Exclusive – Pyeongchang Games could include events in Japan

by admin on January 29th, 2019

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Pyeongchang’s preparations for the first Asian winter Olympics outside Japan have been hit by budget problems and delays in some venues.

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A move to Japan’s sliding centre would also be in line with planned IOC changes to make the Games cheaper and more sustainable.

“This suggestion is out there,” one source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters. “The two federations (luge and skeleton/boblseigh) and organisers are talking about this.”

It was not immediately clear what events would be moved and if they would be switched to the Nagano bobsleigh and luge park that hosted the competitions at the 1998 winter Olympics in Japan.

“It is an ongoing discussion,” another source told Reuters. “Nothing is final yet but there are discussions going on. Obviously it is not something that either side wants to really make public yet.”

Tensions between Japan and South Korea are currently high over Tokyo’s colonial rule of Korea and the issue of sex slaves.

South Korea has also been angered with the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and repeated offerings to the Yasukuni Shrine that honours 14 Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal, as well as Japan’s war dead.

IOC President Thomas Bach had earlier on Saturday said the IOC would review the Pyeongchang Games after it passes 40 recommendations on Monday and Tuesday at its session in Monaco.

These recommendations, called Agenda 2020, are aimed at turning the Games into a more attractive prospect while also giving host cities the chance of using facilities in other cities or countries if it makes financial and practical sense.

“As President Bach said at his press conference, Agenda 2020 is now shaping-up and a lot of opportunities will emerge that will benefit current and future Olympic and Paralympic Games organisers,” said Pyeongchang Games chief Cho Yang-ho in a statement.

“At this stage various ideas are pondered. After this session we will have a clear understanding about the new flexibility that Agenda 2020 provides all Games organisers and we will consult with the IOC.”

The two countries, despite their tensions, successfully co-hosted the 2002 soccer World Cup.

The IOC has said that any changes based on Agenda 2020 for already existing Olympic host cities would have to come from the organisers themselves and would need the green light from federations and the IOC.

(Editing by Ed Osmond and Justin Palmer)

FIFA dismiss discrimination claims as "nonsense"

by admin on January 29th, 2019

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The bitter dispute between football’s governing body and a group of players who have filed a lawsuit against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association continued to overshadow the buildup to Saturday’s glitzy World Cup draw for the June 5 to July 6 2015 tournament in six venues across Canada, all on artificial turf.

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FIFA president Sepp Blatter, whose organisation has been dogged by a wave of scandals and controversy ranging from allegations of corruption in the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process to the artificial turf row, will not attend the draw, leaving general secretary Jerome Valcke to field reporters questions at pre-draw press conference.

Despite persistent threats by players’ attorneys, Valcke said FIFA had not yet been served and would probably be advised to steer clear of the contentious subject.

But the general secretary came out guns blazing, declaring any talk of discrimination as unfounded.

“If anyone is saying the use of artificial pitch is a question of discrimination it is nonsense. It is completely crazy to say that. It has nothing to do with discrimination,” declared Valcke. “I can’t imagine no one will recognise what FIFA has done for the development of women’s football over the last 15 years.

“I’m amazed by the size and the scale of the discussion.

“It is part of our statutes and regulations that artificial pitch can be used as natural grass to make sure we can play football everywhere.”

Valcke arrived in the Canadian capital with the players’ lawyers pressing for a conference call with the general secretary to discuss the dispute.

While Valcke had stated earlier he would welcome dialogue with any and all players he added a condition on Friday saying he would only do it face-to-face and not over the phone.

“I don’t have to speak to a lawyer. Why should I speak to anyone else but the players,” said Valcke.

“I’m very happy to sit and discuss with the players but I will not discuss by phone because I am expecting to sit in front of people not via phone conference call.”

(Editing by Gene Cherry)

Chelsea come crashing down to earth at Newcastle

by admin on January 29th, 2019

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Arsenal’s hopes of a third successive victory were dashed in a 3-2 defeat at Stoke City where they trailed 3-0 at halftime and Liverpool were held to a 0-0 home draw by Sunderland — one of three goalless stalemates.

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Undefeated in 23 matches in all competitions since April’s Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid, Chelsea proved far from invincible as 10-man Newcastle survived a late barrage to prevent the visitors setting a record unbeaten run.

Few could deny Newcastle a deserved win that lifted them to seventh in the table, although Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said his side had been unlucky.

The hosts lost goalkeeper Rob Elliot to injury at halftime, replaced by young rookie debutant Jak Alnwick, and had to man the barricades with only 10 men when Steven Taylor was dismissed after getting a second yellow card 10 minutes from the end.

Substitute Cisse, who replaced Remy Cabella after the break, put Newcastle in front after 57 minutes following a slip by Gary Cahill and struck again on the break 20 minutes later, seconds after Eden Hazard was denied an equaliser by the woodwork.

Didier Drogba’s majestic header halved the deficit late on but Newcastle survived six minutes of stoppage time and Chelsea’s 14-match unbeaten start to the season, which had drawn comparisons with the Arsenal Invincibles of 2003-04, was over.

“We were very unlucky, even more than last season,” Mourinho, beaten 2-0 at Newcastle in the last campaign, told the BBC. “Only one team wants to win, only one team plays to win, but that team doesn’t score and they go and cross the midfield line and score a goal and after that we have to chase the game which we did, which gave me lots of pride.”

THREE POINTS

Champions Manchester City can close the gap at the top to three points if they beat Everton later on Saturday.

Third-placed Southampton host Manchester United, in fourth, on Monday.

Arsenal fell behind to a Peter Crouch goal after 19 seconds at Stoke and Bojan and Jon Walters made it 3-0 by halftime.

Santi Cazorla’s penalty and a goal from Aaron Ramsey gave Arsenal hope after the break but the damage was already done for the visitors who had Calum Chambers sent off.

“Once we were 3-0 down, we had a mountain to climb. We did climb, but a bit unlucky I must say,” manager Arsene Wenger said.

Skipper Steven Gerrard was left on the bench by Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool laboured at Anfield.

Queens Park Rangers beat Burnley 2-0 to climb out of the relegation zone.

Tottenham Hotspur drew 0-0 with Crystal Palace, as did strugglers Hull City and West Bromwich Albion.

Chelsea, with Diego Costa back in attack after missing the midweek win over Tottenham Hotspur through suspension, dominated for long periods but were unusually profligate in front of goal.

Willian should have scored but shot narrowly wide and the Brazilian forced Elliot into a diving save. Costa also failed to capitalise from a couple of dangerous situations.

Elliot limped off at halftime, allowing 21-year-old Alnwick to make his first competitive appearance.

However, it was Newcastle’s second substitution that proved the most telling as Cisse strode on.

The Senegal striker tapped in Sammy Ameobi’s low cross after Cahill failed to clear. Chelsea responded with Hazard hitting the post but Newcastle went further ahead after a counter-attack ended with Moussa Sissoko setting up Cisse for another tap-in.

Taylor’s sending-off and Drogba’s second goal of the week silenced the home crowd but Mourinho was left still waiting for his first away league victory over Newcastle.

(Editing by Ed Osmond and Toby Davis)

Russians threaten legal action over ‘slanderous claims’

by admin on January 29th, 2019

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“The federation believe the documentary was a provocation aimed at discrediting Russian sport,” Valentin Balakhnichev said in a statement on Friday.

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“After watching the documentary we immediately began to doubt how authentic and believable the material they edited was.

We see this film … as a planned attempt to create an ugly scandal within Russian athletics and Russian sport in general.

“We are looking at all our options to defend our rights. If it is possible under Russian and German law we will take the appropriate legal action for the slanderous allegations made against us,” said Balakhnichev.

The hour-long German programme, broadcast by ZDF/ARD on Wednesday, featured an undercover video of what it said were Russian athletes and coaches admitting to covering up positive tests.

The video, which has not been seen or verified by Reuters, also alleges corruption and a systematic doping issue among Russian athletes and high-ranking officials.

“One hears claims by five people whose statements are hardly credible,” added Balakhnichev.

“Each of them had been exposed as a doping abuser and has personal reasons to have a dislike towards our athletes, coaches, athletes from other federations and the Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA.

“The Russian Athletics Federation is committed to its fight against doping in sport and we will continue this process,” added Balakhnichev.

On Thursday, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said they were “grave allegations” made by German TV.

“An investigation by the IAAF Ethics Commission is already ongoing with respect to some of the allegations,” added the IAAF.

RUSADA said on Friday it had launched an investigation into the allegations.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

Liverpool cannot rely on Gerrard, says Rodgers

by admin on January 29th, 2019

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The debate surrounding Gerrard’s role in the side is likely to rumble on after Rodgers left the midfielder on the bench for the first 67 minutes at Anfield.

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Having inspired Liverpool to a 3-1 victory over Leicester City in midweek, the 34-year-old’s absence coincided with one of Liverpool’s least impressive attacking performances of a disappointing campaign.

“I can’t have any complaints from the players,” Rodgers told the BBC. “They’re giving me everything and we can’t solely rely on Steven. It can’t (always) be up to him.”

In consigning his captain to the bench, the Liverpool boss perhaps had one eye on Tuesday’s crucial Champions League clash at home to Basel.

Rodgers has spoken at length about needing to manage Gerrard, so he is fresh for the biggest occasions.

He was in no mood to criticise Gerrard’s team mates, however, after Saturday’s draw ensured they had taken seven points from the last nine, a marked improvement after they lost three straight league games in November.

“I thought the players gave everything and in the second half we looked like we could make breakthrough,” Rodgers added.

“Sunderland proved this year that they are a hard team to beat. I can’t fault the players. They needed a wee bit of luck and it didn’t come.

“If you can’t win it’s important you don’t lose. We’ve taken seven points from nine this week which is a good return for us.”

Liverpool, who have looked short of firepower in the absence of long-term absentee Daniel Sturridge, are ninth in the Premier League with 21 points from 15 games.

They are entering a crucial period of the campaign, with Tuesday’s winner-takes-all match against Basel, preceding league games against Manchester United and Arsenal and a League Cup quarter-final at Bournemouth.

(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Justin Palmer)

Donovan retires as U.S’s greatest player, Arena says

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Donovan will leave the game as the all-time top scorer in Major League Soccer and for the U.

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S. national team, and coach Bruce Arena said his legacy would be a simple one.

“I would think his legacy would be that he left the game as the greatest player in the history of U.S. soccer and he is a damn good person. That is a pretty good legacy,” said Arena, who also coached Donovan at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.

Donovan departs at the relatively early age of 32, having announced in August his decision to quit. That meant that each game in the knockout playoffs could have been his last.

“It has been a little bit different because I personally didn’t know what was coming next but now I know,” said Donovan.

“I have been very excited every day to wake up and go to training. Candidly, I don’t want it to end. It has been a lot of fun and I am going to have that attitude on Sunday. I want it to be as enjoyable as possible and that would be winning,” he added.

Galaxy forward Robbie Keane said he had not tried to change Donovan’s mind.

“He has made the decision that he is going to retire which is a shame, but at the end of the day, it is up to him and you have to respect his decision. If anyone deserves to go out on a high it is certainly Landon,” Keane said.

Donovan, who has won three MLS Cups with LA and two with San Jose, hopes he will be remembered for his personal qualities as much as what he achieved on the field.

“I have just always tried to be a good team-mate, a winner, I know I am not always perfect as a lot of people will attest to.

“At the end of it all, I realise I could have played on teams that we are not as successful (as Galaxy) so I have been really fortunate, I’m proud of what I’ve done, I’ve tried to be a good friend to people and that’s the most important.

(Editing by Gene Cherry)

Austin makes his mark against former Burnley team mates

by admin on January 29th, 2019

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Austin, signed from Burnley for four million pounds ($6.

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23 million) last year, looked a bargain in the basement battle that hauled Rangers out of the Premier League drop zone for the first time since September.

His eighth goal of the season made him the league’s top English scorer and lifted some of the pressure off manager Harry Redknapp, with QPR moving up to 17th on 14 points.

Burnley — promoted with QPR this season — are 19th on 12 points, one behind Hull City but two clear of Leicester who play at Aston Villa on Sunday.

The 76th minute red card, just two minutes after Austin had scored, followed a second yellow for scything tackles against players he still counts as friends and who could easily have left Loftus Road with a win.

“Charlie’s scored again which was great for us,” said Redknapp with a shrug. “It’s just one of those things. He was trying to get back and defend and put a shift in. He’s not at all a nasty type of player.”

While Austin might make most of the headlines, it was goalkeeper Rob Green who kept QPR in the game with vital stops in the first half.

“Rob Green made a couple of world class saves at vital times,” said Redknapp. “He was excellent, fantastic.”

“I said (at half time) we’ve got to sharpen up otherwise we are going to get beaten today. And I felt we sharpened up from the first whistle of the second half.”

Rangers have yet to score a point away this season but their home form at least has held up.

“We should have won here against a couple of teams that are way above us.” said Redknapp. “We were leading Man City, and we were definitely unlucky not to beat Liverpool here.

“We lost to Hull in the first game of the season, missed a penalty with five minutes to go. We’ve been very good at home, just need to pick up a couple of points away from home.”

(1 US dollar = 0.6417 British pound)

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer)

Australia face biggest mental battle in first test – Ponting

by admin on January 29th, 2019

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Australia host the first match of the four-test series in Adelaide from Tuesday, less than a week after batsman Hughes’s funeral, and Ponting said the collective loss of their team mate would far outweigh any personal tragedies players had previously brought into a game.

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“None of the things that have happened before compare to what the players are dealing with after Phillip’s death,” Ponting wrote in a column in The Australian newspaper.

“We are in uncharted waters and the boys are going to have to dig deeper than they ever have.

“This will be the biggest mental battle any of them will have encountered, but I have faith they can pull it off.

“In a perfect world I want to see the team come together and go out there as one, but I understand that some might find it impossible. For cricket’s sake, I hope that they can all do it.”

Ponting, who retired in 2012 after 168 tests, spoke of playing with a heavy heart after deaths in his own family and said cricket at the highest level was “a job that has to be done no matter what’s going on in your life”.

“Like everyone in the comm­unity, cricketers have to show up at work and suck it up when things are rough,” he added.

“Your wife or kids can be sick, there might be trouble at home, but too often this can happen when you are on the road and there’s not even the chance to drop in at the end of the day and sort out the mess.”

Hughes died from a severe head injury after being struck by a short-pitched ball, prompting debate about whether “bouncers” should be banned or further limited.

Former Australia fast bowler Merv Hughes said players should send in a short ball first thing in the Adelaide test and Ponting agreed.

“I would love to see a bouncer bowled as the first ball in Adelaide on Tuesday,” he said. “It would clear the air, announce that the game is on, and if that’s done I think it might have a healing effect on everybody. Or at least start the healing.”

(Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Patrick Johnston)

Arsenal suffer more misery at hands of Stoke

by admin on January 29th, 2019

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Arsene Wenger’s side were eventually beaten 3-2 — their fourth loss at the Britannia Stadium in seven seasons with two of the other clashes ending in draws.

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This time Arsenal needed only 19 seconds to begin unravelling against a side Wenger believes plays with more “animosity” against the Gunners than any other club.

Peter Crouch put Stoke ahead inside a minute and goals from Bojan and Jon Walters had Stoke clear by halftime before a Santi Cazorla penalty and Aaron Ramsey’s goal gave Arsenal hope.

However, they could not claw back the deficit after having Calum Chambers sent off and Wenger will again have questions to answer after two consecutive league wins had appeared to have put Arsenal’s stuttering season back on track.

“A lot of regrets because we have given a lot,” Wenger told the BBC. “We had a great energy level and a great response and the collectively the spirit of the team is fantastic.

“But we missed defensively our start of the game and we paid a very heavy price for that. We gave very easy goals away and we were not decisive enough in the challengers.

“When you are 3-0 down you have a mountain to climb, we did it and we tried it but we were a bit unlucky in the end.”

Stoke and Arsenal clashes have had an extra edge since Ramsey’s leg was broken by a Ryan Shawcross tackle in 2010 during Arsenal’s only Premier League era victory at Stoke.

“For (Stoke) it’s the game of the year, they look to have a bit more animosity against us than other teams when you watch on television, so you have to be a bit more committed and have the commitment from the start.

“We did have it but it was too late in the game.”

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Justin Palmer)

Popovic banned for two games, Saudi spitter gets eight

by admin on January 29th, 2019

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Popovic’s penalty was for “offensive behaviour” at the end of an ill-tempered quarter-final win over defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande, with the Chinese side also receiving eight punishments relating to the August fixtures.

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World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi, who has since retired from managing, was given a three-match ban for all future AFC club competitions after angrily confronting the referee who sent off Gao Lin and Zhang Linpeng in the 1-0 first leg loss in Sydney.

The Italian’s assistant Massimiliano Maddalon and Guangzhou physiotherapist Silvano Cotti were banned for two games and also fined $2,000 along with Popovic. Lippi, who had already been punished with a one-match ban in the second leg of the quarter-final, was fined $5,000.

Al Hilal striker Al Shamrani had his eight-match ban for spitting at Wanderers substitute Matthew Spiranovic and headbutting confirmed on Saturday, six days after AFC disciplinary committee member Hamid Al Shaibani leaked the news just before the Saudi took the AFC’s top individual prize.

Al Shamrani beat Qatari playmaker Khalfan Ibrahim and United Arab Emirates defender Ismail Ahmed to the prize after scoring 10 goals in the AFC Champions League campaign last term.

The 31-year-old showed little remorse for his actions, telling reporters at the prize-giving in Manila last week that it was a normal reaction to spit and claimed he was verbally abused by Spiranovic following his side’s 1-0 aggregate defeat.

No penalty or charge has been brought against the Australian defender.

Al Shamrani’s punishment, the minimum he could have received from the AFC after being found guilty, is also only for AFC club competitions meaning he is free to represent his country at next month’s Asian Cup in Australia.

(Editing by Ian Ransom)