Taiwan to host sports forum
Taiwan has won its bid to host the 2010 forum of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), a Sports Affairs Council official said Saturday. The winning bid is considered by local authorities as another victory in "sports diplomacy," following the nation's success in obtaining the right to host the 2009 Summer Deaflympics and Kaohsiung's winning the right to host the 2009 World Games. Council Vice Chairman Lee Kao-hsiang said the FISU Forum is a biennial event and the bid to host the forum was made in a low-profile manner in light of China's efforts to isolate Taiwan in the international arena.
■ RALLY RACING
Ford drivers lead in Finland
Ford drivers Marcus Gronholm and Mikko Hirvonen were hard to separate after the first day of the Finnish world championship rally on Friday. After 11 of 23 special stages, Gronholm led by 4.4 seconds over his Finnish compatriot. Gronholm won won six stages and tied one. Reigning world champion Sebastien Loeb of France was 20.2 seconds back in third place in his Citroen. Chris Atkinson of Australia was 46.9 seconds behind in fourth, while 2003 world champion Petter Solberg of Norway was fifth, trailing by 57.3 seconds. The rally ends today.
Benitez praises Torres
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez praised expensive new acquisition Fernando Torres, who scored his first goal for the Merseysiders in the 2-0 friendly win over Chinese side Shanghai on Friday. Benitez believes the ?20 million (US$40.9 million) player will go into the new Premiership season next week full of confidence after an impressive 13th-minute strike. Substitute Steven Gerrard bagged the second goal on 64 minutes in what was Liverpool's penultimate pre-season friendly. "Getting off the mark will give Torres a lot of confidence heading into the new season," Benitez said on the Liverpool Web site. "I was very pleased with Fernando, it was very important for him to score his first goal for Liverpool."
Ex-cop nailed for gambling
A former police officer who admitted running a sports betting ring with retired ice hockey All-Star Rick Tocchet was sentenced on Friday to five years in prison. Under a plea agreement he struck with prosecutors a year ago, James Harney could have been sentenced to up to seven years in prison. Tocchet, an assistant coach with the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes, also pleaded guilty and faces sentencing this month. Sports gambling businesses are illegal in much of the US outside the state of Nevada. Harney, a former officer with the New Jersey State Police, received a relatively light sentence because he cooperated with authorities.
Japanese query refereeing
Chinese referees discarded any sense of neutrality when they officiated an under-22 friendly match between Japan and China, Japanese media alleged yesterday. The match was staged before a raucous partisan crowd of 50,000 in Shenyang on Friday as part of a four-nation pre-Olympic under-22 tournament that also involved North Korea and Botswana. One assistant referee was reportedly seen loudly singing the Chinese national anthem before the start of the match. Japanese players were slapped with four yellow cards, while Chinese players got away with "hard tackles which did not resemble football," the Sankei Sports daily said.