Togo lose home advantage
Togo have been barred from hosting 2010 World Cup qualifiers after violence during a home match with Mali last month. An African Football Confederation statement said the ban covers three games, meaning Togo will lose home advantage in all their second-round matches against rivals who will be known after the Nov. 25 draw in South Africa. This is a potentially fatal blow to the "Sparrowhawks," who stunned Africa by reaching last year's World Cup in Germany, where rows over unpaid bonuses brought shame to the tiny west African nation.
Luton charged by the FA
The FA on Thursday issued more than 50 charges in connection with alleged breaches of transfer and agent rules at English League One club Luton Town over the last three years. The FA said on its Web site (www.thefa.com) that the charges were the result of an extensive investigation conducted since March this year into the circumstances surrounding a number of player transfers and contract renegotiations. The club, struggling in the third tier of English soccer after being relegated last season, faces 17 charges relating to payments to agents, providing misleading information to the FA and dealing with unlicensed agents.
■ WORLD RALLY
Gronholm wins Irish opener
World rally leader Marcus Gronholm of Finland won the opening stage of the Rally Ireland on Thursday, and defending champion Sebastien Loeb was second. Gronholm and Loeb raced each other on a 1.82km course that, for the only time in the 20-stage competition, put two drivers on the course at the same time. Gronholm won with a time of 1 minute, 30.8 seconds. Loeb was 0.9 seconds slower. Kris Meeke of Northern Ireland was first out and came third, one second behind Loeb.
De la Hoya sued US$100m
A New York woman sued Olympic boxer Oscar de la Hoya for US$100 million on Thursday, saying she was coerced into agreeing not to sell photographs of him dancing around a hotel room in women's clothing. Milana Dravnel, who the New York Post and New York Daily News reported had met de la Hoya at a strip club where she worked, said the agreement was made after she had already sold some of the images to a Hollywood photo agency for US$70,000. The lawsuit, filed in New York State Court, said that amount was "below market value" for the photos, which were widely disseminated. In one of the images, de la Hoya appears in a black fishnet bodysuit and black heels. In another, he is wearing a white tutu. It is not known whether the photos, apparently taken at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Philadelphia, were doctored.
Passarella quits River Plate
Former Argentina captain Daniel Passarella quit as coach of River Plate on Thursday, one day after they were knocked out of the Copa Sudamericana by modest Arsenal. Passarella, in his second stint as coach of the club where he also made his name as a player, had been at the helm since the start of last year. With River already out of the running in the domestic Apertura championship, the Copa Sudamericana, the region's equivalent of the UEFA Cup, had represented their last chance to win a title this year. However, after drawing both legs 0-0 against their humble neighbors, River were beaten 4-2 on penalties at home on Wednesday night.