Sports Lines

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 February, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 February, 1994, 12:00am

''There are more serious things. There are people suffering. There are tragedies in the world. Things should be kept in proportion and this matter reduced to its real dimension, which is not very important.''- Bernard Tapie, controversial chairman of French soccer club Marseille, trying to play down the bribery scandal which has haunted him and his team for nine months.

''It's really a case of how the Hong Kong public respond to the event. But if it is promoted properly, there is no reason to suggest that rugby league cannot be sold to the Hong Kong public.'- David Howes, public relations officer for the Rugby Football League, on the possibility of staging the World Cup Challenge at the new Stadium next year.

''It was the old Lester magic which got my horse home. Like vintage wine he just gets better and better with age.''- Hong Kong trainer Ivan Allan, admiring the way legendary English jockey Lester Piggott steered Sterling Town to victory in the Hong Kong Classic Trial at Sha Tin on Saturday.

''He feels he's the man now and I feel he's not the man yet.''- The voice of experience - and possibly some envy. Patrick Ewing, 31, on the young pretender, Shaquille O'Neal, 21. O'Neal was preferred over Ewing as the starting centre in the Eastern Conference's All Star team yesterday.

''Please stop the fighting. Stop the killing. Drop your guns.''- International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch's emotional and spontaneous plea for peace in war-torn Sarajevo, at the opening of the Winter Games on Saturday.

''This week should be the turning point in which we reject the attitudes and systems that we have used in Asian football for the last 40 years.''- Asian Football Confederation general-secretary Peter Velappan, urging the region to improve its standard offootball. His comments were made before he discovered Japan had decided to withdraw its clubs from all AFC club tournaments.

''It is not good enough just to send the Hong Kong team away for a two-or three-month training stint ahead of a major championship. They may improve a little bit but they will still get slaughtered in competitions. It's just a waste of money.''- Where have we heard this before? This time it's Ngai Hing cycling team manager Vincent Tse On-po explaining why they intend to launch a professional team, with New Zealand as the base.

''If you can find a player who did himself justice today, then you've done a better job than me.''- Kevin Keegan, manager of Newcastle United after their 4-2 loss to Wimbledon on Saturday. He hasn't had too many trouncings since he took over and, presumably, has forgotten one or two vital parts of the job, like identifying those who can and those who can't be bothered.