TIME

Sony Joins Emirates in Ending Its World Cup Sponsorship

Pressure grows on FIFA

Sony is to end its sponsorship of the FIFA World Cup against the background of a corruption scandal over the awarding of the next two tournaments to Qatar and Russia, according to a report published Tuesday.

Citing a person familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal said that the company had decided not to renew its contract as one of six “official partners” of FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, when it expires at the end of this year. The WSJ said the eight-year contract was worth 33 billion yen ($280 million).

The news is further evidence of the price FIFA is paying for its failure to clear up accusations of corruption in the tenders to host the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. The Japanese consumer electronics giant is the second major sponsor to walk away from one of the world’s biggest sporting events within weeks, following Emirates Airlines.

Earlier this month, FIFA refused to publish in full a report by U.S. lawyer Michael J. Garcia into the allegations. Instead, it released selected excerpts of the report, clearing itself of any wrongdoing. Garcia immediately responded that it had materially misrepresented his findings. FIFA’s conclusions effectively ended any prospect of re-staging the tenders.

The incident reignited outrage in Europe’s powerful national soccer associations and leagues at the shortcomings of FIFA’s management, and specifically at its Swiss head, Sepp Blatter.

The German soccer league, one of many which fears that its seasons will be disrupted by the need to move the Qatar tournament away from its traditional summer slot, has called for a European boycott of the tournaments in protest at the alleged cover-up.

In response to the uproar, FIFA later said it had passed the report to another internal committee and to the Swiss attorney-general, saying that “there seem to be grounds for suspicion that, in isolated cases, international transfers of assets with connections to Switzerland took place, which merit examination by the criminal prosecution authorities.”

Sony hasn’t confirmed the report but had earlier called on FIFA to be thorough and transparent in investigating the allegations.

A FIFA spokesman said: “The existing contract with Sony runs until 31 December 2014 and we are currently in discussions with the brand.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Cricket

Australian International Cricketer in Critical Condition After Being Struck by Ball

Australia's Hughes avoids a high ball during the second cricket test match against New Zealand in Hobart
Australia's Phil Hughes avoids a high ball during the second cricket test match against New Zealand in Hobart, Australia, on Dec. 11, 2011 Daniel Munoz—Reuters

Protective gear appeared to offer little defense, highlighting dangers of the sport

Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes has been rushed to hospital in a critical condition after being struck on his head by a ball during a regional match in Sydney.

The incident has quickly rippled through the cricket world as a salutary reminder that the sport, despite its sedate reputation, can be explosive and dangerous.

The Age reports that the injury occurred Tuesday during a Sheffield Shield encounter between Hughes’ team South Australia and opponents New South Wales. The Sheffield Shield is Australia’s main domestic cricket competition.

The 25-year-old batsman reportedly looked at his feet for a few seconds before staggering and collapsing face-first onto the ground, after a quick, rising ball from bowler Sean Abbott. The aggressive pitch, known in cricketing parlance as a “bouncer,” struck him just below his left ear.

Hughes was seen breathing through an oxygen mask soon after the arrival of three ambulances and a helicopter bearing additional doctors and medical staff. He was then taken by road to a nearby hospital, whose spokesperson told reporters that the athlete was undergoing surgery.

Cricket balls, made out of cork wrapped in leather, are capable of traveling at up to 100 m.p.h., making them potentially lethal projectiles. They are harder and heavier than baseballs, and cricketers have been killed by them in the past.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Phil Hughes and his family at this time,” the South Australia Cricket Association said in a statement.

Hughes has represented Australia in both One Day Internationals and at Test level — the highest form of the game. He was attempting to get picked for the Australian squad due to face India later this month after chalking up an impressive 170 runs in three Sheffield Shield matches this season.

TIME Baseball

Red Sox, Pablo Sandoval Agree to 5-Year, $100 Million Deal

World Series - San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals - Game Two
Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants warms up before Game Two of the 2014 World Series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on October 22, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. Dilip Vishwanat—Getty Images

Deal reported Monday said to be worth close to $100 million

Free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval has agreed to a deal with the Boston Red Sox, reports CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. Sandoval’s agent Gustavo Vasquez told reporters that the deal is done, pending a physical.

According to Heyman, the deal will be for five years and close to $100 million.

Sandoval met with the Red Sox in Boston last week and had said he wants at least a six-year contract in free agency.

Sandoval is a two-time All-Star who won three World Series titles with the San Francisco Giants in his eight seasons with the team. He hit .279 with 16 homers, 73 RBI and a .739 OPS in 157 games last season and was even better in the postseason, hitting .366 with a record 26 hits in 71 at-bats during the team’s 17 playoff games.

Sandoval, 28, reportedly turned down a three-year, $40 million deal at the start of the 2014 season and was one of 12 players to reject a $15.1 million one-year qualifying offer from their team.

The Red Sox are also reportedly signing shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who is expected to receive a five-year, $90 million deal.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Football

Report: Browns Quarterback Johnny Manziel Involved in Fight

Manziel and his entourage were reportedly involved in a brawl early Saturday morning

 

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel and his entourage were involved in a fight in a Cleveland hotel and apartment building early Saturday morning, according to a police report obtained by Cleveland Scene.

No arrests were made in the incident, and Manziel is not listed as a suspect in the police report.

According to the report, when police arrived at the Metropolitan at the 9 at 2:36 a.m., the alleged victim, 33-year-old Chris Gonos, told them that he had been assaulted by “Johnny Football and his entourage.”

The report says that while waiting for an elevator with his girlfriend, Gonos saw a man he believed to be Manziel and approached him, telling him, “I’m the biggest Browns fan ever, I love you, I want to give you a hug.” Gonos says at that point he was struck in the face several times by a man who was with Manziel.

Several other men then allegedly “pushed and attacked” Gonos until a hotel staff member broke up the fight. The staff member was also hit in the face. The alleged offender said Gonos attempted to assault his “client,” apparently referring to Manziel.

Gonos told Cleveland Scene that his brother tackled Manziel and another member of his group “smashed” Manziel in his face.

According to Gonos, Manziel retaliated by “sucker punching” Gonos’ brother while he was being held by a security guard. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who also obtained the police report, said there is video footage of the incident.

Browns general manager Ray Farmer released the following statement:

“We are aware of the incident and are in the process of gathering additional information in order to gain a complete understanding of what occurred. Nonetheless, the time of the incident is concerning to us. We continually stress to all of our players the importance of sound decision making in an effort to avoid putting themselves in these types of situations. We have addressed this appropriately with the player and will have no further comment at this time.”

The general manager of Metropolitan at the 9 told Cleveland Scene that he had no comment on the incident. According to the magazine, “many” Cleveland professional athletes live in the building.

Manziel, selected by the Browns in the first round of this year’s NFL draft, has made headlines in the past for off-field incidents. Before his redshirt freshman year at Texas A&M, Manziel was arrested and charged with failure to identify, disorderly conduct and possession of a fictitious driver’s license after being involved in a fight. He later pleaded guilty to the former charge. He was fined $2,000 as part of a plea deal and had a two-day jail sentence waived because he was placed in jail after his arrest.

Manziel lost out to Brian Hoyer for the Browns’ starting quarterback job in training camp. He has appeared in two games this season, attempting one pass.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Sports

Odell Beckham’s Insane Catch Gets the Full Meme Treatment

Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants scores a touchdown in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 23, 2014 in East Rutherford, N.J.
Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants scores a touchdown in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 23, 2014 in East Rutherford, N.J. Al Bello—Getty Images

Even Kim Kardashian gets in on the action

On Sunday, the New York Giants’ rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham made an absolutely ridiculous one-armed catch during a game against the Dallas Cowboys.

By making good on that one incredibly unlikely catch, Beckham scored a touchdown, cemented his reputation as a go-to receiver, earned a spot in NFL highlight reels and, naturally, became an Internet meme.

The Internet has Photoshopped Beckham’s three-fingered catch by adding him to everything from the Sistine Chapel to Kim Kardashian’s instantly infamous Paper magazine cover to what could have been a game-changing play against an equally infamous Chicago Cubs’ fan.

 

Read next: Watch This Ridiculous 1-Handed Touchdown Catch

TIME Sports

Watch: Marshawn Lynch Gives One-Word Answers During Post-Game Interview

"Yeah...Yeah...Yeah."

After the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Arizona Cardinals (19-3) Sunday night, reporters crowded around Seahawks running back Lynch, posing several questions that he answered with a simple “Yeah.”

“How does your back feel, Marshawn?” asked one reporter. Lynch’s answer: “Yeah.”

“How are you feeling, Marshawn?” asked another. The reply: “Yeah.”

“Talk about the Cardinals defense.” Also: “Yeah.”

To be fair, Lewis did throw a few other answers into the mix. When a reporter asked if it was tough to rebound from his game on Thursday after feeling unwell, Lynch said, “Maybe.” He gave one two-word response when asked what he listened to on the way over: “No Juice.”

The especially brief replies come after Lynch was fined $100,000 for refusing to speak with reporters after a losing game. His entire interview can be watched on NFL.com, or see the transcript below with his full responses:

TIME brazil

Rio Unveils 2016 Olympic Mascots

Handout shows the unnamed mascots of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games during their first appearance in Rio de Janeiro
The mascots of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games are pictured in front of the Copacabana beach during their first appearance in Rio de Janeiro, Nov.23, 2014. Brazil Olympic Committee/Reuters

The official mascots represent the wide variety of Brazilian flora and fauna

The 2016 Rio Organizing Committee revealed the official mascots for the Olympic and Paralympic games in Brazil: a yellow feline creature standing for the Olympics, and a green foliage-headed one for the Paralympics.

“The Rio 2016 mascots represent the diversity of our culture, of our people,” said Rio 2016 brand director Beth Lula on Sunday. “They represent our joy, our way of being. Both of them are magical creatures with super powers and relate naturally with the young audience, who we want to engage with our event so much.”

Both mascots are currently nameless but the Brazilian public will be asked to decide between Oba and Eba; Tiba Tuque and Esquindim; and Vinicius and Tom.

[Reuters]

TIME Football

Watch This Ridiculous 1-Handed Touchdown Catch

The Cowboys still beat the Giants 31-28

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.‘s breakout rookie season has taken yet another step forward.

Facing the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, Beckham leaped high and behind himself to haul in a touchdown pass from Eli Manning — with Brandon Carrdraped all over him, and with only one hand. Carr was whistled for defensive pass interference, which the Giants declined after the touchdown was upheld on review.

That touchdown was Beckham’s second of the day, and it gave him four receptions for 71 yards. With the score, the Giants went up 14-3 on the Cowboys early in the second quarter.

Since making his NFL debut in Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons, Beckham has become a savior for a Giants offense decimated by injuries. With Victor Cruz out for the season with a torn patellar tendon in his right knee, Beckham posted at least 93 receiving yards in three of his first six games, also catching at least six passes in each of those three games (New York’s last three games vs. Indianapolis, Seattle and San Francisco).

The Giants entered the game 3-7, a half-game ahead of the Washington Redskins for last place in the NFC East. The Cowboys (7-3) are neck-and-neck with the PhiladelphiaEagles (8-3) for the division lead.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME NFL

Adrian Peterson Promises Never to Beat His Kid With a Tree Branch Again

From right: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and his attorney Rusty Hardin speak to the media after pleading no contest to an assault charge on Nov. 4, 2014, in Conroe, Tx.
From right: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and his attorney Rusty Hardin speak to the media after pleading no contest to an assault charge on Nov. 4, 2014, in Conroe, Tx. Pat Sullivan—AP

'I won't ever use a switch again'

Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings running back suspended over child abuse charges, has apologized for using a switch to discipline his son, and promised never to do it again.

“I won’t ever use a switch again,” the player said in a USA Today interview published Thursday. “There’s different situations where a child needs to be disciplined as far as timeout, taking their toys away, making them take a nap. There’s so many different ways to discipline your kids.”

Peterson pled no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault earlier this month, and was subsequently suspended from the NFL for the remainder of the season. In the interview, Peterson said he planned to speak with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his suspension. The league said that Peterson would have to undergo rehabilitation and counseling before he can return to the league.

“Ultimately, I know I’ll have my opportunity to sit down with Roger face to face, and I’ll be able to say a lot of the same things that I’ve said to you,” Peterson said. “I regretted everything that took place. I love my child, more than anyone could ever imagine.”

[USA Today]

TIME NFL

Raiders Stun the Chiefs for Their First Victory

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr celebrates after the Raiders defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 24-20 in an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Nov. 20, 2014.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr celebrates after the Raiders defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 24-20 in an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Nov. 20, 2014. Marcio Jose Sanchez—AP

The Raiders hadn't won a game since Nov. 17 of last season

The Kansas City Chiefs entered Thursday looking like clear Super Bowl contenders, having won five straight to chase down Denver in the AFC West standings. The Oakland Raiders appeared to be on their way to 0-16 and had gone 368 days without a regular-season win.

So of course, in this incredibly unpredictable NFL season, the night belonged to Oakland.

The Raiders used a 17-play touchdown drive (their longest of the season at 7:21) and a late defensive stop to pull off the shocking upset, 24-20. It was their first victory since a 28-23 triumph at Houston on Nov. 17 of last season. Since then, the Raiders had come up short in 16 consecutive games, including all 10 to start 2014.

“These losses have been hard,” Raiders QB Derek Carr said in the aftermath of his team’s win.

Carr dropped to his knees and threw his hands up toward the sky after Alex Smith‘s final fourth-down pass fell incomplete. His teammates celebrated with equal exuberance, almost to a fault. After a sack of Smith one play earlier, Oakland linebacker Sio Moore celebrated with his teammates behind the line of scrimmage for so long that DE Justin Tuck called timeout to avoid an offside penalty.

The Raiders’ celebration was on for good just a few seconds later. Three thoughts on Oakland’s breakthrough:

1. This was no fluke: Kansas City clearly is the more talented of the two teams, but it hardly looked that way for much of Thursday night. The Raiders came out firing on all cylinders, streaking to a 14-0 lead behind stalwart efforts at the line of scrimmage, both offensively and defensively.

The tables turned for a bit late in the third quarter, with the Chiefs running off 17 straight points to take the lead.

But with their backs against the wall, the Raiders responded via that epic game-winning drive, which included three third-down conversions and a 4th-and-1 QB sneak from Carr to move the chains. Carr then capped the possession by slinging one to an open James Jones in the end zone, sending the Black Hole into pandemonium.

“I needed this win like I need to breathe,” said veteran DB Charles Woodson, who Thursday became the first player in NFL history with 50 interceptions and 20 sacks over his career. “The whole team, this whole organization needed this win tonight.

“[The Chiefs] fought back, they made it interesting but we [were] going to get this one,” Woodson added. “We needed it.”

Perhaps it’s fitting that Jones made the grab. He was one of several relatively big-name free agents added by the Raiders this offseason with an eye on moving forward from back-to-back 4-12 seasons. Several of those pickups — Maurice Jones-Drew, LaMarr Woodley and others — have fallen far shy of expectations.

Oakland had been a deserving 0-10, even with Carr and first-round pick Khalil Mack offering a silver lining. Thursday, the Raiders looked nothing like a winless squad.

2. On Kansas City’s play calling … : Following a couple of Kansas City losses earlier in the year, head coach Andy Reid criticized himself for not getting Jamaal Charles enough touches. He might sound a similar tune after this costly setback.

Charles wound up with 23 touches (19 rushes, four passes), but on a night when the Chiefs’ offense was sluggish for extended periods, though, the number probably could have been higher.

That goes for the final drive, too. Kansas City was up against it, trailing by four and without a timeout. There still was plenty of time to work in a Charles run or two, especially with the Raiders so focused on not getting beat over the top. The star running back’s only work on the decisive possession came on a 4-yard pass from Smith.

The Chiefs also waited until they faced a 17-3 third-quarter deficit to really lean on talented TE Travis Kelce. He made two catches to help set up Kansas City’s first touchdown, then hauled in a 27-yard completion to open the Chiefs’ next offensive series.

There undoubtedly will be questions asked of Smith, who is three months removed from signing a $68 million extension. Plenty of Smith critics remain skeptical of his ability to take the Chiefs deep into the playoffs or past the Peyton Manning-ledBroncos in the AFC West. Performances like the one he endured Thursday only add fuel to the fire.

Smith was all out of whack in the early going, misfiring badly on several short throws. He did connect on a pair of second-half touchdown passes, yet came up short in the closing seconds. Smith took a sack on 3rd-and-6, despite solid initial protection, and then came up well short of Frankie Hammond on fourth down.

Give credit to the Oakland defense for disrupting its opponent up front. The Chiefs failed to find any counters in the first half, opting for (often unsuccessful) screens or inside handoffs to Charles.

That said, Reid’s offense left some points on the field.

3. Latavius Murray’s all-too-brief brilliance: Murray was headed toward a potential all-timer type of night before a concussion sent him to the locker room. On just four carries, spread over the first and second quarters, Murray piled up 112 yards and scored twice. His 90-yard touchdown scamper was the longest ever allowed by the Chiefs and had CBS play-by-play man Jim Nantz recalling a Bo Jackson highlight.

Once Murray left a few minutes later, the Oakland offense absolutely bogged down. Only when the coaching staff bailed almost completely on Darren McFadden and Jones-Drew in favor of hybrid fullback Marcel Reece did any oomph return, and just in time for the late drive that won the game.

Hopefully, Murray can recover in short order, because the starting running back job ought to be his moving forward. The 2013 sixth-round pick out of Central Florida has a burst that neither McFadden nor Jones-Drew possesses any longer.

He could be a perfect partner for Carr in the backfield as the Raiders continue their rebuild. And Murray helped set the tone vs. Kansas City, landing a couple of haymakers early in the upset.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

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