Outside Edge: Show Kim Jong-Il a fairer way

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The Independent Online

Palestine's first-ever competitive football match on home soil, in Ramallah in the West Bank, shines like a beacon of hope even if they lost their Olympic qualifier against Thailand on penalties.

"Sport can pave the way to statehood for Palestine," said their federation's president Jibril Rajoub – assuming Israel doesn't pave over the Faisal al-Husseini stadium first. Sport is also breaking down barriers in North Korea after the travel agent Dylan Harris of Wigan was given permission by the secretive totalitarian state to run golf tours to the country – which has just one course. Let's hope they don't come up against the dictator Kim Jong-Il, who went round in a world-record score of 38 playing his first-ever round of golf in 1994 – including five holes in one. A Communist version of Monopoly has been released in Poland, in which contestants have to queue up for food – unless they draw a Chance card that sends them to the front because of their Party connections. Not a game for party animals though.


Steve Whiteley's winnings from a £2 stake on the Tote's Jackpot – punters choose the winners of six races – after he won a free ticket to the races at Exeter. The 61-year-old heating engineer from North Tawton in Devon was so excited, he forgot his partner Jill's birthday. But she wasn't an old nag.

Time for players to raise the bar

High dudgeon – though not as high as might be expected – in Ridgeons League Division One, where struggling Long Melford Essex FC have been accused of lowering the crossbar at their ground by up to five inches when they played high-flying Saffron Walden Town. They won the match 2-1, despite having lost 7-0 at Saffron Walden earlier in the season, and it could have been more if their apparent ruse hadn't backfired when they hit the bar twice. In Romania, the owner of Steaua Bucharest is desperately trying to stop his players hitting the bar. After his manager Marius Lacatus resigned, Gigi Becali started calling the landlines of all his players at 10pm and if they are not at home, they are fined five per cent of their match fee. Becali said: "I don't want piano players, I want players who carry the piano." And they had better change their tune.

Good week

Ivo Karlovic, the Croatian tennis player, hits the fastest-ever serve, 156mph (251kph), in a Davis Cup match against Germany...

Niall O'Brien, Ireland's wicketkeeper, lost six cricket bats at the World Cup after the game against India in Bangalore but they were found in the Indian team's luggage in Delhi...

Jon McGhee, 13, was reimbursed £42 by Reading after he spent his birthday money on a replica shirt with Gylfi Sigurdsson's name on it – just before the club sold the player.

Bad week

Ian Poulter, the English golfer, has discovered that he is allergic to grass 16 years after turning professional – there is only one type of grass he can tolerate, and three species of trees...

Mike Tindall, the England rugby union centre, has been told by Princess Anne to get his nose straightened before he marries her daughter, showjumper Zara Phillips...

Peter Walton, the football referee, forgot to take his yellow card on to the field for Everton versus Birmingham City and had to brandish a pretend card at Jordon Mutch.

Heading for a bad case of the shakes

Joe d'Amico is playing ketchup with his running ambitions. The 36-year-old from Chicago is training for next Sunday's Los Angeles Marathon by eating only McDonald's food for 30 days leading up to the race. "I've been eating McDonald's since I was a kid," he said. "In a way I've been practising for this my whole life." Sensibly he's steering clear of Big Macs and keeping to a varied diet: bagels, egg McMuffins and hotcakes for breakfast; chicken sandwiches, fries, cookies and Coke for lunch; and, er, back to the breakfast menu for dinner.

To be fair, he has completed 14 marathons before, and is also running 100 miles a week to keep his weight down. There's a much healthier combination of sport and nutrition at the Chinchilla Festival in Queensland, Australia: watermelon skiing. Competitors carve clogs out of the fruits and are dragged by ropes like waterskiers across a tarpaulin covered in melon mush. Top seeds don't like to be pipped at the finish.