AFC apologizes for ‘error’
Asian soccer’s governing body, the AFC, has apologized for referring to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) national side as the “Sand Monkeys” in an article on its official Web site. The AFC said the nickname, which the UAE labeled racist and “evidence of disrespect,” had been used in error and that the reference was fixed as soon as the mistake was realized. “The AFC apologizes for an editorial mistake in which the UAE national team was inadvertently referred to by an inaccurate nickname ... in the article ‘UAE to take cautious approach’ dated 12 October 2012,” a statement for the Malaysia-based body said. “The error, which was mainly because of referral to a popular Web-based encyclopedia by the concerned editor, was corrected immediately after it was noticed. The AFC would like to apologize for any hurt this might have caused to the UAE Football Association [FA] and UAE football fans.” UAE FA secretary-general Yousuf Abdulla said the affair “reveals the racist acts of some of the AFC officials from the eastern part of the continent toward the countries from the western region.” The UAE national team’s nickname is al-Abyad, or “the Whites.”
French TV host sparks furore
Japan has reacted angrily to a French television host who showed a composite picture of national team goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima with four arms and made a joke about the “Fukushima effect.” Praising Kawashima’s performance in Japan’s 1-0 win over France in a friendly on Friday last week, Laurent Ruquier’s wisecrack prompted laughter and applause in the studio. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura yesterday called Ruquier’s remark, a reference to last year’s nuclear crisis at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, “inappropriate.” He added that the Japanese embassy in Paris had sent a letter of protest to the television station, France 2. The letter said the remark “hurts the feelings of people affected by the disaster and hinders efforts for reconstruction,” Fujimura added. The nuclear disaster was triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and a resulting tsunami in March last year. More than 15,000 people died and almost 3,000 are still unaccounted for. Japanese Education Minister Makiko Tanaka, whose portfolio also includes sports, was far from amused. “If it’s true [he said it], it is behavior which lacks sensitivity,” she said. “Many people were hurt in the nuclear crisis. I don’t know how people can make fun of it.”
Basel fire Vogel, hire Yakin
Heiko Vogel was fired as coach of Basel on Monday, only five months after leading them to a Swiss league and cup double. The club said in a statement that the German had been replaced by Murat Yakin, who led Lucerne to second place behind Basel in both the league and cup last season, and was dismissed in August after a poor start to the current campaign. Basel have struggled this season after a flurry of departures. Winger Xherdan Shaqiri joined Bayern Munich and Granit Xhaka, like Shaqiri a Switzerland international, moved to Borussia Moenchengladbach. Former captain Benjamin Huggel retired. Basel also sold Argentine central defender David Abraham to Spanish side Getafe. Basel, who beat Manchester United last year to reach the UEFA Champions League knockout stages, missed out on this year’s competition after losing to CFR Cluj in the playoff round. Vogel was previously assistant to Thorsten Fink and he was promoted a year ago after his fellow German left to coach Hamburg SV.