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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 17, 2010

Volcano takes a kick at European soccer, cycling

Associated Press

The volcanic ash plume drifting over Europe is threatening next week's Champions League and Europa League semifinals.

With flights canceled across the continent and activity in the Icelandic volcano showing no signs of abating soccer teams have had to scramble with travel arrangements. The disruptions also extend to cycling, the Boston Marathon and pro wrestling.

In the Champions League, Barcelona must travel to Inter Milan for Tuesday's match, and Lyon is playing at Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

Two English clubs are on the road Thursday in the Europa League Liverpool at Atletico Madrid and Fulham at Hamburg. Fulham manager Roy Hodgson said Saturday the Premier League club has been in contact with European soccer's governing body.

"One of UEFA's concerns is that it should be fair and that their opponents don't have to go through hell and high water to get to the game," Hodgson said. "An ideal scenario would be that the volcanic ash clears up and we can fly over to Germany.

"It's totally and utterly linked to if there are flights. If there are no flights then the only option is to get a train and bus to Hamburg. There could still be a further problem because there might be no trains or coaches to travel on but I'm confident UEFA will resolve the problem."

Several top cyclists will miss Sunday's Amstel Gold race in the Netherlands. Alejandro Valverde, Carlos Sastre and Bradley Wiggins are unable to race because their flights have been canceled.

The withdrawals are a further blow to the one-day classic in Maastricht after Lance Armstrong and Fabian Cancellara decided not to race.

Olympic runner Abdellah Falil of Morocco is to compete in Monday's Boston Marathon but is stuck at home. He hopes to fly from Casablanca to New York and then to Boston on Sunday.

The Boston Marathon isn't the only race affected.

"We've got the exact same problem," said Andreas Maier, one of the organizers for Sunday's Vienna City Marathon. "Runners can't make it to Vienna."

Pro wrestling has taken a hit as well. World Wrestling Entertainment was near the end of a two-week European tour. Several wrestlers and crew members traveled almost 17 hours in buses and ferries to make it from Lieven, France, to Belfast, Ireland. The trip normally takes about 90 minutes by plane.

WWE spokesman Kevin Hennessy said it was unclear if everyone would arrive in time for Monday night's "WWE Raw" event in East Rutherford, N.J.