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Mexico’s soccer coach fired after dustup with reporter

Miguel Herrera was fired as manager/coach of Mexico’s national soccer team, after allegedly punching a reporter at Philadelphia International Airport following the team’s victory in the Gold Cup.  TV Azteca’s Christian Martinoli said Herrera punched him in the back of the neck with his fist and then threatened to kill him.  At the time of the firing the only witnesses against Herrera were employees of TV Azteca, which has been highly critical of his coaching.  Airport security personnel said they had no video of the incident, even though the confrontation took place near a security checkpoint.  There was no arrest.  Even so, the Mexico Football Federation voted Tuesday to dismiss Herrera, the day after the airport incident, which occurred the morning after Mexico’s 3-1 victory over the low-rated Jamaica, which had knocked Team USA out of the tournament.


Croatia punished for swastika etched into its pitch

After deliberating for a month, Europe’s governing body in soccer punished Croatia for hosting a match in which a swastika was etched into the pitch.  The design apparently wasn’t noticed in the grass until the June 12 match against Italy in the Euro 2016 qualifier had begun.  Punishment by the UEFA included requiring Croatia to play its next two home matches in an empty stadium.  Croatia protested, claiming the Nazi symbol was an act of “sabotage” by an infiltrator applying chemicals to the grass.  But the Croation Football Federation (HNS) has some history against it.  One of its star players, Josip Simunic, led a pro-Nazi chant in 2013 to celebrate the country securing a World Cup berth.  FIFA then banned him from the World Cup team.


Putin endorses FIFA’s Blatter for Nobel Prize

Sepp Blatter is under attack from many quarters for corruption, but Russia’s president, Vladimer Putin, endorsed the FIFA president for a Nobel Prize.  Blatter appeared on stage with Putin in St. Petersburgh for the preliminary draw of the 2018 World Cup to be played in Russia.  “I believe that people like Mr. Blatter, heads of international sports federations, deserve special attention and gratitude from public organizations,” Putin said.  “If anyone should be awarded Nobel Prizes, it’s these people.”

Between the Lines:  FIFA is accused of awarding the World Cup to Russia as a result of bribery.  Putin remains grateful.


Nuggets prez says Lawson was traded because of drinking

Josh Kroenke, president of the Denver Nuggets, told Yahoo Sports that point guard Ty Lawson, recently traded to the Houston Rockets, has battled alcohol problems “for several years.  . . . There were a lot of times when you were at practice and you just know.  You could smell it.  . . . He always had an affinity for burning the candle at both ends.”  Lawson was arrested twice in the past six months on suspicion of driving under the influence.  He recently checked himself into a 30-day rehab facility.  The Rockets gave up little to acquire the 27-year-old player, whose offensive production (points + assists) last season ranked fifth among NBA point guards.  At 5-11 he’s limited defensively, but he will share the point guard position with the defensively strong Patrick Beverley.


Seau’s family barred from speaking at Hall

Sydney Seau, daughter of deceased linebacker Junior Seau, hoped to speak at his enshrinement at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Aug. 8.  But she was informed the Hall’s rules do not permit family members or anyone else to speak in behalf of a deceased inductee but allow only a video presentation commemorating his career.  Many in the media have assailed this policy which will prevent any mention of Seau committing suicide in 2012 at age 43 when he was suffering from depression that doctors attributed to concussions from playing football.  Nor will the video mention the lawsuit Seau’s family filed against the NFL.  “Not to be able to speak, it’s painful,” Sydney said.  “I just want to give the speech he would have given.  It wasn’t going to be about this mess.  My speech was solely about him.”


Buckeyes’ Braxton Miller shifts from QB to receiver

Braxton Miller, Ohio State’s starting quarterback at the beginning of last season, saw himself as No. 3 this fall, so he’s willing to change positions.  He told Sports Illustrated:  “For the most part it’s going to be H-back and punt return.”  Although Miller was a pro prospect as a quarterback, his recovery from shoulder surgery is not complete, and he has the speed to be a receiver in the NFL.  J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones are left battling to lead the defending national champions.


Spurrier: ‘enemies’ using retirement talk against him

South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier, 70, regrets saying he might retire “in two or three years.”  Not surprisingly, rival teams used that remark against him, and some recruits who had committed to South Carolina changed their minds.  So Spurrier called a press conference to lash out at his “enemies” during a 10-minute rant.  “We’re not too proud of last year,” he said, referring to the Gamecocks’ 7-6 record.  “But we’re coming back.  Don’t listen to our enemies.”  He quoted Atilla the Hun and cited an Atlanta Journal-Constitution “conspiracy” to help the Georgia Bulldogs recruit.  USA Today described the coach as “petulant” and “paranoid.”


Player says golf needs Tiger, ‘a man of color’

When a South African white man talks about race, he’s likely to sound awkward.  Gary Player, who was long an outspoken opponent of apartheid, took that chance when he told Omnisport, European sports news service, that the PGA Tour needs Tiger Woods to come back to competitive form.  “Why?  Because he’s a man of color.  We need a black champion.  Go to Africa, where we’ve got all these young black kids used to seeing a white guy as the champion.  Now they’re getting interested in golf.”  He also said, “Asia wants to see a man of color.”  Player, who won all the major championships, believes Woods’ African-Asian heritage expanded the appeal of golf.  Player reiterated his opinion that Woods hurts his game by using too many coaches“He won the U.S. Open by 15 shots and was having a lesson the next week.” 


Mattingly: Greinke more honest than Kershaw

Dodgers manager Don Mattigly told USA Today that when he walks to the mound to consult with his two Cy Young Award-winning pitchers about whether they should stay in the game, he gets a more honest view from Zack Greinke than from Clayton Kershaw.  “One of the great things about Zack is he’s honest,” the manager said.  “If he doesn’t have anything left, he’ll say, ‘Yeah, I’m done.’”  He said Kershaw “lies to you a lot more.  . . . You have to read between the lines with Clayton.”


Leafs go back in time to hire Lamoriello as GM

The Toronto Maple Leafs, whose futuristic front office features recent graduates of junior hockey with their banks of computers and stacks of advanced stats, took a step back to the past last week.  They hired as general manager 72-year-old Lou Lamoriello, who built a New Jersey dynasty: three Stanley Cups and a finals appearance as recently as 2012.  But since then the Devils have struggled, faulted for not embracing new technology.  Expectations are not feverish in Toronto, which hasn’t won an NHL championship since 1967.  But the Leafs should benefit from a new coach, Mike Babcock, formerly of Detroit, who was the most coveted free agent in this offseason.  His salary, $6.25 million, is by far highest of NHL coaches.

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