Controversial no-call lifts France over Ireland, into World Cup
France qualified for its fourth consecutive World Cup when officials missed an obvious hand ball by Thierry Henry that led directly to William Gallas’ overtime goal in a 1-1 tie against Ireland on Wednesday in Saint-Denis, France.
Greece, Slovenia, Portugal, Algeria and Uruguay also advanced to next year’s tournament on the final day of qualifying, completing the field for the event in South Africa. The 32 nations will be drawn into eight groups Dec. 4 in Cape Town, and the first World Cup on the African continent opens June 11.
With help from Swedish referee Martin Hansson, who failed to call the hand ball, France avoided a penalty-kicks shootout and won the home-and-home, total-goals playoff 2-1. The French had posted a 1-0 victory in Dublin on Saturday.
The game appeared headed to penalty kicks when Florent Malouda sent a free kick to Henry at the post to the right of goalkeeper Shay Given in the 103rd minute. Henry got between defender Paul McShane and Given, stopped the ball with his left hand, then used his hand again and poked the ball with his outstretched right foot in front of the net.
Gallas then headed the ball in, and France held on in the final seven minutes of overtime.
McMurray takes Sprint Cup seat with Earnhardt Ganassi
Jamie McMurray was hired to drive the No. 1 Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
The hiring has long been in the works and gives one of the last remaining Sprint Cup seats for 2010 to McMurray. It also reunites McMurray with car owner Chip Ganassi, who gave the driver his first Cup ride in 2002.
Also: Reigning Formula One champion Jenson Button signed with McLaren to partner with Lewis Hamilton, giving the English team a potent lineup for next season featuring the most recent titleholders. McLaren said Button signed a “multiyear deal” after leaving constructors champion Brawn GP in the wake of its takeover by Mercedes-Benz this week.
Woman faces more charges in Pitino extortion probe
The woman accused of trying to extort money from Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino was charged with retaliating against the coach by falsely claiming he raped her.
A federal grand jury in Louisville, Ky., brought four new criminal charges against Karen Cunagin Sypher, including retaliation against a witness.
The FBI, Louisville police and prosecutors have said there was no basis for her rape allegations. She said the coach raped her in a criminal complaint filed after she was indicted in May on charges of trying to extort money from Pitino.
Also: UNR football player Duke Williams was suspended for Saturday’s game at New Mexico State after he was arrested last weekend for minor in possession of alcohol.
Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault confirmed the suspension of the freshman safety. Williams has starred on special teams this year and had been garnering more playing time in the secondary.
Selig planning to tighten baseball playoff schedule
Baseball plans to cut down on off days during the postseason next year.
Commissioner Bud Selig said he’s working on tightening the 2010 playoff schedule so there will be fewer gaps between games.
Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia criticized the current playoff format after the Yankees and Angels played only eight times in 20 days going into Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.
Selig also said he would continue to discuss instant replay. It’s not expected to be a major topic when owners have a full meeting today in Chicago, even though there were several missed calls by umpires during the postseason.
Also: Fifteen months after the Beijing Olympics, Bahraini middle-distance runner Rashid Ramzi was stripped of his 1,500-meter gold medal, and four other athletes were disqualified because of doping at the games.
The International Olympic Committee took action against five athletes who tested positive in April in retroactive tests for CERA, an advanced version of the blood-boosting drug EPO. Ramzi was the only gold medalist from Beijing caught using performance-enhancing drugs.
Portland Trail Blazers forward Travis Outlaw had surgery to repair a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot. The team said he will be sidelined three to five months.
The LPGA Tour announced a 2010 schedule that has 24 tournaments — 13 of them in the United States — to give the tour its smallest schedule in nearly 40 years.
The Washington Capitals expect left wing Quintin Laing to miss up to six weeks with a broken jaw.