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Football: Arsene Wenger, Arsenal's professorial pioneer

Arsene Wenger will take charge of his 1,000th match as Arsenal manager on Saturday, and the rest of English football is still playing catch-up. London newspaper the Evening Standard screamed "ARSENE WHO?" when the urbane Frenchman was hired by Arsenal in September 1996, but 17-and-a-half years on, he has helped to revolutionise the English game. When Wenger first arrived from Japanese club Nagoya Grampus Eight, Arsenal's old guard baulked at the methods he introduced, which included individualised dietary programmes and intensive stretching routines.

Romario, Ronaldo deepen Cup rift

Brazilian legends Ronaldo and Romario on Thursday deepened their World Cup rift by indulging in a second slanging match in four days. Having Monday accused his fellow world champion of being to blame for the absence to date of promised free tickets for handicapped fans, Romario this time opened up with both barrels on the cost of renovating the Maracana. "In relation especially to the World Cup, we are on opposite sides" of the debate, said Romario, now a lawmaker whereas Ronaldo is on the event's Local Organization Committee (LOC).

Football: Brazil's first Cup-winning skipper dies

Hilderaldo Luiz Bellini, the captain of Brazil's first World Cup-winning team, died Thursday aged 83 after a long illness, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said. The central defender, who had been battling Alzheimer's disease for a decade, died in a Sao Paulo hospital three years after he suffered a stroke which left him unable to speak. The CBF declared three days of mourning in honor of Bellini, who will be buried on Friday in his home city of Itapira, in Sao Paulo state.

Qatar to reschedule 15 percent of planned projects: sources

By Praveen Menon DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar is likely to reschedule about 15 percent of its planned building projects for coming years and go over budget, amid a push to complete preparations for the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament, sources familiar with government policy said.

Football: Pele memorabilia up for pre-Cup auction

A Brazilian football fan hopes to net thousands of dollars from the auction of Pele memorabilia, including the shirt the legend wore for his last appearance in a Brazil shirt, media reported Wednesday. The fan, 38-year-old Marcos Batista, is selling off around 100 items he has collected over 30 years, including stamps commemorating Pele's 1,000th goal, figurines, picture albums and comics.

Football: US, Hanover defender Cherundolo retires

Steve Cherundolo, a 35-year-old defender for the US national team with 15 seasons in the German Bundesliga for Hanover, announced his retirement from football on Wednesday. Nagging knee injuries have caused him to miss most of the 2013-2014 season and will keep the 2002, 2006 and 2010 US World Cup defender from making a charge into contention for US coach Jurgen Klinsmann's squad for this June in Brazil. "Because of several knee injuries in the past 15 months, I have to stop my career as a professional footballer today," Cherundolo said.

Stadiums will be ready for World Cup, Brazilian says

London, Mar 18 (EFE).- The Brazilian stadiums scheduled to host 2014 World Cup matches will be ready in time for the June 12 kickoff of the tournament, the country's sports minister said here Tuesday. "We are quite certain the stadiums will be completed on time," Aldo Rebelo said during a press conference in London. FIFA, soccer's world governing body, had set a deadline of December 2013 for completion of stadium construction and renovation, but work continues on five of the 12 World Cup venues.

Football: Thuram 'understands' Brazil protests

French football legend Lilian Thuram expressed sympathy with Brazilian protesters threatening to disrupt the World Cup, saying he understands their anger over the tournament's multi-billion-dollar price tag. The 42-year-old star of France's 1998 World Cup-winning side told AFP during a visit to Rio de Janeiro that protesting over the cost of the World Cup was understandable given the country's creaking infrastructure. "I am not Brazilian so I would not join the protesters -- but I understand them totally," Thuram told AFP when asked if he supported the demonstrators.

Football: Thuram 'understands' Brazil protests

French football legend Lilian Thuram expressed sympathy with Brazilian protesters threatening to disrupt the World Cup, saying he understands their anger over the tournament's multi-billion-dollar price tag. The 42-year-old star of France's 1998 World Cup-winning side told AFP during a visit to Rio de Janeiro that protesting over the cost of the World Cup was understandable given the country's creaking infrastructure. "I am not Brazilian so I would not join the protesters -- but I understand them totally," Thuram told AFP when asked if he supported the demonstrators.

Football: Pirlo magic keeps Juve on track for scudetto

Andrea Pirlo produced a piece of free-kick magic to keep Juventus on track for a third consecutive scudetto thanks to a late 1-0 win away to Genoa on Sunday. Juventus looked to be heading for only their fourth draw of the season, having seen goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon save Emanuele Calaio's 72nd minute penalty and two other great earlier chances for the hosts.
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