More to come, promises record-breaker Zlatan

In the arena that he has made his own since scoring four goals against England on its opening night in 2012, the powerful striker took off his shirt to reveal another underneath with a message to his fans – “You Made It Possible”.

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Ibrahimovic’s double in a 2-0 friendly win over Estonia on Thursday surpassed the mark of Sven Rydell, who scored his last international goals in 1932.

“That I scored with a back heel was probably a little lucky, but it was the only way I could score there,” Ibrahimovic said of his record-setting goal.

With the milestone reached, the 32-year-old seems determined to continue adding to his tally.

“I want so much, I want even more,” he told a media conference in Stockholm on Friday.

“Even if I’ve said there’s a couple of years left, I’m going to do the maximum in those years. Now I’ve gone past the goal record, we’ll keep going. It’s not over yet.”

Having scored his first goal for Sweden in a World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan in 2001, he might have broken the record even sooner, but the various coaches of the national team used him sparingly at times.

Fast-forward to 2014 and a Sweden team without their tall, talismanic striker is now unthinkable and fans dread to imagine a future without their captain, who has said he will most likely retire after the 2016 European Championships in France.

Until then he intends to continue adding to the enviable haul of silverware he has amassed from some of Europe’s biggest clubs including Ajax, Juventus, Inter, AC Milan and Barcelona.

“That’s what you look back at when you’ve finished,” Ibrahimovic said. “I have 23 collective titles and some individual titles, so the more I can gather, the bigger my list of merits will be.

“That’s what you play for. You play to win, and no-one can complain that one hasn’t won anything. It’s the other way around,” he said with a smile.

“It’s my will, my desire to be better. I train hard to be better, I want to be better than last season, I want to go forward all the time.

“I broke the record yesterday, but now I’m going to continue scoring goals to make it even harder for the next one who wants to break it.”

Sweden open their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign against Austria on Monday when Ibrahimovic is due to win his 100th cap.

(Reporting By Philip O’Connor; editing by Martyn Herman)

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Lion King scores twice as South Korea maul Venezuela

The 35-year-old marksman’s brace in his first match for the national team in over a year could not have come at a better time with South Korea appointing former German international Uli Stielike as their new boss hours earlier.

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Former Korean international Shin Tae-yong was one of three coaches who took charge for the game against the Venezuelans and gave the Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors striker, who is top scorer in the K League classic this term, another opportunity.

Lee showed his gratitude by almost opening the scoring in the eight minute with a clever backheel that edged just wide as the hosts, spurred by a livewire display from forward Son Heung-min, took control of proceedings.

But they fell behind against the run of play after a horrible error by understudy goalkeeper Kim Jin-Hyeon in the 21st minute.

Kim’s attempted kick from his hands lacked height and direction and was easily controlled by Mario Rondon who lobbed the ball back over the shamed stopper’s head.

The Koreans, who had a disappointing group stage exit at the World Cup in Brazil in June, were quickly back on level terms though when midfielder Lee Myung-joo curled home.

Son had fed midfielder Lee Chung-yong whose attempted cross from the left rebounded back to Lee Myung-joo who curled a right foot effort into the corner of the net in the 33rd minute.

Lee Chung-yong should have put the hosts ahead right before halftime but his header from Son’s cross went high over the crossbar as the Koreans grew in confidence.

Six minutes after the break Lee Dong-gook showed him how it’s done as the striker’s near post powerful header from Kim Min-woo’s 51st minute corner sailed past the visitors goalkeeper.

The Venezuelans then gifted Lee an opportunity to bag a second when two defenders failed to deal with a cross from the right and the ball fell to the striker, known at home as the ‘Lion King’, who swept home off the post.

It was his 30th goal for South Korea and there was enough in his display to give him hope of making the squad for the Asian Cup in January.

Lee last played for the national team when he skippered the side in their 1-0 home loss to Iran in their final World Cup qualifier. He didn’t make the squad for the tournament in Brazil but was recalled after Hong Myung-bo stepped down as head coach following the early exit.

Stielike is expected to be in the stands when the Koreans host Uruguay in another friendly on Tuesday with Shin and his two fellow coaches continuing in temporary charge.

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; editing bt)

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Sprint king Adrian unafraid of Phelps

Two years ago, at the London Olympics, the American was chasing Australia’s world champion James Magnussen for the gold medal in swimming’s blue-riband event.

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Adrian got his fingernail on the wall first, winning by one one-hundredth of a second, the smallest possible margin in swimming.

As the gold medal was draped around his neck, it was almost as though a giant target was painted on his back, the price every swimmer pays when they go from predator to prey.

Adrian has been unable to scale those dizzy heights since London, finishing third to Magnussen at last year’s world championships in Barcelona and second to Cameron McEvoy at last month’s Pan Pacific Championships on Australia’s Gold Coast.

With three Olympic gold medals – he also won a relay in 2008 and 2012 – the 25-year-old has nothing to prove but remains committed to a sport that involves gruelling training and requires total discipline.

“My drive is just to improve, it’s not necessarily about increasing my medal count or beating this person or that person,” he told Reuters in an interview.

“I get the greatest amount of happiness from just seeing that I worked hard for something and it paid off.”

The pay off for swimmers is dubious. Standing 6ft 6in (1.98m) and weighing 227 lbs (103kg), Adrian might well have made a fortune as a basketballer or American footballer but chose a sport where there are few multi-million dollar contracts on offer and most competitors are happy just to have their university fees paid.

A few months before the London Olympics, Adrian graduated from Berkeley with an honours degree in public health.

DISCO LIGHTS

On Friday, he was in south-east Asia, competing at the inaugural Singapore Swim Stars, an innovative meet where competitors race for cash prizes, under disco lights with pop songs blazing away in the background.

It was all in good fun and Adrian was the big winner, taking out the men’s freestyle sprint double and pocketing $20,000, a pittance perhaps for Tiger Woods or Roger Federer, but a good night’s work for most swimmers.

Adrian was a clear winner of the 100m, which was held as a one-off final, but had to dig deep to win the 50m dash, which was held over a three round shootout, with the slower swimmers dropping out until only the last two were left.

“I think there is a lot more strategy that goes into this meet… it’s about energy management,” Adrian said.

“It was tough. All the guys that swam in the 100m first were struggling to touch the wall.

“But that was a blast. That had to be some of the most fun I’ve had at a swim meet since I was a little kid.”

The exception in swimming, of course, is Michael Phelps, who has always been a team mate of Adrian on the American relays but may become one of his rivals in the future.

Since making his comeback earlier this year, Phelps has been competing in 100m freestyle and qualified, along with Adrian, for the event at next year’s world championships in Russia.

Phelps has not outlined which events he plans to swim at the 2016 Rio Olympics but if his past is any guide, he will keep his programme a closely guarded secret until he steps onto the starting blocks in Brazil.

For Adrian, the prospect of racing against Phelps holds no real fears, although he doubts it will happen, suspecting Phelps will probably choose 100m butterfly and 200m medley as his individual events – races which he won at each of the past three Olympics.

“I wouldn’t bet against him, anybody who has in the last 12 years has lost a lot of money,” Adrian told Reuters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to see him perform at a high level but I wouldn’t say he’s performing at his peak or close to it quite yet, and I think he’d be the first time to tell you that.

“If he’d had a little bit more time to train I think he’d be right on his fastest times ever, so that’s exciting to see.

“I think the 100 free is probably his auxiliary event where he will train for the 100 butterfly but the training he does for the 100 fly will translate well to the 100 free and he’ll certainly be capable of doing a good 100m free.”

Like every swimmer, Adrian has been in awe of what Phelps has done in the pool but he said he has found a new inspiration, his 17-year-old team mate Katie Ledecky, who has been ripping up the record books in women’s middle and long distance freestyle events.

“She’s incredible, just look at the way she swims,” Adrian said.

“She absolutely attacks the water and is not timid in any sense of the word.

“When she swims, she’s such a little animal and I want to be like that too.”

(Additional reporting by Yaocheng Lee; editing by Justin Palmer)

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Boycotting Russian World Cup would be an empty gesture – former UK minister

Russia, who won the right to stage the soccer tournament in a 2010 vote by football’s world governing body FIFA, is allegedly backing pro-Russian rebels against Ukrainian forces in a war in eastern Ukraine since Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula five months ago.

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“You’ll end up having the world split down the middle, and that is the worst of all worlds,” Caborn was quoted as saying by the BBC on Friday.

“No one condones what is going on in Ukraine but it would be merely empty-gesture politics from those that did boycott the World Cup,” he said.

A large number of countries led by the United States boycotted the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow over the former Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan the previous year but others including Britain took part.

Russia followed suit by boycotting the next Games in Los Angeles in a move followed by most of the other Eastern Bloc nations.

Caborn, who held office from 2001-2007, differentiated such a move from the sports boycott of South Africa during apartheid. South Africa was barred from the Olympic Games from 1964 to 1988.

“The sporting boycott of South Africa worked because there was a total consensus between sports and politicians, but there is not over Russia,” Caborn said.

Several western European countries boycotted the Melbourne Games in 1956 over Russia’s invasion of Hungary and Middle Eastern nations did the same over Britain and France’s invasion of Suez.

There was also an African boycott of the 1976 Montreal Games in protest at New Zealand’s presence despite their All Blacks rugby team’s tour of South Africa that year.

FIFA does not intend to change the venue for the 2018 finals with FIFA president Sepp Blatter saying in March the tournament would go ahead in Russia regardless of the country’s annexation of Crimea.

A boycott by black players might occur, however, if racism in Russian football is not stamped out.

Manchester City’s Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure said as much last year after complaining he had been racially abused during a Champions League match against CSKA Moscow.

“If we aren’t confident at the World Cup, coming to Russia, we won’t come,” Toure said. CSKA were punished with a partial closure of their stadium at their next home match in the competition.

(Reporting by Rex Gowar, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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FIFA completes probe into 2018, 2022 World Cup hosting

The report, which has not been made public, will be submitted to the ethics committee’s adjudicatory chamber, headed by German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, to decide on whether any wrongdoing was committed, football’s governing body said on Friday.

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FIFA said they could not comment on when Eckert might reach his decision.

During the course of the year-long investigation, Garcia and his deputy Cornel Borbely interviewed “more than 75 witnesses and compiled a record that, in addition to audio recordings from interviews, includes more than 200,000 pages of relevant material,” FIFA said.

“The report sets forth detailed factual findings; reaches conclusions concerning further action with respect to certain individuals; identifies issues to be referred to other FIFA committees; and makes recommendations for future bidding processes.”

The hosting rights for the two tournaments were awarded simultaneously by FIFA’s executive committee in Zurich in 2010 after a turbulent campaign.

Spain/Portugal, Belgium/Netherlands and England had also been bidding for 2018 while United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan had bid for 2022.

The executive committee which took the decision was reduced to 22 members instead of the usual 24 after two of them were suspended by the ethics committee one month before the vote.

Nigerian Amos Adamu was banned for breaches of five articles of FIFA’s ethics code including one on bribery and Reynald Temarii of Tahiti for breaching articles on general conduct and loyalty.

The case followed allegations by The Sunday Times that the pair offered to sell their votes to undercover reporters posing as lobbyists for an American consortium.

FIFA said that all bidding nations were interviewed during the investigation. Borbely took responsibility obtaining information from the U.S and Russia as Garcia is a national of the former and was barred from visiting the latter.

Shortly before this year’s World Cup in Brazil, the Sunday Times reported that some of the “millions of documents” it had seen linked payments by former FIFA executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam to officials to win backing for Qatar’s World Cup bid.

Bin Hammam has not commented on his involvement since he was banned for life from football in 2012 and Qatar has denied all allegations of corruption.

Qatar has also been criticised for its alleged treatment of migrant workers in the construction industry.

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Justin Palmer)

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