19-02-2019 Refereeing of women’s football needs work. Here is the plan to tackle it | Suzanne Wrack

Full-time officials for Women’s Super League and a fast-track pathway for female referees are among the ideasConsider these three incidents: the Chelsea midfielder Drew Spence cynically scything down Arsenal’s Kim Little, breaking one of Little’s legs, but picking up only a yellow card; David McNamara’s rock, paper, scissors debacle; and Phil Neville questioning two penalty shouts and a disallowed goal against Australia.This season the standard of refereeing in the women’s game has been under the microscope. Except now, with a fully professional top division and more televised coverage than ever, there are a lot more eyes peering through that microscope. Continue reading...

19-02-2019 Arsène Wenger suggests Mesut Özil’s new deal put him in ‘comfort zone’

• Playmaker got deal while Frenchman was still at helm• Özil has started one game since Boxing DayArsène Wenger believes the decision to offer Mesut Özil a long-term contract last year may have left the German in a “comfort zone”.Özil ended speculation about his future last year by committing himself to Arsenal until the summer of 2021, with Wenger still at the helm. But the playmaker has fallen out of favour under Wenger’s successor, Unai Emery, having started only one game since Boxing Day to bring renewed scrutiny as to whether he will remain at the Emirates Stadium. Continue reading...

19-02-2019 Wales’s 1969 wing wizard Maurice Richards: ‘I scored the tries but forwards won it’

The scourge of England in Cardiff 50 years ago looks back on a thrilling victory in which he ran in four tries and explains why he switched codes at the end of that yearThey used to say the wind blew hardest at Cardiff Arms Park when it was trying to catch Maurice Richards. It had no more success than the England team that arrived in the Welsh capital 50 years ago chasing a share of the Five Nations title but left resembling the rubble where the north stand had been. Richards ran in four tries in a thrilling 30-9 victory that afternoon, equalling a Wales record that still stands. Wales scooped the triple crown and the championship.That afternoon’s demolition of England was the start of a golden era for the men in red, but before the end of the year the 24-year-old Cardiff wing, a 1968 Lion who had still to reach his peak, had left Wales and his job at Port Talbot steelworks for rugby league, where he would become Salford’s record try scorer and appearance holder in a 14-year career. Continue reading...

19-02-2019 Chris Eubank Jr: ‘Nothing can match the feeling of having your hand raised after a fight’

Brighton super-middleweight has one last chance to show that he can live with a top operator on Saturday when he takes on James DeGale in a bout which will leave the loser with nowhere to go“This is the biggest and most important fight of my career,” Chris Eubank Jr says quietly, rocking gently on a plastic chair in a tiny office tucked away in his gym on Hove seafront. He nods intently as he considers his battle against James DeGale at the O2 in London on Saturday night. “It’s definitely the one where I have the most to lose. A loss would leave me in no man’s land. DeGale is in exactly the same position. We both cannot afford defeat. We’re both on the edge and someone’s going to fall.”I have asked just one opening question and Eubank has cut to the heart. He and DeGale are preparing for a bout which will surely leave the loser facing the end of his career. Of course this is boxing and so a controversial decision or a narrow defeat might persuade the defeated fighter that one last shot at redemption is possible. But both men recognise their future, and long-term reputations, could be decided this weekend. Continue reading...

19-02-2019 RFU appoints BOA's Bill Sweeney as new chief executive

Sweeney replaces interim CEO Nigel Melville‘This is the only opportunity I would have left the BOA for’The head of the British Olympic Association, Bill Sweeney, has been appointed as the new chief executive of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the sport’s governing body has announced.Sweeney has held the CEO role at the BOA since 2013, during which time Team GB set records for the number of medals won, finishing second in the medal table at Rio 2016.Before joining the BOA, Sweeney held senior roles at adidas and Puma, as well as corporate management experience with Shell, Mars and Unilever. His profile on the BOA website lists him as a former rugby player for. Continue reading...

19-02-2019 Nicol David: Malaysian eight-time squash world champion to retire this year

Eight-time world champion & former world number one Nicol David announces she will retire at the end of the current squash season.

19-02-2019 Caster Semenya’s lawyers accuse the IAAF of underhand tactics

• Claim that naming witnesses broke confidentiality• Runner is challenging revised eligibility ruleCaster Semenya’s lawyers have accused the International Association of Athletics Federations of using underhand tactics to gain public support at the start of their contentious dispute at the court of arbitration for sport in Lausanne. Related: Court has Semenya’s career in its hands – and decision could affect all of sport | Sean Ingle Continue reading...

19-02-2019 Chelsea fans don’t often have time to turn on a manager – this felt decisive | Jonathan Wilson

Maurizio Sarri is serving up predictable, sterile football and some choices are hard to fathom but Chelsea share the blame for this messChelsea fans don’t often turn on their manager. They don’t usually have time. But there, distinct in the cool February air, just six days before they play in a cup final, it was: “Fuck Sarriball! Fuck Sarriball! Fuck Sarriball!” Add in the booing at the final whistle and the chants for Callum Hudson‑Odoi throughout the second half and it’s fair to say the Matthew Harding Stand has made its mind up about Maurizio Sarri.Fans are not always right, of course, as a notorious Old Trafford bedsheet of the late 80s makes clear, and boards must make their own decisions, but this nonetheless felt a decisive moment. Stamford Bridge turned on André Villas-Boas and it didn’t like Rafa Benítez from the start, but outright revolt against a manager is unusual. Continue reading...

19-02-2019 Tyson Fury insists Deontay Wilder rematch still on cards despite ESPN deal

• Talks thrown into doubt by ‘exclusive’ broadcasting deal• Fury adamant fight is ‘more makeable now than ever’A proposed rematch with Deontay Wilder has been thrown into doubt after Tyson Fury announced a deal with ESPN that makes it the “exclusive” broadcaster of his fights in the US.Negotiations for a rematch, following December’s controversial draw in Los Angeles, were expected to conclude in an agreement for Fury and Wilder to fight in the US in May but they are now likely to end in frustration given Wilder has a deal with the network Showtime. Continue reading...

19-02-2019 Sports quiz of the week: managers, money, metal medals and monikers

Who defied his age? Who scored quickly? Who made a packet? Matt Kuchar earned $1.3m in prize money for his victory at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. How much did the golfer pay his caddie?$5,000$130,000 $300,000 $1.3m Why does Anthony Joshua’s next opponent, Jarrell Miller, go by the nickname “Big Baby”? He takes a cuddly toy with him wherever he goesHe weighed 10 pounds at birthHis first opponent called him that before the opening bell – and was quickly knocked outHe lost a betJoshua is fighting Miller on 1 June. Which other sporting event is taking place that night?The last game of the Six Nations The Cricket World Cup final The men’s singles final at WimbledonThe Champions League finalWho scored a hat-trick in 30 minutes this week?Sergio Agüero Eden Hazard Roberto Firmino Jonny MayPaul Scholes made his managerial debut this week. Which footballer announced his retirement on the day Scholes made his playing debut way back in 1994?Bryan Robson Gary LinekerDiego Maradona Glenn Hoddle Gordon Banks, who died this week aged 81, is most famous for winning the World Cup with England in 1966. In which country did he play his last game as a professional footballer in 1977?Republic of IrelandEgyptCanada UruguayDeclan Rice says he wants to play for the England football team. Why has his decision gone down badly with some Irish supporters?He grew up in Northern Ireland and played for their Under-21 team He was born in the Republic of Ireland He has already played three matches for the Republic of IrelandHe was in the Republic of Ireland squad for Euro 2016 but didn't playThe organisers of next year’s Olympics in Tokyo say the medals will be made from…Metals mined from below the stadium in Tokyo Old phones and computersShipwrecks found off the Japanese coastMetal found in the Acropolis in Athens Where is the best team in the southern hemisphere meeting the best team in the northern hemisphere this weekend?Wellington WichitaWiganWinnipegMatthijs de Ligt captained Ajax against Real Madrid this week in the Champions League. What is remarkable about that?He only made his debut in August He has already signed to play for Real Madrid next season He is still a teenagerHis brother captained the team in their previous match 1 and above.Nine wrong answers in a multiple-choice format. Impressive2 and above.Eight wrong answers in a multiple-choice format. Impressive3 and above.Chin up. There's always next week4 and above.Chin up. There's always next week5 and above.That's a fine score. Well played6 and above.That's a fine score. Well played7 and above.That's a fine score. Well played. 8 and above.That's a super score. Well played9 and above.You star. Have a great weekend0 and above.Ten wrong answers in a multiple-choice format. Impressive10 and above.You legend. Have a great weekend Continue reading...

19-02-2019 Root joins Murray and Southgate in standing up for social tolerance | Tim de Lisle

England captain has done cricket a great service – his reaction to a perceived homophobic remark was cool, calm, collected … and rightCricketers call it sledging, or chirping: the business of trying to undermine your opponent with verbal abuse. It’s a dismal habit that shows us sport at its most small-minded and should have been banned long ago. But this week it has done the world a favour.In the Test in St Lucia, the West Indies bowler Shannon Gabriel was bad-mouthing the England captain, Joe Root. What Gabriel said the stump microphone did not catch but it did bring us Root’s reply: “Don’t use it as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with being gay.” Continue reading...