jeudi 23 mai 2013

After a year where football's name has been dragged through the mud by a series of racism controversies, UEFA has announced that players and officials will face a 10-match ban if found guilty of racist abuse.
Following a meeting of UEFA's executive committee in London Thursday, the European governing body confirmed the bans would apply to its own competitions, while other national associations remain free to decide on their own punishments.
The new tougher sanction comes just over a week after the English Football Association drew criticism for its plans to introduce a minimum five-match suspension for racism.
"An association should adopt the same or similar measures. UEFA has always acted in a way to try to convince people rather than impose," said UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino at a press conference.
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"I don't think you measure the way of fighting against racism in one simple measure and sanction.
"The way I read the FA's decision is that it could be five matches and it could also be 15. The FA is sure their way of regulating is more correct for England.
"It's their decision but it doesn't mean they do more or less than us. Everyone has to do what they can do in this field.
"The FA is autonomous and knows best what is best for England to do in the fight against racism. It is probably one of the countries where the most has been done."
According to details released by UEFA, clubs and national side's whose fans are found guilty of racist abuse will be punished with a partial stadium closure as a first offense, while a second offense will lead to a complete closure.
Only last week, AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli told CNN that he was prepared to walk off the pitch if racially abused once again.
The Italy striker was subjected to "monkey chants" by visiting fans during Milan's goalless draw with Roma at the San Siro.
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"I always said that if it (racism) happened in the stadium I will just do like 'nobody says nothing and I don't care,'" Balotelli told CNN.
"But this time I think I've changed my mind a little bit. If it's going to happen one more time, then I'm going to leave the pitch because it's so stupid."
Balotelli is not the first player to have suffered racial abuse while playing for AC Milan -- one of the most revered clubs in Europe having won 18 league titles and seven European Cups.
In January, midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng walked off the pitch in disgust after being racially abused by a section of supporters during a friendly game at Pro Patria.
Since then, UEFA has stated its intention to introduce stricter punishments for those found guilty of racism after being heavily criticized in the past for being too lenient.
The new rules are intended to curb racism at clubs such as Italian club Lazio, which has been charged four times by UEFA so far this season, with the Italian side paying $300,000 in fines.
Europe's governing body also plans to introduce the implementation of biological passports for players in the future.
Biological profiles are built up by collating an athlete's drug test results over time, therefore making it easier to detect differences which could indicate the use of a banned substance.
A new UEFA anti-doping program will also examine 900 samples given in the past five years to decipher whether steroids have been used.
On Friday, UEFA is expected to announce changes to the Europa League with the winner set to be granted a place in the Champions League from 2015.

Meanwhile, Berlin's Olympic Stadium will host the 2015 Champions League final, while Warsaw will welcome the finalists of the Europa League.

Pacers, Heat bring playoffs to life with overtime thriller

The Indiana Pacers fell just short in the Eastern Conference finals opener but their gritty display pumped life into the NBA playoffs and let the defending champion Miami Heat know they have a battle on their hands.
The ease with which the top-seeded Heat have brushed aside opponents during the regular season and playoffs has given an air of inevitability to this year's postseason, resulting in falling television ratings and plummeting interest.
But those hoping for tighter games with the chance of an upset would have been encouraged by the way the Pacers gave a timely warning to the Heat that they will need to draw on all their talent to reach a third straight final. "It doesn't matter if you win by one or if you win by 30 or whatever the case may be. You just want to win. We have to be better Friday if we want to win again," LeBron James said after powering Miami to a 103-102 overtime victory on Wednesday.
Indiana have struggled on the road this year, losing 21 of 40 games in the regular season, but in a scrappy, foul-ridden game that came alive spectacularly in the closing stages, the Pacers showed their mettle. "It was a terrific basketball game. Two great teams throwing punch for punch. Our spirit is very high and very confident. And we know we can play with this basketball team," said Indiana coach Frank Vogel.
A layup from James as time expired gave Miami the win after Paul George's heroics looked to have earned the Pacers a shock victory in the opening game of the best-of-seven series that will send the winner to the NBA Finals.George drained a long-range three-pointer to force overtime and then, in the final stages of the extra period, kept calm to put away three free throws after he was fouled by Dwyane Wade.
But, with just 2.2 seconds left on the clock, it was George who allowed James the space to drive the left of the lane and grab the win for a relieved Heat. "We have got to feel good about how we played," said George, who nonetheless engaged in some self-criticism.
"At this point every possession counts and that's what we've got to understand. Myself included. We had a couple of turnovers that I wish we could take back ‑‑ I could take back. But the margin of error is so small at this level, so going into Game Two, we have just got to improve off that."
The Heat will look to recapture the intelligent and fast ball movement that has characterized their best displays this year but, after a six-day layoff following their 4-1 series win over Chicago, was not quite there on Wednesday.
But it was significant there was little discussion of style or flow from the Heat after the game with the overarching feeling being one simply of relief.
"In the end it just came down to finding a way, even if it wasn't pretty. And it took an overtime to get it done. We're glad to get that one," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

The Eastern Conference representative will face the winner of the Western Conference finals, which the San Antonio Spurs lead 2-0 over the Memphis Grizzlies, to determine the National Basketball Association (NBA) champion.

mercredi 22 mai 2013

Food Hygiene Standards 'A Postcode Lottery'

Food outlets in parts of a London borough have the worst hygiene standards out of more than 2,000 postcodes, according to a Which? investigation.

Bexley in south east London had six of the 10 worst postcodes studied, with the worst postcode, DA7, having nearly half of its eateries inspected (45%) rated as lower than "generally satisfactory", the watchdog found.

In contrast, none of the food outlets inspected in Birmingham's B35 area received a score below "generally satisfactory".

[Go veggie for the day this National Vegetarian Week]

Which? looked at Food Standards Agency hygiene ratings in postcodes across England, Northern Ireland and Wales from January 2011 to March this year, finding wide variations between different areas and high street chains.

It found 18% of La Tasca outlets inspected had a rating of less than "generally satisfactory", while 13% of Little Chefs inspected had low ratings.

Three in 10 Chicken Cottage outlets (29%) and a quarter (26%) of Dixy Chicken takeaway shops inspected were rated below "generally satisfactory".

[The working-week diet: are you on it and how can you get off?]

A number of convenience store chains also had around a fifth of their outlets inspected rated less than "generally satisfactory", including Best-In and Best-One (22%), Costcutter (21%), Premier (21%) and Londis (20%).

But some major chains had no poor scores recorded at all, including Carluccio's, Eat, Marriot Hotels, Premier Inn and Zizzi.

A survey to accompany the study found that 75% of consumers would not eat at a food outlet that received a hygiene rating below generally satisfactory.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "Our investigation shows that food hygiene is an unacceptable postcode lottery.

"Diners shouldn't be taking a risk with their health simply by choosing the wrong area in which to eat out.

"We want everywhere that serves food to the public to display their hygiene score prominently so people can make an informed choice."

vendredi 17 mai 2013

Students make light work of their 20-hour weeks

“A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library,” wrote the American historian, Shelby Foote. It turns out that students are just a group of people who agree.

Undergraduates at some universities are studying for only 20 hours a week — half the time judged necessary for a degree.

Many universities are failing to ensure that undergraduates are pushed to work harder in lectures, seminars and private study, the survey commissioned by the Higher Education Policy Institute thinkthank (HEPI) and consumer group Which? has suggested.

jeudi 16 mai 2013

RBS cost cutting drive claims another 1,400 jobs

Royal Bank of Scotland will cut a further 1,400 jobs in London and Edinburgh as part of its continuing drive to cut costs.

The axe will fall among the support staff of RBS’s retail head office, bringing down the headcount in the division from 3,600 to 2,200 over the next two years.

Including the cuts announced today, RBS has made 38,900 staff redundant since the financial crisis, when it received a £45.5 billion bailout to stave off its collapse. Its headcount stands at about 123,OOO.