Sports Shorts: 'Schumacher showing moments of consciousness'
The manager of comatose Formula One legend Michael Schumacher has said that there are ''encouraging signs'' in the process of bringing the former German racer out of a medically-induced coma.
According to News.com.au, there has been a ''noticeable improvement'' in Schumacher’s condition and his manager Sabine Kehm confirmed the reports, saying that there have been ''encouraging signs'' in his recovery.
"Michael is making progress on his way. He shows moments of consciousness and awakening," Kehm said in a statement.
"We are on his side during his long and difficult fight, together with the team of the hospital in Grenoble, and we keep remaining confident," said the brief statement from Kehm.
The 45-year-old Schumacher suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident at the French resort of Meribel on December 29.
The seven-time world champion was taken to a hospital in Grenoble for emergency surgery and was then placed in an artificial coma, the report added.
Image: Michael Schumacher
Bahrain honoured to have Tendulkar for F1 night race
Cricket may not be a popular sport in Bahrain but the small Gulf nation is honoured to have batting legend Sachin Tendulkar for its first Formula One night race in Bahrain this weekend.
The government-backed Bahrain Circuit (BIC) has confirmed that motorsports enthusiast Tendulkar will watch the race on Sunday.
It was earlier reported that he will be visiting Bahrain with his family on the invitation of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister
"Sachin Tendulkar has been invited to the Kingdom of Bahrain by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister. We are tremendously honoured to have him at our Grand Prix," BIC National Press Officer Mohamed Shareeda said.
Tendulkar's love for F1 is not new. It was none other than seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher who handed him over the keys of a Ferrari for equalling Don Bradman's record of 29 hundreds in 2002.
The famed duo was last seen together at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in 2011 when Tendulkar waived the chequered flag.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar with Bernie Ecclestone ahead of the Indian Grand Prix in 2011
Photographs: Getty Images
Hockey: Gurbaj, Mujtaba return for Europe tour, Sandeep ignored
Experienced Gurbaj Singh and Danish Mujtaba made a comeback to India's 21-member men's hockey team on Friday for this month's preparatory tour to Europe ahead of the FIH World Cup to be held at The Hague, Netherlands from May 31 to June 15.
Gurbaj, one of three senior players including Sandeep Singh and Vikran Kanth who were called back to the national camp by chief coach Terry Walsh, last wore the India colours in the country's forgettable 12th place finish at the 2012 London Olympics.
Mujtaba, a talented midfielder, also returned to the side, to be captained by Sardar Singh, after being laid low for nearly 10 months due to a serious injury in his right knee that needed a surgery.
However, ace drag-flicker and former captain Sandeep, who was the top-scorer of HIL this year, did not find a place in the side.
Forwards Ramandeep Singh and Akashdeep Singh also returned to the side after sitting out of the Hero Hockey World League Final which was held here in January this year.
Defender Gurinder Singh, midfielder Devindar Walmiki and striker Lalit Upadhyay are three new names in the 21-member squad.
Among other notable absentees are defender Amit Rohidas, midfielder M B Aiyappa, Affan Yousuf and injured Mandeep Singh.
While Sardar will lead the side, drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh has been named his deputy for the European tour where India will play five build-up games in The Hague, Netherlands from April 9-19.
The squad has two goalkeepers in experienced PR Sreejesh and young Harjot Singh.
The squad was handpicked by Hockey India selectors BP Govinda, Syed Ali and R P Singh along with Roelant Oltmans, Director High Performance and chief coach Terry Walsh on the basis of the selection trials conducted at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here on March 20 and 21.
The squad will depart for The Netherlands on April 9 where it will play five preparatory games, including two against the national team of The Netherlands and one against Belgium.
India will start their tour with a game against Dutch national club Leiden on April 11, followed by matches against another club side HGC (April 14), Belgium (April 15) and The Netherlands (April 17 and 19).
Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Harjot Singh
Defenders: Birendra Lakra, Rupinder Pal Singh (vice-captain), VR Raghunath, Kothajit Singh, Gurinder Singh, Gurbaj Singh
Midfielders: Sardar Singh (captain), SK Uthappa, Dharamvir Singh, Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Danish Mujtaba, Devindar Walmiki
Forwards: SV Sunil, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Yuvraj Walmiki, Lalit Upadhyay.
Image: Gurbaj Singh
Photographs: Paul Kane/Getty Images
Former EPL footballer among seven in arrested on spot-fixing charges
Seven players from Football League clubs in north-west England have been arrested in connection with alleged spot-fixing in matches.
The footballers are all aged between 18 and 30, the National Crime Agency said.
Six other men originally arrested in December on suspicion of involvement in spot-fixing, then later bailed, have been re-arrested, the agency added.
All 13 are currently being interviewed by police over allegations of bribery and money laundering.
Spot-fixing is where a player corruptly influences a specific element of a match, for example by intentionally getting a yellow card or conceding a corner, without trying to fix the final score.
"Match-fixing, specifically spot-fixing, has become one of the biggest threats facing the integrity of sport," Sallie Barker Sport and Recreation Alliance said.
The NCA said: "The investigation began following receipt of material from the Sun on Sunday. It remains ongoing and we cannot provide further detail at this stage.
"The six original suspects -- including former Premier League player DJ Campbell -- had been bailed to return on 8 April after their arrests last year.
They were re-arrested following new evidence, the NCA said.
Blackburn Rovers striker DJ Campbell, former Oldham Athletic winger Cristian Montano and four others who have not been named were arrested after allegations were made in the Sun on Sunday.
Both players named denied any wrongdoing at the time.
The newspaper also published allegations that former Portsmouth player Sam Sodje had told an undercover reporter that he could arrange yellow and red cards in exchange for cash.
A Football League spokesman said: "The Football League has been made aware that a number of arrests have been made in relation to an ongoing police investigation.
"We will provide our full co-operation to the relevant authorities."
In a statement, the Football Association said: "The FA has been made aware of developments in relation to an ongoing NCA investigation, including a number of further arrests.
"We are liaising with the authorities in relation to these allegations."
Preston North End football club confirmed it had been contacted by the NCA as part of the spot-fixing investigation.
In a statement, the club said: "There are no suggestions that any offences that might have occurred involved match-fixing.
"None of our employees have been charged with any offence at this time and until or unless this position changes we will be taking no further action nor making any further comment."
The Sport and Recreation Alliance, an umbrella group for sports bodies, said it was working with sport organisations to help them protect themselves against match-fixing.
Its chief executive Sallie Barker said: "Match-fixing, specifically spot-fixing, has become one of the biggest threats facing the integrity of sport.
"She added: "Sport can't afford to be complacent about the risks posed by corrupt and illegal betting.
Image: DJ Campbell of Blackburn Rovers
Photographs: Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images
Bouchard beats Venus to reach last eight in Charleston
Rising Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard booked her place in the quarter-finals of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston on Thursday with a 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-4 victory over former world number one Venus Williams.
Sixth seed Bouchard, an unabashed fan of Williams as she came up through the junior ranks, broke her opponent's serve twice in the final set to claim her first win against the 33-year-old American.
"Every time I walk on the court, I believe I can win, and I think I believed more this time than probably the last time I played her," the 20-year-old Bouchard, beaten by Williams in three sets in their only previous meeting, told reporters.
"It's always an opportunity for me to play someone I've watched on TV when I was younger and someone who's been No. 1 and such a great player.
"So I always expect great tennis because she's still playing at a great level, and she was at an amazing level."
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Image: Eugenie Bouchard of Canada serves
Photographs: Michael Dodge/Getty Images
'My errors really hurt me a lot today'
Williams, the 11th seed who won the tournament a decade ago but has struggled with health issues in recent years, felt her inconsistency had made the biggest difference against Bouchard after she had battled through her two previous matches.
"My errors really hurt me a lot today, just a lot of up and down, a lot of errors," said the American. "(I didn't) have the endurance this week, so I think that contributed to my errors.
"I just kind of wanted to make the points shorter a lot of the times. I made some bad choices or my legs would stop. So that kind of made it more challenging."
Next up for Bouchard in the last eight is Serbia's Jelena Jankovic, the second seed and 2007 champion, who shrugged off a close opening set to beat Croatia's Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5, 6-1.
In other matches on Thursday, Germany's 2009 champion Sabine Lisicki, the fourth seed, was knocked out by compatriot Andrea Petkovic 6-1, 6-0, while Swiss qualifier Belinda Bencic fought back to beat Ukrainian teenager Elina Svitolina 6-7(4) ,6-4, 6-1.
Third-seeded Italian Sara Errani scraped past China's Peng Shuai 7-6(6), 7-6(5), Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova brushed aside Brazil's Teliana Pereira 6-2, 6-3 and Jana Cepelova, also of Slovakia, fended off Russian Elena Vesnina 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3.
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Image: Venus Williams
Photographs: Mike Segar/Reuters
Barca president hits out at FIFA after transfer ban
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has denounced FIFA for punishing the La Liga club over a breach of rules on the transfer of foreign under-18 players, saying they are victims of a "grave injustice".
Soccer's world governing body announced on Wednesday it had banned the Spanish champions from the transfer market for two consecutive windows and fined them 450,000 Swiss francs (304,219.41 pounds).
The Spanish football federation (RFEF) was fined 500,000 Swiss francs after FIFA found it had also breached rules on the transfer of minors.
Barca denied wrongdoing and said they would move to get the transfer ban suspended until their appeal is heard and would take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if necessary.
Bartomeu fiercely defended the Catalan club's La Masia academy, which has produced the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, at a news conference on Thursday.
He said Barca would push ahead with plans to buy at least a goalkeeper and a central defender in the close season.
"We are outraged and the victims of a grave injustice," Bartomeu told reporters.
"With this sanction, FIFA is punishing a model that has existed for 35 years and which is the essence of this club.
"FIFA knows that we do things well and we look after the children and give them an education that perhaps they wouldn't get in their own country.
"We are not prepared in any way to give up our educational model. We have defended, continue to defend and will always defend the rights of minors.
"Hands off La Masia, that's the message we want to send to our members and fans, hands off La Masia.
"We will fight until the end to protect this model because it has made our first team become a leader in world football.
"We have absolute confidence in our lawyers and they tell us we have good grounds to think that the sanction will be lifted."
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Image: Barcelona's president Josep Maria Bartomeu
Photographs: Albert Gea/Reuters
Juve score late to edge Lyon as Basel, Benfica and Porto win
Juventus's Leonardo Bonucci scored a valuable away goal in the 85th minute to snatch a 1-0 win over Olympique Lyon in their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday and Basel, Porto and Benfica also grabbed first-leg victories.
Swiss side Basel took a huge step towards a second successive Europa League semi-final as Matias Delgado scored twice and Valentin Stocker netted a third in injury time in a 3-0 win over Valencia.
Porto and Benfica capped a good night for the Portuguese with 1-0 wins over Sevilla and AZ Alkmaar respectively.
Eliaquim Mangala scored with a header in the 31st minute for Porto at home to Spanish side Sevilla while Salvio volleyed home three minutes after halftime to give Benfica victory in the Netherlands.
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Image: Leonardo Bonucci of Juventus in action
Photographs: Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images
Skydiver dies during record group-jump try in Arizona
A German skydiver who was among 222 people trying to set a world record with a group-formation jump was killed on Thursday in the Arizona desert when her main parachute malfunctioned, police and a spokeswoman for the skydiving facility said.
The skydiver, identified by police as 46-year-old Diana Paris of Berlin, was taking part in a first attempt to set the record on Thursday morning when the mishap occurred, organizers said. She was declared dead on the scene.
"The malfunctioning parachute was released too low to allow the reserve parachute to fully open," said Jocelyn Bernatchez, a spokeswoman for SkyDive Arizona, the facility about 65 miles (105 km) south of Phoenix in Eloy where the event took place.
Bernatchez said the airplane involved had been functioning properly, and that weather conditions in Eloy were good at the time of the accident, which occurred at about 7:30 a.m. local time.
The team of 222 veteran skydivers from 28 countries had come to the popular US facility to try to break a record for the largest number of people to complete two aerial formations before deploying their parachutes.
The previous record, involving 110 skydivers, was set last year in Florida.
Photographs: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
Ferguson to become a Harvard lecturer
Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson will be swapping the dugout for the lectern after agreeing a long-term teaching position at Harvard University.
The 72-year-old Scot, who ended his glittering reign at Old Trafford last year after 26 years in charge, will share his wisdom as an academic in a new programme entitled 'The Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports'.
"I'm delighted to have the opportunity and privilege to contribute to such a respected centre of excellence," Ferguson, who won 13 league titles during his time at Old Trafford, said.
"The time I have already spent at Harvard has been a stimulating experience and I look forward to developing my relationship and activities with the students, faculty and friends of the Harvard Business School (HBS) community."
The position will start in May.
Ferguson, who led United to the title in his final season in charge, has given lectures at the Ivy League university in the past and he will work alongside Business School professor Anita Elberse, who developed a case study in 2012 examining his management skills.
Speaking about Ferguson's new role, Elberse said: "We look forward to welcoming Sir Alex Ferguson on the HBS campus to share his remarkable leadership journey, and contribute to our Executive Education participants' ability to make a profound difference in the world."
Image: Alex Ferguson
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images