TIME Soccer

FIFA’s Ethics Investigator Quits Over the Handling of His World Cup Probe

FIFA's Michael Garcia photographed during a press conference at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland, on Friday, 27. July 2012 Walter Bieri—Keystone/AP

"My role in this process is at an end," says Michael Garcia

FIFA’s independent ethics investigator Michael Garcia has resigned in protest over the handling of his report on the controversial bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup.

Garcia said FIFA’s 42-page summary of his 430-page report was “erroneous.” He quit after the world soccer governing body rejected his complaint, the BBC reports.

“It is the lack of leadership on these issues within FIFA that leads me to conclude that my role in this process is at an end,” he said.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said: “I am surprised by Mr Garcia’s decision. The work of the ethics committee will nonetheless continue.”

Garcia’s report probed alleged corruption in the designation of Russia and Qatar as World Cup hosts in 2018 and 2022. His resignation adds to the turmoil surrounding the organization.

“We wanted all transparency but this is a new failure for FIFA,” said Michel Platini, president of the governing body of European soccer, UEFA.

FIFA said in a statement that the acting chairman of the ethics committee would take Garcia’s place, pending the election of a successor.

[BBC]

TIME College Sports

Chicago Judge Rejects $75 Million NCAA Settlement

"The court encourages the parties to continue their settlement discussions"

A Chicago judge on Wednesday rejected a $75 million settlement with the NCAA on player concussions, saying the funds allocated as part of the deal would potentially fall short and urging both parties to resume negotiations.

“The court encourages the parties to continue their settlement discussions … to address these concerns,” U.S. District Judge John Lee wrote in his 21-page opinion, the Associated Press reported.

Under the settlement proposal, $70 million would be allocated by the NCAA for concussion testing, with an additional $5 million for additional research.

Lee had expressed concern in an October hearing that the proposal covered non-contact sportspersons as well, and noted on Wednesday that head injuries for athletes like baseball and water polo players are not out of the realm of possibility. Their coverage under the settlement, as well as several other factors, made him unsure that the $70 million amount would be enough.

[AP]

TIME society

Dear Police Unions: Please Stop Asking Jocks To Apologize

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns
Andrew Hawkins #16 of the Cleveland Browns walks onto the field while wearing a protest shirt during introductions prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on Dec. 14, 2014 in Cleveland. Joe Robbins—Getty Images

Sean Gregory is a TIME senior writer who has covered sports extensively over the last decade.

NFL players have taken stands against the deaths of Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, and been criticized by police unions. But why shouldn't athletes take a stand?

On Sunday, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins wore a t-shirt that said “Justice For Tamir Rice And John Crawford III.” Rice, a 12-year-old, was shot by a Cleveland police officer in a park last month; the boy had been carrying a toy gun. Crawford was shot by police in in Beavercreek, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton, while holding an air rifle in a Walmart this summer; a grand jury did not indict any officers.

“It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law,” Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland police union, wrote in a statement to a local TV station. “They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology.”

Neither the Browns nor Hawkins said “I’m sorry.”

On November 30, five St. Louis Rams players made the “hands up, don’t shoot” pose during game introductions, in support of Michael Brown and Ferguson protestors. The St. Louis police union was similarly peeved. It released a statement saying the officers were “profoundly disappointed with the members of the St. Louis Rams football team who chose to ignore the mountains of evidence released from the St. Louis County Grand Jury this week and engage in a display that police officers around the nation found tasteless, offensive and inflammatory.” The union called for player discipline and “a very public apology” from the NFL and the Rams. Although the police organization and the Rams debated whether private correspondence between a team official and the union qualified as an apology, the team publicly stood by its players.

Public opinion has moved against police officers. Some misguided people are painting them with a broad brush, saying all cops are bad. As the son of a retired New York City police sergeant, I strongly disagree with this sentiment. That’s why I’m asking police unions to please stop belittling professional athletes.

These apology demands come off as defensive. They don’t help public perception; they don’t help the tense relationship between law enforcement and many communities. These athletes aren’t painting all cops as racists. They are exercising a right to free speech. The right to believe that a 12-year-old boy should not have been shot. To believe that an unarmed Michael Brown did not deserve to die. Sure, officer Darren Wilson said Brown never raised his hands to surrender. A few witnesses said he did. The St. Louis Rams have a right to believe the witnesses.

And why single out athletes for reprimand? Unions don’t seem to be firing out angry letters to peaceful protestors. To be fair, not every union is singling out athletes. Before a December 8 game in Brooklyn, NBA stars LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, and other players wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts in warmups, to protest the death of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who died after an officer put him in a chokehold. He uttered “I can’t breathe” before he died; a grand jury acquitted the officer. The New York police union did not publicly blast the players.

And official police department representatives generally have been much more measured. Cleveland Division of Police Chief Calvin D. Williams said on Tuesday: “The Division of Police respects the rights of individuals to peacefully demonstrate their personal views and opinions. Mr. Hawkins was certainly well within his rights to express his views and no apology is necessary.”

Yes, athletes have a larger platform than the average dissenter to spread a message. But if you don’t agree with the message, that doesn’t mean you go after them. Jocks have a first amendment right not to stick to sports. Why should law enforcement chastise law-abiding athletes?

 

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Football

San Francisco 49ers Release Ray McDonald Over Behavior ‘Pattern’

Ray McDonald at a game between San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sep. 21, 2014.
Ray McDonald at a game between San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sep. 21, 2014. John Biever—Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

McDonald is being investigated for a possible sexual assault

San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke announced Wednesday that the team has released defensive tackle Ray McDonald.

Baalke said the decision to cut McDonald was due to a “pattern” of behavior by the player.

Earlier Wednesday, the San Jose Police Department announced that McDonald is being investigated for a possible sexual assault. McDonald’s house was served with a search warrant on Tuesday night after the department received a call from a local hospital regarding the alleged victim, who was receiving treatment. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.

“We certainly believe in due process, and have demonstrated that over time. But when it becomes a pattern of poor decision making, which it has in this case, it becomes a time it leaves you with no other choice than the one we made today,” Baalke said.​

McDonald, 30, spent eight seasons in San Francisco after being drafted in the third round in 2007.

He made 68 starts for the 49ers and has 210 tackles, 19.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries in his career. The veteran started all 14 games to date this season and had 39 tackles and three sacks.

Last month, McDonald was cleared after an investigation into an alleged domestic violence incident at his home. He was arrested on Aug. 31 on suspicion of felony domestic violence, and after the investigation, the district attorney said it did not find sufficient evidence to press charges and characterized it as a “physical struggle between two parties, each party blaming the other.”

In September, police revealed an earlier incident that occurred at the home of McDonald and his fiancée. In May, police had been called to the home due to a dispute between a man and a woman in which the woman eventually pulled a gun on the man.

McDonald continued to play throughout his investigation for domestic violence, as 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and CEO Jed York both said they would not discipline McDonald until there were further developments in his case.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME NBA

Reggie Miller: ‘No Question’ Michael Jordan Tougher to Guard Than Kobe

"Michael Jordan on his worst day is ten times better than Kobe Bryant on his best day"

Kobe Bryant has surpassed Michael Jordan on the NBA’s career scoring list, but retired NBA guard Reggie Miller believes strongly that Jordan is the better player.

Miller was asked by Dan Patrick Tuesday whether Jordan or Bryant was tougher to guard. Miller said there is “no question” the answer is Jordan.

“Michael Jordan on his worst day is ten times better than Kobe Bryant on his best day,” Miller continued, “and that is not short-changing Kobe Bryant.”

Bryant surpassed Jordan’s career point total of 32,292 during Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves to move into third place on the NBA’s scoring list.

Bryant’s total currently sits at 32,331, but he has played 1,270 games, compared to Jordan’s 1,072. Jordan averaged 30.1 points per game over 15 seasons, while Bryant has averaged 25.5 points per game during his 18-year career.

Miller, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012, faced Bryant 15 times in the regular season and Jordan 49 times. During those games, Jordan averaged 29.5 points and Bryant averaged 22.2 points.

This article originally appeared on Si.com

TIME celebrities

Tennis Great Martina Navratilova Marries Longtime Love Julia Lemigova

Martina Navratilova and Julia Lemigova celebrate their engagement during day 13 of the 2014 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sept. 6, 2014 in New York.
Martina Navratilova and Julia Lemigova celebrate their engagement during day 13 of the 2014 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sept. 6, 2014 in New York. Uri Schanker—GC/Getty Images

Martina Navratilova and her longtime partner Julia Lemigova were married in New York City on Monday, the couple confirmed to the BBC.

Speaking to the news service shortly after the ceremony, Lemigova admitted she was “overwhelmed,” while Navratilova said her new status felt “just really odd.”

“I’m 58 years old, I got married for the first time – it’s about time, right?” said Navratilova, who began dating Lemigova in 2006. “Growing up as a gay woman you just don’t ever think about that, and then I thought, about 10 years ago, ‘You know, I think within 10 years gay marriage will be legal.’ And here we are, 10 years later, making it legal.”

Navratilova proposed during the U.S. Open last September, in a moment that was telecast on the Jumbotron at New York’s Arthur Ashe stadium.

The tennis legend was being interviewed in the Tennis Channel suite when she turned to Lemigova and said she would be asking the questions this time. Navratilova got down on one knee and offered her a diamond-studded ring.

“Originally it wasn’t the idea to do it at the U.S. Open, on the Jumbotron and all that, but then it was, ‘Why not? I’ve seen it in movies!’ ” Navratilova told PEOPLE afterward. “And it all came off, everything worked out perfectly!”

“I was so overwhelmed and completely surprised,” Lemigova told the BBC.

TIME portfolio

TIME Picks the Top 100 Photos of 2014

TIME's photo editors present an unranked selection of the best 100 images of the year

2014 was heart wrenching year that brought with it a litany of terror, turbulence and tragedy — from the escalating conflict in Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian separatists to an reignited war in Gaza that led to the death of more than 2000 Palestinians and 73 Israelis; and from Ebola’s deadly outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone t0 the renewed debate about race in America after the killing of unarmed black men Michael Brown and Eric Gardner.

On a lighter note, though, 2014 also saw New York bid farewell to Yankees captain Derek Jeter who signed off with a walk-off hit, and Germany’s footballers won the FIFA World Cup by famously beating hosts Brazil 7-1 in a one-sided semi-final and defeating Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the final.

TIME’s photo editors present an unranked selection of the best 100 images of the year.

Read next: The Most Surprising Photos of 2014

TIME nhl

NHL Teams Are Postponing Hospital Visits Amid a Mumps Outbreak

An overall view of the interior of the arena at the NHL season opener at Staples Center on October 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
An overall view of the interior of the arena at the NHL season opener at Staples Center on October 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Stephen Dunn—Getty Images

'Tis the season for NHL players to get the mumps

NHL teams are postponing their annual holiday visits to hospitals, amid a mumps outbreak within the league.

Four teams have amended their plans as of Tuesday evening, out of concern that an undiagnosed player could bring the disease into a hospital, USA Today reports. At least 15 NHL players have so far come down with mumps, including players for the Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Though some teams said they would have to cancel their plans, others said they still expected to make their traditional hospital rounds, but after the holidays. The Calgary Flames, which has not had a mumps case, said all its players were vaccinated two weeks ago and they expected to make their visits sometime after the New Year.

[USA Today]

TIME Football

Brain-Injury Program Working With NFL Players

(LANSING, Mich.) — A brain-injury treatment program originally designed for military veterans injured on the battlefield has been updated to include professional athletes.

Representatives with the Eisenhower Center announced Tuesday that it will be the primary facility used by the NFL Players Association for treating brain injuries and other neurological issues through the After the Impact program.

The residential neuro-rehabilitation facility is based in Ann Arbor.

The program provides intense treatment for soldiers and athletes recovering from concussions, mild traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems. It evolved from the Eisenhower Center’s transitional treatment program to help military members deal with brain injuries.

The NFL expects 6,000 of nearly 20,000 retired players — or 28 percent — to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or at least moderate dementia someday. Former players have sued.

Current Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria and former quarterback Eric Hipple attended Tuesday’s announcement.

“Nearly one-third of all retired NFL players will suffer from a long-term cognitive problem,” Hipple said. “The players and veterans who have gone through the After the Impact program have learned a lot from each other and helped each other on the path to recovery.”

The NFL last month urged a judge to approve an estimated $1 billion settlement of concussion lawsuits despite concerns raised by former players or survivors who felt left out. The 65-year fund would resolve thousands of lawsuits that accuse the NFL of long hiding what it knew about concussions and brain injuries to keep players on the field.

The issue is a significant one in hockey too. In October, a consolidated class-action lawsuit by former NHL players against the league over concussion-related injuries was filed in federal court.

TIME Bizarre

Bubba Watson Releases Music Video as Rapping Santa Bubbaclaus

“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Bubbaclaus”

It’s tough for many great bands to stay together, and the Golf Boys are no different. After two mega-YouTube hits, Bubba Watson officially branched out on his own music video career Wednesday, dropping “The Single” from Bubbaclaus with a note that it’s “Just a little fun for my fans for the holidays!”

The lyrics are less than phenomenal, repeatedly playing off the Superman line with “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Bubbaclaus,” but the video does earn random bonus points for featuring a dunking Gumby in a Kevin Durant jersey. And it has Bubba’s hovercraft golf cart.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the Golf Boys would not come together again for a third music video. It just means that for now Watson is doing his own thing as a rapping Santa. Which is not a bad way to spend the golf offseason.

This article originally appeared on Golf.com.

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