Italy midfielder banned for blasphemy

MILAN - Italian international Rolando Mandragora has been banned for one Serie A game after making "blasphemous remarks" during his team Udinese's 1-0 win over Sampdoria at the weekend. The 21-year-old midfielder was caught on television shouting an insult to the Virgin Mary, while also referring to God as a dog. The 21-year-old's "blasphemous expressions" went unnoticed by officials during the match, leading to a review by the Lega Serie A. The Italian FA said Mandragora was "clearly seen ... to make blasphemous remarks, visibly identifiable from reading his lips without any margin for reasonable doubt." They acknowledged the Italian international was "cursing without addressing any of those present". In Italy, blasphemy is considered among the worst forms of swearing.–AFP

 No guarantees for Garcia in Ryder Cup

PARIS - Europe captain Thomas Bjorn said Tuesday he has not ruled Sergio Garcia out of contention for next month's Ryder Cup but warned that the Spaniard had not been given any assurances of a place in his team. Garcia's form has nosedived this season following a successful 2017 which saw him win three tournaments including his first Major title at the Masters. The charismatic Spanish star -- who has missed only one Ryder Cup since 1999 -- has seen his world ranking dip to 27th this year, leaving him needing one of Bjorn's captain's picks to secure a spot in the European line-up. Although Garcia offers a wealth of Ryder Cup experience, playing in five victorious Europe teams and contributing 22.5 points in total, Bjorn said he could not guarantee the Spaniard a place in his team.–AFP

 Bale leads Giggs's Wales squad

LONDON - Gareth Bale spearheads Ryan Giggs's Wales squad for his first two competitive fixtures in charge against the Republic of Ireland and Denmark next month. Bale has been in fine form for Real Madrid, scoring in opening two La Liga games, as he looks to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo. The four-time Champions League winner will carry even more of the attacking burden for his country after Hal Robson-Kanu announced his retirement after a 44-cap career. Robson-Kanu scored five international goals, most famously netting in a 3-1 win over Belgium in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. "I spoke to him yesterday and it was a difficult decision for him," said Giggs. "He's had a difficult six months, with the birth of his baby, and he wants to focus on his family and his club career.”–AFP

 Cavendish to take break due to virus

LONDON - British cyclist Mark Cavendish will take an indefinite break from training to recover from the effects of Epstein-Barr virus, commonly known as glandular fever. Cavendish, who has won 30 stages of the Tour de France in a decorated career, had endured a disappointing season and was eliminated from the Tour after finishing outside the time limit on stage 11. "This season I've not felt physically myself and despite showing good numbers on the bike I have felt that there's been something not right," he said. "Given this and on the back of these medical results, I'm glad to now finally have some clarity as to why I haven't been able to perform at my optimum level during this time." Cavendish, 33, had been "unknowingly training and racing with EBV over recent months".–AFP

 England bids for 2021 Women's Euros

LONDON - England's Football Association submitted a bid to host the women's 2021 European Championships on Wednesday with Wembley earmarked for the final. The deadline for bids is Friday and England is expected to face competition from Austria and Hungary when the decision is made by UEFA's executive committee on December 3. Wembley, which will host final of the men's Euro 2020, is one of eight proposed venues. Brighton's AMEX Stadium, Milton Keynes' Stadium MK, the Manchester City Academy Stadium, Meadow Lane in Nottingham, Peterborough's ABAX Stadium, Rotherham's New York Stadium and Sheffield's Bramall Lane would also host matches. "Our aim is to make UEFA Women's Euro 2021 the biggest and best showcase ever seen in Europe," said FA chief executive Martin Glenn in a statement.–AFP