Synthetic pitch for England
Moscow's Luzhniki Olympic stadium will stage Russia's Euro 2008 Group E qualifier against England on a synthetic surface, the Russian Football Union (RFU) said on Wednesday. "Yes, the match will be played at Luzhniki and it is now 99.9 percent certain that it will be held on a synthetic pitch," a spokesman for the RFU said. The prospect of England playing such a key qualifier on an unfamiliar surface will mean special preparations for the team. "We will prepare accordingly, whether on a synthetic surface in England or by making full use of the training opportunities pre-match," an FA spokesman said.
Club draws Church criticism
Spanish Primera Liga side Getafe's use of a series Biblical references in their proposed television campaign to lure season tickets holders for next season drew criticism from the Catholic Church on Wednesday. The advert depicts Jesus Christ on the cross, Moses in the wilderness and Adam in the Garden of Eden, among others, and all are shown refuting their devotion to God saying they would only sacrifice themselves for their team. "It has caused a sense of unease. Alongside the public outcry that considers the images irreverent and blasphemous, the national media have noted their provocative and controversial nature," said a statement from the diocese of Getafe.
Pompey snap up strikers
Premiership side Portsmouth on Wednesday completed the signing of strikers David Nugent and John Utaka on four-year contracts for undisclosed fees. England international Nugent, 22, has joined from Championship club Preston North End for a fee reported to be ?6 million (US$12.2 million) after they failed to win promotion to English soccer's top division. Nigeria's Utaka has been signed from French club Rennes and can play as either a striker or a winger.
Union tries to keep secret
Major League Baseball's players union is fighting to keep secret up to 23 players identified as customers by an admitted steroids dealer, according to recent court filings. A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the MLB Players Association can formally join with the US Department of Justice in opposing two newspapers' demands that the players' names be made public. The names appeared in a search warrant used by federal investigators to raid Kirk Radomski's house in 2005. Radomski, a former New York Mets clubhouse worker, pleaded guilty in April to two felony steroids distribution charges. The Albany Times Union and San Francisco Chronicle filed a motion in federal court asking for the players' names, which are redacted in public documents.
Crosby signs new deal
Sidney Crosby has signed a five-year extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins through the 2012-13 season worth US$43.5 million. "It feels great, especially with the group of guys we have, to know I'm going to be able to grow with these guys and spend a while with them," Crosby said on Tuesday. The three-year contract Crosby signed as a rookie lasts through the coming season, and the five-year extension keeps him under contract for the next six seasons. "Individual honors and scoring championships are great, but my No. 1 goal is to win the Stanley Cup," Crosby said. "I'd love to be a part of bringing the Cup back here to Pittsburgh."