Day before FIFA World Cup, Qatar faces overcrowding troubles
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Authorities have turned away thousands of fans from a concert celebrating the World Cup beginning the next day in Qatar. The move by officials Saturday night shows the challenges ahead for Doha as it tries to manage crowds in FIFA’s most compact tournament ever. Disappointed fans took being turned away largely in stride. Once away from the venue, Qatari police, security guards and others guided the thousands away with giant foam fingers, bullhorns and blinking traffic control wands. But the concert comes before the crush of the 1.2 million fans expect for the tournament fully arrive in this nation on the Arabian Peninsula.
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.”
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.
VanDerveer hits pool, transcends women’s coaching eras
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Tara VanDerveer makes the two-minute walk from Maples Pavilion to the pool three times a week to get in her mile-long swims. Regular swimming is one more thing Stanford’s women’s basketball coach squeezes into her jam-packed days three times a week to keep mentally and physically ready as she begins her 37th season on The Farm. Her No. 2 Stanford team will take on top-ranked South Carolina on Sunday in a showdown of the past two NCAA champions.
McIlroy, Fitzpatrick in mix for title as Rahm leads in Dubai
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Rory McIlroy is well-placed for another Race to Dubai title after his 7-under 65 left him three shots off the lead heading into the final round at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship. Jon Rahm holds a one-stroke lead after a bogey-free 65 put the Spaniard at 15-under 201 overall at Jumeirah Golf Estates. The top-ranked McIlroy will battle U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick on Sunday for the Harry Vardon Trophy. McIlroy is trying to end the season as the European tour’s leading player for the fourth time in his career. Fitzpatrick can clinch what would be his first Race to Dubai title if he wins Sunday and McIlroy finishes below second.
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.
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.