■ RUGBY LEAGUE
Aussie coach Stuart sorry
Australian coach Ricky Stuart has apologized for what he has described as his “offensive” behavior toward Rugby League World Cup officials after the Kangaroos’ shock defeat in last weekend’s final. Stuart’s management issued a statement yesterday in which he expressed deep regret to referee Ashley Klein and British referees official Stuart Cummings for his outbursts after the loss to New Zealand in Brisbane. “It’s a hard thing for me to admit, but I was certainly not in control of my emotions at the time and acted irresponsibly and irrationally ... but that’s not an excuse for my behavior,” Stuart said in the statement. Stuart is the subject of a Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) investigation after he accused English referee Klein of costing Australia the World Cup.
■ ICE HOCKEY
Leafs to hire Burke as GM
The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to hire former Anaheim Ducks general manager Brian Burke as their new GM, sports network TSN reported on Thursday. Burke, who stepped down as the Ducks’ general manager earlier this month, will be named president and GM of the Maple Leafs as early as this weekend. Burke told TSN that negotiations have been ongoing. Burke, who resigned from his position with the Ducks on Nov. 12, had said he wants to return to the eastern North America. Since turning down the Ducks’ extension offer, Burke has been linked to the GM post with the Maple Leafs, who fired John Ferguson last January.
Schumacher plans libel suit
German cyclist Stefan Schumacher, who failed a drugs test at the Tour de France, said on Thursday he would sue the French anti-doping authorities (AFLD) for defamation. “I have been judged and pilloried. My conscience is clear,” Schumacher, who has always denied doping, told his Web site. “I don’t want to stop here and I will not stop here. The people who have always believed in me and continue to do so don’t deserve this,” he said. The German rider caused a minor sensation when he won both time trials, leaving Switzerland’s two-time world champion Fabian Cancellara in his wake.
Rossi signs off on top
World champion Valentino Rossi on Thursday signed off testing duties with Yamaha for this year by clocking the fastest time of the session at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. Rossi set his best time of the day on his 52nd of 54 laps, dipping nearly seven-tenths of a second under the lap record with a time of 1 minute, 39.429 seconds. Rossi will spend the first part of his winter break in Wales next weekend watching the season-ending Rally of Great Britain.
Officials fight ‘age shaving’
Beijing is ordering its basketball players to stop faking their birth dates, media reported yesterday. Sports authorities have sometimes been accused of altering players’ ages to show them as being younger, mainly to qualify them for youth tournaments. Those false ages stay with athletes and can result in embarrassment and regulatory sanctions when athletes move on to greater success. Starting this season, the national basketball federation has begun to check ages given on players’ identification cards against a national police computer database, prompting a spate of confessions, the Oriental Sports Daily newspaper.
Hong Kong media reported that police briefly detained a man in a Liverpool team jersey who shouted “long live Liverpool” during anti-government protests on Wednesday, over suspicion that he was inciting independence. In-Media reported that the man was across the street from police officers who were conducting stop-and-searches on a group of protesters, when he shouted: “Long live Liverpool.” Others reportedly cheered and joined in the chant, before officers detained him. The man told In-Media that police had accused him of inciting Hong Kong independence, which now is a punishable crime. He said that he has been a fan of the English soccer
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said that he had called in the “third umpire” as he announced that recreational cricket would be allowed to resume next weekend. In a radio interview earlier on Friday, Johnson angered thousands of club cricketers by saying that the amateur game was still not safe to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues surrounding communal teas and dressing rooms. “It’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis,” he said. Johnson had already
WOLFSBURG BEATEN: Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski scored from a penalty, his 34th league goal this season, finishing as the top Bundesliga scorer for the fifth time Werder Bremen gave themselves hope of avoiding relegation from the Bundesliga by thrashing Cologne 6-1 to grab a playoff place on the last day of the season, while champions Bayern Munich routed VfL Wolfsburg before lifting the trophy on Saturday. Japan striker Yuya Osako scored twice as Bremen stole the lifeline of the relegation/promotion playoff place from Fortuna Duesseldorf, who lost 3-0 against Union Berlin and were relegated with SC Paderborn, finishing one point behind Bremen. “We put in a great performance under pressure, but we are aware that we haven’t achieved anything — in the relegation playoff, the emotions will be
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is already in Florida with the rest of his Toronto teammates, and he knows the time to take a stand and counter the NBA plan to restart the season has passed, but his opinion on the matter has not changed. “It sucks,” VanVleet said on Monday in a videoconference of his choice to return to the court during the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter campaign. “It’s terrible timing, but that’s been 2020 for us. We all know the right thing to do is to not play, to take a stand. Morally, yes, that makes sense, but