Thursday, 31 October 2013

David Beckham coy on MLS franchise choice

David Beckham coy on MLS franchise choice

David Beckham coy on MLS franchise choice
London: David Beckham refused to confirm his interest in setting up a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami on Wednesday, amid reports he has chosen the city as his preferred location.

A source close to the matter revealed on Tuesday that Miami was Beckham`s "first choice" and reports in the British media suggest he is set to invest USD 25 million (15.5 million pounds, 18.2 million euros) in a new team based in Florida.

Beckham, 38, has an option to become a franchise owner after a clause was inserted into his contract when he joined Californian club Los Angeles Galaxy from Real Madrid as a player in 2007.

However, while the former England captain says he has considered Miami as a location for a franchise, he would not admit to having taken a final decision.

Speaking at the launch of his self-titled new book at a global book signing on Facebook in London on Wednesday, he said: "It (owning a franchise) is something that I was very interested in when I signed a contract with the LA Galaxy six or seven years ago.”

"My manager got a clause in my contract at the time to enable me to have a franchise at the end of my playing career and now I have obviously stopped playing.”

"A year ago I had a look around. Miami was one of the places, but we have looked at others too. It is exciting. I am passionate about staying in football.”

"Being an owner of a team is something that I`m passionate about."

Should he become a club owner, Beckham would have to pick a coach to manage his team, but he laughed off a suggestion that he could turn to his former manager at Manchester United, Alex Ferguson.

Ferguson, who retired in May, accused Beckham of becoming obsessed with fame in his own autobiography, which was launched last week.

"It`s funny, he was one of the first names I was going to call up to be manager. I`m not so sure now," Beckham said.

"All joking aside, I wouldn`t want to be negative about Sir Alex. He gave me the chance to live my dream."

Miami had one of the original MLS teams, the Fusion, but they folded after four seasons due to disappointing attendances.

Major League Soccer currently has 19 teams, and a 20th team, New York City FC, is set to launch in 2015.

That team is a joint venture of English Premier League team Manchester City and Major League Baseball`s New York Yankees.

Beckham, who won two MLS titles during his six-year spell at LA Galaxy, said he was optimistic about the future of the sport in the United States.

"It`s going to get better and bigger," he said.

"Since I moved there, 11 to 12 teams have come into the league. I have seen stadiums built. I have seen the excitement of the people talking about soccer or football." AFP --------------

Stars light up Paris Masters as contenders advance

Stars light up Paris Masters as contenders advance

Stars light up Paris Masters as contenders advance
Paris: Defending champion David Ferrer was pushed to three sets by Czech Lukas Rosol in his opening match at the Paris Masters on Wednesday before easing into the last-16, 6-0, 2-6, 6-3.

Rosol, who is part of his country`s squad to face Serbia in the Davis Cup final on November 15, appeared to be on the receiving end of a rout before fighting back to give Ferrer a scare when he won the second set 6-2.

However, the experience of the 31-year-old Grand Slam finalist proved decisive in the final frame as Ferrer consistently put pressure on the Rosol serve and was rewarded with a third round tie against Frenchman Gilles Simon.

The Nice native, a semi-finalist loser last year in Paris against Poland`s Jerzy Janowicz, defeated Nicolas Mahut in a marathon 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/3) second round matchup.

Simon led 4-1 in the final set before an injury break forced upon Mahut appeared to revive the taller Frenchman.

However, when the conclusion went to a tie-break, it was Simon who was strongest and finally closed out the longest match of the tournament for a rewarding victory.

"It was very difficult for both of us and we both had problems," said a relieved Simon.

"It`s the last tournament of the year and we`re ready to die out there but I`m very, very happy to have won this match."

Argentine fourth seed Juan Martin Del Potro made it 14 wins from 15 matches since the US Open, as he improved his record to eight victories in ten outings against returning Tour veteran Marin Cilic.

The 25-year-old, who won his fourth ATP title of the year last weekend at Basel, withstood 19 aces from his opponent before closing out a tense encounter 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) against the Croatian.

Cilic is playing his first tournament since Wimbledon, following a shortened doping ban.

"This is a really big tournament and very important for all the players so I`m very happy to have won and hope to go far in the tournament," said Del Potro.

"It`s fantastic to be back in Paris because I missed the French Open this year and a lot of people have come out to support me," he added.

Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka increased his chances of not only trying to finish the year inside the top ten for the first time, but also of protecting his eighth place ranking when he ground down Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

A tight match with just three breaks of serve in total swung the 2008 Olympic doubles champion`s way in the final frame, thanks to his booming serve that produced 19 aces.

This year`s US Open semi-finalist now faces 13th seed Nicolas Almagro following the Spaniard`s comfortable 6-4, 6-3 victory over Croatian Ivan Dodig.

Earlier, big-serving American John Isner bombarded Polish qualifier Michal Przysiezny with 27 aces on the way to a 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-3 second round win.

Awaiting the topped ranked US player is six-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic.

Rafael Nadal is next on centre court as he makes his much anticipated tournament debut against fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers, while his long-time rival Roger Federer is also in action.

The Swiss record Grand Slam holder needs to beat South African Kevin Anderson to seal his place at next month`s ATP World Tour Finals for the 12th straight season.

Canadian Milos Raonic, who faces Dutch qualifier Robin Haase in the final evening match-up, faces a daunting challenge in his bid to overtake Richard Gasquet, Wawrinka or Federer and gatecrash the World Tour Finals.

The powerful serving, Montenegro-born 22-year-old, must reach the final in Paris to have a chance of qualifying. AFP ------------------

Roger Federer seals ATP World Tour finals spot

Roger Federer seals ATP World Tour finals spot

Roger Federer seals ATP World Tour finals spot
Paris: Former world number one Roger Federer booked his place for the ATP World Tour finals when he dismissed South African Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4 to reach the third round of the Paris Masters on Wednesday.

The Swiss, who started the week in seventh place in the ATP Race to London, made sure of finishing in the top nine - the cut required after British world number four Andy Murray pulled out because of back surgery.

It is the 12th consecutive time Federer has qualified for the event and equals Ivan Lendl`s record for the most successive appearances at the season-ending event.

Two places are still available for next week`s showdown in London and Federer`s compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka stayed on course to snatch one of them by advancing in Paris at the expense of Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, whom he beat 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Wawrinka and France`s Richard Gasquet will claim the two spots if Canadian Milos Raonic, the third and last candidate, loses to Dutchman Robin Haase later on Wednesday.

Seventh seed Wawrinka hoping to qualify for the finals for the first time, started the week in eighth place.

Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Juan Martin del Potro and Tomas Berdych have already qualified.

Wawrinka`s victory means Spaniard Nicolas Almagro is ruled out of the race. German Tommy Haas, who was beaten 6-2, 6-2 by fellow German Philipp Kohlschreiber, also dropped out.

Federer barely broke sweat to knock out Anderson.

He broke his opponent`s serve in the first game and never looked back. Anderson`s series of unforced errors made sure there would be no contest at Bercy, even though the world number 21 rallied from 4-1 down in the second set.

World number one Nadal saw off fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers 7-5, 7-5 to advance into the third round as he aims to bag one of the three Masters titles he has never won.

Nadal was never really troubled by Granollers and broke decisively in the 11th game of each set to tee up a meeting with last year`s runner-up Jerzy Janowicz of Poland, the 14th seed.

"All opponents are good here. There is no easy opponent on a surface like this one, in a tough tournament like this one," the eight-time French Open champion told a news conference.

"But hopefully for my opponents I`m not going to be good news, either."

Wawrinka was pushed harder but the Swiss served 19 aces against Lopez and prevailed in under two hours, recovering quickly after a dip in concentration cost the 28-year-old the second set. Reuters -----------------

Martina Hingis questioned by police for allegedly assaulting husband

Martina Hingis questioned by police for allegedly assaulting husband

Martina Hingis questioned by police for allegedly assaulting husband
Johannesburg: Former Swiss tennis ace Martina Hingis has reportedly been questioned by police following claims that she had assaulted her French husband Thibault Hutin.

Police said that it now lay with prosecutors to decide what steps to take regarding Hutin`s complaint.

French equestrian Hutin, who married Hingis in December 2010, had filed a complaint against Hingis, her mother Melanie Molitor and boyfriend Mario Widmer in Spetember this year, claiming that the trio beat and scratched him, with Widmer striking him on the head with a DVD player.

According to Sport24, Hutin further claimed that he fled to Paris in fear after the alleged incident and had also received a text message, which threatened to `send the Russians` after him.

The report mentioned that the alleged incident came in the wake of the separation of Hutin and six-time Grand Slam winner Hingis, who came back from six years of retirement in July this year to play doubles, at the beginning of this year, due to `rocky relations`. ----------------

Capital One Cup Team of the Fourth Round: Pantilimon & magic Mata star

Capital One Cup Team of the Fourth Round: Pantilimon & magic Mata star

Capital One Cup Team of the Fourth Round: Pantilimon & magic Mata star

PANTILIMON v Newcastle
MCSHANE v Tottenham
LESCOTT v Newcastle
BUTTNER v Norwich
JANUZAJ v Norwich
TIOTE v Manchester City
ARNAUTOVIC v Birmingham
MATA v Arsenal
There were goals, extra time, penalties galore and a string of impressive performances in the Capital One Cup fourth round.

Manchester United romped to a 4-0 win over Norwich and Chelsea got the better of Arsenal, but Manchester City needed extra time to eliminate Newcastle, while Tottenham eventually knocked out Hull in a penalty shoot-out.

Stoke also went to penalties before beating Birmingham and West Ham left it late against Burnley, but Fulham were humbled by Championship side Leicester City.

Costel Pantilimon (4) was the pick of the goalkeepers, making some crucial saves and giving Joe Hart plenty to think about as City managed to beat Newcastle 2-0 after extra time.

Pantilimon's heroics were replicated by Joleon Lescott (3), who came to his goalkeeper's aid with a crucial goal-line clearance from a Hatem Ben Arfa shot. Lescott is joined by Paul McShane (3.5), the Hull defender who scored in extra time and converted a penalty for his side.

Both full-backs impressed, with Cesar Azpilicueta (3) bagging his first Chelsea goal against Arsenal, while Alexander Buttner (4) proved to be an attacking threat from the Manchester United left against Norwich.

Buttner was one of a handful of United players to shine against Norwich, and chief among them was Adnan Januzaj (4) who continues to catch the eye. Cheikh Tiote (3.5) joins Januzaj in midfield after replicating some of his best form at St James' Park on Wednesday night.

The forward three is comprised of Marko Arnautovic (4.5), who was both scorer and provider in an eight-goal blockbuster against Birmingham, and Juan Mata (3.5) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (4), who struck sensational goals against Arsenal and Hull respectively.

Finally, Goal's team of the Capital One Cup fourth round is completed by Chicharito (4), who converted from the penalty spot and scored a simple header to send the Premier League champions on their way to the last eight. --------------