Chelsea make Muto offer
English Premier League leaders Chelsea have made a formal offer for Japan striker Yoshinori Muto, his club, FC Tokyo, said yesterday. Japanese media reported the offer was worth US$5.9 million. “It is true that we have received an official offer from Chelsea for Muto, but nothing has been decided,” a spokesman for the J-League club said, declining to comment further on details, including the amount of money offered. However, Sports Nippon said Chelsea offered about ￡4 million (US$5.9 million), which would be a J-League record from an overseas club. “I’m honored to receive an offer from this wonderful team, but I have not made any decision yet,” the 22-year-old Muto told the sports daily. Muto began his professional career at FC Tokyo last year, scoring 13 goals in 33 games to match the first-division record for a player in his rookie season. The baby-faced striker also made his debut for Japan last year, scoring his first international goal in a 2-2 draw against Venezuela.
Brad Thorn retiring
Former New Zealand lock Brad Thorn is retiring at the end of the season following a glittering 21-year career in which he has won the biggest prizes in rugby league and union. The 40-year-old started out in league with the Brisbane Broncos, represented Queensland in the State of Origin and won three caps for Australia. Thorn moved back to New Zealand in 2001, switching codes to join the Canterbury Crusaders and playing 12 Tests for the All Blacks. He went back to rugby league with the Broncos from 2005 to 2007, but returned to union and the last of his 59 All Blacks appearances was the 2011 World Cup final in which they beat France 8-7. Thorn helped Ireland’s Leinster lift the 2012 Heineken Cup, becoming the first man to play in victorious World Cup, Super Rugby and European Cup teams. “My goal was to play top-level rugby at 40 and to play well, and I’ve done that,” Thorn told the BBC.
Croatia to play without fans
UEFA has ordered Croatia to play its next Euro 2016 qualifier in a closed stadium as a punishment for racism by its supporters and other misconduct. UEFA said its disciplinary body also found Croatia’s fans guilty of setting off fireworks and throwing missiles in the Euro 2016 qualifier against Norway in Zagreb last month. As well as being forced to play the June 12 game against Italy without any fans, the Croatian Football Association was fined 50,000 euros (US$53,900). Croatia has a two-point lead over Italy at the top of Group H.
Chile pulls out of rally
Chile is pulling out of next year’s Dakar Rally, citing flash floods that have hit the northern, desert region of the South American country. The Chilean Ministry of Sport said on Wednesday it would not spend about US$7 million to host legs of the three-week rally, with the money being better used for rebuilding areas devastated by the flooding. Chilean Minister for Sport Natalia Riffo said the decision was taken after consulting with Dakar Rally organizers. She said the “door was open” to rejoining the rally in 2017. “One adapts to the reality of our citizens in the north,” Riffo said. “Therefore, our immediate concern is to rebuild the affected areas and channel the resources to people who need them.” The government says it is to spend about US$1.5 billion on rebuilding the area. The rally in January covered legs in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. It was not immediately clear how the rally would be rerouted next year to skip Chile.
Transgender athletes are to have an ally in the White House next week, as they seek to participate as their identified gender in high school and college sports — although state legislatures, the US Congress and the courts are all expected to have their say this year, too. Attorneys on both sides say they expect US president-elect Joe Biden’s Department of Education to switch sides in two key legal battles — one in Connecticut, the other in Idaho — that could go a long way in determining whether transgender athletes are treated by the sex on their birth certificates or by
Fickle winds produced farcical scenes yesterday on day two of the America’s Cup challenger series in Auckland, as the so-called “flying” yachts spent almost as much time in the water as above it. “I’m not sure today is a really accurate read because it’s so puffy, it’s shifty,” British sailing legend Ben Ainslie said after his Ineos Team UK maintained their perfect start to the Prada Cup series with a third straight win. The series would determine which of the 23m yachts — which fly above the water balanced on hi-tech foil arms — would challenge defending champion Team New Zealand for
DOUBLE VISION: The men’s duo of Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin downed the South Korean pairing of Choi Sol-gyu and Seo Seung-jae to secure their place in the final Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying yesterday easily defeated Mia Blichfeldt in her women’s singles match to advance to the finals of the Yonex Thailand Open in Bangkok, while Chou Tien-chen crashed out of the tournament. Tai quickly ousted world No. 18 Blicheldt, of Denmark, in 34 minutes, winning 21-8, 23-21. The world No. 1 today must overcome Olympic champion Carolina Marin of Spain, who took down An Se-young of South Korea yesterday 21-18, 21-16. In men’s singles, Taiwan’s Chou fell to Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka Long after a tough 66 minutes of play. While Chou, the world No. 2, bested Ng in the first set,
DOUBLES VICTORY: The men’s doubles pairing of Taiwanese Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin downed Malaysians Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi, and face South Koreans today Men’s badminton world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen yesterday marched into the semi-finals of the Thailand Open, defeating younger opponent Lee Zii-jia 21-17, 21-15 after a rally, while Tai Tzu-ying had no trouble getting past her Canadian opponent in the women’s singles. The top male Taiwanese credited calm and focus in securing his win after briefly falling behind against his 22-year-old Malaysian opponent. “I think I had more patience against him and I won most of the long rallies,” the 31-year-old Chou said of Lee. “He wanted to attack [too much] and maybe he lost some focus,” Chou said. In today’s semi-finals, second-seeded Chou faces