Chinese football stars and officials held in Xi’s corruption crackdown

Stadiums are reopening but detentions of major football figures overshadow the sport, as scandal engulfs basketball

Sergio Agüero may be one of the greatest strikers of his generation, but he won an even rarer accolade in 2015, when he became the first – and last – Premier League footballer to take a selfie with Xi Jinping, China’s football-loving leader.

The photo, taken at Manchester City’s stadium – with then prime minister David Cameron – comes from an era when Xi was fostering warm relations with the UK and pushing China to become a world football superpower by 2050, both ambitions that seem distant possibilities today.

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Japan’s top ad agency indicted over Olympics bid-rigging scandal

Dentsu Group charged after arrest of Tokyo 2020 committee official accused of rigging Games-related tenders

Japan’s biggest advertising agency and five other companies have been indicted for allegedly violating an anti-monopoly law, in a corruption scandal over allegations of bid-rigging during the Tokyo Olympics.

The indictment followed the arrest this month of a senior Tokyo 2020 organising committee official and three others who were accused of rigging a string of Olympic Games-related tenders.

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‘We are the village’s shining stars’: hockey is giving India’s rural women new status

Hosting the World Cup in the Indian state of Odisha has transformed playing the game into a respectable career choice

In a small mud room, Elisaba Lakra hurriedly cooks lunch for her husband. It is 11am and she only has two hours before her eight-year-old twin girls return from school. As captain and coach of Khamarimunda village hockey team in India’s Sundargarh district, she needs to fit in practice before they do.

Lakra, 27, first picked up a hockey stick aged five and by 13 was playing for the Odisha state junior team. She was selected for a place at a training academy in Rourkela, host to the recent Hockey World Cup, about 70 miles (112km) from her village.

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Head of Indian wrestling federation accused of sexual harassment

Wrestlers including Olympic medallists stage sit-in demanding federation is disbanded

Two Olympic medal-winning wrestlers in India have accused the head of their sport’s governing body and its coaches of sexually harassing female players and have vowed to protest until the federation is disbanded and its leader investigated.

Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, who have Olympic bronzes, Vinesh Phogat, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, and other athletes began a sit-in protest in the capital, Delhi, on Wednesday.

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Australia and Papua New Guinea pledge new security pact saying interests are ‘intertwined’

In contrast with security deal between China and Solomon Islands, the Australia-PNG agreement will be ‘public and transparent’, prime ministers vow

Australia and Papua New Guinea have pledged to clinch a new security treaty within four months, declaring the deal will also tackle the threat of climate change.

The security interests of both countries are “intertwined” and the agreement would help protect their “independence, sovereignty and resilience”, according to a statement issued by the two parties on Thursday.

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‘Dark days in Qatar’: Nepali workers face bitter legacy of World Cup debts

For thousands of low-paid workers, this year’s games brought back only memories of abuse and exploitation

On a huge billboard in front of Kathmandu’s international airport, is a picture of five migrant workers with the words: “Meet the hardest working team in Qatar. Wouldn’t it be great if they were compensated for it?”

Just metres away, hundreds of young men board flights to Qatar and other Gulf states every day, hoping to earn enough to look after the families they leave behind. About 400,000 Nepalis work in Qatar and many toiled for years on its preparations for the World Cup.

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Tokyo Olympics bribery scandal threatens to derail Winter Games bid

Japanese official says corruption claims could damage Sapporo’s chances of hosting 2030 event

More than a year after the Tokyo Olympics were held in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, their legacy has been overshadowed by a bribery scandal that threatens to derail a bid by another Japanese city to host the Winter Games.

This summer, as officials in Sapporo, on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, promoted their bid for the 2030 Games, police arrested Haruyuki Takahashi, a former Tokyo Olympics executive, on suspicion of taking bribes in return for helping companies become official sponsors for last year’s event.

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‘Miracle of Doha’: calls for public holiday as Japan’s Samurai Blue put Germany to sword

Victory in World Cup opener sparks street celebrations and banishes painful memories in Doha of failure to qualify for USA 1994

Japan’s shock victory over Germany in Qatar on Wednesday sparked late-night celebrations and calls to mark the Samurai Blue’s momentous feat in their 2022 World Cup opener with a public holiday.

The clock was nearing midnight when Takuma Asano rifled Japan’s winner into the roof of the net at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha – a result that had seemed impossible after a poor first half from Japan, playing in their seventh straight World Cup.

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‘What a time to be alive’: rugby league fever grips Samoa after team’s surprise World Cup run

Houses have been painted blue and flags are sold out across the island country ahead of the grand final against Australia on Saturday at Old Trafford

On the main street of Apia, the capital of Samoa, everything is blue. People are in royal blue T-shirts, blue streamers hang from car windows, some houses have even been painted blue in the last week.

Samoans are decked out in the colours of their Toa Samoa, the national men’s rugby league team, the surprise stars of the Rugby League World Cup.

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Hong Kong protest song appears to play instead of Chinese national anthem at rugby game – video

A song from Hong Kong's protest movement seems to have been played in place of the Chinese national anthem during a rugby sevens tournament in South Korea. Hong Kong said it 'strongly deplores and opposes' the playing of a song associated with 'violent protests' and the pro-independence movement in 2019, when the Chinese national anthem, March of the Volunteers, should have been played. The song was written and published online by a group of local activists during the 2019 protest movement as a statement opposing the enactment of an extradition bill. While the song is not outlawed on paper, it is deemed risky to play it in public after the introduction of national security law in Hong Kong in June 2020.

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Hong Kong criticises rugby tournament after protest song is played instead of Chinese anthem

Glory to Hong Kong, linked to 2019 protest movement, played in South Korean stadium at start of rugby sevens game

Hong Kong’s government has strongly criticised a rugby sevens tournament after a song from the city’s protest movement was played in place of the Chinese national anthem during a match in South Korea.

Hong Kong said it “strongly deplores and opposes” the playing of a song associated with “violent protests” and the pro-independence movement in 2019, when the Chinese national anthem, March of the Volunteers, should have been played.

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Missing Iranian climber dropped headscarf by mistake, Instagram post claims

Friends of Elnaz Rekabi have been unable to contact athlete since Sunday, while embassy says she returned home with rest of team

A female Iranian climber who competed in an international tournament without a hijab did so because her headscarf had dropped by mistake, a post on her Instagram account has claimed.

Footage of Elnaz Rekabi, 33, scaling a wall without her head covered during an international tournament went viral, coming amid big female-led demonstrations against Iran’s clerical rulers sparked by strict Islamic rules on women’s clothing.

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Indonesia stadium tragedy: tributes paid to fan who helped others escape

Iwan Junaedi, one of the 131 people killed on Saturday, fulfilled his vow to support his team until his last breath, his wife says

The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, has visited victims of the Kanjuruhan stadium disaster, vowing to find the “root” of the tragedy as demands for justice grew.

The president said he would order an audit of all football stadiums in the country, saying: “I want to know the root of the problem that caused this tragedy so that we can get the best solution.”

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Indonesia football stadium disaster: police chief sacked as investigation launched

Officers investigated after teargas fired and at least 125 people, including 32 children, killed in crush

An Indonesian police chief and nine elite officers were removed from their posts and 18 others were being investigated for responsibility in the firing of teargas inside a soccer stadium that led to a crush, killing at least 125 people, officials said.

Indonesian police are facing increasing pressure over their management of crowds during the Kanjuruhan stadium disaster.

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‘I felt terrified’: fans tell how Indonesian stadium disaster unfolded

Witnesses describe how police use of teargas led to brutal crushes that killed 125 football fans in East Java

Just after the match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya had finished at Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang, East Java, Indonesia, on Saturday night, a group of three Arema fans climbed down from the stands, attempting to meet their team’s players on the pitch, recalled a spectator who was watching from the southern stand.

It had been a disappointing game for the home side: they’d lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya – a team they shared such fierce rivalry with that its supporters are banned from Arema’s ground. This was their first loss against Persebaya after 23 years of undefeated home matches.

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