Prosecutors would swap prison for fine in Messi tax fraud case - press

MADRID Spain's state prosecutor would accept substituting a fine of 255,000 euros (224,554 pounds) for the 21-month prison sentence handed down by a Barcelona court to soccer player Lionel Messi for tax fraud, Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia reported on Friday.

Messi and his father Jorge were found guilty by a Catalan court last July on three counts of tax fraud between 2007 and 2009 to the tune of 4.1 million euros on image rights and were also fined 2 million euros.

Svitolina suffers injury scare ahead of Wimbledon

World number five Elina Svitolina has expressed fears that a foot injury that contributed to her Aegon Classic defeat to Italian Camila Giorgi in Birmingham on Thursday could lead to her withdrawal from Wimbledon.

The in-form Ukrainian won the Italian Open in May and lost in the French Open quarter-finals earlier this month but has never progressed past the second round at the All England Club.

Pressure nothing new for All Blacks, says Read

By Greg Stutchbury
| AUCKLAND

AUCKLAND All Blacks captain Kieran Read says the team do not feel burdened by the phenomenal level of success they have enjoyed and, like the entire country, they expect nothing less than victory in their series against the British and Irish Lions.

The All Blacks enter Saturday's first test as favourites, having not lost at Eden Park since 1994, a run of 38 matches. They have also won 46 successive games in New Zealand dating back to a 2009 defeat to South Africa.

CA offer players new deal in bid to end pay dispute

MELBOURNE Cricket Australia (CA) has offered players a revised pay deal in a bid to end a bitter dispute over a revenue-sharing model with just a week to go before the current agreement expires.

Australia's top cricketers face being locked out unless a new memorandum of understanding is struck between CA and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) before the end of the month.

Kohli steers clear of 'respected' Kumble's departure

Virat Kohli was in no mood to share any details regarding his role in the sudden resignation of India cricket coach Anil Kumble, the captain instead preferring to focus on the respect he has for the country's leading test wicket-taker.

Kumble, whose original contract expired at this month's Champions Trophy, was widely expected to be handed a new deal to continue in the role after a highly successful year in charge but his tenure came to an abrupt end earlier this week.

Arsenal's Asano rejoins Stuttgart on loan

Arsenal forward Takuma Asano will return to VfB Stuttgart for a second successive season on loan, the English Premier League club said on Thursday.

The 22-year-old Japan international joined Arsenal in July last year and was loaned out to Stuttgart shortly after for the 2016-17 campaign, where he scored four goals in 26 league appearances as the club won promotion to the top tier.

Coleman sizzles in 100m heats as Gatlin keeps pace

By Gene Cherry
| SACRAMENTO, California

SACRAMENTO, California Christian Coleman displayed the kind of speed that helped him clock the fastest time of the year when he led 100 metres qualifying at the U.S. national championships on Thursday as 35-year-old Justin Gatlin kept pace with the youngsters.

Coleman, who has clocked a season-best 9.82 seconds, slowed down noticeably in his heat but still ran 9.93 on a blazing afternoon where track temperatures topped 43 degrees Celsius at a meet that doubles up as world championships trials.

Read recovered and raring to go against Lions

By Greg Stutchbury
| AUCKLAND

AUCKLAND Kieran Read has been training without any issues for the last two weeks and the All Blacks skipper says his repaired broken thumb will be able to stand the rigours of the first test against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday.

Read broke his right thumb almost two months ago in South Africa and underwent surgery. He has not played since but the number eight believes his inactivity will not be a factor in Auckland.

All Blacks vanquisher Murray thinks Lions can storm Eden Park

By Nick Mulvenney

AUCKLAND - Conor Murray believes that if any team can end the All Blacks' 23-year unbeaten run at Eden Park it is the British and Irish Lions side that will line up against them on Saturday.

The world champions have not lost at their 50,000-seater fortress since France's Jean-Luc Sadourny scored the "try from the end of the world" to claim a famous victory in 1994.

Something pretty special will probably be needed for the Lions to end New Zealand's streak in the first of three tests but Murray thinks the Lions might just be the side to produce it.

Australia's credibility on the line in Italy test

SYDNEY With rugby union in Australia suffering a crisis of confidence, nothing less than a handsome victory for the Wallabies will suffice when they take on Italy in Brisbane on Saturday.

A home defeat at the hands of Scotland last weekend saw the twice world champions drop to fourth in the rankings behind New Zealand, England and Ireland, adding to a bank of dark cloud hanging over the game Down Under.

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