Aussies praise FIFA bans
The Football Federation of Australia yesterday welcomed worldwide bans imposed on two English players over a match-fixing scam in state soccer that has been linked to an international betting syndicate. The federation hailed the move by world soccer’s governing body FIFA to extend the Australian bans on Southern Stars players Joe Woolley and Reiss Noel after they were convicted of manipulating games. Reports say the scam in the Victoria State League netted its participants about US$2 million in illicit winnings and that authorities suspect it has links to one of the most notorious alleged match-fixers, Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal.
Reds ask for ‘96’ scarves
Liverpool are calling on fans worldwide to show their support for the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster by sending in club scarves. A memorial service at Anfield on April 15 will commemorate the 96 fans who died as a result of a crush at the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest in 1989. The club said Kenny Dalglish, the Reds’ coach at the time of the disaster, wrote to all 92 English League sides asking them to donate a scarf that will be laid out alongside those from members of the public on the pitch to form a “96.” Former Liverpool greats, including Dalglish, Ian Rush, John Barnes, Jan Molby and Robbie Fowler, will also be involved in a charity match at Anfield to celebrate the lives of the victims on April 21.
World Cup ball challenged
Brazilian sportswear manufacturer Penalty has created a rival to the official FIFA 2014 World Cup ball named Gorduchinha, or Little Chubby, the moniker many Brazilians say they wanted in the first place. The ball is painted with a stylized Brazilian flag and bears the message: “Created by Brazilians” and is meant to compete with the official Brazuca ball made by Adidas and named in an online poll of 1 million fans last year. Brazuca is a playful slang word for native Brazilians. Penalty is capitalizing on the anger of those, including 1994 World Cup winner and Congressman Romario, who say Gorduchinha, which was coined in the 1970s by radio commentator Osmar Santos, never made the short list name, despite being more Brazilian than the three FIFA-imposed choices.
Zidane’s son called for U16
Luca Zidane, the second child of French soccer great Zinedine Zidane, has been called up for a France U16 training camp, the French Football Federation said on Monday. The 15-year-old Luca Zidane plays as a goalkeeper and like his brother, Enzo Zidane Fernandez, is being groomed at Real Madrid, where their father is assistant coach. The camp is to run from Monday to March 27. Luca Zidane took part in a training session with Real’s professional squad last weekend, while his brother was called up for medical tests with France’s U19 squad last month after he chose to represent the Blues despite having played for Spain’s U15 team.
Socceroos named top seeds
Hosts Australia have been named top seeds for next year’s Asian Cup and will avoid being drawn in the same group as defending champs Japan. Australia, who were beaten by the Blue Samurai in the 2011 final, are in the first of four pots with Iran, Japan and Uzbekistan. Australia (ranked 63rd) get the top seed as hosts, while Iran are the top FIFA-ranked team at 42, followed by Japan (48th) and Uzbekistan (55th). The draw will be held on Wednesday next week.