21 Feb 2020

Today's sports news: What you need to know

9:08 am on 21 February 2020

Latest - The Tall Blacks recorded an historic 108-98 victory over Australia in Brisbane on Thursday night, starting their 2021 Asia Cup qualifying campaign with their first win over the Boomers since 2009.

Tall Blacks captain Mika Vukona.

Mika Vukona Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Mika Vukona led Tall Blacks harassed the Australians at every opportunity, with game high-scorers Reuben Te Rangi and Shea Ili (21 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists each) enjoying support from Rob Loe (19) and Jordan Ngatai (19) on offence.

In head coach Pero Cameron's first game in charge of the side, the Tall Blacks overcame a slow start to beat a

Boomers side that five debutants and was missing not only their overseas-based players, but also any player set to feature in next week's NBL finals.

The Tall Blacks now have a 21 hour journey to Guam, where they will play the host nation in the second of two games in this first 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifying window.

Charges in connection to FIFA World Cup TV rights

Former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke and the chairman of Qatar-based media group BeIN Sports, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, have been charged in connection with the award of television rights for the World Cup and Confederations Cup.

FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke.

Former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke Photo: Photosport

Valcke, already banned by FIFA's ethics committee for 10 years for ethics violations, was charged with accepting bribes, aggravated criminal mismanagement and falsification of documents, the Swiss Attorney General's (OAG) office said in a statement.

Al-Khelaifi and a third person, an unnamed businessman, were charged with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement, the OAG said.

The OAG added that Al-Khelaifi no longer faced allegations of bribery after FIFA reached an "amicable agreement" with him to drop a criminal complaint connected to the awarding of rights for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.

The OAG statement said that between 2013 and 2015 Valcke exploited his FIFA role "to influence the award of media rights" for various World Cup and Confederations Cup tournaments "to favour media partners that he preferred".

Valcke also received "undue advantages" from the two co-accused relating to the use of a villa in Sardinia, it said.

- Reuters

Mercedes steering wheel under the spotlight in F1 testing

Mercedes brought intrigue to Formula One testing with television images showing Lewis Hamilton moving his car's steering wheel forwards and backwards as he drove.

AUSTIN, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 03: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W10 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of USA at Circuit of The Americas on November 03, 2019 in Austin, Texas.

Lewis Hamilton. Photo: AFP

The mechanism appeared to alter the alignment of the front wheels, with the six-times world champion pulling the wheel towards him on the straights and pushing it back as he approached corners.

Technical director James Allison was coy about the details of a system he said was known within the team as DAS (Dual-Axis Steering).

Testing is not bound by the same regulations as grand prix weekends, with teams sometimes trying out developments they may never race.

Asked whether Mercedes were worried the governing FIA might rule the device illegal, Allison said they had been talking about it for some time, safety was not an issue and it was within the rules.

"The rules are pretty clear about what is permitted on steering systems and I'm pretty confident that it matches all of those requirements. I'm just pleased we've got it on the car, it seems to be useable and we'll find out over the coming days how much benefit it brings us."

Hamilton said he did not find it distracting and was encouraged to see his team were continuing to innovate to stay ahead of the game.

- Reuters

Concussion forces Olympic champion to retire

Britain's Olympic gold medal-winning former women's hockey captain Alex Danson-Bennett has been forced to retire because of a head injury sustained while laughing at a joke in 2018.

The 34-year-old Danson-Bennett, part of the British team that won hockey gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, had hoped to feature at this year's Tokyo Games.

She has been suffering with long-term concussion since hitting her head against a concrete wall while throwing her head back to laugh at her husband's joke while on holiday in Kenya.

Six weeks after the incident she was rushed to hospital with a suspected bleed, being violently sick and having seizures.

The effects have included a "loss of identity", debilitating headaches, light sensitivity and speech problems.

Although Danson-Bennett returned to training in January, she has decided to hang up her stick having earned 306 international caps and scored a joint-record 115 goals.

- Reuters

Politician offers London as alternative venue for Tokyo Olympics

London would be ready to host the 2020 Olympics if the outbreak of the coronavirus forced the Games to be moved from Tokyo, Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate for mayor of the British capital, has said.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Rings.


London hosted the Olympics in 2012, but British officials played down the prospect of taking away the Games from Tokyo, which has been planning the event for seven years since its bid won in 2013.

The flu-like coronavirus, which has killed more than 2,000 people in China and infected over 74,000 globally, has had a major impact on the sporting calendar in Asia with a host of events being cancelled and postponed.

With the Tokyo Games due to begin on July 24, organisers have set up a task force to coordinate with public health authorities over the epidemic.

The International Olympic Committee has said it had been advised by the World Health Organization that there is no case for contingency plans to cancel or relocate the Games.

Despite much of the 2012 infrastructure being repurposed to redevelop parts of east London after the Games, Bailey said the city was well placed to step in for Tokyo if needed and urged the Olympic Committee to consider the city as an alternative.

- Reuters

Australian batsman wants respect from South African supporters

Australia opening batsman David Warner has called on South African supporters to show respect ahead of the three-match Twenty20 International series starting in Johannesburg on Friday.

Australia's batsman David Warner celebrates reaching his triple century (300 runs) during the day two of the second cricket Test match between Australia and Pakistan in Adelaide on November 30, 2019.

David Warner Photo: AFP

Warner was painted as the villain of the piece during the "Sandpapergate" scandal in March 2018, in which he was accused of trying to alter the condition of the ball during a test match along with his captain Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft.

He was handed a one-year suspension by Cricket Australia, but the incident followed goading from South African fans that Warner felt crossed the line of decency.

After a bust-up in the first test between the Australian and South Africa wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, some home fans wore masks of Sonny Bill Williams's face in the next test.

It was a reference to the fact that Warner's wife had previously been involved in a relationship with the New Zealand rugby player.

"I'm not concerned about it, but at the end of the day you have to have some form of respect as well," Warner said.

"It was poor, but for me it is about moving forward. If people want to go to the game and carry on like that, then it is on themselves, they have to look at themselves in the mirror.

"I know what is going to get thrown at me, I always do wherever I am playing in the world. It is nothing I haven't heard before."

- Reuters

Federer to miss five tournaments following surgery

Roger Federer has said he will miss a number of tournaments, including the French Open, after undergoing keyhole surgery on his knee in Switzerland on Wednesday but he is targeting a return in time for Wimbledon.

Roger Federer during the Wimbledon men's final

Roger Federer Photo: AFP / Yomiuri

The 20-times Grand Slam champion struggled with injury at the Australian Open, where he lost in the semi-finals to eventual champion Novak Djokovic, and has not played since.

Federer, 38, said he would miss ATP tournaments in Dubai, Indian Wells, Bogota and Miami as well as the French Open which starts at the end of May.

It will be the fourth time in five years that Federer, champion at Roland Garros for the only time in 2009, has missed the claycourt slam.

The Swiss skipped the entire claycourt season in 2017 and 2018 and last year played only two tournaments on the surface before arriving in Paris for the French Open where he lost to Rafa Nadal in the semi-finals.

Federer's ranking will drop from its current three but he is still likely to be seeded in the top 10 at Wimbledon where he will be seeking a record-extending ninth title.

- Reuters

Pakistan suspends batsman under anti-corruption code

The Pakistan Cricket Board said on Thursday it had suspended batsman Umar Akmal with immediate effect under its anti-corruption code.

The PCB said Akmal "... cannot take part in any cricket-related activity pending the investigation being carried out by PCB's Anti-Corruption Unit."

The announcement came hours before Akmal's Quetta Gladiators begin their Pakistan Super League title defence against Islamabad United in Karachi.

Akmal, who has played 16 tests and 121 one-day internationals, last played for Pakistan in a Twenty20 International against Sri Lanka in October last year.

- Reuters

MotoGP champion extends contract

Spain's six times MotoGP champion Marc Marquez has signed a four-year contract extension with Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) through to the end of 2024.

Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Marquez, who turned 27 this week, won his first title in 2013 with the Repsol Honda team and has won the last four world championships in a row. He has a total of 56 career victories and 95 podiums to his name in the premier class.

"Honda gave me the opportunity to arrive in the MotoGP class with a factory bike in 2013," Marquez said in a statement. "Since the first year we have achieved success together and I am very happy to continue being part of the Honda family."

Marquez had surgery on a shoulder dislocation in November following two crashes last year but was involved in testing in Sepang earlier this month.

The final pre-season test is from 22-24 February in Qatar before the first race of the season at the Losail Circuit on 8 March.

- Reuters