Man's best friend indeed. Many countries may be going to the dogs during the recession but in Hungary this is especially true after it was revealed that the European Union's Rural Development Fund had splashed out £350,000 on a fitness centre for canines in the village of Dregelypalank, which included a hydrotherapy spa. It was built to "improve the lifestyle and living standard of dogs" but it was never actually opened, so the mutts are still being bone idle. One Christmas present that EU moguls might like to get the missus, if not the family pet, is the Vibrogym Diamond, a vibrating fitness machine that comes complete with 65,000 Swarovski crystals, each of them inserted by hand, and is reasonably priced at a mere £43,500. It was good to hear our local councils are taking a more practical view during these difficult times: England striker Kevin Davies struck a deal with Bolton Council to switch on their Christmas lights if they came and emptied his bins. It was an offer they couldn't refuse.
Prize money for Jonathan Duhamel, 23, after he won the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas. The sacked France football coach Raymond Domenech has taken up the game and will compete in the Ultimate Poker Fight. He's asked the French FA for €2.9m in compensation. He may need it.
Out... and standing a bit too proud
Bayern Munich's striker Mario Gomez may not find too many of his colleagues following his advice to come out of the closet if they are gay, but at least he is holding the door open. Which is more than can be said for Vlatko Markovic, who has said: "While I'm a president of the Croatian Football Federation, there will be no homosexuals playing in the national team." When asked if he had met any gay footballers, the 73-year-old said: "No. Luckily only healthy people play football." Obviously he hasn't met the unnamed coach of Chinese Third Division side Tianjin Locomotive, who says "genital examination is necessary" to guage the ability of young players. He claims a condition called "congenital testicular dysplasia" imbalances the hormones. "Boys with short, thick genitals and tight scrotum are good for football playing." It's all about close ball control.
Yves Rossy, the Swiss adventurer, succeeded in performing loop-the-loops with four jet engines strapped to his back after sky-diving out of a hot-air balloon above Lake Geneva... Erica and Lindsey Bensch, sisters in the University of Central Oklahoma golf team, both recorded holes-in-one within two hours of each other on the same course at Kicking Bird Golf Club... The "Gumpathon" runners, five British servicemen and one US marine, completed their eight-week, 3,530-mile run across the United States to raise funds for charities which help wounded soldiers.
Ivo Ivanov, Levski Sofia's midfielder, has been credited with scoring the fastest-ever own-goal by a substitute – the Bulgarian came on in the 88th minute of the Europa League tie against Lille and headed the ball into his own net after 14 seconds... David Meggett, former NFL running back, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison in South Carolina for burglary and sexual assault... Cambodian monks have been told they are not allowed to attend the Boat Racing Festival in Phnom Penh because of scantily clad women and couples kissing in public.
Not very cheerful tales from the courts
There's a curious tale from Texas about a girl who sued her high school in Silsbee after she was thrown off the cheerleading team. Why litigation in such innocent surrounds? She was de-selected two years ago because she refused to cheer on a boy on the basketball team who sexually assaulted her; she would sit down and fold her arms whenever his name was called out. She claimed the school violated her rights to free speech, but the Fifth US Court of Appeals have ruled that not cheering "constituted substantial interference with the work of the school". In Florida, John D Gilland has filed for a restraining order against the Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow after he was victimised by Tebow's fans at a petrol station when he told them he thought the player was rubbish. Gilland has previously tried to get restraining orders against Barack Obama and Jesus Christ, accusing them of making gangster hand signals at him. Beware the hand of God.Reuse content