Fri, Aug 03, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Sports Briefs

AGENCIES

■ SOCCER

Wrong anthem spoils party

A celebration thrown by the ruler of Dubai for the Iraqi national team after its Asian Cup win was marred when Iraq's Saddam Hussein-era anthem was played, angering many players and prompting some to walk away. Confetti rained down as the players arrived late on Tuesday at the Dubai airport where thousands of cheering fans gathered to welcome the team and celebrate its victory. But some players and members of the Iraqi delegation walked out in protest when the organizers put on the old anthem, said Bassam al-Husseini, a representative of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who flew with the team. An Emirati royal family jet had whisked the Iraqis from Jakarta, where they beat Saudi Arabia 1-0, to Dubai instead of their wartorn country, in a grand gesture by Dubai's leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. After Saddam's overthrow, new Iraqi authorities selected Mawtini, a folk tune popular throughout the Arab world, to replace the old anthem, which glorified Saddam's Baath party.

■ SOCCER

Pope rejoices with Iraq

Pope Benedict XVI shared Iraq's joy at their spectacular victory in the Asian Cup soccer championship and saw in the celebrations Iraqis' desire for normality, he told several thousand pilgrims and tourists at the end of his weekly general audience on Wednesday. "Just as so many times I have cried with the Iraqi people, on this occasion I rejoiced with them," said the pope, who has just returned from a nearly three-week vacation in the northern Italian Alps. The pope called Iraq's weekend 1-0 victory over three-time champions Saudi Arabia an "historic success" and said he was impressed by the celebrations that spilled over onto Iraq's streets. "It is my hope that this event, with everyone's support, may contribute to a future in Iraq of real peace in liberty and mutual respect," he said.

■ BOXING

Morales primed to face Diaz

No one needed to remind Erik Morales that he has a three-bout losing streak or that his last victory was more than two years ago. For those who are ready to dismiss him, he has a message: He won't go away without a fight. And he has a big one tomorrow night. Morales (48-5, 34 knockouts) will try to become the first Mexican to win boxing world championships in four weight classes when he challenges Chicago's David Diaz (32-1 with one draw and 17 knockouts) for the WBC lightweight title at Allstate Arena in suburban Rosemont, Illinois. If he wins, the 30-year-old Morales said he will fight one more time in Tijuana, Mexico, where his career began. If he loses? "Finito," he said on Wednesday.

■ GOLF

Pissilli banned over drugs

Italian golfer Alessandro Pissilli has been suspended after failing a drug test, the Italian Olympic Committee said on Wednesday. Pissilli, who plays on the Italian pro tour, tested positive for the banned diuretic Finasteride at the Omnium National Championship on June 29. Pissilli has been suspended by the Italian Golf Federation and could face a two-year ban if found guilty of a doping violation. His local golf club in Florence released a statement later on Wednesday, defending him and saying that he had informed authorities at the time of the test that he had taken the drug for almost two years to treat a prostate problem. Finasteride is also used to treat hair loss but can mask steroid use, and has been at the center of several recent doping cases.

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