David Beckham hopes to be fit to play in Real Madrid's preseason tour of the United States as he recovers from a knee injury sustained during the World Cup.

The former England captain said Monday he hoped to play in the Spanish club's friendly matches against DC United on Aug. 9 in Seattle and Real Salt Lake in Salt Lake City on Aug. 12.

"We'll have to wait and see because I only started running on Sunday without any pain," Beckham said on Real Madrid's Web site. "I have to take it easy because I want to be fit for the start of the season, which is the most important thing."

Beckham was hurt in the second half of England's quarterfinal defeat to Portugal on penalties on July 1. He then gave up the England captaincy.

Beckham said he was looking forward to playing with Ruud van Nistelrooy, his former Manchester United teammate who joined the club on Friday.

"He is one of the best goalscorers that I have ever played with, he scored many goals from me, and it was great to play in the same team as him at Manchester United," Beckham said. "I think that it is good for the team that he is at Real Madrid, and also good for him.

"Ruud is a goalscorer, that's what he does best. He runs for the team and he works hard. Every player is different, but Ruud has got a lot of talent and also works very hard."


Players making racist remarks or gestures could be banned for up to five matches, according to new UEFA disciplinary regulations announced Monday.

Anyone who insults the human dignity of a person or group of persons, by whatever means, including on grounds of color, race, religion or ethnic origin will now face a maximum five-game ban.

In addition, any club whose supporters engage in racist or discriminatory conduct will receive a minimum fine of $24,250.

UEFA also said it can impose additional sanctions, such as forcing teams to play in an empty stadium, closing grounds, awarding matches by default, deducting points and disqualification from competitions.

European soccer's governing body said that any form of extremist ideological propaganda is banned.

The regulations also state that players who simulate fouls or injuries to dupe the referee into making an incorrect decision will face a maximum two-match suspension.

If a team has five players or more shown yellow cards in the same match, then it can be punished under new "improper conduct of a team" regulations.

The rules also stress that referees' on-field decisions are still final. Only the subsequent consequences of a decision made by the referee may be reviewed in cases involving an obvious error, such as mistaken identity.

UEFA added that the statutes of limitation regarding doping offenses have been brought into line with requirements laid down by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Prosecution is now barred at the end of eight years for doping offenses.


The builders of new Wembley Stadium have missed another deadline to complete the much-delayed project.

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Wembley National Stadium Ltd., the operator of the venue, said Monday the stadium was supposed to be completed by the end of September. Australian construction company Multiplex has already missed its original handover date of Jan. 30 and a second deadline of March 31.

The 90,000-seat, $1.4 billion stadium was supposed to host the FA Cup final in May and several rock concerts. WNSL has blamed Multiplex for the delays.

Wembley Stadium looks ready for a soccer game, with the pitch laid and the goalposts erected. However builders still have to finish the roof, fix the drainage network and install seats and safety systems