Month: June 2019

Serbian media unhappy in Davis Cup defeat

Serbian media has criticised Radek Stepanek after the veteran led his Czech team to a second straight Davis Cup title at the weekend, beating home side Serbia 3-2.


Stepanek, often an acquired taste for fans with his “worm dance” celebrations on court and a sometimes prickly personality, copped criticism after he ventured an opinion on the doubles rubber, won by himself and teammate Tomas Berdych on Saturday in what proved to be a decisive turn in the final.

The Czech hero was branded a heel in Serbia, with media quoting Serbian coach Bogdan Obradovic, who said he was ill-mannered, presumably for celebrating the victory obtained with his fifth-rubber defeat of untested Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-1, 6-1.

Stepanek said after the win that not playing Djokovic with Nenad Zimonjic in the doubles was like Serbia “leaving their Ferrari in the garage”.

The media also made a meal out of the punishment of Serb Viktor Troicki, suspended for missing a blood test by international anti-doping authorities until next July.

The hard-luck player who has been vigorously defended throughout the episode by his teammates, was reportedly banned from entering the Belgrade arena for the weekend tie.

But media tip-toed around any criticism of world number two Djokovic, who ended an exhausting season with his 24th consecutive match win as he kept his nation in the fight in Sunday’s reverse singles rubber by claiming his second point in three days.

“One Novak is too little for the trophy,” said tabloid Blic, adding that the decision to let Djokovic rest was a “a team decision”.

Russia should ‘follow English example’ to beat fan violence

Nikita Simonyan, the former Soviet Union striker and coach, made his comments following another episode of fan violence in Russia last month, during the Russian Cup match between Spartak Moscow and Shinnik Yaroslavl.


“As you remember, English clubs were banned from European competitions for five years (in the 1980s),” Simonyan told a news conference.

“But the measures taken by Mrs Thatcher led to jail terms and stadium bans for football hooligans, and everything has calmed down in England.”

English football was bedeviled by hooliganism in the 1970s and 80s. A riot at the FA Cup game between Luton Town and Millwall at Kenilworth Road in 1985 led to a controversial national debate on the issue led by Thatcher.

The then prime minister and Conservative Party leader backed an ultimately unsuccessful bid to make football supporters in England carry identity cards.

It was the Hillsborough tragedy of 1989, when 96 Liverpool fans died at the FA Cup semi-final between their team and Nottingham Forest – that had the most profound effect on how football is watched in England.

The independent inquiry into the disaster culminated in the Taylor report, a document sent to Thatcher’s government in January 1990 that concluded that the “main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control”.

It recommended several measures designed to improve fan safety at sporting events, the most dramatic of which was the introduction of all-seater stadiums to England’s major football clubs.

In September 2012, the Hillsborough Independent Panel said no Liverpool fans were responsible for the deaths.

Spartak Moscow and Shinnik Yaroslavl have been fined and ordered to play matches behind closed doors following the crowd trouble at their match at the end of October.

Earlier that month, a section of CSKA Moscow fans had racially abused Manchester City’s Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure, prompting a UEFA fine and a closure of part of their stadium for their next Champions League match.

Russia coach Fabio Capello last week urged football authorities in the country to step up their efforts to curb racism in the sport, saying “they should try to isolate them from football”.

Simonyan, the 87-year-old who was part of the Soviet Union’s first World Cup finals in 1958, added: “I’ve spent 68 years in football and I’m with both hands for the measures taken by Thatcher.”

Earlier this month, the Serbian government’s secretary of sport, Nenad Borovcanin, said the Balkan country must emulate Britain in preventing football hooliganism after another Belgrade derby was marred by fan violence.

Crowd violence and racism could prove embarrassing for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who faces ethnic tensions in Russia as it prepares to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in February and the 2018 football World Cup.

(Writing by Angel Krasimirov, editing by Stephen Wood)

Vettel making most of F1 good times

Sebastian Vettel is determined to bask in the glory of his unbridled success now as he appreciates it could all come to a grinding halt next year.


Like a runaway train, there is currently no stopping the four-times world champion who set a new record for consecutive number of wins in one season by taking his eighth straight chequered flag in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix.

Another victory in the final race of the year in Brazil next Sunday will see Vettel equal Alberto Ascari’s all-time record of nine in a row set back in 1952-53.

It would also be his 13th triumph this season, matching the record haul of Michael Schumacher from his fellow German’s all-conquering 2004 campaign.

These are heady days and Vettel knows it, which is why in his radio message to his team on the parade lap he said: “We have to remember these days. There’s no guarantee they will be forever.”

With the regulations changing drastically for 2014, in particular with 1.6-litre turbo-charged V6 engines replacing the current 2.4-lire V8s, there is a chance Red Bull’s dominance could finally end.

For many fans and observers that would be a blessing, so Vettel is eager to drink it all in now because next season could be different.

“It’s a little bit of a shame that because of the run we’ve had lately people take it as guaranteed you deliver the result on a Saturday and Sunday,” the 26-year-old said.

“People tend to respect the result, what it means, the effort behind it, but as an athlete you have ups and downs.

“Right now you could say it’s rather more up than down, but you never know what’s going to happen. Next year is an unknown.”

Moscow laboratory faces WADA ban before Sochi Games

The laboratory must use independent experts to draft and implement a quality management programme and failure to do so will result in a six-month ban, WADA said in a statement.


A ban would mean the laboratory will not be able to test athletes’ blood and urine samples for banned substances during the Sochi Games which run from February 7-23.

WADA imposed a second deadline of April 1, 2014 for the laboratory to show it has “drafted, finalised, implemented and embedded throughout its operations a comprehensive Quality Management programme.”

“If the two above-mentioned conditions are fully satisfied within the specified deadlines (to which no extensions will be granted), then the above referenced six-month suspension of accreditation of the Moscow Laboratory shall never come into effect,” WADA said.

The Moscow anti-doping centre can appeal against the ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within 21 days and Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said WADA’s recommendations would be implemented.

“We have received a letter from WADA with several recommendations aimed at improving the operation of the Moscow anti-doping centre,” Mutko was quoted as saying on Monday by state-run Russian news agency RIA.

“One of them is that at least three international experts be included on its staff. Of course, WADA’s recommendations will be carried out.”

Samples taken from football players at next year’s World Cup in Brazil will be tested in Lausanne, Switzerland after WADA revoked the accreditation of a laboratory in Rio de Janeiro.

(Reporting by Steve Gutterman,; Writing by Alison Wildey in London, editing by Ed Osmond)

Maracanazo 1950 repeat is the spur for Uruguay

Before kickoff the hosts will honour 86-year-old Alcides Ghiggia who scored the winning goal and is the sole survivor of the 2-1 upset victory over Brazil that gave Uruguay their second world title in the 1950 final at the Maracana.


“What happened in that World Cup left a big mark on the Brazilian people,” Paris St Germain striker Edinson Cavani told a news conference on Monday.

“Uruguay have earned their respect,” said Cavani who scored a brilliant fifth goal with a venomous free kick in last week’s first leg in Amman.

The Uruguayans suffered a form slump in 2012 that jeopardised their qualification chances but were desperate to make it to Brazil, given the rivalry with their northern neighbours and the memory of the ‘Maracanazo’.

Cavani’s side, semi-finalists at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, do not want to show any lack of respect to their playoff opponents despite the one-sided nature of last week’s match.

The Interior Ministry have urged the sellout crowd of 45,000 at the Centenario, the stadium where Uruguay won their first World Cup in 1930, not to whistle or boo the Jordanian national anthem before kickoff.

“Uruguay took a substantial step towards qualifying for Brazil 2014 and they did so without humiliating their rivals even if the loaded scoreline appears to suggest the opposite,” the ministry said in a statement at the weekend.

“The thousands of Jordanians who watched the match enjoyed the light blues’s game. A packed stadium dreaming of another result ended up applauding our team, showing that respect is … as valuable as the dream of playing at a World Cup.”


A team brimming with top talent such as Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and his strike partner Cavani would have to experience a true nightmare not to go through to the finals from this position.

Coach Oscar Tabarez, who is likely to name an unchanged team, is not expecting any complacency from his side.

“Footballers often feel their motivation according to their needs,” he said.

“When there’s no need there’s no motivation but I think as we get nearer the match … things will fall into place and I hope we can fulfil our objective which is to play a very good match.”

Suarez, leading scorer with 11 goals in the 16-match South American qualifying group, did not manage to get on the scoresheet in the first leg and will be looking to put that right in the return tie.

The Jordanians know it is almost impossible to overturn their first-leg deficit.

“We’re not going to kid ourselves, we are very disappointed. We told everyone at home it would be difficult but we hoped to give much more,” said striker Tha’er Bewab.

“Now we’ve come here for a good result. Above all for the public, we want to change our image.

“Apart from Cavani’s goal, the rest were from our mistakes. I don’t know if (it was) lack of concentration or what but they happened because we made mistakes we shouldn’t have made.”

Jordan’s Egyptian coach Hossam Hassan said: “We’re the only Arab team to have reached this stage. Our goal is to continue with the growth of this squad who have a great future.”

(Additional reporting and writing by Rex Gowar in Buenos Aires, editing by Tony Jimenez)