Blatter refuses TV debate ahead of Fifa presidential elections

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has declined to participate in a TV debate on the BBC ahead of the body's presidential election.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has declined to participate in a TV debate on the BBC ahead of the body's presidential election.

Sepp Blatter has rejected an invitation to take part in a live television debate involving all four candidates for the Fifa presidency.

The other three candidates — Fifa vice-president Prince Ali Al Hussein of Jordan, Dutch FA president Michael van Praag and former Portugal international Luis Figo — had all agreed to take part in the debate, but current Fifa president Blatter turned it down.

The debate was a joint BBC and Sky initiative and Football Association chairman Greg Dyke had offered to host it at Wembley. Blatter’s refusal means the debate will not take place.

Blatter did not even respond in writing — he communicated his decision verbally via a Fifa official.


Prince Ali said last month that a public debate was an important step for the world governing body, saying: “If we are talking about transparency, I would like to see a public debate including the incumbent.”

Figo also indicated his support, saying: “The fans deserve to know what the candidates offer for the future.”

Blatter is likely to face questions about his refusal at a news conference in Zurich on Friday following Fifa’s executive committee meeting which will decide on the dates for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which is to be played in the winter.

His rivals are also understood to be questioning Blatter’s apparent use of Fifa staff in helping him win support to remain president.

He appears not to have appointed anyone to work on his campaign, while Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke has reminded “all Fifa staff members that they, consultants or any other persons appointed by or working for Fifa are not permitted to take part in any way in these election campaigns”.

Source: PA Sport

Not good enough, ref! Fifa official blasts EPL refereeing standards

QPR defender Nedum Onuoha argues with referee Lee Mason during his side's EPL match against Crystal Palace.
QPR defender Nedum Onuoha argues with referee Lee Mason during his side's EPL match against Crystal Palace.

The chairman of Fifa’s referees committee thinks the standard of English Premier League referees must improve.

While Jim Boyce did not point out any particular incidents, he feels that more training will benefit the officials.

He told Sky Sports News HQ: “I have watched many games in the Premier League this season and I have to say I think the standard is not as good as, perhaps, it should be.

“I think there are far too many, what I would call, poor decisions being made. Every week you see the analysts discussing all the refereeing blunders that appear to be made.

“Refereeing is a very, very difficult job. They can only give what they see. But I think there has to be much more training given, not only to the referees, but to the assistant referees as well. It’s a very high-profile game now.

“There is a lot of money at stake. There are managers' careers at stake. We have to try and get more decisions right. Overall, I don’t think it has been as good as it has been in the past.”

Source: Sky Sports

Kazakhstan town hit by mysterious illness that causes people to suddenly fall asleep for days

A town in Kazakhstan has been plagued by a mysterious illness that causes residents to fall asleep for days at a time.

​Just north of Kazakhstan is a sleepy village - literally.

A mysterious illness has plagued Kalachi where residents just fall suddenly fall asleep - sometimes even for days.

Resident Viktor Kazachenko, who was hit with this "sleeping sickness" said that it happened to him when he was driving to another town to run errands.

He suddenly fell into a six-day coma while driving.

Mr Kazachenko said: "My brain switched off... That's it. I don't remember."

He woke up in hospital and realised that he had fallen asleep for almost a week.

And this was the second time that Mr Kazachenko fell asleep suddenly.

"The first time I slept for three days," he said.

Illness affects you mentally, says affected resident

After his second extended slumber, his blood pressure would go up for no reason. 

Mr Kazachenko said: "For six weeks, I didn’t know where to put myself. It strongly affects your mentality. I’m on edge.”

He is among the over 120 residents who have been affected by this mysterious ailment that first struck early 2013.

Since then, the total number of cases have gone up to 152. 

Even doctors and scientists are baffled

Doctors and scientists haven't been able to get to the bottom of it.

Scientists said radiation is within acceptable levels, as is the concentration of heavy metal salts.

Elevated levels of radon and carbon monoxide were then detected. But that was soon ruled out as a cause.

Earlier this year, the director of the National Nuclear Centre's institute for radiation security said that increased carbon monoxide levels could have caused symptoms similar to the "sleeping sickness".

The country's government has set up a commission to coordinate the research to uncover concrete results. And by the end of last year, over 20,000 laboratory and clinic tests were conducted.

Desperate after Kazakhstan's doctors failed to get any results from tests, deputy prime minister Berdibek Saparbaev turned to the international medical community for support.

Residents think an abandoned uranium mine near the village, which was closed in the 1990s, could be the problem.

But none of the dozen-odd families living near the mine have been hit by the sickness.

Relocating residents

The authorities are now working at resettling the residents.

About 100 residents have relocated to prevent further exposure. About 425 residents remain with most unwilling to move.

“I’m not going anywhere,” says Mr Kazachenko. “Why should I go? I’ve been here for 40 years. I’m going to die here.”

Source: The Guardian


Man's gf and his ex jump into a river - who does he save?

A fireman rescues a woman who jumped into the Yong River in Ningbo in a bid to win back her ex-boyfriend.
A fireman rescues a woman who jumped into the Yong River in Ningbo in a bid to win back her ex-boyfriend. He ended up rescuing his current girlfriend instead, who had also jumped in to test him.

Most people are probably familiar with the age old dilemma about choosing to save one's mum or wife if they both fell into a river at the same time.

For one young man in Zhejiang province in China, that difficult scenario became a reality - well, sort of.

The man, Mr Wu Hsia, 21, was forced to choose between his current girlfriend and his ex when they both leapt off the embankments of the Yong River in Ningbo City one after the other.

And no, the current girlfriend did not jump in to save his ex, but to test her boyfriend's love for her.

After being hounded by the ex-girlfriend, Miss Jun Tang, about getting back together and subsequently getting nagged by his present girlfriend, Miss Rong Tsao about it, a flustered Wu called for the two women to meet him and thrash things out at around 3am on Wednesday.

Things turned ugly as the the former girlfriend decided to try and win Mr Wu back to her side by jumping off the embankment - only to get herself stuck chest-deep in mud that had been exposed by the low tide while the river gushed on metres away.

Worried that her man might actually jump in after his former flame, Mr Wu's jealous girlfriend escalated the situation - by leaping towards the river as well to force him to save her.

However, things didn't quite go as planned as the girlfriend injured her leg as she hit a small boat.

Without thinking, Mr Wu sprung into action - helping his current girlfriend while leaving his ex-love stuck in the mud.

The ex was only rescued after she phoned a stunned friend, who called the police.

Firemen rescue Mr Wu's ex-girlfriend. PHOTO: Sina Zhejiang

As firemen conducted the rescue, Mr Wu returned to the scene.

Speaking to his ex, he asked: "We've split for four months. Why are you still hung up on me?"

"Because I want to," was the reply.

At this point, the firemen wisely chose to leave the scene.

“I was put in a difficult situation and had to make a choice between right and wrong,” Mr Wu admitted.

“And I chose Rong.”

Sources: Sina Zhejiang, Zhejiang Online,

WATCH: How to make gelato? Let the experts show you

Have you ever wondered why gelato is smoother and tastier than ice cream?

And did you know that gelato is less fattening?

These are some of the things we learned after meeting expert gelato chefs from Italy at the Gelato World Tour in Singapore, happening this week. 

From March 19 to 21, Cafe Asia 2015, International Coffee and Tea Industry Expo (ICT) and Sweets and Bakes Asia will be going on at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre while the Gelato World Tour will run from March 20 to 22. 

You will be able to taste some of the finest teas and coffees, buy the best coffee, tea and baking products and also try freshly made gelato by Italian gelato chefs. 

TNP met gelato chefs to learn about the delicious dessert and to find out how it's made. 

Gelato is made with sugar, cream and milk. The ingredients are mixed before being poured into a batch freezer, which churns the mixture slowly at a very low temperature. It is then extracted, and other flavoures and toppings are mixed into the gelato. After that, it's ready to be eaten. ​

But if you're looking to make the dessert at home and you don't have a batch freezer, here's a simple recipe from you can follow to make your own gelato


  1. 200 grams of chocolate
  2. Half a cup of sugar
  3. Five egg yolks
  4. 500 ml of milk


  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
  2. Beat the egg yolk and sugar together.
  3. Heat the milk in low heat and remove from heat just before it starts to boil.
  4. Add the milk to the yolk mixture little by little, mixing thoroughly.
  5. Heat the mixture again stirring occasionally until it boils. Then remove from heat.
  6. Add the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly.
  7. Transfer the mixture to a chilled metal container and freeze.
  8. Stir it every 45 minutes to break any ice lumps and put it back in the freezer.
  9. Continue to do this 2 more times.
  10. After about 7 hrs of freezing, put it through a food processor (or break it up and stir with a fork).


Fat content

The fat content in ice-cream is usually much higher than gelato, ranging between 10 to 16 per cent; for gelato, it is usually between three to eight per cent. That's mostly due to ice creams using, well, mostly cream, whereas gelato require more milk than cream. 


Ice cream is churned at a much higher speed to increase its volume. In the process, more air gets trapped in the mixture. It's a different case for gelato, which is churned at a much slower pace. According to Valentina Righi, Vice President of Carpigiani, the production company for gourmet gelato machines, ice creams contains 130 per cent air, while gelato contains only 30 per cent air. This is what makes gelato thicker and smoother than ice cream. 

Photos: Latashni Gobi Nathan/TNP


Ice cream is served at about -12 degrees Celsius while gelato is served at about -3 degrees Celcius. If ice cream is served at a higher temperature, it would melt quickly. On the other hand, if gelato is served at a lower temperature, it becomes too hard and loses its famously silky texture. 

Check these out

Other than digging into delicious gelato at the Gelato World Tour, here are some other events to check out at Cafe Asia 2015

  1. Baking with SILI 
    A baking demonstration from 11 am to 12 noon on March 20.
  2. Latte Art by Mr Hiroshi Sawada 
    From 2 to 3 pm on March 21, Mr Sawada will show you how to create Latte Art using a latte machine.
  3. Singapore National Brewers Cup
    From March 19 to 21, coffee brewers will be able to compete against each other for the first time to see who can produce the best coffee using only the traditional manual coffee-brewing technique. 

Sources: Huffington Post,, Cafe Asia

S'pore e-cigarette peddler who sold $100,000 worth of loot shut down

Caught: The Health Sciences Authority’s (HSA) Tobacco Regulation Branch raided a HDB flat located in Gangsa Road today (Mar 19), clamping down on the illegal operations of an e-cigarette peddler. The transaction records seized revealed that the seller had sold about $100,000 worth of e-cigarettes.

A Singaporean man has been caught for having sold about $100,000 worth of e-cigarettes.

Today (Mar 19), the Health Science Authority's (HSA) Tobacco Regulation Branch raided an HDB flat located at Gangsa Road, disrupting the peddler's illegal operations. 

The suspect’s unlawful activities were detected through HSA’s online surveillance and investigation.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the suspect had illegally purchased the prohibited products from various overseas suppliers to sell via an e-commerce website.

He also assembled and modified e-cigarette products and sold them online.

Seized: The e-cigarettes that were seized in today's raid. PHOTO: Health Sciences Authority

The website has since been shut down by HSA and the suspect is helping with investigations.

So why are e-cigarettes banned in Singapore?

The Ministry of Health, Health Promotion Board and HSA are concerned that they could potentially be a gateway to developing a smoking habit, particularly among the young.

In Korea, popular K-pop rapper-singer Amber,22, made headlines yesterday (Mar 18) when a SNS (social networking service) picture of her holding an e-cigarette circulated online.

The controversial picture showed the Los Angeles-born member of girl group f(x) (above, right) holding an e-cigarette.

Comments were fast and furious online with netizens speculating if this would affect her idol image.

Allkpop reported that although Amber wasn't seen actually smoking the e-cigarette, some netizens came forward to defend her while others criticised the idol, pointing out the fact that Amber is in a girl group which has a large influence over the young, especially teenagers. 

Source: SG Press Centre, Allkpop

Safuwan returns to Singapore to play in two friendlies

Safuwan Baharudin (center) and wife Alia Qistina with a friend's child, Rifal Elhan.

Safuwan Baharudin is still "surprised" by the two goals he scored for Melbourne City in the A-League. 

Since his debut against derby rivals Melbourne Victory on Feb 7, Safuwan has made the starting XI of his new club five times, yielding two goals.

The first came when City defeated Adelaide United 3-1 on Feb 27 before their March 11 tie against Western Sydney Wanderers. City eventually lost 2-3 to Western Sydney.

Safuwan is now back in Singapore to play in two friendlies with the Lions. 

Amazing opportunities

"I was surprised (with the two goals) because before I joined, I thought it would be hard to score in the A-League," the 23-year-old told Berita Harian, in a report published today (March 19). 

"Even more so because I'm a defender. My opportunities usually come through set-pieces ... with players who are well-built, and who play well in the air, you have to be fast in converting opportunities, and that's what I try to do.

"The opportunities so far have been amazing, but my focus is to keep making the top 11 more often.

"At the same time, there's a lot for me to learn during training sessions and from my teammates here."

He'll be part of the national squad facing Thailand in Korat on March 26 and Guam at Jalan Besar Stadium on March 31. 

Extended deal?

His national team duties means he will miss two A-League matches - an away game with Sydney FC on Friday and a home game with Brisbane Roar next Saturday (March 28).

Safuwan will only return to City for their game with Western Sydney Wanderers on April 3 - one of the last four matches before the A-League 'finals', which will also mark the end of his three-month loan to the Australian club. 

That is, of course, unless he gets an offer to extend his contract there.

Safuwan, however, does not want to think too much about his future in Australia. 

He said: "God willing, I hope I get to stay longer in Australia but I prefer to go day by day as my future (with Melbourne City) is still uncertain."

Source: Berita Harian

Girl, 3, falls through gap at London train station platform

Commuters hoisted a girl, three, to safety after she tumbled through the platform gap at Baker Street Station in London.

Last week, train commuters suffered delays after a junior college student's leg was stuck in the platform gap at Hougang MRT station.

The gap was 10 cm wide.

Train station staff and commuters came to the aid of the student whose leg got stuck in the platform gap at Hougang MRT station last week. PHOTO: Twitter 

A similar incident has happened in London. But in the British case, the three-year-old girl fell right through a platform gap at the Baker Street tube station.

The toddler was with her nanny and another child on Tuesday (March 17).

Passengers who saw her tumble through the gap rushed to her rescue and hoisted the little girl back to safety.

Luckily, she wasn't badly hurt: After hitting the train's metal foot plate, she suffered a bruise on her forehead.

Newspaper Daily Mail quoted a witness telling Evening Standard that the group was getting ready to board the train.

"There’s a gap on the platform where the track bends around and she fell into that gap.
"Some gaps are big enough for me to fit in."

Calling it a "shocking incident", leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union Mick Cash said:

"RMT is awaiting the outcome of the investigations by the Office for Rail Regulation...

"This incident again exposes the lethal nonsense of cutting station staff on the underground network." 

Sources: Daily Mail, Evening Standard

British woman, whose twin sister is a party girl, used twin's passport to join ISIS

Jamila Henry had used her twin sister's passport to travel to Syria allegedly to join jihadist group ISIS.

The pair of identical twins may look alike, but their outlook on life could not be more different.

One of them, Jalila Henry, is a wild party girl who is more often than not pictured in revealing clothes and also drinks and smokes.

In her free time, Jalila, 21, likes watching trashy British reality show The Only Way is Essex.

Her twin Jamila, on the other hand, converted to Islam and wears a traditional headscarf.

Jamila spends her time reading the Quran. 

There was a brief confusion when reports emerged that Jalila, the wilder twin, had been detained by authorities in Turkey for allegedly being en route to join jihadi group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

In fact, one relative joked that she was more likely to have ended up in Turkey after getting carried away from a night of partying.

However, it was soon revealed that Jamila had been traveling with her sister's passport instead.

After seizing Jamila, Turkish security services alleged that messages and images on her phone suggested that she was planning to head to ISIS territory to join the cause.

Jamila will be brought back to the UK, where she faces charges of preparing acts of terrorism.

Meanwhile, Jalila, who lives in South London, said that she had "loads to sort out".

The twins' parents - a painter and decorator father and a mother who works as a council housing officer - are discussing with relatives how to react to the arrest.

An estimated 600 Britons have gone to Syria or Iraq to join militant groups there.

Source: Daily Mail






Champions League: Juventus cruises to 3-0 win over Dortmund

Hummels of Borussia Dortmund reacts after the second goal of Tevez of Juventus during their Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match in Dortmund.

Tevez's stunning long-range strike gave the Italians an early lead before the Argentine presented strike partner Alvaro Morata with a simple finish to double the advantage in the second half.

Dortmund's hopes of progression were in tatters but Tevez added a final flourish, driving home his second and Juventus' third late on to seal a 5-1 win on aggregate.

The German side gave themselves a good chance of progression after taking an away goal from a narrow 2-1 defeat in Italy a fortnight ago but the hosts were second best throughout at Signal Iduna Park.

Their prospects suffered a heavy blow within just three minutes as Tevez received possession 25 yards out and unleashed a stinging shot that flew past Roman Weidenfeller and into the top left-hand corner of the net.

The early breakthrough seemed to knock the home side's confidence and Juventus almost doubled their advantage after the quarter-hour mark when Stephan Lichtsteiner again tested Weidenfeller with an effort from distance but this time the Dortmund goalkeeper was able to punch the swerving shot clear.

Carlos Tevez of Juventus (C) scores his second goal past Neven Subotic (R) of Borussia Dortmund during their Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match in Dortmund. PHOTO: REUTERS

Dortmund gradually established a foothold in the contest but struggled to convert possession into chances and apart from set-pieces, Jurgen Klopp's men were restricted to optimistic shots from range.

Juventus eased through the rest of the first period and Morata should have wrapped up the tie early in the second when he was twice sent clear.

But on both occasions, he failed to beat Weidenfeller, who was quick to close down the shots.

The Spaniard made no mistake in the 70th minute, however, as Dortmund's defence was caught out by another ball over the top and as Weidenfeller rushed out, Tevez generously slid the ball across for the young striker to side-foot into an empty net.

Dortmund's misery was compounded nine minutes later when Tevez latched onto Arturo Vidal's neat pass and he slammed the ball home to wrap up an excellent individual display and seal his side's place in the last eight. - Sporting Life