Iran bans players after Maccabi game
TEHRAN • Iran have dropped midfield duo Haji Safi and Masoud Shojaei from the national team after they played against Maccabi Tel Aviv for their Greek club Panionios last week.
Iranian Deputy Sports Minister Mohammad Reza Davarzani said they could no longer wear the national shirt after they played in the second-leg tie against the Israeli club in the Europa League third qualifying round in Greece.
Fifa's intervention makes no headway
SYDNEY • Officials from football's international governing body, Fifa, have failed to resolve a dispute between Australia's Football Federation (FFA) and the A-League, but discussions will continue.
The 10 clubs that make up the A-League have been pushing for the FFA to expand its 10-member Congress into a more democratic model, but the FFA has been reluctant to meet the demands.
British ref comes out of the closet
LONDON • Ryan Atkin, Britain's first openly gay professional referee, hopes his decision to come out will help tackle homophobia in football.
The 32-year-old broke new ground for the gay, bisexual and transgender communities yesterday when he spoke openly about his sexuality.
Brazil back on top, Germany in second
PARIS • Brazil have knocked Germany off the top of the Fifa rankings, which were released yesterday.
World champions Germany dropped to second despite winning the Confederations Cup last month after some historical results were devalued. Argentina are third and Switzerland, with a 100 per cent record in World Cup qualifiers, are fourth.
Gold the lucky colour for Guangzhou R&F
SHANGHAI • A superstitious top-tier Chinese football team repainted their whole stadium gold to bring better luck following a dismal run - and this week duly celebrated a fifth big home win on the bounce.
Guangzhou R&F last month took the drastic action, believing that gold made for better fengshui than blue, the colour of the Chinese Super League club's strip, badge and originally its home ground too.
Murray pulls out of Cincinnati Masters
NEW YORK • Tennis' men's world No. 1 Andy Murray will not compete in the Cincinnati Masters next week due to a hip injury, but hopes to play at the US Open later this month.
The 30-year-old Briton's absence at the Montreal Masters this week means Spaniard Rafael Nadal could take the top spot, should he advance to the semi-finals.
Celtics v 76ers to take place in London
NEW YORK • The Boston Celtics will meet the Philadelphia 76ers at the O2 Arena in London for a regular National Basketball Association (NBA) game.
It will be played on Jan 11.