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The Sport Matrix: Friday 29 November 2013

Chopra reveals extent of game’s gambling problem

Michael Chopra, the former Newcastle United, Cardiff City and Sunderland striker, has claimed he would gamble up to £30,000 in cash with other players on the team bus on the way to games while still a teenager with the St James’ Park club.

Chopra (above), giving evidence as a witness during a trial at Newcastle Crown Court, says he was threatened by loan sharks later in his career as he ran up huge debts and joined Sunderland because the sizeable signing-on fee would help pay off money he owed. During his time with Ipswich, the club and the PFA organised a £250,000 loan to do likewise while his father, Minty, also revealed in court yesterday that he had sold his house to pay his son’s gambling debts. Chopra told the court he estimated he had lost £2m through gambling.

“I started gambling when I was about 17, when I first played for Newcastle and I was travelling with the first team,” Chopra said. “Players would gamble on the bus and I got involved. We would take thousands of pounds on to the bus, anything up to £30,000.” MORE

Swansea falter at home to Valencia

Swansea were defeated 1-0 by Valencia at the Liberty Stadium last night. Daniel Parejo scored the only goal in the 20th minute to see off Michael Laudrup’s side, who now need just a draw away at FC St Gallen on 12 December to progress to the knockout stages. MORE

Wigan defeat puts qualifying in doubt

Wigan lost 2-1 to Belgian side Zulte-Waregem. Leon Barnett put Wigan ahead before Thorgan Hazard levelled for Zulte-Waregem and Junior Malanda struck in the 88th minute. Wigan must win their final game against NK Maribor for a chance to make last 32. MORE

AVB buoyant after win over Tromso

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas believes his players will be “mentally ready” to play Manchester United on Sunday after his side beat Tromso 2-0 in Norway to finish top of Group K. The victory came four days after Spurs were routed 6-0 by Manchester City. MORE

Education is key to match-fixing threat

All players, coaches, administrators and officials involved in the professional game should undergo compulsory and regular match-fixing education programmes to protect the integrity of the sport from a “major, major threat”, according to Fifpro, the global players’ union. MORE

In-form Bresnan stakes Ashes claim

Tim Bresnan put himself in the frame for a place in the England side for the second Ashes Test with a strong performance in Brisbane. The 28-year-old took 4 for 31 for England’s Performance Programme against Queensland Second XI. MORE

Celtic face second banner inquiry

Celtic may face action over a second banner after the Scottish Professional Football League said it is looking into a display during Aberdeen’s visit to Parkhead. Uefa opened disciplinary proceedings over a banner used before the loss to Milan.

Hamilton praises ‘great’ Brawn

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has hailed Ross Brawn as “a great leader” after it was announced their team principal is to step down at the end of next month. In his place, Mercedes’ executive directors Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe will lead the team. MORE

French clubs waver over cup breakaway

France’s clubs appear to have agreed to stay in the Heineken Cup for another year, provided English clubs can be persuaded to join them and on condition that the current organising body is disbanded by the end of the 2014-15 season. MORE

Australia confident of beating holders

Australia forward Greg Bird believes New Zealand are better than when they beat the Kangaroos in the 2008 World Cup final, but still says his team are good enough to gain revenge in tomorrow’s 2013 final. MORE

Life of Ryan

Ian Herbert finds out what drives on Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs, who celebrates his 40th birthday today, by speaking to those who know the Welsh winger well. MORE

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