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China Communist party paper The People’s Daily has started a heated debate about whether Chinese athletes represent the nation after criticizing tennis player LI NA and world-record-holding swimmer SUN YANG for being “overly prima donna-ish,” according to Patrick Boehler of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. The People's Daily wrote on Monday, "Who can restrain this terrible capriciousness?" Sun "was criticised by the paper for falling out with his long-time coach ZHU ZHIGEN, casting doubt over his participation" at the World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona in July. Meanwhile, Li "has provoked ire amongst Chinese sports pundits and nationalists after frequent remarks that she owes her success to her own efforts." The People's Daily wrote, "These accomplishments are not a sufficient excuse for these two iconic Chinese athletes to turn their personality into capriciousness." The paper also called for a “bottom line” to their erratic behavior. Since then, the question "has snowballed online into a debate that dominated Chinese microblogs" on Wednesday. The role of athletes "has changed in China," argued the Guangdong-based Southern Metropolis Daily, criticizing the People’s Daily in an editorial. It wrote they "should not be burdened by expectations by ‘the nation’ or ‘the people'" (SCMP, 7/3).
LIONEL MESSI's charity game, a "Battle of the Stars" which was scheduled to take place at L.A.'s Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday and feature a number of the world's top footballers, "was canceled Tuesday," according to Kevin Baxter of the L.A. TIMES. The announcement gave way to "a blistering attack" from El Padrino Spirits Public Relations VP RALINA SHAW. Shaw said, "In all the years I've been doing live events, I have never encountered a situation like this. It's unfortunate because the only losers in this scenario are the fans that were looking forward to the game." El Padrino CEO TODD GRAHAM said, "After hours of trying to convince Lionel Messi's management team to fulfill their contractual agreement and come to Los Angeles, it is clear they have no respect for these fans and this market" (L.A. TIMES, 7/2).
MESSI APOLOGIZES: Ole reported Messi said in an apology on his Facebook page, "I am disappointed in the management of the charity game in Los Angeles. I had a lot of desire to attend and enjoy this as I did in Perú and Colombia. This project is done for the fans, and because of this I am very disappointed with the organization. A special hug to any people that were going to support this cause at Memorial Coliseum and thanks to everyone for your support" (OLE, 7/3).
CONFLICT IN PERÚ: EL BOCÓN reported that during Messi's "Messi and the Rest of the World" charity game in Lima, Perú on Tuesday night, "it was not all happiness because with 15 minutes remaining, Messi left the field to intervene in a scuffle between stadium security personnel and Messi's family members." Messi's father, JORGE, and brothers RODRIGO and MATIAS were escorted from the field after approaching Messi's team's bench. Messi then "immediately left the field and returned to his hotel without showering" (EL BOCÓN, 7/3).
Spanish second division side Girona has named RICARDO RODRÍGUEZ its head coach. Rodríguez was previously coach of Saudi Arabia's U17 national team (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 7/3). ... The Spanish Football League (LFP) has appointed ALONSO VARA as marketing director, "continuing the changes that started with the arrival of LFP President JAVIER TEBAS." Vara previously worked in the marketing departments of La Liga sides Espanyol and Real Sociedad (EL CONFIDENCIAL, 7/3). ... Spanish second division side Sabadell hired JAVIER SALAMERO as its coach on Wednesday, replacing LLUIS CARRERAS (MARCA, 7/3). ... Former Transport Minister and Dutch flag carrier KLM CEO CAMIEL EURLINGS "has been nominated to succeed KING WILLEM-ALEXANDER as the Dutch representative" on the IOC. Eurlings chaired Dutch efforts to attract the 2028 Olympics to the Netherlands, "which were abandoned by the new government last year" (DUTCH NEWS, 7/3).
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NBA Oklahoma Thunder player SERGE IBAKA will help basketball "take over the Etihad Stadium" in Manchester, England later this month. The Thunder "will be on hand to host a special three-on-three competition for fans" ahead of the team's game against Philadelphia on Oct. 8 (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 7/3). ... Former world and Olympic champion LIBBY TRICKETT is retiring. Trickett retired in '09, but "returned to the pool" in '10. Trickett said "there would be no comebacks this time" with an injury to her wrist proving "too great to overcome" (THE AGE, 7/3).
FOOTBALL NAMES: Former Serie A Cagliari midfielder FABIAN O'NEILL "sensationally confessed to fixing two Serie A games and punching GENNARO GATTUSO." The Uruguayan of Irish heritage "is now retired" at the age of 39, but played for Cagliari from '95-00, going on to Juventus in '00-02 and Perugia for six months (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 7/3). ... Former Spain coach JOSE ANTONIO CAMACHO has received €6.4M ($8.3M) in compensation "following his sacking" as China national team coach. Although the deal has not yet been officially confirmed, Chinese media "are reporting that the 58-year-old’s contract stipulated he would be awarded the amount in case of early dismissal" (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 7/3). ... Former Mexican football player ANTONIO JOSSO died on June 26 of natural causes at age 78 (LA AFICION, 7/3).
London Times' KEVIN EASON: "For tyre lovers everywhere, just back from garage with a flat rear left. Spooky or what. Michelin though"
London Telegraph's SIMON BRIGGS: "As Andy Murray walks onto Centre Court, we should salute Wimbledon for refusing to be drawn into the fad for meaningless prematch interviews"
Former tennis player MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: "We lost the match but I got a picture with sir Alex:)"
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