Premiership to get Hawk-Eye
The Premier League on Thursday announced a historic decision to sanction the use of goal-line technology in the English top flight from next season onwards, in a global first for a domestic competition. British-based firm Hawk-Eye was chosen over German company GoalControl to supply the groundbreaking technology at a meeting of the Premier League’s 20 club chairmen. Hawk-Eye’s system uses seven cameras to track the movement of the ball and sends a signal to the match officials’ watches within a second if the ball crosses one of the two goal-lines. It will now be put in place at all Premier League grounds, while the Football Association also intends to install a system at London’s Wembley Stadium in time for the traditional season-opener, the Community Shield, in August.
Croatia move up rankings
Croatia have made a big move to No. 4 in the FIFA rankings after two 2014 World Cup qualifying wins, while tournament hosts Brazil dropped to No. 19. World and European champions Spain lead an unchanged top three, from Germany and Argentina. Croatia’s victories against Wales and Scotland last month lifted them five places, while No. 5 Portugal climb two spots. Colombia remain at No. 6, followed by England and Italy, who both fell three places, and the Netherlands. Ecuador enter the top 10, up two, and No. 12 Ivory Coast are the top-ranked African team. Mexico are up one to No. 14. Rankings weigh results over a four-year cycle and Brazil, who fell one place, have dropped while playing no World Cup qualifiers.
Fillol banned for 14 weeks
Stade Francais scrumhalf Jerome Fillol was banned for 14 weeks on Thursday for spitting in the face of Bath counterpart Peter Stringer. The Argentine will miss the rest of the season following the incident in his team’s 36-20 win over the English side in the European Challenge Cup quarter-final last weekend. The ban, imposed by the tournament’s disciplinary commission, rules the 35-year-old Fillol out of the semi-final against Perpignan on April 26. Stade prop Rabah Slimani, who was cited for a dangerous tackle in the game against Bath, was cleared of the charge.
Armstrong sells property
Disgraced US cyclist Lance Armstrong, who is the subject of multiple lawsuits after confessing to doping, has sold his property in Austin, it was reported on Thursday. The Austin American Statesman reported that Armstrong had sold the luxurious 6,880m2 Spanish-style estate he bought in 2004, but planned to continue living in the Texas city. Armstrong, who has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and abandoned by former sponsors after finally admitting he took performance-enhancing drugs, sold the property to a Texas oilman, Al Koehler. The property was listed by local real-estate agents at US$10 million, but the newspaper did not say what Koehler paid for it. Armstrong’s fortune is estimated at between US$60 million and US$110 million, but he is facing a series of lawsuits that could cost him dearly. The largest lawsuit is a whistleblower case filed by former US teammate Floyd Landis in conjunction with the US Department of Justice. He is also being pursued by US insurer SCA Promotions, which is seeking reimbursement of US$12 million in Tour bonuses it insured.
Aussies target Rio top five
Australia has set a goal of a top-five finish at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics after slipping to 10th at last year’s London Games. Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) president John Coates said in the committee’s annual report yesterday that better use of resources, rather than more government cash, would help achieve the goal in Brazil. Coates said swimming would continue to be strongly supported by the AOC, despite recent controversies over the sport’s administration and performance in London, where the team won only one gold medal in the pool. The AOC expects to send about 480 athletes to Rio de Janeiro, including golfers and a rugby sevens team after the sports were added to the Olympic program. In London last year, Australia won seven gold, 16 silver and 12 bronze medals.
Alonso in hair loss quip
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso has responded sarcastically to the qualifying edge currently enjoyed by his teammate Felipe Massa, saying he cannot sleep and is losing his hair. Massa has qualified ahead of Alonso in the past four races — the first two this season and the last two of last season — and if he does it again at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix it will represent the first time in Alonso’s career that he has been out-qualified by a teammate five straight times. Asked about the statistic, Alonso quipped: “I haven’t slept since Australia. I’m only eating white rice. I’m losing my hair. A huge drama.” Alonso said qualifying in Formula One is less important than ever in the Pirelli era, with tire management now the key to winning grand prix.
Dennard to go to prison
National Football League player Alfonzo Dennard was sentenced to 30 days in jail on Thursday for assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest a year ago. Dennard, who plays defensive back for the New England Patriots, will only begin his jail sentence on March 1 next year after the next NFL season is over. The sentence stems from an incident in April last year outside a bar in Lincoln, Nebraska, just days before the NFL entry draft. The delay means Dennard will not enter jail to serve his four weeks until almost two years after the incident took place. The Patriots selected Dennard in the seventh round of the draft. As a rookie, he registered 35 tackles and three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. He started seven of the 10 regular-season games he took part in and also appeared in two post-season games. Dennard was also ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
Players linked to clinic
Major League Baseball players paid a former employee of a Florida anti-aging clinic linked to performance-enhancing drugs for documents. Two unidentified people briefed on the matter said at least one player linked to now-closed Biogenesis of America purchased documents from a former clinic employee in order to destroy them and that other players made efforts to buy potentially incriminating documents. In January, the Miami New Times, an alternative weekly newspaper, reported that New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez was among the major leaguers listed in Biogenesis of America’s records. The players have denied they obtained banned drugs from the clinic.