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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

Six La Liga clubs challenge planned LFP strike

Posted: 23 Mar 2011 06:09 PM PDT

MADRID, March 24 — Six of Spain's top-flight clubs have broken ranks and filed a legal suit aimed at stopping the professional football league (LFP) from postponing a round of matches next month over a dispute with the government.

The LFP wants Spain's Socialist administration to scrap a rule that one La Liga game per match day should be shown on free television, arguing the move would strengthen clubs' bargaining power in negotiations on audiovisual rights with media companies.

It also wants guarantees about how much funds it is entitled to receive from betting and lottery revenue.

The league, which represents first and second division clubs, has the backing of the Spanish football federation (RFEF) but six of 20 clubs in the first division — Sevilla, Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao, Espanyol, Real Zaragoza and Real Sociedad — filed a legal challenge in a Madrid court yesterday in an attempt to block the postponement.

The six oppose the LFP because they believe a strike would be "disproportionate, innoportune, against the interest of clubs, the competition and supporters and, what's more, against the law," Sevilla said on their website (

"It's not the right moment, politically speaking, to make these demands and, what's more, it should not be the fans who pay the price," Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido was quoted as saying in local media.

Dialogue best

On the weekend under threat, April 23, Sevilla are due to host Zaragoza, while La Liga leaders Barcelona play at Villarreal and second-placed Real Madrid host Sporting Gijon.

The LFP said on Tuesday that the latest talks between league officials, the government and parliamentary groups had failed to produce any progress, and it stood by its decision to strike.

The league has said the free game will not necessarily be dropped but it wants the obligation to show it to be removed.

An LFP spokesman said yesterday that it respected the position of each of its members but would stick to the decision taken at a meeting last month to postpone games unless the government backs down.

Jaime Lissavetzky, secretary of state for sport, appealed for "common sense" and noted a television media law had been voted through a year ago without any of the political groups raising objections.

Speaking at an event in Madrid yesterday, he indicated he was "ready to listen and talk" to try to resolve the dispute.

Villarreal president Fernando Roig expressed support for the league's bid to get the free TV rule lifted but said a strike was the wrong way to go about it, especially at a time when the Spanish economy was struggling.

"It is not a good thing given what this country is going through at the moment for management to go on strike," Roig said on the club's website (

"I agree that the best way forward is through dialogue," he added. "I do not agree that the right path is a postponement."

According to Sevilla and Villarreal, if the April 23 games are postponed, they would be played on June 11/12, three weeks after the scheduled end of the season.

"If that happens I believe the final weeks of the league will be an authentic disaster," Roig said. "It seems to me a monstrosity and something that would cause a great deal of damage to the competition." — Reuters


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Afridi leads from front in Pakistan triumph

Posted: 23 Mar 2011 05:17 PM PDT

Shahid Afridi celebrates after dismissing West Indies' Ravi Rampaul in their quarter-final match in Dhaka, March 23, 2011. — Reuters pic

DHAKA, March 24 — Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi led from the front again to inspire his team to a 10-wicket victory over West Indies in the first World Cup quarter-final yesterday.

Afridi took four for 30 as West Indies collapsed to 112 all out from 43.3 overs to take his total to 21 for the tournament and overhaul Imran Khan's Pakistan record at a single World Cup.

Man-of-the-match Mohammad Hafeez, who had taken two cheap wickets with his off-spin, then scored his maiden World Cup half-century with 61 not out as Pakistan reached their victory target from only 20.5 overs.

They will face the winners of Thursday's match between defending champions Australia and co-hosts India in the second semi-final in Mohali.

"Personally I just tried to maintain line and length, these were perfect conditions for spinners if you bowled in the right areas," Afridi told a television interviewer.

"In each game we've tried to make some plans against the players and we tried to stick to our plans and the boys have done a great job doing that. The bowlers have done a great job from the first game to the seventh game."

Nothing went in West Indies' favour. After a pathetic batting display, they were also poor in the field, with Kieron Pollard dropping Kamran Akmal on six before wicketkeeper Devon Thomas grassed Hafeez on 17. Kemar Roach was the unlucky bowler on both occasions.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul was the only batsman to defy the Pakistan attack, scoring an unbeaten 44 from 106 balls.

Wickets in clusters

West Indies, the 1975 and 1979 champions, never recovered after losing their first three wickets with only 16 on the board.

After Darren Sammy had won the toss and elected to bat, Chris Gayle (8) struck Umar Gul straight to Afridi at mid-off. Devon Smith (7) and Darren Bravo (0) both fell lbw in the space of four balls to Hafeez, who had shared the new ball.

The experienced Guyana pair of Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chanderpaul took the total to 58 before Sarwan was caught by Umar Akmal off Afridi for 24.

Afridi then dismissed Pollard (one) and Devon Thomas off consecutive balls.

Sammy was dropped by Younus Khan at slip off Saeed Ajmal on one but lasted only one more ball before he was lbw to the off-spinner. Two balls later, Ajmal bowled Devendra Bishoo for a duck.

Roach recorded his best one-day score of 16, helping Chanderpaul to add 30 for the ninth wicket.

"Definitely not enough runs on the board," said Sammy.

"They bowled well at us. We didn't counter the bowling well and hence we were bowled out for a low total.

"We lost wickets in clusters to spin through the tournament and today was no different. We were on the back foot early and never recovered." — Reuters


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