Novak Djokovic has joined Robin Soderling in an elite group. The Serb has become only the second man to beat Rafael Nadal at the French Open. The world number one has breezed into the semi-finals with a three-set victory against the nine-time champion. He beats Nadal 7-5 6-3 6-1. Nadal’s reign ends with a double fault and sympathetic applause. Incredible in its own way.
Brazil legend Zico has said that he plans to stand as a candidate in the FIFA presidential election. “My candidacy will be a reaction to everything that we have seen. I believe that now the race is open to everybody. Everybody knows me, the way I work – I’m a guy not only known for my work in Brazil” Zico scored 48 goals in 71 appearances for his country. He coached Japan in the 2006 World Cup and has also managed Fenerbahce (Turkey), CSKA Moscow (Russia) and Olympiacos (Greece).
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has been given a 10-minute standing ovation by some 400 staff as he returned to its Zurich headquarters a day after announcing he was to step down. Reportedly close to tears, he urged his “fantastic team” to “stay strong”. Mr Blatter stood down just days after he was re-elected, amid a corruption scandal engulfing world football. Mr Blatter reportedly addressed staff in the same hall in which he announced he was resigning a day earlier. He emphasised the reform work that FIFA now needed to undertake.
South Africa has denied paying a $10m bribe to secure the 2010 World Cup, in the wake of a US inquiry into corruption at world football body FIFA. Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said the money in question was above board and intended to support football in the African diaspora in the Caribbean. US officials allege South Africa paid a $10m bribe in exchange for support for its 2010 World Cup bid from former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and several other members of the North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF). But in a press conference on Wednesday, Mr Mbalula said South Africa “categorically denied” the allegation, adding that the money went towards an approved programme to help the development of football in the Caribbean. The money went into a fund controlled by Mr Warner. In a passionate defence of South Africa’s integrity, Mr Mbalula railed against those who sought to be “world policemen”, adding “we believe in multilateralism not unilateralism”. He added: “It is for the British and the Americans to fight their battles and… we’ll never be part of the vested interests. We have fought colonialism and defeated it and we still fight imperialism and we will fight it whenever it manifests itself.”
Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere has been charged with misconduct by the Football Association following an incident on the club’s FA Cup bus tour. An FA statement read: “It is alleged his conduct in making and/or inciting certain comments during the trophy tour was improper and/or brought the game into disrepute.” The midfielder has until 6 pm on 10 June to respond to the charge.
Amaju Pinnick, president of the Nigeria Football Federation says “Blatter feels Africa, he sees Africa and he has imparted so much. What Blatter pushes is equity, fairness and equality among the nations. We don’t want to experiment.”
Rafa Benitez cried openly as he was officially unveiled as Real Madrid’s new manager on Wednesday. The Spaniard is a former manager of Liverpool, Chelsea, Valencia and Napoli, but it was at Real Madrid that he cut his teeth as both a player and a coach – and emotion got the better of him as he returned to his boyhood club after almost 20 years. “I’m returning home,” Benitez told assembled media at his press conference. “It’s a unique opportunity. This is a difficult moment because I simply don’t know how to describe the emotion.” “It’s an exciting day. I’ve returned home. I’m already excited. “I want to win trophies and for the team to play well, and I’m thankful for the trust placed in me.” Fans were quick to react to Benitez’s weeping – some sarcastic, others genuinely affected by the sight of a man who has reached what will in all probability prove to be the defining job of his career.
England and Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson has arrived at Durham Crown Court to face child sex charges. He has been charged with three counts of sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl and one offence of grooming. He has formally pleaded not guilty to a number of allegations of sexual activity with a child. The 27-year-old was arrested in March and denied the charges at Durham Crown Court.
Real Madrid have confirmed that Rafa Benitez will be presented as their new coach today at 12:00 noon. The Spanish club say he will sign a three-year deal. The 55-year-old ex-Liverpool boss ended a two-year stint with Napoli following a 4-2 home defeat by Lazio on Sunday. “I am enthusiastic and happy, although there are things that still need to be discussed,” Benitez said upon his arrival in Madrid. Madrid-born Benitez will replace Carlo Ancelotti, who was sacked last week just a year after winning the Champions League against Atletico Madrid.
Brendan Rodgers is to stay as Liverpool manager following a meeting with the club’s co-owner Tom Werner. Werner met the 42-year-old Reds boss in the city on Tuesday as part of his end-of-season review. Liverpool finished sixth in the Premier League last season and missed out on a place in the Champions League. But Rodgers and Werner agreed on a “comprehensive plan” aimed at ensuring performances improve next season.
FIFA says it paid $10m (£6.5m) to a Caribbean football body led by Jack Warner, who is charged by the US with corruption, at South Africa’s request, BBC reports. South Africa’s instruction was that the money was for a Diaspora Legacy Programme which should be “implemented directly” by Mr Warner, FIFA said. The US says the $10m was a bribe in exchange for Mr Warner supporting South Africa’s 2010 World Cup bid. Mr Warner and South African officials have denied any wrong doing. South Africa won the bid ahead of Morocco to become the first African country to host the World Cup.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter is being investigated by US officials as part of their inquiry into corruption at the world football body, US media say. US officials quoted in the New York Times said they hoped to gain the co-operation of some of the FIFA figures now under indictment on charges of racketeering and money laundering to try to build a case against Mr Blatter.The news came hours after Mr Blatter, 79, announced that he was stepping down from his role. US prosecutors launched a criminal inquiry last week, with seven FIFA officials arrested in Switzerland, part of a group of 14 people indicted. Two days after the arrests, Mr Blatter was re-elected president of FIFA. However, he said on Tuesday that it appeared the mandate he had been given “does not seem to be supported by everyone in the world”. Mr Blatter said: “FIFA needs profound restructuring.” He said he would continue in post until an extraordinary congress is called to elect a new president. No dates have been set, but it is expected to take place between December 2015 and March 2016.