Knight of Ardor

Manchester United Manager Alex Ferguson was to receive a knighthood when Queen Elizabeth II presented her honors list yesterday.

Ferguson, a 57-year-old Scot who coached Manchester United to an unprecedented sweep of Premier League, FA Cup and European Champions Cup titles this season, was a late addition to the list, the Daily Mail and Sun reported Friday.

Both newspapers, calling the move highly unusual, said Prime Minister Tony Blair added Ferguson's name to the list after United won the Champions Cup with a 2-1 comeback victory over Bayern Munich last month.

A former shipyard worker in Glasgow, Ferguson has won 12 major trophies since joining United 13 years ago: five league titles, four FA Cups, one League Cup, one Cup Winners Cup and the European Champions Cup.

South Africa

Rugby Controversy

South Africa's rugby provinces have been given two months to prove their commitment to selecting black players or face the introduction of quotas to the country's premier competition, Reuters reported.

The South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) executive issued the warning on Friday because teams selected for the Currie Cup remain white. The controversy came to a head in the opening round of the competition last weekend. Most of the 12 teams selected all-white teams, discarding black players who had appeared in the early season Vodacom Cup.

The Vodacom Cup runs in conjunction with the Super 12 series and has successfully applied quotas for two years. The five "southern" provinces -- where there is a long history of black rugby -- have to field three black players at all times. The rest field two.

But when the Currie Cup teams were announced, black players such as Lions winger Jaco Booysen and center MacDonald Masina were omitted.


Re-Making Their Pitch

Brazilian politicians announced a $34 million plan to refurbish the world-famous Maracana Stadium, which has been reduced to a rundown arena permeated on match days by the stench of urine and stale beer.

The Rio de Janeiro state government, which owns the historic but crumbling stadium, said the reforms were promised by Governor Anthony Garotinho and the Brazilian government's sports and tourism minister, Rafael Greca.

"Maracana will be the best stadium in the world. We will give the stadium the grandness it deserves, as it is a symbol of Rio and, with all certainty, will be transformed into a national symbol," Garotinho said in a statement issued by the state government.

Garotinho said the stadium would become an all-seater by January, when Brazil will host the inaugural FIFA world club championship, and the remodeling would be completed by July 2000, when the stadium will have its 50th anniversary. Brazil also is bidding to host the 2006 World Cup.

Maracana was built for the 1950 World Cup, when a record-breaking crowd of more than 200,000 squeezed in for the final match between Brazil and Uruguay.


Yagudin Dismissed

Two-time world figure skating champion Alexei Yagudin is under a doctor's care in his native Russia for a drinking problem after being dismissed from a skating tour. Yagudin, 19, was removed from the Champions on Ice tour after a show in Denver on May 27.

"The doctors wanted to observe Alexei to see if it was a problem with alcoholism or just a case of a young man partying too much," Elizabeth DeSevo, Yagudin's publicist, said Friday. "They determined he does not have a problem with alcoholism, but he needs to tone it down."

Yagudin had been training in Freehold, N.J., with coach Tatiana Tarasova. But Tarasova recently returned to Russia for treatment of a heart condition. DeSevo said Yagudin will remain in Russia while Tarasova is hospitalized.

Before joining the Champions on Ice tour in the spring, Yagudin successfully defended his world title.

But tour promoter Tom Collins dismissed him after Yagudin made some inappropriate remarks to a security guard in New York, then offended another media member at the show in Denver.

Collins told Yagudin's agent, Michael Carlisle, that the skater would be welcomed back if his behavior improves. Collins is particularly sensitive about underage drinking on the tour. Oksana Baiul, the 1994 Olympic champion who has had several bouts with alcohol abuse, is a regular on the tour.


Celtic Pride

On Thursday, Premier League team Glasgow Celtic, which saw its arch rival, Rangers, sweep national honors this season, turned to two British soccer legends to restore the club to its winning ways. Former Celtic and Liverpool star Kenny Dalglish, who has also managed Liverpool, Blackburn and Newcastle of the English Premier League, was named director of football operations. Former English international John Barnes, who also spent most of his career with Liverpool, was appointed head coach. The pair will take up their appointments immediately. Jozef Venglos, who led Celtic to the league title in 1998, will become the club's European technical adviser.


Hall Inductees

NHL player Johnny Bower, quarterback Bernie Faloney, synchronized swimmer Sylvie Frechette, pitcher John Hiller and hockey executive Marcel Aubut were selected for induction into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

Bower, below, already a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, is a four-time winner of the Stanley Cup as a goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs and a two-time winner of the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender.

Faloney played 13 years in the CFL with Edmonton and Hamilton, appearing in nine Grey Cups and winning four as well as earning Schenley and Jeff Russel Awards for outstanding performance.

Montreal's Frechette won a solo gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, but had to wait 18 months to get it because of a judging error. Frechette won a silver medal at the 1996 Olympics in the team event.

Hiller spent 15 seasons as a relief pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and was able to come back to the game after a heart attack in 1971. He established a major league record of 38 saves in 1978 that stood for 10 years.

Aubut, the former Quebec Nordiques general manager, will be inducted as a builder. He was the first French-speaking Canadian to become a prominent executive in North America. He was part of the merger of the World Hockey Association and the NHL and spearheaded Rendezvous 1987 in Quebec City.

CAPTION: Manager Alex Ferguson exulted after Manchester United topped Bayern Munich in Champions Cup final in May.

CAPTION: Renowned Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro is set for a $34 million facelift by next year.