TIME Soccer

Hope Solo Suspended for 30 Days by U.S. Soccer

International Tournament of Brasilia - USA v China
Goalkeeper Hope Solo of the USA in action during a match between USA and China at Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia on Dec. 10, 2014 Buda Mendes—Getty Images

U.S. women’s national team goalie Hope Solo has been suspended for 30 days by U.S. Soccer, the organization announced Wednesday.

Solo’s husband, former Seattle Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens, was arrested on suspicion of DUI in Southern California at 1:30 a.m. on Monday. Police said Solo, 33, was in the car at the time, but she was not arrested or detained.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Solo was held out of practice on Tuesday as it was determined if she violated any team rules.

“During our current National Team camp, Hope made a poor decision that has resulted in a negative impact on U.S. Soccer and her teammates,” U.S. women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis said in a statement. “We feel at this time it is best for her to step away from the team.”

Solo was charged in June with two counts of fourth-degree domestic violence assault for allegedly hitting her half-sister and 17-year-old nephew. A judge dismissed the charges last week, saying the case was “impermissibly prejudiced” by a lack of cooperation from witnesses. Solo continued to play while she faced the charges.

The suspension will cause Solo to miss February friendlies against France and England. The USWNT, which has already qualified for the 2015 Women’s World Cup, is currently in training camp in Carson, Calif.

Solo has 159 caps with the USWNT and broke the U.S. women’s record for career shutouts last September.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME tennis

The Women’s World Tennis No. 7 Got Asked to do a ‘Twirl’ By a Male Presenter

What was he thinking?

A reporter at the Australian Open is drawing a lot of flak for asking women’s world tennis no. 7 Eugenie Bouchard to “twirl” in a post-match interview on Wednesday, a request that embarrassed the young star and sparked a backlash on social media.

Channel 7 presenter Ian Cohen asked the 20-year-year Canadian to do a “twirl, like a pirouette,” and show off her pink outfit to the Melbourne crowd. Bouchard complied, albeit a little awkwardly.

“It was very unexpected,” she said in her post-match press conference. “I don’t know, an old guy asking you to twirl. It was funny.”

Others didn’t find it so amusing, though.

Bouchard, a Montreal native, is tipped as one of the rising stars of the sport after reaching the Wimbledon final last year, as well as the Australian and French Open semifinals. She defeated Kiki Bertens 6-0, 6-3 in less than an hour in Wednesday’s second-round encounter at Melbourne Park.

TIME Football

Pressure Builds on NFL and the Patriots Amid ‘Deflategate’ Scandal

The league is unlikely to conclude an investigation into the alleged use of deflated footballs until after the Super Bowl

Unless the NFL can find incontrovertible evidence that someone with the Patriots ordered air taken out of footballs Sunday in Foxboro, it’s more likely than not that commissioner Roger Goodell will defer ruling on the case until after the Super Bowl. Absent clear proof in the next few days that the Patriots cheated, there’s a simple reason: There is no rush. If Goodell decides that part of the sanction would be taking draft picks from the Patriots, the draft comes 12-and-a-half weeks after the Super Bowl, giving the league time after the season to investigate more thoroughly, particularly if that investigation does not have a clear conclusion by, say, this Friday. And it’s hugely important to the league to make the right decision here, not a more expeditious one.

Regarding the off-with-their-heads reaction: It’s too early to say what the league might do in this case. But I do know this: This has set off alarm bells inside the NFL’s Park Avenue offices in Manhattan. All hands are on deck, and there is an urgency about doing this investigation right, for the obvious right reasons about the integrity of the rules and a secondary reason: The NFL doesn’t want to risk botching this investigation and issuing a ruling it later has to amend, as happened in the Ray Rice case.

MORE O.J. Simpson and Ray Rice: How Domestic Violence Has Changed

Plus, teams are allowed to put up a defense when charged with an offense affecting the competitive balance of the game. The NFL constitution and bylaws mandate that the commissioner give the team in question a proper hearing so that the team can contest the charges if it chooses. Remember the Saints’ Bountygate charges? There were actually two investigations, covering several months; the first found insufficient evidence to charge the Saints with any football offenses, but the second look—after the league used forensic methods to analyze emails and text messages and communications inside the Saints organization—resulted in heavy sanctions against coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis, and the loss of two draft picks.

That is why the NFL will be—and should be—deliberate in the investigation of whether someone connected with the New England Patriots doctored the footballs either before or during the AFC Championship Game.

Three points are important to keep in mind as this story develops:

1. I think it’s fair to assume—though it hasn’t been confirmed by the league—that the Patriots’ footballs that were tested at halftime Sunday had less air, and the Colts’ footballs were all found to be legal. Connect the dots. Chris Mortensen reported Tuesday that 11 of 12 Patriots football had approximately two pounds less pressure per square inch than the mandated 12.5 psi required by the NFL. In other words, the Patriots’ footballs were softer than allowed by rule. The obvious deduction is that all the balls, for both teams, were measured at halftime, and that New England’s footballs were found to be softer—or else the league would be investigating Indianapolis as well, and the league is clearly not doing that. This is important because it would render moot the theory going around that the cold weather could have caused the air pressure in the balls to decrease. It was the same weather on both sidelines.

MORE Report: 11 of 12 Patriots Footballs Were Underinflated in AFC Title Game

2. There’s a difference that all these ex-quarterbacks are not taking into account when they say, “Every team doctors the footballs.” Former quarterback Matt Leinart tweeted something Wednesday that many quarterbacks were saying in different ways: “Every team tampers with the football. Ask any QB in the league, this is ridiculous!!”

Every quarterback can tamper with the 12 footballs assigned to his team in the days before the game. In the NFL, each team is allowed weekly to break in 12 new footballs as it sees fit, according to the quarterback’s preference. That includes taking the shine and slipperiness off the new balls, and compressing them and working them in to soften the leather. By rule, those 12 footballs are then delivered to the officiating crew on site 2 hours and 15 minutes before the game begins.

At that point the head linesman inspects each football with one or more members of his crew. If need be, the officials will clean off the balls. Then they will insert a needle into the balls, one by one, to ensure the balls are inflated to the proper pressure: between 12.5 and 13.5 psi. If a ball is underinflated, an electric pump is used to fill it to the requisite level. Then all 12 balls are marked by silver Sharpie with a referee’s personal preference of a mark—Gene Steratore’s crew uses the letter “L,” for Steratore’s fiancée, Lisa—and put back into the bag, and zipped. The bags are handed to the ballboys minutes before the opening kickoff. If it’s raining, or bad weather is on the way, the officials might tell the ballboys to change the ball on every play, whether it hits the ground on the previous play or not.

To sum up: Yes, the quarterback or his equipment staff can break in the balls in whatever way they want a couple of days before the game. But no, the quarterback cannot dictate the level of air pressure in the ball. Or at least he cannot do it legally. And the low air pressure in the Patriots’ footballs is why this is a story.

MORE The Patriot Way: Tom Brady Declines to Take a Stand On Ray Rice, Other NFL Scandals

3. If Belichick is found to be culpable, I think Goodell will come down hard on him. It’s early. We don’t yet know where the trail on this investigation will lead. So this is presuming a lot. But in reporting a Goodell story four years ago, this anecdote stuck out to me. You’ll recall that after the 2007 Spygate investigation into the Patriots’ videotaping of opposing coaches’ signals that Goodell fined Belichick $500,000 and the franchise an additional $250,000, and he docked New England a first-round draft pick. As part of the discipline, Belichick would have to make a verbal apology in front of the press that week. Instead, the coach issued a printed statement and refused to answer any questions on the topic. “I was given assurances that [Belichick] would tell his side of the story,” Goodell said at the time. “He went out and stonewalled the press. I feel like I was deceived.”

Belichick said at the time, “I did not make any assurances about thoroughly discussing the subject publicly. I said I would address it following the league’s review. I then did that in a way I thought was appropriate. I don’t think that was deceptive.’’

Goodell did. I doubt there’s much benefit-of-the-doubt here if Goodell finds that Belichick was involved in the deflating.

As to what difference it made in a 45-7 game that the balls were deflated, seeing that the Patriots exploded for 21 third-quarter points with the balls evidently at proper inflation: irrelevant. Rules are rules, and if the Patriots broke a clear and indisputable rule, they must be sanctioned for it. The fact that the footballs made no apparent difference in the Patriots’ offensive performance doesn’t matter.

As to what would be a proper punishment if the Patriots are found guilty, I think it’s too early to say, because we don’t know everything about the story yet. But I believe if Belichick is found to be behind it, he should be suspended for some period of 2015. It’s hard to say for how long without knowing the full story, and there will be time to find that out.

MORE Krispy Kreme Trolls the Patriots With #DeflateGate Tweet

And going forward, what should the league do differently in the future? Two things, I believe. One: Make the ballboys league employees, the same way clock operators and other ancillary game-day employees with influence on the game are. Put the ballboys through background checks—perhaps not as thorough as the checks game officials must go through, but just enough to ensure that their performance will not be compromised. Two: Tighten the chain-of-command between the officiating crew and the ballboys. I would suggest in the future that two of the game officials be assigned to personally deliver the bag of 12 footballs to each sideline, say, two minutes before the opening kickoff. I would also say that each ballboy should pass through a metal detector before the game and after halftime, to be sure he is not carrying any device that could be used to tamper with the air pressure of the footballs.

That all sounds pretty cloak-and-dagger. But the league should use this lapse in football protocol to do everything it can to see this is never an issue again.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME cities

Boston City Employees Aren’t Allowed to Badmouth the Olympics

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh addresses the media during a press conference to announce Boston as the U.S. applicant city to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on Jan. 9, 2015 in Boston
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh addresses the media during a press conference to announce Boston as the U.S. applicant city to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on Jan. 9, 2015 in Boston Maddie Meyer—Getty Images

The city wants to host the 2024 Summer Olympics

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh signed an agreement with the U.S. Olympic Committee that prohibits city employees from criticizing Beantown’s bid for the 2024 Summer Games, according to a new report.

The Boston Globe, citing documents it obtained through a public records request, reports that the agreement bans any written or oral statements that “denigrate or disparage, or are detrimental to the reputation” of the International Olympic Committee, the USOC, or the Olympic Games.

To keep the relationship with the USOC sanguine and Boston’s prospects for hosting the Olympics sunny, the agreement requires city employees to be “positive” about the games.

Boston was selected earlier this month as the U.S. city that will bid for the 2024 games.

Read more at the Globe


Krispy Kreme Trolls the Patriots With #DeflateGate Tweet

See the donut chain mock the Super Bowl contender

Krispy Kreme has decided to capitalize on an NFL investigation into whether the New England Patriots deflated game balls in their AFC Championship game win over the Indianapolis Colts last weekend. The donut chain tweeted Wednesday:

As ESPN’s Darren Rovell points out, Krispy Kreme’s rival Dunkin’ Donuts is a sponsor for the Patriots.

Multiple reports have indicated that the NFL is investigating allegations that the Patriots used deflated balls during their blowout win. Deflating the balls would have made it easier for quarterback Tom Brady to throw in cold weather and for receivers to catch. The NFL has not yet said anything about the probe or what penalty might be levied against the Patriots, who are scheduled to play in the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks on Feb 1.

TIME tennis

Williams Sisters Withdraw From Doubles at Australian Open

Serena Williams of the U.S., celebrates after defeating Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium during their first-round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne on Jan. 20, 2015 Rob Griffith—AP

No explanation given

(MELBOURNE, Australia) — Serena and Venus Williams have pulled out of women’s doubles at the Australian Open, where they’ve won four titles.

The Williams sisters were scheduled to play their first-round match Wednesday against Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain and Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan.

A tournament official confirmed the Williams sisters had withdrawn, but did not specify a reason.

Both sisters won their first-round singles matches in singles on Tuesday.

TIME tennis

Sharapova Saves Two Match Points to Beat Russian Qualifier Panova

Russia's Maria Sharapova reacts during her women's singles match against Russia's Alexandra Panova at the 2015 Australian Open in Melbourne on Jan. 21, 2015 Paul Crock—AFP/Getty Images

MELBOURNE — No. 2 Maria Sharapova narrowly avoided the biggest upset of the tournament so far, saving two match points late in the third set to defeat No. 150 Alexandra Panova 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 in the second round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Sharapova cruised through the first set in just 26 minutes before Panova began to find her range. Coming into the tournament, the 25-year-old Russian qualifier never won a match in the main draw of a Slam, but for two sets Wednesday she played at a level more befitting for a Top 20 player. Powerful and rangy, she outserved Sharapova and matched her power from the baseline. Suddenly, Sharapova’s level dropped. She struggled to find her rhythm off the ground and on her serve. She hit just eight unforced errors in the first set but struck 43 in the remaining two sets.

After taking the second set 6-4, Panova raced to a 4-1 double-break lead in the final set. Sharapova was able to get one break back but Panova served for the match at 5-4. She saw her first match point at 40-30 but Sharapova came up with her first gutsy save of the day, gunning a forehand down the line winner that landed just in. Two points later Panova would earn her second match point. Sharapova stepped up to gun another forehand winner that left no margin for error. Demoralized after coming so close to pulling off the biggest win of her career, Panova was broken and didn’t win another game in the match. Sharapova broke for the win two games later after two hours and 32 minutes.

“I’m just happy to get through,” a relieved Sharapova said after the match. “I was two points from being out of the tournament. Just didn’t play my best today … I think she played a pretty inspired match.”

Panova played the best match of her career and finished with 20 winners to 36 unforced errors. Sharapova hit 38 winners to 51 unforced errors. Sharapova will play either No. 31 Zarina Diyas or Anna Schmiedlova in the third round.

This article originally appeared on SI.com


Report: 11 of 12 Patriots Footballs Were Underinflated in AFC Title Game

AFC Championship - Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots
Tom Brady of the New England Patriots hands the ball off to LeGarrette Blount in the first quarter of the 2015 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., on Jan. 18, 2015 Elsa—Getty Images

The report that came out Sunday night from longtime Indianapolis sports journalist Bob Kravitz, indicating that the New England Patriots may have intentionally deflated several of the footballs used in their 45-7 AFC championship win over the Indianapolis Colts has gained traction.

Which is to say, it’s sounding more and more like the truth.

According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, the Patriots had 11 of their 12 allotted footballs under-inflated by two pounds of air (PSI) less than league regulations allow. Sources told Mortensen that the balls, which are required by the NFL to be inflated to a measure between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch, and to weigh between 14 and 15 ounces, were not within the standard.

The controversy began when Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted a Tom Brady pass in the second quarter, and gave the ball to a Colts equipment manager, who noticed that the ball was under-inflated. NFL director of football operations Mike Kensil was told after Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson were informed.

Game officials are supposed to check all balls available for use in a game about two hours before the game begins, so the question remains: If the report is true, how is it that either Walt Anderson’s officiating crew missed the boat, or how is it that the Patriots deflated the balls before or during the game?

“I think I’ve heard it all,” Brady told WEEI Radio Monday morning with a laugh. “Oh, God. It’s ridiculous … That’s the last of my worries. I don’t even respond to stuff like this.”

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was more circumspect when asked about it during his Monday press conference.

“We’ll cooperate fully with whatever the league wants us to; whatever questions they have for us, whatever they want us to do,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about it until this morning … whatever we need from the league then that’s what we’ll do.”

Asked again about it on Tuesday, Belichick simply said that any questions on the matter should be referred to the league, and the league has made no official comment at this point.

After the Colts report came out, the Baltimore Ravens, who lost to the Patriots in the divisional round, expressed concern that some of the footballs used in that game might have been deflated as well — this according to CBS’s Jason La Canfora.

Why would a team intentionally under-inflate footballs? Some players believe that a ball not inflated to its required size and weight is easier to throw and catch.

Whether the Patriots did this or not, they won’t get the benefit of the doubt, due to the Spygate scandal, which rocked the league a few years back. In that scandal, the Patriots were found to have illegally videotaped opponents over a period of time from 2002 through ’07. New England lost its 2008 first-round draft choice, Belichick was fined $500,000, and the team was fined $250,000. It was the largest financial sanction against a coach in NFL history.

According to NFL rules, the standard punishment for any intentional alteration of game balls could result in a $25,000 fine. That’s just a guideline, though, and if Mortensen’s report that the NFL is “disappointed … angry … distraught” over the findings is correct, the Patriots could find themselves in quite a bit more hot water.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME celebrities

Vonn Backs Tiger Woods’ Account of Missing Tooth

Lindsey Vonn
Tiger Woods walks in the finish area of an alpine ski in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, on Jan. 19, 2015 Armando Trovati—AP

Vonn says cameraman accidentally knocked into Woods

(CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy) — World Cup ski champion Lindsey Vonn is backing boyfriend Tiger Woods’ account of how he lost a front tooth.

One day after winning her record 63rd World Cup race, Vonn posted to her Facebook account Tuesday that she was happy Woods surprised her by coming to the race, and that she felt “terrible that his tooth got knocked out.”

“When he was in the finish area a cameraman accidentally knocked into him and took out his front tooth,” Vonn wrote. “He was still in great spirits though and didn’t complain once or ask for any special assistance or security. We were both just happy to share the moment together.”

Woods missing a tooth created a sensation Monday after the race.

Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent at Excel Sports Management, said in an email that during a crush of photographers at the awards podium, “a media member with a shoulder-mounted video camera pushed and surged toward the stage, turned and hit Tiger Woods in the mouth. Woods’ tooth was knocked out by the incident.”

It wasn’t clear if Vonn saw Woods collide with the camera.

Woods first showed up in the athletes’ area when Vonn’s father, Alan Kildow, escorted him in shortly after Vonn took the lead. The golfer then surprised Vonn and gave the skier an emotional hug.

After about 10 to 15 minutes of standing near Vonn with her family, Woods was escorted into a white tent usually reserved for measuring skis. He stayed there for nearly an hour, while the last lower-ranked skiers came down and during the podium celebration.

After the podium celebration, Woods was escorted by police to a waiting snowmobile and taken away.

Race organizers told The Associated Press they were not aware of the incident and that Woods requested extra security and a snowmobile to exit the finish area.

“I was among those who escorted him from the tent to the snowmobile and there was no such incident,” Nicola Colli, the secretary general of the race organizing committee, told The Associated Press. “When he arrived he asked for more security and we rounded up police to look after both him and Lindsey.”

Woods had been wearing a scarf with a skeleton pattern over the lower part of his face, sunglasses and a stocking cap.

The photo was taken when the scarf was lowered.

Steinberg, through a spokesman, said there would be nothing to add Tuesday.

Woods makes his 2015 debut next week in Phoenix.

TIME Football

Aaron Rodgers: ‘I Don’t Think God Cares’ About Game Outcomes

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers looks up at the scoreboard during the fourth quarter of the 2015 NFC Championship game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on Jan. 18, 2015 in Seattle.
Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers looks up at the scoreboard during the fourth quarter of the 2015 NFC Championship game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on Jan. 18, 2015 in Seattle. Christian Petersen—Getty Images

"I don't think he's a big football fan"

Responding to listener questions on his weekly radio show on Tuesday, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said that he doesn’t think God cares about the outcomes of football games.

Speaking with ESPN Wisconsin’s Jason Wilde, Rodgers discussed the aftermath of the Packers’ NFC Championship Game loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

The Seahawks overcame a 16-0 first-half deficit and a 19-7 Packers lead in the fourth quarter before defeating Green Bay in overtime, 28-22.

In a segment where Rodgers responds to questions from fans, Wilde read a question that asked if the outcomes of football games have an impact on Rodgers’ faith.

Wilde: “[The reader] says, ‘I always find it a little off-putting when athletes, actors and anybody says, “This is what God wanted,” or “I want to thank God for helping us win today,” anything along those lines when a game or award is won. I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the gist. Personally, with all the chaos in the world, I’m not sure God really cares about the outcome of a game or an awards show. What do you think of statements such as these? You’ve obviously got your faith. Does what happens on Sunday impact your relationship with God or your faith at all?”

Rodgers: “I agree with her. I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome. He cares about the people involved, but I don’t think he’s a big football fan.”

Rodgers’ comments provided contrast to those from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who credited God for Seattle’s come-from-behind win to MMQB.com’s Peter King after that game.

“That’s God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special,” he said, alone for a moment in the locker room before heading out for the night. “I’ve been through a lot in life, and had some ups and downs. It’s what’s led me to this day.”

Rodgers was not asked about Wilson’s response.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

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