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Liverpool's search for a new manager suffered a setback on Friday when Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers rejected the chance to talk to the Anfield club.

Rodgers is regarded as one of the best young managers in the Premier League and was high on Liverpool's list of potential candidates to replace Kenny Dalglish, who was sacked on Wednesday following a disappointing league campaign.

Fenway Sports Group, the Merseyside club's owners, have had an approach to speak to Wigan manager Roberto Martinez accepted and were also keen to interview Rodgers, but it was widely reported on Friday that the 39-year-old Northern Irishman has turned down the opportunity to speak to the Reds.

The Guardian reported that Rodgers believes Liverpool should already know enough about his qualities to offer him the job if they feel he is the right man, rather than involve him in a drawn-out interview process that may feature several managers.

He is also said to be keen not to be seen to chase other jobs out of respect to Swansea.

 

Hodgson has taken the first step towards becoming the next England manager after telling West Brom he wants to speak to the Football Association about replacing Fabio Capello.

West Bromwich Albion have confirmed permission has been granted for talks to open.

The move has stunned the English game as Tottenham Hotspurs manager Harry Redknapp was widely expected to get the job.

West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace said: "The club are currently in negotiations with Roy about a new contract - his current deal ends on June 30 - and remain very keen to bring these talks to a successful conclusion. However, Roy has expressed a desire to explore this opportunity and, accordingly, the club have granted him permission to speak to the FA.

"Roy has done a fantastic job over the past 15 months and the fact the FA want to discuss the England role with him is testament to that. However, we have emphasised to Roy how much we would like him to remain as our head coach and continue his major contribution to our project at the Hawthorns as we look to establish ourselves as a Barclays Premier League club."

It is still possible that Hodgson will say no to the England job but that seems unlikely as he has said in the past it would be "a tremendous honour".

 

Bolton captain Kevin Davies hopes Fabrice Muamba can boost his side's survival bid by attending Wednesday's home game against Tottenham.

Muamba is making a miraculous recovery from the cardiac arrest he suffered in the abandoned FA Cup tie at Tottenham last month and Davies, who scored twice to earn a valuable 2-2 draw at Sunderland on Saturday, hinted the midfielder could be about to make his first appearance at a match since his horrific collapse.

Davies believes the sight of Muamba watching from the stands would provide a major boost to both his team-mates and Bolton's fans as Wanderers try to climb out of the Premier League relegation zone.

"There's talk he could be coming. It would give us a huge lift," Davies said.

While Muamba's presence would be a lift, Bolton manager Owen Coyle believes his team must follow the example of Davies to preserve their 11-year Premier League status.

Coyle, whose side remain in the bottom three, revealed the 35-year-old striker has played through the pain barrier in Bolton's battle against relegation.

 

 

Police are investigating reports that the woman raped by footballer Ched Evans has been named and abused on a social networking site.

It follows a complaint to North Wales Police by a leading rape charity, which said the alleged comments on Twitter were "profoundly disturbing".

Sheffield United and Wales striker Evans, 23, was jailed for five years at Caernarfon Crown Court on Friday after being found guilty of raping the woman who was "too drunk to consent".

A spokeswoman for North Wales Police said: "We are aware of some comments made on social media sites and we are collating all relevant information."

Rape and other sexual assault victims are guaranteed the legal right to lifetime anonymity. But victims' groups fear the current criminal justice rules could be inadequate to guarantee anonymity in the age of social media.

 

Wales claimed their third Six Nations Grand Slam in eight years when they beat World Cup finalists France 16-9 at the Millennium Stadium here on Saturday.

The Welsh side, marshalled magnificently by fly-half Rhys Priestland and indefatigable flanker Dan Lydiate, produced a nervous display but still managed to dominate a conservative France team that relied heavily on a kicking game.

The victory, following successes over Ireland (23-21), Scotland (27-13), England (19-12) and Italy (24-3), was sweet revenge for the heart-breaking one-point loss Wales suffered against Les Bleus in the World Cup semi-final.

A stunning solo try by winger Alex Cuthbert, allied with three penalties and a conversion by Leigh Halfpenny were enough to see off a French side that scored three penalties through Dimitri Yachvili (2) and Lionel Beauxis.

"This makes all the sacrifices worth while," said Wales skipper Sam Warburton, who was sent-off in last year's World Cup semi-final defeat.

"You have to give credit to the French. They made it difficult for us to get our game going. But we won and that's what counts."

Man of the match Lydiate was overjoyed by the victory.

"It's a very young team and this was their first chance to win anything. To do it at home in the last match in the Six Nations, what could be better?," said the flanker.

 

A black footballer who was released from his club is bringing a claim for race discrimination, it has emerged.

Mark McCammon, 33, claims he and other black players at Gillingham FC were treated differently from white players.

The player confirmed the story, which appeared in the Sunday Telegraph, saying only: "I'm hopeful that truth will prevail but I can't comment any further at this stage."

The newspaper said the case was believed to be the first race discrimination claim brought by a professional footballer.

McCammon, a Barbados international forward, signed a three-year contract with League Two club Gillingham in 2008, and was released three seasons later.

The former Charlton, Swindon, Millwall and Brighton player is currently with Conference team Braintree Town.

 

 

John Terry is understood to have been stripped of the England captaincy.

The move follows concerns over the defender being the figurehead of the national team with a forthcoming racism trial hanging over him.

Football Association chairman David Bernstein had contacted all the other members of the 14-strong board to seek their views after the announcement that Terry's court case will not take place until July 9 - after Euro 2012.

It is understood that the majority view of the board members was that Terry should stand aside as captain.

Terry has been accused of racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand, a charge which he denies.

It would be the second time the Chelsea captain has been stripped of the England armband having also lost it two years ago after allegations surrounding his private life came to light. More than one board member argued strongly that Terry should not be the England figurehead with such a serious charge hanging over him, and that the FA should act immediately rather than putting off a decision until the next board meeting on February 23.

 

 

Egypt began three days of mourning on Thursday after 74 people were killed in an eruption of violence at a football match that sparked new anger against the military rulers for failing to ensure security.

The rioting in the northern city of Port Said on Wednesday night marked one of the deadliest incidents in football history and sent shares on the Cairo stock exchange plunging in Thursday trade.

Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzuri told an emergency session of parliament on the tragedy that the Egyptian football association's director and management board had been sacked, as had the Port Said security chief.

Ganzuri added that the governor of Port Said had resigned his post and his resignation accepted.

Clashes erupted as soon as the referee blew the final whistle in a match which saw home team Al-Masri beat Cairo's Al-Ahly 3-1.

Al-Masri fans flooded the pitch, throwing rocks, bottles and fireworks at Al-Ahly supporters, causing chaos and panic as players and fans ran in all directions trying to flee, witnesses said.

Photos of bleeding players circulated on the Internet.

Gunfire was also reported on the main road leading to Port Said from Cairo, and troops were deployed to prevent further clashes.

State television ran footage of riot police standing rigidly in rows as pandemonium erupted around them.

Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim has said most of the deaths were caused by the crush but medics said some people were stabbed.

The health ministry said 74 people were killed, including a policeman. Hundreds were also reported wounded. Police said 47 people had been arrested.

The ruling military announced three days of national mourning.

Stocks in Cairo tumbled by 4.6 percent, with the EGX-30 index of leading shares falling from 4.688 points at opening to 4.471 points.

The clashes -- blamed by the Muslim Brotherhood on supporters of fallen president Hosni Mubarak -- came as Egypt struggles with a wave of incidents linked to poor security.

Politicians, fans and players took to social media to express their fury over the clashes, which cap a year of political upheaval and unrest after the uprising that unseated Mubarak.

"There are dead people lying on the ground! There are dead people in the changing room," Al-Ahly striker Emad Meteab told the team's satellite channel.

"I won't play football anymore until these people get justice," a furious Meteab said.

Egypt's hated police force, which recently came under fire for its heavy-handed tactics, had been given instructions to deal carefully with protesters, sources said.

State television said Egypt's military ruler, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi who took power when the Mubarak was ousted on February 11 last year, sent two military planes to fly out the players and the injured from Port Said late Wednesday.

He stressed that the country's security was "fine" as he waited at a Cairo airport to meet the players and wounded fans.

In Geneva FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he was shocked by the incident. "This is a black day for football. Such a catastrophic situation is unimaginable and should not happen," he said.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced that a minute of silence will be observed at the Africa Cup of Nations this weekend in memory of those killed and injured in the disaster.

"African football is in a state of mourning," said CAF president Issa Hayatou.

 

LONDON - Arsenal staged a remarkable recovery from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 as they kept their FA Cup hopes alive with a dramatic fourth round win at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The Gunners, without a major trophy since winning the FA Cup seven years ago, were booed off by their own fans at half-time with their realistic chances of winning a trophy this season left hanging by a thread after a Richard Dunne header and Darren Bent strike had put Premier League rivals Villa 2-0 in front.

But three goals in seven second half minutes courtesy of two Robin van Persie penalties separated by a Theo Walcott effort, after an Alan Hutton clearance rebounded in off the England international, turned the match on its head.

"We wanted to stay in the Cup," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told ESPN when asked how the Gunners had recovered.

"Two-nil was very harsh for us at half-time. It was just a question of keeping our structure and then we got an early (goal to make it) 2-1."

Frustrated Villa manager Alex McLeish added: "We had a terrible eight minutes...The goal they (Arsenal) got gave them a huge lift and they scored the second goal far too quick after that."

Arsenal, still in the Champions League but 18 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City, will now play either Sunderland or second-tier Middlesbrough in the last 16 after they drew 1-1 earlier on Sunday.

 

ITV has landed two out of the three England group games for next year's Euro 2012 tournament.

The network will again share the rights to the competition with the BBC, broadcasting all 31 matches between them with both screening the final.

ITV1 will show the England clashes with France and Ukraine, while the BBC will host the game against Sweden.

But the BBC will have first choice if England make it through to the quarter-final stage and the rights to both semi-finals under the deal.

The tournament kicks off on June 6, with the BBC broadcasting the Poland v Greece opening match.