Afghanistan celebrates 'big dream' coming true
KABUL Afghanistan celebrated its entry into test cricket on Thursday, saying it was a dream come true for the country which has suffered from years of violence and conflict.
Players from Estonia and Tunisia and match officials from Lebanon and Armenia have been given worldwide bans in connection with attempts to manipulate games, soccer's world governing body FIFA said on Thursday.
FIFA said the bans had already been imposed at local level by the respective federations and would now apply globally.
They included two Armenian officials who were banned by UEFA last week over an attempt to fix the result of a Europa League match in July.
Referee Andranik Arsenyan and assistant Hovhannes Avagyan, who officiated in the match between FC Inter Turku and Vikingur, were suspended for life.
In an earlier Armenian Football Federation hearing, they admitted having tried to manipulate the outcome of the second-leg fixture, which ended 1-0 in favour of Vikingur.
Lebanese referee Ali Sabbagh, jailed for six months in Singapore for accepting sexual favours to fix a game, was provisionally banned until the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) concludes its own investigation into the case, FIFA said.
He was withdrawn as referee only hours before an AFC match between Singapore's Tampines Rovers and India's East Bengal on April 3.
FIFA also extended a life ban on Estonian player Elvis Liivamagi, imposed by his own federation on August 7 following investigations into domestic match-fixing.
The Tunisian case involved two players, Marouane Troudi and Mahmoud Dridi, as well as the official Amir Jaziri, who have been provisionally suspended until a case into domestic match manipulation has been concluded.
(Reporting by Brian Homewood in Monte Carlo; Editing by Ed Osmond)
MUMBAI While Afghanistan celebrate their lofty status as a test-playing nation, far away in Mumbai, head coach Lalchand Rajput is busy plotting how to instil a five-day temperament into a team more attuned to the hard-hitting nature of limited-overs cricket.