Brazil hammer hapless Haiti 7-1 in Copa America massacre

Philippe Coutinho grabbed a hat-trick as Brazil ramped up their Copa America campaign with a resounding 7-1 win over a hapless Haiti on Wednesday.

Renato Augusto scored a brace and substitutes Lucas Lima and Gabriel also goaled for Brazi, while James Marcelin put in Haiti's consolation goal.

The scoreline -- identical to Brazil's nightmare 7-1 defeat by Germany in the World Cup semi-final two years ago -- takes Brazil to the top of Group B with four points, ahead of the evening's second game between Peru and Ecuador.

Spotlight back on the pitch for expanded Euros

LONDON Bigger than ever, the European Championship kicks off in Paris on Friday with a four-week feast of football that promises to elevate the game above the corruption scandals and security fears that have overshadowed its build-up.

All eyes will be on hosts France when they get the ball rolling against Romania in the Stade de France -- 210 days after suicide bombers at the same venue triggered a night of horror across the capital which killed 130 people.

It should have been a proud moment for former UEFA president Michel Platini.

Les Bleus open Euro 2016 hoping to shake off the blues

PARIS France kick off their Euro 2016 campaign against Romania on Friday with the host nation desperate for a ray of sunshine after being hit by strikes, floods and scandals in the build-up.

Protests against a labour law and torrential rain that has caused the Seine river to rise to levels not seen in decades have created a bleak backdrop to the tournament where France will start as favourites.

German Bundesliga media rights to be awarded

FRANKFURT Germany's football league will announce on Thursday who has won the television rights to Bundesliga football for the next four seasons, after an auction it hoped would double its revenues to as much as 4 billion euros ($4.56 billion).

The rules were set this time to ensure that Rupert Murdoch's Sky could not repeat its acquisition of all the live media rights for the top Bundesliga league, in a move likely to have generated interest from more parties, boosting proceeds.

All Blacks' Hansen names just two uncapped players to face Wales

WELLINGTON Coach Steve Hansen named just two uncapped players in his squad for the All Blacks' test against Wales on Saturday, their first match since the team lost six stalwarts following last year's World Cup triumph in England.

Openside flanker Ardie Savea and centre Seta Tamanivalu will start on the bench but could make their test debuts at Eden Park, with Hansen preferring to select players he had brought through in the previous World Cup cycle to replace his retired veterans.

Jamaican sprinter Carter's 'B' sample tests positive

KINGSTON Jamaican Olympic relay gold medallist Nesta Carter's "B" sample for the use of a banned stimulant at the 2008 Beijing Games has returned positive, two sources familiar with the case told Reuters on Wednesday.

The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) said last Friday in a statement it had received notification from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that one of its competitors had returned an adverse analytical result but did not name the athlete.

Neither Carter nor his agent has responded to repeated queries for a comment on the positive test.

Sparkling Quaresma upstages two-goal Ronaldo in Estonia rout

LISBON Mercurial forward Ricardo Quaresma scored twice and set up three more goals in a sparkling individual performance as Portugal demolished Estonia 7-0 in their final friendly before Euro 2016 on Wednesday.

The charismatic but erratic forward, given a chance to stake his place in the team for France when he replaced Nani in the starting line-up, even upstaged Cristiano Ronaldo who scored twice before being taken off at halftime.

Belgium boast most valuable squad at Euro 2016, says study

LONDON Belgium will boast the most valuable squad at Euro 2016, with their 23 players worth over 50 million pounds ($72.54 million) more than world champions Germany, according to a study.

Marc Wilmots's squad are worth 318.9 million pounds, according to an analysis by bookmakers Profit Accumulator, which looked at the most recent transfer fees paid for the 23 players representing each nation at the tournament in France.

That puts Belgium well ahead of the next most valuable squads from Germany (264.5 million), England (189.7m) and France (183m).

Jones to reach Wales century against All Blacks

LONDON Alun Wyn Jones will make his 100th appearance for Wales on Saturday after being named in Warren Gatland's side to face New Zealand in their opening test.

Jones, 30, will become the fifth Wales player to reach a century in the first of three tests against the world champions.

Gatland made five changes to his side from Wales's last outing, a 27-13 defeat to England last week, with captain Sam Warburton returning from injury alongside Gethin Jenkins, Ken Owens, Bradley Davies and Jonathan Davies. 

Euro 2016 organisers say not aware of any specific security threat

PARIS The organisers of the Euro 2016 football championship fully realise the security challenges in holding the tournament, but are not aware of any precise threat, their head said on Wednesday.

More than 90,000 police, soldiers and private security agents will be deployed across France to ensure safety for the June 10-July 10 competition.

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