Hellas Verona stun Palermo
A goal in either half from 10-man second-tier Hellas Verona was enough to send US Citta di Palermo crashing out of the Coppa Italia fourth round on Tuesday. Luigi Giorgi gave the Serie A side a sixth-minute lead, but less than a minute later Andrea Cocco forced his way through the Palermo defense to level with an angled drive. Verona’s chances of booking a fifth-round clash with Inter dipped dramatically just after the hour-mark when Fabrizio Cacciatore was booked and then shown a red card for dissent. However, the visitors stunned the Sicilians with the winning goal four minutes later after a poor clearance from Carlos Labrin came off the body of Verona’s Daniele Cacia went back into the net.
Zico quits as Iraq coach
Zico quit as coach of the Iraq national team on Tuesday after little more than a year in the post, saying the country’s soccer association had failed to fulfill the terms of his contract. The former Brazil captain’s resignation comes with Iraq still battling for a place at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil. “I would like to inform via this Web site that I have sent a communication to FIFA ... and to the Iraq Football Association [IFA] declaring that I consider my contract to be void due to the IFA’s failure to abide by its terms,” he said on his Web site. “I will provide further details shortly.” Iraq are third in Group B in the fourth phase of Asian qualifying with five points from five games, trailing second-placed Australia only on goal-difference. Japan lead the group on 13 points. The top two teams qualify directly for Brazil, while the third-placed team goes into a playoff system. Zico is widely considered one of his country’s finest players, but he has refused to coach in his homeland, saying the pressure is too great.
League’s future mulled
European soccer’s governing body are considering scrapping the Europa League in favor of extending the Champions League, UEFA president Michel Platini told yesterday’s edition of the daily Ouest-France. Asked about possible plans to extend the elite Champions League at the expense of the second-tier Europa League, Platini said: “There is an ongoing debate to determine what form the European competitions will have between 2015 and 2018. We’re discussing it, we will make a decision in 2014. Nothing is decided yet.” One of the options being looked at is the possibility of extending the final phase of the Champions League from 32 to 64 teams. The Europa League generates far lower revenue for clubs than the Champions League and has been criticized since it evolved from the UEFA Cup in 2009.
Fans upset over ‘dogs’ slur
Singapore fans have been left feeling angry and hurt after being labeled “dogs” by Malaysian fans during their weekend AFF Suzuki Cup win, a report said yesterday. Video posted on YouTube shows thousands of Malaysian fans chanting “Singapore itu anjing” (“Singapore are dogs”) during Sunday’s group game in Kuala Lumpur, when Singapore beat the defending champions 3-0. Singapore’s New Paper, describing the chant as “vile,” said footage of the incident had been viewed nearly 200,000 times. “Frankly, we are angry and hurt, but we were the minority ... there were just about 1,000 of us there,” one fan told the newspaper. Another said: “You had more than half the stadium calling us dogs. How else would we feel?” Tensions are often high at matches between the Asian neighbors.