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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sports Shorts: Real Madrid great Di Stefano, 88, dies

Sports Shorts: Real Madrid great Di Stefano, 88, dies

Last updated on: July 07, 2014 21:46 IST

Sports Shorts: Real Madrid great Di Stefano, 88, dies

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Former Real Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano, 88, has died in a Madrid hospital two days after suffering a heart attack, the club said on Monday.

Argentina-born Di Stefano, who helped turn Real into one of the world's leading teams in the 1950s and is considered one of the finest footballers of all time, was taken to the intensive care unit of the Gregorio Maranon hospital over the weekend.

He had suffered an 18-minute respiratory arrest, the emergency services said on Saturday.

Real said Di Stefano died at the Gregorio Maranon at 1515 GMT on Monday.

The player known as 'La Saeta Rubia' (blond arrow) joined Real in 1953 and became a naturalised Spaniard three years later.

Di Stefano featured in attack when the club won five successive European Cups between 1956-60 and he scored in each of the finals.

He had health problems in recent years and was fitted with a pacemaker in 2005 after heart surgery.

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Image: Real Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano
Photographs: Andrea Comas/Reuters

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Amritraj launches Champions Tennis League

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Indian tennis legend Vijay Amritraj announced the launch of Champions Tennis League (CTL) in India on Monday with an aim of taking the sport to new levels of awareness and popularity in the country.

The CTL will feature six city-based teams, who will play 13 matches over a 10-day period from November 17 to 26.

The teams will be structured into two groups -- each having three sides -- where they will play each other in a home and away format. The teams topping their respective group will play each other in the grand finale for the prize money of Rs. 1 crore.

The runner-up will receive Rs. 50 lakhs.

CTL teams will feature male and female players with international rankings between No. 5 and No. 25. Each of the six teams will also have an international legend as their playing captain, apart from a noted Indian male tennis player, plus a top-ranked junior Indian girl and boy from each city.

"I have been discussing an initiative like this with the All India Tennis Association (AITA) for many years now. Finally, we have decided that together, we can bring a level of tennis entertainment that has never been seen in India before," Amritraj, Chairman and Managing Director of Second

Serve Pvt. Ltd., the company behind the CTL, said.

Speaking about team owners and players, he said, "We are in final negotiations with interested parties in Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi and Chandigarh and are working hard to take forward discussions in Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune for our remaining two franchises.

"We would be very happy to have six franchise owners who love the sport and are ready to maximise the opportunities that the franchise gives them within their home city to make this a win-win partnership for everyone concerned."

He said the players' names will be confirmed in August, along with other six franchise owners.

"The AITA and I are also very pleased to include our top national junior talent. We are sure that the opportunity to interact and play with the international stars through the duration of the League will benefit them tremendously," he said.

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Image: Vijay Amritraj
Photographs: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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Ashley Cole arrives for medical with AS Roma

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Former England defender Ashley Cole has arrived in Italy for a medical with AS Roma and is expected to sign a two-year deal with the Serie A club.

"Welcome to Rome, Ashley", said the Italian club on its official Twitter feed, publishing a photo of the former Chelsea player on his arrival at Fiumicino airport on Monday morning.

According to the Italian media, left-back Cole is set to sign a two-year deal worth 2.3 million euro ($3.13 million) a year, with an option for a third season, as Roma look to strengthen their squad ahead of their return to the Champions League next season.

Chelsea said goodbye to Cole last week after his trophy-laden eight years at StamfordBridge where he won the Premier League, Champions League and Europa League, as well four FA Cup titles.

Roma are also close to signing Fenerbahce’s Salih Ucan, with the 20-year-old midfielder set to sign a two-year loan deal with an option to buy for a reported fee of 11 million euro ($14.98 million).

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Image: Ashley Cole
Photographs: Rebecca Naden/Reuters

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Oslo, Almaty, Beijing named as 2022 Winter Games candidates

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Oslo, Almaty and Beijing were confirmed as the official candidates to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games on Monday even though an International Olympic Committee (IOC) report found several weaknesses in the Kazakh city's bid.

Stockholm, Krakow and Lviv had also submitted bids to the IOC but all three later withdrew.

"The IOC Executive board has selected the cities of Oslo, Almaty and Beijing as candidate cities for the Olympic Winter Games 2022," IOC President Thomas Bach told a news conference. The three candidates were confirmed on the strength of an IOC report into their ability to host the games, which was released to coincide with the announcement on Monday.

The report assessed each city on 15 criteria, including accommodation, venues, doping control, safety and transport.

Oslo scored strongly except on public support for the games - a poll by the IOC found 36 percent support for the Games in the Norwegian capital Oslo and surrounding areas but 50 percent against.

Almaty was weak in many respects -- its concept for the Olympic Village, media centre plans, "very limited" experience in holding big winter sports events, its policing, telecoms and internet policies and the environmental impact of the Games, as well as the budget.

"Given the size of the economy and its reliance on oil, there may be challenges in supporting the significant investments in competition and non-competition venues necessary for the Games, unless there is extraordinary government support and the economy is strong," the report said.

Beijing's bid scored weakest on environmental impact and for its venues while its plans hinged on building a high-speed railway. It scored highly, however, on government and public support.

The report also considered the five-year averages of a range of air quality data provided by the three cities. Beijing and Almaty both showed air quality that was poorer than World Health Organisation standards in at least one category.

"The IOC is very happy to see three very different approaches with regard to the organisation of the games. This gives the IOC a choice between three diverse bids, with different legacy plans, with different approaches, with different budgets," Bach said.

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Image: IOC President Thomas Bach
Photographs: Ian Walton/Getty Images

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Galatasaray name Prandelli as the new manager

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Former Italian World Cup coach Cesare Prandelli will replace Roberto Mancini as the next Galatasaray manager, the Turkish club announced on Monday.

Prandelli, 56, will succeed fellow Italian Mancini, who left the club after less than a season in charge after leading the Istanbul side to a disappointing second-place finish in the Turkish top-flight last season.

FormerManchesterCity boss Mancini had signed for three seasons but left after what appeared to be a difference of opinion about the team.

He guided them to the Champions League round of 16 at the expense of Juventus and victory in the Turkish Cup final.

Prandelli, who will be officially unveiled on Tuesday, resigned as Italy's national team manager after the team failed to get past the group stage at the ongoing World Cup in Brazil.

He had been in charge of the Azzurri since 2010, having previously coached Fiorentina, Roma and Parma.

"Galatasaray football team’s new coach Cesare Prandelli is coming to Istanbul this evening," the club said in a statement in Turkish on its website (www.galatasaray.org).

"Tomorrow morning at the Florya Metin Oktay (training) facilities, he will be introduced to the players and staff."

Media reports had also linked former Everton and Manchester United manager David Moyes as a candidate for the post.

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Image: Head coach of Italy Cesare Prandelli
Photographs: Claudio Villa/Getty Images

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F1: Change underway at Ferrari

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Ferrari will be a different Formula One team next year with changes already being made at Maranello, principal Marco Mattiacci said after Sunday's British Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso finished only sixth for the Italian team at Silverstone while Kimi Raikkonen crashed out on the opening lap of a race won by Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes.

Asked about the future of Ferrari engine head Luca Marmorini, with some reports in Italy last week indicating he had left the team, Mattiacci refused to comment.

"I don't want to point to any individual. We are redesigning the team, we are reinforcing the team," the boss, who replaced Stefano Domenicali at the helm in April, told reporters. "I don't make comments about individuals.

"We don't have to make any announcements," he continued. "The best announcements are results... we are not happy to be sixth. The weekend was bittersweet, a lot of emotion and positive things but we are not happy to be sixth.

"Starting from here we need to prepare a different team for 2015. Do we need to do an announcement? No. Do we need to improve? Continuous improvement, yes. That is our position."

Ferrari are third in the championship but now only three points clear of Williams, who might have ended the day ahead had Brazilian Felipe Massa's car not been badly damaged when Raikkonen crashed out.

Mattiacci praised Alonso's race from 16th on the grid, and Raikkonen emerging unscathed from his big accident, as positives.

Alonso, a double world champion, has been on the podium just once this season while 2007 champion Raikkonen has finished no higher than seventh.

Ferrari are 220 points behind leaders Mercedes in the constructors' championship with 10 races remaining.

The fire and ice driver pairing had been a talking point before the season but they have instead been also-rans with the title battle now a duel between Mercedes team mates Hamilton and championship leader Nico Rosberg.

Mattiacci said Ferrari were working hard to improve "what is improvable" on the car.

"We have brought a lot of aerodynamics improvement in the last races that found a positive effect on the track so this is a good starting point," he said.

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Image: Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, right, talks with Fernando Alonso
Photographs: Clive Mason/Getty Images

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Australian TV news airs Pistorius shooting 're-enactment'

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An Australian current affairs television programme aired footage on Sunday of a re-enactment by Olympic and Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius of the shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

With Pistorius' murder trial still underway in South Africa, the family lawyers of the accused athlete said the "visual mapping" re-enactment was for trial preparation only and they alleged it had been "obtained illegally" by Australia's Channel 7, which ran the video on its Sunday Night programme.

"For the family, the airing of this footage constitutes a staggering breach of trust and an invasion of the family's privacy," the Pistorius family lawyers, Brian Webber, Ramsay Webber Inc., said in a statement. They said no permission for the disclosure of the material had been given.

Pistorius' lawyers alleged the usage of the video filmed by a U.S. company specialising in forensic animation, The Evidence Room, which had been engaged by Pistorius' defence team, also breached a non-disclosure agreement made with the Cleveland, Ohio company.

On Monday, Channel 7 declined to respond to questions from Reuters about how and from whom it had obtained the footage, but said the report was a "significant investigation" by award-winning journalists.

"We would not have run the footage if we thought we had obtained it illegally," the network said in a statement emailed to Reuters. "The story was run in Australia only and not made available in any other territory."

The Evidence Room did not reply to requests for comment.

One legal expert in Johannesburg, Professor Stephen Tuson of the Wits School of Law, said the screening of the re-enactment footage could be a breach of sub-judice laws that prohibit the publication outside the courtroom of evidence or material that could influence the outcome of the trial.

The court heard last week that the athlete was not suffering from a mental condition when he shot Steenkamp, meaning he had the ability to distinguish between the rightful or wrongful nature of his actions.

Pistorius' trial is due to resume on Monday.


Image: Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius embraces his sister Aimee Pistorius
Photographs: Antoine de Ras/Pool /Reuters

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