Vol. VIII No. 47 - Tuesday
November 24 - November 30, 2009



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


SPORTS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

National Motocross qualifiers to be held in Chiang Mai

F1 champ Button teams up with Hamilton at McLaren

Hand of Shame sparks debate on cheating, replays

National Motocross qualifiers to be held in Chiang Mai

Event organizers and sponsors are seen at the press conference held on November 13 at Nimseeseng Hotel in Chiang Mai.

Nopniwat Krailerg
Chiang Mai will play host to the final qualifying round for the National Motocross Championship on December 11 and 12 at the Nimseeseng Motocross Track in Saraphi District.
The 4th Nimseeseng Motocross/FMSCT Thailand Super Cross 2009 tournament is being sponsored by Ricoh (Thailand) and organized by Thongchai Wongsawan, President of Motorcycle Sports Association of Thailand and, in addition to the qualifying races, will offer races for 85cc motocross drivers between the ages of 7 and 9 years old and 12 and 14. Races for seniors are also planned for the event.
Nimseeseng, the Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organization and Top Gear Thailand are holding the tournament in an effort to promote motocross to both professional and recreational riders as well as to offer young people a safe environment in which to race. The profits from the tournament will be donated to help HIV patients in the North.


F1 champ Button teams up with Hamilton at McLaren

Rob Harris
London (AP) - Formula One champion Jenson Button signed for McLaren last week to partner Lewis Hamilton, giving the English team a potent lineup for next season featuring the two most recent title holders.
McLaren said Button joined on a “multiyear deal” after leaving constructors champion Brawn GP in the wake of its takeover by Mercedes-Benz earlier last week.

Lewis Hamilton (left) and Jenson Button (right) will team up at McLaren Mercedes next year after Button signed a “multi-year deal” with the British based racing outfit last week. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)

The 29-year-old Button, who is replacing Heikki Kovalainen, was out of contract with Brawn GP after capturing his first F1 drivers’ title last month and talks about a new deal had stalled.
Button had taken a significant pay cut to ensure he had a car for 2009 with Honda pulling out from the sport and reforming under Ross Brawn’s ownership.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said Button’s departure was “in no way motivated by money,” insisting that they were paying him “no more than he could be getting elsewhere.”
“Although I won the world championship with Brawn GP last year, and I’ll never forget that, I was always adamant that I wanted to continue to set myself fresh challenges,” Button said in the statement. “You can’t help but be affected by this team’s phenomenal history. McLaren is one of the greats of world sport, and its achievements and list of past champions read like a Who’s Who of Formula One.”
Button, who began his career at Williams in 2000, only lived up to his early potential to join the list of champions last month after shaking off his partying image.
After fearing he wouldn’t have a team in 2009, Button took advantage of his Brawn car’s early dominance to win six of the first seven races and then maintained a comfortable lead in the championship standings.
Button’s move to McLaren ends his seven-year association with the team, which he joined in 2003 when it was known as BAR before establishing himself as the team’s No. 1 driver prior to Honda’s takeover in 2006.
While Button will have No. 1 on his McLaren car, Hamilton will not want to live in his fellow Briton’s shadow after winning the 2008 championship following a decade at McLaren since he drove karts.
Whitmarsh, who had to quell infighting between Hamilton and Fernando Alonso during the 2007 season, has no concerns about the partnership with Button.
“I’m confident that we’ll be able to successfully balance and harness Jenson’s and Lewis’ complementary skill-sets,” he said. “Our engineers are already looking forward to working with Jenson, and I’m convinced that such a strong and dynamic driver lineup will make us an even more complete and competitive operation.
“Now we have to provide Jenson and Lewis with race-winning machinery.”
The last time a team had a pairing of two British world champions was in 1968 when Lotus united Graham Hill and Jim Clark, who both won two titles.
Button described Hamilton as a “wonderfully gifted driver.”
“I’m sure there’s plenty that we can learn from each other,” Button said. “I’m really looking forward to using our combined knowledge to push the team forward.”
Hamilton had a difficult third season in Formula One with McLaren but had a strong last half of the year to finish fifth - 46 points behind Button.
“The results from the second half of 2009 speak for themselves, and I’m convinced we can carry that momentum through the winter and into the new season,” Hamilton said. “I’ve been closely following the development of our 2010 challenger, the MP4-25, and I think it’s going to be a state-of-the-art car that will enable both of us to consistently fight for victories.”
However, three-time world champion Jackie Stewart believes Button could regret not staying with Ross Brawn to be part of Mercedes’ maiden campaign.
“I think it’s a mistake. If I had been Jenson, I would have wanted to do a deal with Brawn,” Stewart said. “There’s a totally different culture in McLaren - something that he might not have experienced before.
“They have a very clinical culture, which doesn’t have the emotion or drive in the same passionate way than Brawn would have had with him as the reigning world champion.”
McLaren opted to sign the British driver instead of 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen, leading the Finn to announce he will take next year off after being let go by Ferrari.


Hand of Shame sparks debate on cheating, replays

Rob Harris
London (AP) - Irish football officials accused Thierry Henry last week of damaging the integrity of the game when he blatantly handled the ball to set up the goal that booked France’s place at next year’s World Cup finals in South Africa.
Letters were dispatched to Paris and FIFA headquarters in Zurich, while Ireland’s justice minister took to the airwaves and echoed the Irish football association’s call for the contentious second-leg to be replayed.

France’s Thierry Henry (second left) passes the ball to teammate William Gallas (unseen) to score the decisive goal for France during their World Cup qualifying playoff second leg soccer match against Republic of Ireland in Paris, Wednesday Nov.18. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

But the response from FIFA and the French matched that of Swedish referee Martin Hansson at the Stade de France on Wednesday night when Irish protests against William Gallas’ winner, set up by Henry’s handball, fell on deaf ears.
FIFA simply directed journalists to its rulebook which states that results cannot be overturned after a match.
But the Irish did get the backing of the French sports teachers’ union, which said it set a poor example to children to qualify as a result of “indisputable cheating” and was “linked to a ‘very modern’ philosophy stipulating that in all areas, including sports, the end justifies the means.”
Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney demanded that the game be replayed.
“I really believe the integrity of the game has been questioned last night,” Delaney said. “The governing body of world football have to step up to the plate and accede to our call for a replay.
“Every time I go to a FIFA congress I hear about fair play and integrity. This was not a league game. This was a defining game with the whole world watching.”
It was a match heading toward a penalty shootout with the aggregate score tied at 1-1 when Henry blatantly handled the ball - twice - to bring down Florent Malouda’s free kick in the 13th minute of extra time.
As Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given and his defenders reacted with fury to the blatant case of cheating, the Barcelona forward clipped the ball across for Gallas to knock in the goal that gave France a 2-1 aggregate win and a spot in South Africa.
“I will be honest, it was a handball. But I’m not the ref,” Henry said. “I played it. The ref allowed it.”
As Henry wheeled away to celebrate, Given led the Irish charge toward Hansson to protest. It took 97 seconds for order to be restored and the game to be restarted. Enough time, proponents of video technology argued, for replays to be quickly - and adequately - scrutinized.
Much like calls for the game to be replayed, however, video replays are off FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s agenda.
The International Football Association Board, the custodians of the laws of the game, halted all experiments with technology to assist referees in 2008 and now tests with two additional match officials behind the goals are under way.
The Irish, though, have an IFAB ally in Scottish FA chief executive Gordon Smith, who continues to push for the use of cameras to rule on disputed goals.
In the wake of last Wednesday’s match, Smith wants the issue back on the agenda for the annual meeting in March.
FIFA has four votes on IFAB and four more are held by each of the associations in the United Kingdom. Motions must be approved by at least six votes.
Smith, who also sits on UEFA’s football committee, backs a tennis-style review system whereby each team is given two challenges per match, which if correct they retain.
“I keep on suggesting it, but no one is interested,” Smith told The Associated Press. “Wednesday night showed what’s at stake at the highest level of the game, but it could have been clarified and cleared up immediately. The game stopped anyway and they could have reviewed the evidence.”
Now, though, there should be no retrospective action, according to Smith.
“I have sympathy for the Irish, but I don’t think there is any chance of a replay,” said Smith, who played for Manchester City and Rangers in the 1970s and 80s. “It would create a dangerous precedent.”
One precedent in English football was set by a Frenchman - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger - who volunteered to replay a match in England’s FA Cup after Arsenal beat Sheffield United courtesy of an unfair goal.
Arsenal scored from a throw-in after a United player had put the ball out due to a teammate’s injury.
Steve Bruce, United’s manager at the time, recalled that incident last Thursday as he expressed his dismay at football’s failure to embrace video replays.
“Surely it is time now for technology to come into it - it took 15 seconds on the TV (on Wednesday) to establish it was blatant handball,” said Bruce, now in charge at Sunderland. “And he didn’t handball it once, but twice. It might be human error but we can change that with the technology we have got. That has got to be the way forward.”



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