Muntari walks off pitch after card for complaining about racist chants


Pescara’s Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari abandoned the pitch on Sunday, saying he had been booked for complaining about racist chanting from the crowd during his team’s 1-0 defeat at Cagliari in Serie A.

Football – AC Milan v Manchester City – Guinness International Champions Cup – Pre Season Friendly Tournament – Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, United States of America – 14/15 – 27/7/14
Sulley Muntari of AC Milan warms up
PHOTO: Reuters/ Action Images / Adam Holt

ROME: Pescara’s Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari abandoned the pitch on Sunday, saying he had been booked for complaining about racist chanting from the crowd during his team’s 1-0 defeat at Cagliari in Serie A.

Muntari was shown the yellow card for dissent by referee Daniele Minelli in the 90th minute and walked off the pitch in protest during stoppage time, leaving his team to play the last few minutes with 10 men.

The 32-year-old told television reporters that a group of fans had been insulting him from the start of the match, including a group of children.

He said he offered the children his shirt to set an example but the insults continued in the second half.

“He told me I should not talk to the crowd. I asked him if had heard the insults. I insisted that he must have the courage to stop the game,” Muntari said.

“The referee should not just stay on the field and blow the whistle, he must do everything. He should be aware of these things and set an example,” he added.

Italy has struggled to stop racist chanting in its stadiums and there have been a number of incidents over the years.

In one of the most serious in 2013, the AC Milan team abandoned the pitch during a friendly in the town of Busto Arsizio after home fans insulted midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Under guidelines introduced following that incident, the referee is supposed to alert the fourth official who should in turn report the incident to the public security department responsible for policing at games.

Pescara coach Zdenek Zeman said he sympathised with Muntari but said the player should not have walked off.

“Muntari has abandoned the pitch because of racist chants but we should not take justice into our own hands,” he said.

“We have been talking about racism for years now but nothing happens. Today, this has happened to Muntari who has been playing in Italy for several years now. We need a change of mentality.”

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Clare Fallon)



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Swiss climber dies after fall, preparing for Mount Everest ascent


An experienced Swiss climber died on Sunday after he fell in the Everest region of Nepal during preparations to climb the world’s highest mountain, the first to perish in the current climbing season, officials said.

Ueli Steck, a mountaineer from Switzerland, speaks to the media during an interview at a hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal May 30, 2016. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

KATHMANDU: An experienced Swiss climber died on Sunday after he fell in the Everest region of Nepal during preparations to climb the world’s highest mountain, the first to perish in the current climbing season, officials said.

Ueli Steck, 40, died after falling to the foot of Mount Nuptse, a smaller peak in the area, said Mingma Sherpa of the Seven Summits Treks company that organised Steck’s expedition.

Steck was in the area acclimatising ahead of a bid to climb Everest through the less-climbed West Ridge route and traverse to Lhotse, the world’s fourth highest peak – at 8,516 metres (27,940 feet) in May.

“His body has been retrieved and is being brought to Kathmandu,” Sherpa told Reuters. Other details were not immediately available.

Kamal Prasad Parajuli, an official with Nepal’s Department of Tourism, confirmed Steck died while climbing Nuptse and that he had planned to attempt an Everest ascent.

Hundreds of climbers are at Everest base camp as they prepare to climb the 8,850 metre (29,035 feet) Everest Summit in the current March-May climbing season.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Sam Holmes)



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Suarez and Rakitic see Barca through Espanyol test to stay top


Barcelona came through a testing local derby at Espanyol to win 3-0 and cling on to their slender lead at the top of La Liga thanks to two clinical finishes from Luis Suarez and a strike from Ivan Rakitic made by a vintage slalom run by Lionel Messi.

Soccer Football – Espanyol v Barcelona – Spanish La Liga Santander – RCDE stadium, in Cornella-El Prat (Barcelona), Spain – 29/04/2017. Barcelona’s players celebrate a goal. REUTERS/Albert Gea

BARCELONA: Barcelona came through a testing local derby at Espanyol to win 3-0 and cling on to their slender lead at the top of La Liga thanks to two clinical finishes from Luis Suarez and a strike from Ivan Rakitic made by a vintage slalom run by Lionel Messi.

Suarez pounced on a disastrous backpass from Jose Manuel Jurado to break the deadlock in the 50th minute and Rakitic sealed the win in the 76th by side-footing home Messi’s cutback after the Argentine had torn through the home defence.

Suarez, who had failed to score in his previous five games in all competitions, took advantage of another calamitous error by the otherwise impressive Espanyol backline and rifled in from close range in the 87th minute.

Barca were under pressure to win after Real Madrid had beaten Valencia to provisionally lead the standings earlier in the day, and the champions got an early fright when Jurado eased into their area but fired wide of the far post.

Espanyol’s good organisation then went to waste when Jurado gifted the ball to Suarez, who knocked it past former Real Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez with an effortless flick of the outside of his right boot.

Barca top the standings on 81 points due to their superior head-to-head record over Real, who also have 81 and have a game in hand.

(Reporting by Richard Martin,; Editing by Neville Dalton)



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Notorious Afghan warlord calls for peace in first public speech


In his first public speech since signing a peace deal with the Afghan government, one of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlords on Saturday called for the Taliban to stop fighting and begin negotiations.

A screen shows the broadcast of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar during a signing ceremony with Afghan government at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan September 29, 2016. REUTERS/ Omar Sobhani

MEHTAR LAM, Afghanistan: In his first public speech since signing a peace deal with the Afghan government, one of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlords on Saturday called for the Taliban to stop fighting and begin negotiations.

“I invite you to join the peace caravan and stop the pointless, meaningless and unholy war,” Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said to a gathering of his followers and Afghan politicians in Laghman province, east of the capital, Kabul.

In February the United Nations Security Council agreed to drop sanctions against Hekmatyar, paving the way for him to return openly to Afghanistan.

The Afghan government requested the move as part of a peace deal with Hekmatyar and his militant group, Hezb-i-Islami, in September.

“I want a free, proud, independent and Islamic Afghanistan,” he said on Saturday.

The deal has been criticised by some Afghans and human rights groups for the pardon it granted to Hekmatyar and many of his fighters.

Hekmatyar’s return “will compound the culture of impunity”, Human Rights Watch researcher Patricia Gossman said of the deal, calling it an “affront” to victims of abuses.

A controversial figure from the insurgency against the Soviets in the 1980s and the civil wars of the 1990s, Hekmatyar is accused of ordering his fighters to bombard Kabul, leading to many casualties, besides other abuses.

His faction of Hezb-i-Islami has played a relatively small role in the current conflict, in which the Taliban have a leading role in battling the Western-backed government in Kabul.

In hiding for nearly a decade and a half, Hekmatyar had been designated a “global terrorist” by the United States, which has been leading an international military mission in Afghanistan for the past 15 years.

American and other Western leaders praised the deal with him, however, hoping it could help lead to wider peace in Afghanistan.

(Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)



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Defensive mix-up costs Juventus in draw at Atalanta


Juventus were held to a 2-2 draw at Atalanta on Friday after a rare defensive mix-up by the Serie A leaders allowed the hosts to snatch a late equaliser.

Football Soccer – Atalanta v Juventus – Italian Serie A – Atleti Azzurri d’Italia Stadium, Bergamo, Italy – 28/04/17 Juventus’ Dani Alves celebrates after scoring second goal. REUTERS/Giorgio Perottino

MILAN: Juventus were held to a 2-2 draw at Atalanta on Friday after a rare defensive mix-up by the Serie A leaders allowed the hosts to snatch a late equaliser.

Dani Alves appeared to have won the game for Juventus when he headed them in front in the 83rd minute but Remo Freuler pounced to equalise six minutes later as he punished some sloppy defending.

Juventus, who moved nine points clear of AS Roma, have one of the strongest defences in Europe and have conceded only 22 goals in the league all season in 34 games.

Fifth-placed Atalanta have been one of the surprise packages in Serie A this season, losing only three times at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia stadium, and they gave Juve a hard time as expected.

Juventus twice escaped after mistakes by defender Giorgio Chiellini set up the hosts but there was no let-off when Andrea Conti forced Alejandro Gomez’s cross over the line on the stroke of halftime.

The Turin side equalised six minutes after halftime when Miralem Pjanic’s free kick flew across the face of the goal and was turned into his own net by Leonardo Spinazzola at the far post.

Atalanta goalkeeper Etrit Berisha twice denied Sami Khedira with excellent saves before Alves got in front of his marker to meet Pjanic’s long ball at the far post with a diving header and give Juventus the lead.

Juve’s usually impregnable defence let them down when Pjanic and Stephan Lichtsteiner collided while trying to clear and the ball ran loose to Freuler.

His first shot was blocked by Gianluigi Buffon but the Swiss forced home the rebound despite the attention of three defenders who were left slumped on the ground.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Clare Fallon)



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