Surplus to aid development
The country’s soccer governing body recorded a record budget surplus of NZ$7.7 million (US$6.2 million) last year, boosted by prize money from the All Whites’ appearance at the World Cup finals in South Africa. The surplus, up from NZ$1.35 million the previous year, would provide a good platform for the game’s growth, New Zealand Football chairman Frank van Hattum said on the governing body’s Web site yesterday. Van Hattum said the surplus had already been re-invested and cited a NZ$4 million foundation set up to fund grassroots development and a NZ$2.5 million chest established to help finance the national and age-group teams’ international schedules.
Di Michele disciplined
Lecce forward David Di Michele has been banned for three games after video evidence was used to show he struck an opponent. The Italian body charged with applying sporting justice used pictures from Sky TV to sanction the former West Ham player for an incident in Sunday’s match at Chievo. “The television images showed that ... Di Michele ... approached Bostjan [Cesar] ... and with a sudden movement of his left arm slapped him across the right cheek,” the sporting justice statement said.
Medina faces suspension
The country’s soccer authorities say a leading player has been suspended for three months, fined the equivalent of US$3,000 and ordered into rehab after admitting using marijuana. Wilder Medina, a striker with the Deportes Tolima club, which is currently joint top-scorer in the Colombian top division, tested positive for the drug for the third time on March 26 following a 2-0 victory over Deportivo Cali. Medina acknowledges he used the drug. His lawyer says the player has an addiction and does not use marijuana to enhance his performance. Medina also had positive tests after matches on Feb. 5 and Feb. 13. Charria says an appeal is possible. Otherwise, Medina’s suspension begins this weekend.
Palestine nets Thai qualifier
Palestine will replace Thailand in the second round of Asian qualifying for next year’s Olympics after the Thais were booted out for fielding an ineligible player. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said yesterday that Palestine, beaten on a penalty shootout by Thailand in the first round, had been awarded a 3-0 first-leg win. Thailand had won the home leg 1-0 in Bangkok before being found to have fielded suspended player Sutjarit Jantakol, the AFC said on their Web site. The Thai soccer association hit back at the AFC, accusing them of being unclear on the rules, but their formal appeal was over-ruled by FIFA, according to the AFC.
Jack Warner re-elected
Trinidadian Jack Warner was re-elected unanimously as president of the Confederation for North and Central America and Caribbean Football (CONCACAF) at its congress on Tuesday. Warner, who was unopposed, returns for his sixth consecutive term as head of the region, which covers 35 FIFA member federations. “I am honored to have been entrusted to lead this Confederation for another four years, particularly in our 50th anniversary year,” said Warner, who has headed CONCACAF since 1990. Warner is widely viewed as a key power-broker within FIFA, where he is a vice-president and has long been considered a key ally of FIFA president Sepp Blatter.