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FIFA investigates two Swiss players for political World Cup goal celebrations

The football thriller in Kaliningrad between Switzerland and Serbia will be reviewed by FIFA for its political messages and may end in disciplinary action against two Swiss players, FIFA said on Saturday.

Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri celebrated their goals against Serbia by displaying the Albania national double-headed eagle symbol with their hands.

All political messages or symbols in stadiums are banned by FIFA. If the soccer governing body concludes that Xhaka and Shaqiri violated the rule, both could be banned for up to two games.

Though they hold Swiss nationality, the two players trace their roots to Kosovo, a former province of Serbia that declared independence in 2008, a move that Belgrade does not yet recognize.

Thousands of Kosovo Albanians fled rising ethnic tensions in the 1990s that culminated in a bloody 1998-99 war of independence between ethnic Albanians and Serb forces. Shaqiri was born in Kosovo and his parents were among those who fled, settling in Switzerland.

Xhaka was born in Switzerland to Albanian parents, and his brother, Taulant Xhaka, is also a footballer, who plays for Albania's national team.

In a post-match interview, Shaqiri did not shy away from his controversial goal celebration. "The victory was for my family, which I always support," the football player said to Swiss broadcaster SRF. "The celebration was not a message to the opponent," he added.

The player's message was well received in both Kosovo and Albania.

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci wrote on Twitter: "Congratulations to goalscorers Xhaka, Shaqiri and entire #Switzerland on a well-deserved win! Proud of you." He finished his tweet: "Kosova ju don!" — an Albanian phrase meaning "Kosovo loves you!"
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama posted on his Facebook page photos of Shaqiri and Xhaka with their hands crossed in the two-headed eagle symbol and wrote: "Photo of the day."

The contentious match drew the ire of Serbian coach Mladen Krstajic, not just because of the Kosovo-related celebration but also due to a ruling that he felt should have concluded with a penalty kick for Serbia after being reviewed.

But in his criticism, the coach dove in with political rhetoric. Of German referee Felix Brych's performance, Krstajic said, "I would not give him a yellow or a red card. I would send him to The Hague so that he can be judged as they do to us."

The comment was in reference to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia trials of Serbians who took part in the Yugoslav wars. The statement will now be reviewed by FIFA as part of the disciplinary investigation into the match.

FIFA has also opened disciplinary proceedings against the Serbian Football Association for crowd disturbance and display of political and offensive messages by Serbian fans during the game.

Source : Deutsche Welle

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Navy takes the strain to win men’s title at Defence Services tug of war

Sri Lanka Navy team triumphed over their Army counterparts to record a comprehensive victory at the finals of Defence Services tug of war tournament worked off at the sports ground of SLNS Gemunu in Welisara, yesterday (11th June). The sailors mustered every ounce of strength in their bodies to secure the victory of two rounds.

Commandant Naval Infantry, Director Naval Marine and Director Naval Land Operations Rear Admiral Udeni Serasinghe graced the prize awarding ceremony as the Chief Guest. A number of officers and other ranks representing tri-services were also present on this occasion.

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Inaugural World Test Championship schedule released

The International Cricket Council (ICC) unveiled details of a revamped match schedule on Wednesday which will underpin its inaugural World Test Championship starting next year.The long-awaited Championship, involving the nine top-ranked test nations competing in a league between July 15, 2019 to April 30, 2021, has been designed to give more meaning to test series for cricket fans.

The revamped Future Tours Programme (FTP), starting with the Ashes series in England next year, will see teams play three home and away series over a two-year cycle. The top two teams will then progress to a June 2021 final.

ICC chief executive David Richardson said the new schedule would provide context around all bilateral international fixtures.
"The agreement of this FTP means we have clarity, certainty and most importantly context around bilateral cricket over the next five years," he said in a statement.

"Our members have found a genuine solution that gives fans around the world the chance to engage regularly with international cricket that has meaning and the possibility of a global title at the end."

The final league game of the Championship is set to take place in April, 2021, with Sri Lanka hosting the touring West Indies in a two-test series.

The ICC also announced the creation of a 13-team one-day international (ODI) league. It will be made up of the 12 test-playing nations, along with the Netherlands, the winners of the World Cricket League Championship.

The ODI league will serve as a qualification pathway for the 2023 World Cup. Hosts India and the seven highest-ranked sides in the league on March 31, 2022, qualify directly for the World Cup. The bottom five teams will compete for two remaining spots.

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Sri Lanka lose first test by a mammoth 226 runs 

West Indies completed a crushing 226-run victory over Sri Lanka just after lunch on the final day of the first Test on Sunday as the tourists surrendered meekly following the demise of century-maker Kusal Mendis and captain Dinesh Chandimal.

Set a daunting target of 453, the Sri Lankans crashed from 189 for three in mid-morning to be dismissed for 226 just after lunch, suffering their first Test match defeat at the hands of the Caribbean side for ten years, when they were also beaten at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad.

Off-spinning all-rounder Roston Chase triggered the final capitulation in which five wickets fell for just eight runs.

His dismissal of Chandimal in the last over before the lunch interval broke the back of the tourists’ resistance and he claimed three of the remaining four wickets to fall to finish with the impressive figures of four for 15 off 8.2 overs.

It looked so much better for Sri Lanka when Mendis, 94 not out overnight with Sri Lanka on 176 for three, reached his fifth Test century shortly after the start of the day’s play.

However any hope of the visitors seriously challenging a world record target effectively evaporated with his dismissal, caught behind for 102 off fast bowler Shannon Gabriel.

Even the prospects of saving the match or at the very least taking the game into the final session disappeared with the loss of three more wickets before the break, including two off the final over bowled by Chase.

Stubborn nightwatchman Lahiru Gamage had fallen LBW to leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo for just three after more than an hour’s resistance but the death knell was really sounded for the Sri Lankans when Chase accounted for both Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella in the space of five deliveries.

Chandimal was forced to curtail his innings on Saturday afternoon when on 15 because he was feeling unwell.

He resumed after the fall of Mendis and showed no signs of further discomfort in getting to 27 until a flighted delivery from Chase tempted him into attempting to heave over midwicket only for the miscue to offer a simple catch to Kraigg Brathwaite running around to short mid-on.

It was hardly the sort of example he would have wanted to set as Sri Lanka’s captain.

Within minutes he was joined by Dickwella in the dressing room as the wicketkeeper-batsman was trapped palpably leg-before by a quicker delivery from Chase.

"I think our fielding was below par in the first innings when we dropped some important catches,” said Chandimal in reflecting on his team’s disappointing overall performance.

“We need to learn from our mistakes and regroup quickly for the next match.”

Sri Lanka expect to welcome back middle-order batsman Dhananjaya de Silva for the second Test starting Thursday in St Lucia.

His arrival in the region was delayed by the shooting death of his father.

West Indies were in no mood to slacken their grip on the match on the resumption after lunch as Bishoo had Rangana Herath taken at short-leg before Chase sealed victory with the wickets of Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Kumara off successive balls, both adjudged caught behind by 'man of the match' Shane Dowrich.

“I just wanted to stick to the basics and make the most of all my preparation coming into this series, and it worked out for me,” said the wicketkeeper-batsman, whose unbeaten 125 was the cornerstone of the West Indies first innings recovery and final total of 414 for eight declared.

“Consistency is something I have been striving for because I want to score runs in every game.”

Earlier, Mendis had wasted no time in getting to three figures.

Kusal Mendis
Kusal Mendis hits a four during Day 4 of the first Test against the Windies (AFP)

He flicked a delivery from West Indies captain Jason Holder to backward square-leg for his tenth boundary.

He also hoisted two sixes in a determined innings that occupied 110 deliveries. Yet for all that time at the crease, there was nothing he could do to avoid an unplayable delivery from Gabriel which kicked off a good length to brush the batsman’s gloves on the way through to Dowrich.

“Everyone in this team deserves enormous credit for the way we battled through on a pitch that wasn’t the easiest,” said Holder in reflecting on a victory achieved after two declarations by him.

“I wasn’t worried coming into this final day because the pitch was deteriorating a bit and I just felt our bowlers had to build a bit of pressure and we would be able to strike, and when we struck we got wickets in clusters.”

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Sri Lanka seeks Australian help to fight doping in sports

Sri Lanka has launched a joint effort with Australia's anti-doping agency to tackle drug cheats, including athletes using traditional medicines to hide banned substances, officials said on Monday.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) will give technical expertise and eventually carry out joint research into doping, officials said.

"It is critical that we develop our capacities together, we learn from each other and we join forces in the fight against doping," ASADA chief David Sharp told reporters in Colombo.

Sri Lankan sports authorities are particularly interested in traditional Ayurveda preparations used by some athletes in the island of 21 million.

In 2010 Sri Lankan boxer Manju Wanniarachchi blamed an Ayurveda mixture after he tested positive for a banned steroid and was stripped of his Commonwealth gold medal. Sri Lankan authorities rejected his explanation.

Sri Lanka's anti-doping chief Arjuna de Silva said on the sidelines of a two-day Asia-Pacific doping summit in Colombo that many athletes took Ayurveda substances without knowing what was in them.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) chief Craig Reedie said the agency was improving its drug detection armoury but still struggled to keep up with dopers.

"I would like to think that with improvements in science and with the improvements in our laboratory systems... we are better at it (detections) year on year," Reedie said.

doping 1Head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Craig Reedie (L), speaks during a press conference at the start of a two-day ministerial meeting on tackling doping in sport/AFP

WADA director general Olivier Niggli said some athletes mask doping through advanced substances not yet available on the open market.
"What we do to counter that is to have agreements with the pharma industry so that we get access to those products, the new molecules, a few years in advance before they are on the market," Niggli said.

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Sri Lanka to battle West Indies in opening test 

Sri Lanka and West Indies will contest in a Test series in the Caribbean for the first time in 10 years with the two teams meeting for the first Test at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad today (06).

Sri Lanka's touring side 10 years ago, captained by Mahela Jayawardene, claimed their first ever Test win in the West Indies as the series was shared, while they arrive on this trip in terrific form, in which their only defeat in their last seven Tests was away to top-ranked India. But, their preparations for the upcoming three-Test series in the West Indies have been hurt with the absence of batsman Dimuth Karunaratne and fast bowlers Dushmantha Chameera and Nuwan Pradeep to injury. Also, promising No 3 batsman Dhananjaya de Silva - who has hit four Test tons in his first 13 games - has rejoined squad, but is unavailable for the first Test, a fortnight after his father was shot and killed outside their family home.

Dhananjaya's father, an elected councillor at the Dehiwala-Mt. Lavinia Municipal Council, was gunned down in Rathmalana on May 23 - the evening before his son was originally due to fly to the Caribbean.

Devon Smith, meanwhile, is back in West Indies Test squad after an absence of nearly three years. The selectors have also called up the uncapped wicketkeeper-batsman Jahmar Hamilton for the first Test at Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Thirty-six-year-old Smith last played a Test during England's 2015 tour to the West Indies, where he averaged 23.25 across his four innings. The left-handed opener averages only a fraction more, 24.50, across his 38 Test matches to date.

This is first time Sri Lanka will play more than two Tests in the Caribbean, with the second Test scheduled for St Lucia and the final match in Barbados set to be the first-ever day-night Test in the West Indies. 

Sri Lanka squad:  Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Akila Dananjaya, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wkt), Asitha Fernando, Lahiru Gamage, Lahiru Kumara, Suranga Lakmal, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Kusal Perera, Kasun Rajitha, Roshen Silva, Mahela Udawatte, Jeffrey Vandersay.

West Indies Test squad: Jason Holder (capt), Devendra Bishoo, Kraigg Brathwaite, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich (wkt), Shannon Gabriel, Jahmar Hamilton (wkt), Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Devon Smith.

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Sri Lanka play 'under protest' amidst ball tampering allegations

Play only resumed after a two-hour delay when the Sri Lankans, led by captain Dinesh Chandimal, had refused to take the field following a decision by umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould to charge the tourists with altering the state of the ball during the latter stages of the second day's play.
They were assessed five penalty runs, although that relatively minor punishment was inconsequential compared to the Sri Lankans' obvious anger at being accused of what amounts to cheating.

Animated discussions ensued involving match referee Javagal Srinath and the Sri Lankan pair of coach Chandika Hathurusingha and team manager Asanka Gurusinha.

It appeared for some time that the day's play — at least, and possibly the rest of the match — might be in doubt.

However , it was after these deliberations that the Sri Lankans agreed to the change of ball and to continue playing.

But after initially appearing to be prepared to resume the match, the Sri Lankan cricketers hesitated even as they were making their way out to the middle, resulting in further discussions before they were finally persuaded to get the day's play underway two hours later than scheduled.

In a statement, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) solidly backed their players.

“The team management has informed us that Sri Lankan players have not engaged in any wrongdoing,” said SLC.

It was communication with the board in Colombo which finally persuaded Chandimal and his team to continue with the match.
“SLC advised the team to take the field to ensure the continuity of the match, and wish to commend the decision taken by the team 'under protest' to ensure the upholding of the spirit of the game,” added the statement.

For their part, the sport's governing body, the International Cricket Council, reserved the right to take punitive action based on what transpired when the Sri Lankans were expected to have taken the field at the start of the day.

“If there are any, Code of Conduct charges will follow as per usual at close of play,” tweeted the ICC.

When play eventually resumed, the West Indies progressed from their overnight position of 118 for two in reply to Sri Lanka's first innings of 253 without too many alarms, until Suranga Lakmal produced an excellent delivery to have Shai Hope caught by Dhananjaya de Silva at slip for 19.
By tea, the home side had reached 241-5.

Opening batsman Devon Smith anchored the innings with a painstaking 61, but it was the fifth-wicket pair of Roston Chase and Shane Dowrich whose stand of 78 runs wrested the initiative from the Sri Lankans.

Fresh from a match-winning hundred in the first Test in Trinidad, wicketkeeper-batsman Dowrich reached the break on 44 in partnership with captain Jason Holder.

He lost the company of Chase in the final over of the session as Sri Lanka struck immediately upon taking the second new ball when the all-rounder, on 41, flicked a full-length delivery to Suranga Lakmal at midwicket.

Smith's was the other wicket to fall in the session, trapped lbw by spinner Akila Dananjaya after adding just one run to his score at lunch.

There is a precedent for a team refusing to take the field after a brush with the umpires.

The first and only time a match has been forfeited in the history of Test cricket was in 2006, after Pakistan were penalised five runs for ball tampering by umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove in the fourth Test against England at The Oval.

The Pakistanis did not return to the field after tea on the fourth day and the umpires deemed this to mean they had forfeited the match, even though Pakistan later said they were willing to play.

It was in March that Australia were caught tampering with the ball illegally on the third day of the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

Following their admissions of guilt and an investigation, Steve Smith and David Warner were stripped of the captaincy and vice-captaincy, respectively, and banned from playing international cricket for 12 months. Opening batsman Cameron Bancroft, the player caught on camera applying sandpaper to the ball, was banned for nine months.

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Sri Lanka Cricket announce new selectors

Sri Lanka named a new selectors panel for the national cricket team on Monday (04), after gambling allegations against the sport's national board president prompted government intervention.

Accordingly, Graeme Labrooy was appointed as the Chairman of Selectors together with Gamini Wickremesinghe, Eric Upashantha and Jeryl Woutersz acting as members. Head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe, who was named as the selector on tour, will round out the 5 member committee. 

The sports ministry stepped in to manage the Sri Lanka Cricket board last week, after an appeals court suspended elections for the presidency to consider whether incumbent Thilanga Sumathipala should be allowed to contest the ballot.

Sumathipala has been accused of alleged links to gambling in breach of International Cricket Council regulations. He denies any wrongdoing.
Sports Minister Faiszer Musthapha announced the new selection panel after Sumathipala's mandate ended on May 31. The court has suspended elections till June 14 at the earliest, with no fresh date confirmed for the vote.

Former Test bowler Graeme Labrooy remains chief selector, while former Test player Eric Upashantha made his debut on the panel.

The new selectors will have to name a squad to host next month's tour by South Africa who will play two Tests, five one-day internationals and a one-off T20.

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2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia; complete local time schedule inside 

The 2018 FIFA World Cup, the first ever hosted by Russia, kicks off today with hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium.

Over the next month a uniquely universal audience will watch enthralled as 32 teams vie for football's greatest prize. The final is set to take place on the July 15 at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow at 8.30 pm local time.

The complete schedule courtesy thepapare.com can be found below.

FIFA 1

FIFA 2

FIFA 3

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FIFA 6

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FIFA 8

 

 

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Hashan Tillakaratne appointed as Sri Lanka’s new Under 19 coach

Sri Lanka Cricket yesterday announced the appointment of Hashan Tillakaratne as the new coach of the Under 19 team. His appointment is effective until the next Under 19 World Cup.
 
Tillakaratne, who was once the batting coach of the Sri Lankan team is a qualified level 2 and 3 Coach (ICC Global).
 
His most recent coaching role was working as the 'Head Coach' of the Galle Team, who became the Champions of the four day contest of the Super Provincial Tournament 2018 and the finalists of the Limited Over contest of the Super Provincial Tournament 2018.
 
He was also the 'Head Coach' of the Galle Team, who became the runner-up of the Super Provincial Limited over Tournament 2017.

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Angelo Mathews takes an early flight home

If losing the first Test against the West Indies wasn’t a blow enough, the Sri Lanka cricket team will be on the losing end of two of perhaps their most important players. Angelo Mathews and Lahiru Gamage will be taking an early flight back home to Sri Lanka following the Test defeat against Jason Holder’s men at Port of Spain in Trinidad.

While Mathews will be returning for personal reasons, Gamage sustained a fracture on his finger while batting. Both players made very little contribution to the side following the loss with Mathews scoring just the 11 and 31 in each innings. Gamage on the other hand went wicketless right through the Test match.

They will be replaced by Danushkha Gunathilaka and Dasun Shanaka respectively for the remainder of the series.

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Pitch-fixing allegations difficult to believe: SLC 

Sri Lanka’s top cricket administrators say it is difficult to believe allegations of pitch-fixing in a 2016 test match against Australia which have triggered a probe by the International Cricket Council (ICC).The ICC launched an investigation after a documentary aired by news organisation Al Jazeera on Sunday showed a groundsman agreeing to doctor pitches for test matches involving some of the world’s top teams.

In the second test in Galle two years ago, Australia were bowled out for 106 and 183 and lost by 229 runs in less than three days.

“In that video, they only say that the Galle match ended in two-and-half days. Players never complained. Nothing was mentioned in the captains’ reports. No complaints from umpires and match referee as well,” Mohan de Silva, the vice president of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), told reporters in Colombo on Monday.

“So it is difficult for us to believe something wrong has happened. That is what the ICC is investigating.”

The SLC has appointed a committee to look into the matter, to assess if there was a failure in protocols and to take measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.
CRicket 1
Former Sri Lankan international cricketers tell an undercover Al Jazeera reporter that they would carry out fixes in a corrupt cricket tournament [Al Jazeera]. 

The SLC has suspended former players Tharindu Mendis and Jeevantha Kulatunga, who have been working as provincial coaches. The assistant manager at the Galle cricket ground, who is implicated in Al Jazeera’s allegations, has also been suspended.

“We have taken measures and we have showed all the world that we are on top of it. We will not tolerate this even in the future,” SLC CEO Ashley De Silva said.

The documentary showed two men claiming to be the assistant manager at the Galle stadium and another former cricketer speaking to an undercover reporter and explaining how a pitch could be doctored.

Last year’s test between Sri Lanka and India at Galle is also under suspicion and match-fixers have targeted England’s test at the same venue in November, The Australian newspaper reported.

The SLC CEO said the board was not under any pressure from the England Cricket Board regarding this year’s test.

Match-fixing has become a major concern for cricket in recent years.

In 2010, Pakistani players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were part of a gambling-inspired plot to bowl no-balls at pre-arranged times during a test match against England at Lord’s.

The players served prison sentences and were handed multi-year bans from the game after an ICC tribunal found them guilty of spot-fixing.
Amir has now returned to the Pakistan team and helped them beat England in the first test at Lord’s on Sunday.

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