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Since 1st March, 1999
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Ronaldo, Zidane with the poor

Geneva: Forty of the world’s top players have been invited to join Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane in a star-studded charity match against poverty in December, the United Nations said on Thursday.

The two Real Madrid stars will captain each of the sides in the game at Basel’s St Jakob stadium on December 15, with profits from ticket sales, sponsorship and television rights going to fund anti-poverty projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Italian World Cup referee Pierluigi Collina has agreed to oversee the Fifa-backed match, the UN Development Programme said in a statement.

“We invited our colleagues and friends to be on the pitch on December 15, but we want football fans and all those who care about poverty to know that we would like to see them in the stands in Basel at 8 pm,” Zidane said.

Makelele hits out

Berlin: French midfielder Claude Makelele says that compatriot Marcel Desailly played a pivotal role in his 24-million-euro move to Premier League side Chelsea and claimed former employer Real Madrid has no respect for the playing staff.

Makelele, a Champions League winner with Real Madrid in 2002, insists he felt “wanted” by big-spending Chelsea — a feeling he lacked at Madrid. “I could not stay at a club that shows no respect for its players,” Makelele said. “I asked my international teammate Marcel Desailly about Chelsea because I had a pile of offers to go elsewhere.

“Marcel convinced me that Chelsea would be the biggest club in England in the future and had ambitions on the international stage.”

Robson coach

Abuja: Former England captain Bryan Robson will take over as coach of Nigeria’s national team early next month, the country’s soccer authority (NFA) said on Wednesday.

“We have done everything necessary for him to do his job effectively...Robson will arrive early November and he will go straight to work,” NFA secretary-general Taiwo Ogunjobi said.

Earlier this month, the NFA named Robson, 46, its national coach for an initial six-month period. Details of Robson’s contract were not given but the NFA said the former Manchester United captain’s immediate task was to take the side to next January’s African Nations Cup in Tunisia.

Cost of fury

Vienna: Austria’s No.1 tennis player Stefan Koubek is donating 1,000 euros ($1,171) to charity for each racquet he smashes so that some good may come from his outbursts on court.

Koubek smashed three racquets to pieces during his qualification match for this week’s Paris Masters after squandering several match points when leading 5-2 in the final set.

The set went to a tie-break, which the umpire then awarded to Koubek’s opponent after the Austrian wrecked his third racquet. Koubek will donate the money for each racquet destroyed in 2004 to a children’s home in Austria.

“At least then trashing racquets will make some kind of sense,” Koubek said.

n Cricket, England vs Bangladesh — First Test, Day IV, live from 8.55 am on STAR Sports n Rugby, World Cup — From 3 pm on ESPN n Soccer, English Premier League — Preview from 8 pm on STAR Sports

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