Louis Luyt dies aged 80
Former controversial South African rugby kingpin, business magnate and politician Louis Luyt died on Friday aged 80 in a Durban hospital from unknown causes. Luyt was best known as the outspoken boss of South African rugby when the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup for the first time in 1995, a year after the fall of apartheid. That victory was immortalized in the Hollywood blockbuster Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman as then-South African president Nelson Mandela. In 1998, Luyt was accused of racism and financial mismanagement in his role as South African Rugby Union president, resulting in his resignation and a presidential inquiry. He refused to appear in front of a presidential commission and forced Mandela to court in a bid to clear his name. The Constitutional Court found against him and for Mandela. Luyt formed a political party and eventually became a member of parliament in 1999 as leader of the now defunct Federal Alliance. His business success was based on the founding of a fertilizer company and a brewery.
Sterne leads in Dubai
Overnight leader Richard Sterne sank a birdie on 18 to take a one-shot lead over Danish youngster Thorbjorn Olesen and two others at the halfway point of the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday. Meanwhile, Sergio Garcia pulled to within three of Sterne despite struggling with shoulder problems that required treatment midway through his round. Sterne, a South African who has struggled with his own injuries in recent years, finished the day with a 12-under total of 132. Olesen (66), Tommy Fleetwood (68) and Stephen Gallacher (70) were a shot back.
NBPA puts Hunter on leave
The NBA Players Association said on Friday that union chief Billy Hunter has been placed on indefinite leave following an independent report detailing shoddy business practices on his part. “Unfortunately, it appears that union management has lost sight of the NBPA’s only task, to serve the best interests of their membership,” said union president Derek Fisher, a veteran guard who signed with Dallas as a free agent this season, but was released on Dec. 22 last year. Fisher, who was among those calling for the review into Hunter’s management of the union, said the findings “confirm this unfortunate truth and we must now move forward as players.” The report found no evidence of illegal use of union funds, but found that Hunter withheld knowledge that his contract was not properly approved. The review also found that he used poor judgment in hiring — including the hiring of relatives — and spent improperly on travel and gifts.
Bremen beat Hannover
Striker Nils Petersen struck two late goals in a rousing finish to an otherwise scrappy match as Werder Bremen beat local rivals Hannover 96 2-0 on Friday to stop their recent rot in the Bundesliga. The game appeared set for a goalless draw when Werder defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos’ header was cleared off the line by Manuel Schmiedebach 10 minutes from time. The home team finally broke through when Eljero Elia worked an opening on the right and his low cross was turned in by Petersen at the near post with five minutes left. Petersen then provided the coup de grace with a fierce volley from just inside the area three minutes later, his ninth league goal of the season.
Bilbao draw at Valladolid
Forward Markel Susaeta scored one goal and set up another as Athletic Bilbao fought back to earn a 2-2 draw at Valladolid in the Spanish league on Friday. Valladolid had an excellent start with striker Javi Guerra heading home the opening goal eight minutes in after Bilbao’s Aritz Aduriz had hit the post. Alberto Bueno then doubled the hosts’ lead in the 15th when he toed Daniel Larsson’s pass beyond goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz. Oscar de Marcos pulled one back for Bilbao in the 22nd minute by redirecting Susaeta’s cross off the upright and into the net and Susaeta completed the comeback by tapping in a corner at the far post in the 50th minute. “The team has improved its image over the past few games,” Susaeta said. “We hope we can continue to do so and move up the standings.” Bilbao remained in 13th place, while Valladolid stayed in 10th.
Balotelli won’t miss food
Maverick striker Mario Balotelli said he was relieved to escape the English media, driving, weather and food when AC Milan’s new signing was officially presented by the club on Friday. “To be a player for Milan has always been my dream, so I’m very happy,” he told a news conference. “But I prefer playing not talking.” The 22-year-old explained that he was happy to be closer to his family and friends following his move from Manchester City which came after a series of fall-outs with manager Roberto Mancini and some bizarre incidents. The Italy forward mused on the positives and negatives of living in England. “Good things, only when I get to Carrington to train, so my teammates, my manager, those are the good things. The bad things? ... Everything else.” Balotelli listed the bad as “the press first, the weather, the food and the way they drive” but said he would miss the Premier League. “It is an amazing league and I think it’s the best, together with the crowd and the pitches,” he said.
Star charged with assault
Liverpool and England winger Raheem Sterling has been charged with assaulting a woman and the case will go to court later this month. The 18-year-old was summonsed to Liverpool Youth Court on Friday on a charge of common assault. The teenager did not attend the hearing and lawyer Mick Hogan appeared on his behalf. Police said a 27-year-old woman, who is known to the player, suffered “slight” facial injuries during an alleged incident in Toxteth, Liverpool, on Nov. 2. Hogan told the court Sterling denied the allegation. He said the alleged offense took place when the winger was 17 but, as he turned 18 in December, the matter should be transferred to the adult courts. “I do have instructions to the effect that Mr Sterling will be pleading not guilty to this charge,” Hogan said. “He is aware of today’s hearing and the club are very supportive.”
Kirilenko, Lisicki make final
Maria Kirilenko of Russia and Germany’s Sabine Lisicki will meet in the Pattaya Open final in Thailand after both claimed straight set victories yesterday. Second-seeded Kirilenko needed just 67 minutes to overwhelm Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-0, 6-2, and Lisicki beat Russia’s Nina Bratchikova 7-5, 6-3. After Kirilenko broke twice to lead 3-0, Cirstea failed to convert three break points in the next game. She also began the second set in dismal form by dropping the opening game with a double-fault. The Romanian finally held serve in the ninth game and then broke to level the set at 2-2, but Kirilenko swiftly regained control to earn her best win since October 2011.