Monthly Archives: February 2019

  • Bach to convene retreat of IOC leaders


    New IOC President Thomas Bach will hold a four-day retreat of his policy-making body next month to discuss the future of the Olympic movement, The Associated Press has learned.


    Bach will convene a private “think tank” of his executive board from December 11-14 at a hotel in the Swiss lakeside resort of Montreux, Olympic officials with knowledge of the decision told the AP.

    The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting hasn’t been announced.

    The brainstorming sessions are expected to cover a wide range of issues, including possible changes to the Olympic sports program, a review of the bid city process and a proposed raising of the 70-year age limit for IOC members.

    The retreat will follow immediately after the regularly scheduled one-day meeting of the executive board at the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, on December 10.

    Regular IOC executive board meetings usually last two or three days and involve reports from various departments and Olympic host city organisers.

    By keeping the December 10 meeting to just one day, the board can go into more depth and exchange views on all issues in a relaxed atmosphere in Montreux.

    The move reflects Bach’s determination and urgency to take charge and set his own agenda since being elected president on September 10, succeeding Jacques Rogge after 12 years in office.

    Bach chaired a closed-door summit of sports leaders at the IOC on November 2 to discuss doping, match-fixing, illegal betting, the sports calendar and other issues.

    The 59-year-old German has made clear he wants a more flexible system for setting the Olympic sports program, an issue which came to prominence after wrestling was stunningly dropped from the 2020 Games lineup last February. The sport was voted back onto the program in September, defeating squash and a combined baseball-softball bid.

    On Thursday, the IOC leader was in South Korea, meeting with President Park Geun-hye and checking on preparations for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

    Bach will be back in Europe on Friday to attend the general assembly of the European Olympic Committees in Rome.

    He has a scheduled private audience with Pope Francis and will present him with the Olympic Order, the IOC’s highest award, and will also meet with Italian Premier Enrico Letta.

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  • Allan to start for Italy against Argentina


    Italy coach Jacques Brunel will hand former Scotland under-20 player Tommaso Allan his full senior rugby debut when the Azzurri host Argentina in the third and final Test of their November series on Saturday.


    Italy-born Allan, who has made substitute appearances for Italy after being drafted into the squad last month, is one of three changes for the clash against the Pumas at the Olympic Stadium.

    The 20-year-old Perpignan five-eighth replaces Luciano Orquera, who drops to the bench, with Michele Campagnaro starting at outside centre in place of veteran Gonzalo Canale.

    Canale moves to inside centre to replace Luca Morisi, who has been sidelined since last week having suffered a heavy tackle early in a 37-31 win over Fiji which required him to have his spleen removed.

    Robert Barbieri comes back into Brunel’s starting XV at openside flanker, replacing Mauro Bergamasco who is not included in the matchday squad.

    Both No.8 and captain Sergio Parisse and prop Martin Castrogiovanni will start, meaning the pair will pick up their 101st caps for Italy to pull level with retired scrum-half Alessandro Troncon.

    Retired prop Andrea Lo Cicero holds the record for Italy’s most caps on 103.

    Italy team (15-1):

    Luke McLean; Giovambattista Venditti, Michele Campagnaro, Gonzalo Canale, Tommaso Iannone; Tommaso Allan, Edoardo Gori; Sergio Parisse (capt), Robert Barbieri, Alessandro Zanni; Valerio Bernabo, Quintin Geldenhuys; Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Michele Rizzo

    Replacements: Davide Giazzon, Matias Aguero, Lorenzo Cittadini, Marco Bortolami, Joshua Furno, Tobias Botes, Luciano Orquera, Tommaso Benvenuti.

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  • Qaeda group urges Syria jihadists to unite


    An al-Qaeda front group fighting in Iraq and Syria has called for jihadist groups to join forces under its banner, according to an audio message posted on the internet.


    In remarks purportedly made by Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) spokesman said militant groups should close ranks against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    “We call for all jihadist leaders and soldiers and people to accelerate in joining the project of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” Adnani said in the message posted on Thursday.

    The authenticity of the audio message and the identity of the speaker could not be independently verified.

    Adnani cautioned against judging ISIL on the basis of “what the media portrays or through what our enemies say, such as false charges and lies, but by what you see and feel by yourselves.”

    His remarks come weeks after Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri ordered ISIL to shut down in Syria and instead anointed Al-Nusra Front, another group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, to carry the network’s banner in the Syrian conflict.

    Zawahiri’s November 8 demand confirmed a written order issued in June that has so far gone unheeded.

    ISIL has instead defied Zawahiri’s orders and continued to operate in Syria, where opposition activists have accused the group of escalating abuses against Syrian rebels and civilians.

    When the Islamic State of Iraq originally announced it had become ISIL in April 2013, the group’s chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said Al-Nusra Front was its branch in Syria.

    But Al-Nusra commander Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani rejected that assertion and instead affirmed his allegiance to Zawahiri.

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  • Argentina pick new midfield in five changes to face Italy


    The Pumas will be without first-choice centres Marcelo Bosch and Santiago Fernandez and lock Patricio Albacete due to an agreement between their European clubs and Argentina.


    The players have been with the Pumas since August taking part in the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship, missing the early part of the European season with their clubs.

    Coach Daniel Hourcade has moved left wing Horacio Agulla into Bosch’s outside centre position in the team he named on Thursday, the Argentine union UAR said in a statement.

    Hourcade has brought Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino back into the side on the right wing while Gabriel Azcarate takes the inside centre berth left vacant by Fernandez to make up an untested midfield partnership with Agulla.

    Juan Imhoff, injured in Argentina’s 31-12 defeat by England two weeks ago, returns to the left wing with Santiago Cordero, who made his first Pumas start against the Welsh, stepping back down to the bench.

    Bosch has returned to Saracens and Fernandez to Bayonne in France, while in the forwards, lock Mariano Galarza comes in for Albacate, who has gone back to Toulouse.

    In the back row, Benjamin Macome comes in at number eight with Pablo Matera dropping down to the bench and captain Juan Manuel Leguizamon moving to blindside flanker.

    Team: 15-Joaquin Tuculet, 14-Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 13-Horacio Agulla, 12-Gabriel Azcarate, 11-Juan Imhoff, 10-Nicolas Sanchez, 9-Martin Landajo; 8-Benjamin Macome, 7-Julio Farias Cabello, 6-Juan Manuel Leguizamon (captain), 5-Mariano Galarza, 4-Manuel Carizza, 3-Maximiliano Bustos, 2-Eusebio Guinazu, 1-Marcos Ayerza

    Replacements: 16-Santiago Iglesias, 17-Nahuel Lobo, 18-Matias Diaz, 19-Tomas Lavanini, 20-Pablo Matera, 21-Tomas Cubelli, 22-Javier Rojas, 23-Santiago Cordero

    (Writing by Rex Gowar in Buenos Aires; editing by Justin Palmer)

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  • UniCredit says may consider AS Roma stake sale


    Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore said a Chinese investor, possibly business mogul Wang Jianlin, was set to buy into the holding company that controls AS Roma through a reserved capital increase that would dilute current shareholders, especially UniCredit.


    “At present no decision on the stake has been taken. (UniCredit) confirms that the asset is not strategic and would be available to consider possible opportunities to extract value from it,” the bank said in a statement.

    UniCredit has about 30 percent of NEEP Roma Holding, the football team’s holding company. The rest is in the hands of U.S. investors.

    Wang Jianlin is the chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, one of China’s largest real estate developers. When contacted by Reuters, Shi Xueqing, general manager of Wanda’s football business, said he had not heard of the Il Sole 24 Ore report.

    Real estate developers increasingly dominate Chinese football, with investors in the majority of China’s Super League teams operating property businesses.

    AS Roma, current leaders in Serie A, said they had nothing to say on the media report at this stage.

    Italian football has not attracted the major foreign investment seen in countries like England and France.

    Europe’s top league in the 1990s, Serie A has been tarnished by a series of corruption scandals and hooliganism has reduced crowd numbers.

    Italian clubs have been held back commercially because many of them do not own their stadiums and have been unable to upgrade them to cater fully for wealthy corporate clients.

    Last month a group of Indonesian investors bought a 70 percent stake in Inter Milan in one of few major foreign deals for a leading Italian football club.

    (Reporting by Valentina Za, Agnieszka Flak and Xiaoqing Pi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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