Froome finally beats illness
Reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome has revealed that he has recovered from a parasitic illness that had plagued him for more than four years. The 28-year-old Briton had been suffering from bilharzia, which is usually spread by contaminated water and is most common in Africa. Froome, who was born in Kenya, managed to reach the summit of the sport in spite of the condition, but said he was relieved to learn that he had finally shaken it off. “At last I am free of the debilitating disease bilharzia,” he told the newspaper the Independent. “I had a test when I went back to Kenya recently and it is the first time it has come back negative since the diagnosis [in 2009]. That is fantastic news for me. I have been going back every six months for the past two years and returning positive results. When I was first diagnosed, they said it had been in my system for at least two years, but it could have been there even longer — five or six years, possibly.”
Injury sidelines Van Persie
Robin van Persie will play no part in Manchester United’s busy holiday program after being ruled out for a month with a thigh injury, manager David Moyes said on Friday. “Robin van Persie is out for a month. He picked up a thigh strain in taking a corner-kick which led to the goal [against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday],” Moyes told a news conference ahead of yesterday’s game at Aston Villa. The Dutchman, who has scored seven goals in 11 Premier League matches this season, returned from a groin injury in last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat by Newcastle United. His absence will be a major blow to Moyes as United try and repair the damage of their poor first third of the season, which has left them in ninth place, 13 points behind leaders Arsenal.
Saint-Etienne beat Montpellier
AS Saint-Etienne won 1-0 at former champions Montpellier Herault on Friday to move provisionally into sixth place in Ligue 1. Forward Max-Alain Gradel turned in a cross from defender Faouzi Ghoulam in the 75th minute after good approach work from winger Franck Tabanou and Brazilian striker Brandao. Montpellier goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren kicked away a volley from Tabanou early on and Montpellier winger Anthony Mounier headed over from a corner in the 31st. Jourdren saved a shot from winger Benjamin Corgnet shortly after halftime and Saint-Etienne defender Loic Perrin was relieved to see the ball bounce off the post when he deflected a cross from Remy Cabella midway through the second half.
UEFA fines Celtic for banner
Scottish giants Celtic were fined by UEFA on Friday for a banner deemed “illicit” by European soccer’s governing body. Fans of the Scottish champions known as the Green Brigade held up a banner displaying an image of Irish Revolutionary Army hunger striker Bobby Sands alongside Scottish nationalist hero William Wallace. The banner also included a line reading: “The terrorist or the dreamer?” UEFA rules prohibit messages of a political or ideological nature and Celtic were fined 50,000 euros (US$68,600) for the banners, which were displayed during their home Champions League match against AC Milan on Nov. 26. The Green Brigade insisted the banners were soccer-related as they were designed to protest against the Scottish government’s Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act, which it claims has criminalized the expression of Irish politics.
Teen Ko signs with IMG
Lydia Ko, who earned an exemption to join the USLPGA Tour in October as a 16-year-old, has signed with management company IMG. Born in South Korea and raised in New Zealand, Ko is already No. 4 in the women’s world rankings and won the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters last week in her second start as a professional. She won the Women’s Canadian Open at 15 last year to become the youngest winner in tour history and defended that title this year. Paula Creamer and Michelle Wie are among the women’s golfers represented by IMG. Guy Kinnings, global head of golf at IMG, said in a statement that Ko “is an incredibly impressive young lady and an astonishing player.”
Germany add friendlies
Germany are to play three more friendly matches as part of their World Cup preparations, including a clash on May 15 next year against Poland in Hamburg, the German soccer federation (DFB) said. After that match, Joachim Loew’s team are to host opponents, who are yet to be decided, in Moenchengladbach on June 1 and in Mainz four days later, with the DFB hoping to line up an African and another European team. Germany had already lined up a home game with fellow qualifiers Chile in Stuttgart on March 5 next year. The Germany squad are to leave for Brazil on June 7 next year and be based at Santo Andre in the state of Bahia. At the World Cup, Germany are in Group G along with Portugal, Ghana and the US.
Dan Carter to get surgery
New Zealand flyhalf Dan Carter is to spend part of his six-month sabbatical recovering from ankle surgery, New Zealand media reported on Friday. Carter came off the field after aggravating an Achilles problem during the All Blacks’ 30-22 win over England at Twickenham last month. Although the 31-year-old’s right Achilles tendon was suffering “wear and tear,” the surgery would be to remove bone spurs from the same ankle, All Blacks doctor Tony Page told TVNZ. “This is similar to what he had done a few years ago,” Page said. Carter has begun a planned six-month sabbatical from rugby and will not be available for selection for his Super Rugby side, the Canterbury Crusaders, until at least July next year.
London Irish get new bosses
The London Irish said that a consortium of London-based Irish businessmen have completed a takeover of the Premiership club. The group is led by London Irish president Mick Crossan and has former Exiles captain David Fitzgerald acting as interim executive chairman. The new owners will invest substantial funds to invest in the new center of excellence at Hazelwood and to strengthen the professional playing squad. Director of rugby Brian Smith said the Exiles’ new owners are determined to build on their Irish roots by signing more players from the Celtic nation. “We have to be what we say we are on the tin and that means being representative of Ireland,” Smith said. Fitzgerald said there are no plans to move ground from Reading, where they are contracted to stay at the Madejski Stadium until 2025-2026. While stating Irish now have access to “substantial funds,” he refused to embark on a spending spree to sign new players. The club also confirmed the arrival of South Africa prop C.J. van der Linde until the end of the season.