Collina referee for opener

LISBON: Italian Pierluigi Collina, in charge at the World Cup title game in Yokohama two years ago, will be the referee for Saturday’s opening match of Euro 2004 between Portugal and Greece. Collina, 44, is regarded as the game’s best referee and plans to retire next year. Collina said, "It is the first time that I’ve even been appointed for the opening match of a tournament. An opening match is always special." In the match on Saturday in Porto, Collina will be assisted by Marco Ivaldi and Narciso Pisacreta. Alain Hamer of Luxembourg is the fourth official. —AP

Squash tourney begins

LALITPUR: Nepal Squash Raquet Association organised the third Snow Lion Cup Squash Tournament, under the sponsorship of Snow Lion Carpet Industry from 5-12 June here at the Squash Academy in Birendra International Sports Complex. In the day’s matches, Hira Bahadur Thapa defeated Prashanta Tamrakar 3-0, Janak Thapa beat Prajwal Pradaha 3-2 and entered the semi-final of men’s open section. Similarly, in the master category, Anil Singh thrashed Prem Singh 2-0 and advanced to the last four. In the novice category, Suman Tuladhar entered the semi-final defeating Anil Bajracharya 3-2. In the Men’s Plate match, Subodh Pradhan defeated Prayatna Rana 3-1, Mahendra Singh beat A I Maskey 3-0 and Robin Shakya defeated Gyani Raja Shakya 3-0. —HNS

Ronaldinho nixed Chelsea

LONDON: Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldinho has claimed he turned down an approach by Chelsea. It was announced that the striker had agreed to a new improved contract with Barcelona which expires in 2008. He also offered an apparent snub to the playing style of the ambitious West London club which spent more than $220 million on players last season. Ronaldinho was a major target of Manchester United before the start of the last season but opted to go to the Catalan club instead. — AFP

UK, Aussies in Twenty20

LONDON: England and Australia are set to meet in a one-off Twenty20 match during next year’s Ashes series. Officials from Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board, who are currently negotiating the itinerary for next summer’s Ashes series, have agreed to experiment with the first ever 20-overs match between two international teams. The venue and date for the inaugural contest are yet to be decided, but the tournament will be part of the build-up to the triangular tournament they have backed for several years. — AFP