No away trips for fans
AS Saint-Etienne fans will be banned from their side’s away games until the end of the year after some Les Verts supporters caused chaos before a Ligue 1 match last weekend, the French League (LFP) said on Wednesday. On Sunday, nine people were injured when Saint-Etienne fans threw seats at home supporters at OGC Nice’s Allianz Riviera stadium, prompting police to clear the away stands. The sanction means Saint-Etienne fans will not be allowed to attend the trips to Stade Rennais and Montpellier Herault in Ligue 1 and Paris Saint-Germain in the League Cup.
Player may leave Qatar
Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host, has finally allowed a French player to leave the country after being stuck there for 17 months because of a pay dispute with his club, France’s ambassador said on Wednesday. Al-Jaish player Zahir Belounis has obtained an exit visa, which is usually controlled by employers in the Gulf state under its controversial kafala, or sponsorship system, ambassador Jean-Christophe Peaucelle said. The French-Algerian player, 33, had been stuck in Qatar since June last year after he filed a complaint against Al-Jaish over a payment dispute. The club insisted he would not be granted the exit permit unless he dropped the case. The global players’ union FIFPro said it would start a four-day visit to Qatar yesterday for talks with Qatari soccer authorities and organizers of the 2022 World Cup. The association said it would “not sit idly by as the rights of the players are being abused.”
Nepal reach Twenty20 finals
Nepal qualified for their maiden ICC World Twenty20 finals with a five-wicket win over Hong Kong at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Nepal survived a last-over scare to score the required 13 runs, with 10 coming from the first two deliveries and a last-ball misfield producing the winning runs. Joining Nepal at next year’s tournament in Bangladesh are the United Arab Emirates, who return to the global stage for the first time in 17 years. The UAE qualified courtesy of successfully defending a modest score of 118 to beat the Netherlands by 10 runs.
Veteran Chanderpaul shines
Veteran batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul top-scored for a makeshift West Indies side in a tour match against a New Zealand XI in Lincoln, New Zealand, yesterday, just missing out on a century. Chanderpaul, who notched up 150 Tests in India this month, hit 89 from 106 balls as the tourists took a narrow first-innings lead over the New Zealanders. The West Indies declared on 230-6 after Anurag Verma bowled Chanderpaul, putting them just three runs ahead of the New Zealand XI. Blacks Caps openers Hamish Rutherford (61) and Peter Fulton (32) made a good start in New Zealand’s second innings, cruising to 103 without loss at stumps.
Trio nominated for award
New Zealand’s Ben Smith and Kieran Read and Wales’ Leigh Halfpenny have been nominated for the players’ player of the year award, the International Rugby Players’ Association said on Wednesday. The trio, along with South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth and Italy’s Sergio Parisse, have also been shortlisted for the International Rugby Board’s world player of the year award.