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Eleven South African cabinet members have quit in the wake of President Thabo Mbeki's resignation, prompting fears of instability and the ruling ANC leader to downplay any panic.

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The cabinet members stepped down shortly after parliament voted 299 to 10 to approve Mbeki's exit from office, ending the nine-year administration of the man who succeeded anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

The African National Congress (ANC) has picked its deputy chief, Kgalema Motlanthe, to replace Mbeki until April elections.

Lawmakers will vote on Motlanthe's nomination on Thursday.

“The (cabinet) resignations do not pose a crisis and there is no need to panic,” said ANC chief Jacob Zuma during a speech in Secunda, in the northeast province of Mpumalanga.

“The situation will be managed carefully to avoid any disruption of services,” added Zuma, considered likely to be voted president in next year's elections.

Finance Minister steps down

The country's widely-respected Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel, seen by investors as vital to the country's stable economy and impressive growth, was among the 11 ministers of the 31-member cabinet who handed their resignations.

Manuel's spokesman made it clear that he was ready to serve the new administration, but his announcement led to market jitters with the rand slipping from 7.98 to 8.16 to the US dollar.

The president's office said the ministers' resignations would also take effect on Thursday.

The ministers resigning include Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who spearheaded a turnaround of the country's AIDS policies, and Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi, a key negotiator in the Zimbabwe crisis.

Resignation scare

Opposition parties expressed concern about the resignations, with Inkatha Freedom Party Chief Whip Koos van der Merwe telling parliament it was an “unmitigated disaster” and a “watershed moment in history.”

The main opposition Democratic Alliance's Sandra Botha said events showed “the division (in the ANC) is not a crack, it is a canyon.”

Mbeki is believed to have asked cabinet members to stay put in the interests of stability, and analysts have said the country would not face a crisis if the transition was well managed and government ministers did not bail out en masse.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the exodus was not a crisis, as only six of them had indicated they would not serve in a new government.

“The rest of the ministers have confirmed that they (are stepping) down to allow the new president to make his own appointments,” Mantashe told reporters.

Political scores

The resignations came after Mbeki bowed to pressure from the ANC to stand down in what the opposition described as a settling of political scores.

Zuma said the decision to recall Mbeki had been “one of the most painful and difficult decisions” taken in the party's history.

The outgoing president had been increasingly at loggerheads with his party, which split into two camps behind him and Zuma, after deciding to run for a third term as party president at a crunch ANC conference in December last year.

Mbeki, 66, who succeeded Mandela in June 1999, becomes the country's first democratically-elected president to be forced out of office before the end of his term.

Mbeki attempted to salvage his reputation in the Constitutional Court on Monday, as he challenged a court ruling which he says cost him his job as president.

In a September 12 ruling, Judge Chris Nicholson dismissed a corruption case against Zuma, hinting that Mbeki had interfered in the decision to prosecute his foe.

“It is unfair and unjust for me to be judged and condemned on the basis of the findings in the Zuma matter,” said Mbeki in his application.

“The interests of justice, in my respectful submission would demand that the matter be rectified.

“These adverse findings have led to my being recalled by my political party, the ANC — a request I have acceded to as a committed and loyal member of the ANC for the past 52 years,” Mbeki said.Read More →

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On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude for December tumbled $US3.

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08 lower to close at $US59.33.

Earlier the New York futures contract hit a low of $US58.32, a level last seen on March 21, 2007.

In London, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in December dropped $US3.37 to settle at $US55.71 on the InterContinental Exchange. In intraday trade it had plunged to $US54.92 per barrel – a level last seen on January 30, 2007.

Prices more than halved

Prices have shed about 60 per cent since scaling historic highs above $US147 in July on mounting evidence of slowing global economic growth and energy demand.

The market extended earlier losses in line with Wall Street's dive into negative territory, with investor fearing a collapse of General Motors and digesting more grim corporate news amid the credit crisis.

European stock markets closed sharply lower as corporate problems highlighted concerns about the spreading damage from the global credit crunch to the underlying world economy.

“The short-term focus continues to be on weak demand,” Barclays Capital analysts wrote in a research note to clients on Tuesday.

China slowdown

Crude oil prices closed almost two dollars higher on Monday, with sentiment boosted by hopes that China's huge economic stimulus package would lift demand for energy.

But traders banked profits on Tuesday as poor data from the US – the world's biggest energy consumer — reignited fears about recession.

“It eventually had to dawn on market participants that any Chinese economic stimulus would take time to work through an economy whose maladies are more immediate. Focus on these problems has been restored with the obvious result: prices are lower,” said John Kilduff, analyst at MF Global.

The oil market was also undermined by the strengthening US dollar which tends to dampen demand because dollar-priced crude becomes more expensive for buyers holding weaker currencies.

OPEC president Chakib Khelil indicated over the weekend the cartel may cut production again if oil prices remain below its preferred range of $US70 to $US90.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which pumps more than 40 per cent of the world's crude, announced in October that its daily output would be cut by 1.5 million barrels per day to 27.3 million barrels per day from November.

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The Sky application allows users to view and navigate through 100 million stars in far away galaxies, all depicted in high-resolution images.

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The application labels which stars make up the constellations, shows users what they might be able to see from their own backyards with the naked eye or small telescopes and includes images from the Hubble space telescope.

It also displays the phases of the moon, the positions of the planets for now and up to two months in the future, offers virtual tours through different galaxies and details the different stages of a star's life cycle.

"Sky is a very cool new feature for anyone who has ever looked up at the sky and wanted to know more," said Sally Ride, a former astronaut. "I think this is a great tool for satisfying that curiosity."

Carol Christian of the Space Telescope Science Institute, who helped develop the application, said she hoped the new program would encourage more people to learn about space.

"Never before has a roadmap of the entire sky been made so readily available," she said.

"Anyone interested in exploring the wonders of our universe can quickly see where the stunning objects photographed by Hubble actually dwell in the heavens," she added

"Sky in Google Earth will foster and initiate new understanding of the universe by bringing it to everyone's home computer."

The interface and navigation of the new feature are similar to those on the current Google Earth function, which allows users to drag, zoom and search their way around the planet.

To access the new feature, users need to download the latest version of Earth, available on the website from today.

The application was created by Google engineers stitching together images from sources such as the Space Telescope Science Institute and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Google launched its Earth application in 2005, allowing people to zoom in on satellite images of almost any point around the world.

The program has since been downloaded more than 200 million times.

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Flush from bowling in four successive tests for the first time in his career during the Ashes series, the 33-year-old had been bullish about his chances of playing on despite the injury when he returned from England on Thursday.

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A Cricket Australia statement released later in the day, however, showed that his optimism had been misplaced, although he should be back in action when the return series against England starts in late November.

“Ryan Harris injured his right hamstring during the latter part of the second innings of the fifth Ashes test,” it read.

“He had to leave the field and did not return to the game as he was unable to bowl. He was assessed after arriving back in Australia today and is expected to be unavailable to play for the next 6-8 weeks.”

The pick of Australia’s bowlers in the 3-0 defeat in the Ashes series, Harris is no stranger to injury and has been restricted to just 16 tests since he made his debut in 2010.

A chronic knee problem, left ankle fracture, shoulder problem, back strain, hip pain and a tender Achilles have all contributed to limiting his international career.

Harris had hoped to play with Brisbane Heat in the Champions League Twenty20 competition later this month but the diagnosis means he will not now make the trip to India.

That might be a relief for some Australian cricket fans with the second Ashes series looming.

With 24 wickets at an average of 19.58 in England, Harris amply illustrated his importance to a pace attack that is expected to play a key role in the attempt to win back the famous urn on home soil.

The Achilles injury cut short his participation in the Indian Premier League earlier this year which, he said, had allowed him to get fully fit for the Ashes trip.

After his superb displays in England, Harris has now taken 71 wickets in his 16 tests but his personal satisfaction was not about to make up for his disappointment at the series defeat.

“To get through four tests and perform was good but at the end of the day, the results were bad,” he said.

“The good thing is they come back here in November and we can try and get the urn back then.”

Harris warned against asking groundsmen at the five Ashes test venues in Australia to prepare extra quick wickets to suit the Australian pacemen, saying it might turn out to be a double-edged sword.

“The problem there is that their bowling attack is pretty good,” he added.

“If we make our wickets like we normally do there will be enough grass on them and enough in them.

“Bowling at our best the batters are going to find it hard to score.”

(Editing by John O’Brien/Patrick Johnston)

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The planned 60,000-seater stadium is to be the centrepiece of Brussels’ bid to host matches during the 2020 European soccer championships, replacing the current 45,000 capacity King Baudouin stadium.

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The venues are little more than a kilometre (1 mile) apart, but while the present stadium is in officially bilingual but largely French-speaking Brussels, its planned successor is in the exclusively Dutch-speaking region of Flanders.

Flemish politicians are bristling at the thought of Brussels extending its francophone culture beyond its borders, leading Flemish Sports Minister Philippe Muyters to say language rules must be respected.

“One of the underlying elements should be an agreement on the use of Dutch there,” Muyters, a member of the Flemish separatist N-VA party, told the television programme Terzake on Wednesday, hours after the agreement was reached.

Rudi Vervoort, premier of the Brussels region, responded in an interview on La Premiere radio station on Thursday, saying ‘Dutch only’ could not be the rule at a national stadium.

“Dutch will be secondary, as French will be secondary. We will mainly talk English,” he said. “The stadium will not be brought down by the use of languages.”

Language is a frequent flashpoint in Belgium, where the wealthier Flemish majority fiercely protects its Dutch language and culture and is constantly on the look-out for encroachments by French speakers, particularly in areas surrounding Brussels.

The country went for 19 months without a new government after 2010 elections due to differences between French-speaking and Flemish parties.

The issue has flared again as politicians seek vie for votes at next year’s regional, European and federal elections.

Earlier this month, the council of the Flemish district of Menen, which borders France, decided that it would no longer tolerate the use of French in its town hall, saying anyone who did not speak Dutch must rely on hand gestures instead.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Paul Taylor)

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The All Whites, who made the 2010 finals after a 1-0 aggregate victory over fifth-placed Asian side Bahrain, have sealed a November playoff against the fourth placed team in the North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF) conference after wrapping up the Oceania qualifying spot in March.

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As part of their preparations, Herbert’s side will take part in a four-nation tournament in Saudi Arabia next month, where they will play the hosts and then either UAE or Trinidad and Tobago before friendlies in October complete their buildup.

New Zealand have not played since they sealed qualification with their 2-0 victory over the Solomon Islands in Honiara, having failed to make the Confederations Cup after being upset in last year’s Oceania Nations Cup.

Herbert said lack of match practice made the games in Riyadh on September 5 and September 9 more important, especially because of the limited time he gets to work with a squad drawn from leagues in Australia, New Zealand, Britain, the U.S. and China.

“It’s still tough while they’re dispersed around various countries,” Herbert told Reuters.

“It’s more to do with the time we get to spend with them.

“We might only get 48 hours with them and if a plane is late we might only get one training session.

“We just don’t get that fundamental extra time where we can work with the players productively. They arrive and bang the game is around the corner.

“If we need to make adjustments before November we really only have four chances to nail it down and for the team to gel.

“That’s the hardest thing but sometimes that’s the resilience of the Kiwi guy, just being adaptable.”

TRAINING CAMP

After the Saudi Arabia tournament, Herbert is hoping to organise friendlies in October against CONCACAF opponents and replicate the environment he expects to face in the away leg of the playoff as closely as possible.

Herbert expects Honduras or Panama to be the playoff opponents and, given the passion of Latin American fans and their notoriety for gathering outside rivals’ hotel to keep them awake, was investigating staying in Miami and flying into the venue the day before the match.

“No doubt we will probably get the full extent of that,” he said with a laugh when asked about attempts at disruption.

“We understand that, it’s a passionate part of the world. We just want to give ourselves the best chance.”

The first match of the playoff will be hosted by the CONCACAF nation on November 13 before both teams travel to New Zealand for the return fixture in Wellington on November 20.

Herbert said he had seen suggestions world governing body FIFA was considering chartering a plane to bring both teams to New Zealand but nothing had been confirmed and he hoped to have the upper hand in the tie before the Wellington match.

“The away fixture will strongly determine the outcome of the World Cup,” he said. “The lead in work, the preparation has got to be bullet proof.

“The stronger, more resilient team – whether it’s travel, tiredness, whatever – that backs up a couple of days later will win the tie.

“I would back us to do that, so that’s why the away fixture is so important.”

(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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With less than three years to go before the first Olympic Games in South America, most of the facilities in Rio have yet to be completed because of construction delays and soaring costs.

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Earlier this year, millions of Brazilians took to the streets to protest against the billions of dollars being invested into staging the 2014 football World Cup then the Olympics instead of health, education, public transportation, and security.

Carlos Nuzman, the president of the Rio 2016 Olympics Committee, addressed the International Olympic Committee on Sunday to allay fears that things were off track.

He conceded things had fallen behind but said he was confident everything would be ready for 2016 and on budget.

“We have made significant progress,” Nuzman said. “I can assure you Rio will be ready.

“There is a lot of work ahead but we fully understand the complexity of our task.”

Nuzman’s admission came just a week after an IOC co-ordination commission visited Rio before heading to Argentina for the IOC Congress.

The commission was led by Nawal El Moutawakel, who won a gold medal for Morocco in the women’s 400 metres hurdles at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

El Moutawakel told the IOC Congress on Sunday that Rio had made “reassuring” progress in the last year but there was still a lot of work to do.

“Over recent months, the social and political environment and operations has significantly changed,” she said.

“There is a need, more than ever before, that all stakeholders need to work together.

“Key decisions need to be made collectively and communicated with one voice.”

‘REMAIN CONFIDENT’

She urged the Rio organising team to focus on getting the venues and infrastructure right as well as taking the “matrix of responsibility” and would return to Brazil next year to see how things were progressing.

“We remain confident Rio and Brazil have the resources and the energy and ambition to deliver a memorable Olympic Games in 2016.”

Australian IOC member Kevan Gosper, who also serves as chairman of the IOC press commission, told Nuzman that Rio needed to get their media operations in order, including better communication with the Brazilian public to reassure them about the Games and end the protests.

“I’m still concerned with the delay related to your press operations. It took you three and a half years to appoint a media chief,” Gosper said.

“You simply have to keep your public aware about what’s happening.

“If the community doesn’t get it, you’ll have a repeat of what you’ve had (protests).”

Nuzman, a lawyer who represented Brazil in volleyball at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, said the Rio organisers were aware of the growing discontent and he vowed they would do a better job getting their messages across.

“We have a free country, we have a democracy in every sense and everybody can express their opinion,” he said.

“It’s important to take in consideration any protest concerning the World Cup and the Olympic Games.

“The population loves sport… but we need to be much more transparent and open to communicate to everybody what’s happening.”

(Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Alison Wildey)

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The South Korean mountain resort, which was awarded the Games in 2011, will become the first Asian city outside Japan to host the winter Games.

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“Asia is a huge continent with a huge population. It has a great potential in many areas,” Pyeongchang Games president Kim Jin-sun told Reuters in an interview.

“What the Olympics pursue is the worldwide expansion of sports so in this sense Tokyo 2020 and Pyeongchang 2018, only two years apart in Asia, provides us a great opportunity to awaken Asia’s great potential.”

He said this would bring with it “further development of related industries.”

After decades where sport’s biggest events were mostly split between Europe and North America, international sports bodies are increasingly turning to Asia.

With more than half of the world’s population and a sharply burgeoning middle class, the continent boasts the fastest growing regional economy in the world.

In addition to staging the 2020 Olympics, Japan has also been picked to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup after unsuccessfully bidding for the 2011 tournament.

South Korea in turn will hold the world swimming championships for the first time in 2019 and the Presidents Cup golf tournament in 2015.

Beijing, which hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, is the site for the next world athletics championships in 2015 while Nanjing, the capital of China’s Jiangsu province, will stage next year’s Youth Olympics.

ASIAN TREND

Singapore, one of a handful of Asian countries on the Formula One motor racing calendar, has been selected as the host for the end-of-season Women’s Tennis Association championships for the next five years.

Kim, however, denied, the traditional power base of sport was shifting to the east for good, saying it was merely becoming a more balanced distribution with more East Asian bids for major events being submitted.

“The trend has been that many important mega events are planned and hosted in East Asia but I do not think the power base is shifting,” said Kim, who saw Pyeongchang fail twice before being awarded the Games.

“We believe East Asia offers… the opportunity to host mega events. The IOC is eager to give even opportunities to each region in the world,” Kim said, speaking through a translator.

The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics are the first to be staged in South America.

With the Sochi 2014 winter Olympics under pressure due to the fallout over a Russian anti-gay law and the Rio preparations marred by delays and potential protests that also hit this summer’s soccer Confederation Cup, Kim said Pyeongchang was prepared.

“It is not only the organising committee but the city, the city government and regional government and the whole country that should be prepared to host the Games,” he said.

“The whole nation should overcome outside problems. In this sense our national government has established a support committee.”

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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Kaka has been plagued by injuries over the last few years, including one to his left knee shortly after the 2010 World Cup.

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He made only 82 league appearances during his time at Real after his 65 million euro ($85.71 million) move in 2009 and rarely played anything more than a supporting role.

Milan said that Kaka, full name Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, had signed a two-year contract for his return to San Siro.

The announcement of his return came two days after midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng was surprisingly sold to Bundesliga club Schalke 04.

Milan said that Kaka, who won a World Cup winner’s medal with Brazil in 2002, would arrive later on Monday on a private jet along with chief executive Adriano Galliani, almost exactly 10 years after he first set foot at the club as a fresh-faced youngster from Sao Paulo.

During his first six-year spell at the club, Kaka made an immediate impact, scoring 10 goals in his first season as he helped them land the Serie A title.

He became one of the world’s top players with his remarkable burst of speed, vision and ability to shoot from distance with either foot.

He helped Milan win the Champions League in 2007 and was voted the World Player of the Year the same year.

His Brazil career virtually ended after the 2010 World Cup, when he was a central figure in the team even though he was not fully fit after previous injuries.

He was called up for a pair of friendlies last year and performed promisingly but has not been selected since a 1-1 draw against Russia in March, when he clearly failed to impress new coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Clare Fallon/John O’Brien)

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Valcke told reporters he was expressing a personal opinion which had not yet been discussed with the president of the world governing body Sepp Blatter.

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But he said it was a lesson he has learned during the complicated organisation of the 2014 tournament in Brazil during which FIFA has often found itself in opposition to the Brazilian government.

The Brazilian government and FIFA were at loggerheads over several issues such as the sale of beer at stadiums, which is banned in Brazil but was a commitment the country conceded to FIFA whose sponsors include a major brewery.

FIFA was also targeted in mass anti-government protests across the country’s major cities during the Confederations Cup in June over the huge costs of staging next year’s tournament.

“Before Brazil’s proposal (to stage the finals) was sent to FIFA, they could have voted (on it) in congress and that might be done in the future,” Valcke told reporters.

“It would be national support rather than just a bid sent by a federation with government guarantees.

“You would have at least the official approval from a majority of the political parties which are the representatives of the country’s population.”

Valcke added that if such a method was introduced it would only come into effect for the 2026 tournament since Russia has already been awarded the 2018 finals and Qatar those in 2022.

Brazil, through the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), was chosen to organise the 2014 finals in 2007 when it was South America’s sole candidate at a time when the tournament was rotated around FIFA’s continental confederations, a system that has ended.

Valcke said he did not believe there was a lack of popular support for the tournament and that the protesters in June had used the Confederations Cup, a World Cup dress rehearsal, as a platform for their demonstrations.

He said record numbers of fans attending Confederations Cup matches was evidence of such support.

“Brazil loves football and support football,” Valcke said.

“If I’m asked if there will be protests, I think there will. What I do know is that the World Cup is a platform for demonstrations, but the majority of Brazilians will gather at the fan fests and public exhibition events.

“If we have the same success of the Confederations Cup multiplied by what a World Cup represents, it will be a great World Cup.”

(Writing by Rex Gowar in London; Editing by John Mehaffey)

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“No, it was not a mistake because by the rotation it was time to go to the Arabic world,” Blatter told Reuters on the sidelines of an International Olympic Committee meeting in the Argentina capital.

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“And now here we are in the Arab world. It is not a very big country, but it is a very important one. So the decision was absolutely in the context of the politics of FIFA and especially in the context of the politics of this president.”

Blatter said the decision to play the tournament in the middle of the year was the mistake, not the selection of Qatar as hosts.

“I am of the opinion, and this will be discussed by the (FIFA) Executive Board, now that to play in summer time in Qatar is not the right thing to do,” he said.

“We can play also in winter time and this is also a question of solidarity. If you never play in winter time the World Cup, you will be in the situation where all the countries around the equator and southern hemisphere… can never play in the winter.

“(Football) is a sport that is played not only in Europe but all around the world.”

Staging the tournament in the Middle East has sparked widespread consternation because, if it is held over its traditional dates in the middle of the year, players will have to contend with 50 degrees Celsius heat.

Calls to move the World Cup to later in the year, during the European winter, have also proved unpopular as it would disrupt domestic league competitions in countries such as Spain, England, Italy, Germany and France.

Also on Tuesday, European soccer clubs said they wanted to be involved in discussions over any possible switch of dates.

The European Clubs Association (ECA), which has more than 200 members, said it wanted to be consulted before any decision was made.

Another organisation, representing the European leagues, set out obstacles to the move as it also urged FIFA not to rush a decision.

“I personally believe there is no hurry and I don’t understand why FIFA would like to make an early decision at the next executive committee meeting in October,” ECA president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told a news conference.

“I think that nine years is more than enough to do this very sensibly and prudently, in the best interests of football.

“We have to be very sensible to find the best solution which will be accepted by all stakeholders in the football family, because it affects our business,” added the former West Germany, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan forward, who is also Bayern Munich chairman.

“If there is a change, the clubs, the leagues, the associations and the players have the right to be heard and to discuss the best solution with FIFA concerning a change for the World Cup.”

English Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has argued that a winter World Cup could disrupt the European soccer calendar for up to three seasons because of the knock-on effects of having to stop and start a campaign.

(Additional reporting by Vincent Fribault in Buenos Aires, Brian Homewood in Geneva, and Keith Weir in London; Editing by John Mehaffey)

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The hosts, chasing 227, were 21 runs short of their target when bad light forced the players off the field with four overs remaining, depriving a packed crowd of a thrilling finish and leaving England to settle for a 3-0 series win.

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Captain Michael Clarke had declared Australia’s second innings on 111 for six and set England a challenging target in a bid to force a consolation victory but it was the hosts who went close to sealing their first 4-0 win in a home Ashes series.

“We wanted to entertain,” Pietersen told reporters.

“We lost a day’s play and we like to entertain. I was in my own bubble – I was just trying to get through stages. I had flashbacks of 2005 but the way we played today puts us in good stead for the winter.”

England, criticised for their ultra-cautious batting in the first innings on Friday, started their run chase positively and Alastair Cook hit two fours in the first over bowled by Ryan Harris.

Joe Root, on 11, edged Harris to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin before Cook and Jonathan Trott shared a fluent second-wicket partnership of 64 to lay a solid platform.

Cook was trapped lbw by James Faulkner for 34 and Pietersen strode to the middle in a perfect situation to display his attacking talents.

The tall right-hander struck his first boundary off his fourth ball and immediately injected urgency into the run chase, creaming Peter Siddle through the covers for four and flicking him to fine leg for another.

Pietersen and Trott posted their 50 partnership off 48 balls and Pietersen got to his own half-century from just 36 deliveries, including nine fours.

With the crowd sensing a famous victory, Trott also passed 50 before Pietersen fell with the score on 163, well caught by David Warner running round the long-on boundary off Harris.

Trott was snared lbw by Faulkner for 59 but Ian Bell and Chris Woakes kept the momentum going and England needed 36 from the last six overs.

UNEXPECTED FINALE

Bell was run out for 17 by Starc’s direct hit and, with four overs remaining and England on 206 for five, the umpires ordered the players off the field to a chorus of boos.

The result was confirmed shortly afterwards and the awards ceremony took place in rapidly fading light.

It was an unexpected finale to the match after Saturday was washed out by rain, England starting the final day on 247 for four and needing 46 runs to avoid the follow-on.

Woakes, on 25, soon edged a good-length ball from Harris straight to Clarke at second slip but Matt Prior played positively from the start, clipping Siddle through mid-wicket for two to take England to the follow-on target of 293.

Bell, continuing his rich vein of form to reach an assured 45, was unlucky to be out when he flicked Faulkner down the leg-side and was well caught by Haddin.

Starc uprooted Stuart Broad’s middle stump but Graeme Swann immediately went on the offensive, dancing down the pitch to hit off-spinner Nathan Lyon straight for six and lift England to 350 for seven at lunch.

Prior, on 47, skied Faulkner to mid-on where Starc ran round to take a fine diving catch and James Anderson edged the same bowler to Haddin who took a record-equalling 28th catch of the series.

Swann’s breezy innings ended on 34 when he was bowled by Faulkner who completed figures of four for 51 in his first test as England were dismissed for 377.

Australia shuffled their order in a bid to make quick runs but the move back-fired.

David Warner was out for 12, Shane Watson 26, Haddin for a first-ball duck and Faulkner for 22 as Australia stumbled to 67 for four.

Broad then dismissed Steve Smith and Harris before Clarke, who made 28 not out, and Starc, 13 not out, batted through to tea when the captain declared.

“It was an exciting finish and the light came to save us I suppose,” said Watson who was named man of the match for his superb knock of 176 in the first innings.

“After losing a day to rain we knew we had to try and win the game and that was by setting a total that England would chase.

“It didn’t work out for us, but the crowd had a good day and that’s what we are here for.”

(Editing by John Mehaffey)

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“He’s such a great player, so I was trying to focus on my things that I’ve been doing well this week,” said Melzer.

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“I was trying to be aggressive and go to the net as much as I could.

“The game before he retired he was serving really slowly and I missed a lot of returns because I knew if I broke him it could be the end and you get a little tight.”

Monfils has been plagued by injuries all year and needed medical treatment for a strained left abdomen during his semi-final the previous day.

“After about 50 minutes, I tried to serve at full speed, and that was it,” said the former world number seven.

“I felt like something snapped a little bit and it was really painful. It was tough to continue.

“I will try to get an x-ray tonight and see what’s going on.”

Melzer’s victory provided him with his fifth ATP career title and his first since he won at Memphis last year but he sympathised with Monfils.

“Nobody wants to win a final like that,” said Melzer. “You want to be out there competing but at the end of the day you take the title.”

The win also provided the 32-year-old with a timely confidence boost ahead of the U.S. Open, starting on Monday, and vindicated his decision to hire Galo Blanco as his new coach.

“He started working with me in a tough moment of my career,” Melzer said.

“I hadn’t played any matches after Wimbledon. I took four weeks off with a shoulder issue and I played terrible in Cincinnati….to come back a week later and win a trophy (is great).”

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina)

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