Sports brief

  • 2004-07-28
Latvian defender Igors Stepanovs has joined top Swiss side Zurich Grasshoppers on a three-year contract.

Stepanovs was out of contract after being released by English Premier League side Arsenal. The 28-year-old played in all three of Latvia's Euro 2004 games and has been capped 71 times in total. But he spent most of last season on loan with Belgian side SK Beveren after being unable to gain regular first team play with Arsenal.

Lance Armstrong won a record sixth title in the Tour de France, bettering five previous cycling greats who had won five titles each. Although Armstrong (photo) only came in 114th in the 20th and final stage of the race, his victory was never in doubt. He even managed to drink a glass of champagne while still in the saddle. The 32-year-old Texan, whose winning margin stood at six minutes and 19 seconds, has won the last six tours in a row, thus securing his place among the all-time sporting greats.

Jurgen Klinsmann has taken over as the coach of the German national soccer team in a bid to lead the country to the 2006 World Cup. The 39-year-old succeeds Rudi Voller, a fellow member of the 1990 World Cup-winning side, who quit after Germany's dismal showing at Euro 2004. Klinsmann was a prolific striker in his prime, who played for Internazionale and Tottenham Hotspurs. He will be assisted in the job by the veteran coach Holger Osieck and the former striker Oliver Bierhoff. Germany automatically qualifies for the 2006 World Cup as host nation.

First it was Beckham's turn to be hounded by the prurient U.K. press, now it's the England soccer team's manager Sven Goran-Erikkson (photo) turn. The English media love a lurid story, and when it transpired that Erikkson had an affair with an English Football Association secretary during Euro 2004, who in turn had had an affair shortly before with the FA's chief executive Mark Palios, the story was bound to make a splash. The FA denied the rumors at first, but then admitted they were true after hard evidence of the affairs emerged. Some people are now calling for Erikkson, who earns 4 million pounds (5.97 million euros) a year, to be sacked. Senior members of the FA have described the revelations as a major embarrassment.