Sturm Graz defeat PSG
Laurent Blanc’s first match in charge of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) ended in defeat as the French champions were beaten 3-1 by Austria’s Sturm Graz in a pre-season friendly on Tuesday. Robert Beric put the Austrians ahead on 26 minutes after capitalizing on an error from France under-19 defender Antoine Conte before Marco Djuricin doubled the hosts’ lead two minutes later. Sturm, who were far sharper having returned to training two weeks before their French counterparts, added a third on 76 minutes through Nikola Vujadinovic, while Hervin Ongenda netted a consolation strike with a fine lob five minutes from time. “I’m not going to tell you stories. We were very average in the first half. We played a team getting ready for the start of their league season, which is in about 10 days,” Blanc said afterwards. “The team we faced were much better physically prepared than us. It’s logical and we know it, but technically we could have done better than that. If we have to find something positive to take away, it was the second half with the youngsters who brought freshness to the team and revealed themselves.”
Dos Santos joins Villarreal
Mexican international Giovani Dos Santos has joined newly promoted Spanish side Villarreal from Mallorca, the club announced on Tuesday. An attacking midfielder, Dos Santos, 24, who was a member of Mexico’s Olympic gold medal side in London last year, has signed a four-year contract. Born in Monterrey, Dos Santos came through the junior ranks at Barcelona before joining English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur in 2008 for a reported 6 million euros (US$7.68 million). He played just six league games before he was farmed out on loan to second-tier Ipswich Town and was later loaned out to Galatasaray in Turkey and Racing Santander. After apparently falling out with Tottenham and threatening to leave on a free transfer at the end of his contract, he joined Mallorca in August last year.
Thorn, 39, eyes comeback
Dual international Brad Thorn says he hopes to play Super Rugby for the Otago Highlanders again next year at the age of 39. Thorn, who has played rugby league for Australia and rugby union for New Zealand, told Fairfax media he hoped to finalize a contract with the Dunedin-based Highlanders over the next few days. The 38-year-old forward said he was “keen to play some more footy. I feel pretty good, but I just need a break.”
Drunken fan sparks riot
Two people were killed and several injured in chaotic scenes at a match in Papua New Guinea sparked by a drunken supporter attacking a security guard with a machete, reports said yesterday. The match in the Pacific nation’s central town of Wabag between Enga Mioks and Lae Snax Tigers was underway on Sunday when a fan was stopped by security officials on his way into the ground. The National newspaper said he pulled out a machete and killed a guard. The attack sparked a riot among spectators with another fan killed and several others stabbed, while the Tigers team bus was torched, along with two other vehicles. Some rugby league officials had to be flown out by helicopter after the main highway was blocked by angry Tigers supporters. Police arrested a man in connection with the initial killing, while the PNG Rugby League canceled all Enga home games until an investigation was completed.
Salary cap set at US$58.7m
The NBA has set next season’s salary cap at US$58.7 million, paving the way for contracts to be signed starting yesterday. The tax level is US$71.7 million, with harsher penalties starting this season for teams that exceed it. Teams formerly paid US$1 for every US$1 they were over, but the penalties now start at US$1.50 per dollar for teams up to US$4.9 million over, with increases from there. Contracts such as the one Dwight Howard agreed to with Houston could not be signed during the league’s moratorium period while the cap was calculated. The cap is a slight increase from this season’s US$58 million. The mid-level exception for non-taxpayers is US$5.15 million. It is US$3.2 million for teams over the tax, and there is a mid-level worth US$2.7 million for teams with room under the salary cap.
Mexico, Real leaders meet
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto met on Tuesday with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, but the focus was on the investments of the Spaniard’s construction firm, not the latest soccer news. Perez also met with Mexico’s ministers of energy, transportation and communications, and the environment, as well as the heads of Pemex and the Federal Electricity Commission. Perez is expected to visit students from the Realmadrid Foundation in Colombia.
Scores of 79-0, 67-0 probed
Nigeria’s top soccer authority has suspended four teams who reported “mind-boggling” results from their play-offs matches, describing the scores of 79-0 and 67-0 as “scandalous” tallies that must be probed. Plateau United Feeders and Police Machine FC both needed convincing wins to earn promotions to the Nigeria Nationwide League, but officials immediately rejected the eye-popping results. In a statement, the Nigerian Football Federation described the scores as “a mind-boggling show of shame never previously witnessed in Nigeria.” “Plateau United Feeders somehow manufactured a 79-0 victory over Akurba FC while Police Machine FC demolished Babayaro FC 67-0.” Federation spokesman Ademola Olajire said a deal was certainly struck among the sides, but the details, including whether any money changed hands, are not yet known. “The four teams involved are suspended immediately and indefinitely,” federation chairman Mike Emeh said in a statement.
Hill racing dynasty ended
British racer Josh Hill has given up the dream of following world champion father Damon and late grandfather Graham into Formula One with the announcement on Tuesday that he was quitting motor racing. Hill, 22, said in a statement that he would not be competing in the rest of the European Formula Three season because he wanted to pursue other interests. “Coming from the Hill family it was inevitable that I would be drawn to racing. I have learned an enormous amount and really enjoyed the experience, but I do not want to compete unless I am 100 percent devoted,” he said. “As I now have ambitions in other fields I feel it is the right move to withdraw from racing.” Damon Hill was world champion in 1996, while Graham, who died in a plane crash in 1975, took titles in 1962 and 1968. They are the only father and son to have won the Formula One championship. Josh Hill, whose Web site (www.joshhillracing.net) states his “burning ambition” of becoming the first third-generation F1 champion, had been competing in what was previously the F3 Euro Series.