Sat, Dec 06, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Sports Briefs

AGENCIES

PHOTO: AP

■ Soccer

Ferguson has heart scare

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson underwent hospital treatment on Thursday for a minor heart irregularity, the soccer club said. It said Ferguson, 61, underwent a routine procedure at a Manchester hospital and was expected back at work yesterday. A routine checkup several months ago revealed "a minor heart irregularity," a club statement said. The procedure went well, it said, and Ferguson was resting at home and due at the club's Carrington training ground Friday in preparation for today's Premier League match with Aston Villa. "The treatment revealed he has no underlying heart problem," the statement said.

■ Soccer

Aussies blast playoff path

Australia coach Frank Farina has criticized FIFA over the qualifying draw for the 2006 World Cup. Soccer's world governing body announced on Thursday that the top team in the Oceania qualifying group, which Australia are favorites to win, will play the fifth-placed South American side for a place in the World Cup finals. FIFA also said a second playoff would take place between qualifiers from the Asian and the CONCACAF zones. Farina told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the draw was unfairly stacked against Oceania and the playoff match-ups should have been randomly drawn. "We were hoping that it would just be a fair draw like all the other groups, that it would be taken out of a pot, or a hat as we call it in Australia," Farina said.

■ Football

Black players get hate mail

US authorities are investigating a series of hate mail letters sent to black NFL players and other prominent African Americans, according to a report on Thursday. The league sent a memo to NFL players last week warning that threats of violence in the letters have escalated and the sender is usually identified as "All Whites (or Caucasians), Angry white women," according to Florida's Palm Beach Post, which said it obtained a copy of the memo. Postmarks show the letters originated in Erie, Pennsylvania, Cleveland, Ohio and Youngstown, Ohio. "There have been 11 or 12 letters directed to prominent individuals throughout the United States over the past two years," special agent Robert Hawk of the Cleveland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said, according to the newspaper.

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