Poyet leaves Sunderland with relegation looming

Sunderland are 17th in the 20-team league with 26 points, one place and one point above the relegation zone with only nine matches left to play.


They have won only one of their last 12 league games.

“I would like to thank Gus for his endeavours during his time at the club, in particular last season’s ‘great escape’ and cup final appearance, which will live long in the memory of every Sunderland fan,” chairman Ellis Short said in a statement on the club website (南宁夜网.safc广西桑拿,).

“Sadly, we have not made the progress that any of us had hoped for this season and we find ourselves battling, once again, at the wrong end of the table.

“We have therefore made the difficult decision that a change is needed.”

The 46-year-old Poyet, who had been in charge at the Stadium of Light for 75 matches since October 2013, saved the Black Cats from relegation last season when they won four of their last five games to escape from the bottom three and finish 14th.

He also steered them into their first major final for 22 years although they were beaten 3-1 by Manchester City in the League Cup at Wembley.

But the Uruguayan has become the sixth Premier League manager to leave this season with Sunderland winning only four of their 29 league matches.

Defeats included an 8-0 loss at Southampton, the joint worst in their league history, while Saturday’s reverse to Villa was their heaviest at home since 2007.

Poyet succeeded Paolo di Canio as manager with the team bottom of the Premier League and although their results improved slightly after his arrival they were still bottom of the table with five matches to play.

Unlikely wins at Chelsea and Manchester United, however, as well as home victories over Cardiff City and West Bromwich Albion secured their top-flight place for an eighth successive season.

Poyet antagonised Sunderland’s fans this season by saying they were “living in the past” and thousands streamed out of the ground as they went 4-0 down to Villa before halftime. Some angry supporters had to be restrained as they headed towards Poyet in the dugout.

(This version of the story corrects Poyet’s age to 46 in sixth paragraph)

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Continue Reading →

Russian official dismisses 2018 boycott suggestion

Meanwhile, football’s world governing body FIFA said it believed the 2018 tournament in Russia would be a “force for good”.


Vyacheslav Koloskov, a former FIFA vice-president, said attempts to disrupt the tournament would fail, just as they had with last year’s Sochi Winter Olympics after some observers objected to Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws.

“In terms of a boycott, unfortunately Poroshenko is not the first person to talk about this,” Koloskov told Reuters by telephone.

“There were also attempts to boycott the Winter Olympics. No one was able to do anything then and I think exactly the same will happen with regards to the World Cup.

“Sepp Blatter often says that politics is politics and football is football. Of course he will not allow a boycott to happen. In Ukraine they don’t know anymore what they are trying to achieve. First one thing, then another, then a third thing…

“We will host the 2018 World Cup and we will host it well.”

“I would not want to compare things with the 1980 Olympics when a number of countries boycotted it due to political motives,” he added.

Koloskov warned that if a country qualified and decided not to take part, they could be banned from the next World Cup.

“I don’t think anyone will be risking a boycott given the likely consequences,” he said


FIFA said in a statement to Reuters that it “deplores any form of violence and will continue to use its tournaments to promote dialogue, understanding and peace among peoples.”

“History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems,” FIFA said.

“FIFA is convinced that, through football, particularly the FIFA World Cup and its international spotlight, we can achieve positive change in the world, but football cannot be seen as a solution for all issues, particularly those related to world politics.

“We have seen that the FIFA World Cup can be a force for good and FIFA believes this will be the case for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.”

Poroshenko had used social media to voice his views, posting on his personal Twitter feed: “While ever there are Russian forces in Ukraine, I believe that holding the World Cup in that country (Russia) is not possible.”

In an interview with German newspaper Bild, he urged his country’s allies to consider a boycott if Moscow does not pull all its troops out of his country’s territory.

“I think there has to be discussion of a boycott of this World Cup,” said Poroshenko, who was in Berlin on an official visit on Monday.

The Ukrainian president is to ask Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel to push for tougher sanctions on Russia because of what he described as repeated separatist violations of the ceasefire which she helped broker last month.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne, additional reporting by Stephen Brown and Richard Balmforth, editing by Ed Osmond)

Continue Reading →

Giovinco hopes for Azzurri future while thriving in Toronto

Giovinco surprised many when he left Italian champions Juventus in January to move to the Canadian club for a reported annual salary in excess of $7 million — a league high.


The Turin-born forward played in Italy’s last friendly in November against Albania but reports suggest Conte may leave him out of the European Championship qualifier against Bulgaria and friendly against England this month since he is just in early season in MLS.

“I don’t know, only he knows,” Giovinco, who has played 21 times for the Italian national team, told Reuters. “If it is opportune, he will call me.”

But the 28-year-old striker doesn’t believe that his move to MLS has automatically ended his international career.

“It is not like that all. The door is open,” he said, adding that he continued to have a good rapport with Conte, who coached him at Juventus before taking the Azzurri job. “We have a good relationship but it is a normal one. It’s not like we speak every day or something.”

Conte was publicly supportive of Giovinco’s decision to move to MLS at a time when many in Italy questioned his decision to leave Serie A for the emerging North American league – a drop in standard, albeit with a handsome pay rise.

The former Parma player says many of his old friends from Italian football are fascinated by MLS.

“They are curious. I think they know that I have made an excellent choice. There are many who would like to come and play over here,” said Giovinco.

The deals to bring England internationals Frank Lampard to New York City FC and Steven Gerrard to LA Galaxy, both of which will see those players move after the end of the current Premier League season, grabbed more attention than Giovinco’s transfer but in many ways his switch was more significant.

Age-wise, the forward is in his peak years rather than, like many of the big names who have moved to MLS, in the twilight of his career.

While MLS teams are always conscious of marketing opportunities, Toronto, who have one win and one defeat from their opening two games, clearly expect Giovinco to make a huge impact, primarily, on the field.

Toronto coach Greg Vanney says the speedy and diminutive forward has fit in perfectly at the club.

“I couldn’t have imagined it being better. He is a great personality, he loves playing the game and he is fun to watch and obviously to coach and he is very humble,” he told Reuters.

Vanney enthuses when he considers the options that Giovinco provides him with in attack.

“He’s so quick, his first touch is so precise, he can do a lot of things, he wins himself time and with his quickness he can get away from people. He is going to be great for us,” he said.

The player admits though that he is still adjusting to playing with a new club in a new league.

“There is a big difference in terms of the rhythm of the game and the style of play but I will try to adapt as soon as possible,” said Giovinco.

“I’ve been watching all the games I can from MLS on television. It is going to be difficult for sure we have to look to continuously improve.”

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

Continue Reading →

Morris eyes off Blues fullback spot

Brett Morris believes a number of established NSW fullbacks are entitled to be upset if a blow-in like himself is installed as the Blues No.


1 in this season’s State of Origin series.

The race for Jarryd Hayne’s vacated custodian role is on in earnest just two rounds into the NRL season.

Canterbury coach Des Hasler has installed new Bulldogs fullback Morris as an early favourite for the key position, after a stunning start in the opening two rounds of 2015.

All 10 of Morris’ NSW appearances have come on the wing.

“It’s a totally different ball game, the rep scene,” Morris said.

“Obviously I’ve played a lot of wing there and not much fullback so if the opportunity comes and they want me to play there I would put my hand up.

“There are a lot of guys, playing fullback for a lot of years, that would probably be a bit filthy if a makeshift fullback jumped in.

“Obviously that is one position that is up for grabs at NSW this year with Jarryd going.

“There are a lot of great No.1s out there, it is only my second week there and I’m not looking too far ahead,”

Morris crossed for two tries in Canterbury’s win over Parramatta on Friday, after running for 203m and scoring a try the week before in the loss to Penrith.

But he has plenty of opposition in the fight to be Hayne’s successor against the likes of Brett Stewart, Josh Dugan, Will Hopoate, Matt Moylan and even James Tedesco.

“I thought Hoppa played well against us and he played well last week,” Morris said.

“Brett Stewart has been a great player for so many years.

“It’s nice to hear (my name put forward) from Des, but my main focus in on club footy, you don’t really have a say in it anyway – the selectors pick the side.

“I have always been a firm believer that I will always do whatever is best for the team.

“There has been a lot of hard work in the pre-season to get ready for the role of fullback.

“I’m really enjoying it at the moment.”

Continue Reading →

France blocks websites over terror concern

France has blocked five websites accused of condoning terrorism, in the first use of new government powers that came into force in February.


One of the sites – al-Hayat Media Center – is accused of links to the Islamic State group, the interior ministry said on Monday.

The site “islamic-news.info” has also been blocked since the end of last week.

The banning order was given to internet service providers, who had 24 hours to take “all necessary measures to block the listing of these addresses” under the new rules.

They were introduced as part of a package of counter-terrorism measures approved by parliament in November.

Critics argued they could breach citizens’ rights by bypassing the need for a judge to make the banning orders.

Other powers include the right to stop people travelling out of the country if they are suspected of trying to join jihadist groups.

Six French citizens aged between 23 and 28 had their passports and identity cards confiscated in February for a period of six months. The order can be renewed.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said at the time that 40 more people were likely to be barred from travelling in the coming weeks.

He visited California last month, meeting major internet firms in a bid to improve information-sharing about online jihadist networks, and was due to meet internet company bosses again in Paris in early April.

The interior ministry has set up a warning system through which friends and family can alert authorities about potential jihadist cases.

Cazeneuve said last month that the ministry had been alerted to over 1000 cases and that “several dozen” planned trips to Syria and Iraq had been prevented as a result.

Continue Reading →