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FIFA scraps plans for 48-team World Cup in 2022

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artisteer/iStock(NEW YORK) — The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will now only include 32 teams after FIFA gave up its efforts to expand the field to 48 teams.

Soccer’s international governing body had been exploring the possible ways it could expand the field, either by involving neighboring countries or lowering certain FIFA requirements. A statement released Wednesday made clear that neither option was feasible on such short notice.

In order to accommodate the 16 additional matches that the expanded field would require, FIFA had explored whether a nearby nation could host those matches. An internal report had already concluded that the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia would not be able to join as co-hosts unless they restored economic and travel ties with Qatar which had been severed two years ago. While Kuwait and Oman were considered viable options, the latter has said it wasn’t interested in hosting matches.

FIFA has now decided that there isn’t enough time to prepare an additional country for its games.

Two of the largest stadiums in Kuwait would have required upgrades to be used in the World Cup, and with concerns already abound over working conditions and labor rights in Qatar, such work is not considered possible.

Kuwait also has a full ban on alcohol, which could have been problematic for FIFA, which includes Budweiser as a major sponsor.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ESPN: Michigan in talks with former star Juwan Howard to become next men's basketball coach

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Moses Kinnah/iStock(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) — Former basketball star Juwan Howard is in talks to become the next head coach of his alma mater’s men’s basketball team, ESPN reports.

Howard, a member of the University of Michigan’s Fab Five recruiting class in 1991, helped the team reach two national championship games an an Elite Eight appearance. He played 19 seasons in the NBA and has spent the last six years as an assistant coach for the Miami Heat.

Howard interviewed for NBA coaching jobs with at least three teams this spring.

While no contract has been finalized, Howard reportedly became the frontrunner for the job after Providence College head coach Ed Cooley withdrew his name from consideration this week.

Michigan is looking to replace former head coach John Beilein, who left last week to become the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Beilein led the program to two national title games in 12 seasons as head coach.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Star pitcher David Cone discusses new book, New York Yankees

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Former MLB pitcher David Cone was known as one of the most impassioned and intelligent players of his era. The architect of one of the greatest games ever pitched, Cone’s reputation as a pitcher has followed him into the broadcast booth, where he serves as a television analyst for Yankee games.

Cone and fellow YES Network baseball analyst Jack Curry have teamed up write a new book, Full Count: The Education of a Pitcher. In a conversation with ABC News, Cone and Curry discuss their book and offer their thoughts on the current state of the New York Yankees.
 
“Not only did he end up taking me on a pitching journey–he gets personal in this book… a lot of emotion,” Curry says, as he reflects on their decision to write the book together. “I was always fascinated by how fascinated David was with pitching… I loved his creativity on the mound.”

For Cone, he wanted “someone you really trust [to tell these stories], and Jack was that guy for me.”

He describes how both his journey through the minor leagues and his upbringing made him a better Major League pitcher, highlighting his father’s impact:

“He was tough on me, and I was headstrong and stubborn, and it did make me tougher. He’d kick me out of practice and I’d stomp off, throw a fit, and he’d have a talk with me later on. It took a while for me to realize how I was coming off… A lot of [those] insecurities I went through and anxiety I went through as a pitcher was something that was taboo to talk about, but it’s also something that drives you.”

Curry and Cone reveal exactly what Cone was thinking during the most intense moments of his professional career, as well as others of which he is not as proud.

Cone says he sees that same passion he pitched with on the current New York Yankees team, who have competed in the American League East all season despite a slew of early injuries.

“Youth energizes the fan base,” Cone says, referring to some of the Yankees young, unexpected heroes like Domingo German and Gio Urshela. “As each day goes by and they keep producing, you get more excited about it.”

Curry says the team’s success is completely shocking, and with their start, believes they should be able to compete for a postseason berth. He does concede, however, “Some of those young contributors may be sent down [to the minor leagues]” once injured stars like Aaron Judge return.

The authors say they hope Full Count teaches readers about David Cone’s approach to pitching and how the five-time World Champion pitched with passion and intensity in every start he made.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Family member tried to extort NFL star for $5 million, court documents show

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Bob Levey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A relative of NFL star Tyrann Mathieu allegedly tried to extort him for $5 million, according to federal court documents unsealed on Tuesday.

Mathieu, who now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs after stints with Houston and Arizona, was allegedly blackmailed over private information, with the relative saying he would send private information to gossip outlet TMZ if he wasn’t paid.

Geourvon Keinell Sears, 20, is described in the criminal complaint as “a family member and heretofore a close associate of Victim #1.”

While the victim is unnamed in the criminal complaint — only referred to as a professional athlete with the initials “TM” — Mathieu’s lawyer, Denise White of EAG Sports, confirmed to Kansas City ABC affiliate KMBC-TV that Mathieu was the victim.

White said Mathieu is dealing with a “private and personal family issue,” and offered no further comment.

Sears allegedly spoke to Mathieu on the phone in late April and demanded the NFL star deposit $1.5 million in the suspect’s bank account by the end of the week, according to the complaint. Mathieu refused and blocked Sears from being able to contact him by phone.

But a day after being blocked, the suspect allegedly contacted a friend of Mathieu and said in a text, “5 MILLION BY FRIDAY IM DONE TALKING EMAILING TMZ NOW.” He also provided his bank account information so Mathieu, or his associates, could deposit the money, according to court documents.

Sears then allegedly went as far as to send Mathieu’s friends a voice message saying, “I want 1.5 million by Friday or I am going to kill all you all.”

Mathieu told police he feared for his and his family’s safety and believed Sears was capable of violence, according to the document.

The suspect then spoke to Mathieu’s agent by telephone and said he would “injure TM’s reputation by alleging sexual misconduct” if he didn’t receive the money.

Sears was initially expected to make a first court appearance in Louisiana, where he lives, on Thursday, but his lawyer successfully petitioned for 30 more days to review evidence in the case.

He will appear in court on June 21.

Sears was released on $25,000 bond and ordered to have no contact with Mathieu or his associates, in person or via social media, cellphone or computer. He is being held on home incarceration and with a monitoring device, according to the court order.

Mathieu struggled with disciplinary issues while at Louisiana State University, but his play on the field was electric as both a freshman and sophomore. As a sophomore he was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, awarded to the best college player in the nation each year.

But following the 2011-12 season, the star was dismissed from the team by head coach Les Miles. While the reason was never released by the school, ESPN reported that he had failed multiple drug tests. Mathieu enrolled back in LSU that fall as only a student, but was arrested for drug possession in October 2012 and declared for the NFL draft a month later.

Mathieu was drafted in the third round due to concerns about his behavior, but quickly became one of the best safeties in the league paired with his former college teammate Patrick Peterson. He made the All-Rookie team in 2013 and was a first-team All Pro in 2015. He signed a five-year, $62 million deal following that season, but was injured in 2016 and released by Arizona in 2018.

He played one season with the Houston Texans before signing with the Chiefs this offseason for three years and $42 million.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup — 5/21/19

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iStock(NEW YORK) — Here are the scores from Tuesday’s sports events:

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

INTERLEAGUE

Miami 5 Detroit 4, 11 Innings
LA Dodgers 7 Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City at St. Louis 8:15 p.m., postponed

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Oakland 5 Cleveland 3
NY Yankees 11 Baltimore 4
Toronto 10 Boston 3
Texas 5 Seattle 3
Houston 5 Chi White Sox 1
Minnesota 8 LA Angels 3

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Colorado 5 Pittsburgh 0
Chi Cubs 3 Philadelphia 2
NY Mets 6 Washington 5
Cincinnati 3 Milwaukee 0
San Francisco 4 Atlanta 3
San Diego 3 Arizona 2

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS, GAME 4

Toronto 120 Milwaukee 102

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
St. Louis 5 San Jose 1 (St. Louis wins series)

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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