Author: AFP

Japanese footballer Honda founds venture fund with Will Smith

Tokyo (AFP) – Japanese footballer Keisuke Honda is swapping football for finance, after launching a venture capital fund with Hollywood star Will Smith to invest in startups addressing social problems, the striker’s agent said Wednesday. The Dreamers Fund, set up in April in Los Angeles, aims to raise about $100 million from investors, with Japanese brokerage giant Nomura Holdings serving as “the anchor investor”, Honda’s management firm KSK Group said in a statement. “I hope to change the lives of people in the US, Japan and the world for the better through the Dreamers Fund,” Honda was quoted as saying ... Read more

Panama World Cup coach Gomez quits

Panama City (AFP) – Hernan Dario Gomez said on Tuesday that he was quitting as coach of Panama after leading the nation to their first World Cup finals. “Now, for me, it is the time for the difficult act of moving my feet from the place where I have put my heart,” wrote the Colombian coach, who is known as Bolillo, in a letter published by the Panamanian football federation.  Panamanian media reported that Gomez was taking over Ecuador, which finished eighth in the 10-team World Cup qualifying group and failed to reach Russia. Gomez coached Ecuador from 1999 to 2004 ... Read more

Beckenbauer tells Deschamps ‘Welcome to our club’

Berlin (AFP) – Franz Beckenbauer, who won the World Cup as a player and a coach, welcomed Didier Deschamps on Tuesday “to our club!” Beckenbauer won the World Cup as player with West Germany in 1974 and as Germany manager in 1990. He followed Brazilian Mario Zagallo, who won as a player in 1958 and 1962, as a head coach in 1970 and as an assistant in 1994. Deschamps won as a player in 1998 and, on Sunday, triumphed as a coach when France beat Croatia 4-2 in the final in Moscow. “Now we are three,” Der Kaiser told German ... Read more

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