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Page 47 stories Messi retires from international football Lionel Messi has retired from international duty after missing in a penalty shootout as Argentina lost a…

Page 47 stories

Messi retires from international football

Lionel Messi has retired from international duty after missing in a penalty shootout as Argentina lost a fourth major final in nine years.

“For me, the national team is over,” he said after defeat by Chile in the Copa America final. “I’ve done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion.”

Messi, 29, has won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues with Spanish side Barcelona.

But his only major international honour is Olympic gold at the 2008 Games.

As well as losing two Copa America finals on penalties to Chile, Messi was in the Argentina side beaten 1-0 by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final.

The forward, who was been awarded the Ballon d’Or five times, was also on the losing side against Brazil in the 2007 Copa America final.

“It’s been four finals, I tried,” added Messi, who made his debut for Argentina in 2005 and has played 113 times for his country.

“It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn’t get it, so I think it’s over.

“I think this is best for everyone. First of all for me, then for everyone.

“I think there’s a lot of people who want this, who obviously are not satisfied, as we are not satisfied reaching a final and not winning it.

“It’s very hard, but the decision is taken. Now I will not try more and there will be no going back.”

Russian athletes appeal over Olympics ban

A total of 67 Russian athletes have lodged appeals against their bans from this summer’s Rio Olympics.

The Russian Athletics Federation is barred from international competition because of allegations of state-sponsored doping and cover-ups.

Clean athletes must pass extra doping checks and meet strict criteria for the IAAF to allow them to take part at this summer’s Games.

But some athletes have now appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Confirming the appeal, Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko did not name the 67 athletes.

However, 2004 and 2008 Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva may be on the list because she had already announced plans to challenge the ruling.

The IAAF set out the “exceptional eligibility” criteria for athletes that includes having their clean doping record verified by credible agencies – ruling out their own authorities.

Because the vast majority of Russian athletes train at home, the IAAF has already suggested “very few” will be deemed eligible.

The ban has been described as “legally indefensible” by the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, Alexander Zhukov.

The IAAF insists any Russian athletes cleared to compete in Rio must do so on a “neutral” basis and not under the Russian flag, as International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach had suggested.

Karlovic through to Wimbledon second round

Towering Croatian Ivo Karlovic, once pidgeon-holed as a serving machine with few other buttons to press, showed there is more to his game than aces at Wimbledon yesterday.

The 37-year-old, one of a small band of 30-somethings in the men’s draw, served 26 untouchable deliveries to dispatch teenager and compatriot Borna Coric 7-6(8), 7-6(7), 6-4.

But the second oldest man in the draw demonstrated that he is not just a one-trick pony.

His volleying was McEnroe-esque at times and his unsung groundstrokes, especially a grass-hugging slice, were rock solid when the 19-year-old Coric dragged him into baseline rallies.

Karlovic’s movement too belied that of a man who at 2.11 metres loomed large on the tight confines of Court Eight, drawing gasps from spectators who had never seen him close up.

Even when he was in trouble, trailing 2-6 in the second set tiebreaker, the priceless commodity of experience came to his rescue.

He slammed down an ace, another serve winner, and produced a couple of textbook volleys as he surged back to snatch a decisive two-set lead.

Muirfield wants new ballot on female members

Muirfield has announced it wants to hold a fresh ballot to decide whether to admit female members.

The Scottish venue opted against lifting its ban on women in May and was told it would not stage another Open Championship as a result.

The decision also provoked a storm of criticism, with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon calling the club’s stance “simply indefensible”.

Muirfield hopes the new vote will take place by the end of the year.

The club needed a two thirds majority to amend its rules on admission when it held its initial ballot on 19 May.

However, only 64% voted in favour of allowing women members, which meant that no changes could be implemented.

Club captain Henry Fairweather said the outcome had “damaged” the reputation of Muirfield and needed to be overturned.

He said “a clear and decisive vote in favour of admitting women as members is required to enable us to begin the task of restoring the reputation of the club”.

Muirfield last hosted the Open in 2013 but was told it would never stage the competition again by the R&A, which jointly governs world golf with the United States Golf Association.

The R&A said it could not stage the event “at a venue that does not admit women as members” but added it might alter its view if the club changed its stance.

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