Italian trial set to begin
The criminal trial probing the 2006 match-fixing scandal which rocked Italian soccer was set to begin in Naples yesterday. The affair, which involved clubs trying to procure favorable referees, led to Juventus being stripped of their 2005 and 2006 Serie A titles and being demoted to the second tier while five other clubs were deducted points. Former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi and Lazio president Claudio Lotito are among 24 club directors, referees and former Italian soccer federation officials standing trial. A separate fast-track procedure has been reserved for 11 others implicated in the affair. Moggi, who has no link to a Juve side now back in Serie A, was banned from football for five years by a sporting tribunal in 2006 and earlier this month was given an 18-month suspended jail sentence after a separate soccer corruption trial.
Espanol sack coach Mane
Struggling Spanish side announced yesterday the sacking of coach Mane. Mane, whose full name is Jose Manuel Esnal, had only been in the job for six weeks, since taking over from Bartolome Marquez in November. The final nail in Mane’s coffin was Sunday’s 4-0 thrashing away to Malaga, a result which leaves the Catalan club third from bottom in La Liga. Mane will be replaced by Argentine Mauricio Pochettino, popular at the club after his many years there as central defender.
Ibrahimovic wins award
Inter forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic gained some consolation for missing out on the World Player of the Year prize and Ballon D’Or by scooping the Italian Player of the Year award on Monday. The Swede was the star performer as Inter romped to a third consecutive title and as well as picking up the top award at the Italian football Oscars, as they are known, he was also named best foreign player. Veteran Italy and Juventus forward Alessandro Del Piero picked up the best Italian award, while Fiorentina boss Cesare Prandelli was named best coach. Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus was named best goalkeeper, his teammate Giorgio Chiellini best defender, Napoli’s Marek Hamsik best young player and Roberto Rosetti best referee.
Asashoryu extends streak
Grand champion Asashoryu extended his winning streak to 10 bouts yesterday, staying tied solely for the lead at the New Year Sumo tournament. He grabbed the belt of Japanese opponent, Kotomitsuki, and quickly shoved him out of the ring in the day’s final bout in Tokyo. Fellow Mongolian grand champion Hakuho suffered his first defeat at the 15-day tournament, losing to newly promoted ozeki and compatriot Harumafuji. Hakuho slipped to 9-1.
Jose ‘Chegui’ Torres dies
Jose “Chegui” Torres, a former light heavyweight world champion and Olympic silver medalist, died on Monday, his widow said. He was 72. He died of a heart attack at home in his native Puerto Rico, his wife Ramonita Ortiz told reporters. Torres won the light heavyweight title in 1965 by stopping Willie Pastrano at Madison Square Garden in New York. He made three title defenses before losing a close decision to Dick Tiger in 1966. He finished with a record of 41-3-1, with 29 knockouts. The mayor of Torres’ hometown of Ponce declared three days of mourning and ordered flags be flown at half-mast.