Zidane suffers freak injury
Zinedine Zidane’s charity match today is in danger of being canceled after the soccer great suffered a freak injury. Nick Smith, a spokesman for the game organizers, said Zidane injured his back while bending down to pick up his child on Wednesday as he was watching Vancouver’s Canada Day fireworks display. The three-time world player of the year underwent physiotherapy on Thursday, but may have pulled a tendon in his back and recovery usually takes a week. Organizers were expected to make a decision on the game’s status late yesterday. Smith said Zidane’s chances of playing were “50-50.” The game at B.C. Place is the finale in the three-game “Friends of Zidane” tour that has already staged events in Toronto and Montreal. They pit Zidane and other current and retired internationals against local select sides with proceeds going to UNICEF and other causes.
Ze Roberto joins Hamburg
Brazilian midfielder Ze Roberto has joined Hamburg on a two-year contract. The 34-year-old former Brazil international signed for Hamburg on Thursday, the club said. Ze Roberto was a free agent after turning down Bayern Munich’s offer of a one-year extension to his contract. He played for Bayern between 2002 and 2006 and again between 2007 and last season, winning four Bundesliga titles and four German Cups. “He is a technically outstanding player and brings incredible experience with him,” Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia said. He also played four seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, had a season at Real Madrid, and spells with Santos, Flamengo and Portuguesa in his homeland.
FIFA won’t punish Iranians
FIFA won’t punish the Iran national soccer team for the green wristbands some players wore in solidarity with anti-government protesters during a World Cup qualifier last month. Soccer’s world governing body said last week it would review all relevant match reports from the June 17 fixture against South Korea to decide whether any rules on player dress were breached. Under the rules drawn up by the International Football Association Board, “the team of a player whose basic compulsory equipment has political, religious or personal slogans or statements will be sanctioned by the competition organizer or by FIFA.” “We received the match reports and there was no reference to the wristbands,” meaning there will be “no further action,” FIFA said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday. FIFA last week asked the Iranian Federation to clarify media reports that several players were permanently banned for showing support for defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. It received a reply stating that “no disciplinary action has been imposed on any players of the Iran national team.”
Strike threat to stadiums
World Cup organizers will meet trade union officials to try to ensure a strike next week does not delay completion of stadiums. About 50,000 workers from South Africa’s biggest workers organization, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), plan to start a strike to support pay demands from next Wednesday. It is expected to halt work on stadiums for next June’s soccer finals, as well as power stations, hospitals, roads and a new high-speed urban rail project. “We are going to be engaging with the unions ... to understand the issues, because it is going to help us in our planning,” said Irvin Khoza, chairman of the local organizing committee.