India hopeful of getting back into Olympic fold, says sports official

Updated 09 March 2013
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India hopeful of getting back into Olympic fold, says sports official

NEW DELHI: A top Indian government officer hopes to meet International Olympic Committee officials at its headquarters in Switzerland next month in a bid to end the suspension placed upon the Indian Olympic Association.
“I’m in touch with IOA officials who have been corresponding with the IOC and a.m. hoping to finalize the dates of our meetings in April,” India’s sports secretary P.K.Deb said yesterday. “We are hopeful things will be sorted out soon.” “They’d wanted the meetings in March but that might be difficult since our minister (Jitender Singh) will be busy in the ongoing Parliament session till March-end.” The IOA was suspended after it went ahead with elections on Dec.5 despite the world body declaring them “null and void.”
The IOC has since been corresponding only with IOA’s former acting president Vijay Kumar Malhotra and former secretary-general Randhir Singh while making it clear that only fresh elections could bring India back into the Olympic fold.
The IOC had asked the IOA to adhere to its own constitution and not follow a government sports code. But the IOA went ahead with the election process, citing a Delhi High Court order that said the polls should be in line with the code.
The IOC’s ethics commission had also advised that tainted officials shouldn’t hold administrative posts, but Lalit Bhanot was declared elected unopposed as the new secretary-general despite spending 11 months in jail for corruption cases related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
Suresh Kalmadi, who headed the IOA for 16 years, decided not to seek re-election after graft charges relating to the Commonwealth Games but backed new president Abhey Chautala and Bhanot.
An Olympic ban means a national federation is not eligible for funding from the IOC. Officials from the suspended federation can’t attend meetings and athletes can compete only under the Olympic flag.


Chelsea face Manchester United in FA Cup final as Olivier Giroud sinks Southampton

Updated 19 min 11 sec ago
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Chelsea face Manchester United in FA Cup final as Olivier Giroud sinks Southampton

London: Chelsea booked an FA Cup final showdown with Manchester United as Olivier Giroud tormented Southampton again with a sublime strike in Sunday’s 2-0 win at Wembley.
Giroud has made a habit of scoring against Southampton and the France forward was their nemesis in a one-sided semifinal.
Opting to select Giroud instead of Alvaro Morata proved a shrewd move by Chelsea manager Antonio Conte as the former Arsenal star produced a tremendous piece of skill to break the deadlock early in the second half.
Giroud has feasted on Southampton this season, scoring twice to spark Chelsea’s 3-2 win last weekend and also netting a late equalizer against them for Arsenal in December.
His fourth goal for Chelsea since his January signing was followed by a late header from substitute Morata, setting up a heavyweight final against United at Wembley on May 19.
That will be Chelsea’s last chance to win major silverware at the end of a troubled season.
“The most important thing is to reach the final. This is the second FA Cup final in a row for us. I’m delighted for our fans,” Conte said.
“For sure, Olivier has been a good signing for us. I needed a player like him, strong physically, to hold the ball up.
“Today I decided to start with Olivier because I knew we were playing against three strong central defenders, but when Morata came on the impact was impressive as well.”
Chelsea’s 13th FA Cup final appearance will be a repeat of the 2007 showpiece, when Jose Mourinho’s men won 1-0.
The Blues, back in the final after losing to Arsenal in May, last won the competition in 2012 and are bidding to lift the trophy for the eighth time.
Winning the FA Cup might not be enough to convince either Conte or Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich that their two-year partnership should be extended.
Conte has spent much of the season complaining about Chelsea’s failure to back his transfer plans, while several of his players are believed to be unhappy with his demanding training sessions and intense personality.
The Blues face a tough task to qualify for the Champions League via a top-four finish in the Premier League as they trail fourth-placed Tottenham by five points.
Against that backdrop, winning the Cup would at least provide an uplifting conclusion to a frustrating campaign.
For Southampton, the focus returns to their desperate battle to avoid relegation, with just four games left to climb out of the bottom three.
Saints boss Mark Hughes claimed the crucial moment was the officials’ refusal to use the video assistant referee when Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero may have dropped the ball over the line under pressure from Charlie Austin.
“We are disappointed with the officials. Their goalkeeper has thrown the ball into the back of the net,” Hughes complained.
“If ever there was a case for VAR to review, that was the moment. Why it wasn’t referred I’ve no idea.”
Giroud was warming to the task of giving Southampton another headache and he went close to breaking the deadlock with an acrobatic volley before half-time.
Chelsea’s dominance was finally rewarded in the 46th minute.
Cesc Fabregas lofted a pass toward Eden Hazard and he controlled brilliantly in mid-air before slipping the ball through to Giroud.
There was still work for Giroud to do and he side-stepped three defenders with surprising grace, his nimble footwork giving him just enough space to slot home from close range.
After Caballero got away with his sloppy handling, Austin appealed in vain for a penalty when Giroud left his arm out to block the forward’s header.
But it was too little, too late and Morata came off the bench to wrap up the win with just his third goal in his last 19 appearances.
Morata, who has failed to impress since his move from Real Madrid last year, was furious after being hauled off at Burnley.
Just days later, he was all smiles when he nodded home from Cesar Azpilicueta’s 82nd-minute cross.