Goleo makers to sack staff
German toymaker Nici said on Wednesday it would lay off some 120 of its workers following poor sales of soft toy versions of Goleo the Lion, the World Cup mascot. Nici last week received more than 700,000 orders for the shaggy lion but said this alone was not enough to cure its financial ills, which it has blamed on the Goleo venture. It paid 28 million euros (US$35 million) for the license to produce Goleo but sales have failed to match its profit forecasts.
■ Hong Kong
Illegal Web casts popular
An estimated 40,000 households in Hong Kong have been watching the World Cup through illegal Internet broadcasts without paying a cent, media reported yesterday. Peak traffic times occurred while soccer sites operating out of China were streaming matches from state-run CCTV's broadcasts, according to the Hong Kong Internet eXchange, cited by the South China Morning Post. Hong Kong viewers can only watch the games live with a subscription from the local Cable TV station.
Tax office nabs TV
Tax officials hit a tax cheat where it hurts most on Wednesday, confiscating the man's plasma TV two days before Argentina plays Germany in the World Cup quarterfinals. It was the latest move in a "shock" campaign by Santiago Montoya, the top tax man in Buenos Aires Province, the country's biggest, to curb rampant tax evasion. Tax officials carted off the new big-screen television from a man who owes some 6,100 pesos (US$2,000) in back taxes.
Lunar ambassador sells air
A Chinese entrepreneur who once tried to sell land on the moon is offering soccer fans bags of stadium air. Li Jie, who describes himself as chief executive of the Lunar Embassy to China, is selling his "World Cup air" for 50 yuan (US$6.25) a bag. "The air was packed at the World Cup venues while the workers were cutting the grass before matches," Li told the Beijing Daily Messenger. Li suggests soccer enthusiasts who are not able to make the trip to Germany hang the bag around their neck and breathe in the air while watching World Cup matches on television. "Whichever stadium you like, I can give you its air," he added.
Spanish born to lose
Spain are destined to lose -- it's part of the whole business of being Spanish, according to AS sports daily. "We just must believe that there is something in us which prevents us overcoming at the crucial moment ... Maybe there's something deep within us," AS said in a commentary which said the defeat by France in the last 16 could be added to a long list of losses including "Cuba, Trafalgar ...."
Frings adding skin art
Germany's all-action midfielder Torsten Frings says he wants to add to his already extensive collection of tattoos. The collection of squiggles snaking down his right bicep -- including the Chinese star sign of his wife and two daughters -- and a smaller tattoo on his left arm are set to be adorned by further designs done by an old friend who has a parlor in the Netherlands, he told Bild newspaper.
The all-English Champions League final might be played in England after Turkey was added to its “red list” of countries where all but essential travel is banned due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Chelsea and Manchester City are due to meet on May 29 in Istanbul and UEFA was hoping to allow about 10,000 fans into the biggest club game of the European soccer season. However, the British government on Friday warned supporters not to travel to Turkey after imposing the new travel restrictions and said that the English Football Association was in talks with Champions League organizer UEFA about staging the game in
WEEKEND MATCHES: Hang Yuan FC’s first game against CPC FC was a tense affair with no one scoring until the 80th minute, but after a flurry of goals Hang Yuan prevailed 2-1 Tainan TSG (Taiwan Steel Group) have had to postpone their trip to Hong Kong to play in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup qualifiers. The AFC on Monday delayed the AFC Cup East Zone Group J qualifier matches in Hong Kong — which were to be held from Friday next week to May 20 — until June 23 to 29 due to international travel and quarantine challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As defending champions of the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL), Tainan TSG are representing Taiwan in Group J against Mongolia’s Athletic 220, and Hong Kong’s Eastern Long Lions and Lee
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf, who has earned a reputation as one of the NFL’s fastest players, plans to test his speed against some of the US’ top sprinters on Sunday with a possible eye on the US Olympic trials. Metcalf is to run in the 100m at the USA Track & Field (USATF) Golden Games and Distance Open in Walnut, California. The Pro Bowler’s name appeared on the official entry list for the meet on Monday afternoon, when he appeared to confirm his participation with an enigmatic Twitter post. Others who have entered the race include 2016 Olympian Mike Rodgers
Jose Mourinho and AS Roma seem like a good fit, after the Portuguese was surprisingly named as the club’s new coach on Tuesday, but it is unlikely to be an easy return to management for a man with a point to prove. “No break, I am always in football” was the short, sharp response Mourinho gave reporters after his sacking by underperforming English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur 15 days ago. However, few expected him to be back quite so soon. Several Italian newspapers on Tuesday carried stories on former Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri being lined up to replace the under pressure Paulo