• follow us in feedly

IAAF closes investigation against President over Russian doping

By News desk

The world athletics governing body (IAAF) has closed an ethics investigation into its president, Sebastian Coe, involvement in the Russian doping scandal.

IAAF closed the investigation after it became obvious that there was no basis to establish any disciplinary case against him for also intentionally misleading the British Parliamentary Committee in 2015.

“The investigation has therefore not identified evidence of a potential breach of the code of ethics by Lord Coe,” it said.

Coe has denied throughout that he misled the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee when he appeared before it in December 2015, four months after being elected IAAF president.

“I want to thank the ethics board for all the work they do. When I became President of the IAAF, I promised greater transparency and integrity. I hope this demonstrates that no-one is above the rules and everyone in the sport is subject to the same scrutiny,” Coe said in a statement.

Coe, previously an IAAF vice-president, was questioned about what he knew about doping in Russian athletics before he took office. In its final report ‘Combating doping in sport’ in 2018, the committee criticised Coe’s answers as misleading.

“It stretches credibility to believe that he was not aware, at least in general terms, of the main allegations,” the report added.

The IAAF’s ethics board then opened an investigation in September into whether Coe’s conduct had violated its own regulations.

Coe, a double Olympic 1,500 metres gold medallist, insisted that he did not know the specific detail of an email sent to him by former London Marathon race director David Bedford in 2014.

Bedford said the attachments contained details of how Russian marathon runner Liliya Shobukhova had sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IAAF to cover up positive doping tests.

Shobukhova was banned for three years and two months, later reduced by seven months for assisting with investigations.

Although Coe confirmed receiving the email, he said he forwarded it to the IAAF ethics board without reading the attachments.

The board said in its decision on Thursday that Coe “behaved appropriately” by referring the matter.

“Coe’s evidence is that his personal assistant forwarded the email with its attachments to the Chairperson of the Ethics Board and that he (Coe) did not read the attachments,” it said.

 “The investigation did not find any evidence inconsistent with that position.”

Damian Collins, chair of the DCMS committee, said he stood by the report.

“Lord Coe either knew more than he suggested he did when he gave evidence to the committee, or he knew enough about the Shobukhova (matter) to have asked more questions about it within the IAAF at the time,” he said in a statement.

NBA approves investment into African new basketball league

By News desk

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has concluded plans to invest in African Basketball League, basically to boost development of the sports in the continent.

NBA’s planned investment will be its first professional league outside of North America, and will be hands-on in its operation.

NBA, in partnership with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), is launching the Basketball Africa League in January 2020, featuring 12 teams from across the continent.

Confirming the plan, NBA’s vice president for Africa, Amadou Gallo Fall, told newsmen during an interview in Johannesburg, South Africa, saying, “Our expertise and best practices will be on display. This league will be fully operated by the NBA.

The NBA generated $8 billion in revenue last season, according to Forbes, and industry players say audience interest in Africa has grown alongside the profile of Africans playing in the world’s top basketball league.

Cameroon’s Joel Embiid, a 25-year old center for the Philadelphia 76ers has emerged as a top player in the NBA, signing a five-year contract with the team worth nearly $150 million in 2017.

This season, Embiid and 24-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, born in Greece to Nigerian parents, are contenders to become the NBA’s most valuable player.

The NBA established an Africa office nine years ago. It held its first NBA Africa game in 2015. Games in 2017 and 2018 were played in front of sold-out crowds in South Africa.

Basketball Africa League will involve six national champions — from Nigeria, Angola, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Senegal — who will automatically qualify for the competition. The remaining six will come through international qualifiers later this year.

“It’s an opportunity through our partnership with FIBA to continue to strengthen the basketball ecosystem here,” Fall said.

He did not confirm exactly how much the NBA would be investing in the league but said it was millions of dollars.

As the NBA courts African audiences, African players have been conquering the NBA.

There were 13 African-born players on the rosters of NBA teams at the opening of the 2018/19 season, out of the 108 international players. That rises to about 40 if players with African parents are included, Fall said.

“It tremendously impacts the growth in popularity of the NBA,” he added.

The NBA began in March livestreaming on YouTube two games a week for free for viewers in sub-Saharan Africa, in a bid to build a larger fan base on the continent.

 The league opened an elite basketball academy in Senegal in 2017, which along with its Basketball Without Borders Africa programme, has showcased African talent hoping to play for NBA teams or U.S. colleges.

The next step is for an African basketball team to secure an Olympic medal, Fall said.

“That day is coming soon,” he added.

Clinton invites 8 year-old Nigerian chess champion, Adewunmi

By News desk

Former U.S President, Bill Clinton has congratulated the eight year-old Nigerian chess champion, Tanitoluwa Adewunmi and also invited him and his parents to his office for personal introduction.

The young Nigerian recently won the New York State Chess championship for his age bracket.

Adewunmi had won seven chess trophies including the state tournament, where he outwitted other children.

The story went viral and got the attention of Clinton, who was amazed by the accomplishment of the young Nigerian.

Tanitoluwa and his family are taking asylum in a homeless shelter in Manhattan after they fled the Boko Haram insurgency since 2018.

He went undefeated at the state tournament, outwitting children from elite private schools with private chess tutors.

Tanitoluwa rating is now 1587 and rising fast and he is being compared with the world’s best player, Magnus Carlsen, who stands at 2845.

His feat has attracted commendations from parents and celebrities.

In a tweet on his Twitter handle, the former number one citizen said: “Refugees enrich our nation and talent is universal, even if opportunity is not.”

The former U.S president now joins the queue of people celebrating the boy and his feats.

Clinton said “this story made me smile, Tanitoluwa “ you exemplify a winning spirit – in chess and in life. And kudos to your hardworking parents. You all should stop by my office in Harlem; I’d love to meet you.”

Tanitoluwa placed first in the New York State Scholastic Championships tournament for kindergarten through third grade, a remarkable win for anyone.

In an interview with newsmen the young chess champion said: “I want to be the youngest grandmaster.”

Arsenal’s player, Ramsey, doubtful ahead Wales Euro 2020 qualifier

By News desk

The Wales National team Manager, Ryan Giggs, has disclosed that Ethan Ampadu, Sam Vokes and Tom Lawrence will not be available for selection ahead of their first Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia.

Giggs also disclosed that Arsenal midfielder, Aaron Ramsey, is expected to be fit, a claim that was not certain.

Ramsey did not take part in yesterday’s training session and will sit out Wednesday’s friendly against Trinidad and Tobago in Wrexham, while Ampadu (back), Vokes (groin) and Lawrence (ankle) have not joined up with the squad.

“Aaron’s just got a slight knock to his thigh, so we’re just monitoring that. He should be OK for the weekend. He won’t be involved tomorrow,” Giggs told reporters.

“They (Ampadu, Lawrence and Vokes) have got different injuries. Ethan’s got a slight back strain.

“Tom Lawrence… took a blow to his other ankle. He was struggling with one ankle, then got a knock on the other ankle. And Vokesy’s been struggling with his groin.”

2019 Miami Open suffers setback

By News desk

The 2019 Miami Open suffered severe setbacks after rain wiped out the opening day play, delaying the start of the tournament at its new Hard Rock Stadium home.

Having outgrown the cramped quarters of Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park, and unable to secure the necessary approvals to renovate and expand, the Miami Open has moved to the home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins but the day-long rain spoilt the moment yesterday.

With a 25 percent jump in ticket sales, tournament director James Blake, the former world number four, had been expecting a record crowd but instead the 14,000 seat temporary show court inside the stadium stood empty and the luxury boxes were silent.

Germany’s Andrea Petkovic and 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova were scheduled to christen the action on the main show court with Mari Osaka, the sister of Japanese world number one Naomi Osaka, taking on Whitney Osuigwe in the nightcap.

Tuesday’s first round play was supposed to be a dress rehearsal for Wednesday’s official opening, which will see Serena Williams, who is a part-owner in the Dolphins, Roger Federer and world number ones Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka taking part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“When we get through the first day or two and see what we are in store for I have a feeling we will be announcing a lot of (attendance) records broken this year,” American Blake told Reuters in a pre-tournament interview.

“I don’t want to be too pie-in-the-sky but I do think we are going to break a records.”

Once the rain disappears fans can expect a wide open tournament if the season follows the current trend.

There have been 19 ATP Tour events this season and 13 WTA events each producing a different winner.

Bianca Andreescu, the 18-year-old Canadian who stunned the field in Indian Wells last week to claim her first career win, is on that list and comes to Miami looking to complete what would be an even more unlikely Sunshine Double.

Sloane Stephens, the reigning Miami champion, and Serena Williams, an eight-time winner of what she considers her home event, can count on having the American crowd in their corner as will John Isner, who is back to defend his crown.

Serena, whose name is not among the 13 women’s winners this season, has sister Venus in her quarter of the draw along with the always dangerous second-seeded Romanian Simona Halep.

The men’s draw is also thick with former champions led by six times winner and world number one Djokovic and three-time winner Federer.

The Swiss comes to Florida in superb form after collecting his 100th career win in Dubai and coming off a finals appearance in Indian Wells but will be on alert after crashing out in the first round here a year ago.

World number one Osaka will also be wary with in-form German player, Angelique Kerber, a losing finalist in Indian Wells, lurking in her quarter.

Barcelona ex-midfielder, Xavi, raises concern over 48-team Qatar World Cup

By News desk

Former Spain midfielder Xavi Hernandez says FIFA should abandon a proposal to increase the number of teams at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 from 32.

The World Cup will feature 48 teams for the 2026 edition, to be co-hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada, but FIFA President Gianni Infantino said last week increasing the number of teams for the 2022 tournament was “feasible”.

Former Barcelona great Xavi, who won the World Cup with Spain in 2010 and is seeing out his career in Qatar with top-flight club Al Sadd, said 48 teams would not be the right option for 2022, however.

“It’s too much and too long. Imagine 48 teams in Qatar, it will not be good in my opinion,” he told reporters on Monday.

“It’s still for the organisers to decide, but for now Qatar is doing everything to prepare for 32 teams and it will be difficult to change it for more teams. Also, it’s good for football to have 32. That’s more than enough.”

Should FIFA and Qatari organisers agree on a proposal to increase the number of teams, it would be put to a vote at the FIFA Congress in Paris on June 5.

Xavi, who was in Mumbai for a promotional event for Generation Amazing, a legacy programme initiated by Qatar 2022 organisers, also expected Qatar to acquit themselves well on the field at the tournament.

The tiny Gulf state stunned four-times champions Japan to win this year’s Asian Cup and Xavi was not surprised by their breakthrough success.

“I thought the football there was the worst when I first went there,” the 39-year-old said. “But they’ve improved a lot and very quickly since then, everybody saw it at the Asian Cup.”

FIFA mulls Arsene Wenger’s appointment

By News desk

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has commence negotiation with former Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, to secure his services for development of the game globally.

FIFA consideration came months after the renowned football tactician quit his job as manager of the London club, Arsenal.

It was learned that Wenger has been approached by FIFA to head the technical development department.

FIFA boss, Gianni Infantino wants Wenger to oversee changes in rules of the game as well as technological innovations.

It was not clear whether Wenger has accepted Infantino’s offer to lead the charge towards football development globally.

Another source added that Wenger leads the pecking order on FIFA list for the assignment.

It would be recalled that Wenger stepped down as Arsenal head coach last year after s 22 years. He won three Premier League titles and seven FA cups.

He had said he is looking forward to return to football.

Pacquiao warns son against embracing boxing

By News desk

Philippine boxing legend, Manny Pacquiao, has urged his eldest son to stay out of the ring after the 19-year-old’s forays into fighting made young man’s mother cry.

Pacquiao, the only fighter to win world titles in eight different weight divisions, said he and his wife have even made a point not to have gloves and equipment at home.

The boxer, known for his rags-to-riches climb from the street, has tried to push his son, Emmanuel Jr, who is known Jimuel, to choose another path.

“It pains me that he is boxing because I know how hard it is. I told him, ‘Daddy only went into boxing because of poverty… You, you don’t need to box.

“But he said: ‘Daddy, like you boxing is my passion also. I want to be a representative of this country as an athlete’,” Pacquiao added.

The boxer made the comments after a video of Jimuel sparring during an exhibition match was posted on Facebook.

“His mommy had cried several times telling him, ‘Don’t go into boxing, son’,” Pacquiao said of his wife, Jinkee, who had also urged the 40-year-old boxer to retire. He really wants to do it,” he added.

The younger Pacquiao wouldn’t be the first son of a high-profile boxer to follow dad’s lead. The sons of British boxers Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank, as well as American slugger Joe Frazier became fighters.

The Facebook footage shows the younger Pacquiao sending his opponent to his knees with aggressive moves reminiscent of his father. Jimuel was wearing gloves and gear branded “Pacman”, his dad’s nickname.

The elder Pacquiao was watching the match through a video call and was seen talking to his son before it started.

An aide for Pacquiao told newsmen that Jimuel took up boxing last year before his father easily defeated Adrien Broner in Las Vegas.

As for his own career, Pacquiao said he was still eager for a rematch with Floyd Mayweather but had yet to discuss his next fight with adviser Al Haymon.

Pacquiao had last year signed with Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions group after being promoted by Top Rank’s Bob Arum for the past 14 years.

Pacquiao said he was open to fighting unbeaten US “super champion” Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr or Britain’s Amir Khan.

Qatar moves to 2019 AFC Asian final, defeats UAE

By News desk

Qatari National team on Tuesday defeated the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 4-0 to advance to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup final for the first time.

Following the qualification, Qatar will face Japan in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup final on Friday in Abu Dhabi.

It would be recalled that four-time champion, Japan, yesterday, defeated three-time champion, Iran, 3-0 to reach the final.

Japan is the most successful team in the Asian Cup with four titles, followed by Iran and Saudi Arabia with three apiece.

Qatar had advanced to the semifinals for the first time by beating two-time champion South Korea.

The UAE’s biggest ever success is that it played the final of the 1996 Asian Cup.

2019 AFC Asian Cup is the men’s football championship of Asia organized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

It would be recalled that the 17th edition of the AFC Asian Cup had kicked off in the UAE on Jan. 5.

CAF adjust Nations Cup date to accommodate Ramadan fasting

By News Desk

The dates for this year’s African Nations Cup finals in Egypt have been moved back a week, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said on Monday, reportedly to allow players to rest after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is scheduled to begin on the evening of May 5 and will end around June 4. Observers fast during daylight hours over this period, which can have an effect on the performance of athletes.

The expanded 24-team tournament will now kick-off on June 21 and run through to the final on July 19.

The decision was reached at an Emergency Committee meeting even as the governing body confirming shift in a circular sent to its member associations.

According to media reports, a request was made for the move by a number of mainly Muslim North African nations, including Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, who have all already sealed qualification.

CAF also confirmed that the draw for the first round pool stage will take place in Cairo on April 12.

Fourteen countries have already booked a finals berth, including first time participants Madagascar and Mauritania, with the remaining 10 places to be decided when the qualification campaign concludes in March.