SPORTS DAY: Government aims to thrash Solidarity

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SPORTS DAY: Government aims to thrash Solidarity

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

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TRANSFORMATION
Government to spare no expense fighting Solidarity
The government is putting together the best possible legal team to face Solidarity in court where the trade union is bidding to challenge transformation targets. Solidarity and AfriForum took SA Rugby‚ Cricket SA‚ Athletics SA (ASA) and Netball SA to court in May last year over transformation targets. “We are facing a court case by Solidarity that says what we are doing is unfair to those who have held privilege since the dawn of colonialism and apartheid‚” said Sport and Recreation Minister Tokozile Xasa. “I have issued an instruction that we defend this case with all the might the state has. We cannot afford to lose this case.” Xasa announced that rugby‚ netball‚ football and cricket had met the transformation targets they had set for themselves over the past year. But ASA had not fully met their targets, largely because of poor development programmes.
SOCCER
State blocks Danny on Morocco bid
The government will not support Morocco’s bid to host the 2026 Fifa Soccer World Cup. The two countries have had strained relations since Morocco withdrew its ambassador from Pretoria in 2004 when South Africa recognised the independence of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic‚ also known as the Western Sahara. “We are very clear that we can’t support Morocco‚” Xasa said unequivocally. Xasa was reacting to recent reports that quoted SA Football Association Danny Jordaan as saying he would back the Moroccan bid. “Our parliament was very straightforward in this regard. It is the mandate of the country and it is an obligation for sporting bodies to understand what the country’s agenda is‚” Xasa said.
Fifa boss expected for Downs v Barca friendlyThe high-profile friendly between Mamelodi Sundowns and Barcelona on May 16 will be about much more than the action on the pitch with dignitaries from around the continent and beyond set to use the platform to push their various agendas. Fifa head Gianni Infantino could be there to lobby support for his re-election campaign when the presidency is next up for grabs in 2020. Confederation of African Football president Ahmad Ahmad has stated he will attend the fixture, to be played at the FNB Stadium in Soweto.
Mazic to referee Champions League final
Serbian referee Milorad Mazic will take charge of the Champions League final between holders Real Madrid and Liverpool on May 26 in Kiev, Uefa announced on Monday. The 45-year-old, an international referee since 2009, will be assisted by compatriots Milovan Ristic and Dalibor Djurdjevic. Frenchman Clement Turpin will serve as the fourth official. Mazic has refereed four Champions League group stage matches this season and was the man in the middle for last year’s Confederations Cup final between Chile and Germany.
United say thanks for support for FergieManchester United thanked well-wishers from around the football world for showing their support for legendary former manager Alex Ferguson following emergency surgery for a brain haemorrhage. Considered the most successful manager in the history of British football, Ferguson, 76, won 38 major trophies in just over 26 years in charge of United, including 13 Premier League titles and the Champions League twice before retiring in 2013. United have offered no update on Ferguson’s condition since saying a procedure on the haemorrhage on Saturday had gone “very well” but that a period of intensive care is needed to speed his recovery.
RUGBY
SA exit reports wrong, says Sanzaar
Southern hemisphere rugby’s governing body on Monday dismissed as “simply wrong” media speculation that South Africa’s Super Rugby teams were set to defect to Europe and that expanding the competition into the US was on the cards. Sanzaar, the body owned by the South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina unions, and which also runs the Rugby Championship, said the organisation was in the middle of a detailed strategic review. While it was engaged in some “blue-sky thinking” as it looked at potential future formats for their competitions up to 2030, Sanzaar said, there was no question of any of the four major stakeholders leaving the joint venture.
GOLF
Woods slumps to 55thTiger Woods had his first birdie-free round since 2014 to finish equal 55th at the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina on Sunday, his second-worst result of the year. Woods closed with a 74 to finish at two-over-par 286 at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, 14 strokes behind winner Jason Day. It was only the 11th time in more than 1,000 rounds as a professional on the PGA Tour that Woods failed to record a birdie or eagle. He again lamented poor putting but also failed to hit his approach shots close enough to the hole. He had only one birdie chance from inside 3m, which he missed at the par-five 10th.
CRICKET
Pandya keeps champions Mumbai afloat
Perennial slow starters Mumbai Indians are on course for a trademark late-season charge into the Indian Premier League playoffs, thanks largely to some impressive performances by allrounder Hardik Pandya. The defending champions, owned by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, lost their first five matches but still reached the 2014 playoffs before completing a fairytale tournament victory a year later after losing their opening four fixtures. The 2016 edition saw the Rohit Sharma-led side win one out of their first four matches before going on to win their third IPL title after 10 wins in 14 group stage games.
TENNIS
Cilic slips to fifth in rankings
Croatia’s Marin Cilic dropped a place to fifth in the ATP rankings released on Monday after making an early exit from last week’s Istanbul tournament. Former US Open champion Cilic, who lost in both last year’s Wimbledon final and January’s Australian Open final to Roger Federer, was bundled out by unseeded Tunisian Malek Jaziri after receiving a bye into the second round. Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov took fourth spot despite not having played, with Spain’s Rafael Nadal still atop the rankings. In the WTA  Romanian Simona Halep remained top, ahead of Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki and Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.
AFP, Reuters, TimesLIVE

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