Hoffenheim draw with Mainz
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s new coach Markus Babbel was unable to mark his home debut with a win on Friday as FSV Mainz 05 came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw in the Bundesliga. The home side went ahead in the ninth minute when the unfortunate Nikolce Noveski deflected Boris Vukcevic’s cross into his own net for his sixth ever own goal — a Bundesliga joint record. Noveski also scored an own goal when Mainz hosted Hoffenheim earlier this season. Mohamed Zidan scored in the third consecutive game following his winter transfer from Borussia Dortmund when the Hoffenheim defense left him completely free to volley in Radoslav Zabavnik’s cross in the 29th.
Redsox’s Wakefield retires
Tim Wakefield is retiring after pitching the past 17 seasons for the Boston Red Sox. The 45-year-old knuckleballer made the announcement at the team’s spring training facility on Friday. After two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the right-hander signed as a minor-league free agent in April 1995. He was 186-168 with a 4.43 ERA with the Red Sox. Only Roger Clemens and Cy Young had more wins (192) with the team. Wakefield is first in team history with 3,006 innings and 430 starts, and second in games and strikeouts. For his career, Wakefield was 200-180 with a 4.41 ERA He won two World Series championships in Boston. Wakefield was the oldest player in the majors last season and on Sept. 13, he earned his 200th win on his eighth try. It turned out to be his last victory.
Match canceled over fears
Yesterday’s scheduled Greek Super League match between AEK and OFI Crete was called off on Friday amid fears of violence by fans of the Athens team angry at the absence of tickets for the game. Greek General Secretary of Sports Panos Bitsaxis made the decision on police advice because financially-troubled AEK’s failure to pay state taxes meant it was not able to issue tickets for the weekend clash. Police feared that supporters would force their way into the Olympic stadium to see the match instead. AEK reportedly could not raise 200,000 euros (US$263,000) before Friday’s deadline to pay their outstanding tax bill.
Chinese officials sentenced
A Chinese court yesterday sentenced two top former Football Association officials to more than a decade in jail, state media said, in a graft scandal that brought the soccer league to its knees. Former deputy chief Yang Yimin and former top head referee Zhang Jianqiang were the first to learn their fate yesterday among 39 officials awaiting sentencing in the match-fixing and gambling scandal exposed more than two years ago. Yang was convicted of accepting bribes worth 1.25 million yuan (US$200,000) from about 20 clubs to fix fitness test results and sentenced to 10-and-a-half years, Xinhua news agency said. Zhang, the former director of the association’s referee committee, received a 12-year term for taking bribes worth a total of 2.73 million yuan on 24 occasions. The jail terms come after four top referees — including China’s “Golden Whistle” Lu Jun — were given up to seven-year jail terms on Thursday.