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ING to pull out from F1 sponsorship deal with Renault
17 February 2009

Dutch financial services entity ING said it will pull out from its Formula 1 sponsorship deal with French car maker Renault.

“In light of the recently announced cost reduction programme, ING confirmed today not to renew the three-year sponsorship contract with Renault F1 and to end its presence in F1 beyond the 2009 season,” the firm said in a statement.
The Dutch company is exploring cost cutting measures amid deepening global financial turmoil.
The financial services major said that one of the main aims of the company’s participation in Formula 1 was to increase its global brand awareness.
Noting that F1 remains a powerful business driver even in a difficult economic climate, ING said, “whilst ING has cut the F1 sponsorship costs by 40% in the final year, revenue generating opportunities will be a continuing focus through 2009”.
The statement added that ING would continue to work closely with Renault F1 team in the final year of the partnership.

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Record breaker Raul wants more club success
16 February 2009

Raul has insisted he would happily swap personal acclaim for club success after becoming the leading scorer in Real Madrid history.

The long-serving club captain replaced the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano as the Spanish giants' most prolific marksman after netting twice in Madrid's 4-0 Primera Liga win over Sporting Gijon.

The 31-year-old Raul and Di Stefano were tied on 307 goals before the game but 15 minutes into the contest at El Molinon the record was broken as Raul slotted home Sergio Ramos' cross to put Madrid 1-0 up.

That ensured Raul would go down in club folklore, but the former Spain captain preferred to look at the benefit his goals could do the team over any individual plaudits.

Madrid`s win was their eighth on the trot and saw them trim the gap to Primera Liga leaders Barcelona to 10 points with 15 games remaining.

''I feel very good and I`m happy because I`ve been able to surpass Alfredo`s record and also score another goal,'' said Raul, who only needs another 36 goals to replace former Athletic Bilbao hitman Telmo Zarra as the leading overall scorer in La Liga history as well.

''The thing I hope for is that these goals serve for something more than just to break records and that we can get ourselves closer to Barcelona in the table.''

He added in AS: ''It was an important day because we had the chance to cut the difference. It was a great game which we dominated from start to finish.

''The whole team performed at a great level and were better than Sporting at every moment.

''The team have shown in the last few games that they are focused and they have faith that winning the league is still possible.''

Raul knows it will not be easy to overhaul Barca though, with Pep Guardiola`s side having gone unbeaten in 22 league matches since losing on the opening day of the season.

Madrid also have a tricky series of fixtures coming up, starting with a home clash against improving Real Betis next weekend. Betis on Saturday ended Barca's 10-match winning streak in La Liga by playing out a 2-2 draw with the pacesetters, having been 2-0 up early on.

Following that match Madrid then resume their Champions League challenge with a home game against Liverpool, and then travel to Espanyol before facing local rivals Atletico and the return game with Liverpool.

''It`s important that we continue like that (the Sporting game), because the difference is still 10 points and that is a lot,'' added Raul.

''Barca are playing at a great level but there is a long way to go yet. We are focused on the possibility of cutting the gap further because now we face the most important phase of the league and also coming up is the game against Liverpool.

''The teams that are competing in European competition are not going to perform in the same manner as they have recently.''

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Hamilton delighted by Jerez test, Ferrari sink in the sand
15 February 2009

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a confidence-boosting, warm-weather drive in his 2009 McLaren on Thursday while title rivals Ferrari were bogged down in a Middle East sandstorm.

The British driver put in 93 laps of the Jerez circuit with a best time of 1:20.737, the second fastest on the day behind Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais who clocked 1:18.493.

“Today’s test gave me the first opportunity to drive MP4-24 in warm, dry conditions — and I’m very encouraged by what I felt,” said Hamilton.

“The car feels strong, very similar to last year’s car, in fact. It doesn’t take long to get used to the new buttons in the cockpit, but the real test for everyone now is to understand the slick tyres ahead of the first race in Melbourne next month.”

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel (1:20.738), Kazuki Nakajima in a Williams (1:20.898) and former double world champion Fernando Alonso, in a Renault (1:21.307) completed the top five.

Bourdais’ time was slower than that set by team-mate Sebastien Buemi of Switzerland the previous day.

Meanwhile, in Bahrain, Ferrari, as well as Toyota and Sauber, saw their testing schedule decimated by a desert sandstorm.

The teams were allowed out for installation laps in the morning at the Sakhir track, but after that running was suspended because the medical helicopter was unable to fly between the track and the nearest hospital.

The storm meant that former world champion Kimi Raikkonen spent the day in the Ferrari garage, unable to set a time.

“Another extremely precious test day has been lost,” said a Ferrari team statement.

“There are just another 12 testing days left before the season starts. We have another session planned for Friday with Kimi behind the wheel but the weather forecast is not optimistic.”

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Can football cause dementia?
17 January 2009

Fitness assessments ranging from strength and flexibility to endurance and aerobic threshold are part and parcel of training for professional footballers. But players at Chelsea Football Club are now put through tests of an altogether different nature - those measuring their intelligence.

According to Dr Bryan English, the club's doctor, IQ analysis is set to become a tool that is widely used by professional clubs across the UK. Not that the measures of cerebral functioning will determine team selection. Rather, Dr English says, the results are to be used as base markers should players suffer serious head injury. “Players completed the tests set by an independent company, which also tests top high-flyers in the City,” he says. “Only we are getting them done for different reasons.”

Chelsea staff are not the only ones to be concerned about the issue. Sports medicine experts are holding a conference on sports and brain injury - the first of its kind - at Edge Hill University, in Lancashire, on February 19. “There are different types of head injury in football that can contribute to problems,” says Professor Adrian Lees, deputy director of the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University, one of the speakers. “Acute injuries such as clashing of heads can cause immediate pain and damage but can also add to chronic head or brain problems. Mild knocks or heading the ball all contribute to a great deal of impact over the course of a player's career that might leave them vulnerable to dementia.”

Certainly, Chelsea has particular reason for concern as its players have suffered more than their share of serious head injuries in recent seasons. Two years ago the club's goalkeeper Petr Cech lost consciousness after colliding with the knee of Stephen Hunt, a Reading player. Cech suffered a depressed fracture of the skull and underwent surgery at the Radcliffe Infirmary's specialist neuro-surgical unit in Oxford.

His replacement in that match, Carlo Cudicini, was also taken to hospital after being knocked unconscious. In 2007, John Terry, now Chelsea, and England, captain, swallowed his tongue and temporarily stopped breathing after being knocked unconscious by a kick in the head during the Cup Final against Arsenal.

It is the cumulative effect of such injuries, combined with the repetitive heading of footballs, that has long been thought to increase the risk of dementia in players. According to the Alzheimer's Society about 700,000 people in the UK suffer from dementia, but the vast majority of cases are not caused by genetic faults. By far the biggest risk factor is age, but there is evidence that repetitive head trauma raises the risks. “People who suffer severe or repeated head injuries are at a three to fourfold increased risk of developing dementia,” says Dr Susanne Sorensen, the charity's head of research. “One possible reason for this is that the inflammation that occurs in the brain as a result of the injury may cause damage to the tissue and be a factor in the onset of the condition.”

Findings released by the Royal College of Psychiatry (RCoP) from a small study a few years ago confirmed that “mild head trauma over the course of an amateur or professional footballer's career may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's in later life”. One player told the RCoP researcher that after executing “a good header” he was often left feeling dazed.

Dementia “link” to older footballers

Those thought to be at particular risk are footballers who played in the 1970s and earlier. Until then, a football's skin was made of leather that could absorb moisture as the game progressed and on wet days it was not unusual for a ball to become heavier. “Players from that era appear to exhibit symptoms of dementia more readily than those in some other sports,” says Lees. “It certainly suggests a link.”

Among them are Danny Blanchflower, the former Northern Ireland captain, who died from Alzheimer's disease in 1993 aged 67, while in 1998 the former Celtic player Billy McPhail lost his legal case for disablement benefit over a claim that he developed the first stages of senile dementia as a result of heading the old-fashioned footballs.

However, in 2002 a groundbreaking inquest into the death of former West Bromwich Albion and England striker Jeff Astle ruled that he died from a degenerative brain disease caused by repetitive heading of leather balls.

Modern footballs are not significantly lighter but are manufactured to be watertight and to weigh no more than about 450g throughout a game. But do they pose fewer dangers?

In a 2004 study, ballistic engineers at Glasgow University's department of mechanical engineering showed that a modern football can reach speeds of 80mph immediately before hitting a player's head.

“We weighed an old-style leather ball when it was dry and weighed the modern ball, and there was only a gram or two of a difference,” says Alan Birbeck, who led the study. “We then soaked the leather ball in water and this added only another gram of weight making the difference only a scale of two or three grams.” The peak force a player's head would need to absorb from an old-style leather ball travelling at top speed would be half a ton and although this would be reduced to half that amount with a modern ball, the force is still considerable.

Birbeck likened it to being struck by ten bags of coal for 3/100ths of a second and concluded that changes in ball materials have made “negligible” difference to the potential effect on a footballer's brain.

Even youngsters are at risk. A recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at the risks of head injury among 268 adolescent football players. Dr Scott Delaney, research director of emergency medicine at the McGill University Health Centre in America, found that the risk of concussion was 2.65 times higher for players who did not wear protective headgear.

Although Fifa, football's international governing body, authorised the wearing of soft headgear in matches, it has not made them mandatory and McGill said that he hoped that his study would “help to convince parents” that head protection may be important for football-playing youngsters. Lees says that using appropriately sized junior balls and teaching children to head the ball in a straight line are also important preventive measures.

At a professional level, Lees concedes that players are more likely to take risks when it comes to gaining possession of the ball. However, measures such as tensing the muscles of the neck as they reach to head a ball can be helpful.

Rugby has strict rules on head injuries

ark Leather, a lecturer in sport and physical activity at Edge Hill University, Lancashire, who has also worked as a physiotherapist in professional football for 20 years, believes that professional football needs to follow the lead of rugby, which has introduced strict rules regarding head injury.

The Football Association's (FA) current medical recommendations state: “Since all head injuries are different in terms of the effects on the brain, no fixed time periods are applicable in professional football as to when the player should return to training and playing.”

Leather says: “In rugby union, a player with concussion cannot take part in a match or training for at least three weeks. Both rugby codes also use a testing system called CogSport, computer-based cognitive assessments that are done at the start of every season and after any head injury incident when the results are compared to the original baseline score.”

He says that the tests are not foolproof and should be used as an extra insurance policy for players' health alongside clinical and neurological judgment. “It's not surprising that Chelsea are introducing them and the hope is that other football clubs will follow suit,” he says.

Of course, among professional sportspeople, even intelligence tests can become competitive. So who came out top at Chelsea? “John Terry was in the top three,” says Dr English. “But Frank Lampard scored one of the highest set of marks ever recorded by the company doing the tests, and higher than me.”

Risk assessment


The British Horse Society is made aware of eight accidents a day involving horses and more than one third of them may result in head injuries. Christopher Reeve, the former Superman star, was paralysed from the neck down after landing on his head in a riding accident.


About 70 per cent of cyclists killed on the road have suffered head injuries. Debates about whether helmets reduce the risk continue, although the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents recommends them as a means of protection.


The majority of injuries in the ring are caused by a blow to the head. About 20 per cent of professional boxers develop chronic traumatic brain injury, according to research in the Archives of Neurology in 2006. The study of amateur boxers revealed that many of them had higher levels of certain chemicals in their cerebrospinal fluid in the days after a bout, indicating injuries to neurons and other cells important to brain function.

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Chelsea, Liverpool focus on league title race
13 November 2008

The managers of Chelsea and Liverpool went through the motions of expressing disappointment at exiting the League Cup. In reality, the Premier League pacesetters removed an irritating distraction from their pursuit of the Premier League title.

The greatest benefit for both teams Wednesday was star strikers Didier Drogba (Chelsea) and Fernando Torres (Liverpool) making their first starts in more than a month.

Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari will hope Drogba, who scored his first goal of the season before the Blues were beaten by Burnley on penalties, can help improve Chelsea's goal difference, which is keeping the team above Liverpool atop the standings.

And ahead of Saturday's match at last-place West Bromwich Albion, Scolari refused to blame his players after a second-tier club denied him a League Cup quarterfinal place.

"The players are disappointed because they lost a competition," the Chelsea manager said Thursday. "They wanted to win this game (against Burnley) but now it is time to work for Saturday's game.

"I am not angry with the players because they tried their best. If they make mistakes maybe it is because I have not given them good lessons. The players tried to do their best."

While Torres couldn't find the net in Liverpool's 4-2 loss at Spurs, manager Rafa Benitez is glad to see him back ahead of Saturday's match at Bolton.

"He needed to play some minutes and he is feeling positive now," Benitez said. "He will train with us and will hopefully be ready for Saturday.

"We now turn our focus to Bolton and we will try to win the game to stay at the top of the league. You have to concentrate on the Premier League and Champions League — and then the FA Cup."

Defender Daniel Agger is wary of Bolton's threat after the Reds lost at White Hart Lane for the second time this month.

"We must play a lot better than how we performed against Tottenham," Agger said. "Bolton are a physical and strong team so it will be a tough match for us, but we are focused on making improvements in every area.

"We definitely have to do better."

Chelsea and Liverpool are tied on 29 points, followed by Arsenal on 23, with Manchester United a further two points adrift.

Arsenal's victory over the Red Devils last weekend helped silence the unprecedented criticism being directed at manager Arsene Wenger following a defeat at newly promoted Stoke, which is at Man United on Saturday.

Wenger will hope the momentum continues Saturday against Aston Villa as he bids for his first league title since 2004.

Fulham will be wary of Tottenham's trip to Craven Cottage with Spurs manager Harry Redknapp having taken the team from last place to collect 10 points out of 12 in three weeks since replacing Juande Ramos.

Sunderland can quickly exact revenge for its League Cup elimination when it visits Blackburn, while Newcastle hosts Wigan.

Both Manchester City and Hull will be looking to snap three-match losing streaks when they meet Sunday, when Everton hosts Middlesbrough. Source: Herald Tribune

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Hamilton says racist abuse not a joke
07 November 2008

Lewis Hamilton says the racist abuse directed at him this year is not something that he has taken lightly after Bernie Ecclestone labelled the controversies as “a joke”.

Formula 1 supremo Ecclestone, in an interview with BBC Radio on Thursday, moved to play down the incidents of racist abuse that Hamilton has been subjected to this year, both in pre-season testing at Barcelona and on a Spanish website last week.

While Hamilton said he hadn’t heard Ecclestone’s comments and stressed that he himself had put the taunts behind him, he made it clear he didn't regard them as trivial or humorous.

“I don't particularly look at it as a joke," he was quoted as saying by Reuters at a sponsor event on Thursday.

"It's something that's happened but it's in the past and you've got to look forward.

“What's most important for me is that I know I have a lot of support, especially from my UK fans.”

He added: “I haven’t read what Bernie said but I have a huge amount of respect for him and can only assume he said positive things.”

Earlier this week the world champion’s father Anthony revealed that the racist abuse his son had suffered had led him to question whether they should remain in Formula 1.

“I am Lewis’s dad and my first duty is to be protective of my family,” Hamilton Snr told the Daily Mail.

“Sometimes you wonder whether it is worth staying in Formula 1, even when it has been your dream for so long.

“We are all human and have feelings.

“When people behave as they do by taking against Lewis it hurts, and nobody wants that for people they love and care about.” Source: itv-f1

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Lewis Hamilton World Champion 2008 (Video)
03 November 2008

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Hamilton, world champion in the last curve
02 November 2008

Congratulations hamilton
The youngest world champion

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Liverpool seal the points as Steven Gerrard penalty defeats Tony Adams' Portsmouth
30 October 2008

Manchester United and Chelsea might pack a bigger punch in the transfer market and possess squads which are the envy of their rivals, but only Liverpool have Steven Gerrard and when the title race is decided, his desperation for a Premier League winners’ medal could just tip the balance away from the power and riches at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge.

Personal desire can be a potent ingredient and Liverpool are beginning to make a habit of turning draws into victories this season, especially at Anfield. Gerrard has been central to all of those dramatic late wins.

Against Portsmouth, the Liverpool captain sent Tony Adams back to the south coast with nothing to show for his top-flight managerial debut thanks to a 76th-minute penalty that sealed a deserved three points for the league leaders.

But Gerrard did more than merely score from the spot. Just as this game appeared to be drifting towards a costly draw for the home side, Gerrard did what he did best and dragged his team to victory, one which maintains their three-point lead at the Premier League summit.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez said: “After the victory at Chelsea, three points tonight was really important. We changed four or five players and still won, so that sends a message to the squad, the players and everyone that we can change players and win games.

“We are still top of the table and we want to try to be at the top for a long time, but the most important thing for us now is to win the next three points. When you are top, it shows the confidence you have in yourself.”

In previous campaigns, this could have been a tale of what might have been for Liverpool, but Gerrard’s penalty ensured that it was points won, rather than points lost against the FA Cup holders.

Portsmouth’s woeful record at Anfield, a ground where they last secured a league victory in 1951, did not bode well for the visitors, but after surviving an early scare when Dirk Kuyt struck a post on 10 minutes, they proceeded to take charge of the first half with their five-man midfield stifling Liverpool.

Unbeaten this season and having ended Chelsea’s 86-game unbeaten Premier League home record at the weekend, Liverpool could have no complaints with Adams adopting a defensive approach. Dropping six-goal top scorer Jermain Defoe to the bench underlined what Adams wanted to get out of the game.

But despite soaking up pressure and carving out dangerous counter-attacks, Portsmouth began to be pushed deeper and deeper as Gerrard propelled Liverpool forward in the closing stages.

The big, red clock at the side of the Kop appears to inject mysterious powers into Liverpool, and Gerrard in particular, as it ticks down towards the 90th minute and once again he came to the rescue when referee Steve Tanner pointed to the penalty spot following a needless hand-ball by Papa Bouba Diop.

David James has form for saving penalties, but Gerrard doesn’t miss many and, though his England team-mate almost reached the ball as it flew into the net, Gerrard did just enough to score.

Adams said: “It’s hard to be pleased when you’ve lost 1-0, but if those players continue to show that level of commitment to me, they won’t go wrong.

“Steven Gerrard is one of the best midfielders in the world, though, and if he stays fit, Liverpool are going to do very well this season.”  Source; telegraph

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Rafael Benitez says winning league with Liverpool would be harder than La Liga
29 October 2008

After becoming the first side in more than four years to secure a league win at Chelsea, Benitez knows that with every win he will face a growing avalanche of questions as to whether he can steer Liverpool to their first title of the Premier League era. And if he does, it will rank as a greater achievement than taking Valencia to their first Spanish title in 21 years – as he did in 2002.

"I think this is harder to win than La Liga," he said. "Here you have a lot of clubs with big money trying to be in the top four and you are competing against three teams – Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United – who are really, really strong. In England you have clubs run by an owner: in Spain the fans and the shareholders are the owners, and they elect a chairman.

"The Premier League is really difficult. Chelsea won the title with 91 points and since then [2006] it has been won with 89 and 87 points. For us to win, we would have to have a nearly perfect season because we know that Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United will not lose too many games. You can see one of them making mistakes but to imagine all three will is very difficult.

"When I was with Valencia we had an almost perfect balance when winning it for a second time [in 2004]. We scored more goals than any other team, including Real Madrid, and we conceded fewer. The press called us a machine."

Having broken one record by becoming the first team in 87 attempts to win at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool will defend one tonight. No Portsmouth side since 1951 have left Anfield with a victory and, although Fernando Torres is not scheduled to return until Saturday's game at Tottenham, Robbie Keane will start.

As he awaited the kick-off at Chelsea last Sunday, Benitez was flicking through a set of newspapers which all mentioned the one glaring weakness in his domestic record – Liverpool's inability to take points off fellow members of the big four. It is worth pointing out that immediately after overcoming United last month Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw by Stoke. However, what should give the Kop confidence this evening is the ease with which Liverpool held Chelsea at bay – only at the very end did they mount any kind of threat.

"Chelsea needed to score and in the back of their minds they were thinking of the 86 unbeaten games," Benitez said. "It made them more direct than they usually are and they used John Terry as a striker. We put on Sami Hyypia in the 88th minute and, when I checked the statistics, he cleared the ball four times – the same number or clearances that Jamie Carragher made in the whole match."

When it was pointed out that this was not a Liverpool squad with much experience of winning championships, Benitez replied that he had won titles and so had his assistant, Sammy Lee. "And we have players who have won the Champions League," he said.

"If we're still top in three or four weeks, the papers will really start to push us, the fans will be thinking: 'Maybe, maybe' – and then you have to handle the pressure." 

source telegraph

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