First Cup captain dies
Hilderaldo Luiz Bellini, the first Brazilian to lift the World Cup as captain of the triumphant 1958 side, has died in Sao Paulo aged 83, media reported on Thursday. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for many years. Bellini led a side including players such as Garrincha, Mario Zagallo and a 17-year-old Pele. The team beat hosts Sweden 5-2 in the final to win the first of a record five World Cup titles. Bellini was part of the squad that lifted the trophy in Chile four years later although he never played in that tournament. He got the last of his 51 caps at the 1966 World Cup in England. Bellini is perhaps best remembered for the iconic way he hoisted the Jules Rimet trophy high above his head with two hands — and successive captains have repeated the gesture. A statue built outside Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium, which will host the World Cup final on July 13, shows him holding aloft the trophy with his right hand.
Police hunt gunmen
Police say they are looking for three men who opened fire at a soccer game in a village near the capital city, Tegucigalpa, killing five people. Police said in a statement on Thursday that the masked gunmen got out of their car, fired at the players and sped away. Five people were killed and three players were wounded in the attack on Wednesday night. Authorities did not give a motive for the killings in the village of Santa Rosa, about 6.4km south of Tegucigalpa. They said the dead were young men between the ages of 18 and 24. They were students or worked in the capital.
Everton-Thai deal extended
Premier League side Everton signed a three-year extension to their shirt sponsorship with Thai beer brand Chang on Thursday in a deal the club said could be the most lucrative in their 136-year history. The partnership, which started in 2004, is already the longest-running shirt sponsorship in the league and potentially worth more than ￡16 million (US$26.60 million), Everton said. The sponsorship also involves projects to improve and develop the game in Thailand, with Everton Academy coaches training youngsters in the country. However, the deal pales in comparison to those enjoyed by some other Premier League rivals. Arsenal signed a shirt and stadium sponsorship deal with Emirates airline in 2012 worth ￡150 million over five years. Everton chief executive Robert Elstone said the extension was nonetheless an important deal for a club challenging for a place in Europe next season.
Executive committee probed
Members of international soccer’s governing body’s executive committee are being interviewed in the investigation into the decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively. “We can confirm that the chairman of the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee [Michael Garcia] is currently in Zurich and is also interviewing some of the FIFA Executive Members as part of his on-going work,” the association said in a statement. The hosting rights for the two tournaments were both awarded in December 2010. Thirteen members of the executive committee who made the decision, including president Sepp Blatter, remain, while nine have left. Russia defeated bids from England, Belgium-Netherlands and Spain-Portugal, while Qatar won the race ahead of Japan, South Korea, Australia and the US.