Police chief to step down
A senior police officer accused of taking part in a cover-up of police failings in the worst sporting disaster in British history — a soccer stadium crush in which 96 fans were killed — said on Thursday he would retire next year. Norman Bettison, chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, said he would stand down in March to allow a full investigation into allegations about his “integrity” to be conducted. Bettison, who denies any wrongdoing, was off-duty but present at Hillsborough in the northern English city of Sheffield in 1989 when 96 Liverpool supporters were killed in a crowd crush. A damning report last month uncovered evidence that the police response to the disaster had been flawed, that 41 lives could have been saved and that officers had tried to dishonestly deflect the blame on to fans. More than 100 statements taken at the time had been doctored to remove evidence that painted the police in a negative light, the report found. Following its publication, a police watchdog said it was considering two complaints against Bettison.
Holt slams England boss
Norwich City striker Grant Holt has slammed England coach Roy Hodgson after failing to earn an international call-up during his reign. Holt netted 15 times for Norwich last season to finish as the second-highest scoring Englishman behind Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, but that has not been enough to persuade Hodgson to take a look at the forward. The 31-year-old had hoped to get a chance to impress Hodgson in the friendlies against Norway and Belgium before Euro 2012, yet he was overlooked, despite his prolific form, and he was ignored once again on Thursday when Hodgson named his squad for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland. “I gave up on that [an England call-up],” Holt told BBC Radio Norfolk. “I think I’ll never be in it. Roy’s come in and picking his players. When two friendlies came up and I wasn’t included, it was ridiculous to be honest. He hasn’t given anyone opportunities — people like Nathan Dyer and Danny Graham from Swansea didn’t even get a look in, but that’s life.”
Tendulkar mulls retirement
Indian icon Sachin Tendulkar admitted yesterday that he is contemplating retirement and said he would reassess his future next month. In an interview to be broadcast on Indian television yesterday, the 39-year-old said he would decide on a “series by series” basis as he acknowledged that the clock was running down on his record-breaking career. “I am 39 and I don’t think I have plenty of cricket left in me,” he told The Times Now TV station. Asked if he has been thinking of retirement, he replied: “Of course, I have been. I am 39 plus and it is not abnormal for me to think of it.” Tendulkar has scored a record 51 Test centuries, but he has now gone 25 innings without one in the five-day format since making 146 against South Africa in Cape Town in January last year.
Tiernan-Locke signs for Sky
Britain’s latest big hope has been signed up by Team Sky, with Jonathan Tiernan-Locke joining on a two-year contract to bolster a squad that includes Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins. Tiernen-Locke last month became the first home rider in 19 years to win the Tour of Britain and he also competed at the World Road Race Championships. “It’s an incredible opportunity for me to step up from the UCI Continental ranks ... I couldn’t pass up the chance to join the world’s best team,” he said.
NHL cancels first 82 games
The NHL has canceled 82 regular-season games through Oct. 24, the league announced on Thursday. The move to scrap the first two weeks of the season comes amid a labor dispute between the players and owners, and just one week before the season was scheduled to start. “The decision to cancel the first two weeks of the NHL season is the unilateral choice of the NHL owners,” NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr said in a statement. “If the owners truly cared about the game and the fans, they would lift the lockout and allow the season to begin on time while negotiations continue. A lockout should be the last resort in bargaining, not the strategy of first resort. For nearly 20 years, the owners have elected to lock out the players in an effort to secure massive concessions. Nevertheless, the players remain committed to playing hockey, while the parties work to reach a deal that is fair for both sides. We hope we will soon have a willing negotiating partner.” The owners locked out the players when the previous collective bargaining agreement expired on Sept. 15.
Federer gets death threat
Shanghai Masters organizers have tightened security around Roger Federer after he was targeted by an online death threat, a report said on Thursday. Extra precautions for Federer, who has arrived in Shanghai with his family, were taken after an unknown blogger said he planned to “assassinate” the player in a bizarre posting on a popular Chinese Web site. “On Oct. 6, I plan to assassinate Federer for the purpose of tennis extermination,” read the message, posted under the name “Blue Cat Polytheistic Religion Founder 07” on baidu.com. The user also posted an image showing a decapitated Federer on his knees on a court, with a masked executioner dressed in black and holding an axe next to him. Police and other government agencies have been contacted to increase security around Federer, an official told the Shanghai Youth Daily.
Red Sox fire Valentine
Bobby Valentine has been fired by the last-placed Boston Red Sox after managing them to their worst record in 47 years. The veteran skipper was let go on Thursday after just one season with Boston, who finished last in the American League East Division. The Red Sox had 69 wins and 93 losses, the worst for the storied franchise since a 62-100 mark in 1965. Valentine had one year remaining on the contract he signed last year. “Our 2012 season was disappointing for many reasons,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said on Thursday. “No single issue is the reason and no single individual is to blame.” Before he took the position with the Red Sox, Valentine had not managed in the majors since 2002.
Slugger Kemp has surgery
Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp, who enhanced his ironman reputation by playing through shoulder pain to finish the regular season, was due to have surgery for the first time in his seven-year career yesterday. The two-time All-Star, who damaged his left shoulder when he slammed into the center-field wall during a game at Colorado in August, is expected to be sidelined for at least four to six weeks, the team said on Thursday. Should extensive repair to Kemp’s labrum be necessary, the 28-year-old could be out of action for up to three months, but would still be ready for the start of spring training. “Of course I’m nervous,” Kemp told the team’s Web site. “I’ve never had surgery before.”