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Flooding damages World Cup stadium in Russia’s Volgograd

Moscow (AFP) – Heavy rain has damaged parts of the interior and landscaping around the Volgograd Arena, a new stadium that hosted four matches during the World Cup, the company in charge of its construction said Tuesday. The company Stroitransgaz said on its website that “work on clearing up the damage started immediately” at the stadium close to the Volga River. The 45,000-seater stadium played host to England’s 2-1 win against Tunisia. Argentina beat Nigeria and Saudi Arabia downed Egypt by the same scoreline, while Poland edged Japan 1-0 in the venue’s closing game. It cost 16.3 billion rubles to ... Read more

French World Cup victors show triumph of diversity: Obama

Johannesburg (AFP) – Former US president Barack Obama on Tuesday singled out the African heritage of many players in France’s World Cup-winning football team in a speech paying tribute to Nelson Mandela. Speaking in Johannesburg to mark 100 years since Mandela’s birth, Obama said that embracing diversity “delivers practical benefits since it ensures that a society can draw upon the energy and skills of all… people.” “And if you doubt that, just ask the French football team that just won the World Cup — because not all these folks look like Gauls to me, they are French, they are French,” ... Read more

Blind returns to Ajax after Man United stint

London (AFP) – Daley Blind has returned to former club Ajax from Manchester United, telling his Twitter followers on Tuesday it was “time to go home”. Blind has signed a four-year deal with the Amsterdam club, having left Ajax for United in a £14 million deal ($18 million, 16 million euros) four years ago. Ajax said they would pay a transfer fee of 16 million euros for the return of the defensive midfielder and full-back, with add-ons that could see the fee rise to 20.5 million euros. The 28-year-old Dutch international made 141 appearances for United, but his opportunities had ... Read more

Iceland’s World Cup coach Hallgrimsson steps down

Reykjavik (AFP) – Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrimsson stepped down on Tuesday, a few weeks after leading the tiny nation at its first World Cup.  “If I had to continue, I would have done it with the same preparation, the same motivation but at some point, this kind of routine can lead to a certain weariness,” he told a press conference in Reykjavik.  The 51-year-old added that it would be “good for the team to have a new vision”.  The Football Association of Iceland had hoped he would extend his contract for two more years.  “Heimir was naturally our first choice ... Read more

‘Africa real’ World Cup winners, says Venezuela’s Maduro

Caracas (AFP) – Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro believes Africa and not France are the true winners of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. France beat Croatia 4-2 in Sunday’s final in Moscow, but with a team featuring number players of African heritage. “The French team seems like the African team, in reality Africa won, the African immigrants who arrived in France,” Maduro said at an event to celebrate police day in Venezuela on Monday. “How much have they despised Africa, and in the football World Cup France won the trophy thanks to African players or the sons of Africans.” Two ... Read more

Peru’s Guerrero cleared to play for Brazilian club – Swiss court

Geneva (AFP) – Peruvian football star Paolo Guerrero can play for his Brazilian club Flamengo when it resumes competition this week, despite his suspension for cocaine use, Switzerland’s top court said Tuesday.  In late May, the Swiss Federal Tribunal put a provisional stay on a suspension given to Guerrero by the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, allowing him to play for Peru at the World Cup.  It had not been immediately clear if that stay applied only to the World Cup, raising concern among Flamengo fans that the club might have to get by without their star.   But ... Read more

Hammers boss Pellegrini backs Anderson to add ‘new dimension’

London (AFP) – West Ham United manger Manuel Pellegrini believes the London club’s record signing, Felipe Anderson, will give his team a “new dimension”. The 25-year-old Brazilian attacking midfielder signed for a reported £33.5 million ($44 million, 38 million euros), potentially rising to £42 million, from Italian club Lazio on Sunday.  “We feel he will bring a new dimension to the squad but also complement the attacking players we already have,” Pellegrini said. Anderson was the Hammers’ seventh pre-season signing and former Manchester City manager Pellegrini, who took charge of the east London club after they decided against renewing David ... Read more

Arsenal sponsorship deal ‘hit by Chinese fraud’

Shanghai (AFP) – English Premier League club Arsenal has launched an investigation after it was caught up in an alleged fraud involving its sponsorship deal with Chinese carmaker BYD. Arsenal said the deal, which was launched with great fanfare in May, was among those affected after BYD revealed what it described as a plot to defraud advertising agencies. BYD said last week that a woman posing as the marketing manager of its Shanghai branch signed multiple contracts with advertising agencies to promote the company. One of the affected ad firms, Shanghai Jingzhi, has said BYD had been forced to refuse ... Read more