France U21 players scolded
France manager Didier Deschamps criticized the “intolerable behavior” of five players from the under-21 France squad on Tuesday for going to a nightclub between two playoff games for next year’s junior European Championship. Midfielders Yann M’Vila and Wissam Ben Yedder, winger Antoine Griezmann, striker Mbaye Niang and defender Chris Mavinga all left the Le Havre training camp late at night and drove two hours to Paris and back before the return match against Norway last week. France lost that match 5-3 to end its qualification hopes and under-21 manager Erick Mombaerts quit immediately after the defeat. “I have a big problem accepting what happened between the two games because it led to a sporting failure that cost the coach his job,” Deschamps said in an interview with Eurosport. “It was intolerable behavior on the part of the players.” M’Vila and Mavinga have both been dropped by Stade Rennais and ordered to train and play for the reserves until further notice. Deschamps insists M’Vila, touted as a major talent two years ago, still has a future with France if his attitude improves.
Murali to coach NZ bowlers
Test cricket’s leading wicket-taker, Muttiah Muralitharan, will be asked to pass on his expertise to New Zealand’s bowlers and batsmen on their tour of Sri Lanka, the country’s head coach has said. The New Zealand-based members of the team leave for the tour, which includes a Twenty20 match, five one-day internationals and two Tests, today with new bowling coach Shane Bond making his first tour with the side. The former New Zealand paceman was only appointed to the role last week and has had little to do with spin bowlers throughout his career, hence head coach Mike Hesson’s decision to seek Muralitharan’s help. The 40-year-old off-spinner retired from the longer form of the game in 2010, capturing his 800th wicket with the final ball of his Test career.
Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki says he felt encouraged after the first knee surgery of his career, but says a timetable for his return is “pretty ridiculous to talk about.” Nowitzki walked gingerly, but without a noticeable limp, on Tuesday, four days after arthroscopic surgery on his ailing right knee. Macericks coach Rick Carlisle said the 11-time All-Star was expected to miss six weeks. The 34-year-old Nowitzki battled soreness and swelling in the knee throughout training camp and only played in one preseason game — the opener in his native Germany. Nowitzki has never missed more than nine games in a season during his 14-year career.
Berto insists he is clean
Even after a failed doping test earlier this year, Andre Berto insists he has always been a clean fighter. The former welterweight champion believes the only way to overcome the stigma on his name is by getting back in the ring with his eyes on another belt. Berto and Robert Guerrero met on Tuesday at the Grammy Museum to announce their Nov. 24 welterweight title bout in Ontario, California. Berto said he realizes his reputation was indelibly stained by a positive test for norandrosterone in May. The fighter and his camp claimed the positive test resulted from contamination. The California State Athletic Commission believed them, licensing Berto in August. Guerrero said he has no idea whether Berto is telling the truth.