Teams to honor Mandela
The nation’s soccer and rugby union teams are to play in a Soweto stadium on Aug. 17 to honor critically ill former president Nelson Mandela, it was announced on Tuesday. Bafana Bafana are to meet Burkina Faso in a friendly match and the Springboks tackle Argentina in an opening-round fixture of the Rugby Championship (formerly the Tri-Nations). Mandela has a close association with the teams — inspiring the Springboks to victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup and Bafana to success in the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations. Both tournaments were staged in South Africa and the then-president paid regular visits to the teams and attended the finals in which the Springboks defeated the All Blacks and Bafana overcame Tunisia. A sports ministry spokesman said the matches would be staged at the 94,000-seat Soccer City stadium, where Spain defeated the Netherlands 1-0 in the 2010 Soccer World Cup final.
Striker slams Evergrande
Former Borussia Dortmund striker Lucas Barrios has accused Guangzhou Evergrande of failing to pay his full salary in the latest high-profile wage dispute involving a star foreign player in the Chinese Super League. The Paraguay international is embroiled in a heated contract row with the super-rich club, drawing parallels with former Chelsea star Didier Drogba’s tumultuous exit from Shanghai Shenhua. Barrios angered the league champions and current league leaders when he flew home for a match against Chile early last month and did not return to China until Friday last week. Last month, media reports in Germany and Argentina suggesting Barrios had asked FIFA to terminate his contract as Evergrande had defaulted on payments drew a furious response from the club. “It was utterly ridiculous. The club made every payment clear and on time,” a club official told the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Klitschko to fight in Moscow
Wladmir Klitschko is to defend his multiple heavyweight titles against mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin in a highly anticipated showdown on Oct. 5 in Moscow. Klitschko’s management says the fight, long in the making, will take place in the Olympic Arena. “This is the best fight that the heavyweight division has to offer at the moment,” Klitschko said in a statement on Tuesday. Klitschko holds the IBF and IBO belts and is also the WBO and WBA “super champion.” Povetkin, 33, is the WBA’s “regular champion.” Klitschko’s elder brother Vitali is the WBC champion. The Ukraine-born brothers have dominated the heavy division for a decade. Russia’s Povetkin is like Wladimir Klitschko a former Olympic champion and has a 26-0 record, with 18 KOs.
Black Caps’ Martin retires
New Zealand fast bowler Chris Martin, the third-highest wicket taker for the country in tests, retired yesterday from all forms of cricket at the age of 38. The right-arm seamer, who made his debut for the Black Caps in 2000 against South Africa, picked up 233 wickets from 71 tests to sit behind Richard Hadlee (431) and Daniel Vettori (360) on the list of New Zealand’s most successful test bowlers. Martin’s comical batting statistics also made him a crowd favorite whenever he walked out with his pads on. He has the most number of ducks (36) behind the West Indies’ Courtney Walsh (43) and tops the list of most pairs (dismissed without scoring in both innings) in a career with seven.