of Oscar, but felt some big-name imports have the wrong attitude and were motivated by money.

“They think they are hot shots and think they don’t need to train and have self-discipline like others because they make more money than others and have more experience,” he said, supporting a ruling that caps the number of foreign players to three a match in China.

“I think certain limitations on foreign players is a good thing but it could make the CSL less attractive to watch,” he added.

– ‘Higher expectations’ –

Across Shanghai all is not well.

The 33-year-old former Manchester United and Manchester City striker Tevez scored just his second goal for Shenhua last weekend as they beat bottom club Yanbian Funde 2-0.

Shenhua, managed by former Chelsea and Tottenham midfielder Gus Poyet, are languishing in eighth place in the 16-team CSL, 21 points behind pacesetters Guangzhou Evergrande, and failed to reach the group stages of this season’s AFC Champions League.

Liu Yuan, a hardcore Shenhua supporter, accused the imports of failing to make an effort to blend in and were there only for the money.

“Foreign football players did not change their state of mind. They came to China seeking only a high salary,” he said.

Fang Hui, a 30-year-old football fan in Shanghai, said Chinese football was attempting a tough balancing act between attracting star names to raise the profile of the league while not squeezing local talent.

Fang, who says she does not support either of the Shanghai teams, added that foreign players were being unfairly singled out for criticism.

“Fans have higher expectations of foreign players,” she said.

“They would make a big deal when Tevez went to Disneyland in his own time (instead of going to a Shenhua game when he was injured) and once they do anything that is not so good fans think they’re not worth the money they are being paid.”

Pacquiao team says Horn fight will be ‘short and sweet’

28 Jun

Manny Pacquiao’s world title fight with Jeff Horn will be “short and sweet” with a knockout likely, his trainer predicted Wednesday, as his Australian challenger said he was “ready for war”.The legendary Filipino, one of the greatest fighters of his ge…

Ledecky wins 800 crown at US world swim trials

28 Jun

Five-time Olympic champion Katie Ledecky won the 800-meter freestyle Tuesday at the US Swim Championships with this year’s fastest time in the world only 25 minutes after another final.World record-holder and reigning world and Olympic champion Ledecky…

Five things that make a Tour de France champion

28 Jun

Britain’s Chris Froome will begin his bid for a fourth Tour de France title when the 114th edition of the world’s greatest cycle race begins in Duesseldorf on Saturday.Here, AFP Sport looks at five crucial elements needed to win the coveted yellow jers…

Wimbledon braced for new women’s shock

28 Jun

With Serena Williams preparing for the birth of her first child and Maria Sharapova sidelined by a thigh injury, the race to be crowned Wimbledon champion is the most wide-open in a generation.Having stepped away from the court as she waits to become a…

Federer poised for record Wimbledon triumph

27 Jun

Twelve months after shutting down his season in the wake of a devastating semi-final defeat, Roger Federer returns to Wimbledon as favourite to capture a record-breaking eighth title and become the tournament’s oldest champion.The evergreen Swiss super…

Facebook to livestream Champions League football games

27 Jun

Facebook will broadcast Champions League matches for American internet users under a deal with Fox Sports, which will host the livestreams on its pages, the channel said Tuesday.The partnership will involve two group matches per day, four round of sixt…

Durant, Jordan congratulate Westbrook on MVP award

27 Jun

Russell Westbrook received congratulations on his first NBA Most Valuable Player award Tuesday from former Oklahoma City teammate Kevin Durant and Hall of Fame playmaker Michael Jordan.Westbrook took the honor at the NBA Awards show Monday in New York,…

Serena Williams bares body, love story for Vanity Fair

27 Jun

Serena Williams unveiled her pregnant body in a nude Vanity Fair cover photo Tuesday and detailed the story of her romance with fiance Alexis Ohanian in an article for the magazine.The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion is shown in profile facing left…

Game, set and match for AC Milan legend Maldini

27 Jun

Five-time European Cup-winning footballer Paolo Maldini’s tennis career ended abruptly on his debut on Tuesday when the AC Milan legend lost 6-1, 6-1 in a first-round doubles match.Maldini stepped onto the court at the Milan challenger event as its mos…

Whiteley sidelined from rugby for ‘six to eight weeks’

27 Jun

A pelvic injury will sideline Springboks skipper Warren Whiteley for the rest of the Super Rugby season and possibly the first two rounds of the Rugby Championship, his provincial team said Tuesday.Golden Lions doctor Rob Collins told reporters in Joha…

Wild ride continues for Hurley in defending title

27 Jun

Defending champion Billy Hurley III has endured an emotional roller coaster the past two years at the US PGA National, from a missing father to a breakthrough victory.So it’s no wonder the 35-year-old home-region favorite feels a bit strange about the …

Biaggi leaves hospital after crash

27 Jun

Italian motorcycling star Max Biaggi left hospital on Tuesday two weeks after being admitted following a training accident.”I’m happy, I’m going home,” said the 46-year-old Biaggi according to a web report by Gazzetta dello Sport.Biaggi underwent six o…

Tour cyclist Cardoso fails doping test

27 Jun

Portuguese rider Andre Cardoso was kicked out of the Tour de France by his Trek team on Tuesday after failing a dope test, ridding top contender Alberto Contador of an important team-mate.Just four days before the Tour de France begins in Duesseldorf, …

FIFA discloses damaging Qatar World Cup bid report

27 Jun

FIFA on Tuesday released a long-witheld report on the decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup after more leaks deepened the controversy surrounding the vote.World football’s governing body had previously declined to publish in full the report into t…

Thiem upset by lowly ranked Indian

27 Jun

Dominic Thiem crashed out of the Antalya ATP grass court tournament on Tuesday, the French Open semi-finalist stunned by India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan, ranked 214 places below the world number eight.The 22-year-old Ramanathan upset Thiem 6-3, 6-2 to clai…

Djokovic frustrated as rain rules at Eastbourne

27 Jun

Novak Djokovic’s Wimbledon preparations were hampered on Tuesday as rain ruined his Eastbourne second round clash with Vasek Pospisil.Djokovic took a wildcard entry into the Wimbledon warm-up event on the south-coast in a bid to ensure he is up to spee…

Bolt to make European bow in farewell season

27 Jun

Jamaican sprint superstar Usain Bolt will on Wednesday make his first appearance in Europe in his farewell season.Bolt, winner of eight Olympic and 11 world gold medals, will bring down the curtain on his glittering career at August’s world championshi…

WADA partially lifts Russian anti-doping agency ban

27 Jun

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced Tuesday a decision to give the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) the right for planning and collecting of doping samples.”WADA announces that it permits RUSADA to plan and coordinate testing,” the stateme…

Nic Pothas promoted to Sri Lanka interim coach

27 Jun

Sri Lanka on Tuesday placed the national cricket team in the charge of fielding coach Nic Pothas before finding a replacement for Graham Ford who prematurely ended his contract last week.Sri Lanka Cricket chief Thilanga Sumathipala said the 43-year-old…

Sri Lanka name uncapped batsman for Zimbabwe ODI series

27 Jun

Sri Lanka on Tuesday named a 13-member squad, including a 19-year-old uncapped batsman, for the five-match one-day international series against Zimbabwe.Wanidu Hasaranga, who has played 12 first class matches and scored 775 runs, was brought into the s…

US misses out on first 2017 world taekwando gold

27 Jun

The United States narrowly missed out Tuesday on its first gold at the 2017 World Taekwondo Championships when Paige McPherson had to settle for silver after losing to Nur Tatar of Turkey.Tatar won a close final 6-4 in the women’s Under 67 kg category …

French Grand Prix in 2018 ‘a dream come true’ for Ocon

27 Jun

Force India’s French driver Esteban Ocon says the return of the French Grand Prix after a decade-long absence is “a dream come true”.The Paul Ricard circuit near Marseille was confirmed this month as part of the 2018 Formula One season with a race on J…

Wayde van Niekerk vows to get ‘ridiculous’ on Ostrava track

27 Jun

South African track sensation Wayde van Niekerk vowed to get “ridiculous” when he competes in the little-run 300m at Wednesday’s Golden Spike meet in Ostrava.The world and Olympic 400m champion, who broke Michael Johnson’s long-standing world record wh…

Andy Murray suffers pre-Wimbledon injury scare

27 Jun

Andy Murray suffered an injury scare ahead of Wimbledon as the world number one pulled out of an exhibition match at the Hurlingham Club due to a sore hip on Tuesday.Murray had scheduled two matches at the Aspall Tennis Classic event following his shoc…

Pacquiao eyeing Mayweather rematch, says trainer

27 Jun

A rematch between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao could be on the cards if the legendary Filipino boxer wins his bout against Australian challenger Jeff Horn this weekend, his trainer said Tuesday.Pacquiao, who was outpointed by Mayweather in the “…

Dalton says America’s Cup won with damaged boat

27 Jun

Kiwis on Tuesday greeted Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup victory with jubilation and a huge sigh of relief as it was revealed the triumph was secured with a damaged boat that could have failed at any time.New Zealand syndicate boss Grant Dalton said a…

Shanghai SIPG warn fans over Oscar protest

27 Jun

Shanghai SIPG told fans to “be free of arrogance and rashness” after angry supporters of the Chinese Super League club lashed out at an eight-game ban slapped on star player Oscar.

The Brazilian international was hit with the ban last week for triggering an all-out brawl in a CSL clash at Guangzhou R&F, while three others were also handed lesser suspensions.

Oscar has made no public comment on his lengthy ban, but he was pictured on social media before his suspension wearing a white T-shirt with the words “NOTHING TO DO, NOTHING TO SAY”.

During last weekend’s 4-1 home thumping of Henan Jianye, the first game of Oscar’s ban, fellow Brazilian Hulk wore a T-shirt with the same phrase and fans displayed a banner saying the same thing.

But on Tuesday the Shanghai club, currently second in the CSL under manager Andre Villas-Boas, published an open letter on social media urging fans to move on.

“The club very much thanks all the SIPG fans’ love to us and we are deeply moved by the fans’ passion,” the club said, referring to the large banner echoing the new Oscar catchphrase.

“However, we have to say, this type of irrational behaviour will inevitably cause a bad social impact to SIPG, SIPG players and SIPG fans and it is against our initial intention of ‘positive energy in Shanghai’.”

The club told fans to “cherish and maintain our good image together and to keep a clear head. Be free of arrogance and rashness…”

Oscar, 25, an Asian-record, 60-million-euro capture this season from Chelsea, will not return until August and will miss next month’s top-of-the-table clash with Guangzhou Evergrande while he serves his ban.

After Sunday’s big win he tweeted a photo of the banner supporting him and wrote: “Great win yesterday and thank you for your support. Let’s go together!!!”

Super-agent Mendes in court over Falcao ‘tax evasion’

27 Jun

Football super-agent Jorge Mendes is due to be questioned by a Spanish judge for the first time Tuesday as part of a probe into striker Radamel Falcao’s alleged tax evasion, just one of his clients to fall foul of the country’s judiciary.As Spanish aut…

All Black Kaino denies intent to hurt Murray

27 Jun

All Black Jerome Kaino on Tuesday rejected allegations he maliciously targeted British and Irish Lions scrum-half Conor Murray and predicted a backlash from the tourists after their first Test loss.Lions coach Warren Gatland said after the 30-15 defeat…

Capello frustrated as fists fly at China football game

27 Jun

New manager Fabio Capello told players to cool it after scuffles marred Jiangsu Suning’s 0-0 draw with Beijing Guoan, in just the latest outbreak of violence in the Chinese Super League.Capello, who picked up his first league point with struggling Jian…