20 Feb 2020

Today's sports news: What you need to know

5:13 pm on 20 February 2020

Latest - Football's world governing body FIFA has referred corruption allegations against former employees of the Oceania Football to the Serious Fraud Office.

General secretary of the Oceania Football Confederation Tai Nicholas.

General secretary of the Oceania Football Confederation Tai Nicholas. Photo: Photosport

The SFO has confirmed former Oceania federation president David Chung, who also served as senior vice president is among those under investigation.

Chung and the former Oceania general secretary, Tai Nicholas, were banned from football for alleged breaches of Fifa's code of ethics last year.

FIFA found Nicholas guilty of misappropriating funds and accepting bribes following an investigation into the Oceania federation's Home of Football complex in Auckland.

The project went $10 million over budget and was delivered two years late.

Chung quit in April 2018 after an audit into the project while Nicholas stepped down from his role in January the same year.

Manchester City don't let off field problems get in their way

Manchester City showed no signs of letting their off-field problems distract them as they comfortably beat relegation-threatened West Ham United 2-0 in their re-arranged Premier League game on Wednesday.

Manchester City's Kevin de Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne Photo: Photsoport

City took the lead on the half hour from a well-worked corner routine, Rodri rising to meet Kevin De Bruyne delivery with a superbly angled header at the near post.

De Bruyne doubled the lead in the 62nd minute, squeezing in a right-foot shot at Lukasz Fabianski's near post after a swift exchange with Bernardo Silva.

UEFA handed City a two-year ban from European football on Friday for serious breaches of their Financial Fair Play regulations. The Premier League champions deny the charges and are appealing against the decision.

City are second in the league but are 22 points behind leaders Liverpool while West Ham remained in 18th position, deep in the relegation battle.

The game was originally scheduled for Feb. 9 but was postponed due to stormy weather.

- Reuters

Tottenham need to play catch-up in Champions League

Timo Werner's second-half penalty gave a dominant RB Leipzig a deserved 1-0 victory at Tottenham Hotspur in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.

Werner slotted past Hugo Lloris in the 58th minute after Ben Davies had fouled Konrad Laimer, putting the Bundesliga high-flyers in control ahead of the second leg on 10 March.

In their first appearance in the knockout stage of the tournament, Leipzig could have taken a larger advantage back home to Germany but for poor finishing and saves by Lloris.

Tottenham, runners-up last season after a magical run to the final, were outplayed for the majority of the game with Patrick Schick and Werner wasting several chances for Leipzig while Angelino was denied by the woodwork.

Handicapped by having no recognised strikers in the absence of injured Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, Tottenham struggled as an attacking force.

- Reuters

Mercedes dominate F1 testing

Six-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton lapped fastest as Mercedes dominated the first day of pre-season testing in Spain while Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel called off sick.

Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Hamilton did 94 laps of Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya on the soft C2 compound in a sunny afternoon session, running untroubled after team mate Valtteri Bottas completed 79 laps in the morning.

Hamilton, who is hoping to equal Ferrari great Michael Schumacher's record seven titles this year, was 0.337 of a second quicker than Bottas.

Racing Point's Mexican Sergio Perez was the best of the rest, with his team's new car drawing attention for the similarities to last year's Mercedes.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was fourth and did the most laps, 168, with McLaren's Carlos Sainz doing 161 on a day without any red flags to halt the action and all 10 teams getting in plenty of mileage.

Four-times champion Vettel had been due to drive Ferrari's new SF1000 first, with team mate Charles Leclerc having to wait until tomorrow, but that plan changed when the German reported sick.

Leclerc was only 11th fastest but did 132 laps.

The season starts in Australia on March 15.

- Reuters

Top golfer disagrees with new global tour

World number one Rory McIlroy has distanced himself from the prospect of taking part in the Premier Golf League as he prefers to have autonomy over his career choices.

Irish golfer Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The British-based World Golf Group last month unveiled plans for a new global tour it hopes to launch in 2022 that would consist of 18 yearly tournaments -- each with prize money of $15 million -- and feature 48 of the game's top players.

Former world number one Tiger Woods said last week he had also been approached by the PGL and was gathering further information about something which could be a more lucrative alternative to the PGA Tour.

"The more I've thought about it the more I don't like it. For me, I'm out," McIlroy said before this week's WGC Mexico Championship.

"I read a thing the other day that said if you take the money they can tell you what to do, so if you don't take the money they can't tell you what to do.

- Reuters

Kohli in three formats for next three years

Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli will continue to play all three formats with the same intensity for the next three years before reassessing his workload.

Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli Photo: Photosport

The 31-year-old is one of the busiest players in contemporary cricket who leads India across formats and is also captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League.

"I think it's been eight or nine years that I've been playing almost 300 days a year with the travelling and practice sessions," Kohli said ahead of the first test against New Zealand beginning tomorrow.

"And the intensity is right up there all the time. So it does take a toll on you," said Kohli, who has grown into the premium batsman of his era since his India debut in 2008.

Also one of the fittest cricketers around, Kohli takes intermittent breaks to survive the crammed calendar and believes that is the only way one could play all three formats of the game.

"You are going to see a lot of that in the future from many players. Not just myself, especially from the guys who are playing all three formats. It's not that easy."

"Periodic breaks for me seems to work pretty okay. At a time when the body doesn't respond as well, maybe when I am 34-35, you might have a different conversation at that stage.

- Reuters

Barrett out for southern Super Rugby clash

The Crusaders will be without their captain for Friday night's Super Rugby derby against the Highlanders in Christchurch.

Crusaders Scott Barrett

Scott Barrett Photo: PHOTOSPORT

All Blacks lock Scott Barrett has been ruled out of the match with a knee injury he suffered in the last weekend's victory over the Blues in Auckland.

Fullback David Havili will lead the Crusaders in place of Barrett - whose absence will not count as one of his two compulsory All Blacks rest weeks.

Barrett's injury clears the way for former All Black Luke Romano's first start for the Crusaders since the midway point of the 2018 season.

Brumbies hit by mumps outbreak

The ACT Brumbies' preparations for Saturday's Super Rugby match against the Chiefs have been hampered by an outbreak of mumps, with several members of the organisation told not to travel for the clash in Hamilton.

The Brumbies celebrate their win over the Chiefs. 23.2.19

Brumbies Photo: Photosport

Rugby Australia said in a statement that a small number of cases of the viral infection had been confirmed among Brumbies players and staff and that only those who were completely healthy had been given the green light to travel.

RA said all the confirmed and suspected cases of the virus were being kept in isolation for at least five days after the onset of symptoms.

If a Brumbies player or staff member became unwell in New Zealand they would be placed in isolation and testing arranged, it added.

All three of the teams that played against the Brumbies in the opening rounds -- Queensland Reds, Melbourne Rebels and Otago Highlanders -- had been asked to monitor their players and staff, it said.

- Reuters

New national club rugby competition

New Zealand Rugby has announced an inaugural national club rugby competition, scheduled to kick off in May.

The weight-restricted Under 85kg National Club Cup is open to all rugby clubs in the country and will be played as a knockout format.

NZR Head of Participation and Development Steve Lancaster said the new initiative was about reinvigorating and growing weight-restricted club rugby.

Clubs will compete within their local regions in the early rounds of the Cup, before moving through to a national draw from the quarterfinals onwards.

A national final is scheduled to be played in mid-August at a venue of significance.

Wagner to miss first Test

The Black Caps bowler Neil Wagner is out of the first cricket Test against India in Wellington.

The left-arm seamer won't feature in the match as he and his wife are awaiting the birth of their first child.

Wagner has stayed home in Mount Maunganui - with Matt Henry called into the New Zealand squad as cover.

Pivac's Wales to face All Blacks

Wales will play world champions South Africa and the All Blacks in this year's November internationals, a stern test of their early progress under new coach Wayne Pivac.

Wales coach Wayne Pivac.

Wales coach Wayne Pivac Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Welsh Rugby Union announced the traditional November fixtures, which also includes games against Fiji and Argentina at the Principality Stadium.

Fiji will open the series on 7 November, before Pivac is pitted against fellow countrymen New Zealand the following week.

Argentina are the third opponents on 22 November, before the Springboks contest the final game on 28 November.

Wales are currently involved in the Six Nations, while they will also head out for a two-match tour to New Zealand and a one-off game against Japan in July.

- Reuters

New Warrior to debut against Storm

New signing Wayde Egan has been named to make his club debut in the Warriors' first 2020 NRL trial against the Melbourne Storm in Palmerston North on Saturday.

NZ Warriors Wayde Egan

Wayde Egan Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 22-year-old hooker, who made 29 NRL appearances for Penrith in 2018 and 2019, will also be having his first outing since recovering from shoulder surgery last year.

Egan is one of 10 players with NRL experience named by head coach Stephen Kearney for the Warriors' second trial in the Manawatu in the last three years.

Tonga international David Fusitu'a is the most experienced player named. Needing four more appearances to reach his 100-game milestone, Fusitu'a, the NRL's top try scorer in 2018, is included along with four 2019 NRL rookies in centre-winger Patrick Herbert, utility Hayze Perham and halves Chanel Harris-Tavita and Adam Keighran. Perham, Tavita-Harris and Keighran all back up after being involved in the Perth NRL Nines last weekend.

Other NRL players named are prop Sam Lisone, middle forward Lachlan Burr, second rower Taane Milne and interchange forward Leivaha Pulu.

Smith feeling welcome in South Africa

Australia batsman Steve Smith says his reception in South Africa has been "lovely" on his first tour since the infamous 'Sandpapergate' scandal, but expects that to change when he steps onto The Wanderers on Friday.

Plenty to think about for Australian captain Steve Smith as he heads to afternoon tea on Day 4 of the 2nd test match. New Zealand Black Caps v Australia. Hagley Oval in Christchurch, New Zealand. Tuesday 23 February 2016. Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Steve Smith Photo: Photosport NZ

Australia take on hosts South Africa in the first match of a three-game Twenty20 International series at a ground nicknamed 'The Bull Ring' for its hostile atmosphere, where England's Ben Stokes had an altercation with a fan as recently as last month.

Smith and team mate David Warner were banned by Cricket Australia for a year, and Cameron Bancroft for nine months, after their involvement in an attempt to alter the state of the ball using sandpaper during a test tour of the country in March 2018.

"Just walking into the hotel in Sandton, initially I was like, 'the last time I left here it wasn't pretty'. It wasn't the best time in my life. But I've moved on from that and learned a lot.

"I've been back playing for a year now. I'm really enjoying it and I feel like I'm playing well. I'm in a nice place."

Smith says there have been no signs of animosity from South African fans off the pitch. In fact, quite the opposite.

"Everywhere I have been the people have been lovely. Guys have come up and taken some photos and been really nice," he said.

The Twenty20 series starts in Johannesburg, before moving to Port Elizabeth on Sunday and finally Cape Town next Wednesday.

- Reuters

Manchester City deny breaches

Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano says the allegations made against his club, which have led to a two year ban from European football by UEFA, are untrue and politically motivated.

UEFA ruled last week that City had committed "serious breaches" of their Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations and failed to cooperate with their investigation, handing them a two year ban and a $50 million fine.

City, who have denied wrongdoing, said they intend to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

In an interview on the club's website, Soriano, addressed the ban for the first time.

"Well the most important thing I have to say today is that the allegations are not true. They are simply not true," he said.

- Reuters

Aston Martin delay endurance racing

Aston Martin says it's putting on hold a planned entry into the World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours with its Valkyrie hypercar.

The British sportscar maker said this was due to proposed rule changes, although Le Mans organisers suggested the company's business situation had played a part.

The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) - which runs Le Mans - and the U.S.-based International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) announced last month they were harmonising the proposed Hypercar class. This will allow IMSA prototypes to compete for outright victory at Le Mans and the WEC in 2021-22.

Aston Martin Racing will continue to compete in a lower tier of sportscar racing with its Vantage GTE.

- Reuters

Bono visits Ireland rugby training

A vist by U2 singer Bono to Ireland's training camp was the only major adjustment to coach Andy Farrell's preparations as he named an unchanged starting line-up for this weekend's Six Nations trip to face England at Twickenham.

Bono of the Irish rock band U2 performs during the "Experience + Innocence" tour at the United Center in Chicago on May 23, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Kamil Krzaczynski

U2 singer Bono Photo: AFP or licensors

Ireland, who failed to light up a Rugby World Cup yet again last year, stuttered to a narrow win over Scotland in round one of the Six Nations but followed that up with a bruising 24-14 victor over Wales in Dublin.

A win over Farrell's native England would secure his first trophy - the Triple Crown - as Ireland's head coach and make them serious contenders for a fourth title in seven years. They next face a home game against Italy before a potential Grand Slam decider away to France, the only other side to win their first two games.

As well as Bono speaking to the squad at their hotel on Tuesday evening, former Ireland captain Paul O'Connell is spending the week in camp.

The Dublin band posted a picture of Bono serving food to Ireland captain Johnny Sexton on Wednesday, captioned: "At your service, Sir ... and always at the service of a truly great Irish team!"

- Reuters