Winds of Scandal Buffet Cricketers

The International Cricket Council is investigating reports of a betting and match-fixing scandal in Pakistan, ICC President Jagmohan Dalmiya said this week.

Pakistan's top cricketers, including skipper Wasim Akram, have been accused of betting and fixing matches.

Dalmiya said the judicial commission looking into the reports has assured the council that it will produce a report.

Dalmiya also said the India-Pakistan series scheduled for Toronto in September could be held provided both the hostile neighbors agree. Relations between the two countries chilled following fierce fighting along their frontier in the Himalayan state of Jammu-Kashmir in India.


Weighing In on United

Kate Hoey took over as the first female British sports minister and immediately waded into the nation's most contentious sporting issue: Manchester United's participation in the FA Cup.

Hoey said Friday there should be a way that Manchester United -- winner of the Premier League, the FA Cup and the European Champions Cup last season -- could represent Europe in the World Club Championships in Brazil in January and defend the FA Cup.

Despite an outcry from fans and others who complain that United's absence will detract from the 127-year-old domestic Cup competition, team officials have ruled out a Cup defense.

United accepted an English Football Association offer of a one-year exemption from the Cup. The FA made the offer after deciding United's participation in the FIFA-backed tournament in Brazil would bolster England's bid to host soccer's World Cup in 2006.

Hoey said she was confident a

compromise could be reached, but Manchester United officials reacted furiously to her comments.

Chief executive Martin Edwards pointed out United initially said they could not play in Brazil and wanted to play in the FA Cup. The club changed tack only under pressure from ex-minister Tony Banks and the FA.

"For a new minister to tell us we are shabby when we were acting to please her predecessor. ... I suggest she goes away and does her homework properly and the government gets its own house in order," Edwards said.

South Africa

Quotas for Rugby

The South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) is set to impose minimum quotas of black players in the Currie Cup competition next month after losing patience with provincial unions.

Chief executive Rian Oberholzer told Reuters on Tuesday that SARFU would take the step at next month's executive committee meeting, carrying through a threat made to unions in June. Provinces had been told quotas would be imposed if they did not show a commitment to transforming the largely white sport by fielding black players.

"They are forcing us to bring in quotas," said Oberholzer. "It seems to us that certain provinces are playing the game but others have taken the position, `Let's wait until SARFU forces us.' "

South Africa's nine northern provinces will be required to field one black player in every Currie Cup game with the five southern provinces directed to use two black players.

The majority of provinces have conformed to, and in some cases exceeded SARFU's guidelines fielding as many as six black players. But others, such as Free State and Natal, have almost completely ignored them.


Engquist Returns

Sweden's Olympic and world champion hurdler Ludmila Engquist, who has been battling breast cancer, made a winning return to the track after a 13-month absence on Friday. She delighted her home crowd by winning the 100-meter hurdles at the Stockholm Grand Prix in 12.68 seconds.

Engquist, who underwent surgery in April and has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment since then, said she had not expected to return with such a good time.

"I just had one thought and that was to run a good race," she said. "I was afraid I couldn't handle the pressure from the crowd but today they were a big help.

"The first 10 meters didn't feel good, but when I saw I had a chance to win, I really wanted it."

The 35-year-old Russian-born Engquist said she planned "a couple of more races" before taking part in the world championships in Seville, Spain, later this month.


Soccer Qualifying

The first leg of the UEFA Champions League's second qualifying round was played Wednesday, and many of the favorites took an important step toward August's final qualifying round. The second legs will be played Wednesday. The home teams are listed first in the results below:

n FC Haka (Finland) 1, Glasgow Rangers (Scotland) 4; winner plays Parma (Italy)

n Dnepr Transmash Mogilev (Belarus) 0, AIK Solna (Sweden) 1; winner plays AEK Athens (Greece)

n FC Liteks (Bulgaria) 4, Widzew Lodz (Poland) 1; winner plays Fiorentina (Italy)

n Anorthosis Famagusta (Cyprus) 2, Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia) 1; winner plays Hertha Berlin (Germany)

n Dinamo Tbilisi (Georgia) 2, Zimbru Chisinau (Moldova) 1; winner plays PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands)

n Rapid Bucharest (Romania) 3, FC Skonto (Latvia) 3; winner plays Chelsea (England)

n CSKA Moscow (Russia) 2, Molde FK (Norway) 0; winner plays Real Mallorca (Spain)

n Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine) 2, FK Zalgiris (Lithuania) 0; winner plays Aalborg (Denmark)

n Besiktas (Turkey) 1, Hapoel Haifa (Israel) 1; winner plays Valencia (Spain)

n Sloga Jugomagnat (Macedonia) 0, Brondby IF (Denmark) 1; winner plays Boavista (Portugal)

n FK Partizan (Yugoslavia) 3, NK Rijeka (Croatia) 1; winner plays Spartak Moscow (Russia)

n NK Maribor (Slovenia) 5, KRC Genk (Belgium) 1; winner plays Olympique Lyonnais (France)

n Rapid Vienna (Austria) 3, Valletta (Malta) 0; winner plays Galatasaray (Turkey)

n IBV Vestmannaeyjar (Iceland) 0, MTK Budapest (Hungary) 2; winner plays Croatia Zagreb (Croatia)

Two of the third qualifying round pairings already have been decided. Sturm Graz (Austria) will play Servette (Switzerland), and Teplice (Czech Republic) will play Borussia Dortmund (Germany). The third-round matches will be played Aug. 10 or 11 and Aug. 24 or 25. The winners in the third qualifying round will join the 16 teams that already have qualified for the Champions League group stage.