Wed, Jan 2, 2013, 00:00

A round-up of today's other stories in brief

Blatter not impressed by US league

SOCCER:Sepp Blatter, the president of Fifa, has been called many things – not all of them printable – but labelling him a fan of Major League Soccer would appear to be a mistake.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Blatter was highly critical of the league, lamenting that almost 20 years after its founding, it was “still struggling” to overtake such leagues as the NFL and Major League Baseball in the US.

The comments came as part of a larger discussion about Fifa’s role in developing the game around the world. “There is no very strong professional league” in the US, Blatter said.

“They have just the MLS, but they have not these professional leagues which are recognised by the American society.”

MLS declined to comment on his remarks, but the league set attendance records last season, drawing more than six million fans for the first time, including a league-record average of 43,144 in Seattle.

Those improvements do not appear to have come fast enough for Blatter, who was a top Fifa official when the US hosted the World Cup in 1994. That tournament set an attendance record. “But we are now in 2012. It’s been 18 years – it should have been done now. But they are still struggling,” he said.

– New York Times Service

Williams after Evert crown

Serena Williams credited a more subdued lifestyle yesterday for the current form that has put her on track to succeed fellow-American Chris Evert as the oldest world number one in women’s tennis.

Williams, who recorded a serve of 200kms an hour during a second-round 6-2 6-2 win over France’s Alize Cornet at the Brisbane International, is currently ranked third in the world.

However, the 31-year-old is regarded as the pre-eminent woman player at the moment after winning the Wimbledon, US and Olympic titles last year. Evert was 30 years 11 months when she was number one in 1985.

“I’m really boring now,” Williams told reporters. “I used to be fun. For a fun time, call Serena. Now for a fun time, do not call me. I don’t know what happened to me.”

World number two Maria Sharapova withdrew from her second-round match against Australian Jarmila Gajdosova with the collarbone injury that has been troubling her and said she had been reduced to just practising ground strokes because of the injury.

Edwards quits London Irish

RUGBY:Shaun Edwards has given up his role as a consultant with English Premiership side London Irish to concentrate on his work with the Wales team. Edwards has committed fully to Wales to the next World Cup in England in 2015 following talks with WRU chief executive Roger Lewis.

There had been speculation Edwards might quit his role as Wales defence coach after not being appointed to the British and Irish Lions staff for the tour of Australia by Warren Gatland.

But after talks with Lewis, Edwards has given up his other work to concentrate full time on Wales. Edwards and Gatland have guided Wales to two grand slams since 2008.