Maradona, Third World hero
Diego Maradona hit the big screen in Cannes on Tuesday in an exuberant documentary by Serbian director Emir Kusturica depicting him as a rebel fighting Western imperialism first through soccer, now through friendship with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. Maradona is perhaps best known for his role in knocking England out of the 1986 World Cup in a 2-1 victory. For Kusturica, that victory was a triumph by the Third World over the West, which he said imposes its rule on countries like Argentina and Serbia using weapons such as the IMF and NATO bombs.
Facilities damaged in China
No athletes were injured, but sports facilities were seriously damaged by China’s devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province, state media reported yesterday. Twenty athletes expected to take part in the Beijing Olympics in August were training in the province when the quake struck, but all were safe, Sichuan sports officials told Xinhua news agency. A new gymnasium, a swimming pool and a stadium in Wenchuan, the epicenter of last Monday’s quake, were all wiped out. A 3,000-seat gymnasium in Jiangyou City was also destroyed by the quake. All of the provincial-level athletes were away from the worst-hit areas and they made a quick escape from the buildings when the disaster happened, officials said.
Faldo wants Montgomerie
European Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo thinks he’ll have a spot for Colin Montgomerie on this year’s team if the player can pull out of a recent slump. Montgomerie has an unbeaten singles record in his eight Ryder Cup appearances, but has struggled this year, failing to qualify for the Masters last month while falling to 90th on the world rankings. “I firmly believe Monty will turn it around. I certainly haven’t counted that out,” Faldo said on Tuesday ahead of the BMW PGA Championship which begins at Wentworth, England, today. “He has a great way of producing the goods when really needed. A player of his ability has enough time to make it happen,” Faldo said.
Kirin Cup opens today
Japan take on Ivory Coast and Paraguay in the annual Kirin Cup soccer tournament, hoping to set up a platform for their crunch World Cup qualifiers next month. Japan will play Ivory Coast on Saturday in Toyota and Paraguay on Tuesday in Saitama, while the visitors face each other in today’s opener in Yokohama. Japan coach Takeshi Okada, who took charge of the side after Ivica Osim’s life-threatening stroke in November, sees the games as a useful work-out ahead of the qualifiers against Oman, Thailand and Bahrain.
Swiss neutrality tested
Switzerland is staying true to its tradition of neutrality during the Euro 2008 championships with the organizers taking pains to avoid mixing sport and politics. The tournament kicks off just one week after a controversial referendum on how Switzerland grants naturalization status to foreigners. The far-right Swiss People’s Party (SVP) has plastered the country’s railway stations and other public spaces with a poster showing dark-skinned hands grasping for a pile of Swiss passports under the single word “No!” But when asked whether they feared the campaign portrayed a negative image of Switzerland just when thousands of foreign fans are set to descend on the country, tourism nor soccer authorities refused to comment.