Froome finally beats illness
Reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome has revealed that he has recovered from a parasitic illness that had plagued him for more than four years. The 28-year-old Briton had been suffering from bilharzia, which is usually spread by contaminated water and is most common in Africa. Froome, who was born in Kenya, managed to reach the summit of the sport in spite of the condition, but said he was relieved to learn that he had finally shaken it off. “At last I am free of the debilitating disease bilharzia,” he told the newspaper the Independent. “I had a test when I went back to Kenya recently and it is the first time it has come back negative since the diagnosis [in 2009]. That is fantastic news for me. I have been going back every six months for the past two years and returning positive results. When I was first diagnosed, they said it had been in my system for at least two years, but it could have been there even longer — five or six years, possibly.”
Injury sidelines Van Persie
Robin van Persie will play no part in Manchester United’s busy holiday program after being ruled out for a month with a thigh injury, manager David Moyes said on Friday. “Robin van Persie is out for a month. He picked up a thigh strain in taking a corner-kick which led to the goal [against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday],” Moyes told a news conference ahead of yesterday’s game at Aston Villa. The Dutchman, who has scored seven goals in 11 Premier League matches this season, returned from a groin injury in last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat by Newcastle United. His absence will be a major blow to Moyes as United try and repair the damage of their poor first third of the season, which has left them in ninth place, 13 points behind leaders Arsenal.
Saint-Etienne beat Montpellier
AS Saint-Etienne won 1-0 at former champions Montpellier Herault on Friday to move provisionally into sixth place in Ligue 1. Forward Max-Alain Gradel turned in a cross from defender Faouzi Ghoulam in the 75th minute after good approach work from winger Franck Tabanou and Brazilian striker Brandao. Montpellier goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren kicked away a volley from Tabanou early on and Montpellier winger Anthony Mounier headed over from a corner in the 31st. Jourdren saved a shot from winger Benjamin Corgnet shortly after halftime and Saint-Etienne defender Loic Perrin was relieved to see the ball bounce off the post when he deflected a cross from Remy Cabella midway through the second half.
UEFA fines Celtic for banner
Scottish giants Celtic were fined by UEFA on Friday for a banner deemed “illicit” by European soccer’s governing body. Fans of the Scottish champions known as the Green Brigade held up a banner displaying an image of Irish Revolutionary Army hunger striker Bobby Sands alongside Scottish nationalist hero William Wallace. The banner also included a line reading: “The terrorist or the dreamer?” UEFA rules prohibit messages of a political or ideological nature and Celtic were fined 50,000 euros (US$68,600) for the banners, which were displayed during their home Champions League match against AC Milan on Nov. 26. The Green Brigade insisted the banners were soccer-related as they were designed to protest against the Scottish government’s Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act, which it claims has criminalized the expression of Irish politics.