Blatter faces judgement by FIFA ethics court ZURICH (AP): In the waning days of his presidency, Sepp Blatter attempted to save his job yesterday at the FIFA ethics committee that he helped create and whose authority he does not recognise in his case. The suspended FIFA president had been expected to tell four judges that he is innocent of wrongdoing during the hearing at the headquarters of soccer’s governing body, the first time Blatter has entered the building since he was banned for 90 days in October. “Blatter looks forward to a decision in his favour because the evidence requires it,” Blatter’s lawyer, Richard Cullen, said in a statement after the hearing. “The evidence demonstrates that president Blatter behaved properly and certainly did not violate FIFA’s Code of Ethics. This investigation should be closed and the suspension lifted.” With a large bandage on his face, Blatter arrived at FIFA headquarters shortly after 8 a.m. local time in a chauffeur-driven car for a hearing that was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. A spokesman for Blatter, Thomas Renggli, said the Swiss official has had a minor procedure to treat a skin problem on his right cheek. At 5 p.m., Blatter and lead lawyer Lorenz Erni drove away from the building without making any comment. Suarez hat-trick sends Barcelona into final YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP): Luis Suarez made up for the absence of a sick Lionel Messi and injured Neymar, scoring a hat-trick on Thursday as Barcelona beat Guangzhou Evergrande 3-0 to advance to the final of the Club World Cup. Suarez put Barcelona ahead just before half-time, hammering in a rebound off Ivan Rakitic’s long-range effort that was parried by Guangzhou goalkeeper Li Shuai. The striker made it 2-0 five minutes after the break when he controlled a pass from Andres Iniesta off his chest and beat Li with a right-footed volley. He put the result beyond doubt with a penalty kick after Huang Bowen took down Munir El Haddadi in the area. Barcelona will face South American champions River Plate in the final on Sunday. Ukrainian club Dnipro faces European ban NYON, Switzerland (AP): UEFA says Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, last season’s Europa League runner-up, faces being banned from playing in Europe unless $1.9 million in overdue payments are settled by next month. The Ukrainian club owes $910,000 to other clubs and $980,000 to staff. Dnipro have until January 31 to make the payments or UEFA will ban the club from the next European competition that they qualify for in the next three seasons. The club has been affected by the political and economic turbulence that has rocked Ukraine.
Veteran jockey Vassell ‘Jollyman’ Najair, at age 62, became one of the oldest jockeys to win at Caymans Park, this aboard the Oneil Markland-trained STIR IT UP in the ninth race over 1100 metres for the Titania Trophy yesterday. STIR IT UP stormed though approaching the distance, disposing of the leaders FIRE ALARM and SWEET DIMENSION for an 11-1 upset, winning by four lengths. It was the second time in eight days that Markland, who is popularly called ‘Sweety Man’, was providing Najair with a winner, following the 35-1 outsider FIX IT UP over the round five course on December 15, Najair’s first winner in over three years. Najair, who started riding as an apprentice to the legendary female trainer, Eileen Cliggott, at Caymanas Park in 1967, joins David ‘Scorcher’ McKenzie as the oldest jockeys to win at the park. McKenzie, who is still active in the saddle at 66, recalled that he rode his last winner four years ago at age 62 as well. And McKenzie was on hand in the vicinity of the Jockeys’ Room to congratulate Najair on his return. Trainer Markland, who also ran FIX IT UP in the race with an apprentice rider replacing Najair, said he was always confident that ‘jolly’ would get the job done. “Despite his age, he’s one of the fittest jockeys at the track. It’s all about self-belief and Najair is convinced that he has some good years left in the saddle,” said Markland. Smiling from ear to ear en route to the Jockeys’ Room – accompanied by the trainer – Najair, a father of three, said despite a rocky career, which included a number of suspensions mainly for anger management related issues, he still enjoys the thrill of victory. “They will have to carry me off the track … in another 10 years,” he jokingly remarked. Meanwhile, in the two other trophy races on the card, the Gary Subratie-trained BLUE DIXIE turned the tables on recent conqueror BUBBLING KITTEN by a head in the Sweet Ruckus Trophy. First past the post LORD EQUUS, in the Stewards’ Cup, was disqualified and placed second following a stewards’ inquiry and the race awarded to first-time runner SIR RAJA BABA, with whom he had interfered a furlong out.
After five games in charge of Waterhouse FC, head coach Paul Young is yet to win a game for the struggling club in the 2015-16 Red Stripe Premier League campaign.Young replaced Anthony Patrick as coach last month, but the team has only picked up three points from three drawn results to go with their two losses.With last year’s semi-finalists currently at the cellar in the 12 – team league, Young is certainly under pressure to turn the team’s fortunes around.However, with just 12 games remaining in the preliminary stage, the Drewsland club is quickly running out of time to make things right after sitting on 17 points from 21 games – unfamiliar territory.They are below Tivoli Gardens and Rivoli United – both on 19 points in the relegation group.Young admitted that the task is getting harder but remains optimistic that the team will improve under his guidance.”We played some tough games and did not get the desired results. It is now getting tougher. However, no team has outplayed us, so when we start scoring consistently, we will be okay,” Young told Saturday Sports.Young has added veteran Kevin Lamey to the team as well as schoolboys such as Kimarley Campbell, Dominic James, Dale Reid, Nicholas Nelson, Akeem Chambers, and George Brown in an effort to start turning draws and losses into wins.”The schoolboys are doing excellent and Kevin Lamey is there to guide them on the field. In that regard, I am very optimistic that we will improve our position and climb up the points table,” the former Reggae Boyz player, stated confidently.”I have to be worried because it is just taking a bit longer for us to start a winning run. In the last game on Wednesday against MoBay (Montego Bay United), we deserved to win although Mobay hit the post in the closing moments and the game ended 0-0,” Young explained.Looking ahead to the next game against Humble Lion at Effortville Community Centre in May Pen, tomorrow, starting at 3 p.m., the coach is hopeful that his team will start winning.”We have Humble Lion next, so the focus in training is to win that game,” he concluded.
Jamaica’s men’s team will contest the quarter-final of the Perfect 2016 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Malawati stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, after topping Group P by default, following the withdrawal of African nations Ghana and Democratic Republic of Congo because of ineligible players and financial reasons.The three Jamaicans who defeated Morroco and Laos by identical 3-0 margins – Michael Hyatt, Mark Phillip and Kane Watson – were given similar results in walkover wins against both African countries after their withdrawal.At press time, the Jamaicans, who topped Group P with maximum eight points ahead of Laos (seven) and Morroco (six), were yet to know their quarter-final opponents for today.Table Tennis Jamaica’s president, Godfrey Lothian, was expects the team to medal.”Jamaica is waiting to play the quarter-finals, and as president of Table Tennis Jamaica, I am really elated. At the World Championships in 2014, we won the Fifth Division, so when the country goes to a global tournament, there is expectation. Now, two years later at a global tournament, we are on a roll to the quarter-final, so I am extremely happy,” he told The Gleaner.CHAMPION IN SWEDENHe added: “One of the problems we have is that the national champion, Simon Tomlinson, is playing club table tennis in Sweden, therefore, he is not in Malaysia with the team, so we have a drawback. But I am thinking that Michael Hyatt, a three-time Olympian, young Mark Phillips and Kane Watson are a fairly good team and they will do well and we are expecting to medal,” he commented.In their first game on Sunday, Jamaica defeated Morrocco. Hyatt dismissed his opponent 11-6, 11-4, 11-5, Watson won 13-11, 11-5, 11-7 and Phillips won 11-4, 1-10, 11-4 win in the final match.In the second game against Laos, Hyatt scored a narrow and nail-biting 3-2 win 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-13, 4-11 over Phathaphone Thavisack. Watson then brushed aside Mosangsinh Sonpasith 3-0, winning 11-5, 11-4, 11-3 and Phillips beat Oliyavong Phonepaseud 3-2 in five sets 6-11, 12-10, 11-3, 6-11, 11-7.