Sports

Feb 242016
 

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Gianni Infantino says now or never to reform FIFA

Fifa presidential hopeful Gianni Infantino says it is “now or never” for the future of football’s world governing body.

Infantino is hoping to succeed Sepp Blatter at Friday’s election after the 79-year-old Swiss was banned for eight years on corruption allegations.

Fellow candidate Prince Ali bin al-Hussein has made an official request for the election to be suspended.

But Infantino says it is almost certain to go ahead as planned.

The vote of up to 209 Fifa member federations takes place with the organisation embroiled in a corruption scandal with dozens of senior officials indicted by United States prosecutors.

Infantino is up against:

  • South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale
  • Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa
  • Former Fifa deputy general secretary Jerome Champagne
  • Fifa vice-president for Asia Prince Ali bin-al-Hussein of Jordan

Blatter and Uefa boss Michel Platini were banned in December from all football-related activities following an ethics investigation.

They were found guilty of breaches surrounding a £1.3m ($2m) “disloyal payment” made to Platini in 2011.

Blatter, who had been in charge of Fifa since 1998, was already stepping down this month, but denies any wrongdoing and has appealed against his ban.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Infantino said Fifa has to implement its reforms quickly if it is to regain its reputation.

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The Fifa corruption crisis explained

“We have all witnessed in the past few months sadly what has happened around Fifa. Truly the image and reputation of Fifa is at its worst,” said Infantino, who is general secretary of European football’s governing body Uefa.

“Something needs to be done. Reforms need to be implemented. They need to be voted first and then they have to be implemented.

“If we don’t do something now about it, to restore the image of Fifa and the reputation of Fifa – and to increase the development of football in the world – then I see no future for Fifa.”

Asked if that would mean Fifa could be shut down, Infantino replied: “No, I think football will always exist but as an organisation the way we have lived and perceived Fifa in the past months cannot continue.”

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West Ham win Kouyate red card appeal

 Posted by at 12:43 AM
Feb 242016
 
Senegal international Cheikhou Kouyate joined West Ham from Anderlecht in 2014

West Ham have won their appeal against Cheikhou Kouyate’s red card in their FA Cup fifth-round win at Blackburn.

Kouyate, 26, was sent off by referee Jonathan Moss for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity when bringing down Rovers defender Adam Henley during West Ham’s 5-1 win at Ewood Park.

The decision and one-match ban was overturned by an independent FA regulatory commission.

The midfielder can now play against Sunderland on Saturday (12:45 GMT).

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Feb 232016
 
Arrest after coin thrown at footballer
West Brom defender Chris Brunt confronts a fan after having a coin thrown at himImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Chris Brunt was hit on his face after the game on Saturday

Police investigating a coin thrown at West Bromwich Albion’s Chris Brunt after an FA Cup match at Reading have made an arrest.

The midfielder was hit on the face by the coin, thrown from a section housing West Brom fans, after he went to give his shirt to a supporter on Saturday.

West Brom lost 3-1 to Championship side Reading in the fifth round tie at the Madejski Stadium.

Thames Valley Police said a man was arrested on Tuesday.

More updates on this and more stories from Birmingham and Black Country

The force said the arrest was part of a joint operation with Hampshire Police.

The Northern Ireland international, who has played 313 games for West Brom, said he was “disgusted” and “ashamed” at being hit.

Albion fans are planning to hold bucket collections for a charity of the 31-year-old’s choice outside The Hawthorns before Saturday’s Premier League game against Crystal Palace.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Chris Brunt was named West Brom captain by the club’s then-head coach Roy Hodgson in 2011

The club has said it would impose “the severest of sanctions” on the culprit.

Chelsea said they will impose life bans on supporters who threw coins at Manchester City players during their FA Cup fifth-round tie at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, if they can be identified.

Referee Andre Marriner retrieved several coins that were thrown towards City striker David Faupala and his team-mates as they celebrated his equaliser.

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