Pele criticizes Neymar
Brazil legend Pele has criticized Santos star Neymar’s performances for the national team, expressing fears they will not do well at next year’s World Cup on home soil. “I am very worried by the Brazilian side. We had three years with [coach] Mano Menezes and did not obtain any benefit from those three years,” Pele said in an interview with Estado de Sao Paulo published on Wednesday. Pele reserved some of his toughest criticism for Neymar, touted as the Selecao’s big star of the future. “Neymar, every time he plays for the Selecao, he becomes an ordinary player,” Pele said. “In all the games abroad he played badly. They all think he can solve the Selecao’s problems, [but] Neymar is not ready to shoulder this pressure. He does not play abroad. European soccer is different from the Latin American game. We from Santos say he is the best in the world, but he is already more concerned with media appearances than playing for the team. He is preoccupied with changing his style, his haircut,” he said.
Lions players sent home
Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes and Kent bowler Matt Coles have been sent home from the England Lions’ tour of Australia for disciplinary reasons. Both players attended a hearing with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and apologized for their behavior. England’s second-string team has had heavy defeats in its opening two one-day matches against Australia A. ECB performance director David Parsons said: “Matt and Ben have ignored the instructions given to them around their match preparation and recovery — and following previous warnings, it is regrettable that it has been necessary to terminate their involvement in the tour.”
Hammers to honor Moore
West Ham United will honor former captain and England World Cup winner Bobby Moore, who died 20 years ago, with a ceremony on Sunday. Fellow club and country teammates Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst will also attend West Ham’s home Premier League against Tottenham Hotspur on Monday, where a minute’s applause will take place before kickoff. Centerhalf Moore made 544 appearances for the Hammers between 1958 and 1974 and captained England to World Cup glory in 1966. Moore died of bowel cancer aged 51 on Feb. 24, 1993. “Having played with him for so many years, it was a disaster for me and for Geoff Hurst as well,” Peters told the West Ham Web site. “He could do anything. He could score goals and he was a great defender. He knew exactly what he wanted to do, he would mark people out of the game. He was just a wonderful, wonderful player. He’ll never ever be forgotten.”
Top seed wins in Bogota
Top seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia reached the second round of the US$235,000 WTA tournament in Bogota on Wednesday, but two seeds tumbled out. Jankovic defeated Julia Cohen of the US 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, but Teliana Pereira of Brazil beat No. 2 seed Alize Cornet of France, 7-5, 6-7 (2/7), 6-2 in a second-round match. Mandy Minella of Luxembourg downed eighth seed Timea Babos of Hungary, 6-1, 6-4 to join Pereira in the third round. Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor of Spain beat Mathilde Johansson of France, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 and Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia, defeated Estrella Cabeza Candela of Spain, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in other second-round matches. Mariana Duque of Colombia earned a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Estrella Cabeza in their first-round clash.
Red Sox get Carp
The Boston Red Sox added some bench strength by acquiring first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp from the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday, in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The lefty hitting Carp is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he appeared in just 59 games, hitting .213 with five home runs and 20 RBIs. Carp, 26, showed promise as a rookie in 2011, hitting .276 with 12 home runs and 46 RBIs in 79 games. Off-season additions of Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez cut into potential playing time for Carp in Seattle.
Parisse out of Six Nations
Italy captain Sergio Parisse will miss the rest of the Six Nations Championship after picking up a 30-day ban on Wednesday for swearing at a referee. The Stade Francais No. 8 saw red in his club’s French Top 14 game against Bordeaux-Begles last Saturday and has been suspended until March 18 by the French rugby national league’s disciplinary commission. Parisse will miss Italy’s Six Nations games against Wales tomorrow, England on March 10 and the concluding fixture against Ireland on March 16. He was sent off in the 36th minute of Saturday’s game for verbally abusing the referee, a charge he denies. He later appealed the decision and the new hearing will be either on Monday or Tuesday next week, which definitely rules him out of the Wales game. Italy caused the shock of the Championship so far when they beat pre-tournament favorites France 23-18 on the opening weekend in Rome, following that with a 34-10 defeat against Scotland to leave them second from bottom.
Rockets trade three players
The Houston Rockets acquired first-round draft pick Thomas Robinson and forwards Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt from Sacramento on Wednesday in a trade for three of their own players. Going to Sacramento are forward Patrick Patterson, center Cole Aldrich and point guard Toney Douglas, the Rockets announced on their Web site on Wednesday night. NBA.com also reported that the deal involved Houston shipping forward Marcus Morris to the Phoenix Suns for a second-round pick this year. Robinson, the fifth overall pick in last year’s draft, had been coming off the bench this season for Sacramento. He is averaging 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game as an NBA rookie.
Sabres fire coach Ruff
Lindy Ruff, the longest-tenured coach in the National Hockey League, was fired as coach of the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, despite being the most successful coach in the club’s history. Ruff had compiled a record of 571-432-162 in 15 seasons since taking charge of the Sabres in 1997, but was axed after the team stumbled to a 4-10 start with one over-time loss and fell to 11th among 15 Eastern Conference teams. Since making the East finals in 2005 and 2006, the Sabres have not won a playoff series and have missed the playoffs in three of the past four seasons. Ruff, 53, guided the Sabres to the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to Dallas. He was named the NHL Coach of the Year in 2006. He guided the Sabres to the playoffs eight times in all, going to the East finals four times. Ruff, whose 13 NHL seasons as a player included a decade with the Sabres, had the second-longest active run of any coach in North American professional sports, trailing only Gregg Popovich of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.