`Mr World Cup' passes on
The top World Cup official in Berlin has died, four days after shooting himself in the head just hours after the final, the German press reported yesterday. The Berliner Morgenpost quoted a spokeswoman of the Charite hospital as saying Juergen Kiessling, 65, passed away on Thursday. Known in Berlin as "Mister World Cup," Kiessling took a handgun to himself late last Sunday at his home in the suburb of Reinickendorf hours after Italy won the championship. A press report earlier this week said Kiessling had left two notes, one to his young daughter and the other to the rest of his family. It quoted the police as saying the letters had referred to "political problems." But his son issued a statement on Thursday saying the reasons were "personal." Kiessling was the top sports official in the city-state of Berlin's government and was a World Cup coordinator for FIFA.
FIFA grills Materazzi
Marco Materazzi appeared before FIFA's disciplinary committee yesterday to answer questions about what he did to provoke Zinedine Zidane to head-butt him during Italy's World Cup final victory over France. The Italian defender met with officials at FIFA's headquarters in Zurich yesterday morning, FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot said. Materazzi is being investigated based on statements by Zidane, who was sent off for ramming his head into the defender's chest in extra time of last Sunday's final in Berlin.
Paralympic marksmen crash
A member of the New Zealand Paralympic shooting team was killed and two teammates were injured in an automobile accident near Sargans, Switzerland, on Thursday, Paralympics New Zealand and the New Zealand Shooting Federation said. Simon Grant, 42, died in the accident, which occurred at 8:15am local time, while team members were driving to a training venue. Two other occupants of the car, shooter Dwayne Woolliams and official Kris Mason, were reported in a stable condition in a local hospital, the sports organizations said in a joint statement. The New Zealand athletes are competing at the IPC world shooting championships at Sargans.
Lomu back on All Black trail
Legendary rugby winger Jonah Lomu will renew his bid to regain his All Black place today when he takes the field in an Auckland club match. Since receiving a kidney transplant in 2004, 31-year-old Lomu has been trying to resurrect his glory, days but a stint with Welsh side Cardiff was cut short in April by an ankle injury. Lomu has resumed training and has been named to play on the wing for club side Massey in Auckland's North Harbour competition. "He's No. 11 if I can find a jersey big enough for him. You might see him at No. 3," said Massey coach Graham Lowe, referring to jerseys reserved for hulking front row forwards. "He's fizzing, he's on a mission," Lowe said.
Cincinnati Reds make trades
The Cincinnati Reds overhauled their rickety bullpen on Thursday, getting Gary Majewski and Bill Bray in an eight-player trade that sent outfielder Austin Kearns and shortstop Felipe Lopez to the Washington Nationals. The playoff-hopeful Reds also acquired shortstop Royce Clayton, infielder Brendan Harris and pitcher Daryl Thompson from the last-place Nationals. Clayton most likely would replace Lopez, who made the Major League Baseball All-Star game last year. The Reds gave up reliever Ryan Wagner, a first-round pick in 2004 who has struggled the last two seasons. Cincinnati's bullpen has dragged it down the last two months, giving up the most homers in MLB. The Reds came out of the All-Star break at 45-44, trailing St Louis by four games in the NL Central and in the middle of the wild-card race.
Wallace signs for Bulls
Ben Wallace signed a four-year, US$60 million contract on Thursday with the Chicago Bulls after leaving the Detroit Pistons, the team he led to four straight conference finals and an NBA championship. The 2.06m Wallace, a four-time Defensive Player of the Year, will give the Bulls and their young nucleus an inside presence they lacked while being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs two straight seasons. Wallace made his decision to bolt the Pistons after a face-to-face meeting with general manager John Paxson and coach Scott Skiles. The Bulls, with room under the salary cap, also offered more money. "I wasn't going to leave Detroit to go to a team that wasn't going to be a contender," Wallace said after he was introduced at a news conference. "I'm glad to be part of a young, scrappy team."
Cristiano going nowhere
Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo won't be leaving Manchester United, assistant manager Carlos Queiroz said on Thursday. "Is Cristiano staying? No doubt," Queiroz told Sky TV. "Everybody knows during this period of the season there is some speculation. But we keep cool. Those players [Ronaldo and defender Gabriel Heinze] are part of our family." The 21-year-old's future at Old Trafford had been in doubt after he said he wanted to leave to play in Spain. The club issued a statement on Wednesday saying "there was no possibility" of the winger being sold and that the club would not entertain any offers. Ronaldo has been vilified in England since his part in the sending off of Wayne Rooney -- his Manchester United teammate -- in Portugal's win over England in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
China wants Wilkinson
China has set its sights on former England manager Howard Wilkinson to lead the national team at the 2008 Olympics and through the 2010 World Cup, a Hong Kong newspaper reported yesterday. Wilkinson, who previously coached Shanghai Shenhua, had been approached by senior Chinese Football Association (CFA) officials, the South China Morning Post said. "We approached Mr Wilkinson about the head coach position two weeks or so ago," the paper quoted Wong Yingquan, general manager of CFA's marketing arm Infront China, as saying. "We have narrowed down the selection to three foreign coaches and we will announce our decision within the next two or three weeks, maybe sooner." Media speculation suggests Frenchman Philippe Troussier and Dutchman Wim van Hanegem are the other two names on the list.