Arab Times

Maracana to host soccer finals

Phelps, out of rehab, on the road to Rio

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 11, (Agencies): The men’s and women’s Olympic football finals will be played at the Maracana stadium, FIFA announced on Tuesday.

The opening game will be a women’s group match on Aug 3 at the Olympic Stadium in host city Rio de Janeiro, FIFA added. The tournament officially kicks off two days later.

The opening men’s match will be on Aug 4 in Brasilia, the most expensive stadium built for the 2014 World Cup but little used since because no big teams play in the city.

Seven stadiums will host games — two in Rio, plus arenas in Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Manaus, Salvador and Sao Paulo.

“As at London 2012, the hosts have been drawn as A1 and E1 in their respective tournament­s,” a FIFA statement said.

“This means that, during the group stage, the home crowd will be able to cheer on its men in Brasilia and Salvador, and its women in Rio de Janeiro and Manaus.”

Michael Phelps is heading for the Rio Olympics next year a new man after coming through the toughest period of his life, he told American magazine Sports Illustrate­d.

In a cover feature entitled “The Rehabilita­tion of Michael Phelps”, the man who has won 18 Olympic titles, more than anyone else, give a frank account of his descent into alcoholism before turning his life around again.

Phelps reached rock bottom in Sept 2014 when he was arrested in Baltimore, Maryland, for drink-driving (DUI) after a night out at a local casino, the second time he had been found to be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

He pleaded guilty to drunk-driving and was given one-year suspended sentence and 18 mths’ probation, but

Phelps was spared jail.

It served as a wake-up call for the swimming superstar. “I was in a real dark place. Not wanting to be alive anymore,” he explained.

And he checked himself into rehab and is now ready to return to Olympic competitio­n.

Phelps, 30, says after the arrest he spent four days in his Maryland home before realising he had to get his life back on track.

It’s probably the most afraid I’ve ever felt in my life,” he said.

“I look back now, I lived in a bubble for a long time.”

His coach, Bob Bowman, was even more worried about his prodigy.

“I had been living in fear that I was going to get a call that something had happened. Honestly, I thought, the way he was going, he was going to kill himself,” Bowman said. “Not take his own life, but something like the DUI, but worse.”

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