Sports Sports en £40m man Hamilton hints at Ferrari approach
The defending four-time world champion, who will reportedly become Formula One's first £40 million (RM212 million) a year driver, admitted that another team had attempted to lure him away, but he gave them no encouragement.

Talking to reporters during a team news conference ahead of this weekend's German Grand Prix, in which he seeks to beat local hero Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari and regain the leadership of this year's title race, Hamilton was full of praise for Mercedes and team chief Toto Wolff for their patience during seven months of prolonged negotiations.

"In terms of other teams approaching me, one did, but I didn't give it any air," said Hamilton, whose contract extension will keep him with Mercedes until the end of 2020, matching Vettel's commitment to Ferrari.

Asked if the other team was Ferrari, he said: "You can make whatever assumption you want".

The 33-year-old Englishman's new deal makes him the highest-earning British sportsman.

Both Red Bull and McLaren intimated they had not been in contact with Hamilton, leaving Ferrari, a team he respects and admires, as the only remaining organisation with the financial muscle required.

Hamilton was more clear when he said he had not sought offers from rival teams, having made an early commitment to Mercedes and Wolff.

"Toto is a great human being and a great manager," said Hamilton. "We have got a great relationship and it has gone from strength to strength.

"We have had our ups and downs, as every relationship does, but it has been one of a lot of growth and I really appreciate Toto being so patient with me.

"Most people would not have been given the time-frame I chose to take, but the one thing that shows is the trust we have between each other.

"I said from day one 'I am not looking anywhere else ... I'm not talking to anyone else. I am not investigating to see what other options there are. I'm not playing you against anybody else.

"'While I know there are drivers calling you, which I expect, I also trust you are not thinking to do anything else. So, we can take our time'."

He explained that he had agreed a basic contract by the time of the Monaco Grand Prix in late May, but subsequent delays were due to his own preoccupation with details.

"I just kept delaying it," he added. "I had a contract in place, I just didn't feel like I had to rush. Eventually, we sat down at home and got through it real quick".

As to his future beyond 2020, when he could join Ferrari alongside Vettel, or have the German join him at Mercedes, he said it was "impossible to say where I am going to be".

"I wasn't expecting to feel as excited as I am now in signing this extension. I am also very conscious of how long it is beyond retirement".

Like Vettel, he is bidding to become the third driver in F1 history to win five titles, joining seven-time champion Michael Schumacher and five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio in that revered company. — AFP]]>
Sports Fri, 20 Jul 2018 11:50:24 +0000 theSundaily 565702 at
Jorginho vows to turn on the style at Chelsea
The Italy midfielder, who followed new Blues boss Maurizio Sarri from Napoli, also hailed the manager's ability to squeeze the best out of his players.

"My style of play is not something that is seen in England," the 26-year-old told the club's website.

"I really hope that it is a good fit for the game over here and I will certainly be doing everything I can to make sure it works out.

"I like playing just outside of my own penalty box: the player who receives the ball and organises the game".

As the Chelsea squad landed in Australia to start their pre-season tour, Brazilian-born Jorginho said Sarri's knowledge of the game had contributed significantly to his development as a player during three seasons together at Napoli.

Chelsea named Sarri as their new manager on Saturday. He was still under contract at Napoli despite Carlo Ancelotti becoming their new coach in May.

Jorginho swiftly followed Sarri to Stamford Bridge and hopes the success that the pair enjoyed together in Serie A can be replicated in England.

"When we were together at Napoli, it was a case of me taking on his mentality and putting that together with the characteristics I have as a footballer," Jorginho said.

"I have the right characteristics as a footballer for the type of football that he likes to play, and the type of football that he teaches and passes on to his team".

The midfielder also acknowledged Sarri's understanding of the game and ability to get his tactics across to his players.

"When the weekend comes around and you have a game, you start that game knowing how every situation is going to pan out on the field offensively and defensively, and that is something that really helps you in your work," he said. — AFP]]>
Sports Fri, 20 Jul 2018 11:52:41 +0000 theSundaily 565706 at
Guardiola wants Man City stars rested and ready
Guardiola has travelled to the United States for games against Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and Bayern Munich with a squad made up mostly of young players as many of his regular stars are enjoying an extended break following their exploits in Russia.

First team stars such as Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany, Ederson, David Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, Kyle Walker and John Stones have not made the journey to compete in the annual International Champions Cup pre-season tournament with most not expected back until a week before the start of the domestic season in England.

Guardiola has also suffered a setback in the transfer market this summer with Napoli's Italian international midfielder Jorginho following manager Maurizio Sarri to Chelsea and although Leicester's Riyad Mahrez has signed for 60 million pounds (RM318 million), the Spaniard is poised to begin the season with almost the same squad.

It's far from ideal but Guardiola won't force any player back just for the sake of it.

"It is what it is," said the Spaniard. "We spoke — they have to come back ready. If the days before they are tired and they don't want to fight for the Community Shield, play at Arsenal, then stay on holidays. We cannot forget what we've done but we start again. If they are ready they'll help us and if not we'll wait for them. If they are not mentally and physically ready, they won't come back.

"It's been a pleasure working with academy players over the last few days".

Jorginho disappointment

On Jorginho, Guardiola added: "I was disappointed (not to sign him). We tried, but players have to go where they go.

"It would have been a mistake for him if he came and he wanted to go to Chelsea with Maurizio Sarri. If they want to come, that's great but if he wants to go to Chelsea, all the best for him.

"So it is important that English football has received an exceptional player and at the end if they want to come, it's better they come.

"My advice is always go where they want to go".

Former England goalkeeper Joe Hart, meanwhile, is poised for some surprise playing time in the US having returned to the club from a loan spell at West Ham United.

He last played for City in a Champions League qualifier against Steaua Bucharest in August 2016 having been axed by Guardiola following his arrival in Manchester two years ago.

"Joe is our player," Guardiola said. "In his situation, he's here and we will try to find a solution, which is best for him and if not he'll stay here.

"He's one of the most incredible professionals, I've ever met. He's training like a young guy of 18 years old.

"I know it is not easy for him what happened in the last period, but he's with us and tomorrow he's going to play. He is with us". — AFP]]>
Sports Fri, 20 Jul 2018 11:47:32 +0000 theSundaily 565700 at
Neymar rules out transfer move, staying at PSG
"I'm staying, I'm staying in Paris, I have a contract," Neymar told reporters at an auction to raise money for his charitable foundation in Sao Paulo.

Neymar, who became the world's most expensive footballer last year after moving to PSG from Barcelona in a record 222 million euro (RM1.051 billion) deal, has repeatedly been linked to a move to Real Madrid.

The European champions have issued a series of statements in recent weeks denying they have an interest in signing the 26-year-old striker.

Speculation of a Neymar move to the Bernabeu has intensified in the wake of Cristiano Ronaldo's shock move to Juventus, a development that has left a vacancy at Madrid for an elite, superstar player.

"In the face of the constant reports linking PSG's Neymar Jr. to our club, Real Madrid C. F. wish to clarify that the club has no intention of making any offer for the player," a Real Madrid statement said last week.

"The two clubs enjoy an excellent relationship and, as such, if Real Madrid were at any stage to consider securing the services of a PSG player, they would approach the club in the first instance."

Although Neymar insisted Thursday he was staying in Paris, reports persisted that a move could be on the cards.

British media reports said Thursday PSG were open to the possibility of selling Neymar.

Madrid president Florentino Perez meanwhile said the club was determined to reinforce its squad following Ronaldo's departure.

"Real has a great squad that is going to be reinforced with magnificent players," Perez said earlier this week.

"We are aware of the level of demand of the team each season. We are Real Madrid and we always want more. We must reinforce the present and at the same time strengthen the future."

Real however have also been linked to a move for Chelsea's Belgium World Cup star Eden Hazard, who indicated on Saturday he was keen to leave the London club. — AFP]]>
Sports Fri, 20 Jul 2018 06:31:55 +0000 theSundaily 565673 at
Liverpool sign goalkeeper Alisson in record 72.5-million-euro deal
"The 25-year-old signed a long-term contract with the Reds after undergoing a medical and completing the formalities of his switch at (training centre) Melwood today," said the Liverpool website.

Roma confirmed the value of the transfer for Alisson who featured at the World Cup in Russia.

"ASRoma can confirm that Alisson Becker has completed his move to Liverpool, in a deal that could be worth up to 72.5 million euros," the Serie A club said on Twitter.

Alisson is a key signing for Jurgen Klopp who was desperate for a new goalkeeper to replace Loris Karius following his calamitous Champions League final performance against Real Madrid.

Chelsea were also linked with Alisson who began his career with Internacional in Brazil before moving to Roma two years ago.

"I'm really happy, it's a dream come true to wear such a prestigious shirt for a club of this size that is used to always winning," Alisson told

"In terms of my life and my career, it's a huge step for me being part of this club and this family. You can be certain that I'll give my all".

Alisson said that Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah — also a former Roma player — had encouraged him to join the Anfield giants.

"Yesterday, he sent me a text message saying: 'Hey, what are you waiting for?' As the negotiations were at an advanced stage, I replied to him straight away saying: 'Calm down, I'm on my way!'

Alisson becomes Klopp's fourth summer signing after Naby Keita, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri.

The fee beats the previous record for a goalkeeper of 53 million euros paid by Juventus for Gianluigi Buffon in 2001 and the 40 million euros Manchester City forked out to sign Alisson's compatriot Ederson from Benfica last year.

"At one point in the last few weeks it came up, the opportunity to sign one of the world's best goalkeepers — then it's not a long thought, to be honest, it's only that you need to have a little talk with the owners! They were quite excited, so we did it," said Klopp.

"I think it's something we have to do. He has nothing to do with the price, we have nothing to do with the price, it's the market, that's how it is and we will not think a lot about it.

"It shows the value of goalkeepers, of course, in this moment. It will happen a lot in the next few weeks I guess and that's it, so we are really happy to have him here now.

Klopp added: "His English is surprisingly good and he is a real personality. He has meanwhile a lot of experience in the last few years, in Europe and in Rome, he's played there on an outstandingly high level and he did the same at the World Cup."

Klopp was quick, however, to warn fans that Alisson will need time to adapt to life in the Premier League and can still improve further.

"The full package is just good," the coach added.

Alisson has already experienced the famous Anfield atmosphere, playing there for Roma in last season's Champions League semi-final — which Liverpool won 5-2.

"Yes (the atmosphere) in part it did influence the decision," he said.

"When you make an important decision like this it's not just a decision to change clubs, it practically changes your entire life, my family's life, my wife, my daughter.

"That game definitely did have an influence but I also watched other games. I've seen other games where I could see the way Klopp had the team playing.

"That has made me really excited to be part of this group. Apart from the fact that the club is massive, the players that have come through here and the titles won, hopefully I can play a part in the history being created here, win titles and be a part of the project that has been developed here in the past few years so we can see Liverpool rise once again". — AFP]]>
Sports Fri, 20 Jul 2018 09:17:18 +0000 theSundaily 565654 at
From high school drop-out to Korean gaming superstar
The bespectacled, floppy-fringed 'Faker', real name Lee Sang-hyeok, is the world's top League of Legends gamer and in hyper-wired Korea, he enjoys similar fame and fortune to top basketball or baseball players.

Faker, 22, will be one of the biggest stars at next month's regional Olympics, the quadrennial Asian Games in Indonesia, where eSports will be held as a demonstration event for the first time.

It marks a step forward in gaming's efforts to be considered a genuine sport, possibly even gaining a slot at the Olympics in the future — good news for global eSports powerhouses like South Korea.

The South enjoys ultra-fast broadband and a vibrant Internet culture, and internet cafes armed with powerful high-end computers catering to school-age gamers can be found on many street corners.

"eSports player" consistently ranks among children's most popular future jobs, coming eighth in an education ministry survey of elementary school pupils last year — higher than "scientist".

Faker started playing video games in elementary school and excelled at League of Legends — an online battle game introduced by Riot Games in 2009.

As he climbed the online LoL rankings speculation mounted about his identity, and he formed a team with friends to compete at amateur tournaments.

He dropped out of high school after being offered a job as a professional, making his debut in 2013 and thrashing top players one after another as he made his way to stardom.

eSports 'fully embraced'

Korea's eSports scene is reminiscent of Germany's soccer culture, with grassroots talents nurtured from a young age, some of them making their way to amateur leagues and, after years of competition and effort, professional teams.

Many leading firms have their own eSports teams, with Faker believed to be paid at least 3 billion won (RM11 billion) a year by his sponsor SK Telecom, the South's top wireless operator.

"This is a country where eSports has been fully embraced as a type of sport among youth, and even college sports championships have eSport events," said Kim Cheol-Hag, secretary general of the Korea eSports Association.

Last year, eSports was ranked the third most popular sport among South Koreans aged 15-29 after soccer and baseball, according to a survey by Nielsen Korea.

Multiple TV channels are dedicated to broadcasting eSports competitions, held at large football stadiums to roars from tens of thousands of fans, or sleek special arenas designed to showcase the games.

"Playing games became a full-time career in the South in the mid-2000s when many pro eSports teams were established, ahead of other countries," Kim said.

With 25 million players — half the population — the South is the world's sixth-biggest video game market.

But many South Korean players and coaches have been hired to work for top teams around the world, including China and the US — eSports' two biggest markets.

"Now the US and China have the same systems and have caught up with us," Kim told AFP, "but we have know-how and culture that has been accumulated for decades helping us stay at the top of the game".

'Improve your social standing'

South Korea's obsession with video games dates back to the 1990s when Starcraft — a US science fiction strategy game — enjoyed huge popularity, so much so that the South accounted for more than half its worldwide sales.

Nowadays teenagers hoping to become professional players — or popular among their game-crazed peers — flock to a growing number of private, after-hours schools coaching them how to play video games better.

A typical "game academy" features rows of teenagers or men in their 20s playing Overwatch or League of Legends, with a coach — usually a former pro — watching their performances and suggesting better moves.

"If you become a good gamer, it can improve your social standing and help you make more friends," game academy student Kim Han-eol told Seoul's YTN news channel.

Six other players will accompany Faker to Indonesia next month to compete.

"The Asian Games is not an event only watched by gamers but something watched by the whole nation," Faker told reporters. "I will win the game no matter what". — AFP]]>
Sports Fri, 20 Jul 2018 09:17:18 +0000 theSundaily 565656 at
Feeling the heat: Tokyo preps for sweltering Summer Olympics
While the Games have been held in places that are hotter or more humid than Tokyo, including Athens and Beijing, Japan's sweaty summers offer both blistering heat and smothering humidity in a particularly unpleasant, and sometimes deadly, combination.

Olympic officials and Tokyo's local government are touting measures from solar-blocking paint on roads to mobile misting stations to tackle the heat.

But some experts fear the efforts are insufficient, in a country where summer heat kills hundreds of people and hospitalises tens of thousands each year.

The Games will be held from July 24-Aug 9, a period where temperatures can hit 37°C and humidity rises to over 80%.

"Compared to past Olympics, it's fair to say that this will be the most severe Games, as far as heat conditions go," said Makoto Yokohari, a professor of urban engineering at the University of Tokyo.

The International Olympic Committee has approved moving the marathon start to 7:00am, with the men's competitive walking beginning even earlier.

And Tetsuo Egawa, senior director of operation strategy planning for Tokyo 2020's organising committee, is working on other ways to beat the heat.

"The sports that tend to raise the most concern are the non-stadium ones," he told AFP, citing the marathon, sailing and canoeing, and golf as examples where "special measures" will be needed.

The main concern is heatstroke, particularly among spectators unused to hot weather who will spend hours outdoors watching events or queuing.

"We will have tents covering queues at security gates ... (and) we are aiming to limit lines to 20min long," Egawa said.

Solar-blocking paint

Large fans will cool people down and the new national stadium has been constructed to encourage air flow. Medical tents and rest areas will be air-conditioned.

Stress can increase the risk of heatstroke, so organisers will try to keep spectators relaxed even in queues.

"There may be small shows and entertainment ... maybe shows that involve spraying mist on people," Egawa said.

Summer heat is hardly new for Tokyo, which experiences the "heat island" effect where urban areas are much warmer than surrounding regions, for reasons including blocked airflow and lack of greenery.

Local officials say Tokyo's temperature has risen by three degrees Celsius in the last century, far more than the global rise of 0.7-0.8 degrees.

Tokyo officials have been working on the problem for years, but efforts are ramping up ahead of the Games.

One project aims to repopularise a Japanese tradition: "uchimizu", or the sprinkling of water on the street to bring temperatures down.

Another measure is solar-blocking "paint", which will cover the entire marathon route, though only on the road, not pavements where spectators will stand.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) officials say the coating can reduce temperatures at road level by up to eight degrees Celsius.

In other places they are laying road surface that can absorb rain water, which evaporates when temperatures rise and cools the air.

'Dangerous conditions'

"We take heat mitigation very seriously," said Susumu Matsushima, an official with the TMG's road management bureau.

He said 116km of road have already been treated, most of it with the solar-blocking coating.

"If you touch (the road) you can really feel the difference, especially on a sunny day."

But not everyone is convinced, with some noting that when Tokyo last hosted the Olympics, in 1964, the Games were held in Oct to avoid the heat.

Yokohari has studied the marathon route and warns that "athletes will run in very dangerous conditions," particularly in the last quarter of the race when they pass Tokyo's Imperial Palace.

"I believe athletes will feel significant damage to their bodies in this phase," he told AFP.

"There is absolutely no shade".

While the marathon will start early, Yokohari would prefer to see the route itself altered so runners are in the shade in later stages.

He says plans to put in trees for shade are impractical with only two years to go, and even proposes moving the marathon to somewhere cooler in northern Japan.

"Unfortunately, the sense of urgency I feel is not shared by people concerned," he said.

"Tokyo residents may say 'oh we know and are used to the heat'... but how many of us in Tokyo spend hours outdoors in the peak of Aug heat?" — AFP]]>
Sports Fri, 20 Jul 2018 09:00:56 +0000 theSundaily 565642 at
Mata salvages draw as Man Utd open North American tour
A header from Henry Martin in the 59th minute — past substitute goalkeeper Joel Pereira — had put Mexican outfit America in the lead at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

The English Premiership giants pulled level 12 minutes from time after a cross from youngster Tahith Chong found Ander Herrera, whose header hit the post.

The ball rebounded to Mata, whose volley snuck through the legs of substitute goalkeeper Oscar Jiminez.

It was a lively start from both sides despite temperatures of 40 C in Phoenix. Anthony Martial was unlucky not to receive a penalty in the ninth minute after he appeared to be tripped in the area.

Four minutes later the Frenchman fired a curling shot over the crossbar, and United came close again minutes later as Mata loosed a shot that bounced off the upright.

Martial saw another shot tipped around the post before America threatened at the other end — where Lee Grant, who started in goal for United, was called on to stop a shot from Club America's Paul Aguilar.

Manchester United were without a host of stars still resting after the World Cup in Russia, including Romelu Lukaku, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford.

David de Gea, Nemanja Matic and new signing Fred are expected to join the team next week, while Chilean Alexis Sanchez was thought to be arriving soon after resolving his visa issues.

"We knew it was going to be difficult because they have been training for more weeks than us, so I think they are in a better condition," Mata said. "Mexican teams are always intense, they press a lot, they are quick and they showed that today. But we managed to get one goal so we are happy with that.

"We are also happy that there were no injuries and we will keep going in our process," he added as United looked toward the next stop on their tour, against Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. — AFP]]>
Sports Fri, 20 Jul 2018 06:31:55 +0000 theSundaily 565625 at
Suspect held over Kazakh Olympic figure skater's murder
Ten, 25, one of Kazakhstan's most noted sporting heroes, "caught two unidentified persons who stole the mirrors from his car" on Thursday at around 1500 local time (0900 GMT).

"As a result of the scuffle, Denis was stabbed," a statement from the Almaty prosecutor's office said Friday.

Ten died in hospital after medics fought to save his life following the attack, the prosecutor's statement added.

The detained suspect has been identified as Nurali Kiyasov, born in 1994. Police are continuing to search for another suspect, who was not named.

The murder has led to mourning across Kazakhstan, while also prompting calls on social media for the resignation of interior minister Kalmukhanbet Kassymov.

The Olympic Council of Asia on Friday expressed "shock and immense grief".

"It is difficult to comprehend and to accept this truly awful news about the death of Denis Ten," said OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah in a statement.

"He was one of Asia's most talented and popular athletes and to lose him at such a young age is tragic. It is a huge shock and we feel immense grief over his death."

The International Skating Union said in a tweet it was "deeply saddened" by the news.

Ten was of Korean origin and his great-great-grandfather was a Korean-born independence fighter, General Min Keung Ho.

He was trained by American coach Frank Carroll following a spell with Russia's most renowned coach, Tatiana Tarasova.

At Sochi in 2014, he won bronze in the men's free skating final, despite skating in two different boots. — AFP]]>
Sports Fri, 20 Jul 2018 06:31:55 +0000 theSundaily 565606 at
'We have to collect their bones': Klopp fears post-World Cup injury woe
Klopp is preparing for the start of the new Premier League campaign without a number of Liverpool stars who are on holiday following international duty at the World Cup.

But there is little time for players who featured in Russia to rest and then get back to peak fitness because the Premier League kicks off on Aug 10.

Adding to the problem is the presence of UEFA's new Nations League, which replaces the usual rounds of international friendlies and begins on Sept 6.

Klopp feels Liverpool, and every other club with a host of internationals, are in danger of paying a heavy price for the demands placed on their stars, with injuries certain to be caused by the lack of quality recovery time.

"I don't want to get too football political but if they don't stop with these games — they are now making it the Nations Cup to make it more important — then all these players who played at the World Cup have to go there again," Klopp said.

"We had four players in the (World Cup) semis, which is OK, we can deal with that. Tottenham had nine players in the semis. I have no clue how they will do it. That's a big challenge. It's a really tough thing to deal with and in the future we have to change it.

"They play the World Cup, then the Nations Cup, next summer is the final of the Nations Cup, which is really crazy. Everything is now so important in football and we have to collect their bones afterwards, more or less."

Hard fight

Klopp expects to be without Croatia defender Dejan Lovren, who made the World Cup final, and England midfielder Jordan Henderson, who played in the semi-finals in Russia, for Liverpool's opening game of the season against West Ham.

"It was a hard fight to convince him that he needed a holiday. I knew it would happen. On the phone I said 'crazy'. Jordan needs a holiday so that means Aug 5 he will be back. Dejan had a party in Croatia and played a day later, so he will be back on Aug 6," he said.

"That would mean five days training after three weeks' holiday. I hope we are in a situation where we don't need to think about using these two."

Trent Alexander-Arnold could be involved, though, with the 19-year-old full-back appearing in only one of England's games.

"With Trent I have a special agreement. He wanted to be in earlier as well. As he's very young I said 'OK, have two weeks' holiday and then we'll speak and see'," Klopp said.

"If you asked Trent he would be good to join us in Evian (for their training camp). But I'm not sure I will do that. I want to have them desperately but the season is really long." — AFP]]>
Sports Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:49:14 +0000 theSundaily 565539 at