NHL talks stall again
Talks between owners and players to end the NHL lockout stalled again on Thursday, quashing optimism that had built during the week that a shortened season could yet be saved. After marathon meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday had offered a glimmer of hope to NHL fans, the league rejected a proposal by players and talks between the battling sides were suspended indefinitely. “Regrettably, we have been unable to close the divide on some critical issues that we feel are essential to the immediate and long-term health of our game,” Winnipeg Jets chairman Mark Chipman said in a statement. Both sides have been deadlocked on how to divide US$3.3 billion in revenue since their collective bargaining agreement expired on Sept. 15. The work stoppage has already forced the cancelation of regular-season games through Dec. 14. That is 422 regular-season games, or 34.3 percent of a season that was to have started on Oct. 11. Also canceled are two marquee events: the annual outdoor Winter Classic and the All-Star Game.
Wallabies re-sign Cooper
Controversial Wallaby Quade Cooper yesterday settled his differences with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU), signing a new two-year deal, officials said. Cooper had earlier rejected an incentive-based contract, which was offered after a turbulent few months during which he criticized the “toxic” environment within the Wallabies and said his rugby career was “on hold.” However, the ARU said the flyhalf, capped 38 times for the Wallabies and based with the Queensland Reds Super Rugby team, had re-signed through to the end of 2014. “Now I can concentrate on my footy career and my upcoming boxing fight,” Cooper said. The 24-year-old had signed a three-year contract with the Reds earlier in the year, but this was contingent on him holding an ARU contract which was due to expire this month. As negotiations stalled and speculation mounted that he would join a French side, Cooper announced he was preparing for a fight on Feb. 8 on the undercard of a Sonny Bill Williams contest.
Landreau, Lille part ways
France reserve goalkeeper Mickael Landreau has reached an agreement to break his contract with Ligue 1 club LOSC Lille Metropole with immediate effect, French media reported on Thursday. Last year’s French champions could not be reached for official confirmation. The 33-year-old Landreau asked to leave the club, having been at odds with coach Rudi Garcia and other staff members for months, according to media reports. The goalkeeper, who has played 568 Ligue 1 games for Nantes, Paris Saint-Germain and Lille, was a key player when the Northerners last year clinched their first title in more than 50 years. Landreau made his debut for Nantes at the age of 17. He has 11 caps for France and has been called up as a reserve goalkeeper for all the games since Didier Deschamps took charge of the national team in July.
Balotelli becomes father
Manchester City and Italy striker Mario Balotelli has become a father after former girlfriend Raffaella Fico gave birth to a daughter. The child has been named Pia, according to Italian media. She was born on Wednesday, five days earlier than expected, at the Clinica Mediterranea in Naples. Balotelli was not present at the birth.