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Volume 6 No. 195

People and Pop Culture

Former Chelsea FC striker DIDIER DROGBA said that he was "lured to China by a huge challenge in an unfamiliar land" and vowed to stay with the Shanghai Shenhua for the entirety of his two-and-a-half-year contract, according to Wang Zhenghua of the CHINA DAILY. Drogba arrived in Shanghai on Saturday morning and watched the game between his new side and Beijing Guo'an FC. Drogba said at a press conference, "Really, I didn't come here with the idea of making a lot of money. I came here because it is a completely different challenge from what I have seen in Europe." He added: "I looked at the project and it came with ambitious ideas and I want to help football develop in China. I know China is a great sports country, so for me it was also a big challenge because it could have been easy for me to stay in Europe and go to another team, another big team" (CHINA DAILY, 7/15).

HERO'S WELCOME: REUTERS' Royston Chan reported that more than 300 fans gathered at Shanghai airport to welcome Drogba on his "much-anticipated arrival" to join the Chinese Super League. Drogba's contract with the club is for a reported £193,000 ($300,000) a week. Drogba's arrival "is the latest in a long list of high-profile names" who have made the move to China in recent months (REUTERS, 7/14). The AP reported that Drogba said he would "not be winding down toward retirement in China but eager to show his best." Drogba said, "I am here to win matches and be the champion. I am not here to retire" (AP, 7/14). The BBC's John Sudworth wrote that Shenhua is a club "with an ambition that far outstrips its modest earnings." Drogba's reputed salary "is not far off the club's total revenue from ticket sales and advertising combined." Like other big spending Chinese clubs, "the maths add up only because of the big spending ways of the owners and the multi-billion-dollar companies they run" (BBC, 7/14).

CALL FOR HELP: In London, Tom Phillips reported that Drogba "immediately called for a couple of his Chelsea teammates to join him." Drogba said that he wanted to see JOHN TERRY and FRANK LAMPARD join him in Shanghai. Drogba said, "I need to speak to my president. Because I want them in my team" (TELEGRAPH, 7/14). In Shanghai, Ni Yinbin reported that "there has been speculation" that Drogba's ex-Chelsea teammate NICOLAS ANELKA will leave Shenhua "following his struggles in China." But Drogba "was confident" the Frenchman will stay. Drogba said, "About the rumors we can understand after all he came to a new environment with a different language. Today I read some newspaper saying he's waiting for me to come. Now I've come and I don't think he will leave" (SHANGHAI DAILY, 7/15).

Former England Manger FABIO CAPELLO has been named the new Russian National team coach, agreeing to a three-year deal worth £3.5M ($5.5M) a year. The fallout over England footballer JOHN TERRY being stripped of the national team's captaincy saw Capello lose his yearly £6M ($9M) post, allowing current England Manager ROY HODGSON to take over prior to the start of Euro 2012. Capello replaces DICK ADVOCAAT. Some of the other names mentioned for the position included ex-Tottenham coach HARRY REDKNAPP, former Liverpool boss RAFA BENITEZ and ex-Barca chief PEP GUARDIOLA (THE SUN, 7/15). Russian national football team captain ANDREI ARSHAVIN confirmed the hiring on his website. Arshavin: "Russia's national coach has been appointed -- he is Fadio Capello. We wish him success in the new job" (LONDON TIMES, 6/14)

Tennis player GUSTAVO KUERTEN was inducted as a member of the Int'l Tennis Hall of Fame in the U.S. city of Newport, Rhode Island. The Brazilian is a three time French Open champion (iG, 7/15). ... New Tottenham coach ANDRE VILLAS-BOAS "wasted no time in inflaming" the rivalry between Tottenham and Chelsea. He criticized the set-up at Stamford Bridge, comparing his old boss ROMAN ABRAMOVICH "unfavourably with his new boss" DANIEL LEVY and suggested that Spurs have a "greater history and more potential" than the west London side (INDEPENDENT, 7/15). ... DAVID HAYE "restored some of his tarnished boxing reputation" by knocking out DERECK CHISORA to win their heavyweight fight at Upton Park. Haye knocked Chisora to the canvas "twice near the end of the fifth round" leading to the referee stopping the fight (EUROSPORT, 7/14). ... Indian bronze medalist wrestler SUSHIL KUMAR has been chosen by the Indian Olympic Association to be "the flag bearer of the Indian contingent" at the London Games. Some of the other names mentioned to perform the duty included boxer VIJENDER SINGH, tennis player LEANDER PAES and ace shooter ABHINAV BINDRA (PTI, 7/15). ... A foundation named after late IOC President JUAN ANTONIO SAMARANCH was launched in Beijing on Friday. Son of the late IOC President and current IOC member JUAN ANTONIO SAMARANCH JR. said the goals of the Foundation are "keeping and promoting the legacy of the relationship with China, supporting Olympism in the country, and contributing to increase cultural, economic and financial relations between Spain and China" (XINHUA, 7/13).