Kickoff change angers teams
Valencia and Real Betis Balompie on Tuesday reacted angrily after the Spanish Football League (LFP) announced changes to the kickoff times of their respective March 2 games. Valencia’s match at Rayo Vallecano de Madrid was moved from midday to 9pm, while Betis’ game at Villarreal was switched from 9pm to midday, prompting accusations that the LFP was showing a lack of consideration and respect for the clubs and fans. The league said the games were switched to accommodate a ceremony at Villarreal to pay homage to the home fans for how they reacted to Saturday’s tear gas attack at El Madrigal. “As a result of this change, a large majority of the hundreds of Valencianistas who had previously been able to attend the game at Vallecas [in Madrid] have had to cancel their plans,” eighth-placed Valencia said on their Web site. Unlike most major European leagues, where kickoff times are set months in advance, the LFP typically finalizes them couple of weeks before matches. Bottom club Betis said they were especially angry as their Europa League last-32 second leg with Rubin Kazan in Russia is on Thursday next week and they had planned the return assuming they would not be playing at Villarreal until Sunday night. “Bringing forward the time will damage Betis in both sporting and economic terms as the travel plans were finalized days ago,” the club said on their Web site.
Fulham sack five, hire two
Only weeks after appointing them, Fulham have officially dismissed manager Rene Meulensteen, assistant coach Ray Wilkins and technical director Alan Curbishle, the Premier League’s basement club said on Tuesday. The London side’s revolving door continued to spin, with first team coaches Mick Priest and Jonathan Hill joining the exodus of backroom staff following the appointment of Felix Magath as manager on Friday. Fulham also announced the fired staff’s immediate replacements, with Tomas Oral named as first team coach and Werner Leuthard responsible for conditioning. The 60-year-old Magath was named manager despite Meulensteen only being given the job in December last year after Martin Jol’s sacking, with the Dutchman initially having joined in mid-November to work alongside his compatriot. Meulensteen has described the appointment of former Bayern Munich coach Magath as a sign Fulham were hitting “the panic button.” German Magath has extensive coaching experience in the Bundesliga, but has never worked abroad before.
Fulham, who have been in the top flight since 2001, are four points from the safety zone with 12 games to go.
FIFA keeps Curitiba venue
Contrite officials in Curitiba, Brazil, conceded that they underestimated the demands of hosting FIFA World Cup matches as the Arena da Baixada’s venue status was confirmed on Tuesday after world soccer’s governing body had considered ditching the city over stadium construction delays. FIFA backed down on the threat to remove Curitiba from the event program, saying they were satisfied enough had been done to ensure the stadium’s completion by mid-May — one month before the tournament starts. Reginaldo Cordeiro, the city official in charge of World Cup preparations, and Parana State World Cup coordinator Mario Celso Cunha said FIFA’s threat led to an overhaul of the work schedule and a new financing model for the stadium. “It was good that [FIFA general secretary] Jerome Valcke came and tugged at our ears. It was good for us to wake up,” Cordeiro said.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017