Monthly Archives: June 2019

Napoli, Juve in slanging match over referee

Juventus, 3-1 winners, reacted angrily after Napoli president Aurelio Di Laurentiis said a hairline decision which allowed Juve’s second goal to stand was “either bad faith or incompetence”.


Juve’s win took them three points clear of AS Roma at the top and 13 ahead of Napoli, who are joint fifth.

“We are tired. Juventus are a strong team, and if they are helped by the referees, they become unbeatable,” Di Laurentiis said on Twitter.

“It’s unacceptable that six referees cannot see two players offside. Either it is bad faith or incompetence. These six referees should be banned for a long time.”

Napoli claimed that Martin Caceres was offside when he headed Juve’s second goal, although replays showed it was only a question of millimetres, if at all.

They were also angry after having a goal of their own disallowed shortly afterwards for a foul by Kalidou Koulibaly on Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

“They taught me a phrase when facing Juventus: ‘It can happen.’ On the offside it is very difficult to tell as Maggio is right behind Caceres,” Napoli coach Rafael Benitez said. “It can happen.

“The Koulibaly goal that was disallowed, it can happen. Koulibaly jumped, the goalkeeper fell into him, it was Buffon’s momentum that took him towards the defender. It is not a foul.”

Juventus, involved in a similar row following their 3-2 win over AS Roma in September, said they won fair and square.

“It was a transparent win, the result of a more than positive performance. I reject Di Laurentiis’s accusation,” said chief executive Giuseppe Marotta.

“The value of the team emerges during the course of the championship and in matches such as this one.”

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne, editing by Ed Osmond)

Asian Cup qualification enough for Palestinian team

Split by political conflict, Palestine’s qualification for the tournament is an achievement in itself.


Many of the team’s top players are drawn from different parts of the world, but linked by the passion and love for their ancestral homeland.

Among them is midfielder Jaka Ihbeisheh, who was born in Europe to a Slovenian mother and Palestinian father.

He said the Palestinian football team comes, for as much as any footballing reasons, with the aim of being an ambassador for its land.

“Sometimes football players and athletes are better ambassadors than politicians,” he said.

“We have a double job here. We have to play football good, make people proud and we have to carry the name of the State of Palestine all over the world.”

Swedish youth international Mahmoud Eid is another player who opted to represent Palestine at the senior level.

He sees his decision as a way of connecting with his identity, his people and to raise awareness of the territories struggle.

“You know all lot of people send money to Palestine, my family they send money all the time to but I want to do something different,” he said.

“I want to lift them up in the football area.  We want to make the people proud the most important thing for us, I know everybody is already really proud but we want to them that we wantmore.”   

With a team of semi-professional footballers, the team is unlikely to advance past the group stage.

But for these young men, simply appearing at the Asian Cup is a significant victory for themselves and their country.


France deploys troops at ‘sensitive’ sites

France is deploying 15,000 police and security forces to bolster security around “sensitive” sites and Jewish schools in the country, after attacks that left 17 dead, authorities say.


Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said 10,000 soldiers will be called up from Tuesday to protect “sensitive sites in the whole country from tomorrow (Tuesday) evening”, given the “scale of threats” on France.

The troop deployment would come on top of 5000 police and security forces already mobilised on Monday to protect 717 schools and Jewish sites in the country.

Le Drian unveiled the fresh measures after an emergency meeting called by President Francois Hollande as attention turned to preventing a repeat of France’s bloodiest attacks in half a century.

“This is the first time that our troops have been mobilised to such an extent on our own soil,” the defence minister said, adding that he would prefer not to list the sites which are deemed sensitive.

Authorities are still hunting for possible accomplices of the three gunmen who carried out the three-day killing spree that began with a massacre of 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly.

Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a policewoman in southern Paris then four Jewish shoppers in a hostage drama, probably received help from someone else, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, pledging “the hunt will go on”.

The Jewish community has been particularly shaken by Friday’s attack on the kosher supermarket in eastern Paris, which came just two days after two other gunmen – Said Kouachi and his brother Cherif Kouachi – stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, slaughtering 12 people.

As it emerged that Cherif Kouachi met Coulibaly in prison, Valls said France would move to isolate Islamist detainees from the rest of the prisoner population, so as to prevent jails from being used as a breeding ground for radicals.

This measure “must become widespread” but “it must be done discerningly and intelligently”, Valls said.

France turned its attention on Monday to plugging security holes blamed for failing to prevent the attacks, after millions united in historic rallies.

In the biggest show of solidarity, in Paris, more than a million people mourned the victims of three days of terror.

Investigators have been trying to hunt down Coulibaly’s partner, 26-year-old Hayat Boumeddiene, but Turkey’s foreign minister said on Monday that she crossed into Syria from Turkey on January 8, the day her husband shot a policewoman to death on the outskirts of Paris and a day after the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

Coulibaly’s mother and sisters condemned his actions, saying “we hope there will not be any confusion between these odious acts and the Muslim religion”.

The French press hailed Sunday’s rallies, the biggest in the country’s history in which nearly four million people poured into the streets, with some estimates putting the number in Paris alone at 1.6 million.

All major newspapers splashed photos of the sea of humanity on the French capital’s streets, with banner headlines reading “A people rise up”, “Freedom on the march,” and “France stands up”.

Hollande on Sunday led more than a million people on the march in Paris in tribute to the victims of the attacks as the crowd cried, “Not afraid”.

At the head of the vast and colourful procession in the capital, Hollande linked arms with world leaders including the Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian president, in a historic display of unity.

The vast crowd chanted “Charlie, Charlie”, in honour of the cartoonists and journalists killed at Charlie Hebdo.

The crowd brandished banners saying “I’m French and I’m not scared” and, in tribute to the murdered cartoonists, “Make fun, not war” and “Ink should flow, not blood”.

The victims’ mourning families played a prominent role in the march, alongside representatives from around 50 countries.

Federer edges Hewitt in Fast4 tennis

It may have been a new format but it was the same old rivalry as Roger Federer fought his way to a tough win over Lleyton Hewitt in the Fast4 tennis exhibition on Monday night.


The Swiss world No.2 continued his unbeaten run this summer with a 4-3 2-3 3-4 4-0 4-3 win over the Australian in the short-form contest at Sydney’s Qantas Credit Union Arena.

Coming off a four-match winning run in Brisbane, where he took the title in three sets over Milos Raonic on Sunday night, Federer showed no ill-effects from a morning flight and marketing commitments earlier in the day.

The match featured an experimental style of play with sets being won after four games, no deuces and play being allowed to continue after lets on serve.

Federer, who holds an 18-9 match record over Hewitt in regular match formats, was pushed all the way by his evergreen sparring partner, the contest going its full allotment of five shortened sets.

Both players looked in good touch, Hewitt offering plenty of “too goods” to Federer in the first set and a half before the world No.86 found some rhythm to get back into the contest.

Hewitt, who lost in the opening match of the Brisbane International against compatriot Sam Groth in his only other hitout of the year thus far, will now head to his hometown of Adelaide to play an exhibition match against Czech Tomas Berdych to round out his formal preparations for the Australian Open.

Federer is expected to head straight to Melbourne for the year’s opening grand slam.

Federer and Hewitt both said they could see a future for the format but were reserved about whether it would take off at the top level.

“You can know that the maximum length of the match is probably going to be an hour 45, it seems like,” Federer said.

“And that mentally is a good thing to know. You don’t have to pack seven shirts, you might only have to pack four shirts … it’s a more controlled environment, especially if there is a lot of heat and it is humid – that could possibly keep guys in the game for a little bit longer.”

Given the loss of courts in Australia and increasing competition from a range of sports, Hewitt was all for anything that got people interested in tennis.

“It’s about getting more people playing the game,” he said.

“It’s not just the juniors, it’s social tennis as well. Getting people talking about tennis is a big thing: to try and pump up tennis in Australia.”

Morgan injury opens door for evergreen Easter

Nick Easter inspired Harlequins to a 32-12 Premiership victory over Leicester on Saturday, defying his years to make hard yards in the loose and frequently finding holes in the defence with clever footwork and quick hands.


Easter won the last of his 47 England caps in 2011 and has never played for his country under Lancaster but Morgan’s injury could force a rethink with the Six Nations looming large ahead of this year’s World Cup.

“I’ve stopped speaking to Stuart Lancaster about Nick,” Harlequins director of rugby Conor O’Shea told reporters. “Nick wants to play for England.

“Stuart’s worry has always been, will he get to the World Cup with the ability to play at that intensity and pace? Look at that performance against Leicester.”

The highlight of Easter’s display against Leicester was the gravity-defying one-handed offload which released Danny Care for the game’s opening try.

England have a well-organised and effective forward pack full of powerful scrummagers, strong runners and fierce tacklers but Lancaster is short of game-changers.

A back-row of Chris Robshaw, Tom Wood and, in the absence of Morgan, Billy Vunipola does not possess the guile and craft which Easter has in abundance.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have Nick at the club while I’ve been here – he plays at a level very few people can – that offload (to Care) wasn’t just world class, it was out of this world,” O’Shea said.

“The harder the going gets and the more we’re under pressure, the better he plays – I said to him four years ago I’d stop playing him every week, but I can’t stop playing him every week.”

(Editing by Justin Palmer)