By Mike CollettCHELSEA manager Jose Mourinho was charged with misconduct by the FA on Thursday following comments he made about referee Anthony Taylor after last month’s 1-1 draw at Southampton in the Premier League.The Portuguese was furious with Taylor after he booked Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas for diving in the December 28 match.Mourinho said the referee’s failure to award a penalty was a scandal and that he should be ashamed.He added that his team were being unfairly targeted in a campaign waged against them after Fabregas became the fifth Chelsea player to become involved in a row over diving in a matter of weeks.The Spaniard, though, appeared to be tripped by Southampton defender Matt Targett in the penalty area.“In other countries where I have worked, tomorrow in the sports papers it would be a front-page scandal because it is a scandal,” said Mourinho.“It is not a small penalty, it is a penalty like Big Ben. In this country, and I am happy with that, more than happy with that, we will just say that it was a big mistake with a big influence on the result.“I will go to the referee and wish him a good year and tell him he will be ashamed,” added Mourinho.In a statement, the FA said his remarks constituted improper conduct in that they allege and/or imply bias on the part of a referee or referees and/or bring the game into disrepute.Mourinho has until 1800 GMT on January 13 to respond to the charge.The FA will not take any action against him following the comments he made before the game against Stoke City on December 19 but gave him a formal warning as managers and players are banned from making pre-match media comments about officials.Before the game Mourinho said he hoped referee Neil Swarbrick “does his job”.“I like these matches,” added the Chelsea manager. “It’s no problem with a good referee that can understand what is aggressivity or when aggressivity finishes and when the rules of the game start.“I know it is difficult for every team to play this kind of match but again I’m not worried. The referee is there exactly to judge what is aggressivity. And aggressivity I always welcome, it makes the game much more beautiful and difficult.”
By Constantinos PsillidesTwo men from Nicosia, 22 and 24, were remanded on Thursday, each for four days in connection with two bomb attacks against referees.They were arrested in their respective homes during early morning simultaneous raids.According to police spokesman Andreas Angelides, the two suspects are believed to be part of the organisation ‘Thyraeniotes’, a reference to Thyra 9, or Gate 9 in English – the main fan group of Nicosia side Omonia – or armed urban guerrillas.The group assumed the responsibility for the explosive devices placed on referee Vasilis Demetriou’s wife’s car on February 27, and at the referee association offices in October last year in a public proclamation on March 5.This had been left at the steps of the old GSP stadium in Nicosia for MEGA TV reporter Panayiotis Demopoulos who had been contacted by an individual identifying himself only as member of the organisation, and he was given instructions on how to retrieve the proclamation.Police found that the number belonged to a pre-paid phone card that was bought from a kiosk in the Pallouriotissa area of Nicosia, on March 3. CCTV cameras placed the 22-year-old at the kiosk the day the card was bought. The two suspects appear to have called each other on their mobiles that day.Officers said they found a copy of the proclamation with notes in the 22-year-old’s house. During the raid at the 24-year-old’s house, police found a gas mask and a taser.In the proclamation, the organisation had also declared war against corruption in Cypriot football. They also ranted against DISY politicians, Cyprus Football Federation chairman Kostakis Koutsokoumnis and the current management of the football club Omonia. The suspects are facing charges of conspiracy to commit a felony, attempting to destroy property using an explosive device, and taking part in a criminal organisation.
By Nick MulvenneyWayde van Niekerk lit up the Bird’s Nest with a stunning 400 metres run to win a first sprint gold for South Africa and cap a night of exceptional performances at the World Athletics Championships on Wednesday.Two of those came in the men’s javelin and women’s 3,000 metres steeplechase where Kenyans Julius Yego and Hyvin Jepkemoi added another two gold medals to the East African powerhouse’s already considerable haul.The scourge of doping returned to haunt the sport, however, when two of their compatriots were provisionally banned for failing drug tests on the eve of the championships.Part two of the sprint showdown between Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin, which for many has encapsulated the doping crisis that has tarnished the sport over the last month, also moved a step closer.The fact that Bolt has never failed a dope test while Gatlin has served two drug bans provided the backdrop for their first meeting in Sunday’s 100 metres final, from which the Jamaican emerged triumphant.Gatlin’s run of 19.87 seconds to win his 200m semi-final on Wednesday was the second fastest ever at that stage of a world championships, however, and will give him confidence he can end Bolt’s six-year grip on the title in Thursday’s final.“I think that I have a lot left in the tank,” the 33-year-old American said. “I just have to control the race … and I think we’ll be able to bring it home.”Bolt also looked in fine form, though, and took time to chat to a fellow competitor as he approached the line to win his heat with his first sub-20 second time of the year (19.95).“I can’t complain,” he said. “I’m happy with my form. I just did what I had to do.”For once, though, the 29-year-old was not the most impressive performer on the track with that honour going to Van Niekerk.Racing against a field containing a record five sprinters who had run under 44 seconds, the 23-year-old dominated the contest from start to finish and crossed the line in 43.48 seconds.The effort of running a time that only American world record holder Michael Johnson and his compatriots Butch Reynolds and Jeremy Wariner have bettered took its toll, however.Van Niekerk collapsed on the track at the end of the race and was taken to hospital with his “vital signs unstable”, the IAAF’s medical delegate said, leaving runner-up LaShawn Merritt to hail the quality of the race.“It’s crazy. We’re warriors. We’re animals,” said the American 2013 world champion, whose personal best 43.65 was good enough only for silver ahead of Olympic champion Kirani James (43.78).Van Niekerk was discharged just before midnight local time.While Van Niekerk’s time was the best since 2007, you would have to go back as far as 2001 to witness a javelin flying as far as the 92.72 metres Yego managed to give Kenya its first world title in a field event.To the diminutive Yego, who learned the javelin from watching videos on the internet after being rejected as a runner, fell the duty of reacting to the positive dope tests of his team-mates Koki Manunga and Joyce Zakary.“It’s a shame,” he said. “I always believe we can win clean so it’s a shame to them.”Jepkemoi produced a performance more typical of her nation to win the steeplechase, outsprinting favourite Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia and German Gesa Krause down the home straight to win Kenya’s sixth gold in nine minutes, 19.11 seconds.Zuzana Hejnova already knew her race was won when she went over the final obstacle in the 400 metres hurdles and the Czech, who ran the year’s best time of 53.50 seconds, became the first woman to successfully defend the world title in the event.A thrilling women’s pole vault contest featuring Cuba’s Yarisley Silva, Brazil’s Fabiana Murer and Greece’s Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou kept the crowd engrossed all evening in the gaps between the other events.Silva took the title when she cleared 4.90 metres at the third attempt, leaving Murer, one of her country’s best hopes of gold in athletics at next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, with silver and Kyriakopoulou claiming the bronze.
By Mike CollettUEFA chief Michel Platini opened the door to an expanded Euro 2016, with more finalists than ever, but in one of the great ironies of modern European football he will be absent when delegates descend on Paris next week.Platini is serving a 90-day provisional suspension from football, imposed by FIFA’s ethics committee concerning an alleged payment authorised by the president of world football’s governing body, Sepp Blatter, who is also banned.So when the coaches from the 24 finalists arrive under heavy security following last month’s Paris attacks for the draw in the French capital , Platini will probably be watching events unfold on television instead of being there.The 60-year-old Frenchman, synonymous with his country’s Euro ‘84 triumph on home soil as a player and chief organiser of the 1998 World Cup which ended in French glory in Paris, was widely criticised when UEFA expanded the finals from “the perfect number” of 16 to 24 teams six years ago.Many berated him for reducing the qualifiers to a run-in for the major nations, but that is not how it turned out. The Netherlands, World Cup semi-finalists last year, failed to qualify after losing home and away to Iceland in their group.“The decision to expand was taken in the interest of promoting and developing football across Europe,” Platini, the head of European football’s ruling body, told Reuters in June.“We have been delighted with the positive impact the new format has had across the continent.“We have seen extremely competitive groups with several teams fighting for qualification, a high quality of football played and great enthusiasm in several nations who have never or rarely qualified for a major tournament,” he added.“The qualifiers have been a success so far and we are sure the final tournament in France next year will be the most competitive to date.”Among those who have reached the finals are first time qualifiers Albania and Iceland, Wales – back in a major tournament for the first time since the 1958 World Cup – Northern Ireland and Hungary, who both last appeared in a major tournament at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.Apart from the Dutch, the usual heavyweights are in place with holders Spain seeking a record third straight title.Hosts France, designated in position A1 in the draw, will open the tournament at Saint-Denis on June 10, before playing in Marseilles five days later and in Lille on June 19. If they win Group A their round of 16 match will be in Lyon on June 26.With France already allocated A1, there are five other top seeds with Spain, world champions Germany, highly-fancied Belgium, England, the only team to win all of their ten qualifiers, and Portugal among the elite group.There are some dangerous floaters in Pot 2 with Italy, Russia and the newly-invigorated Austria, the teams to avoid.The 24 teams will be split into six groups of four with the top two in each section and the four best third-placed teams advancing to the last 16, leaving eight teams eliminated after the group stage. The final will be in Paris on July 10.
Jonas struck with a stoppage-time header to end 90 minutes of frustration for Benfica as they beat an ultra-cautious Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 at home in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.Nicolas Gaitan floated a free kick into the area and the Brazilian rose to break the deadlock. Zenit defender Domenico Criscito had been sent off for a second yellow card for the foul which led to the free kick.The first half had been an unsightly slog with 16 fouls, seven offsides and four bookings.Benfica came to life in the second half but still struggled to create chances against a tightly-packed, well-drilled Zenit, who were playing their first competitive match since December 9.
Two goals from Steven Davis gave Southampton a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur who missed the chance to confirm a second-place finish in the Premier League on Sunday.Less than 24 hours after watching Leicester City’s title celebrations, Spurs displayed familiar limitations as they again failed to kill off a team despite taking the lead after 15 minutes when Son Heung-min rounded Southampton keeper Fraser Forster.Southampton always looked dangerous and equalised when Dusan Tadic controlled the ball deftly to set up Davies who flicked the ball home from close range after 31 minutes at White Hart Lane.The same combination provided Saints’ winner halfway through the second half when Davies played a neat one-two with Tadic on the edge of the box and scored with a low shot that beat Hugo Lloris in his bottom corner.Southampton climbed into sixth place, still in the hunt for a Europa League slot, while Spurs stayed second, three points ahead of arch-rivals Arsenal who have a game in hand.
Switzerland followed France through to the last 16 of Euro 2016 by holding the host nation to a 0-0 draw in their final Group A match on Sunday after the unlucky French hit the woodwork three times on Sunday.France had the best chances in a lively first half but the intensity then dropped, with both sides looking happy with a result that means Les Bleus win the group with seven points from three games ahead of the Swiss in second two points back.Paul Pogba, criticised for his first two outings, stepped up a gear and hit the bar twice before the break. France struck the woodwork again 15 minutes from time with a spectacular volley by substitute Dimitri Payet after some fine build-up play.Switzerland, who have never beaten France at the finals of a major tournament, looked far more competitive than when they were thrashed 5-2 by the same opponents in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.A goal from striker Armando Sadiku helped Albania to a 1-0 victory over Romania at Euro 2016 on Sunday to earn their first three points and a chance of advancing to the knockout stages.Sadiku scored Albania’s first goal in the finals of a major tournament with a header just before half time from a cross by Ledian Memushaj in their last group A clash.Romania fought back in the second half, and substitute Florin Andone rattled the Albanian bar with 15 minutes left, but otherwise their efforts were blocked time and again by determined Albanian defending.The result leaves Albania third and Romania fourth, with just one point, in a group topped by France and Switzerland. The Albanians will have to wait for the results of the other groups to see whether they go through as one of the four best third-placed teams.
They are, Mendi One, TNT Jets, Poroma, Imbongu, Mendi Two, Kutubu, Lower Mendi and Upper Mendi.The eight teams were among 18 that came from districts throughout the province to challenge in the round robin games played last weekend. They played in four pools with the top two in each pool qualifying while the rest of the 12 teams were eliminated.The final play offs kick off on today with Imbongu taking on Upper Mendi in the first game.The second match will see Lower Mendi play TNT Jets, then Kutubu will challenge Mendi Two and later Poroma will battle with Mendi One.The tournament is aimed at scouting local talents to represent the Mendi Muruks in 2016 Digicel Cup season.
Games for the men’s premier, women’s and men’s reserve division will be held on Saturday and Sunday at Amini Park, Kilakila, Tubusereia and Vabukori.All games in the men’s premier division will be held at Amini with lots of action guaranteed for fans.On Saturday, Pure Water Raukele take on IBS Poreporena at 10.30am, followed by the main game at 2.30pm where Dulux United will go up against Hoods.Scheduled matches for Sunday are between Badili Hardware Wanderers and Pari. Pacific MMI Coasters and Big Rooster Kempa will play the main game.
The World Cup will be played across played across Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea in four pools.Three games will be played in PNG- October 28 and on November 5 and 12.“Concerning security, it’s not up to the PNGRFL, the event is being organised by the World Cup Committee.“But as members and stakeholders in the Local Organising Committee team, we (PNGRFL) will provide intelligence on cultural and environmental issues in PNG so that they (World Cup Committee) are in line and they can take the necessary precautions to ensure the games are safe and secure for all,” said PNGRFL Chairman, Sandis Tsaka.He said the Local Organising Committee will be meeting at the end of this year to release more details on updates of preparations especially to do with security for the World Cup.The World Cup will run from the October 27 to December 2.