Ramires out for the season
Chelsea midfielder Ramires will miss the rest of the English Premier League season after being handed a four-match ban by the Football Association (FA) on Thursday for elbowing Sunderland’s Sebastian Larsson. The Brazilian accepted a charge of violent conduct from Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat, the FA said, and his ban starts immediately. Ramires received a three-match ban for the incident, which was not seen by referee Mike Dean, with a further game added because of his sending off against Aston Villa last month. He will miss Chelsea’s crunch Premier League match at Liverpool tomorrow, as well as games against Norwich City and Cardiff City, although he will be able to play in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid. Sunderland’s victory at Stamford Bridge came courtesy of a contentious penalty decision that sparked a furious touchline reaction from coach Rui Faria, who was charged with using “abusive and/or insulting words towards the Fourth Official” as well as “improper conduct.” Manager Jose Mourinho was also charged with misconduct after sarcastically congratulating referee Dean, as well as referee’s chief Mike Riley, in the immediate aftermath of the match.
Boateng to coach Kelantan
Former Netherlands midfielder George Boateng has been handed his first managerial role, taking over as head coach at struggling Malaysian side Kelantan. Boateng, 38, made his name in the English Premier League with playing stints at Coventry City, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Hull City, before moving to Malaysian Super League side T Team last year. His playing career ended in July and he had been working as a TV pundit before signing a six-month contract to take over at Kelantan, who dismissed English coach Steve Darby following a 4-0 league loss to Sime Darby last week. “They were several candidates for the post, but Boateng’s presentation on his plans and vision for the team put him above the rest,” Kelantan chief executive Kevin Ramalinga said on Thursday.
Icher leads Swinging Skirts
Karine Icher fired a bogey-free six-under 66 to seize the early first-round lead at the inaugural Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, which was suspended on Thursday because of darkness. The 35-year-old from France rolled in six birdies to take a two-shot lead over a group of five golfers at the Lake Merced Golf Club. There was a two-hour fog delay prior to the start of the first round, which eventually caused the suspension. When play was halted, there were 27 players remaining on the course. The US$1.8 million event debuts at the par-72 Lake Merced course with 18 of the world’s top 20 players in the field of 144 seeking a US$255,000 top prize. New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, Dewi Claire Schreefel, Lee Il-hee, Jenny Shin and Maria McBride shot matching four-under 68s to share second place. World No. 3 Stacy Lewis was among five players tied for seventh at three-under 69. Lewis was joined by Morgan Pressel, Christel Boeljon, Kim Hyo-joo and Mo Martin. Norway’s Suzann Pettersen, who is ranked second in the world, fired a two-under 70 and was tied for 12th with Taiwan’s Shih Huei-ju and Hsu Wei-ling. Of the other Taiwanese players, Cheng Ssu-chia shot an even-par 72 for a share of 24th place, while Lu Ya-huei shared 43rd place with South Korean star Inbee Park after a one-over 73. Candie Kung and Lee Min were tied for 76th after carding three-over 76s, while Yani Tseng carded a six-over 78.