Infantino scolds World Cup critics in extraordinary diatribe
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — FIFA president Gianni Infantino has delivered a one-hour tirade on the eve of the World Cup’s opening match and then spent about 45 minutes answering questions from media about the Qatari government’s actions and a wide range of other topics. Infantino says he feels gay, feels like a woman and feels like a migrant worker. Infantino later defended the country’s immigration policy and praised the government for bringing in migrants to work. He called Europe’s criticism of Qatar’s policy on migrant workers “hypocrisy.” He says “give them some future. Give them some hope.”
FIFA head says fans ‘will survive’ without beer at World Cup
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — FIFA president Gianni Infantino has downplayed Qatar’s last minute ban on the sale of beer at World Cup stadiums as nothing more than a brief inconvenience to spectators. Infantino says the beer ban at stadiums was made jointly by Qatar officials and FIFA. He says that fans should be able to go without alcohol for the duration of matches and noted alcohol is not sold in some European countries in stadiums.
World Cup opens with host country Qatar facing Ecuador
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Qatar’s soccer team has slipped under the radar given the level of focus on the host country’s regime, its attitudes toward human rights, immigrant workers, the LGBTQ community and beer. Qatar opens the tournament against Ecuador on Sunday but the build up to that match has been overshadowed by the announcement that the sale of beer will be banned inside the stadium grounds. Qatar has never before appeared in a World Cup and faces a major challenge just to emerge from Group A. Sunday may be Qatar’s best hope for a victory against an Ecuador team that is only five places above it at No. 44 in the FIFA rankings.
Mikaela Shiffrin wins season-opening World Cup slalom
LEVI, Finland (AP) — World Cup champion champion Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States has claimed the season-opening women’s World Cup race for her 48th slalom victory. No other skier has won more titles in a single competition. Shiffrin moved to the top with the fastest second run after placing third in the opening run in foggy conditions in Finnish Lapland to beat Anna Swenn Larsson of Sweden by .16 of a second. Slalom Olympic champion and last season’s World Cup slalom winner Petra Vlhová of Slovakia was third, another four hundredths of a second back. Both Shiffrin and Vlhova have won five slalom events in the Finnish resort.
Antetokounmpo argues with arena worker, flings away ladder
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo argued with an arena worker and flung a ladder away from a basket, sending it toppling over as he tried to shoot practice free throws after the Bucks’ 110-102 loss to Philadelphia on Friday night. After going 4 for 15 from the line, Antetokounmpo returned to the floor several minutes after the game ended to shoot free throws. Antetokounmpo proceeded to miss his first five foul shots in the postgame practice. One of the workers set up a 12-foot ladder next to the basket where Antetokounmpo was shooting. Antetokounmpo and moved it out of the way and the employee moved it back. Antetokounmpo had a quick, heated verbal exchange, then moved the ladder away again, sending it crashing down.
Joel Embiid, short-handed 76ers rally to beat Bucks 110-102
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid had 32 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists and the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers overcame a 13-point deficit to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 110-102 on Friday night. Embiid had 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the second half after 76ers star guard Tyrese Maxey left just before halftime with a left foot injury. Maxey had 24 points, five assists and four rebounds before rolling his ankle while driving to the basket against Jevon Carter. Philadelphia said he will have an MRI Saturday. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 25 points and 14 rebounds, however, his struggles from the free-throw line — he went 4 of 15 — were amplified with each attempt in the second half by a raucous Philadelphia crowd.
Ko runs out to 5-shot lead at CME Group Tour Championship
NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — Lydia Ko is in total control at the halfway mark of the CME Group Tour Championship. Total control of the season-long scoring and money races, too. Ko shot a 6-under 66 in Friday’s second round of the LPGA Tour’s season finale, pushing her to 13 under for the tournament and five shots clear of Hyo Joo Kim through 36 holes. Ko made four birdies in a six-hole stretch midway through her round, rolled in a testy 4-footer to save par on the par-4 13th to maintain what was then a four-shot lead, and hasn’t dropped a shot since her opening hole on Thursday.
Dodgers cut 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger, could re-sign him
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cody Bellinger has been cut by the Los Angeles Dodgers, making the 2019 NL MVP a free agent. Rather than offer him arbitration, the Dodgers decided not to tender a 2023 contract to Bellinger. The 27-year-old outfielder earned $17 million this season, when he batted .210 with 19 homers, 150 strikeouts and a .654 OPS in 144 games. Bellinger likely would have received a slight raise in arbitration, but the NL West champions chose to let him go instead. While prized for his defensive prowess, Bellinger has endured a stunning regression on offense over the last three seasons.
Lamar Jackson misses practice, but Harbaugh says he’ll play
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Lamar Jackson missed practice because of an illness, but Baltimore coach John Harbaugh says the Ravens’ star quarterback will be fine for Sunday’s game against Carolina. Jackson has yet to miss a game this season. The Ravens listed him as questionable for Sunday on their injury report. Baltimore did not rule anyone out on that injury report. Tight end Mark Andrews and running back Gus Edwards are questionable as well. Andrews was a full participant at Friday’s practice. Cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis is doubtful after missing two straight practices.
Cristiano Ronaldo gambles on World Cup to restore reputation
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo is trusting himself to deliver on the big stage once again. A man of seemingly boundless self-belief is struggling to accept the effects of age and banking on the World Cup to launch a glorious final act to his remarkable career. His explosive interview with Piers Morgan this week has set the stage for a make-or-break few weeks for the 37-year-old Portugal forward and left him with little room to maneuver if it goes wrong. It’s quite the gamble. But it’s unlikely failure has even been considered.