uban star defects: report
A top Cuban pitcher has defected to the US, according to news reports on Wednesday. Misael Siverio, 24, left Cuba with a national team for an exhibition game in Iowa this week, but slipped out of the hotel where the team was staying late on Tuesday, the Spanish-language el Nuevo Herald newspaper reported. The left-hander told the Florida newspaper he had defected to the US and hoped to make a career in Major League Baseball. “Leaving your life behind is not easy, but it’s a decision that I have given a lot of thought to, and I took it for my future and for that of my family,” Siverio told the newspaper. “My dream is to make it in the major leagues, and from now on I will take the necessary steps to make that happen,” he said. The Web site for the Cuban national baseball squad lists Siverio as a team member traveling to the US for a series of games due to start yesterday. Attempts to reach the organization for comment were not successful late on Wednesday. Siverio is the latest in a line of Cuban athletes who have bolted the nation. Among Cuban baseball players, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez smuggled his way out by boat in 1997 and became a star pitcher with the New York Yankees, More recently, Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics left Cuba in 2011, while Yasiel Puig, who defected last year, has had a spectacular debut season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Israel want Stoudemire
Israeli President Shimon Peres has invited New York Knicks star Amare Stoudemire to play for the country’s national team because of his ties to Judaism. Peres met with Stoudemire yesterday to discuss the player’s charity efforts. Stoudemire, who says he has “Hebrew roots,” has traveled to Israel before and Peres urged him to help the national team. The six-time NBA All-Star already has significant ties to Israeli basketball. Last month, he joined a group looking to buy Hapoel Jerusalem, a team in Israel’s top league. Stoudemire is in Israel to coach the Canadian basketball team at the Maccabiah Games, a competition for Jewish athletes. Stoudemire won a bronze medal with the US at the 2004 Olympics, but has not played for the national team since 2007.
Maicon joins AS Roma
Manchester City defender Maicon has joined AS Roma, returning to Italy after a year in the Premier League. Maicon signed for City from Inter on transfer deadline day last year for an undisclosed fee. However, the Brazil defender made only 11 appearances. Maicon spent six years at Inter, helping them to a host of trophies including four Serie A titles and the Champions League.
Former Olympian dies at 26
A former Olympic runner from Ethiopia who was due to give birth in three weeks has died after collapsing at a Connecticut restaurant, but doctors were able to save her baby, her friends said on Wednesday. Meskerem Legesse, 26, who lived in Westport, Connecticut, was with her two-year-old son when she collapsed at a restaurant on Monday, her friend Fatima Sene said. She was transported to a hospital where she died and the baby was saved, Sene said. The cause of death was unclear. Sene said Legesse had suffered heart problems in the past. Legesse ran in the 1,500m at the Athens Olympics in 2004. She moved on to a professional running career in the US, competing in events including the Boston Indoor Games, Fifth Avenue Mile in Manhattan and the Millrose Games in New York.
Schafer named as coach
The Reggae Boyz, all but eliminated from contention for next year’s World Cup finals, named Winfried Schafer as their new coach on Wednesday for the remainder of CONCACAF qualifying matches. The 63-year-old German will guide Jamaica for the final four matches after Theodore Whitmore was fired following the Reggae Boyz’s woeful qualifying start, including four losses in a row. Jamaica are on the bottom of the table with only two points from six matches and little hope of taking one of three available World Cup spots from the six-team round-robin competition, or even the chance to play New Zealand for a berth that goes to the fourth-placed finisher. Schafer’s contract will last to November with an option to be renewed. His debut with Jamaica is due for Sept. 6 when the Reggae Boyz visit Panama. Schafer coached Cameroon to the Africa Cup of Nations in 2002.
Moses, Ameobi recalled
Nigeria have recalled Chelsea’s Victor Moses and Shola Ameobi of Newcastle United for next month’s friendly against South Africa in Durban. Moses returns after injury forced him out of the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil. Ameobi was not at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa after he made his long-awaited debut for Nigeria in November last year in a friendly against Venezuela in the US. Spartak Moscow striker Emmanuel Emenike and Obinna Nsofor, who plays for Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow, have also been selected. Nsofor returns to the team after nearly two years in the international wilderness. Long-serving goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who has captained the team in the absence of Joseph Yobo, has been left out.
Cisse in sponsor’s logo spat
Papiss Cisse has withdrawn from Newcastle United’s pre-season tour of Portugal after refusing to wear club sponsor Wonga’s logo on religious grounds, the BBC reported on Wednesday. The Senegal striker, a Muslim, told club officials he was not prepared to promote Wonga, a firm which offers short-term, high-interest loans. Islamic law forbids borrowing or paying money with interest. However, the 28-year-old did offer to wear an unbranded shirt or one bearing a charity logo instead. Other sports teams have made concessions to the faith of their Muslim players, with South Africa cricketer Hashim Amla allowed to wear shirts without the logo of team sponsor Castle Lager because of the Islamic prohibition on drinking alcohol. The BBC quoted sources saying Cisse’s refusal to wear the sponsored shirt had left him in a “strained” relationship with the Premier League side. Cisse’s Newcastle teammates Cheick Tiote and Moussa Sissoko are also Muslim, but have told the club they have no issue with wearing the sponsor’s logo.
Negredo happy to join City
Manchester City’s new Spanish signing Alvaro Negredo said he was happy to be moving to “a great team” as he bid a tearful farewell to Sevilla on Wednesday. “I am happy to be going to this great team,” he said at a farewell ceremony after Sevilla confirmed they had sealed his transfer. “I have had four very happy years with Sevilla, but there are stages in life and mine here has finished.” The club declined to say how much City paid for Negredo, but Spanish and British media reports put the sum at about 28 million euros (US$37 million). Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido said the sale would bring “a stack of millions of euros to Sevilla’s coffers, which will enable us to grow.”