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Fulham turned over a new leaf in the first Premier League game of 2013 by winning 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion on New Year's Day to record only their second win in 13 matches.

Dimitar Berbatov claimed the first goal of the calendar year to put Fulham in front, with Alex Kacaniklic netting a 58th-minute winner after Romelu Lukaku had equalised for West Brom with his seventh goal of the campaign.

It was only Fulham's second away win of the season and lifted Martin Jol's side two places to 12th, while Steve Clarke's West Brom remain seventh.

The final weekend of Premier League football in 2012 had dissolved in a blitz of 41 goals, but the first half at the Hawthorns showcased a sleepier side to the English top flight.

West Brom centre-back Gabriel Tamas headed wide from a corner in the 29th minute, before Berbatov spurned the game's first real chance when he blazed over from 25 yards after Chris Brunt miscued a back-pass.

When the breakthrough arrived, following a rapid Fulham counter-attack in the 39th minute, its quality was completely at odds with what had come to pass before.

Defending a corner, Fulham saw the ball pop out to Giorgios Karagounis, who helped it on to Berbatov in the centre circle.

The Bulgarian sprayed a pass wide to Ashkan Degajah, and he took a touch before cutting the ball back for the inrushing Berbatov to tuck a first-time shot between the legs of goalkeeper Ben Foster.

In response, Youssouf Mulumbu headed wide from Liam Ridgewell's left-wing cross, but West Brom had to wait only four minutes to level in the second half.

Serena Williams stamped her authority on the Brisbane International on Tuesday when she crushed Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-2.

On a day that saw second seed Maria Sharapova withdraw with an injured collarbone and fifth and sixth seeds Sara Errani and Petra Kvitova bundled out, Williams was all business as she disposed of Cornet in exactly one hour.

The 15-times Grand Slam winner broke Cornet in the first game of the match and was never troubled after that, as she broke the Frenchwoman once more in the first set and twice in the second for a comprehensive victory.

Williams had far too much firepower for Cornet, hitting 25 winners to four including six aces. One in the second set was clocked at 200 kmh (125 mph).

The third-seeded American stepped up a gear from her opening-round win over fellow countrywoman Varvara Lepchenko.

"She's (Cornet) a former top 15 player and we've had a tough three-set match before, so I knew I had to play really well," she said.

"I tried to be more aggressive and tried to be more consistent."

Sharapova was earlier forced to withdraw with a right collarbone injury.

The Russian world number two sent scans of her injury to her doctor in New York, who advised her not to do any overhead training for at least a week.

"So to be fair I haven't really given myself a chance to pretty much hit any serves or anything over my head, I've just been practising ground strokes. So I just kind of ran out of time here," she said.

It is the second year in a row that Sharapova has withdrawn from the tournament without playing a shot.

In 2012 she skipped Brisbane because of an ankle injury and went straight to Melbourne to prepare for the Australian Open, where she finished runner-up to Victoria Azarenka.

Sharapova said she would do the same this year, passing up the opportunity of playing in Sydney next week to make sure she is fit for Melbourne.

Former Wimbledon champion Kvitova, who won in Brisbane in 2011, went down 6-4, 7-5 to Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, while Italy's Errani lost in three sets to 2012 runner-up Daniela Hantuchova 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.

"It wasn't my best tennis today and I think that it's the beginning of the season, so I hoped that it could be better, for sure," Kvitova said.

European Union (EU) legal backing for the free broadcast in Britain of the football World Cup and European Championships has been hailed as good news for fans and for the profile of the game.

An Advocate-General at the European Court of Justice rejected appeals by Fifa and Uefa against a ruling that the matches should be open to bidding from pay TV companies.

The Advocate-General - whose formal "opinion" will now be considered by the full court before a final ruling - said national authorities had the right under EU law to ensure "broad public access" to competitions deemed as "events of major importance for their society".

Fifa and Uefa, which organise the World Cup and European Championship finals respectively, claim an EU directive on television broadcasting which allows member states to block restrictive broadcast rights to major national events breaches their commercial freedom to sell exclusive screening access.

Such events are compiled on a UK list, approved by the European Commission as compatible with EU rules, and which includes all matches of the World Cup finals or the EURO finals.

Conservative MEP for East Midlands Emma McClarkin said: "Of course these are events of national importance in Britain.

Australia returned to form with a 20-14 victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday which also saw them end their lengthy wait for a Test try.

The Wallabies were unrecognisable from the side thrashed 33-6 by France in Paris last week and were unfortunate to be 14-11 down at the break.

England held a slender interval advantage thanks to three Toby Flood penalties and a controversial try from Manu Tuilagi.

Tuilagi's score cancelled out a deserved try by Wallaby wing Nick Cummins -- his first in Tests and Australia's first in 212 minutes of international rugby.

Recalled full-back Berrick Barnes, who also kicked astutely out of hand, then nudged Australia six points in front early in the second half.

And the Wallabies, with their scrum vastly improved, held on for a win that eased the pressure on their under-fire Kiwi coach Robbie Deans.

Defeat left England searching for their first win against a southern hemisphere giant under coach Stuart Lancaster after two defeats and a draw on tour against South Africa earlier this year.

England recalled Chris Ashton after the wing missed last week's 54-12 win over Fiji through suspension.

By contrast, Australia made four changes to their Paris team, with Barnes, wing Digby Ioane, lock Sekope Kepu and tighthead prop Ben Alexander recalled.

Flood's early penalty gave England the lead but it was Australia who dominated territory with a surge by openside flanker Michael Hooper taking the Wallabies into the hosts' 22.

Hooper found Cummins but he was held up short of the line but, after the ball was once more re-cycled from a ruck, Barnes kicked a close-range drop-goal to level the scores.

Another Flood penalty took England in front but Australia again came close to a try in the 29th minute after the ball was thrown to Hooper at the back of the line-out on the edge of the 22.

Alexander, after a series of rucks, thought he'd scored but French referee Romain Poite went to the replay offical and Scotland's Jim Yuille ruled 'no-try', with the ball obscured beneath a pile of bodies.

Barnes and Flood's exchanged penalties left England 9-6 in front before the try Australia had been threatening arrived in the 35th minute.


Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro claimed a surprise 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-3 victory over defending champion Roger Federer on Saturday to book his place in the semi-finals of the ATP Tour Finals.

Del Potro's victory ended Federer's 12-match winning run at the season-ending event and guaranteed he will qualify from Group B along with the Swiss star.

Federer, who has won the Tour Finals title for the last two years, already knew he was through after winning his first two group matches at London's O2 Arena.

The semi-final match-ups will not be decided until after the final group match between David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic later on Saturday.

Victory for Ferrer would mean it is Federer who plays Andy Murray with del Potro playing Novak Djokovic, while a Tipsarevic win would reverse the fixtures.

Federer had won 13 of his previous 16 meetings, but the Argentine has given him plenty of trouble at times.

As well as winning his only Grand Slam title with a win over Federer at the 2009 US Open, del Potro also handed the 31-year-old his only other indoor defeat in the last two years in the final of his hometown tournament in Basle last month.

That pattern continued as a tight first set saw sixth-seeded del Potro save three break points to keep Federer at bay.

Then in the tie-break, Federer suddenly lost his rhythm and del Potro took advantage to snatch the first set.


After a year of race rows plaguing English football, more Britons think racism is widespread in the national game and a majority feel it will be impossible to eradicate it completely, according to a poll.

In the wake of incidents involving Chelsea's John Terry, Liverpool's Luis Suarez and now alleged comments by referee Mark Clattenburg, the survey revealed four out of 10 (40%) respondents agreed that racism is widespread in English football, an increase on 31% in June 2012.

The majority of people (57%) said it would be impossible to eliminate racism from football but nearly two-thirds (62%) said harsher penalties for racist behaviour would reduce the number of racist incidents, according to the ComRes poll for the Sunday Mirror.

And after Chelsea accused Clattenburg of using "inappropriate language" towards John Obi Mikel during last weekend's crunch match against Manchester United, nearly two thirds (62%) said referees' conversations with players on the pitch should be recorded.

Among the respondents who identified themselves as having an interest in football, the figure jumped to 75%. More than half of those asked (55%) also thought police were right to launch an investigation into the allegations against Clattenburg, which the referee strenuously denies. But less than a quarter (23%) thought referees get the respect they deserve from players, the survey showed.

Less than a fifth of respondents (18%) thought the behaviour of professional footballers had improved over the last ten years and there was support for "sin bins", with 64% saying they would favour players to be forced to sit out a period of a match if they behaved in an unsportsmanlike manner. Nearly half (46%) of those with an interest in football said there had been an increase in the number of racist incidents in the last five years, the poll showed.

Over a quarter (28%) thought the Football Association (FA) is not taking the issue of racism seriously enough and over half (51%) thought the penalties for racist language in football were not severe enough. While 41% thought the FA was taking racism seriously enough, less than a third of respondents (29%) said they were satisfied with the way the FA governs professional football in England, while 33% were dissatisfied.

A 21-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of assault after Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland was hit by a fan during a Championship game.

The incident was one of a number of ugly scenes at Hillsborough during the 1-1 draw with Leeds United which was televised on Friday night.

Gloucestershire Police said the man was arrested in Cheltenham. A spokesman said: "The investigation is being led by South Yorkshire Police. The man currently remains in police custody."

Kirkland, who has played for England, was shoved to the ground moments after conceding an equaliser in the 76th minute. A hooligan ran from the Leeds fans onto the pitch and pushed Kirkland in the face, before running back into the crowd.

The incident was caught on camera by Sky Sports who were broadcasting the derby game, yet the suspect was not arrested until Sunday. Quickly the thug was identified on social media sites with hundreds of fans joining in the condemnation. A mobile phone number was even posted, supposedly belonging to the suspect.

Ten-man Liverpool were left searching for their first Premier League win under new manager Brendan Rodgers as arch-rivals Manchester United came from behind to win 2-1 at an emotional Anfield on Sunday.

This was Liverpool's first home match since an independent report cleared their fans of any responsibility for the 1989 Hillsborough disaster where 96 of the Merseysiders' supporters were crushed to death during an FA Cup semi-final.

Liverpool played more than half the match a man down after Jonjo Shelvey was sent off in the 39th minute for a two-footed challenge on Jonny Evans.

But they still took a 46th minute lead when captain Steven Gerrard -- whose 10-year-old cousin, Jon-Paul Gilhooley, was the youngest fan to die at Hillsborough -- volleyed home from near the penalty spot.

However, United only had to wait five minutes for an equaliser when Rafael curled in a superb shot from the right-hand side of the Liverpool area.

And with 15 minutes to go United -- who had missed their last three penalties -- were awarded a spot-kick when Liverpool defender Glen Johnson brought down Antonio Valencia.

There was a delay of several minutes as Liverpool defender Daniel Agger received treatment for an injury before Dutch striker Robin van Persie beat goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

Victory saw United move to within a point of leaders Chelsea while defeat left Liverpool languishing in the bottom three.

"It is a great result for us but we did not play well," United manager Sir Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports.

"In the first half Liverpool dominated us, in the second half we had better possession but they had 10 men, we can't take great credit for that."

Rodgers hailed his "heroic" side and said decisions had gone against them.

"I thought the players were heroic in terms of performance and the spirit," he said. "They were brilliant and didn't get what they deserved.

"Jonjo Shelvey, if he gets sent off then Jonny Evans has to go as well. I think both players' feet are off the floor.

The London Paralympics end on Sunday with a celebration of 11 days of elite sporting action, amid claims of a "seismic" shift in social attitudes towards people with disabilities but hopes for greater inclusion.

As the last medals were won, attention shifted to the closing ceremony on Sunday evening, which the show's artistic director has promised will be an emotional farewell to the Paralympic flame and a musical celebration of the human spirit.

Organisers billed the Games as the biggest and most high-profile in Paralympic history, with more media attention than ever before and a record 4,200 athletes from more than 160 countries, including for the first time reclusive North Korea.

London 2012 chief Sebastian Coe said that with 2.7 million tickets sold, packed venues and vocal crowds, the Games had not only created a global plaform for elite disabled sport but also helped change perceptions of people with disabilities. 

"I really genuinely do think that we have had a seismic effect on shifting public attitudes," he told a news conference at Olympic Park in east London.

"I don't think people will ever see sport in the same way again. I don't think they will ever see disability in the same way again. We have talked about what we can do rather than what we can't do."

One stand-out performer of the Games was British wheelchair racer David Weir, who on Sunday was roared to victory in the men's marathon around the streets of central London for his fourth gold.

Australia beat Canada for "murderball" -- wheelchair rugby -- gold, while Russia were out for revenge over neighbours Ukraine for defeat in the seven-a-side football final in Beijing four years ago.

The final golds conclude the action, which notably saw the Games' most high-profile athlete Oscar Pistorius stripped of his 100m and 200m crowns but then conclude the track and field programme with a stunning victory in the 400m.

But new stars have been found to challenge the South African "Blade Runner", who made history last month by becoming the first double-amputee to compete at the Olympics, and the focus of the Games has shifted away from disability.

"I think people are going to look back at this Paralympic Games and for the first time really, truly believe that Paralympic sport is not just inspirational, it's hardcore sport," said Pistorius.

"It's full of triumph, sometimes it has disappointment, but that's what we look for in sport. We want it to be competitive and that's what it's been about." 

London was awarded the Olympics and Paralympics in 2005 and has had to face doubts in particular over the cost of the project, security and whether the city's creaking transport system could cope with a massive influx of visitors.

But the efficient running of both events and the public response has defied naysayers who predicted chaos and a lack of enthusiasm.

The president of the International Paralympic Committee, Philip Craven, said the challenge was to maintain interest between now and the next Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016 -- as well as increase participation around the world.

"We have to really concentrate on getting every country doing more Paralympic sport," he added.

The daughter of German-Jewish neurologist Ludwig Guttmann, who organised the first recognised sporting event for disabled people in southern England in 1948, also said there was more work to do, despite improvements since her father's time.


London 2012 chairman Lord Coe believes it is within the "wit and wisdom" of decision-makers to keep a track and field legacy at the Olympic Stadium.

It has yet to be finalised what to do with the 80,000-seat stadium after London 2012, with Premier League outfit West Ham among four bidders interested in becoming tenants.

The process has been hit by a series of delays and legal wrangles while there has also been a focus on keeping to the original promise of an athletics legacy at the venue.

Lord Coe remains confident that a track and field legacy will remain at the stadium and believes there will be an outcome that works for all parties.

He said: "I only tend to interfere when I get irritated about things.