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ICJ confirms Aust to return Timor docs

The United Nation’s top court has confirmed it’s authorised Australia to return documents seized from a lawyer representing East Timor in a dispute over a controversial oil and gas treaty between the two countries.

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Dili took Canberra to the International Court of Justice in The Hague seeking the return of sensitive documents seized by ASIO during a December 2013 raid on lawyer Bernard Collaery’s Canberra office.

In late March 2015 Australia indicated it wished to return the documents.

“The court considers that it should now authorise such return while maintaining the obligation for Australia to keep under seal that material until its transfer has been completed under the supervision of a representative appointed for that purpose by Timor-Leste,” the ICJ said in an order dated April 22 but only made public on Wednesday.

The court requested Australia and East Timor inform the ICJ when the documents have been returned.

They relate to East Timor’s challenge to the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea.

Dili has accused Canberra of bugging its cabinet office during 2004 treaty negotiations.

In an interim order in March 2014 the ICJ ordered Australia not to use the documents and keep them under lock and key until further notice.

The court also banned Canberra from spying on communications between Dili and its lawyers.

Earlier this week East Timor’s government issued a statement saying it appreciated Canberra’s decision to return the seized documents.

“After 16 months of vigorously defending its right to take and keep the documents the Australian government has now written to the ICJ stating that it wishes to return them,” the statement said.

“On 22 April the court responded to the Australian letter authorising the return of the documents, still sealed, under the supervision of a representative of Timor-Leste.”

Dili on Monday said it was reserving its rights on the broader dispute over the maritime treaty.

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Boxing fans accuse Pacquiao of concealing injury

“The lawsuits are factually wrong and legally wrong, and we expect they will be dismissed in due course,” Daniel Petrocelli, an attorney for Pacquiao and Top Rank Inc, a promotions company that represents Pacquiao and was also sued, said in a statement on Wednesday.

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One of the lawsuits also named as defendants Mayweather, Mayweather’s promotions company, and several businesses involved in broadcasting and promoting the fight: Time Warner unit Home Box Office Inc, CBS Corp unit Showtime Networks Inc, AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and DirecTV.

Spokespeople for Mayweather and the companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Pacquiao, a native of the Philippines, lost on a unanimous decision to Mayweather, an American, in a heavily hyped welterweight showdown in Las Vegas on Saturday that was expected to be the top grossing prize fight of all time.

Barely one hour after the contest ended, Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, said the 36-year-old southpaw had been hampered by an ‘old’ injury to his right shoulder.

Neither Pacquiao nor his team appeared to have informed the Nevada Athletic Commission about the shoulder issue until a couple of hours before the start of the fight when they asked for an anti-inflammatory injection.

When Pacquiao’s team filled out its pre-fight medical questionnaire on Friday, a query about any shoulder injury was marked “No” before the form was signed by Pacquiao and his adviser.

According to media reports, Pacquiao was due to undergo surgery this week for a torn rotator cuff.

(Reporting by David Ingram in New York; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

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Israeli FA presses Blatter in effort to avert suspension

The Palestine Football Association (PFA) accuses Israel of hampering its activities and restricting the movement of players between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

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Israel cites security concerns for the restrictions it imposes.

Blatter met Israeli Football Association (IFA) chairman Ofer Eini and chief executive Rotem Kamer to discuss the PFA request for the vote at a FIFA Congress on May 29. FIFA said it would host a further meeting between Einer and his Palestinian counterpart Jibril Rajoub in the next few days.

“FIFA President Blatter reiterated his position that any member association that is fulfilling its statutory duties should not be suspended,” a FIFA statement said. “This would also apply to the IFA as long as they fulfil such duties.”

The statement appeared to offer hope for the IFA, who have not themselves been accused of violating any FIFA statutes and have argued that they cannot control the actions of Israel’s security forces.

Earlier, an IFA official told Reuters that Eini and Kamer would urge Blatter to use his influence to strike the PFA proposal from the Congress agenda.

If FIFA were to suspend Israel, it would bar all its teams and clubs from competing in international events, including World Cup qualifications.

Although suspensions are not uncommon, the world body has taken such action mainly when a government has intervened in its football association’s affairs.

Israel is currently competing in the Euro 2016 qualifying event and its clubs will join European cup tournaments in July, when Israel is also due to host the European women’s under-19 championships. Suspension could force the event to be moved.

For the Palestinian proposal to pass, it would need the approval of 75 percent of FIFA’s 209 member associations.

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In a letter to all FIFA members, Eini appealed for them to reject the proposal, saying it was “a flagrant move that seeks to mix politics with sport – something that is completely contrary to FIFA’s vision”.

Before leaving Tel Aviv he added: “Our meeting with (Blatter) is very significant as we endeavour to prevent the possibility of a vote … it is a major part of our efforts.”

The IFA official, who declined to be named, said Eini and Kamer would also meet German FA chief Wolfgang Niersbach to seek more support.

As well as restrictions on movement, The PFA has cited curbs Israel places on the import into the Palestinian territories of sports equipment and visits by foreign teams and individuals.

Two years ago, FIFA established a task force which included Blatter, the Israeli and Palestinian FA chiefs and the heads of the European and Asian confederations to try to resolve the Palestinian complaints.

Blatter said at the time that he was determined to overcome the impasse but last week Rajoub told Reuters that nothing had improved and repeated that Israel was “persecuting Palestine footballers, athletes and the movement of sporting equipment”.

He has also complained that Israel should not include five teams in its leagues from West Bank settlements and about racism against Arabs in Israeli football, a claim the IFA official said was “ridiculous and cantankerous”.

One Israeli club, Beitar Jerusalem, has refused to employ any Arab players and its fans regular chant racist abuse for which it has repeatedly faced disciplinary action but all other top clubs regularly employ Arab players and since the 1970s, Arabs have played in Israel’s national team.

Eini’s letter stated that last year, Blatter appointed Cyprus FA president, Costakis Koutsokoumnis, to go to the region as an observer and gather information on the situation.

He wrote that Koutsokoumnis reported that the IFA was not involved in determining Israeli travel policy and that FIFA, together with the IFA and the PFA, should try to help guide Israeli security agencies’ procedures to ease the situation.

(Additional reporting by Mike Collett; editing by Giles Elgood)

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Azarenka suffers match-point meltdown in Williams loss

Azarenka served for the match at 6-5 and 40-0 in the third set but fell to pieces.

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Williams fought back to 30-40 before Azarenka served three consecutive double faults to lose the game and was then defeated in the resulting tiebreak.

Williams eased through her first two matches but had a much tougher test against the hard-hitting Azarenka, ranked 31, who is rediscovering her form after an injury plagued 2014.

Both players had their serves broken in a tight first set before Williams came back from 5-1 down in the tiebreak to win 7-5.

The American looked in control as she broke in the fifth game of the next set but then lost her concentration.

She started making unforced errors and threw her racket to the ground as she went on to drop her next two service games and the set.

Azarenka, a former world number one and twice Australian Open winner, again came from a break down in the decisive set and was poised to get the better of Williams but the tension got to her in a spectacular stumble.

Williams, who is gearing up for Roland Garros where she is looking to win her 20th grand slam title, will now play the winner of Carla Suarez Navarro’s game against Ana Ivanovic.

Defending champion Maria Sharapova needed all her battling qualities to beat France’s Caroline Garcia.

The Russian edged through 6-2 4-6 7-5 after fending off a brilliant comeback from the world number 28.

Fourth seed Petra Kvitova played some of her best tennis of the week to see off Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-4 in little more than an hour, committing only eight unforced errors.

The powerful Czech will play Romania’s Irina Begu for a place in the semi-finals while Sharapova’s next opponent will be former world number one Caroline Wozniacki who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3 6-2.

In the men’s draw, David Ferrer faced a repeat of his second round match in Madrid last year but this time had no trouble crushing fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos 6-4 6-0, while sixth seed Tomas Berdych beat Richard Gasquet 7-6(3) 7-5.

(The story was refiled to make clear Azarenka’s three double faults were not all on match point)

(Reporting by Tim Hanlon in Barcelona; editing by Toby Davis)

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Denmark declines to provide area for Serbian fans in Copenhagen

In effect, that means organised groups of Serbian supporters will not be able to attend the match, although a Serbian football official said individual Serbian fans will be let in.

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To ensure safety and assume liability, each country provides ticket sales for its own fans in the qualifying matches, the DBU said. But the Serbian Football Association declined to handle tickets for its fans.

The Union of European Football Associations — European football’s administrative body — “has informed us that if the Serbian federation do not want to take responsibility for their own supporters, any conflicts would be DBU’s responsibility, both financial and disciplinary. That responsibility we do not feel we can undertake,” the DBU head of security, Henrik Kjaer Jensen, said in a statement.

The first game between the two countries was played behind closed doors in Belgrade after Serbia got a two-game crowd ban for fan violence in a previous home qualifier against Albania. That match was abandoned after a drone stunt triggered a player brawl and a pitch invasion by Serbian fans.

Well-behaved individual Serbian fans who turn up should be able to enter the stadium with no problems, Serbian FA Vice President Ivan Curkovic said.

“I don’t think the Danish authorities will actually go to those lengths and examine what language each fan speaks as they approach the stadium,” Curkovic was quoted as saying by the Belgrade newspaper Informer.

According to Curkovic, the Danish FA wants to prevent organised Serbian fan groups from entering the venue.

“We have already paid dearly for the misbehaviour of our supporters in the  past,” he said. “They keep lighting flares and setting off fireworks, but I believe that decent people who just turn up on their own and buy a ticket won’t have a problem.”

(Reporting by Ole Mikkelsen, additional reporting by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Larry King)

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Simmons optimistic after positive start with Windies

“It is a cause for optimism, you are talking about winning a test match where we weren’t fancied to do anything in the series,” Simmons told Reuters in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

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“It gives them good confidence that they were part of it. The biggest part of winning that game is what the youngsters and the team take from that.” The former Ireland coach, who played 26 tests for West Indies, clearly made a swift impact on a team which was credited with showing a renewed focus and discipline in the series.

“The key message was that there is the ability there to play test cricket and do well at test cricket and we have to start looking and making sure we know exactly what we are doing and what direction we are going and all the players are part of that,” he said. “I think application is a really big thing and it was something that we had talked about. It is a big game, a game of patience, like a chess game and everybody had to understand what application meant — and I think everyone came to the party as far as that was concerned,” added Simmons.

It was a youthful team which beat England at Kensington Oval.

The opening batting pair of Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope are 22 and 21-years-old respectively while all-rounder Jason Holder and key middle order performer Jermaine Blackwood are both 23.

With other young players emerging in the first class regional competition, there is a rare sense of positivity about the future in Caribbean cricket, but Simmons says having the raw talent isn’t enough.

“The talent becomes unimportant if you are not working. But if you have the talent and you are hard working then you are going somewhere. I think the talent is there with a lot of them, we just have to make sure that we work hard with that talent,” he said. The bowling attack has benefited from having Curtley Ambrose, who took 405 wickets in 98 tests before retiring in 2000, in his role as a consultant, with the former paceman giving animated instruction to the bowlers before key sessions. “He has been very important. He is a giant in the game when it comes to bowling and he has been huge in the dressing room with the bowlers and with everyone in general. His role is very important for the team,” said Simmons. West Indies have had false dawns throughout their near two-decades of decline and it will be tough to maintain the momentum in tests in Dominica and Jamaica against Australia next month.

“No disrespect to England but it is going to be a bigger test, especially for the batsmen. Their quality of bowling and the bowling lineup that they possess is a better one than England have. You are going to be tested more,” said Simmons.

“That is a good thing because playing the top teams early in your career teaches you what you need to be successful at this level. If they do well, they know that they are up there, if they don’t do well against Australia then they know they have things to work on.”

What has often undone progress in the past has been the frequent fall-outs between the West Indies players and their board, the WICB. Last year, after a dispute over contracts, West Indies players went home midway through a tour of India prompting a threat of legal action against the board. Simmons says he has asked his players to keep any problems they might have with the WICB out of the dressing room when it comes to business time. “The players and the board have their issues, I try to make sure that those issues don’t come into my team when it is time to go and play cricket. You try to get them to make sure that they have all their issues sorted out before it’s time to go to cricket.

“I am not involved in that, it is not part of my job to be a mediator. I can just make sure that when it comes to cricket that they are doing the right things as players and the right things as a board for the team.”

(Reporting by Simon Evans; editing by Toby Davis)

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Giants’ Cameron brave but needs awareness

Fearless Greater Western Sydney forward Jeremy Cameron could do with increasing his awareness on the field when the Giants face a physical Hawthorn side on Saturday, coach Leon Cameron says.

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Cameron has been cleared to play against Hawthorn at Spotless Stadium on Saturday, despite injuring his nose in the side’s embarrassing loss to West Coast last weekend.

The 22-year-old suffered a heavy knock in a marking contest with Will Schofield and Shannon Hurn during the first term at Domain Stadium, but played out the rest of the game.

Back at training on Wednesday ahead of the Giants’ first Sydney home match at Spotless Stadium, the talented youngster said he wasn’t sure whether his nose was actually broken, though doctors had straightened and stitched it up.

Leon Cameron praised the young star as a courageous player, but wanted him to be conscious of not turning that fearlessness into recklessness.

“I would probably say he needs to have a better awareness at times, and he knows that as well,” Leon Cameron said.

“Obviously the number one thing is for his safety, but also for the safety of his teammates.

“But it’s very hard to take that out of a player that’s just got eyes on the ball.

“And you want that because he’s a very brave player, and he just loves that sort of physicality to his game.

“But at times he needs to have more awareness of what’s around him.”

For Jeremy, to take away the more physical aspects of the game on which he thrives would dampen his ability.

“When he speaks to me about that sort of stuff it’s normally in pre-season when we’re playing against our own teammates, to make sure I don’t hurt the boys,” he half-joked.

“But that’s the way I play my football, and sometimes it’s a good way to get into the match.

“The contests are something I really like and I enjoy in football, so I’ll just keep doing them things.

“Sometimes you can get pretty big bumps with that sort of stuff so I think there’s a little bit of commonsense involved as well.”

Cameron will be in his element against Hawthorn, whose outing against North Melbourne last Saturday was so physical both captain Luke Hodge and vice-captain Jordan Lewis are both sidelined with three- and two-game bans.

“I think Hawthorn’s a very physical side, so like all the good sides – like Fremantle and the (Sydney) Swans – the Hawks definitely bring a lot of aggression to the footy field,” he said.

“They tackle hard, create a lot of pressure, and that’s why teams falter under that.

“We know they’re going to come strong, and we want to try and match that.”

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Emery ready to step up for Highlanders

Jason Emery has played only a small part in the Highlanders’ campaign so far but his versatility will be important as they prepare for three Super Rugby matches in South Africa and Australia.

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The Highlanders play the Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday morning, the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein the following weekend and then the Force in Perth before they return home to face the Chiefs in Invercargill on May 30.

Emery has played in all 10 matches, but has started only two as he has been unable to break the established midfield combination of Malakai Fekitoa and Shaun Treeby.

Remarkably, Emery, just 21, is in his third season with the Highlanders and his aim is to be ready for when the chances do come.

“I’ve been pleased with my form off the bench but I haven’t done enough to displace the regular midfielders when I’ve started,” was Emery’s frank assessment.

“I enjoy playing 12, you get a lot more ball, and there are some great players outside. You just try to feed them the ball and hope they do the rest.

“Malakai has No.13 sewn up, Shaun Treeby has been here five years and Richard Buckman has also played well but we try to feed off each other and make sure our wings (Patrick Osborne and Waisake Naholo) get some decent chances.”

Emery has been much more physical in defence this season after a “kick up the butt” from coach Jamie Joseph.

“It’s also helped that I haven’t had any shoulder injuries, which have troubled me in the past two years.

“I think I’m more mature now. I’m more comfortable around the boys and that helps me to play better. I used to be the youngster but now I’m trying to help some of the new guys who have come into the squad.”

The Lions have been vastly improved this year with six wins and five losses, and will be formidable at Ellis Park.

“They are one of the form South African teams, a really sticky team to play so we will have to work hard to acclimatise when we get over there,” Joseph said.

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Spanish RFEF to suspend competition over TV law

The law was approved in cabinet last week with the backing of the professional football league (LFP) and aims to create a more level playing field for clubs in Spain’s top two divisions by sharing out TV cash more equitably.

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However, both the RFEF, and its influential president Angel Maria Villar, and the players’ union (AFE) have come out against the new rules and the two organisations have backed halting competition right across Spanish football.

The final two matchdays in La Liga would both be affected as well as the King’s Cup final between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao at the end of the month unless agreement can be reached to avert the action.

After a board meeting on Wednesday, the federation published a statement on its website (南宁夜网.rfef.es) in which it accused the government of a “lack of respect” and complained it had not been consulted properly on the TV law.

The federation, which has been bitterly complaining in recent months of what it sees as government interference, believes the regulations will rob it of some powers and is also unhappy at what it says is the use of money from football for activities that have nothing to do with the sport.

A total of 17 regional federations would be affected by the suspension, including more than 600,000 players and 30,000 matches, the RFEF said.

“At the same time, and yet again, we reiterate the offer of dialogue to the Spanish government,” the federation added.

Spain’s government sports council (CSD) defended the TV rights law in a statement later on Wednesday responding to the RFEF’s announcement.

The law would end the current system under which rights are sold by individual clubs and would potentially pave the way for a sharp price increase.

The current system favours big teams such as Real Madrid, the world’s wealthiest club by income, and rivals Barcelona.

Poorer teams, especially those with big outstanding tax bills to pay, have called for rights to be pooled to help them make ends meet.

The CSD said the new law was an “historic achievement” and guaranteed “that Spanish football can reach levels of exploitation, profitability and sustainability that were unthinkable up to now”.

The statement added that the CSD could not understand why the RFEF and the AFE were now opposing a law they had previously supported.

“The rest of the reasons put forward today by the RFEF are a series of excuses to justify continued conflict, which is based purely on the interest of the RFEF in not returning public money and not submitting itself to audits required by law,” the statement said.

(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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Bishop announces $24m aid for Pakistan, ‘deeply concerned’ about rise of IS

Visiting Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has announced $24 million aid package for Pakistan that includes help for border areas hit by conflict and natural disasters.

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The aid package includes $8 million to help restore infrastructure damaged by floods and conflict in the restive northwest and southwest.

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Ms Bishop made the pledge during a two-day visit to Islamabad, where she’s holding talks with her Pakistani counterpart on efforts to counter militancy, the future of Afghanistan and the reported rise of the Islamic State group in the region.

“In relation to Daish, we are deeply concerned about the rise of this terrorist organisation that appears to be more dangerous, more complex, more global in its ambitions and reach than perhaps we’ve seen before,” she said.

“The declaration of a Caliphate of parts of Syria and Iraq is a rallying cry for extremists around the world,” Bishop said, referring to Islamic State by the Arabic acronym Daish.

The ultra-radical insurgents have killed at least 2,154 people off the battlefield in Syria since the end of June when the group declared a caliphate in territory it controls, a Syrian human rights monitor said in April.

The killings of mostly Syrians included deaths by beheading, stoning or gunshots in non-combat situations, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, urging the United Nations Security Council to act.

Bishop also said that Islamabad and Canberra were working closely in order to counter extremism.

“Australia is not immune. In fact we believe that there are about 100 foreign terrorist fighters from Australia currently in Iraq and Syria supporting this brutal, barbaric, murderous terrorist organization known as Daish. We have implemented a range of new laws in Australia, and are bolstering resources to our security, law-enforcing and intelligence agencies. We are doing what we can to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and finance to these organisations” she said.

It is Bishop’s first visit to Pakistan as Australia’s Foreign Minister.

She is set to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief General Raheel Sharif during her trip, to emphasize the importance of Australia’s ties with Pakistan.

 

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