Soccer briefs


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

Good news for Barca as Abidal cleared to play

Barcelona’s dismay at losing 2-0 at AC Milan was offset yesterday by the news that defender Eric Abidal had been cleared to play after almost a year out to undergo a liver transplant.

“After this morning’s training session Eric Abidal has received the welcome news that he has the medical all-clear and is therefore available to the team for the final part of the season,” Barca said in a statement on their website.

The 33-year-old left-back had the transplant in April 2012 and last featured in a 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid just under a year ago. He returned to training in December. Barca’s next match is a La Liga clash at home to Sevilla tomorrow as they prepare to play Real Madrid twice next week.

Italian police arrest Suljic at Milan airport

Italian police arrested a fugitive associate of alleged soccer match-fixing kingpin Tan Seet Eng yesterday after he flew in from Singapore to hand himself over.

The man, identified as 31-year-old Slovenian Admir Suljic, arrived at Milan’s Malpensa airport in the early hours to find police waiting for him after a tip-off by Singapore authorities.

Police said in a statement that Suljic, who is accused in Italy of “criminal association aimed at sporting fraud”, had bought a one-way ticket with the intention of surrendering to them.

He is considered a “key element” in Italy’s ‘Last Bet’ probe into match-fixing between 2009 and 2011.

Police said Suljic would be taken to a prison in the city of Cremona.

Sagna not happy with one-year contract and is ready to move on

Arsenal’s expected summer of change is likely to include the departure of Bacary Sagna, the France right-back, who is apparently disappointed to have been offered only a one-year contract extension to remain at the London club.

Sagna (30) has excelled at times as an attack-minded right-back over his six-year spell at the Emirates Stadium, even if the two leg breaks served to dampen his impact recently. Concerns over his long-term fitness are understood to have influenced the club’s thinking in offering a 12-month deal to extend his current contract, which expires in the summer of 2014.

Sagna is now resigned to leaving the club at the end of the season. French league leaders Paris Saint-Germain or a club in the Middle East have been mooted as possible destinations.

Bolivian police open investigation into boy's death by flare

Bolivian police opened an investigation yesterday into the death of a 14-year-old boy from a flare allegedly launched by Corinthians fans during a South American Libertadores Cup match in Oruro.

They arrested at least 12 fans of title holders Corinthians of Brazil after Wednesday night’s match against home side San Jose and will be interrogating them to try to identify who set off the flare that hit the boy in the eye, killing him almost instantly.

“There was a loss of brain matter as the projectile, a plastic tube, penetrated the skull. Due to this, death was immediate,” doctor Jose Maria Vargas told local media at the Hospital Obrero in Oruro where he declared the boy dead.

Local media said the remains of the flare did not correspond to the kind seen in Bolivia where football hooligans or demonstrators use carton fireworks with no plastic parts.

Rooney major doubt for United's trip to QPR

Wayne Rooney is a major doubt for Manchester United’s trip to Queens Park Rangers tomorrow, with the striker’s match fitness for the Champions League last-16 second leg with Real Madrid now a concern for Alex Ferguson.

The manager said: “He came in yesterday [Wednesday] for the first time. The medical people are dealing with him. It’s just a bad sinus infection. He got it on Saturday morning and since then he’s been on medicines. But he came in on Wednesday and hopefully he’ll start training on Thursday. I wouldn’t think he’s in contention for Saturday.”

Rooney missed Monday night’s 2-1 FA Cup fifth-round win over Reading at Old Trafford and, if he does miss the match at QPR, his next potential game would be Norwich City’s visit tomorrow week.

By then it would be two and a half weeks since Rooney played competitively – in the 1-1 draw at Real on 13 February. Rooney and Ferguson each accept he requires regular games to keep his match sharpness, so the manager would be concerned about how fit the striker would be to start the return leg against Jose Mourinho’s side the following Tuesday.

Schalke launch protest with Uefa over Drogba's inclusion

Schalke have launched a protest over Didier Drogba’s inclusion in Galatasaray’s line-up for Wednesday night’s Champions League last-16 match in Istanbul.

The German side took a creditable 1-1 draw away from the first leg but have raised questions over Galatasaray’s use of the former Chelsea striker.

Drogba signed for Galatasaray at the end of January after ending his short stay with Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua amid claims he had not been paid his salary. Shenhua countered that Drogba was in breach of his contract and it fell to Fifa to provisionally clear the way for the Ivorian to make his Galatasaray debut last week.

Schalke nevertheless have misgivings about Drogba’s participation and contacted Uefa yesterday in a bid for clarification.

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