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The Sports Matrix: Wednesday 8 February 2012

Ferguson: I can't believe return of racism issue

Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, has suggested that he fears racism is returning to the English game.

"I don't understand at all where it's coming from, to be honest with you," Ferguson said of the re-emergence of racial problems, four days before Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez come face-to-face at Old Trafford.

"This is a moment where we have to take stock and we should do something about it if it's surfacing again, and be really hard and firm on any form or shape of racism. There have been a couple of examples recently, which is not good. In 2012, you can't believe it. It was obvious maybe 20 years ago and the improvements have been for everyone to see."

Ferguson's words appear to reflect Suarez's ban for the use of the word "negro" against United's Evra and they will infuriate Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, who has never accepted the verdict of an FA-appointed commission. United host Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday, their second meeting since the incident between Suarez and Evra, and the first in which Suarez will play.  MORE

Parks retires from Scotland duty

Scotland fly-half Dan Parks has retired from international rugby after a career in which he won 67 caps and scored 266 points. "It's never an easy decision to make, but I think Dan has made the right one," said the Scotland coach Andy Robinson. MORE

France make four forward changes

France have shuffled their pack for Saturday's game with Ireland. Vincent Debaty, William Servat, Lionel Nallet and Julien Bonnaire have been dropped for Jean-Baptiste Poux, Yoann Maestri, Dimitri Szarzewski and Imanol Harinordoquy. MORE

Redknapp trial enters 13th day

Harry Redknapp's trial for tax evasion will enter a 13th day today after the jury was unable to reach a verdict last night. The Tottenham Hotspur manager and his co-defendant, Milan Mandaric, are likely to learn their verdicts at some stage today. MORE

Capello and FA in showdown talks

England manager Fabio Capello will meet Football Association chairman David Bernstein to discuss the Italian's comments on John Terry's loss of the captaincy. There is little will to part company with Capello ahead of the end of his contract in July. MORE

Buttler and Briggs join one-day squad

England have brought two youngsters into their squad for the one-day series with Pakistan which starts next Monday. The 21-year-old batsman Joss Buttler and 20-year-old left-arm spinner Danny Briggs are in, while Ian Bell has been dropped. MORE

Cavendish opens account in Qatar

Mark Cavendish claimed his first Team Sky win yesterday, taking the Tour of Qatar's third stage – despite a recent fever. "I'm very happy to have won since I'm not at 100 per cent," he said. "It's great to get the season going and that first win under my belt." MORE

Hotel shortage to affect England fans

England fans planning to travel to Ukraine for the European Championship this summer face a shortage of hotel rooms, the co-hosts have admitted. "It's impossible to have such a quantity of hotels like you have in London," vice-president Borys Kolesnikov said. MORE

Blackpool and Millwall progress

Championship high-fliers Southampton were surprised 3-2 at home by Millwall in their fourth-round replay, the Lions earning a home tie with Bolton. Elsewhere, Blackpool eased to a 3-0 win at League One Sheffield Wednesday to set up a trip to Everton. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

Kenny Dalglish should let it be. His latest comments about Luis Suarez brought a new edge of corrosion to the affair. When Suarez returned for Liverpool, Dalglish should have stifled the fire, not provoked it. MORE

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