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In deference to pope, Italy calls off events
By wire services
Published April 3, 2005
ROME - All sports events in Italy this weekend were suspended in tribute to Pope John Paul II, who died Saturday night while thousands kept vigil in St. Peter's Square and the faithful around the world reflected on his legacy.
"It was the only decision to be taken," said Gianni Petrucci, president of Italy's Olympic Committee.
He had announced the decision hours before the 84-year-old pontiff had died.
The suspension applies to the country's top soccer league, a playoff deciding the Italian ice hockey title, basketball and volleyball league games and amateur sports. Auto racing was canceled at the Imola circuit.
The committee said it had asked all national federations to immediately suspend all scheduled events over the weekend. The coaches of soccer powers AC Milan and Juventus on Friday had urged that no games be played in view of the pope's worsening condition.
"It's fair that the sport is stopped ... there are more important things than soccer," Cagliari captain Gianfranco Zola said.
CYCLING: Armstrong sues aid
Lance Armstrong is seeking at least $125,000 from a former personal assistant who contends he found a banned substance in the cycling champion's apartment last year. In court documents filed Friday, Armstrong called Mike Anderson's claim "below the level of tabloid journalism." Armstrong, in Europe preparing for a bid at a seventh straight Tour de France title, has maintained he does not take illegal drugs.
SWEDEN 3, RUSSIA 1: Erika Holst set up the last two goals, and Sweden rallied from an early deficit to beat Russia 3-1 Saturday in the opening game of the women's world hockey championship. Defending champion Canada plays Kazakhstan Sunday while the United States faces China and Finland plays Germany. Canada has won all eight previous world championships over the last 14 years, beating the United States in every final.
SOCCER: Club ups ticket prices
Manchester United fans discovered the cost of fending off the latest takeover bid by Malcolm Glazer on Saturday, when the club announced the price of season tickets would rise up to 24 percent.
The increase is designed to keep the club more profitable, so that shareholders are less likely to accept Glazer's offer.
The Reds expect Glazer, owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to make a third official takeover attempt. NOTHING GETS PAST AMERICANS: American Brad Friedel made several standout saves to help Blackburn hold Manchester United to a 0-0 tie in the English Premier League. He blocked a pair of early shots by Wayne Rooney and Mikael Silvestre to preserve the tie. Man United also hit the post twice. Tim Howard, another American goalkeeper, started for United.
OLYMPICS: Thrower expects ban
Discus thrower Robert Fazekas intends to compete again after completing a two-year ban he expects to receive for a doping offense that cost him his Olympic gold medal.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport Friday upheld a decision by the International Olympic Committee to strip Fazekas and hammer thrower Adrian Annus of the gold medals they won at Athens. Track and field's governing body is seeking two-year bans for both athletes.
WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS: Gold medalist Natalie Coughlin pulled out of the 200-meter freestyle at the U.S. swimming trials Saturday, and three-time Olympian Amanda Beard decided not to swim this week. She was scheduled to swim in three events.... Aaron Peirsol broke his own record in the 100-meter backstroke with a 53.17.