UEFA backs Sepp Blatter
UEFA will support incumbent Sepp Blatter in next month’s FIFA presidential election, European soccer’s governing body said on Friday. “The UEFA executive committee has decided to give its unanimous support to Mr Joseph S Blatter in the upcoming FIFA presidential elections and strongly recommends all UEFA member associations to do likewise,” UEFA said in a statement. Blatter will be up against Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar in the June 1 election and UEFA’s announcement could now swing the vote in his favor. UEFA holds 53 of the 208 votes that will be up for grabs. Blatter, bidding for a fourth term in office, has already been promised the unanimous support of South America, which has 10 votes.
Ovechkin off to worlds
Washington Capitals leading scorer Alex Ovechkin will join Russia for the second round of the World Ice Hockey Championships in Slovakia, the NHL club announced on Friday. Ovechkin, the Capitals’ captain, became available when the Tampa Bay Lightning ousted Washington from the NHL playoffs, sweeping the Eastern Conference top seed four games to none in a second-round best-of-seven series. The 25-year-old playmaker from Moscow scored 32 goals and assisted on 53 others in 79 games for the Capitals this season and also led the club in hits delivered to opponents. Ovechkin took more shots than any other NHL player this season, 367, and shared the league lead with 11 game-winning goals. In the playoffs, Ovechkin scored five goals in 10 games. Ovechkin helped Russia finish second in last year’s worlds in Germany and helped bring Russia the 2008 title.
Bledisloe Cup gets revamp
The All Blacks and Wallabies will contest the Bledisloe Cup over three Tests under a revamped format to take effect next year, the New Zealand and Australian rugby unions announced yesterday. The new arrangement replaces the present system where the Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman rugby supremacy, is contested as part of the Tri-Nations tournament, which also involves South Africa. From next year, the third and possibly deciding match will be hosted alternately between the two countries, following their home and away clashes in the Tri-Nations. The first additional Bledisloe Cup Test will be hosted by Australia in October next year and there are no plans to take it to a neutral venue, as has happened in recent years. New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew said the additional Test was part of a new All Blacks schedule, which includes three Tests next month, the expanded Tri-Nations that takes place in Argentina from next year and the end-of-year northern hemisphere tour.
Woods set for the Players
Tiger Woods will return to action from a minor knee injury to compete in this coming week’s Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, the PGA Tour said on Friday. Woods, who has been sidelined since last month’s Masters, submitted his entry for the Players before Friday’s deadline, the tour said in a statement. Woods had been scheduled to play in last week’s Quail Hollow tournament in North Carolina, but was advised by doctors to rest his knee while using cold-water therapy and soft tissue treatment. He suffered mild strains to his left knee and left Achilles’ tendon while hitting an awkward shot from pine straw to the left of the 17th fairway at Augusta National during the third round of the Masters.