Tag Archives: offensive

Ferran Soriano, Manchester City chief executive, accused of "fraudulent administration" at former club Barcelona

City chief Soriano accused of 'fraudulent administration' at former club Barcelona

By
Pete Jenson

PUBLISHED:

21:58 GMT, 6 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:34 GMT, 6 April 2013

Trouble: City chief Ferran Soriano

Trouble: City chief Ferran Soriano

Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano may have to answer claims he authorised his former club, Barcelona, to spy on employees’ emails, after Catalonia’s senior prosecutor upheld a complaint by the Catalan club.

Barcelona have accused Soriano and his then fellow director, Joan Oliver, of ‘fraudulent administration and the disclosure of secrets’ and this complaint has now been upheld, meaning the City executive could be called to give evidence at the end of next month.

The case brought by Barcelona centres on accusations that Soriano authorised a cyber intelligence company, Cybex Experience, to embed a device in the server of the club’s internal computer, enabling all internal emails containing certain keywords to be monitored.

Derby: Roberto Mancini's side face Manchester United on Monday

Derby: Roberto Mancini's side face Manchester United on Monday

Barcelona also employed the services of the private investigation firm Metodo 3, who are alleged to have monitored other club directors and even first-team players.

The current Barcelona board’s motivation for the complaint appears to be to ensure the previous regime pays back about three million euros spent between 2004-09 on these services.

But their offensive action has also been seen as a tactic in an ongoing cold war between Manchester City and Barcelona because president Sandro Rosell believes a pledge not to target players from the Spanish side has been broken.

City face their rivals United in the Manchester derby on Monday with their hopes of retaining the Premier League all but gone.

Roberto Mancini's side are 15 points behind United with eight games remaining.

Red Bull told Mark Webber to cut power "more than Sebastian Vettel"

Red Bull told Webber to cut power 'more than Vettel' in Malaysia

By
Malcolm Folley

PUBLISHED:

19:51 GMT, 30 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:51 GMT, 30 March 2013

Red Bull have admitted that world
champion Sebastian Vettel was not told to cut his engine power to the
same level as Mark Webber at the end of last weekend's Malaysian Grand
Prix.

But the team insist they had not
favoured Vettel above his Australian team-mate or that they were happy
to see the German ignore orders and snatch victory from Webber.

In the aftermath of the furore over
Vettel's behaviour, it was claimed Webber, with the German running
behind him, had been told to turn down his engine setting to ensure he
did not experience a mechanical mishap.

Falling out: Mark Webber (left) and Sebastian Vettel on the podium in Malaysia

Falling out: Mark Webber (left) and Sebastian Vettel on the podium in Malaysia

It was presumed Vettel had received the same instruction on the orders of team principal Christian Horner.

But F1 rights holder Bernie Ecclestone told The Mail on Sunday last week: 'After speaking with Christian, it seems Mark was told to turn down the wick on his engine, but the team didn't tell Sebastian to do the same thing.'

And a Red Bull spokesperson admitted: 'Seb's engine was turned down, but not as much as Mark's due to differing strategies and tyre wear.'

Although Horner told Vettel to stay behind Webber, the German had more horsepower to overtake.

Different instructions: Bernie Ecclestone (inset) says Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were given different orders

Different instructions: Bernie Ecclestone (inset) says Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were given different orders

Webber maintained a low profile last week, with no desire to have any contact with Vettel before they meet for the next race in China in 10 days' time, while the German 25-year-old triple world champion was on a charm offensive at Red Bull's HQ in Milton Keynes in midweek to apologise to the workforce for creating worldwide uproar.

Webber's sense of betrayal, after helping to clinch the past three constructors' titles, means he is unlikely to stay with Red Bull when his contract ends this year.

His presence alongside Vettel in the first official media conference in Shanghai a week on Thursday will ensure Red Bull's internecine warfare is the only story in town.

Golden boy: Sebastian Vettel talks with Red Bull principal Christian Horner (right)

Golden boy: Sebastian Vettel talks with Red Bull principal Christian Horner (right)

'It can only be a distraction and energy-sapping,' said a team insider.

Yet, as Ecclestone revealed in this paper last week, Webber would have lost his seat to Lewis Hamilton this season had Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz not offered the Australian first refusal on keeping his drive out of loyalty when the 36-year-old had been talking with Ferrari.

'I wouldn't say that Mark was an out and out, 100 per cent Red Bull guy when he was looking to leave the team,' said Ecclestone. 'If he'd have got the drive with Ferrari, he'd have gone. He was lucky to stay, in my opinion.'

Indeed, Webber is not blameless. In the past, he has shown an unwillingness to toe the line, most recently in Brazil as Vettel clinched his third title.

'There's never been any trust between Webber and Vettel, they're not bosom buddies,' added Ecclestone.

Tony Greig dies: Patrick Collins tribute

Brash and tactless he may have been but Greig was also cricket's saviour

|

UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 29 December 2012

The MCC flag on the clock tower at Lord’s is flying at half-mast in memory of Tony Greig.

The former England captain, who died aged 66 following a heart attack at his home in Sydney on Saturday, would have smiled at this tribute from Official England. For no cricketer ever attracted such vituperation from those who ruled the game. Yet no cricketer ever succeeded so completely in transforming the game they once ruled.

Brash and combative, truculent and tactless, Greig will be recalled as much for his role in celebrated controversies as for his status as one of cricket’s finest all-rounders.

66 and out: Former England captain and popular television commentator Tony Greig has died in Sydney at the age of 66

66 and out: Former England captain and popular television commentator Tony Greig has died in Sydney at the age of 66

Job well done: Greig, then captain of England, relaxes with a pint after a Test match at Old Trafford in 1972

Job well done: Greig, then captain of England, relaxes with a pint after a Test match at Old Trafford in 1972

There was his foolhardy promise to make
the 1976 West Indies tourists ‘grovel’. It was a crassly offensive term
in any circumstances; spoken by a white South African at a time when
apartheid still oppressed that benighted country, it was catastrophic.

There was the day in Trinidad when he threw down the stumps of Alvin
Kallicharran as the West Indies batsman walked off the field at the
close of play. Greig appealed, the umpire raised his finger and a major
riot ensued. On the following morning, the appeal was revoked. But the
memory lingered.

Then there was Packer. Most of all, there was Packer. Some 35 years on, it is impossible to convey the depth of the outrage.

All-rounder: Greig scored 3,599 Test runs at an average of 40.43 and was also more than handy with the ball, claiming 141 wickets at an average of 32.20

All-rounder: Greig scored 3,599 Test runs at an average of 40.43 and was also more than handy with the ball, claiming 141 wickets at an average of 32.20

Mentor: Greig offers some words of advice for players of the future during a match for Brighton and Hove CC at Basingstoke in 1978

Mentor: Greig offers some words of advice for players of the future during a match for Brighton and Hove CC at Basingstoke in 1978

Leaders: Deposed England cricket captain Tony Greig (right) and his successor, Mike Brearley, during practice prior to the 1st ODI against Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester on 22nd June 1977

Leaders: Deposed England cricket captain Tony Greig (right) and his successor, Mike Brearley, during practice prior to the 1st ODI against Australia at Old Trafford in Manchester on 22nd June 1977

In 1977, cricketers were seen as being fortunate to play the game. Their
wages were meagre, their financial prospects precarious. Greig had been
captain of England for two years, a popular figure who seemed capable
of regenerating English cricket. But he had signed a secret agreement
with Kerry Packer, the owner of Nine Network in Australia, to set up a
‘rebel’ troupe of international cricketers.

He then — while still captain — began to recruit English and foreign cricketers for the Packer ‘circus’.

The plot became public and, within a week, Greig had lost the captaincy.
He was retained for an Ashes series as an England player, but his
international career then expired. He threw his energies behind Packer’s
successful attempt to popularise the game, especially the one-day
version with its coloured clothing and tumultuous crowds. The sport was
truly transformed.

Meeting of minds: Greig chats with Pakistan cricketer of the sixties Saeed Ahmed in the United Arab Emirates in 1997

Meeting of minds: Greig chats with Pakistan cricketer of the sixties Saeed Ahmed in the United Arab Emirates in 1997

Controversial times: Greig as captain of the World Series Cricket World XI in the 1979 Supertest Grand Final match with Australia in Sydney

Controversial times: Greig as captain of the World Series Cricket World XI in the 1979 Supertest Grand Final match with Australia in Sydney

It all tended to obscure the fact that he was a blissfully talented
cricketer. Six feet six inches in height, he scored 3,599 Test runs at
40.43 and took 141 wickets at 32.20. Once in the West Indies, with
England needing to win to save the series, he experimented with
off-spin. He took 13 wickets, scored a six and three-quarter-hour
century and England won by 26 runs.

An extraordinary talent.

He later moved to Australia and built a career as a commentator on
Packer’s television channel. The energy never dimmed until these last
few weeks, when he was diagnosed with lung cancer and his health swiftly
failed.

Memorabilia: Greig studies the ball used by Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh when he became the first Indian to take a hat-trick in Test cricket at an auction in Bangalore in 2003

Memorabilia: Greig studies the ball used by Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh when he became the first Indian to take a hat-trick in Test cricket at an auction in Bangalore in 2003

He has received a number of glowing obituaries, but many years ago his
former England colleague, Pat ‘Percy’ Pocock, wrote: ‘When the whole
Packer business erupted, the popular cry was that Tony Greig had
betrayed the game. I never believed that, and I think history will be
kind to him. Far from betraying it, I fancy he may just have saved it.’

Tony Greig would have appreciated the MCC flag on the clock tower. But I
suspect that Percy’s tribute would be the one he valued most of all.

WORLD OF CRICKET UNITES TO PAY TRIBUTE TO GREIG

England wicketkeeper, Matt Prior: 'Can't believe one of my heroes Tony Greig has passed away. One of the greatest voices in cricket and will be sorely missed. #RIPGreigy.'

England batsman Jonny Bairstow: 'Today we lost a fabulous man, a family friend and someone who was respected by all not only as a cricketer but a true gentleman RIPTonyGreig'

England opener, Nick Compton:
'Sad day – RIP Tony Greig a fantastic player and a good man, loved his
commentary was one of the best! Cricket world will miss u.'

Legendary Aussie fast bowler, Brett Lee: 'OMG Poor Tony Greig. I feel so sad and shocked right now. Can't believe it.'

England all-rounder, Luke Wright: 'Gutted to hear that Tony Greig has passed away. A legend on and off the field. Our thoughts are with his family and friends #RIPGreigy.'

Australia captain Michael Clarke on www.cricket.com.au: 'I was only speaking with Tony a couple of days ago so news of his passing is absolutely devastating.

'Tony has a long and decorated history with international cricket both as a player and commentator and cricket will be much poorer for his loss.

'Personally, he has also been a great mentor for me, providing great advice through the good times and the bad.'

Former Australian paceman Glen McGrath: My thoughts are with Tony Greig's family today. RIP Tony Greig'

Long-serving Nine Network cricket commentator and former Australia captain Richie Benaud recalled Greig's 'fearless' reaction to the English public following his decision to join the Packer team in 1977.
'There was an enormous amount of pressure on him,' Benaud told the Sydney Morning Herald.

'He was captain of England at the time and played against Australia at Lord's. The English people turned against him.

'He wasn't just a fearless cricketer but a fearless thinker as well. He would not just jump in boots first, but it wouldn't matter how much pressure it put on him, he would stick with it.'

Former Australia fast bowler Dennis Lillee told the same publication: 'Tony was a tough opponent who took on all opposition with aggression and a determination to win.

'We will not forget the way he stirred the viewers in a similar vein to the way he did to opposition teams.'

ICC chief executive David Richardson: 'This is extremely sad news for cricket and the ICC send their condolences to Tony's family and in particular his wife Vivian.

'Tony played a significant part in shaping modern cricket as a player in the 1970s and then provided millions of cricket lovers with a unique insight as a thoughtful and knowledgeable commentator – primarily for the Nine Network in Australia.

'I met with him on several occasions during the recent ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka where he was a senior commentator for our broadcast partner ESS.

'He was also a regular visitor to the ICC offices in Dubai when commentating for Ten Sports.

'I am sure that I will not be alone in saying that he and his wise words will be missed by cricketers, administrators and spectators around the world.

'His figures in Test matches show that he was one of the leading all-rounders of his generation with a batting average of above 40 and a bowling average around 32.'

Arsenal players not to blame for Bradford defeat, says Arsene Wenger

Are you sure, Arsene 'I can't fault their effort', says Wenger after Arsenal crash out to League Two Bradford on penalties

|

UPDATED:

00:52 GMT, 12 December 2012

Arsene Wenger insisted Arsenal's players should not feel embarrassed despite the Gunners losing the Capital One Cup quarter-final to a Bradford team which cost a total of 7,500 in transfer fees.

The League Two side, currently 64 places lower than the Gunners, triumphed 3-2 on penalties after the match ended 1-1 after extra time at Valley Parade.

Only one Bradford player commanded a transfer fee – James Hanson, from who cost 7,500 from non-league Guiseley plus the proceeds of a friendly.

Not the players fault: Wenger has taken an unusual stance after his side crashed out of cup

Not the players fault: Wenger has taken an unusual stance after his side crashed out of cup

Asked if his players felt embarrassed, Wenger said: 'You feel embarrassed when you don't give everything but I feel the team did fight and they will be more disappointed and frustrated.

'It's disappointing but congratulations to Bradford. They defended well, started stronger than us and in the second half and extra time it was all us but we couldn't convert our chances.

'It was a typical English cup game on a difficult pitch and overall we lost on penalties but I cannot fault the efforts, we kept going until the last minute and in the end Bradford got on top of us.

'Of course we missed three penalties and that's a lot to take.'

The Gunners did not force a save out of Bantams keeper Matt Duke until the 69th minute but Wenger insisted his team had created enough overall.

He added: 'They defended very well, very deep in their own half, the pitch was a bit slippery and there was no space.

'We played with a very offensive team and for over an hour played with five strikers but couldn't score. Where does it leave our season To focus on the next game, sport is about that.'

Bradford boss Phil Parkinson said his players – who won their ninth successive shoot-out – should be given credit for out-performing a full-strength Arsenal side.

He said: 'I don't think the enormity of our achievement has quite sunk in. When get up tomorrow morning and see the headlines in the newspapers they will realise what they have done.

Paying the penalty: Arsenal players watch on as Bradford celebrate a famous victory

Paying the penalty: Arsenal players watch on as Bradford celebrate a famous victory

Paying the penalty: Arsenal players watch on as Bradford celebrate a famous victory

'There is a big gulf between the two teams in terms of finances and places in the divisions.

'I don't want the talk to be about the penalties, I want it to be about the performance. Arsenal have played their best team tonight and we were three minutes away from beating them, then we have had the setback of conceding a goal and had to dig deep again in extra time.

'I hope this can be the first of many nights like this for Bradford City. We want to put Bradford on the map again. I want them to have a team to be proud of.'

Bradford are appealing against a decision to expel them from the FA Cup for fielding an ineligible player but Parkinson said he was not too concerned about the outcome.

He added: 'We have enough going on in cup games this season so if we do lose the appeal I won't be losing any sleep over it.'

Midfielder Gary Jones, a scorer in the shoot-out, called it “one of the best nights of my life” before adding: 'I can't believe we've just knocked Arsenal out of the Capital One Cup. It was 11 v 11 and we had to keep our shape and frustrate them.'

Goalkeeper Matt Duke saved a penalty from Santi Cazorla and said: 'We set our stall out and the men in front of me were fantastic. We are really fit as a team and that showed.'

Trophy drought: Arsenal fans' wait for silverware is set to drag on

Trophy drought: Arsenal fans' wait for silverware is set to drag on

Trophy drought: Arsenal fans' wait for silverware is set to drag on

Arsene Wenger frustrated with Theo Walcott over Arsenal negotiations

Make your mind up! Wenger blasts Walcott as Arsenal boss admits frustrations with contract rebel

|

UPDATED:

13:21 GMT, 7 December 2012

Arsene Wenger has hit out at contract rebel Theo Walcott over the forward's failure to agree terms with the club.

The England international is in the final six months of current deal at Emirates Stadium, and will be able to speak with potential new suitors from January.

Arsenal believe they have offered Walcott – who is refusing to sign a new five-year deal worth 75,000-per-week as he looks for a salary closer to 100,000 – an enticing package to keep him in north London, but the 23-year-old continues to stand firm over his demands.

Eyes on the future: Arsene Wenger is frustrated by the on-going negotiations with his star man

Eyes on the future: Arsene Wenger is frustrated by the on-going negotiations with his star man

Not all bad: Jack Wilshere continues to improve his fitness as form after such a long time out

Not all bad: Jack Wilshere continues to improve his fitness as form after such a long time out

The manager has remained steadfast in his belief the player he signed as a 16-year-old will stay, but his mask slipped at Friday's press conference when he admitted his frustrations at the on-going wrangle.

The Frenchman said: 'I have no news. I am frustrated. He knows what I want and he has to make up his mind.'

Walcott, who misses the weekend match with West Brom through injury, has been one Arsenal's most effective offensive players this season despite spending large chunks of the campaign on the bench.

Meanwhile, Wenger remains another of those involved in a contract dispute, Bacary Sagna, will commit his future to the club.

Sportsmail revealed yesterday the France international is unhappy with the club's offer of a 12 month extension without a pay increase from his existing 60,000-per-week salary.

Sagna will not sign the current deal and the Gunners will look to offload the defender in the summer as he enters the final year of his contract.

But despite the stand-off, Wenger remains confident the issue can be resolved, he said: 'He has 18 months left of his contract to go, and we are in negotiations with him to extend the contract which I think is very positive. I expect him to stay.'

Arsenal are in the midst of their worst start to a season in 18 years and go into the clash with the Baggies having won just two of their last eight Premier League games.

Should I stay or go now: Theo Walcott is at loggerheads with Arsenal over his new deal

Should I stay or go now: Theo Walcott is at loggerheads with Arsenal over his new deal

Missing man: Walcott has been missed and Arsenal look one-paced without him

Missing man: Walcott has been missed and Arsenal look one-paced without him

Wenger believes the run of form has
not been down to any lack of desire on the players' part, and has backed
them to reverse the worrying trend.

He added: 'We have 24 games left, we are in all the competitions, it's up to us to make the season right.

'I am mad about the fact we did not win our last game but I do not question the desire of this team.

Confident: Wenger believes Bacary Sagna will commit his future to the club

Confident: Wenger believes Bacary Sagna will commit his future to the club

Tighten it up: Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker will continue to play in the heart of defence

Tighten it up: Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker will continue to play in the heart of defence

'I am here to make the fans happy, if I don't do it I am not happy. I ask them to support the team and get through this.

'We know December is a very important period for us. That's why our focus is on the games, not the transfer market.

'Every transfer period is an important period and we will add what we need.

Arsenal are dedicating tomorrow's clash
against West Bromwich to the Arsenal Foundation – the club's charity
aimed at transforming young people's lives. Arsene Wenger and members of
the first-team squad will donate a day's wages to the charity.

Arsene Wenger vows to protect Jack Wilshere

Jack's near his best, but I won't burn him out! Wenger vows to protect talisman Wilshere

|

UPDATED:

00:05 GMT, 22 November 2012

Arsene Wenger insists he will protect Jack Wilshere from burn-out, despite admitting his talismanic midfielder is approaching his best form.

Against Montpellier the England midfielder scored his first goal in 725 days – his first since returning from a 15-month injury nightmare.

It was Wilshere's fifth game since returning in the win over QPR on October 27, and the manager claimed he was only a matter of weeks away from replicating the performances that took English football by storm before his lengthy spell on the sidelines.

jack's back: Arsenal were set on their way by Jack Wilshere's first goal in two years

Jack's back: Arsenal were set on their way by Jack Wilshere's first goal in two years

The Frenchman said: 'In our last game
against Tottenham after 60 minutes, Wilshere lacked a bit of petrol. I
didn't feel that tonight. He's not far away now from being at his best
but I must still manage him, not overload him with too many games.

'I am pleased for Jack because after
such a long time out it is great to see him getting stronger and
stronger. He had a difficult start in the game tonight but after the
goal he was, of course, more confident.'

It was only the third goal of Wilshere's Arsenal career but Wenger added: 'He should not be obsessed about scoring more goals.

'He defended well tonight. He is the
kind of player who has to be a complete midfielder, not just an
offensive player. The goals will come naturally.'

The win secured Arsenal's group
qualification for the 13th straight season and Wenger added: 'We've
qualified for 13 of the past 16 years. It's not the most glamorous thing
but it's not as easy as it looks and not many teams do it, so I'm proud
to do it.'

Wilshere, meanwhile, was under no
illusions that Arsenal need to improve if they are to make an impression
on the Champions League after they progressed.

The Gunners must now win against Olympiakos in Athens to stand any chance of finishing top and so head into the last 16 as one of the seeds.

Wilshere knows they have to get better and told Sky Sports: 'We started off sloppy. But we've still got one game left. We need to finish top.

'The first half was hard – we were sloppy, we gave ball away and weren't ourselves so needed to come and get an early goal.'

Watching on: Arsene Wenger hopes back-to-back wins will now fill his squad with confidence

Watching on: Arsene Wenger hopes back-to-back wins will now fill his squad with confidence

Watching on: Arsene Wenger hopes back-to-back wins will now fill his squad with confidence

He added: 'We have to step it up.
Tonight wasn't good enough, especially in the first half. We've got to
play the best teams to win it so it doesn't matter who we get.'

Wilshere ran to embrace the Arsenal
physio after scoring and of his own recovery, he said: 'It (fitness)
will come – I've never been injured before so I can't tell you how long
it will take.'

Podolski, who scored Arsenal's second,
echoed Wilshere's sentiments about the performance, saying: 'In the
first half we lost a lot of balls. The first goal from Jack was good for
us.

'We were after three points and we are very happy about this.'

Wenger also refused
to consider the prospect of winning the competition, telling Sky Sports News: 'We don't
worry too much about that. When you are in this competition you just
want to get into the next round. Now we go into a cup competition.'

Of the news of the sacking of Roberto
Di Matteo, whose departure came just months after he secured both the
Champions league and FA Cup for Chelsea, Wenger added: 'Yes, it is sad. I
know how much heart a manager puts into his work. So it is very sad.'

Borussia Dortmund and Schalke fans fight

Germany latest to be shamed with 200 arrested at Dortmund and Schalke derby

|

UPDATED:

22:36 GMT, 20 October 2012

Around 200 people were arrested as ugly scenes marred the 141st Revier derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke on Saturday.

Despite repeated appeals by both clubs for their fans to behave during the week, violent skirmishes were reported in the build-up to a game which Schalke won 2-1 in Dortmund.

This comes after some high profile recent supporter incidents, including Serbian fans racially abusing England U21 players and a Leeds fan smacking Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland in the face.

Confrontation: Dortmund fans face riot police before the game

Confrontation: Dortmund fans face riot police before the game

According to local police reports, a restaurant was gutted by Dortmund followers 'with furniture ripped apart and used as missiles against opposition fans and police'.

One police car was damaged as mounted police, riot police and agents with dogs were brought in to keep the spectators apart.

Flare up: Smoke fills the stadium

Flare up: Smoke fills the stadium

Flare

Hours before the game kicked off at
15.30 local time, followers of both clubs attacked police who tried to
segregate them in the Westphalian city and water cannons and tear gas
had to be deployed to keep them at a safe distance.

Mounted police were 'attacked by Dortmund hooligans with cobble stones', according to a police report.

The first reports of trouble were circulated almost three hours before kick-off when 'a group of around 100 masked Schalke fans left the underground station and went on the rampage, lighting flares on their way towards the stadium'.

'This has nothing to do with football supporters and we don't want to see them in Dortmund,' said the Dortmund police chief director Dieter Keil.

Face off: Fans stand before the police

Face off: Fans stand before the police

There was further trouble inside the Westfalenstadion with Schalke fans lighting flares and displaying offensive banners, despite bans on such material.

The culprits were all caught on video, however, and will be prosecuted, according to the police statement.

Victory: Schalke celebrate their win

Victory: Schalke celebrate their win

The majority of those arrested were Schalke followers, with the police suspecting the clashes had been organised by the rival groups.

Disturbances were kept to a minimum after the game with the police successfully able to keep both sets of fans apart.

Mark Halsey twitter abuse sees man cautioned by police

Liverpool fan who abused Halsey on Twitter after United defeat cautioned by police

|

UPDATED:

11:13 GMT, 28 September 2012

Abused: Halsey

Abused: Halsey

The man who posted abusive messages about referee Mark Halsey after his handling of Liverpool's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United last weekend has been cautioned by the police.

Liverpool supporter, 27, John Wareing tweeted: 'I hope Mark Halsey gets cancer again and dies.'

Halsey, a cancer survivor, had reported the abuse to the police earlier this week.

DS Tony Lunt of Greater Manchester police said: 'Clearly the victim and his family were very distressed by the extremely offensive comments posted on Twitter.

'We take all reports of abuse on social networking sites very seriously as these remarks can and do have a devastating impact on people’s lives.

'As a result of our investigation, we have cautioned a man who has admitted responsibility for some of the messages.

'This individual was very apologetic and realises that in a moment of stupidity he posted deeply derogatory remarks about the victim and completely regrets his actions.

'Twitter, like all social networking sites, can be a fantastic tool for people to communicate but it must not be abused to the detriment of decent hard-working people who may be in the public eye.

'Our inquiries are ongoing to identify anyone else who posted these offensive messages.'

NFL and Referees Association reach agreement to end dispute over pension pay

NFL and Referees Association reach agreement to end dispute over pension pay

|

UPDATED:

12:15 GMT, 27 September 2012

The NFL and NFL Referees Association have reached an agreement which means temporary officials will no longer take charge of matches.

The dispute over a collective bargaining agreement, largely due to a disagreement over pension payments, had seen replacements drafted in from lower division college, high school and semi-professional football.

But their performances have led to a raft of controversial calls and criticism over the opening three weeks of the new season.

Problem solved: The Referees Association and the NFL have reached an agreement

Problem solved: The Referees Association and the NFL have reached an agreement

A new eight-year deal has now been agreed and although it still needs ratifying by the officials – that is expected over the weekend – the regular referees are due to return, starting with tonight's clash between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told www.nfl.com: 'The long-term future of our game requires that we seek improvement in every area, including officiating.

'This agreement supports long-term reforms that will make officiating better. The teams, players and fans want and deserve both consistency and quality in officiating.

Future's bright: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the agreement supports the long-term goals of the game

Future's bright: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the agreement supports the long-term goals of the game

Future's bright: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the agreement supports the long-term goals of the game

'We look forward to having the finest officials in sports back on the field, and I want to give a special thanks to NFL fans for their passion. Now it's time to put the focus back on the teams and players where it belongs.'

The discontent with the temporary officials came to a head on Monday when a controversial call settled the meeting between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers.

The Seahawks won 14-12 after a Packers defender and Seahawks receiver fought for the ball on a final 'Hail Mary' pass play.

Officials missed an offensive pass interference call and then decided there had been simultaneous catch by the two players. Under NFL rules, that gave Seattle the touchdown and the win.

No longer required: Replacement officials were standing in for the referees

No longer required: Replacement officials were standing in for the referees

Ryder Cup 2012: Jose Maria Olazabal close to knowing his opening pairings

Westwood and Co put their shirts on a charm offensive as Ryder Cup defence edges closer

|

UPDATED:

23:10 GMT, 26 September 2012

Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal will not talk about his pairings, but then there is no need. They trooped out on to the course in the line-ups predicted in this paper by Graeme McDowell last Saturday.

It would take an unforeseen turn of events or a sudden bout of illness for Rory McIlroy-McDowell, Sergio Garcia-Luke Donald, Ian Poulter-Justin Rose and Lee Westwood-Francesco Molinari not to present the first line of attack in the foursomes on Friday morning.

Nicolas Colsaerts-Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson-Martin Kaymer could well lead them out in the afternoon fourballs.

Talking tactics: European team captain Jose Maria Olazabal talks with his vice-captain Darren Clarke

Talking tactics: European team captain Jose Maria Olazabal talks with his vice-captain Darren Clarke

‘Have you worked out what’s happening’ asked Westwood, mischievously, after his group had all driven off from the fifth tee. It was hardly rocket science.

‘It will be interesting to see if I play Frankie’s ball, won’t it,’ added Westwood, smiling broadly. He did, of course.

‘It’s a nice pairing because we’re basically the same player, only I am 20 yards longer,’ he said, thereby going quite a way to explaining why one half of the partnership has squillions in the bag and the other has to get by with just the 15million or so.

Time to deliver: Lee Westwood signs autographs for fans

Time to deliver: Lee Westwood signs autographs for fans

In a crowd-pleasing move, Europe took to the course wearing shirts adorned with the Chicago skyline. Westwood was wearing a sleeveless sweater over his, which rather spoiled the effect.

The only thing visible was a small line at the junction between arm and shoulder, depicting the outside of the Hancock building. ‘It’s a nuisance because I keep thinking it’s a piece of dirt and try to brush it off,’ he said.

Just as they have in recent Ryder Cups on this side of the pond, the European team took time in the walk between each green and each tee to sign autographs.

Local boy: Luke Donald (centre) stands with Graeme McDowell and Sergio Garcia

Local boy: Luke Donald (centre) stands with Graeme McDowell and Sergio Garcia

As you would expect, local boy Luke Donald was a popular choice. Westwood, signing autographs down one side of the ropes, raised a laugh when someone cried out from the opposite side. ‘Am I not doing anything over here’ he asked.

Whether Europe’s charm offensive will have much effect, only time will tell. Perhaps the beer-crazed hordes are leaving it until Friday but the people who walked through the gates didn’t look the kind who would turn this place into a bearpit.

Walking the course: The European team prepare

Walking the course: The European team prepare

This time last year, Medinah was unplayable owing to a series of downpours that left the fairways looking like the omnipresent Lake Kadijah had burst its banks. This year the forecast is for an unbroken series of perfect autumnal days of the sort that have graced the first two practice sessions.

So many players on both sides playing well and now the weather is set fair, too. Roll on Friday.