No alternative to Brazil: FIFA
Soccer’s world governing body FIFA has not contemplated an alternative stage for next year’s World Cup in Brazil, FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke said on Monday. “The World Cup will be played in Brazil in 12 cities,” Valcke told reporters. “There is no plan B.” His comments came as this month’s Confederations Cup, a dry run for the World Cup, has been played against the backdrop of nationwide protests, with tear gas and rubber bullets being used by police against demonstrators. Some of the protests have been held near stadiums being used for Confederations Cup matches. The money spent on the stadiums is among the protesters’ many grievances. Valcke also rejected a suggestion from Brazilian Minister of Sports Aldo Rebelo, sitting next to him at a news conference, that other countries had expressed an interest in staging the World Cup if Brazil pulled out. Rebelo said he had read in the media that the US, England, Germany and Japan had all put themselves forward. “I have never received any official offer from any other countries around the world to stage the World Cup in 2014,” Valcke said. Colombia was the last country to pull out of staging the World Cup when it withdrew in 1984, two years before the tournament, which took place in Mexico instead.
Mertens completes transfer
Belgium international winger Dries Mertens has completed a transfer to SSC Napoli, the Italian Serie A side said on Monday. A statement on the club’s Web site (www.sscnapoli.it) said it had secured the 26-year-old former PSV Eindhoven player on a five-year deal. Napoli owner Aurelio de Laurentiis welcomed Mertens to the club on his official Twitter account saying: “I am happy to tell you that a few minutes ago I closed the deal with PSV for Dries Mertens. In the last few days, Dries has been in Naples. He told me that he fell in love with our city, with its greatness. Welcome Dries.” Mertens has 19 senior international caps for Belgium, scoring twice, and spent the past two seasons at PSV, where he made 62 appearances.
Bulls’ Spies out for season
Bulls captain Pierre Spies was to have surgery on a torn bicep muscle yesterday and miss the remainder of the season, the Super Rugby side said in a statement. The loose-forward picked up the injury playing for South Africa in their 56-23 victory over Samoa in Pretoria on Saturday and after being assessed by two specialists it has been decided he will need to go under the knife. Bulls team doctor Org Strauss confirmed in a statement that the recovery period would rule the 28-year-old out for the rest of the season. Spies’ absence means the Springboks must find another option at No. 8 for the Rugby Championship later this year, while it is also a blow to the Bulls’ chances in Super Rugby, where they are currently placed third.
Shaw to coach Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets have hired Brian Shaw as their new coach, the Denver Post reported on Monday, giving the long-time assistant his first top job in the NBA. The 47-year-old spent the last two seasons on the Indiana Pacers coaching staff after serving the six previous years with the Los Angeles Lakers under Phil Jackson. He will take over from Coach of the Year George Karl, who was let go at the end of a season that saw the Nuggets eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.