Japan baseball league to play on despite crisis

*Japan’s baseball players’ union has hit out at the decision of the Central League to start its season on schedule on March 25 while the country continues to battle the aftermath of last week’s earthquake.

Thousands died when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit Japan last Friday causing a tsunami and damaging a nuclear plant 240-km (150 miles) north of Tokyo where engineers were still battling to avert a disaster on Friday.

While the Pacific League said it would be postponing the start of the season until April 12, the six-team Central League announced on Thursday that games would go ahead as planned.

“What a shame,” Takahiro Arai, the head of the union, told the Kyodo news agency.
“The players’ consensus is that it is inappropriate to start the season when we think of those who were killed, those who are still missing and those who are staying in shelters. It’s just too early.”

Balotelli testing patience of Man City, Mancini

*Twenty appearances, 10 goals, two red cards and nine yellow cards into his Manchester City career, Mario Balotelli is testing coach Roberto Mancini's patience to the full.
So much so that despite his side struggling to score goals and an important Premier league game at Chelsea looming on Sunday, Mancini looks unlikely to risk the 20-year-old firecracker at Stamford Bridge.

"I don't think he will be in the squad," Mancini said after Thursday's Europa League exit against Dynamo Kiev -- a match overshadowed by Balotelli's "karate kid" impersonation on Kiev's Foran Popov for which he was sent off in the 36th minute.

"The problem for Mario is he thinks he could be a fantastic player. But when he does something stupid like that, it is difficult for me, difficult for him and difficult for the team."

Bosque honoured by Real Madrid

*Real Madrid have awarded an honorary membership to World Cup winning coach Vicente del Bosque, eight years after he was unceremoniously dumped by the Spanish club.

Del Bosque won the Champions League twice and delivered two La Liga titles after taking over as coach midway through the 1999-2000 season yet despite that glittering record the club decided to dispense with his services in 2003.

Florentino Perez, who was club president at the time, returned for a second spell in 2009 and he presided over the board meeting where Del Bosque was selected for the highest distinction Real can offer.

‘Doping most serious threat to London 2012’

*Doping is the most serious threat to the integrity of next year's London Olympic Games, British Minister for Sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson said on Thursday.

Speaking on the second and final day of an anti-doping conference organised by the World Sports Law Report at Twickenham rugby stadium, Robertson said corruption and doping were the biggest problems facing modern sport.

"Running into the Olympic cycle doping is the most serious threat in sporting terms for the London organising committee," he said. "Remember that 80 percent of unsecured income that the London organising committee needs to raise is secured against ticketing.”