Socceroos heading to Sharjah to meet China

China’s inability to play World Cup qualifiers at home means it will ‘host’ the Socceroos in Sharjah later this month.

The Socceroos will return to the Middle East following their Sydney clash against Saudi Arabia, with confirmation their World Cup qualifier against China will be played in the United Arab Emirates.

The Australians will play on home soil for the first time since October 2019 when they host the Saudis – who top Group B in the third round of AFC World Cup qualifying – at CommBank Stadium on Thursday week.

However, while Covid-19 travel restrictions have been lifted to allow the Socceroos to again play at home, it’s a different case in China.

As a result, the Chinese national team must continue to play its home matches on foreign soil.

China will “host” the Socceroos in the early hours of the morning of Wednesday, November 17 (AEDT) at the 18,000-capacity Sharjah Stadium.

The Socceroos will have no qualms about playing the match in the UAE after winning a host of games in the Middle East in the past two years.

However, the timing of the match against China isn’t good for A-League champions Melbourne City, who start their title defence on Friday, November 19 at AAMI Park against Brisbane Roar.

City’s star attackers, Mat Leckie, Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout, are all expected to be named in Graham Arnold’s latest Socceroos squad, set to be announced on Friday.

Any City players chosen in the squad face a tight turnaround in their bid to play in the opening match of the A-League season.

City faced a similar situation in last season’s finals series, but managed to defy the absence of Maclaren, Curtis Good and Connor Metcalfe – who were on Socceroos duty in Kuwait – to win the title.

Socceroos coach Arnold arrived back in Australia on Monday after a stint of almost six months overseas.

Sydney FC defender Rhyan Grant and Melbourne Victory attacker Chris Ikonomidis – the only two A-League players in the Socceroos squad for last month’s World Cup qualifiers against Oman and Japan – are both out of quarantine and training with their clubs.

The Socceroos, whose 11-game winning streak was ended by Japan, are in second place in Group B, three points behind Saudi Arabia, who have a perfect record of 12 points from four matches.

China has just three points from four matches, with only Vietnam behind them on the Group B ladder.

The top two teams from Group A and Group B will automatically qualify for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Originally published as The Socceroos’ road to next year’s World Cup will take them to Sharjah to meet China

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Anthony Mundine faces court over Bunnings mask breach allegations: Covid-19 restrictions

Retired boxer Anthony Mundine was back in court on Wednesday over allegations he entered a Bunnings store without a mask.

Retired boxer Anthony Mundine has appeared in court over allegations he breached public health orders by flouting mask rules at a Sydney hardware store.

“The Man” was in July fined for allegedly entering a Bunnings store in southwestern Sydney without wearing a mask and refusing to scan a QR code at the store’s entrance.

Mr Mundine claimed that he had an exemption to not wear a mask and made a purchase before leaving.

Detectives attached to Campsie Police Area Command launched an investigation after they were called to the Bunnings Kingsgrove store on July 20.

Officers then visited a home in South Hurstville where they spoke to Mr Mundine and issued him a $1000 fine for breaking Covid rules.

He was charged with not complying with a noticed direction and his matter was briefly mentioned in Bankstown Local Court on Wednesday.

Mr Mundine did not appear in court and his lawyer John Giang appeared via videolink and was granted a six-week adjournment.

No plea was entered on Mr Mundine’s behalf.

Mr Mundine was fined three times by police during July for allegedly breaching public health orders.

The high-profile and outspoken former athlete was first slapped with a $1000 fine for allegedly flying from Sydney to Ballina on July 9 during the citywide lockdown.

“Officers from Richmond Police District issued a 46-year-old man with a $1000 penalty infringement notice after inquiries revealed he travelled from metropolitan Sydney to Ballina without a reasonable excuse on Wednesday, 7 July, 2021,” NSW Police said in a statement at the time.

The same month Mr Mundine appeared at a Sydney anti-lockdown rally and was issued with a court attendance notice for allegedly breaching the public health order.

Mr Mundine has been outspoken on social media about his anti-vaccination views and has in the past posted links to so-called “freedom” rallies.

“My people don’t get conned in getting the shot,” he wrote on Facebook earlier this year.

“Do your research it’s a death wish.

“F–k the travel for now we fight that sh-t in court it’s all fear mongering.”

Originally published as Anthony Mundine faces court over Bunnings mask breach allegations

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Melbourne Cup 2021: Natalie Barr’s big win on Melbourne Cup

Sunrise host Natalie Barr pocketed a handsome sum from the race that stops a nation after a chance encounter.

Sunrise presenter Natalie Barr has pocketed $800 from the Melbourne Cup after a handy tip from a colleague’s mum.

The Channel 7 morning show’s sports presenter, Mark Beretta, asks his mum each year to provide her tips to viewers for the race that stops a nation.

The advice prompted Barr to open an online betting account and place $50 on the Chris Waller trained mare, Verry Elleegant.

The novice punter admitted to viewers she had never bet online before, which took her an hour to figure out.

“I thought ‘there’s something called sporting bet or Sportsbet’ and I don’t know what that means, but I’d heard of the TAB, so I set up an account,” Barr said.

“But now I don’t know how to get it out.”

Beretta’s mum, Joan, had provided a windfall for many more Australians with Barr saying her message inbox was full with other viewers who followed the punting advice.

Joan’s tip was particularly welcomed by novice punters given the juicy odds of Verry Elleegant, which was paying about $15 to win.

The Peter Moody trained Incentivise went into the major race as the clear favourite, priced at $2.50.

It sat in second for majority of the 3200m race at Flemington and burst into the lead in the famously long straight.

But Verry Elleegant strode up alongside and steamed into the lead to hand jockey James McDonald his first ever Melbourne Cup victory.

“I just didn’t think this day would ever happen,” he said after Tuesday’s major event. “I ride in these races, I really want to win but sometimes you can overthink it and try too hard.

“I was very confident in the mare today. Thoughts went through my mind at the 500m when I saw Incentivise getting shoved along but I knew he would fight. There wasn’t a horse that was going to come from behind me, it was just a matter of catching him.”

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Cop26, G20: Scott Morrison not a liar, former finance minister Mathias Cormann says

A former colleague of Scott Morrison has rushed to his defence amid claims he has a reputation as a liar.

Scott Morrison’s reputation has again been called into question by predecessor Malcolm Turnbull, but a former colleague has trashed claims the Prime Minister has a track record of lying.

On the sidelines of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, Mr Turnbull said he had no doubt French President Emmanuel Macron had been deceived over the $90bn submarine deal.

He claimed he had experienced similar from Mr Morrison during his time in the top job.

“Oh, he’s lied to me on many occasions,” Mr Turnbull told reporters.

“Scott has always had a reputation for telling lies.”

But Mathias Cormann, who served as finance minister under both Mr Morrison and Mr Turnbull, has categorically rejected the latter’s stinging character assessment.

Asked if Mr Morrison had a track record of telling lies, the OECD secretary-general said: “No.”

“I had a very good working relationship with Scott Morrison. I had a good working relationship with Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott as prime minister,” Mr Cormann told ABC Radio National on Wednesday morning.

“I’ve always done my best to serve them to my best ability, and the opportunity to catch up with Scott at the G20, also at Cop26 … we had some very, very good conversations about the challenges ahead.”

The former prime minister’s comments echo those made by Mr Macron, who on Monday told reporters he “knew” he had been lied to by Mr Morrison.

Later, text messages between the two leaders that seemingly discredited Mr Macron’s versions of events were leaked to the media.

Key crossbench senator Rex Patrick told 2GB on Wednesday morning that Mr Morrison’s behaviour harmed Australia’s reputation on the world stage.

He added while Australia was right to walk away from the conventional submarine deal with France, the way it was handled left much to be desired.

“I absolutely supported the decision to withdraw from the French contract,” he said.

“But in this instance, I’m not convinced that we exited this program in a manner which was proper and in a manner which was fair to the French.

Originally published as Scott Morrison not a liar, former finance minister Mathias Cormann says

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Ashes news; Steve Waugh says Pat Cummins should take Tim Paine’s spot as Australian captain

Tim Paine will turn 37 on the opening day of the first Ashes Test and his successor as Australian captain will be a talking point all summer.

Test legend Steve Waugh says “it’s time” for a bowler to be given the Australian captaincy and endorsed Pat Cummins to take over from skipper Tim Paine when he steps down.

Paine, who turns 37 on the opening day of the first Ashes Test at the Gabba on December 8, is racing the clock to be fit for the clash as he continues his recovery from neck surgery.

He was forced to have surgery in September to repair a pinched nerve in his neck and has only just begun light duties. Paine remains hopeful of making his playing return in a second 11 game for Tasmania in mid-November.

But speculation around Paine’s successor as Test skipper is set to linger throughout the five-match series against England, with Australia set to tour Pakistan, Sri Lanka and then India in 2022.

Cummins, who is national vice-captain of the Test, one-day and T20 teams, would be the first fast bowler since Ray Lindwall in 1956 to captain Australia in a Test match. Lindwall only did it for one match against India.

Waugh, who captain Australia for seven years and finished with a 72 per cent winning rate, was one of the mentors brought in by coach Justin Langer during the 2019 Ashes in England and spent time with all the players.

He was adamant Cummins, who was recently made one-day captain of NSW, should get the opportunity to be skipper

“I’d like to see Pat Cummins have an opportunity,” Waugh said on Wednesday

“They say bowlers can’t do it, but they said keepers couldn’t do it. I think we have to find out if a bowler can be a captain of Australia. I don’t see why not.”

Waugh said Cummins, who is now 28 and has played 128 games for Australia across all formats, including 34 Tests, had the right “acumen” to be a successful leader

“I’ve always thought that if he’s bowling the vice-captain could set the field to give him a mental break,” Waugh told SEN.

“He has good acumen, the respect of the players and he’s ready to go.

“I think when Tim Paine steps down, Pat Cummins is the man to step in.”

Originally published as Australian cricket legend Steve Waugh wants Pat Cummins to be Australia’s next Test skipper

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Airbnb cracks down on NYE parties with restrictions on reservations of Australian rental listings

People hoping to ring in the New Year at an Airbnb property will have to come up with an alternative as the company continues to crack down on revelry.

Australians hoping to ring in 2022 at an Airbnb rental will likely have to come up with an alternative as the company attempts to crack down on New Year’s Eve parties.

Some guests will find it more difficult to book places to stay on December 31 and January 1 under rules announced on Tuesday by the online accommodation marketplace.

Airbnb users who don’t have a history of positive reviews will be banned from making one-night reservations of entire home listings.

These users will also face tough restrictions on two-night bookings that Airbnb deems could pose a risk of “disruptive” parties, including the inability to make certain local and last-minute reservations.

Guests who have a history of positive reviews will not be subject to these restrictions.

The rules come as part of Airbnb’s indefinite global ban on parties and events at its listings, which has been in force since August last year and includes a cap of 16 on guests.

The restrictions on New Year’s Eve bookings were trialled in 2020 and have been reintroduced for a second year.

Derek Nolan, Airbnb’s head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand, said the vast majority of guests were considerate travellers who were respectful of their hosts’ neighbours.

“Safety incidents are extremely rare on Airbnb – however, we continue to work diligently to make them even rarer,” he said.

“We want to remind both guests and hosts that bad behaviour has no place on Airbnb and those who fail to adhere to our policies face removal from our platform.”

About 243,000 guests around the world encountered these restrictions when attempting to make New Year’s Eve bookings during the trial last year.

Airbnb claims the pilot program reduced the amount of disruptive parties that could have otherwise been held.

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Referees still on strike with A-League season fast approaching

Australia’s top football referees are still on strike, with the start of the new A-League season less than three weeks away.

The Professional Football Referees Association of Australia wants Stephen Lucas reinstated to the A-League panel before ceasing strike action that threatens to derail the season.

PFRA members remain on strike less than three weeks before the start of the 2021-22 A-League season.

During the strike, A-League trials and FFA Cup matches have been officiated by non-PFRA members and NPL referees.

PFRA members went on strike last month in protest against a number of issues. They included the A-League leadership and coaching department not having their contracts renewed when the league separated from Football Australia in July.

The absence of that department has led to match officials having no direction, coaching, instruction, and fitness coaching for more than three months.

The PFRA was also unhappy about the removal of Lucas from this season’s A-League panel and Matthew Cream from Australia’s FIFA list “without any due process or warning”.

However, a contract standoff over improved employment terms and pay for match officials seems to have been resolved.

Interviews have also taken place for the head of referees’ position, with the successful candidate expected to have input in the appointment of the referees’ coaching staff.

However, FA is preparing for resistance from the PFRA about the decisions on Cream and Lucas.

While the battle to have Cream reinstated to the FIFA list could prove too much for the PFRA if FIFA has already filled the spot, Lucas’ dumping from the A-League panel is unlikely to be tolerated by the referees’ union.

Lucas has refereed 54 A-League matches dating back to 2014.

PFRA of Australia president Paul Cetrangolo said reasons for Lucas’ axing had not been provided by FA.

“Stephen wasn’t performance managed last season,” Cetrangolo said.

“This is an issue that remains outstanding.”

PFRA members will meet on Wednesday night to further discuss contract matters and the situations of Cream and Lucas.

Originally published as Referees want Stephen Lucas returned to A-League panel

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Scott Morrison branded a gaslighter over leaked Macron texts

Scott Morrison has been accused of gaslighting a world leader as the diplomatic fallout over a cancelled submarine deal rages on.

Scott Morrison has been accused of gaslighting Emmanuel Macron, in a stinging attack from opposition leader Anthony Albanese.

Text messages between the French President and Mr Morrison on Monday were sensationally leaked on Monday evening, ratcheting up the tensions between the two leaders.

Mr Albanese said it was an “extraordinary step” for the Prime Minister to take.

“The attempted damage control by selectively leaking private text messages is quite an extraordinary step for an Australian Prime Minister to take,” Mr Albanese said.

“Leaders of countries and indeed people in their everyday life need to be able to engage in a professional way.

“And the leaking of this selected text message isn’t the first time that we’ve seen that occur from this Prime Minister.”

The strategically released messages sought to discredit Mr Macron’s version of events as the fracas over a cancelled $90bn submarine contract rages on.

Asked on Monday by Australian reporters if Mr Morrison had lied to the French President, Mr Macron said, “I don’t think. I know.”

But less than 24 hours later, private text messages between the two world leaders were made public.

In the messages, Mr Macron is reported to have asked Mr Morrison if he should expect “good or bad news for our joint submarine ambitions” ahead of the AUKUS agreement announcement.

Quizzed about the text disclosure later, Mr Morrison did not deny they were leaked.

“I am not going to indulge your editorial on it,” he said in Glasgow.

“What I will simply say is this. We were contacted when we were trying to set up the call. (The French President) made it pretty clear he was concerned that this would be a phone call that could result in a decision by Australia not to proceed.”

Earlier in the day, Mr Morrison claimed he had informed Mr Macron the conventional submarines being provided by France would not meet Australia’s national interest.

He later added he would not accept questioning of “Australia’s integrity”.

“I must say that I think the statements that were made questioning Australia’s integrity and the slurs that have been placed on Australia, not me, I’ve got broad shoulders,” Mr Morrison said.

“I can deal with that. But those slurs, I’m not going to cop sledging at Australia. I’m not going to cop that on behalf of Australians.”

His inference that France has slurred Australians in Mr Macron’s critique was a sticking point for Mr Albanese.

“Pretending also, the personal criticism of him is criticism of Australia, is using our nation as a human shield,” he added.

“Scott Morrison isn‘t the first leader to see himself as synonymous with his nation … Well, the news for Scott Morrison is he isn’t the state of Australia.”

Originally published as Scott Morrison branded a gaslighter over leaked Macron texts

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Scott Morrison meets with ‘dear friend’ Narendra Modi at Cop26

After a series of frosty encounters at the G20 summit in Rome, Scott Morrison has finally found a mate at Cop26.

Scott Morrison has been thanked for being a “dear friend” to India on the sidelines of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday morning took to Twitter to declare there is never “a dull moment” when he’s with his friend Mr Morrison.

It came just hours after he praised the Australian medical regulator’s decision to recognise India’s locally produced Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin.

Mr Morrison later tweeted it was “wonderful” to see his friend at Cop26.

As the G20 leaders’ summit kicked off last week, Australia and India were joined only by China to resist a global bid to phase out coal-fired power and mining.

In his address to the Cop26 summit, Mr Modi committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2070 – two decades later than the rest of the world.

The announcement falls short of a key goal of the climate summit, which is for nations to agree to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

India is the world’s fourth biggest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, the US and the EU.

It is the fifth largest export market for Australian coal, and imports into the country have risen off the back of Australian trade woes with China.

Mr Modi also promised his nation would transition to generating 50 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2030.

The Indian leader made the most of his time at the UN leaders’ summit, whizzing around to meet with several of his international counterparts.

Earlier, the Indian Prime Minister was pictured with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles.

He thanked the royal for his commitment to sustainable development and climate change.

Originally published as Scott Morrison meets with ‘dear friend’ Narendra Modi at Cop26

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AFL star Fremantle Dockers Nat Fyfe contracts bacterial infection after shoulder surgery

Nat Fyfe’s season was hampered by shoulder concerns but the dual Brownlow medallist isn’t out of the woods just yet.

Fremantle captain Nat Fyfe has contracted a bacterial infection in his shoulder that will require him to take intravenous antibiotics.

The dual Brownlow medallist underwent surgery on an injured shoulder last Tuesday.

In a statement, the Dockers confirmed tests had revealed he had picked up an infection as a complication from the procedure.

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Fremantle’s executive general manager of football, Peter Bell, said the infection would set Fyfe back two or three weeks in his recovery.

“Unfortunately, Nathan’s tests have indicated a bacterial infection, and as a result, he will undergo intravenous antibiotics over the next two to three weeks,” Bell said.

“He won’t be able to do much physically in the period the antibiotics are being administered intravenously.”

Bell confirmed Fyfe, 30, was nonetheless in good spirits.

“Nathan is optimistic and understands in particular the importance of the next two to three weeks to allow the IV antibiotics optimal effectiveness,” Bell said.

“We will advise a return to training date in due course, once there is more clarity around Nat’s recovery.”

Fyfe’s 2021 campaign was cruelled by the shoulder injury, which he initially suffered in the round 12 loss to eventual grand finalists the Western Bulldogs.

He returned to play a month later but was once again sidelined in July and underwent surgery,

After his recovery stalled, Fyfe went under the knife once more in the off-season.

“While it is disappointing, we know that he will be incredibly diligent in his recovery,” Bell said previously.

The Dockers came within striking distance of a finals berth in 2021 but were left to rue two separate losses to Carlton, which ultimately prevented them from featuring at the business end of the season.

Fremantle will hope the addition of new recruits Jordan Clark and Will Brodie, and the repatriation of a fit-and-firing Fyfe, can help the side play finals footy next year for the first time since 2015.

Originally published as AFL: Fremantle star Nat Fyfe suffers fresh shoulder setback

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