Some of the World Cup stadiums in Brazil are finally being completed, 10 months after the tournament. The Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo and the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba have only just been finished to their original designs. Both venues were used during the World Cup, with completion works held back. Brazil spent about $3bn (£1.98bn) on stadia for the tournament in June, with protesters demonstrating against how much money the government invested. There were clashes between protestors in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo and other host cities. The Brazilian government had hoped the new arenas, which are an improvement on the older stadiums, would become a legacy for the country. But the Arena da Baixada has only just added its retractable roof, after construction was delayed in the build-up to the World Cup amid safety fears. And the Arena Corinthians has only now had glass panels installed in the roofing structure. Corinthians own the $450m (£297) ground, where attendances have increased, but cannot keep any revenue because it is still being used to pay for its construction. Flamengo, Brazil’s most popular team, have been playing at the Maracana Stadium, the site of the World Cup final, and say that under the current contract with the stadium’s new owners, they keep too little money from match attendances. Meanwhile, two stadiums were virtually put up for sale this month, with Constructor OAS announcing it was selling its stakes in the Arena Fonte Nova and the Arena das Dunas.
The wife of former Manchester United and England captain Rio Ferdinand has died from cancer. The QPR defender, 36, released a statement saying his “wonderful wife and soul mate” Rebecca Ellison had “passed away peacefully” at a London hospital. Ms Ellison, 34, who married Ferdinand in 2009, had breast cancer. She leaves behind three children, Lorenz, nine, Tate, six, and four-year-old Tia. In a statement, Ferdinand said she died on Friday night. “Rebecca, my wonderful wife, passed away peacefully after a short battle with cancer at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London,” the footballer said on QPR’s website. “She was a fantastic loving mother to our three beautiful children. She will be missed as a wife, sister, aunt, daughter and granddaughter. She will live on in our memory, as a guide and inspiration. “Myself, my parents Janice and Julian, along with Rebecca’s parents Lesley and Stephen, would like to thank our families, friends and my club colleagues who have rallied around in these desperate days, weeks and months.” Ferdinand thanked the staff who treated his wife at the south London hospital, adding: “I would also like to express my gratitude for the dedication and expertise of the staff led by Professors Johnstone and Clarke at the Royal Marsden. “Their valiant efforts to prolong Rebecca’s all-too-short life will not be forgotten.”
Below are some boxing legends predictions as compiled by sky sports:
Lennox Lewis: “Manny has got to start fast. His work-rate has to go up because Floyd’s got an unblemished record and he knows what to do. He moves so well around the ring. He’s a counter-puncher as well. Manny has to look out for all those weapons. I don’t think Mayweather is going to be the aggressor – I think he’ll keep it simple. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “Manny is going to have to come after him. Floyd will sit back. It has to be controlled aggression on Manny’s part. If he goes in crazy, he’s going to get caught. Floyd has no losses right now – he’s the bigger man, no-one has figured him out yet. So my money has to be on Floyd Mayweather.”
Arsene Wenger has confirmed it has been agreed with Chile that Sanchez will not join up with La Roja’s squad for the Copa America until after the Wembley final later this month. That competition runs from June 11 to July 4 and FIFA regulations state that clubs have to release players for international tournaments 14 days prior to the start date, a ruling which could impact on players involved in the Champions League final, which takes place on June 6. While Arsenal appear to have brokered an agreement with the Chile Football Federation to delay Sanchez’s departure to his homeland, Wenger accepts should La Roja progress through the championships which culminate at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago, then there would be little option but to give one of their star men some extra recovery time ahead of the new domestic campaign which kicks off on August 8. “They (Chile) could call him up. We got an agreement they won’t call him. Anyway I am sure he would not go (before the FA Cup final),” said Wenger. Arsenal allowed World Cup winners Lukas Podolski, Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil an extended break following Germany’s success in Brazil last summer. Other players such as defender Laurent Koscielny and goalkeeper David Ospina returned from the World Cup carrying injuries which limited their availability for the first few weeks, during which Arsenal struggled to produce consistent results. Asked what would happen should Chile progress through to the latter stages of the 2015 Copa America, Wenger replied: “That is not good news (for Arsenal) because they (Chile) finish very late and if they go very far, he will miss the start of the season.”
Ivory Coast defender Serge Aurier has made his loan stay at French side Paris St-Germain a permanent move by signing a four-year deal. The 22-year-old, who joined from Ligue 1 rivals Toulouse in July 2014, is believed to have cost the club about 10m euros (£7.2m, $11m). “PSG is happy to announce it has triggered the option to buy clause for Serge Aurier,” said a club statement. “The Ivory Coast international has signed a contract until June 2019.” Aurier has made a total of 14 appearances for PSG this season, scoring one goal. He did not feature as Laurent Blanc’s side beat Metz 3-1 on Tuesday to move three points clear of Lyon at the top of Ligue 1 with three games remaining. The right-back, who shone at last year’s World Cup in Brazil and helped the Ivorians win the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, began his career with Lens and then spent two-and-a-half years at Toulouse before being loaned to the Parc des Princes club.
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao weighed in as 11,500 fans watched on ahead of the most lucrative fight in history in Las Vegas on Saturday. Entry to the weigh-in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday was $10 (£6.60), although tickets were changing hands on the resale market for $800 (£530). The fight is set to generate an estimated $400m (£265m). American Mayweather scaled 146lb – one pound under the welterweight limit – and Pacquiao of the Philippines 145lb. The pair will fight for the WBC, WBA and WBO welterweight titles. “I believe that with my skills, I’m going to be victorious,” said the 38-year-old Mayweather, who is unbeaten in 47 professional fights. “I don’t take anything away from Manny Pacquiao, he’s a solid fighter and it will be an intriguing match-up. “But after Saturday, I’ll still be ‘TBE’ [The Best Ever].” Pacquiao, who has 57 wins and five defeats from 64 pro fights, said: “It’s a great responsibility for me to give enjoyment to the fans. The fans deserve to have a good fight, whether they are a fan of Mayweather or Pacquiao. “The Lord will always be with me and strengthen me and deliver him into my hands.” Asked about the difference in size – Mayweather is 5ft 8ins and Pacquiao 5ft 6½ins with a reach difference of five inches in favour of the American – the Filipino southpaw added: “I’ve been fighting bigger guys – Oscar De La Hoya, Antonio Margarito… it doesn’t matter to me.” The MGM Grand was abuzz the day before the fight, with people queuing to get into the Garden Arena hours before Mayweather and Pacquiao, 36, stepped on the scales. It was the first time tickets had been sold for a weigh-in, with proceeds going to charity, and those that bought them were given a two-hour show. Mayweather and Pacquiao have won world titles in five and six different weight divisions respectively. Whoever wins this weekend will be able to claim they are the best fighter of their era.
Mayweather v Pacquiao
Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas. Date: 2/3 May. Time: 21:00 local time/05:00 Sunday Nigerian time