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Mary Kom-led Oversight Committee to run WFI

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Boxing legend MC Mary Kom will head a five-member Oversight Committee that will run the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) and also probe into the allegations of ‘sexual misconduct, financial irregularities and misgovernance’ levelled by India’s top wrestlers, including Olympic and World Championships medallists, against the federation chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, other officials and some coaches at the national camp.

The other members of the committee are London Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt, former badminton player Trupti Murgunde, a member of SAI’s Mission Olympic cell, and former SAI administrators Radhica Sreeman, and Cdr Rajesh Rajagopalan.

Announcing the names of the committee members in Jabalpur, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said the committee has been given one month’s time to complete its probe and till that time WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh will stay away from the day-to-day functioning of the wrestling body.

“The committee will look into the serious allegations levelled against WFI. It will listen to both sides and complete its probe in one month and submit a report. Till the probe is completed, the Committee will also be in charge of the functioning of the WFI,” Thakur said.

This will be the second committee that will investigate the grave allegations levelled by India’s top wrestlers against their own federation and its chief. The Indian Olympic Association has also named a seven-member internal committee to probe into the charges of sexual harassment against Singh. Mary Kom, who is a chairperson of IOA’s Athletes Commission, will head that panel as well and Dutt too is part of it.

Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia, Sakshi Malik, Ravi Dahiya along with world championship-medallists Vinesh Phogat and Deepak Punia led an unprecedented three-day protest at the Jantar Mantar, demanding the immediate resignation of Singh and dissolution of the WFI. The wrestlers called off their protest on Saturday after getting assurances from sports minister Thakur that there will be a thorough investigation.

After suspending all activities of WFI on Saturday, the Sports Ministry instructed the WFI executive committee on Monday to abstain with immediate effect — as an interim measure — from administering and managing the day-to-day activities of the federation until further orders.

Calling it an “unprecedented situation which calls for immediate measures”, the Sports Ministry in its notification said action was initiated against WFI under the National Sports Development Code and in compliance with the guidelines of International Olympic Commitee’s policy on safeguarding athletes from harassment and abuse in sports and the principles of Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the workplace Act, 2013.

Taking a serious view of the entire situation as the matter pertains to the “well-being of the athletes”, the Ministry directed the WFI to explain and furnish a reply to the allegations within 72 hours.

The WFI in its reply to the Ministry had dismissed all the charges of wrestlers, calling it a conspiracy to “malign and defame” Singh and the coaches. “No adverse action is called for against the federation in terms of the provisions of the National Sports Development Code of India,” it said in its eight-page reply.

The Ministry, however, on Monday said it was of the “considered view the WFI has not discharged its duties with respect to redressal of players’ grievances and conduct of the business of the federation in a professional manner.” Meanwhile, Singh scotched speculation that he was taking a legal route.

Not moving court: Singh

“No petition has been submitted by me or any authorized person associated with me against the Delhi government, the protesting wrestlers and the news channels. I have not authorised any advocate, law agency or representative to present the petition in any court of law,” tweeted the BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh.

The Oversight Committee is expected to take charge of the WFI on Tuesday. As a first step, it will also look to clear the Indian team for the Zagreb Open Ranking series in Croatia from February 1. All the top wrestlers from Bajrang, Ravi Dahiya, Vinesh, Deepak Punia — who were part of the protests — are part of the team. However, it has been learned that the team will get a green signal only after clearance from the Oversight Committe

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Valencia sacks coach Gennaro Gattuso for poor results | Football News

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Spanish club Valencia sacked coach Gennaro Gattuso on Monday following the team’s poor results.

Valencia said in a statement it reached a mutual agreement with Gattuso to end their contract.

The announcement came after a 1-0 loss at Valladolid in the Spanish league on Sunday. The club has won only one of its last 10 league games, before the World Cup.

The latest defeat dropped Valencia to 14th place, one point above the relegation zone.

Its only two wins this year came in the Copa del Rey, though it was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Athletic Bilbao at home last week. In the Spanish Super Cup, Valencia lost to Real Madrid in a penalty shootout in the semifinals.

The 45-year-old Gattuso arrived last June on a two-year contract.

The former defensive midfielder helped Italy win the 2006 World Cup and AC Milan win two Champions League titles, both as a player. He coached Milan and Napoli in Italy.

Valencia did not announce a replacement for Gattuso.

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Explained: Why Bayern Munich-bound Joao Cancelo is leaving Man City | Football News

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Portuguese defender Joao Cancelo is all set to part ways with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City prior to the end of the January transfer deadline. The Manchester City star is heavily linked with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, who have reportedly acquired the services of the Portuguese right-back on loan. Manchester City had signed the Portugal right-back from Serie A giants Juventus in an eye-watering deal of £60 million.

Juventus had signed full-back Danilo from Manchester City for a fee of £34.1 million after allowing Cancelo to leave Serie A for the Premier League giants back in 2019. The star defender has appeared in the Primeira Liga and Serie A Team of the Year. The Portugal international recorded 33 appearances in his first season at Etihad. Regarded as one of the best full-backs in world football, Cancelo had a fruitful 2021-2022 season with Manchester City.

ALSO READ: Manchester City knock out Arsenal 1-0 in the FA Cup

However, Cancelo had reportedly fallen behind the pecking order and the ex-Juve defender is expected to complete his transfer to Bayern Munich prior to the end of the 2022-2023 season. According to a report filed by Daily Mail, it has been learned that Man City will allow Cancelo to leave the club due to his ‘disruptive presence’ in the Etihad dressing room. Cancelo has voiced his concerns about the lack of playing time at Manchester City. The report also added that Cancelo’s relationship with head coach Guardiola deteriorated sharply after the FIFA World Cup 2022.

It should be noted that Cancelo has featured in just three times for Premier League holders Manchester City in the English top flight after Portugal’s campaign in the Qatar World Cup. Cancelo was also snubbed from Man City’s starting XI against the Wolves. According to journalist Fabrizio Romano, Bayern Munich have already completed Cancelo’s loan deal on Monday. Bayern also have €70 million buy option clause for Cancelo. The 28-year-old recorded 36 appearances for Premier League winners Man City last season. The Portugal international was also named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.


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India men’s hockey coach Graham Reid quits after World Cup flop | Hockey

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Indian hockey team’s Australian chief coach Graham Reid resigned on Monday, taking responsibility for the hosts’ World Cup failure. India, who won bronze at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics to end a 41-year wait, finished joint ninth in the tournament staged in Odisha.

“It is now time for me to step aside and hand over the reins to the next management. It has been an honour and privilege to work with the team and Hockey India (HI) and I have enjoyed every moment of this epic journey. I wish the team all the very best,” said Reid, who joined India in April 2019.

Reid took Indian hockey to its biggest success for 41 years in Tokyo, where the Manpreet Singh-led side achieved their first podium finish since their 1980 Moscow Olympics victory. However, the World Cup turned out to be a big disappointment as India didn’t even reach the quarter-finals, crashing out in the crossovers to New Zealand.

India then won the classification matches against Japan and South Africa to finish joint ninth, the worst showing by a host nation at the World Cup. The previous worst displays were Argentina in Buenos Aires 1978, Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur 2002 and India in New Delhi 2010.

After submitting his resignation to HI president Dilip Tirkey, Reid addressed the team and support staff on Friday evening to convey his decision. Many players were surprised. “He took us to our greatest result in 41 years which shows he is a good coach,” said a team member on condition of anonymity.

Reid told the players that if he could not deliver results then it was time to move on, after which the players said their goodbyes to the Australian.

The Indian team’s analytical coach Greg Clark and scientific advisor Mitchell David Pemberton also tendered their resignations, on Monday morning. All three will serve their notice period over the next month.

Tirkey, along with HI secretary general Bholanath Singh, met the players and support staff to understand and analyse the team’s performance and strategy for the way ahead.

Having accepted the resignations, Tirkey, a former India skipper, said: “India will always have gratitude to Reid and his team of support staff who have brought good results to the country, particularly in the Olympics. As all journeys move to different phases, it is now time for us to move on towards a new approach for our team.”

A couple of India players said on condition of anonymity that they were unhappy with the training methods of Pemberton, who was hired after Robin Arkell left after the Tokyo Olympics. South African Arkell was with Germany, who lifted the World Cup on Sunday evening after beating Belgium in sudden death shootout.

Reid was given a free hand to select the World Cup team considering the success he had at the Olympics. There was lot of discussion in hockey circles on the penalty takers in the crossover game defeat against New Zealand after the most experienced players were not picked to do the challenging job.

In hockey, most decisions are taken by the bench, which is headed by the chief coach. Reid has traditionally backed young players. For example, he chose a young Shamsher Singh over the experienced Akashdeep Singh while heading to Tokyo. But choosing youth in the shootout backfired this time around.

This World Cup was a golden opportunity for Harmanpreet Singh and his team to build on the momentum gained in the Tokyo Olympics. But the team’s performances have been average post the Olympics. A drop in fitness levels was clearly visible as India did not even qualify for the quarter-finals.

India could win bronze at the 2021 Asian Champions Trophy — their first event after the Tokyo Olympics. Though they finished a commendable third in the Pro League against the best nations in the world, they were humiliated in the final of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, losing 0-7 to Australia. They also lost four of the five matches in a series in Australia before coming into the World Cup in Odisha.

It is learnt that HI has contacted a couple of international coaches to take over the reins as the team needs to build up for the postponed Hangzhou Asian Games (23 September to 8 October) and the 2024 Paris Olympics. A decision on Reid’s successor is expected to be made in February.


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