China could take years to build soccer culture, says Wenger

China cannot build a soccer culture overnight by splurging on overseas players, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said.

The Chinese Super League recently witnessed two high-profile additions as Argentine striker Carlos Tevez joined Shanghai Shenhua and Brazilian midfielder Oscar joined Shanghai SIPG for huge salaries.

Media reports have suggested that Shanghai Shenhua paid 84 million euros (72.6 million pounds) for Tevez, who returned to Argentina last year after spells in England and Italy.

Roma coach lavishes praise on thoroughbred Nainggolan

MILAN AS Roma coach Luciano Spalletti lavished praise on midfielder Radja Nainggolan, describing the Belgian as a thoroughbred after his two-goal performance in the 4-0 win over Sampdoria.

"He's on another level – a great player who can play anywhere you put him," Spalletti told reporters after Thursday's Coppa Italia round of 16 tie.

"He needs space though because that's when he really comes into his element. If you pen him in, he finds it harder. When he's able to play on instinct, he becomes a real handful."

Sale Sharks sack winger Arscott for alleged information leak

Sale Sharks have terminated winger Tom Arscott's contract for allegedly leaking team information to Bristol before the club's 24-23 loss to their Premiership relegation rivals this month.

Sale had suspended Arscott, accusing him of sharing tactical information with his brother Luke, who plays at fullback for Bristol, before their match on Jan. 1.

"Sale Sharks have today terminated the contract of Tom Arscott with immediate effect following a disciplinary investigation and hearing," Sale's chief executive Jon Dorsett said in a statement.

Scotland opposes bid to increase residency qualification

The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) will oppose the proposal to increase the residency qualification period from three to five years, according to a media report on Friday.

England's Rugby Football Union appears set to impose its own five-year rule if the proposal does not get the required 75 per cent majority when the World Rugby council vote on the proposal for a global rule change in May.

Thomson finishes second in Vendee Globe

LES SABLES D'OLONNE, France British sailor Alex Thomson, aboard Hugo Boss, took second place in the solo round-the-world Vendee Globe race on Friday.

France's Armel Le Cleac'h, aboard Banque Populaire, won the race on Thursday when he beat Francois Gabart's previous record by almost four days, crossing the finishing line after 74 days, three hours, 35 minutes and 46 seconds.

Ethiopians sweep Dubai Marathon as Bekele retires

By Alexander Cornwell

DUBAI Tamirat Tola led Ethiopia's clean sweep at the Dubai Marathon on Friday after men's pre-race favourite Kenenisa Bekele retired injured.

Tola won the men's race in two hours four minutes and eleven seconds, setting a new course record and personal best, ahead of fellow Ethiopian's Mule Wasihun and Sisay Lemma in second and third place respectively.

Wawrinka overcomes Troicki to move into fourth round

MELBOURNE Fourth seed Stan Wawrinka overcame a rusty start to advance to the fourth round of the Australian Open with a 3-6 6-2 6-2 7-6(7) victory over Serbia's Viktor Troicki on Friday.

Wawrinka will now meet Andreas Seppi in the fourth round after the Italian beat Belgium's Steve Darcis 4-6 6-4 7-6(1) 7-6(2) in their third round match on Show Court 3.

The 2014 Australian Open champion was broken three times by the 29th-seeded Serb in the first set in their clash on Rod Laver Arena and committed twice as many (14) unforced errors as the 30-year-old from Belgrade.

East Timor kicked out of 2023 Asian Cup for fake documents

KUALA LUMPUR East Timor has been expelled from the 2023 Asian Cup for falsifying documents of several Brazilian-born footballers, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Friday.

The AFC launched a probe, in conjunction with FIFA, in June last year into the eligibility of certain players after qualifying matches for the 2019 Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Ewan sprints to third stage win as Porte retains lead

ADELAIDE Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan continued his incredible run of early season form when he roared clear of the pack to claim his third victory in four stages of the Tour Down Under on Friday.

The 22-year-old Orica-Scott rider was boxed in with about 300 metres remaining but burst through a gap next to the rails and crossed the line ahead of world champion Peter Sagan, who was caught up in the bunch and left his final spurt too late.

Pochettino backs Guardiola to be successful at City

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino expects counterpart Pep Guardiola to have a few tricks up his sleeves when Manchester City host the north London side on Saturday.

A run of six successive victories in the Premier League has lifted Tottenham to second in the table and, City, despite their recent struggles, are not far behind as they sit fifth after 21 games.