November 14th, 2010
06:30 PM ET

Vettel triumph ushers in new era in Formula One

Champions all. 2008 and 09 F1 title winners Hamilton and Button celebrate with Vettel.
Champions all. 2008 and 09 F1 title winners Hamilton and Button celebrate with Vettel.

Fernando Alonso might have been going for a third F1 championship, and it was well within his grasp. But he was almost a forgotten man at the finish in Abu Dhabi.

A disastrous race meant that the Spaniard trailed home in a useless seventh place, and as the 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton and the '09 winner Jensen Button sprayed a delirious Sebastian Vettel with champagne, Alonso's last title ('06) must have felt like a long time ago.

It has been a spectacular sporting year for Spain, but this one eluded them. And while Spaniards and Ferrari fanatics will be crushed, few others will have sympathy for a driver and a team that many said cheated its way to the top of the standings.

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Filed under:  Motorsport
November 11th, 2010
05:30 PM ET

Should referees be relegated too?

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has proposed a shake-up of the refereeing system in England. (Getty Images)
Stoke manager Tony Pulis has proposed a shake-up of the refereeing system in England. (Getty Images)

It's a brilliant idea - a league table for referees, with promotion and relegation at the end of each season so that the English Premier League gets the best-performing officials.

After reading about the proposition by Stoke City manager Tony Pulis, I was surprised to learn that there is no pecking order in terms of who gets what game, as it seems like I see Howard Webb on my television almost every time one of the big-four clubs takes the field.

However, according to the Professional Game Match Officials board, which looks after the referees, there is no such thing as a hierarchy among top-fight officials. Instead, a list of names for all matches is drawn from a select group that is sent out every Monday. So, technically, the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United do not get the best of the best every week.

At present, clubs and managers do get the opportunity to assess officials after every game, but Pulis wants to take it a step further by giving the clubs the chance to vote on officials at the end each season, with the lowest-ranked officials demoted to the Championship (the English second division) - from which the top refs would become their replacements.

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Filed under:  Football
November 9th, 2010
06:38 PM ET

Cricket's authorities need to get a grip – and quickly!

Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider caused a furor by leaving the team hotel and flying to London on Monday.
Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider caused a furor by leaving the team hotel and flying to London on Monday.

Forget Benjamin Button. The curious case of Zulqarnain Haider is far stranger – and his plight has piled the pressure on cricket’s governing body to stamp out corruption as quickly as possible.

Here is a young cricketer who appears to have given up his dreams of an international career because he became fearful for his safety and that of his family.

The big, unanswered question, on a day of confused and conflicting reports, is ... why?

If you take the story at face value, Zulqarnain claims to have been approached by men in Dubai, speaking in Urdu but not with Pakistani accents, who tried to get the player to fake his performance during matches in return for money.

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Filed under:  Cricket
November 8th, 2010
11:05 AM ET

EPL prophecy: Liverpool top four and United for title?

CNN's Pedro Pinto predicts Manchester United will win the English Premier League title this season.
CNN's Pedro Pinto predicts Manchester United will win the English Premier League title this season.

The English Premier League season is shaping up exactly as expected and in my mind there is still no doubt that Manchester United will be crowned champions next May.

That's not to say that many of the events which occurred in the early part of the season were foreseen, it would have taken the fortune-telling abilities of Apollo to foresee such happenings. For example, Liverpool dropping into the relegation zone or Wayne Rooney coming within an inch of leaving the hallowed turf of Manchester United, were unbelievable to pundits and commentators across the board.

However, at a time when teams have completed the first quarter of the season, it is starting to become evident who are the contenders, and the pretenders.

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Filed under:  Football
November 5th, 2010
04:07 PM ET

Is Ferrari's Fernando the best on the grid?

Fernando Alonso celebrates after winning the first ever Korean Grand Prix (Getty Images).
Fernando Alonso celebrates after winning the first ever Korean Grand Prix (Getty Images).

As a thrilling Formula One season hurtles towards the finishing line, Fernando Alonso sits in pole position for the world championship with only two more races to navigate.

The Spaniard can seal a third world championship at this Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix after his consistency and late-season form have propelled him to the top of the pile.

It is hardly surprising that a driver of Alonso’s standing is now within touching distance of Formula One’s grand prize, it is the minimum requirement when representing a team as rich in heritage as Ferrari.

But it is a credit to his ability as a driver that he has been able to overhaul the super-fast Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, clinching a victory last weekend after the Australian and the German both failed to finish in Korea.

It raises an interesting question.

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November 2nd, 2010
07:27 PM ET

Is Giants' World Series win bad for baseball?

Cody Ross celebrates after scoring on a three-run hit by Giants teammate Edgar Renteria in Game 5 (Getty Images).
Cody Ross celebrates after scoring on a three-run hit by Giants teammate Edgar Renteria in Game 5 (Getty Images).

The Fall Classic came to an end Monday night, with the San Francisco Giants defeating the Texas Rangers in five games to claim their first World Series title since 1954. The Giants not only ended a 56-year wait for baseball’s ultimate prize, but will notably bring the trophy to San Francisco for the very first time, having been based in New York for each of their previous five triumphs.

Although coming short at the final hurdle, the Texas Rangers also had a significant first this postseason as they reached their maiden World Series in team history. That’s a massive achievement for a franchise that was founded in 1961 but had never won a playoff series prior to this season. The Rangers got that monkey off their backs by ousting AL East duo Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees on the way to the finals.

In spite of the Cinderella stories put on display by both the Giants and Rangers, many baseball pundits will argue that in order to be most successful, the sport needs the big-market teams to shine come playoff time. For example, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox pull in major media attention whenever they play and assure TV networks of good viewership.

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Filed under:  Baseball
November 1st, 2010
10:59 AM ET

Ask Benitez your questions ...

Rafa Benitez, Inter Milan's Spanish coach faces a testing time in his first season.
Rafa Benitez, Inter Milan's Spanish coach faces a testing time in his first season.


CNN's Pedro Pinto will interview Inter Milan coach Rafael Benitez on Thursday 4 November. Leave your questions for the Spanish manager at the bottom of the blog.

November could be a crucial month for Inter Milan and coach Rafa Benitez. By the end of it, the Nerazzurri will either have built the necessary momentum to have a successful season or see debilitating cracks appear that could lead to a premature ending of the Spaniard’s tenure in Italy. That's how finely balanced former Liverpool coaches popularity is right now.

This week Inter will play English side Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Hardly an intimidating venue for a club that has won three European Cups and has graced the greatest grounds on the continent in recent years, but the Champions League match against Spurs could nonetheless be a decisive one in Group A.

If they win, the defending champions will guarantee first place, therefore ensuring an easier draw for the first knock-out stage. However, a defeat could see them overtaken by Tottenham in the standings and facing the embarrassment of early elimination from the competition.

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