Zelalem welcome in Ethiopia
Arsenal central midfielder Gedion Zelalem would be welcomed with open arms if he chooses to play for Ethiopia, his parent’s country of birth, according to the country’s soccer coach and foreign minister. Zelalem, 16, is eligible to play for Germany and the US as well. “Hi Gedion. Good to hear from you. We hope you will play for Ethiopia soon,” Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Adhanom Tedros tweeted the teenager on Sunday. Tedros’ post was a response to a tweet from Zelalem saying “Still proud” after the Walyas Antelopes lost 2-1 to Nigeria in their FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifier in Addis Ababa. The loss all but ended Ethiopia’s chances of sealing a spot at the finals after a campaign that was lauded as a fairy-tale run by a team comprised mainly of domestic players. Ethiopia coach Sewnet Bishaw told reporters he would not contact Zelalem personally, but added: “If he decides to play for Ethiopia and asks us, then things will be easy.” Zelalem impressed during Arsenal’s pre-season tour of Southeast Asia, with Arsenal fans labelling him the “new [Cesc] Fabregas.”
MLB umpire dies at 48
MLB umpire Wally Bell, who worked the National League playoff series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St Louis Cardinals earlier this month, has died at the age of 48. He died of an apparent heart attack in his home state of Ohio, the MLB said on Monday. Bell worked the 2006 World Series and three All-Star games, including this year’s NL series at Citi Field, where he was stationed at first base. A veteran of 21 big league seasons, he had also worked four league championship series since joining the major league staff in 1993. According to Bell’s biography on the MLB Web site, his proudest moment as a big league umpire was returning to the field after having open heart surgery in 1999.
Loew meets Swedish fan
Germany manager Joachim Loew was accompanied by an unusual translator on Monday when Sweden handball coach Staffan Olsson joined him on stage in Stockholm for a pre-match press conference. While Loew gave his thoughts on the FIFA World Cup qualifier that was to be played between Sweden and Germany yesterday, the 49-year-old Olsson, who spent 11 years playing in Germany, stepped in for his daughter as translator because he wanted to meet Loew. “That was a lot of fun,” Olsson said after translating for Loew. “Everything is a bit bigger in soccer than it is in handball and I was nervous because I wanted to meet Joachim Loew. It was cool to meet him, he was very relaxed and very friendly.” Germany have qualified for the Brazil finals as Group C winners, but Sweden face a two-leg playoff next month for their berth.
Messi back in Barca practice
World Player of the Year Lionel Messi returned to full training with Barcelona on Monday for the first time since suffering a thigh injury two weeks ago. The Argentine was forced off with the problem in the 2-0 win over UD Almeria on Sept. 29 after scoring his 11th goal in nine appearances this season. Messi stayed in Barcelona to continue his recuperation process instead of joining Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella’s men when they took on Copa America champions Uruguay in Montevideo yesterday. The 26-year-old is expected to be fit enough to start Barca’s match away to CA Osasuna on Saturday, ahead of a big week in which the La Liga titleholders face AC Milan in the Champions League, before hosting Real Madrid on Oct. 26.