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Russel Hears Racial Slurs in Norway

May 11, 2004|Paul Gutierrez | From Staff and Wire Reports

Robbie Russel, an African American playing in Norway, was the object of racial taunts and was spit on by fans during his club's game Sunday.

Russel, 24, was born in Amherst, Mass., and plays in Norway for Sogndal.

"I've experienced racism, but never anything like this," Russel told the state radio network NRK.

Russel said four or five fans of the Bergen-based Brann club grabbed his jersey through the fence about 27 minutes into the game.

"A woman spit in my face," he said. "The entire time a group of supporters were yelling racist things at me.... Nothing entitles them to do that sort of thing to you."

Russel declined to file a police complaint, saying he would let soccer organizations deal with the fans. He joined Sogndal in May 2001.

In Norway, there was an outpouring of support for Russel and condemnation of his attackers in the media. Brann promised to identify the culprits using television footage and threatened to permanently ban them from team events.

"We condemn all forms of racism in Norwegian soccer," said Karen Espelund, secretary-general of the Norwegian Soccer Federation. "Such behavior goes against everything we stand for."

A Thai Game?

Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said he is one of five investors in talks to pay about 4 billion baht ($99 million) for a 30% stake in Liverpool Football Club.

Thaksin met with the English team's chief executive, Rick Parry, on Monday.

"The talks went very well," Thaksin told reporters at Bangkok's Government House. "Liverpool and I will try to conclude the deal this week."

The Sun reported that if the deal went through, Liverpool Manager Gerard Houllier would get 40 million pounds ($71 million) to spend on players.

Thaksin also said that he wants Liverpool to set up a player academy and boost professional soccer in Thailand -- the Thai team is 57th in the latest FIFA world rankings -- with a future goal of his nation playing host to the World Cup. Thailand has never qualified for the World Cup.

And while Thaksin acknowledged being part of a Thai group that was interested in buying London-based club Fulham last year, Parry declined to comment on specific talks with Thaksin.

Maradona Update

Diego Maradona's doctor said that the former soccer great, who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title but is now battling lung and heart afflictions, is expected to have a long rehabilitation at an undisclosed psychiatric hospital specializing in mental health treatment for drug addictions.

Alfredo Cahe, Maradona's personal physician, also referred to his famous patient's drug problems for the first time and suggested a possible link to his declining health.

"My impression is that this may be the last opportunity we have to help Maradona," Cahe said. "I'm hopeful that Diego, facing this tough situation, will do whatever he needs to change. So far, he hasn't done that."

Maradona, 43, chosen in 2000 by FIFA along with Pele as the greatest players in history, had been in drug rehab in Cuba for cocaine addiction for the last four years and, since returning to Argentina less than two months ago, has been hospitalized twice. Both times he was put in intensive care.

Quick Passes

England Coach Sven Goran Eriksson hinted Monday that he would move captain David Beckham to central midfield -- where he plays for Real Madrid -- from his regular right-sided position for next month's European championship.... Bayern Munich goalkeeper Oliver Kahn is thinking of giving up his captaincy. "It's all getting a bit too much. I am not getting any peace," Kahn, whose fumble opened the way for Werder Bremen to beat his club and win the Bundesliga title, told Munich newspaper TZ.... The Solomon Islands beat Tonga, 6-0, and Tahiti defeated the Cook Islands, 2-0, Monday in 2006 Oceania World Cup qualifying.

-- Compiled by Paul Gutierrez

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