North America’s sports leagues might be itching to return to action, but 72 percent of respondents to a Seton Hall University poll said that they would not feel safe attending games until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed. Asked what they would do if leagues resumed play before there was a vaccine, 12 percent of respondents to a poll that was released on Thursday said they would attend, but only if social distancing could be maintained, while only 13 percent said they would feel safe. The poll, run by the Sharkey Institute within Seton Hall’s Stillman School of Business, was conducted from Monday to Wednesday with 762 respondents. Over the past month, the pandemic has shut down world sports on an unprecedented scale. “This virus has the attention and respect of the nation,” Seton Hall sports poll director Rick Gentile said. “Those who identify as sports fans, at all levels of interest, line up closely with the general population in regard to their own safety and that of the players.” The NBA suspended its season on March 11 after a Utah Jazz player tested positive. This was quickly followed by the NHL, MLB and other sports postponing or canceling events. While respondents said that they were in no rush to fill stadiums and arenas, they clearly miss sports, with 76 percent saying that they would watch broadcasts of the games with the same interest as before, while only 16 percent said that they would be less interested. In what could be a worrying sign for the leagues, only 29 percent said that they very much missed having the opportunity to watch live sporting events. Many of North America’s major leagues have been brainstorming scenarios that would help them to return to action as soon as possible — even considering playing games in empty stadiums before the coronavirus is completely
When it came time for the NFL to name its all-decade team for the 2010s, it was no surprise that Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker was a unanimous choice. One could argue that of all the players selected for the team, the best of the lot was Tucker. However, people might quickly clarify that statement: No one would argue that they would rather have Tucker on their team than other unanimous picks, such as Tom Brady. Was Tucker a better kicker in the 2010s than Brady was a quarterback, or Aaron Donald a defensive lineman? It is certainly not hyperbole to suggest that he is the greatest of all-time at his position. After all Tucker is the most accurate kicker in the history of the NFL, one of eight NFL records that he owns. Tucker not only makes kicks, but he makes them when they matter. That might well be why only Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning have earned more Player of the Month awards. Even Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who has coached two elite kickers in Stephen Gostkowski and Adam Vinatieri, has gone on record to call Tucker the best player at his position. Yet, there is that caveat: “at his position.” There is an element of damning with faint praise here. No matter how skilled he is at his craft, Tucker will always be “only” a kicker. Kickers are a vital part of any NFL team, yet there are many who refuse to count them as “real football players.” Part of the problem lies within the sport itself. Like an elite relief pitcher in baseball, kickers are only brought in when the situation calls for them. While offensive and defensive players play together as a unit, a kicker comes into a game with all eyes on him. Football briefly mutates into a radically different —
Tiger Woods should have been trying to keep his Masters green jacket out of the clutches of the world’s top golfers over the next four days, but instead he plans to battle his 11-year-old son Charlie for it over putting competitions. The Masters — which Woods won in a magical fashion for a fifth time a year ago, claiming his first major since 2008 — has been postponed until November due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shut down world sports on an unprecedented scale. Like his rivals, Tiger Woods, 44, has been trying to stay busy at home, as he waits for the day that the PGA Tour can restart. While he has enjoyed the family time, including 2,000-piece jigsaw puzzles and cupcakes, Tiger Woods said that being “wired” to play, but not preparing for Augusta’s first tee has been difficult. His local course — Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida — has remained open, but playing against Charlie has meant that he can sharpen his competitive instincts. “We’ve been able to go out there and compete,” Tiger Woods said in an interview with Discovery-owned golf streaming service GOLFTV. “He’s got a lot better at throwing the needle at me now, and he’s accepting it faster and reversing it back. We have a deal: In the backyard generally every night, we’ll play putting matches and the winner gets to keep the green jacket in the closet.” “Occasionally, it’s gone into his closet,” Tiger Woods said. “Primarily, it’s stayed in mine, but the fact he’s been able to earn it off me — because there are no wins that are given in this family. It’s been fun to see him tease me about beating me, and being able to wear the jacket and have it in his closet, where he says it belongs.” As a defending
Nine-time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb said that he has no trouble finding ways to lift his spirits and pass the time under lockdown. Dirt-biking through the kitchen, driving Formula One on a games console and embarrassing codriver Daniel Elena on social media are among the diversions that Frenchman Loeb has found under lockdown at his home in Switzerland. Loeb last competed in the Monte Carlo rally in January, the opening round of the World Rally Championship. Since then, with the season on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he has not been behind the wheel for his Hyundai team. With time on his hands, Loeb has adopted new pursuits. These include riding his dirt bike around his swimming pool, up the garden steps and through his kitchen. The video has been seen more than 141,000 times on Instagram, giving a glimpse of how he passes his time when away from his chosen sport. “I don’t do too much. A little bit of sport, PlayStation, I look after my daughter, a bit of trampoline and some dirt-biking at home,” Loeb said earlier this week. As well as his biking video, fans have been following the banter between Loeb and teammate Elena on social media. On Sunday, a well-toned Loeb posted photographs of him working out with the caption: “My [first] punishment for driving my bike in the house: 250 press-ups every day.” A less buff Elena fired back a day later with photographs of himself matching Loeb’s efforts, saying: “The success of a team is its complementarity.” Loeb denied that he was in competition with Elena. “With ‘Danos,’ it’s not a challenge that I’ve started. It’s him who starts the challenges himself by doing the same thing as me,” he said. “It’s not always a success, but you have to make the effort to try.” As well as interacting on social media, Loeb
The lockdown might have left plenty of Britons ready to scale their walls in frustration, but runner John Griffin has put his pent-up energy to better use: by climbing the height of Mount Everest up his staircase. It took Griffin four days to climb 41,000 steps at his three-story house in West Sussex, England, equivalent to the 8,850m that the world’s highest mountain measures. His effort has so far raised ￡3,500 (US$4,366) for the Trussell Trust, a charity that supports more than 1,200 food banks. “As a result of the coronavirus panic, people have been stealing food [collected in supermarkets] and so this charity had its input of food effectively cut off,” the 53-year-old said. Using a computer programmed by his neighbor to track his progress, he almost came unstuck on day three when his knee began to hurt, but he took his wife’s advice and taped frozen peas to it, which enabled him to push on, finally reaching the “summit” after 29 hours of “climbing.” His family, including dog Houndslow, were waiting on the rooftop terrace when he ran up the stairs for the final time. Unfortunately, due to social distancing, they were the only people there, Griffin said. “Carb loading was absolutely essential,” he added. “I was probably burning about 6,500 calories per day.” “[Now] I’m going to swim the English Channel in my bathtub,” he said, laughing.
SUMO WRESTLING Wrestler contracts virus A Japanese sumo wrestler has tested positive for COVID-19, increasing the likelihood that next month’s Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, which has already been delayed, is to be further postponed. The wrestler, whose name has not been disclosed, developed a fever last week, but none of his stablemates and no officials have experienced symptoms, the Japan Sumo Association said yesterday. At the spring tournament, which was held last month in Osaka without spectators, wrestlers had to adhere to strict guidelines to avoid becoming infected. MLB Yankees top ‘Forbes’ list Forbes estimates that the New York Yankees are baseball’s most valuable franchise at US$5 billion, up 9 percent from last year and 47 percent more than the No. 2 Los Angeles Dodgers at US$3.4 billion. The Yankees are second among all sports to the Dallas Cowboys, listed at US$5.5 billion in the latest NFL ranking, Forbes’ evaluations showed. The magazine estimates that the value of the average MLB team rose 4 percent from last year, the smallest annual appreciation since 2010. E-SPORTS Stars to join charity event Players from 20 of Europe’s most historic soccer clubs are to compete in the Stay and Play Cup, Electronic Arts announced on Thursday. The online charity event, scheduled to run from Wednesday until April 19, is to feature stars from FIFA 20, including Ajax, AS Roma, Liverpool and Real Madrid, the organizer said. The Cup expects to donate US$1 million to Global Giving’s Coronavirus Relief Fund. “Millions of fans can experience the thrill of their favorite clubs and professional footballers playing — even when we have to be apart,” Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson said. NHL Player’s wife seeks miracle Edmonton Oilers center Colby Cave on Thursday remained in a coma in a Toronto hospital with his family saying that it will take a “miracle” for him to pull through. The
SEEKING WITNESSES: The complaint, seeking about US$30,000 in damages, said that caddie Joe LaCava shoved Brian Borruso into other spectators causing injuries
A Florida man is suing Tiger Woods and caddie Joe LaCava over an alleged shove at the 2018 Valspar Championship, with his lawyer on Wednesday asking all witnesses to come forward. Brian Borruso’s attorney, Josh Dreschel, issued a statement seeking the public’s help in identifying voices on a video that appears to capture portions of the incident. “We’re asking anyone who was there to contact us and let us know if you saw the incident, if you know whose voices are on the video, and if you may have video or pictures of the incident,” Dreschel of the St Petersburg, Florida-based Josh Firm said. “Unfortunately, the PGA has refused to cooperate, even though we are confident they have the incident on video.” The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in the state’s Pinellas County, said that the incident took place on the 13th hole in the third round of the tournament at the Innisbrook Resort near Tampa, Florida. Woods hit his tee shot over the green and near spectators, including Borruso — who tried to take a selfie with Woods in the background of the shot as the superstar approached the ball. The complaint, seeking about US$30,000 in damages, said that LaCava shoved Borruso into other spectators causing injuries. Borusso’s injuries were not specified, but the complaint said that he needed treatment at a hospital and suffered a loss of income, and that the incident aggravated an existing health condition. Woods was named in the lawsuit because he is the caddie’s boss and, as the suit said, the rules of golf stipulate that a player is responsible for his caddie’s actions during a round. Woods’ appearance at the championship was just his fourth start in a PGA Tour event since undergoing spinal fusion surgery the previous April. Woods finished tied for second, behind England’s Paul Casey. He drained a 45-foot putt
Wearing gloves for hygienic reasons and observing social distancing on the pitch are among the challenges facing Bundesliga soccer players back in training this week, amid hopes that the league might resume next month. Most of the 18 clubs in Germany’s top flight returned to their clubs on Monday — albeit in small groups and with limited contact to meet health guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. League matches in Germany were suspended on March 13. The German Football League is in talks with club management and authorities about the Bundesliga resuming on May 2, but with matches played with no fans as public events remain banned in the country. A decision about when competition might resume is expected on Friday next week, which could make it the first of Europe’s top leagues to return. The players are adjusting to training in the era of social distancing. Defending champions Bayern Munich, who were four points clear when the league was halted, were typical of sides in holding sessions in small groups. Contact is kept to a minimum with handshakes banned, and players staying 1.5m apart, even on the training pitch. “It was a very unusual feeling to train in small groups,” Bayern captain Manuel Neuer said. Up to five players were permitted per group at Bayern’s state-of-the-art training complex. Like most other clubs, Bayern’s squad members were told to shower elsewhere and handed post-training snacks in a box to eat at home. At VfL Wolfsburg, the players trained wearing gloves, despite warm spring temperatures. “For hygienic reasons, we have to wear gloves, even though it’s 22°C,” forward Maximilian Arnold said. “Of course it’s necessary, but also a bit funny.” Tackling and close-quarter challenges for the ball are frowned upon at all outfits. “I would love to tackle, but I can’t do that now,” TSG 1899 Hoffenheim defender Havard Nordtveit said. Previous weeks at home —
The postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games was a heavy blow for many athletes, but a team of South Sudan sprinters training at a Japanese town are hoping to turn the delay into an advantage. The four athletes and their coach have since November last year been in Maebashi, north of Tokyo, to take advantage of training facilities that are not available in their home country. After the news that the Games had been postponed over the COVID-19 pandemic, they decided to stay until at least July, hoping to beef up their skills. “The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed, but it’s not a problem,” team coach Joseph Rensio Tobia Omirok, 59, said. “I’m happy because I’m still training. In other countries, they have no training. They’re sitting in their house, but here we are OK. Training now is going OK.” The decision to postpone the Games for a year until July 2021 came after athletes and sports associations heaped pressure on organizers and Olympic officials, pointing to scrapped qualifying events and restrictions on training. Japan has so far avoided the sort of major outbreak seen in Europe and the US, and even a state of emergency declared on Tuesday only applies to some parts of the country. It does not include Gunma Prefecture, where Maebashi is located. The city of 340,000 has pledged to continue helping the athletes by providing them with accommodation, meals and the use of a public track, along with an army of volunteer coaches and translators. Maebashi decided to host the team — the coach, one female and two male Olympic sprinters, and one male Paralympic sprinter — as part of its efforts to promote peace through sports. The athletes have visited local schools and community events to talk about their homeland, which won independence in 2011 and has been battling to recover from
LeBron James on Wednesday said that the abrupt shutdown of the NBA season due to the COVID-19 pandemic has left the Los Angeles Lakers feeling like they still have something to prove. The Lakers were in the midst of a revival season, having made the playoffs for the first time in seven years, when the league suspended the 2019-2020 season on March 11 after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. At the time of the postponement, the Lakers were in first place in the Western Conference and had the second-best record in the league behind Milwaukee. If the season does not resume, there would be a void, James said. “Closure? No. But to be proud of what we were able to accomplish to this point, I’ll be able to look back and say we did something special in that small period of time,” James said during a conference call with reporters. “Just the ups and downs, not only on the floor, but off the floor — everything that we’ve had to endure as Laker faithful.” James said that he is having trouble coming to grips with the scale of the pandemic. “How do you assess what’s going on over the last three weeks or however long this pandemic has been going on? It’s unnatural,” James said. “It’s something that’s never happened before. You just kind of take all the information you have on a day-to-day basis.” He has been spending his self-isolating time practicing basketball with his son Bronny, and talking on the telephone with teammates and Lakers coach Frank Vogel. James wants to return to basketball, but said that it would be up to the experts to decide when. NBA commissioner Adam Silver this week said that he does not expect a decision on whether they can salvage the season until at least next month. “Once they allow us
Six-time NFL Super Bowl champion Tom Brady foresaw his exit from the New England Patriots long before he announced it, the quarterback on Wednesday told radio host Howard Stern in an interview that touched on his emotional departure, his new life in Tampa Bay and his friendship with US President Donald Trump. “I probably knew before the start of last season that it was my last year,” Brady said. “Our time was coming to an end.” Brady last month announced that he was leaving the Patriots in free agency after two decades with the team with which he broke numerous NFL records, including most Super Bowl wins, most Super Bowl appearances and most playoff wins, marking a profound end to a storied NFL partnership. Brady said that he told team owner Robert Kraft in person that he would not rejoin the team and called head coach Bill Belichick immediately after. “I was crying. I’m a very emotional person,” Brady said. “I have a deep caring for the people I’ve worked with.” The 42-year-old, who since signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said that he harbors no ill will toward his former team, and pushed aside the common debate over who was the true star of the Patriots’ success: Belichick or himself. “I can’t do his job and he can’t do mine,” Brady said. Like millions of Americans, the four-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player is living in relative lockdown with his wife and children, amid the COVID-19 pandemic that upended the professional sports calendar and brought life to a grinding halt around the world. Unlike millions of Americans, Brady said that he is staying at a sprawling Tampa Bay mansion that he rented from Baseball Hall of Famer Derek Jeter — adjusting to a radically different environment from New England, which he called home for two decades. A long-time
Soccer star Wang Shuang is finally to reunite with the China women’s national team after two months of being stranded at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, China, state media reported. The 25-year-old former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder is set to bolster a squad due to battle South Korea over two legs for Asia’s final qualifying berth for the Tokyo Olympic Games, which has been postponed for a year to July 2021. Wuhan native Wang was in February pictured kicking a ball on a rooftop while on lockdown to keep up her fitness. Tens of thousands of people on Wednesday fled Wuhan when a 76-day travel ban was lifted. Wang and two other players stranded in Wuhan, Yao Wei and Lu Yueyun, are to join the squad in Suzhou, China, to prepare for the playoff, Xinhua news agency reported, adding that the first leg has been tentatively scheduled for June 4 in South Korea. However, the trio is first to undergo another 14 days of quarantine after arriving in Suzhou, Sina Sports said. Wang, the undoubted star of the Chinese side, has won more than 100 caps. She spent a year in Paris with PSG before returning to Chinese soccer in July last year. Wang scored eight goals and contributed seven assists in 27 matches for PSG.
GLOBAL REACH: Taiwan Cricket said that up to five sides could play in a broadcast competition and that upgrading local infrastructure would be beneficial to a deal
Broadcasting companies are turning to Taiwan for cricket content amid the shutdown of the sport in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An Internet streaming platform based in Mumbai, India, yesterday contacted Taiwan Cricket asking for rights to stream games in Taipei to its cricket-starved audience, which it put at 75 million people. Yesterday, another India-based live sports streaming platform was seeking a “Taiwan cricket partnership.” The firms were promising global reach through their platforms with live content for users. They also said that they were looking at basketball and soccer in Taiwan. Taiwan Cricket — which is not recognized by the government — promotes the sport and organizes games among teams nationwide. There are at least six sides who could potentially be part of a broadcast competition at the Yingfeng Cricket Ground in Taipei’s Songshan District: the Taipei Cricket Association, Pakistan Cricket Club Taipei, the Hsinchu Titans, the Taipei Dragons, Indian Cricket Club Taipei and Formosa Cricket Club. Taiwan Cricket said that it was seeking advice from the teams and Taipei broadcasters to determine whether a deal was possible. An upgrade to the cricketing infrastructure in Taipei would be of great benefit — a real investment in the game — if a deal is to be made, it said. It said that it was speaking with the Indian firms and was planning to start broadcasting games on Saturday next week. Cricket in India, as with almost all top sports leagues worldwide, has been postponed, with its Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 competition delayed until Wednesday next week, although that date seems likely to be pushed back further or the season canceled altogether. The Sportsbusiness Web site yesterday reported that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which runs the IPL, had given permission to pay-TV broadcaster Star India to broadcast old matches amid the lack of live
About 6,500 athletes who have already earned their spots for the Tokyo Games are in for next year under redrawn qualifying regulations published on Tuesday by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC released its rewritten road map for qualifying for the Games, which were rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic to July 23 to Aug. 8 next year. The new deadline for qualifying is June 29 next year and entry lists are due a week later. Individual international sports federations would still be in charge of their qualifying procedures. Many sports allow athletes to qualify by compiling results over a series of events. The IOC urged the federations to find a balance “between protecting those athletes who were close to qualifying based on the previous 2020 deadlines and also ensuring the best athletes at the Olympic Games” by taking into consideration performances next year. The IOC announcement confirmed reports last week that the sports had agreed to let athletes keep spots they already had earned. It clarified a number of points, including the need for boxing to relax a rule that sets the top age in the sport at 40. It also requires sports such as gymnastics to decide whether to allow athletes who would have been too young to compete this year to try to be eligible for next year. “Athlete health is the guiding principle in the scheduling of any remaining Olympic qualification events,” the IOC said, urging sports not to confirm rescheduling until the effects of the novel coronavirus can be assessed. Along those lines, World Athletics on Tuesday announced that it was shutting down all qualifying procedures through Nov. 30. Its new window for qualifying would run from Dec. 1 to June 29 next year. “During this period, results achieved at any competition will not be considered for Tokyo 2020 entry
The June 14 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on Tuesday joined a growing list of Formula One races postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with this season yet to get on the starting grid. The race is the ninth to be affected by the coronavirus, with the March 15 season-opening Australian Grand Prix canceled along with next month’s showcase Monaco Grand Prix. Commercial rights holder Liberty Media hopes to get the championship started in the European summer with a reduced and greatly rearranged schedule of between 15 and 18 races that could run into the new year. “At the moment it is crucial that all of our energies be put together to overcome COVID-19. We will welcome you with open arms at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve as soon as it is safe to do so,” Canadian Grand Prix CEO Francois Dumontier said. The race is promoted by Octane Racing Group and organizers said that the decision to postpone, after regular discussions with city authorities and Formula One, was not taken lightly. “We have heard the directives issued by public health officials and as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic are following the expert guidance provided by the authorities,” the organizers said. Almost half of Canada’s COVID-19 cases are in Quebec Province, of which Montreal is the largest city. Quebec Premier Francois Legault on Sunday said that he hoped to see the number of new cases peak in a number of weeks. He also extended a shutdown of nonessential businesses for another three weeks to May 4. Formula One chairman Chase Carey said that Formula One supported the “necessary decision to ensure the safety of fans and F1 community.” “We always look forward to travelling to the incredible city of Montreal and while we will all have to wait a bit longer, we will put on a great show when we
As COVID-19 infections rise steadily in Brazil and threaten to cause chaos in its densely populated favelas, some of the country’s leading athletes are stepping up to help the most vulnerable communities. Olympic judo medalist Flavio Canto is among those giving his time and money to battle the COVID-19 pandemic in South America’s biggest nation. “When all this is over, those that have a lot are going to have a lot less, but they’ll still have more than most, and they have an obligation to help those who have nothing,” Rio de Janeiro-based judoka Canto told reporters. A bronze medalist in the men’s 81kg category at the 2004 Athens Games, Canto is almost as famous in Brazil for his work with the Instituto Reacao, a charity that uses martial arts to help transform young people’s lives. Canto is raising funds for a project that would give a monthly stipend to thousands of families in Rio de Janeiro and Cuiaba who are under quarantine or suffering financially due to unemployment or the need to self-isolate. The monthly stipend of about 100 reais (US$19.15) would come in the form of a prepaid cash card that can be used in local supermarkets. In a nation where corruption is rife and the government’s coronavirus strategy has come under scrutiny, Canto said that athletes are the ideal group to spearhead relief efforts, because they are trusted by the public. “One of the big problems in Brazil is that people lack the confidence their money and resources will be distributed properly,” he said by telephone from Rio de Janeiro. “My charity has 20 years of experience in that field and the other athletes are people with the same profile, who have experience in charity work and therefore credibility,” he added. One such athlete is Dunga, who captained Brazil’s national soccer team to their 1994 FIFA
Tommy Fleetwood’s caddie, Ian Finnis, has raised ￡10,000 (US$12,300) to help his fellow European Tour bagmen whose earnings have been affected financially due to golf’s suspension amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The tour has either postponed or canceled events scheduled between last and next month. The Open Championship has been scrapped this year, while the other three majors — the Masters, PGA Championship and US Open — have all been postponed. Fleetwood has five European Tour victories, including last year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, and has earned more than 18 million euros (US$19.54 million) in prize money during his career, the European Tour Web site showed. Finnis, who has worked with the English golfer since 2016, on Tuesday said on Twitter that he was selling 1,000 raffle tickets at ￡10 each, with all proceeds going to benefit caddies. The prizes included flags from Europe’s Ryder Cup team, a hat autographed by Fleetwood and tournament caddie bibs. Four hours after launching the drive, he said on Twitter that it had already met its target. “Please no more donations,” he wrote. “Unreal from the golf world 1,000 tickets sold in four hours, ￡10k donations.” “Was expecting it to take a lot longer!!! Thank you to all that donated,” he added. Finnis said on a GoFundMe Page he set up for the drive that it was a “tough time for everyone.” “Some caddies will really be feeling this, with families and possibly no wages for three months so auctioning what I can to help them out,” he said. “Me and my family struggled early on in my caddying career, so I know how hard it is at times and especially now,” he added.
Qatar on Tuesday called allegations that it bribed FIFA officials for the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup “baseless” and said that they “will be fiercely contested.” US Department of Justice documents released on Monday showed that FIFA officials received bribes to vote in favor of awarding the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. Qatar said that it “strongly denies the allegations contained within the court papers.” The timing of the global soccer spectacle, scheduled to be held in November and December 2022, remains unchanged by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced the postponement of the UEFA Euro 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics. Both are now to take place next year. The allegations are linked to a wide-ranging 2015 corruption scandal that left world soccer’s governing body in turmoil and led to the downfall of then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter. In the ensuing years, the US government has accused 45 people and various sports companies of more than 90 crimes, and of paying or accepting more than US$200 million in bribes. “They are part of a long-standing case, the subject of which is not the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process,” Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is responsible for stadiums and other infrastructure for the competition, said in a statement. “Despite years of false claims, evidence has never been produced to demonstrate that Qatar won the rights to host the FIFA World Cup 2022 unethically or by means that contravened FIFA’s strict bidding rules,” it added.
For the first time since halting play four weeks ago, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday raised the possibility of not completing the regular season to squeeze in time to award the Stanley Cup. Bettman also acknowledged in an interview with NBCSN that the league is considering having games played at neutral sites in the event not all teams will be allowed into their home rinks. However, Bettman said that these are among myriad options being considered with nothing determined, because it would take at least two more weeks to gain a clearer picture on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the league’s 31 markets. “We’re looking at all options. Nothing’s been ruled in. Nothing’s been ruled out,” Bettman said in the interview broadcast on the league’s US broadcast partner. “The best thing and the easiest thing would be if at some point we could complete the regular season and then go into the playoffs as we normally do,” he said. “We understand that may not be possible... and that’s why we’re considering every conceivable alternative to deal with whatever the eventuality is.” Bettman had not previously raised the possibility of shortening the regular season, which was halted on March 12 with 189 games remaining. The 16-team playoffs were scheduled to start yesterday, although they likely will not begin until late June — at the earliest — and could stretch into August and potentially September. NHL players have been asked to self-quarantine through Wednesday next week, a date that has been pushed back twice already and is expected to be moved once again. The number of NHL players who have tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday rose to eight as the league announced a third Colorado Avalanche player tested positive, joining five members of the Ottawa Senators. The season was put on hold with teams having played an
CORRUPT GOVERNANCE: The indictment said that Paraguay’s Nicolas Leoz and Brazil’s Ricardo Teixeira had received bribes in exchange for voting for Qatar’s World Cup bid
Two former executives of US media giant Fox on Monday were charged with corruption, bank fraud and money laundering as US federal prosecutors shed fresh light on the scandal-tainted bidding war for the FIFA World Cups in 2018 and 2022. Former 21st Century Fox employees Hernan Lopez, 49, and Carlos Martinez, 41, face charges, along with 65-year-old Gerard Romy, who worked for Spanish media conglomerate Imagina. The three men are accused of paying millions in bribes to officials from the governing bodies for soccer in South America, and North America, Central America and the Caribbean. The charges allege the bribes were paid in exchange for lucrative TV rights contracts for regional competitions, the Copa America, and qualifying games for the two World Cups. The case forms part of the wide-ranging 2015 corruption scandal that left FIFA in turmoil and led to the downfall of then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter. An unsealed superseding indictment also detailed corruption surrounding the 2010 vote in Zurich, Switzerland, which saw FIFA award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. The indictment said former Brazilian FIFA member Ricardo Teixeira and late Paraguayan official Nicolas Leoz, both members of the FIFA committee which voted on the tournaments, received bribes in exchange for voting for Qatar’s bid. In addition, Trinidadian FIFA official Jack Warner “was promised and received” payments totaling US$5 million to vote for Russia, while Guatemala’s Rafael Salguero was promised a US$1 million bribe to vote for Russia. Salguero pleaded guilty to multiple corruption charges in 2016 and was banned from FIFA, while Warner, who faces charges in the US, is battling extradition to the US from Trinidad. “The profiteering and bribery in international soccer have been deep-seated and commonly known practices for decades,” William Sweeney, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said in