Tag Archives: events

Great Britain v Russia – Davis Cup: Dan Evans and James Ward both lose singles matches in five sets

Britain's Davis Cup hopes in tatters after two five-set defeats… and rebel Evans admits he doesn't try hard enough

By
Mike Dickson

PUBLISHED:

18:17 GMT, 5 April 2013

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UPDATED:

23:47 GMT, 5 April 2013

Great Britain's Davis Cup hopes are close to being extinguished for another year after two epic near-misses against Russia on Friday and a disarming admission from No 2 player Dan Evans.

Having come so close to producing another heroic performance for GB, the 22 year-old did not hold back on why his ranking remains so stubbornly low, conceding that he simply does not put enough effort into his tennis.

He played far above his world ranking of 325 to push world number 67 Dmitri Tursunov desperately close before succumbing 6-4 6-7 6-4 5-7 6-4 in just under four hours, and later was blunt about his stalling career.

Dejection: Great Britain's Dan Evans lost in five sets to Dmitry Tursunov

Dejection: Great Britain's Dan Evans lost in five sets to Dmitry Tursunov

Marathon: Russian Tursunov prevailed in just under four hours in Coventry

Marathon: Russian Tursunov prevailed in just under four hours in Coventry

'It's because I don't train hard
enough and don't work hard enough day in and day out. I know that's the
reason. I'm obviously pretty bad at my job,' he said, amid various moans
about the costs associated with playing the tour, and an admission that
he gets 'distracted' at more obscure events.

'There are other things in life. I'm from a pretty working class background and I just go out. It's nobody else's fault.'

His defeat was compounded by James
Ward going down 4-6 4-6 7-5 6-3 8-6 to world No 80 Evgeny Donskoy. Both
matches were far closer than rankings predicted but ultimately only a
win in Saturday's doubles will keep Euro/Africa Zone tie at Coventry's
Ricoh Arena alive.

Try harder: Evans, who was called up to the squad at late notice, admits he doesn't work hard enough

Try harder: Evans, who was called up to the squad at late notice, admits he doesn't work hard enough

In the absence of Andy Murray, British
captain Leon Smith originally picked national No 3 Jamie Baker for this
tie, only to dump him on Wednesday evening for the errant 22 year-old
Evans, source of so much frustration for a variety of British coaches
over the years.

Yet when Evans gets in front of a
crowd and, crucially, has the guidance of Smith at every changeover, he
is transformed into someone in the tradition of Tim Henman, an elegant
all-court player with wonderful touch at the net. You hope one day he
will get his kicks from winning.

While some in the British game felt
that picking Evans, who has been stuck in a constant revolving door in
and out of official LTA training programmes for years due to his
questionable commitment, sent the wrong messages out to other players it
was clear why Smith took the gamble – and it nearly paid off.

Blown: James Ward let a two-set lead slip in his defeat to Evgeny Donskoy

Blown: James Ward let a two-set lead slip in his defeat to Evgeny Donskoy

Blown: James Ward let a two-set lead slip in his defeat to Evgeny Donskoy

Big-serving Tursunov won the first
set with relative ease but Evans took the next 7-5 in the tie-break and
levelled for 2-2 when he snuck in a late break.

Ultimately his lack of a single big
shot to gain cheap points hurt him, as did a tendency to throw in
untimely double faults. An anxious Tursunov finally asserted his class
to serve it out once he had made the key break for 4-2 in the decider.

Against the highly-rated but initially
nervous Donskoy, world No 214 Ward led 2-0 in the third set but could
not sustain his early level of serving and consistent depth, losing
after being broken at 6-6 in the decider.

Joy: Russia celebrate a perfect first day as they took a 2-0 lead

Joy: Russia celebrate a perfect first day as they took a 2-0 lead

Diego Maradona takes to the court with tennis ace Caroline Wozniacki

Video: Watch out, Rory… Maradona proves a smash hit with tennis ace Wozniacki

By
Thom Drake

PUBLISHED:

19:41 GMT, 21 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

14:01 GMT, 22 February 2013

It's safe to say that Diego Maradona is having a busy week.

Following the news of his fifth child being born last Thursday, the ex-Argentina World Cup winner was snapped alongside Caroline Wozniacki at the WTA Dubai Tennis Championships.

It looks hard to tell who was more excited, with the pair swapping a signed football shirt and tennis racket courtside.

Scroll down for video

Signed: Diego Maradona takes time out from watching the tennis for a photo alongside Caroline Wozniacki

Signed: Diego Maradona takes time out from watching the tennis for a photo alongside Caroline Wozniacki

Elated: Both Maradona and Wozniacki were full of smiles as the Dane towered over the sporting icon

Elated: Both Maradona and Wozniacki were full of smiles as the Dane towered over the Argentine

With her boyfriend Rory McIlroy away in snowy Arizona at the moment, Maradona may have seen his chance to get a photo with the in-demand former World No.1.

He also couldn't keep his hands off American player Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who appeared delighted at the attention.

After a little peck on the hand, a strangely long-faced Maradona posed for another picture.

Peck: Bethanie Mattek-Sands was next to receive the affections of father of five Maradona

Peck: Bethanie Mattek-Sands was next to receive the affections of father of five Maradona

Maradona currently resides in Dubai as 'honorary sports ambassador', helping the state with media relations in all major international sports events.

He has said in the last week that he will only be able to see his new son, Diego Fernando, when his commercial obligations finish in June.

As for now, he seems to be enjoying the high-life in Dubai, and can't keep away from a photo opportunity with the good and the great from sport.

Frown: A sullen faced Maradona may have been getting tired of posing with tennis players

Frown: A sullen faced Maradona may have been getting tired of posing with tennis players

An excited Diego Maradona meets Dubai semi-finalist Caroline Wozniacki

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Sir Clive Woodward: Funding is the oxygen for British success in sports like basketball… dont cut the pipeline

Sir Clive Woodward: Funding is the oxygen for British success in sports like basketball… don’t cut the pipeline

. Several sports – including basketball – have seen their funds slashed.

There is a growing furore over the Olympic sports which have missed out on funding from UK Sport’s 347m pot of gold for the so-called 'Road to Rio'.

Those sports which are deemed not to be ‘podium contenders’ have been left at the starting blocks and pondering their very future and even their existence.

Understandably, administrators, players and fans are angry and frustrated given the very noisy and public commitment to fulfil an Olympic and Paralympic legacy, which was at the core of our successful Bid in 2005 and to Inspire a Generation.

As someone who has worked at the very
heart of elite sport and performance, I have sympathy and support for
these sports, which include basketball, handball and volleyball, which
all attracted massive crowds last summer.

Struggles: Britain's basketball stars will find it difficult to compete on the world stage

Struggles: Britain's basketball stars will find it difficult to compete on the world stage

In terms of potential medal winners at Rio in 2016, those who hold the purse strings probably got it right as judged by their own very strict criteria but we must not develop tunnel vision focused only on the podium.

We must adopt a broader and longer-term vision and aspiration rather than leave ourselves accused of developing an unhealthy lust for medals at all costs, and invest and develop other sports, especially team sports on the back of our Olympic and Paralympic triumph.

It is much more difficult to win medals in team sports compared to individual sports and, traditionally, they do not add many medals to the final medal table because they are not multi-discipline events like rowing, cycling boxing, swimming and athletics. In team sports like basketball you usually only have the men’s team and women’s team.

Road to Rio: The countdown is already on for Britain's trip to Brazil in 2016

Road to Rio: The countdown is already on for Britain's trip to Brazil in 2016

Yet, if you analyse the low cost and highly accessible aspect of most team sports, compared to other sports and those which sit comfortably in our inner communities, it is completely baffling to me, why funding has been completely stopped in this area.

In the wake of London 2012 I had hope our cities would be crammed with courts for kids to play team sports, emulating their heroes and nurturing a love for team sport and the camaraderie and spirit, such sports inspire.

My solution to this currently unacceptable situation is to make a special case for these sports with a completely separate pool of funds made available through a new specially set up division of UK Sport called the 'Olympic Development Sports' providing specific support for sports where existing funds cannot be justified.

Heady times: London 2012 captivated the nation last summer

Heady times: London 2012 captivated the nation last summer

These sports should sign up to a long term business plan, say over 12 years with the aim of qualifying for and winning medals not, just for the next Olympics in 2016 but in 2020 and 2024.

This is investing and building for the future and totally fulfils the Legacy aspiration albeit over a much longer period. These sports should be supported and helped to reach a level where funding can be justified in their own right, and at which stage they will be promoted from the 'Olympic Development Sports' category.

After such a momentous year for sport in Britain, it would be scandalous if these sports did not receive the extra funding they need to continue their exciting journeys and help realise the dreams of thousands of youngsters who simply want to throw a ball into a hoop or push a ball over a net on the sand.

Funding is their oxygen for success. Don’t cut the pipeline.

Everton 1 Chelsea 2: Frank Lampard double helps Blues to victory

Everton 1 Chelsea 2: Lampard delivers again as Blues recover from early blow to move back into third place

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UPDATED:

21:50 GMT, 30 December 2012

Frank Lampard has made a habit of being in the right place at the right time over his years at Chelsea.

How peculiar, then, that from the end of this season, he will probably be somewhere else entirely.

Of all the bizarre events that have characterised Chelsea’s recent history, the apparent decision to jettison one of their most important players next summer is among the more perplexing.

At the double: Lampard celebrates his second and decisive goal

At the double: Lampard celebrates his second and decisive goal

MATCH FACTS

Everton: Howard, Jagielka, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Naismith (Vellios 76), Osman, Hitzlsperger (Barkley 78), Pienaar (Oviedo 80), Anichebe, Jelavic.
Subs not used: Mucha, Gueye, Duffy, Browning.
Goal: Pienaar 1.
Bookings: Distin, Pienaar.

Chelsea: Cech (Turnbull 46), Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole, Ramires, Luiz, Lampard, Mata (Oscar 85), Torres, Hazard (Moses 74).
Subs not used: Ferreira, Marin, Piazon, Ake.
Goals: Lampard 42, 72.
Bookings: Cole, Luiz, Cahill.

Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

Lampard has made almost 400 Barclays
Premier League appearances for Chelsea as the club have established
themselves as one of the best in Europe. He has been a cornerstone of
all that has been achieved in the Roman Abramovich years. However, those
who suggest that Lampard should be rewarded for his loyalty with a new
contract miss the point.

He should be invited to stay at
Stamford Bridge not out of sentiment but simply because he still has
something to offer a squad that needs continuity more than most others.

Lampard’s two goals at Goodison Park
yesterday were certainly timely. They enabled his team to recover from a
second-minute Everton goal to continue their impressive recent
progress and they also provided a reminder of his enduring worth as a
footballer. At 34, Lampard may not be as mobile or as dynamic as he once
was. Time has inevitably diminished him.

Nevertheless, the England midfielder’s ability to pass and read and anticipate play remains undimmed.

One senses that Rafael Benitez
recognises this and it is a shame that it is someone else other than the
club’s interim manager who would appear to be making the decisions
about players at Chelsea.

Certainly, yesterday, Benitez will have been grateful.

Giving Everton the Blues: Lampard scores Chelsea's winner

Giving Everton the Blues: Lampard scores Chelsea's winner

Heads up: Frank Lampard scores Chelsea's first half equaliser

Heads up: Frank Lampard scores Chelsea's first half equaliser

Chelsea fell behind after only 63
seconds and then had to withstand something of a blitz from David
Moyes’s progressive Everton team.

That they did so says much for the
manner in which Benitez has organised his team and the confidence that
has come from recent victories.

Putting eight goals past a poor Aston
Villa team at home is one thing but moving forward to win at Norwich and
then here on Merseyside is arguably more impressive.

Get in there, Frank: Lampard is congratulated after scoring

Get in there, Frank: Lampard is congratulated after scoring

Are you listening, Roman A Chelsea fan holding up a special banner at Goodison Park

Are you listening, Roman A Chelsea fan holding up a special banner at Goodison Park

The first half-hour belonged to
Everton. Unfortunately for the home side, it brought them only one goal.
Ultimately, that proved critical.

A good goal it was, though, as Everton
took advantage of Eden Hazard’s misplaced early pass to sweep down the
right through Phil Jagielka.

The emergency right back’s cross was a
good one, and it enabled Victor Anichebe to climb above Cesar
Azpilicueta — with the help of a shove in the back — and head powerfully
against the post. If Chelsea thought the danger had passed, they were
wrong. Steven Pienaar was lurking 12 yards from goal and the technique
he showed in drilling the ball low past Petr Cech was exemplary.

What a start: Steven Pienaar fires Everton in front after just a minute

What a start: Steven Pienaar fires Everton in front after just a minute

Pure delight: Pienaar celebrates his goal

Pure delight: Pienaar celebrates his goal

A goal to the good so quickly, Everton
were effervescent and inventive. For a while, Chelsea had no answer.
The likes of Lampard, David Luiz and Juan Mata were slow into the game,
and they were almost invisible as the hosts swept forward.

Moyes’s players created chances but
couldn’t take them. Nikica Jelavic struck a free-kick against the post
with Cech stranded before Anichebe headed over after a throw-in was
flicked on from the right.

Perhaps the turning point arrived in
the 24th minute, though, as another Jagielka cross reached the
impressive Leon Osman and Cech somehow managed to smuggle a fierce low
drive past his left-hand post.

Had Chelsea fallen two goals behind at
this point, there might have been no way back. They really had offered
very little at this point.

As it was, though, Cech touched a
Jelavic cross-shot wide after a superb Pienaar pass, and Chelsea sprung
forward to equalise just before half-time.

The goal hadn’t exactly been coming, but Chelsea had been improving quietly as time went on.

Making his point: Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez (right) and Everton boss David Moyes on the sidelines

Making his point: Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez (right) and Everton boss David Moyes on the sidelines

Battle: Sylvain Distin clashes with Fernando Torres

Battle: Sylvain Distin clashes with Fernando Torres

In the 34th minute, Ashley Cole had
been an inch away from diverting a low Azpilicueta cross into the net at
the far post, and they equalised when Fernando Torres ran the ball down
the right, fed Ramires and watched the Brazilian drop a right-foot
cross on the forehead of Lampard eight yards from goal. He simply wasn’t
going to miss.

No doubt relieved to be level, Chelsea
began the second half the stronger, even though they had lost
goalkeeper Cech at half-time to an ankle injury.

With Luiz, Mata and Ramires now
looking more like themselves, a Luiz chipped pass deserved better than a
poor Torres touch while Chelsea’s centre forward found a much better
contact in bringing a superb save from Tim Howard in the 67th minute.

At the other end, Everton’s threat was
by now more sporadic, but they remained very much in the game and
superb work from Leighton Baines down the left enabled Jelavic to head
against the bar as the game hung in the balance with 20 minutes left.

Moyes was later to rue his team’s failure to follow up rebounds.

It was pertinent, then, that Chelsea
won the game just minutes later when a superb move involving Ramires,
Torres, Mata and Hazard ended with Lampard bundling the ball in from
close range after Howard had saved.

Still there was time for Jelavic to
dawdle over a late chance after another Baines cross, and perhaps
Everton would have deserved a point.

Chelsea, though, are threatening to become as ruthless on the field as they are off it.

Frank Lampard knows this well.

Fan-tastic: Everton supporters watch the action unfold on the final Sunday of 2012

Fan-tastic: Everton supporters watch the action unfold on the final Sunday of 2012

Roberto Di Matteo latest victim of Roman Abramovich"s random Chelsea reign: Martin Samuel

Di Matteo is just the latest victim of Roman's random reign at Chelsea

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UPDATED:

00:15 GMT, 22 November 2012

The rumours were circulating long before the confirmation of the deed. Pep Guardiola, Rafael Benitez, even Avram Grant. Let’s be honest, what does it matter

Avram Grant, Bernie Grant, Eddie Grant, here’s a good one, why not give it to Russell Grant. At least he’d know when he was about to get sacked. I see a short, dark stranger with your P45, sunshine. Better avoid that meeting then.

Chelsea are a random club and for that reason random things happen.

There is a line in the film Withnail and I. Freezing and helpless at their borrowed cottage in the Lake District, the out-of-work actors appeal to a farmer. ‘We’ve gone on holiday by mistake,’ Withnail says.

The writing's on the wall: After delivering club football's greatest prize six months ago, Roberto Di Matteo finds himself out of work

The writing's on the wall: After delivering club football's greatest prize six months ago, Roberto Di Matteo finds himself out of work

Chelsea are a bit like that. The owner, Roman Abramovich, behaves in an unpredictable manner and so unpredictable events occur. Things just befall Chelsea without any coherent narrative. They appoint the owner’s mate who has no qualification for the role; they follow him with a coach who won the World Cup.

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They sack the man who swept the board at Porto; his assistant, who nearly got West Bromwich Albion relegated, takes the same group of players and wins the Champions League.

They sell their most influential player to China; they spend 50million on one who can’t get in the team. Mark Hughes is yet to win a Premier League game at Queens Park Rangers this season, Roberto Di Matteo held the Champions League trophy aloft six months ago. Guess who is first out the door

Yet don’t say he didn’t warn you. Abramovich never wanted Di Matteo to be his manager, and he made that plain all along. A regular feature of Chelsea’s progress to the Champions League final in Munich was a managerial press conference in which Di Matteo was asked, repeatedly, when he was going to be given the job full time. He did not once entertain the question, wonder aloud, or encourage speculation.

On the brink: Chelsea could be the first Champions League holders to be eliminated at the following group stage

On the brink: Chelsea could be the first Champions League holders to be eliminated the following group stage

He knew that to do this, to be seen angling for the job, would not go down well with the owner. Abramovich says nothing, so Di Matteo aped him and played dumb, too. Then he won the FA Cup. Still there was silence. Then the Champions League. Tumbleweed.

HAVE YOUR SAY…

Did Roberto Di Matteo deserve more time as Chelsea boss
Roman Abramovich has wielded the axe for the eighth time as owner of Chelsea following the team's 3-0 defeat against Juventus.

Roberto Di Matteo

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK

Meanwhile, the wider world, fans, media, casual seekers of justice, howled in disbelief that Di Matteo was not being rewarded for his achievements. Yet now we know. Abramovich watchers could have told Di Matteo the truth: he’s just not that into you. Only when all other options were exhausted and Guardiola had made it absolutely clear that he was going to take a year out to recharge his batteries, did Abramovich go against his better instincts and give the man who won the European Cup the job. No doubt he felt a right soft touch in doing so.

And no doubt, lately, a few have been reminded of his previous reservations; just as they were over Luiz Felipe Scolari, another mid-season departure. The life expectancy of a Chelsea manager is short; the life expectancy of a Chelsea manager who does not have the complete faith of the owner from the start is roughly that of a Christmas turkey.

England batsman Kevin Pietersen was among the social media passers-by expressing his surprise. Why

England’s winter cricket tours are frequently interrupted by Chelsea sacking the manager. Scolari (West Indies, 2009), Andre Villas-Boas (between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, 2011) and now Di Matteo (India, 2012). A bullet for the Chelsea boss is almost as predictable as a middle-order collapse on the sub-continent. And often as logical. Di Matteo went, like most Chelsea managers, because he was not getting the best out of his players. Players, of course, who he didn’t buy.

The holy grail: After countless millions, Roman Abramovich gets his hand on Old Big Ears

The holy grail: After countless millions, Roman Abramovich gets his hand on Old Big Ears

Throughout the summer, when Di Matteo waited for the puff of white smoke that would confirm that, yes, he was next in line to get a substantial pay-off for being sacked at Stamford Bridge, Abramovich continued to rebuild his squad.

So these were not Di Matteo’s signings. He merely got to marshal them to the best of his ability until the man responsible grew tired of his floundering. Even the mighty Jose Mourinho, when complimented on his insight in signing Petr Cech, admitted to being merely a bystander in the transfer market. He recommended Cech to his new employers, he said, only to be told he had already signed.

So David Luiz is no John Terry. Whose fault is that Abramovich, not any coach, drove Benfica mad for Luiz before the deal was done. No manager could pay 50m for one player, as Chelsea did for Fernando Torres. That decision comes from the very top. The role of the manager is simply to be the scapegoat in the event of disaster.

Torres has now seen off three bosses and one cannot help but think that the emergence of Benitez as Abramovich’s latest fancy is a final attempt to justify his investment, and his judgment.

Out of sorts: Fernando Torres came off the bench in Turin but once again did little to justify his 50million price tag

Out of sorts: Fernando Torres (left) came off the bench in Turin but once again did little to justify his 50million price tag

Now here’s the funny thing. In the time Abramovich has been at Chelsea, the club have had eight managers. Manchester United, obviously, have had one. And in that time United, the most convincing argument for patience and loyalty there has been in English football, have won nine trophies (one Champions League, four Premier League, three League Cup, one FA Cup). But Chelsea have won 10 (one Champions League, three Premier League, four FA Cup, two League Cup). So random has accrued more than continuity.

Indeed, in United’s single Champions League win, they played Chelsea, who lost on a penalty shoot-out having been marginally the better side. So, a method in the madness Of course not. Sir Alex Ferguson spent as many seasons struggling at Old Trafford as Di Matteo has been given weeks since Chelsea’s form collapsed.

Abramovich’s success as an owner is just further evidence of the overwhelming influence of money: throw enough cash at a problem in football and however crass the executive behaviour, chances are results will come your way eventually. Abramovich’s actions defy convention and therefore conventional analysis.

These constant rounds of hirings and firings shouldn’t work. Often they don’t. But given Chelsea’s level of investment, sometimes they will.

So it really doesn’t matter who manages Chelsea, because the club is run by one man who you will never see on the touchline. Rafa Benitez, Rafa Nadal, Rafael Scheidt, the big Brazilian defender signed by John Barnes at Celtic, the names, the personalities are interchangeable. It’s his money, so let him play his game.

Whether Abramovich keeps Benitez, whether he lures Guardiola, or whether he just employs Scheidt, it usually ends the same way regardless.

Former Manchester United player Kenny Morgans dies

Busby Babe Morgans – who survived the Munich air disaster – dies aged 73

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UPDATED:

19:05 GMT, 18 November 2012

Former Manchester United player Kenny Morgans, who was a member of the Busby Babes, has died.

Morgans, a survivor of the Munich air disaster in 1958 which killed 23 people, passed away on Saturday night after being ill at home. He was 73.

The Welsh winger made his debut for United at the age of just 18, back in 1957, and represented the club for a four seasons before returning to his homeland with Swansea City.

Rest in peace: Former Manchester United player Kenny Morgans has died aged 73

Rest in peace: Former Manchester United player Kenny Morgans has died aged 73

He later joined Newport County before retiring in 1961.

A statement on the Manchester United website said: 'Manchester United today confirms the sad news that former player Kenny Morgans has died. He was 73.

'Staff at the football club send their deepest condolences to Kenny's family and friends.

'Kenny returned to Old Trafford for two notable events in recent years – for the 50th anniversary of the Munich tragedy in 2008, and latterly an Association of Former Manchester United Players dinner at which he was the guest of honour.'

Joe Hart helps FA to celebrate 149th anniversary

Safe hands: England No 1 Hart poses with 1m Minute Book to help FA celebrate anniversary

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UPDATED:

09:58 GMT, 26 October 2012

The FA marks its 149th anniversary this year and to celebrate the occasion England No 1 Joe Hart has posed with the game's original rulebook – which is valued at 1million.

Hart's photoshoot is part of a year-long calendar of events the FA have scheduled to showcase the heritage of the game in a countdown to next year's milestone 150-year anniversary.

Known as the 'Minute Book', the original 13 laws of organised football were written by Ebenezer Morley, the first secretary of the FA.

Safe hands: Man City and England No 1 Hart with the Minute Book

Safe hands: Man City and England No 1 Hart with the Minute Book

Safe hands: Man City and England No 1 Hart with the Minute Book

Safe hands: Man City and England No 1 Hart with the Minute Book

Manchester City goalkeeper Hart said: 'It's important to honour the landmarks in history, and holding the original FA Minute Book that was written 150 years ago, did make me realise the significance and how long football has been part of our culture.

'Football has a great history in this country, you grow up with the traditions and rituals of the game being passed from generation to generation.

'My Dad would take me to football games and it is something that feels like it has been around forever.'

'The FA’s 150th Anniversary will be a great year for everyone involved in the game, on and off the pitch.'

Top stopper: Hart is rated among the world's best goalkeepers

Top stopper: Hart is rated among the world's best goalkeepers

Rio Ferdinand leads breakaway by black players

EXCLUSIVE: Rebel Ferdinand leads breakaway by black players in racism row

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 22 October 2012

Rio Ferdinand is planning to revolutionise English football with the launch of a breakaway union to protect the interests of black footballers.

Ferdinand, who refused to wear a Kick It Out T-shirt before Manchester United’s clash against Stoke on Saturday, has already joined other high-profile black players in overseeing the first draft of a constitution.

The United defender and his colleagues want to tackle discrimination in all forms and will hold a series of meetings in London over the next few weeks.

All smiles: Rio Ferdinand (left) is believed to have reconciled his differences with Sir Alex Ferguson

All smiles: Rio Ferdinand (left) is believed to have reconciled his differences with Sir Alex Ferguson

The union — which has a working name of The Federation of Black Players but will be open to players from all ethnic backgrounds who share a desire to combat racism in English football — will be self-funded by professionals at every level.

The union’s mission statement is expected to honour the achievements of black footballers and promote unity within the sport at every level, from players to spectators.

The idea, which has been conceived by Ferdinand, is already gathering momentum among black players and has received widespread support.

It will be the first of its kind in this country, but there is a long-established Black Baseball Players Association in the United States.

Ferdinand wants to protect the interests of the current generation of black players and is eager, for instance, to defend the rights of the young players caught up in last week’s traumatic events that marred the England Under 21 game in Serbia.

Although every professional player is entitled to PFA representation, the new union is unlikely to be affiliated with the official body. That does, however, remain up for discussion, with meetings with the PFA still planned.

Snub: Ferdinand refused to wear the Kick It Out T-shirt before Manchester United's game against Stoke

Snub: Ferdinand refused to wear the Kick It Out T-shirt before Manchester United's game against Stoke

But there is a feeling that it should be independent when one of the issues a number of black players have with the Kick It Out campaign is the fact that it is funded by the Football Association.

There is a good chance Ferdinand would be nominated as the union’s first chairman, although a number of current and retired black players will be invited to occupy executive positions.

The group have been working on a draft constitution for several weeks and, according to sources, the concept is already at the ‘advanced planning stage’.

Ferdinand’s relationship with Kick It Out appears to be badly fractured after he was criticised by the pressure group’s chairman, Lord Ouseley, on Monday.

Lord Ouseley repeated his claims that black, multi- millionaire footballers are over-reacting. He said: ‘Would Rio tell England where to stick their shirt if picked or does he think the FA has done enough to tackle racism

‘Will he tell Manchester United where to stick their shirt and 150,000 a week or have they done enough to tackle racism

Anton Ferdinand did not wear the T-shirt

Jason Roberts did not wear the T-shirt

Not for me: Anton Ferdinand (left) and Jason Roberts were among other players not to wear the T-shirt

‘Should we tell women not to support women against rape groups because they have not done enough to stop rape’

Despite Kick It Out’s unwavering support for Anton Ferdinand and his family during his high-profile court case with John Terry, some players refused to support the campaign at the weekend.’

On Monday, Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed Sportsmail’s story revealing that peace talks had taken place between the United manager and his player on Sunday.

After his initial fury over the stance Ferdinand took in refusing to wear the Kick It Out T-shirt he said the situation had been ‘resolved’.

Ferdinand incurred Ferguson’s wrath after refusing to wear a shirt with the message ‘one game one community’ at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Brother Anton, along with a number of Queens Park Rangers and Everton players, also refused to support the initiative before Sunday’s Barclays Premier League clash at Loftus Road.

Refusal: Joleon Lescott has not worn the T-shirt for a number of years in protest

Refusal: Joleon Lescott has not worn the T-shirt for a number of years in protest

Reading striker Jason Roberts, who refused to wear a Kick It Out T-shirt at Anfield on Saturday, is expected to be a significant voice in the new movement.

He was due to attend a Show Racism the Red Card initiative at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday but the organisation said he is unlikely to do so.

Roberts, who condemned the Kick It Out campaign last week, has already written to the FA with his observations. The Reading striker has raised a number of issues over the FA’s approach to tackling racism.

Lord Ouseley also criticised the FA, who are a funding partner for Kick It Out, during a series of interviews on Monday.

He said: ‘You have to question the FA because we have not heard from them. Why have we not heard from the governing and regulatory body for the game’

Welford Road snubbed as potential 2015 Rugby World Cup venue

Welford Road snubbed in favour of King Power Stadium on long list of World Cup venues

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UPDATED:

09:15 GMT, 8 October 2012

Only one Aviva Premiership stadium has been named on the RFU's long list of 17 possible venues to host the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Gloucester's Kingsholm Stadium is the only one of 12 top flight grounds being considered for rugby's showpiece event, with iconic grounds such as Leicester's Welford Road and Harlequins' Twickenham Stoop being snubbed.

Snubbed: Leicester Tigers' Welford Road stadium

Snubbed: Leicester Tigers' Welford Road stadium

The list features 13 football stadia, including Wembley Stadium, Old Trafford and, more surprisingly, MK Dons's stadium:mk and Brighton's Amex Stadium.

Twickenham and Cardiff's Millennium Stadium are the other two traditional rugby venues on the list, while the Olympic Stadium has also been included as a possible venue.

The long list will be reduced to 12 next spring, meaning there is a chance that no Premiership grounds will host World Cup games.

Premiership fixtures continue throughout World Cup events but even so, many had expected more traditional rugby grounds to be involved.

Lance Armstrong wins Navy Seals triathlon

Under-fire Armstrong wins first triathlon race since being given lifetime sports ban

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UPDATED:

12:13 GMT, 1 October 2012

Lance Armstrong has put his continued doping trials behind win by winning his first triathlon since his lifetime ban.

The American, who was banned by US doping
authorities in August from all official sporting events and told all his
cycling accomplishments would be forfeited, completed the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run in the Superfrog Triathlon in just three hours, 49 minutes and 45 seconds.

The famous cyclist was allowed to
enter the tough challenge because it is unsanctioned and not subject to
rules under the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

Riding to glory: Lance Armstrong won his first sporting event since his lifetime ban - and completed the tough Superfrog challenge in record time

Riding to glory: Lance Armstrong won his first sporting event since his lifetime ban – and completed the tough Superfrog challenge in record time

Retro: Lance Armstrong decided to go old school and wear a speedo for the bike and run

But Lance Armstrong stuck with a traditional wetsuit for the swimming part of the triathlon

Retro: Lance Armstrong decided to go old school and wear a speedo while cycling and running, left, but opted for a traditional wetsuit to complete the swimming section of the triathlon, right

Before starting the race, a defiant Armstrong declared: 'I am not banned from life'.

And after smashing the Superfrog record on Sunday, he tweeted: 'Had a helluva good time in the @superfrogtri today. Thx to all who came out and like always, a massive thanks to all the volunteers!'

And he also made a joking reference
to his tiny shorts worn in the race, tweeting: 'In honor of the sports
roots I've decided to rock the speedo, grape smuggler, banana hammock,
etc for the whole race. #oldschool'

Leon Griffin from Australia came in second and Tyler Butterfield, from Bermuda, came in third.

The women's Superfrog was won by Beth Gerdes Walsh, from Encinitas, in four hours, 37 minutes and nine seconds.

Challenging: The Superfrog Triathlon was created by the Navy Seals in 1979

Challenging: The Superfrog Triathlon in Coronado, California, was created by the Navy Seals in 1979

Armstrong became a heroic figure in the sporting world after coming back from losing one testicle to cancer and going on to win the Tour De France a record-breaking seven times.

All proceeds from the race in Coronado in California go towards the Navy Seal Foundation after members of the Navy Seals designed the tough route in 1979.

The Superfrog website states: 'Superfrog Triathlon is the first and longest running half Ironman.

'The intent was twofold: to prepare SEALs for what was then the brand new Hawaii Ironman Triathlon and to encourage the new sport of triathlon in the Navy Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) and SEAL Teams where physical training was multifaceted and the competitive spirit was high.'

'The new goal is to push endurance sporting events to the next level through world class production, the best competition, integration of the latest technology, and a focus on improving the racer and spectator experience.'

Record breaker: Lance Armstrong won the Superfrog triathlon in just three hours, 49 minutes and 45 seconds

Record breaker: Lance Armstrong won the Superfrog triathlon in just three hours, 49 minutes and 45 seconds