The Sport Matrix: Friday 20 February 2015

 

Poyet asks fans to ‘stay positive’

Sunderland’s under-fire manager Gus Poyet has taken the rare step of writing an open letter to the club’s fans calling for unity as they battle to stay in the Premier League. Poyet, whose side are two points above the relegation zone, wrote: “I invite all of you to stay positive.” He added: “I promise you I care and want to win as much as you do and no one thinks more time every day about the team than I do.”

Group stage lasts too long – Lehmann

Australia coach Darren Lehmann has criticised the length of the World Cup ahead of tomorrow’s second group game against Bangladesh, which comes a week after their defeat of England in their first. “I think we can condense the tournament a little bit,” Lehmann said.

Figo launches Fifa presidency bid

Luis Figo has launched his bid to become Fifa president, with his plan including a 48-team World Cup played in two continents, the introduction of sin bins and a return to the “old” offside rule. He said: “It is time for me to give back to the world of football everything it gave me.”

Fifa runner-up Roche signs for Houston

Stephanie Roche, the player shortlisted for this year’s Fifa Goal of the Year award, has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Houston Dash in the US National Women’s Soccer League. The 25-year-old forward signed for French side Albi last July, but she admits the language barrier proved a deciding factor in wanting to leave.

She told the Irish Independent: “I have taken my time with this. With France I think I may have jumped into it too fast. I never thought the language barrier would be as big an issue as it turned out to be in the end.

‘No Irishwoman has ever gone over to play in the NWSL, though, so it is going to be a big challenge for me. I am under no illusions it is going to be easy.”

Papé escapes with 10-week ban

France lock Pascal Papé will miss the rest of the Six Nations after being given a 10-week suspension for kneeing Ireland’s No 8 Jamie Heaslip in the back during last weekend’s encounter. However, a that punishment is far more lenient than many rugby insiders felt he deserved for the challenge, which ended Heaslip’s tournament.

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