Muslim quits over beliefs
US-born Ibrahim Jaaber has ditched Lithuanian champions Zalgiris Kaunas after complaining that racy cheerleader routines and alcohol advertising clashed with his Islamic beliefs. The 28-year-old guard was “outraged by a cheerleaders’ show during time-outs” during a national league game and players’ jerseys displaying logos of alcohol brands and betting companies, a team statement said. “I understand that maybe I will never earn money from basketball because of this decision, but I am ready to do such a sacrifice for my beliefs,” Jaaber said. Zalgiris spokesman Almantas Kiveris said Jaaber quit the team after he was benched in a recent game.
Player gets second chance
Expelled from the London Olympics for writing an offensive Twitter message, defender Michel Morganella was given a second chance by Switzerland on Thursday. The 23-year-old centerhalf was selected in coach Ottmar Hitzfeld’s squad of 22 to play Greece in a friendly in Athens on Wednesday. “I was very surprised and happy,” Morganella said, adding he hoped to justify his recall by “showing I have learned from my errors committed at the Olympic Games.” In July last year, the Swiss Olympic team said Morganella “insulted and violated the dignity” of South Korean people in a comment he made after a match between the two sides. After his team lost 2-1 against South Korea in Coventry, Morganella tweeted in French slang that insulted South Korean people and suggested they “can go burn.” He quickly apologized, deleted the account and was sent home by Swiss team leaders who also offered their apologies to South Korean Olympic officials.
Hazard escapes longer ban
Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard’s three-match ban for kicking a ballboy will not be extended, the Football Association (FA) said on Thursday. Hazard was charged by the FA following his bizarre sending off for violent conduct in the second leg of Chelsea’s Capital One Cup semi-final defeat by Swansea City on Jan. 23. The Belgian international kicked the teenager while trying to get the ball as the ballboy laid on top of it. Hazard received an automatic three-match ban for his 78th-minute red card, but faced the possibility of a longer suspension. “Following a hearing earlier today, an independent regulatory commission was of the opinion the existing three-match sanction for this offence was sufficient,” the FA said in a statement.
Bratchikova wins in Pattaya
Nina Bratchikova, Sabine Lisicki and Sorana Cirstea all won their quarter-final matches at the Pattaya Open in Thailand yesterday. Russia’s Bratchikova beat Ayumi Morita of Japan 6-1 3-6, 6-1, while German fifth-seed Lisicki bounced back to defeat Marina Erakovic of New Zealand 5-7, 6-3, 6-2. Sorana Cirstea, the No. 4 seed from Romania, cruised past Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-3 6-0.
Former champ jailed
Two-time Olympic champion Masato Uchishiba was sentenced to five years in prison yesterday for raping a female member of a university judo club in 2011. In handing down his ruling, judge Tomonao Onizawa said the court “cannot trust at all” claims by Uchishiba that he had consensual sex with the student, Kyodo news agency reported. Uchishiba, 34, who won gold in the 66kg class at the Athens and Beijing Olympics, is expected to appeal.