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Rediff.com  » Sports » World Cup chit-chat: Uruguay's Suarez to undergo knee surgery, may miss WC opener

World Cup chit-chat: Uruguay's Suarez to undergo knee surgery, may miss WC opener

Last updated on: May 22, 2014 14:25 IST

World Cup chit-chat: Uruguay's Suarez to undergo knee surgery, may miss WC opener

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Uruguay striker Luis Suarez is to have surgery on his knee on Thursday morning, just over three weeks before the start of the World Cup, according to local media reports.

Suarez helped Uruguay to fourth place at the last World Cup in South Africa four years ago and was expected to play a key role in the country's campaign at the June 12-July 13 tournament in Brazil.

According to a report on the website of Uruguayan TV station Tenfield, the 27-year-old Liverpool striker had an MRI scan on Wednesday which revealed damage to the meniscus in the knee with the team doctor deciding surgery was necessary.

Recovery from such arthroscopic surgery takes from 15 to 20 days, according to the report, leaving Suarez little room for manoeuvre before Uruguay play their first match against Costa Rica in Fortaleza on June 14.

Uruguay also face England and Italy in opening round Group D.

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Image: Liverpool's Luis Suarez winces in pain after suffering a knee injury during an English Premier League match on May 11
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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Brazil stadium test event cancelled

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Brazil football club Corinthians and FIFA have cancelled a test event at the stadium that will host the World Cup’s opening match and are now scrambling to arrange another game at the venue.

Corinthians were scheduled to play Cruzeiro at the Corinthians arena on May 29, but the match was cancelled amid fears that the 1600 local time kickoff could provoke traffic chaos in South America’s biggest and often hugely congested city.

That match has been rescheduled for the day before and moved to a different venue, Portuguesa's Caninde Stadium.

FIFA now say they will try to reschedule a game for the 68,000 capacity Corinthians arena on June 1.

Corinthians are scheduled to play an away match against Botafogo in Rio that day, but the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) could swap the fixture to make them the home side.

"The second test event ahead of opening World Cup match will be staged at Arena de Sao Paulo (Corinthians arena) on June 1," FIFA’s secretary general Jerome Valcke said on Twitter.

"CBF to re-allocate League match."

He added: "It vital for us that all facilities will be tested under full match conditions including the temporary seats and associated facilities."

The opening match of the World Cup between Brazil and Croatia is due to be held at the stadium on June 12.

Corinthians played Figueirense in the first official match there last Sunday, but only 36,000 fans watched the game and FIFA is worried some areas of the ground have not been subject to thorough tests.

"Given the attention drawn from the opening match of the FIFA World Cup, it is vital for the organisers that all facilities will be tested under full match conditions, including the use of temporary seats and associated facilities," FIFA said in a statement.

"These additional installations were not in place when the first test match took place on May 19."

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Image: A bag with the logo of the Brazilian Soccer Confederation (CBF) is seen on a newly built shack of a member of Brazil's Homeless Workers' Movement (MTST) as people carry logs to build their own shacks at the 'People's World Cup' camp
Photographs: Nacho Doce/Reuters

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England, Italy can't afford to lose opener: Zola

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Neither England nor Italy can afford to lose next month's World Cup opener in Brazil, former Italy and Chelsea striker Gianfranco Zola said on Wednesday.   

England and Italy have been drawn in Group D alongside Costa Rica and Uruguay, and Zola believes the sweltering conditions of the Amazon jungle could take their toll when the sides meet in Manaus on June 14.

 “It (Manaus) is a tough place to go,” Zola, who was playing in golf's BMW PGA Championship Pro-Am at Wentworth, said.

“I think it is going to be tight because I think all the teams are more or less on the same level.

“A lot will be to do with the conditions when they get there. I don’t think England is favourite or Italy is favourite. I also think, psychologically, it is important not to lose the first game.”

With England’s young guns still cutting their teeth and Italy going through a period of transition under manager Cesare Prandelli, Uruguay are tipped to top Group D, especially given their formidable striking duo of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.

But Zola, who made 35 appearances for Italy, does not believe it is as clear-cut as many are predicting.

“I think the three teams stand the same chances really,” added the former Chelsea favourite.

“Uruguay has got quality players but Italy has got plenty and England has got a lot of young players so they can do well. I think they are on the same level so we will see."

The 47-year-old Zola, who left his position as manager of Championship (second tier) Watford in December, wants to get back to coaching in England soon, but in the mean time the diminutive Italian is enjoying his golf.

“It was good and I made a couple of birdies,” added Zola, who was partnered by professional golfer Francesco Molinari and former Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko at the Wentworth Pro-Am.

“Conditions-wise it was perfect, but the course is a little bit too long for me.”

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Image: England's footballers go through the grind at a training session as Wayne Rooney looks on in Almancil, near Faro on Wednesday
Photographs: Rafael Marchante/Reuters

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Italian football boss backs Balotelli following another racist taunt

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Racist abuse directed at Mario Balotelli by a young fan outside Italy's training camp was "unacceptable", Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Giancarlo Abete said on Wednesday.

The AC Milan striker was subjected to the abuse outside Italy's Coverciano training camp as the squad were put through their paces with manager Cesare Prandelli looking to trim his provisional 30-man list to 23 for the Brazil World Cup.

"This is unacceptable behaviour," Abete told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"This should not happen. The important thing is that this is only a minority and they have no regard for civil coexistence."

Balotelli was born in Sicily to Ghanaian immigrants but was brought up by an Italian foster family.

He has been a frequent target for racists throughout his career in Italy, with Juventus, Inter Milan and AS Roma fans repeatedly abusing him with racist chanting during matches.

Observers at the training camp reported that it was one fan who shouted the abuse. A video containing the insults was then published on the Gazzetta website (www.gazzetta.it).

Torino striker Ciro Immobile also spoke out against the abuse at Wednesday's news conference.

"It saddens me. We're in 2014 and to be hearing racist insults from people, whether you're yellow, black or white, is just unacceptable," he said.

"Fortunately, Mario let it pass over him and he got on with his training. But we as players should do more to help stamp this out."

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Image: Italy's Mario Balotelli runs during a training session at Coverciano training centre near Florence on Tuesday
Photographs: Giampiero Sposito/Reuters

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Mexico ban beef to avoid doping risk at World Cup

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Mexico’s World Cup squad will not eat beef during their preparations for the Brazil tournament for fear of testing positive to banned drugs in contaminated meat, coach Miguel Herrera said on Wednesday.

Five players were withdrawn from Mexico’s CONCACAF Gold Cup squad in the United States in 2011 after testing positive for clenbuterol, a banned stimulant sometimes illicitly mixed into livestock feed to make meat leaner.

The five, including goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and defender Francisco Rodriguez who are in Hererra’s squad for the finals, were later absolved after the Mexican Football Federation and world soccer governing body FIFA considered the presence of clenbuterol in Mexican cattle a public health problem.

"Given what happened, we have decided we will not eat red meat,” Herrera told a news conference.

“Here there’s very good cooking, we have a spectacular chef and eat all kinds of meat, except beef.

“We’ve also been telling the players for the last month and a half not to eat beef and they’ve paid heed.

“(Miguel) Ponce ate some tacos without knowing he would be with us but beef goes through your system in three to four days, though we’re still taking preventive measures.”

Ponce joined the squad on Tuesday as a late replacement for fellow midfielder Juan Carlos Medina who has an ankle injury requiring surgery and was withdrawn from the squad.

Mexico, who face hosts Brazil, Cameroon and Croatia in Group A at the tournament starting on June 12, are in their second week of preparations and will play warm-up games against Israel, Ecuador, Bosnia and Portugal.

Herrera said he would play each of his three goalkeepers, Jesus Corona, Alfredo Talavera and Ochoa, in the first three friendlies to then decide who he would pick against Portugal and at the World Cup.

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Image: Mexico's Jesus Corona (left), Carlos Salcido (3rd from left) and Guillermo Ochoa (centre) exercise during a practice session in Mexico City on Wednesday
Photographs: Edgard Garrido/Reuters

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Nuns network to campaign against child prostitution at World Cup

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A global network of religious orders against human trafficking will campaign against rise in child prostitution during the World Cup in Brazil.

Sister Gabriella Bottani, an Italian nun who is an organiser of the coalition involving 240 religious congregations from 79 countries, said that their greatest concern was link to the increase in the exploitation of child prostitution in Brazil.

According to CBS News, she added international sporting events attract human traffickers, who kidnap children for illegal adoptions or forced begging.

The campaign titled 'Play For Life, Report Trafficking' will involve nuns and others handing out leaflets at airports and key tourist areas in Brazil.

The move is aimed at encouraging people to report suspected child prostitution or enslavement to police.

The umbrella group organizing the campaign is called ‘Talitha Kum’, an Aramaic expression that the Bible says Jesus used when commanding a young girl to rise from the dead in the Gospel according to Mark, the report added.


Photographs: Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images

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