Cologne returns to top tier
Cologne will be back in the top tier of the Bundesliga next season after wrapping up the second-division title on Monday evening. Peter Stoeger’s side came from behind to beat Bochum 3-1 in front of a near-capacity crowd at their 50,000-seat Rheinenergiestadion to open up an unassailable 10-point lead over second-placed Greuther Fuerth with just three games remaining, and fans invaded the pitch at full-time in celebration. The Billy Goats are historically one of Germany’s biggest clubs, but have flitted between the top two divisions in recent years and were last among the elite in 2011-2012. Cologne have been German champions three times, including in the inaugural season of the Bundesliga in 1963-1964, but their last major trophy success came in the German Cup in 1983.
Wozniacki out of Stuttgart
Kaia Kanepi of Estonia defeated lucky loser Johanna Konta of Britain 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 to book her place in the second round of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany, on Monday. Konta lost her qualifier to Italy’s Giola Barbieri, but was given a place in the first round when former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki pulled out of the tournament with a left wrist injury. Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia also withdrew, with an Achilles injury, a day after losing the Malaysian Open final.
Unions want Cup sleep-ins
Two German labor unions yesterday asked that workers in the soccer-mad country be granted a sleep-in during Brazil World Cup matches that will be screened overnight in Europe. “Employers and works councils should discuss amending working hours, if possible, so that employees can watch the World Cup games,” Mining, Chemicals and Energy Union IG BCE chairman Michael Vassiliadis said. Construction union IG BAU chairman Robert Feiger told the Bild that when matches start later than 10pm local time in Germany, shifts should start later the following day “where possible.” Young Entrepreneurs chairman Lencke Wischhusen agreed that companies, where possible, should delay the start of working shifts during the sporting event. A politician in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party also voiced understanding.
Orban opens village stadium
Soccer-mad Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will not have far to go to catch a game in luxurious surroundings after a new stadium, slammed by critics as an unnecessary extravagance, was inaugurated in his home village on Monday. From a plush VIP box, Orban watched the opening ceremony of the 3,500-seat Pancho Arena next to his home in Felcsut, a village of 1,750 about 45km west of Budapest. Named after celebrated Hungarian soccer player Ferenc “Pancho” Puskas, who died in 2006, the stadium will be the permanent home of Puskas Academy FC, who play in Hungary’s top division. The 13 million euro (US$18 million) bill was partly footed by the state and partly by companies with close ties to Orban’s governing right-wing Fidesz party. The 50-year-old prime minister has granted millions of euros to soccer clubs to improve stadiums or build new ones since coming to power in 2010. However, only a few hundred fans per week attend Puskas Academy FC games, leading to criticism of the stadium as unnecessary, especially at a time when Hungary’s economy struggles to recover from a recession in 2012.