Zelalem welcome in Ethiopia
Arsenal central midfielder Gedion Zelalem would be welcomed with open arms if he chooses to play for Ethiopia, his parent’s country of birth, according to the country’s soccer coach and foreign minister. Zelalem, 16, is eligible to play for Germany and the US as well. “Hi Gedion. Good to hear from you. We hope you will play for Ethiopia soon,” Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Adhanom Tedros tweeted the teenager on Sunday. Tedros’ post was a response to a tweet from Zelalem saying “Still proud” after the Walyas Antelopes lost 2-1 to Nigeria in their FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifier in Addis Ababa. The loss all but ended Ethiopia’s chances of sealing a spot at the finals after a campaign that was lauded as a fairy-tale run by a team comprised mainly of domestic players. Ethiopia coach Sewnet Bishaw told reporters he would not contact Zelalem personally, but added: “If he decides to play for Ethiopia and asks us, then things will be easy.” Zelalem impressed during Arsenal’s pre-season tour of Southeast Asia, with Arsenal fans labelling him the “new [Cesc] Fabregas.”
MLB umpire dies at 48
MLB umpire Wally Bell, who worked the National League playoff series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St Louis Cardinals earlier this month, has died at the age of 48. He died of an apparent heart attack in his home state of Ohio, the MLB said on Monday. Bell worked the 2006 World Series and three All-Star games, including this year’s NL series at Citi Field, where he was stationed at first base. A veteran of 21 big league seasons, he had also worked four league championship series since joining the major league staff in 1993. According to Bell’s biography on the MLB Web site, his proudest moment as a big league umpire was returning to the field after having open heart surgery in 1999.
Loew meets Swedish fan
Germany manager Joachim Loew was accompanied by an unusual translator on Monday when Sweden handball coach Staffan Olsson joined him on stage in Stockholm for a pre-match press conference. While Loew gave his thoughts on the FIFA World Cup qualifier that was to be played between Sweden and Germany yesterday, the 49-year-old Olsson, who spent 11 years playing in Germany, stepped in for his daughter as translator because he wanted to meet Loew. “That was a lot of fun,” Olsson said after translating for Loew. “Everything is a bit bigger in soccer than it is in handball and I was nervous because I wanted to meet Joachim Loew. It was cool to meet him, he was very relaxed and very friendly.” Germany have qualified for the Brazil finals as Group C winners, but Sweden face a two-leg playoff next month for their berth.
Messi back in Barca practice
World Player of the Year Lionel Messi returned to full training with Barcelona on Monday for the first time since suffering a thigh injury two weeks ago. The Argentine was forced off with the problem in the 2-0 win over UD Almeria on Sept. 29 after scoring his 11th goal in nine appearances this season. Messi stayed in Barcelona to continue his recuperation process instead of joining Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella’s men when they took on Copa America champions Uruguay in Montevideo yesterday. The 26-year-old is expected to be fit enough to start Barca’s match away to CA Osasuna on Saturday, ahead of a big week in which the La Liga titleholders face AC Milan in the Champions League, before hosting Real Madrid on Oct. 26.
Shampoo thrown in protest
Nine cars belonging to Red Star players had their windows smashed and shampoo bottles hurled inside, in an apparent protest by fans against the team’s poor results. The incidents in the Red Star Stadium parking lot yesterday came a day after the players issued an open letter claiming Serbia’s most popular club is facing an “alarming” financial situation amid bickering within its leadership. The players said they have to train on poorly maintained grass pitches in the largest stadium in the Balkans, and they even lack shampoo in the dressing room. Red Star, European champions in 1991, owes millions of dollars to its players, coaches and creditors, and for years has endured poor results in the low-quality domestic league.
Indonesian signs Inter deal
Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir has acquired a majority stake in Inter, club president Massimo Moratti confirmed yesterday. “We have signed with Thohir,” Moratti said. According to Italian press reports, Thohir will acquire a majority 70 percent stake in the club. Thohir had been linked with a takeover of the Serie A club since last season, which Inter finished in a disappointing ninth place, failing to qualify for European competition in the process. Moratti and Thohir met twice, in May and June, this year, but failed to reach an agreement. Inter, the last Italian side to win the Champions League, in 2010 when they won the treble under Jose Mourinho, are reported to be desperate for a move away from the San Siro ground they share with city rivals AC Milan. Moratti is also keen for the club to take advantage of ripe markets in Asia which English Premier League giants like Manchester United have exploited. Inter are one of the three biggest clubs in Italian soccer, along with city rivals AC Milan and champions Juventus.
McGinley takes lessons
With less than a year to go until the Ryder Cup, Europe captain Paul McGinley is deep in training for one of the key aspects of his role — public speaking. McGinley has been undergoing half-day sessions in London to improve the content of the many speeches he will make before and during next year’s competition against the US at Gleneagles. The Irishman says “it’s about getting everything chronologically correct in my presentations. I’ve been asked to do more and more public speaking, and I feel need to get myself more to a professional level.” Sam Torrance, Europe’s captain in 2002, said after being chosen for the role that he feared the speeches he would have to give more than the combined strength of the US team.
Meriweather dies aged 59
Former NBA player Joe Meriweather, who later coached women’s basketball at Park University in Missouri, has died in Columbus, Georgia. He was 59. Park athletic department spokesman Steve Wilson says Meriweather died unexpectedly on Sunday. The cause of death was unknown. The 10-year NBA veteran played for the Houston Rockets, the Atlanta Hawks, the New Orleans Jazz, the New York Knicks and the Kansas City Kings. The 2.08m Meriweather was the 11th pick in the 1975 NBA draft out of Southern Illinois University and is in its hall of fame. Wilson said Meriweather is the most successful women’s basketball coach in Park University history.