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.
Red Bull team chief Christian Horner has welcomed Ferrari’s U-turn to support a Formula One engine freeze from 2022. The move gives Red Bull a chance to continue using Honda power after the Japanese supplier exits next year. Speaking ahead of yesterday’s final practice for today’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Horner said that Ferrari’s decision was encouraging for F1 and everyone involved in the business end of the sport. “It’s positive news,” he said. “I think all the manufacturers, all the CEOs of the automotive industry, they all recognize the investment and cost of these engines, particularly with the new technology coming for 2026,
Argentina’s Pablo Matera yesterday said that he was “deeply ashamed” as he was stripped of the captaincy and suspended along with two other players over messages he wrote on Twitter in 2011 to 2013. Just weeks after leading the Pumas to their first win over the All Blacks, the Argentina Rugby Union “revoked” Matera’s captaincy and suspended him, along with lock Guido Petti and hooker Santiago Socino. “The Argentina Rugby Union forcefully rejects the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Pumas squad on social media,” a statement read. In the tweets, since deleted, Matera spoke of “running over blacks” with
Taiwan Steel on Sunday celebrated with the Taiwan Football Premier League trophy, despite a 3-1 loss in their final match of the season, while Taipower claimed second place and Tatung’s Ange Samuel scored on a breakaway to claim the Golden Boot with 20 goals. Ahead of all four of Sunday’s matches players, coaches and fans observed a minute’s silence prior to kickoff in honor of Argentine great Diego Maradona, who died aged 60 on Wednesday last week, following a directive received from FIFA. Already assured the title, Taiwan Steel manager Lo Chi-chong fielded a second-string team against defending champions Tatung in Taoyuan. Lo
Argentine prosecutors on Friday were investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Diego Maradona and whether it could have involved medical negligence, judicial sources said. “There are already irregularities,” a close family member told reporters. Maradona’s lawyer, Matias Morla, had earlier called for an investigation into claims that ambulances took more than half an hour to reach the soccer star’s house in response to an emergency call on the day of his death. A preliminary autopsy report established that Maradona died in his sleep at noon on Wednesday of “acute lung edema and chronic heart failure.” The prosecutors’ office in Buenos Aires has opened