TIME World Cup

FIFA Clears Russia and Qatar to Host World Cup

FIFA President Sepp Blatter holding up the name of Qatar during the official announcement of the 2022 World Cup host country at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, in Dec. 2010.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter holding up the name of Qatar during the official announcement of the 2022 World Cup host country at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, in Dec. 2010. Philippe Desmazes—AFP/Getty Images

No proof was found of long-standing allegations of bribes and voting pacts

(GENEVA) — A FIFA judge has cleared Russia and Qatar of corruption in their winning bids for the next two World Cups.

German judge Joachim Eckert formally closed FIFA’s probe into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests on Thursday, almost four years after the vote by the governing body’s scandal-tainted executive committee.

Eckert noted wrongdoing among the 11 bidding nations in a 42-page summary of FIFA prosecutor Michael Garcia’s investigations.

However, Eckert ruled that the integrity of the December 2010 voting results was not affected.

No proof was found of longstanding allegations of bribes and voting pacts. Eckert concluded that any rule-breaking behavior was “far from reaching any threshold” to require re-running the contests.

Eckert wants Garcia to prosecute cases against individual FIFA voters and bid staffers.

TIME Basketball

Watch this Guy Make the Longest Backwards Basketball Shot Ever

Harlem Globetrotter Thunder Law made the shot with his back to the rim from 82 feet away

Corey “Thunder” Law was so far downtown when he made this shot that he could’ve hailed a cab. And he wasn’t even looking.

The Harlem Globetrotters star set his second world record in a Youtube video posted on Wednesday for the longest-ever backwards basketball shot.

The clip[, shot at the Phoenix Suns’ arena, shows Law standing a few feet inside the opposite baseline with his back to the rim. He then bends his knees, let’s fly, and … nothing but net.

Law, who also holds the longest-ever shot record for his 109-foot, 9-inch floater from the stands last year, shot his backwards attempt from 82 feet, 2 inches away.

Next read: Watch Newly Released Footage of Kobe Bryant Playing Basketball in High School

TIME Basketball

Kobe Bryant Breaks NBA Record for Missed Shots

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakes dribbles the ball during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on Nov.11, 2014 in Memphis, Tenn.
Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakes dribbles the ball during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on Nov.11, 2014 in Memphis, Tenn. Andy Lyons—Getty Images

Bryant currently ranks fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list

Kobe Bryant has missed more shots in the regular season than any other player in NBA history.

The Los Angeles Lakers star passed Celtics legend Jon Havlicek’s record (13,147) during Tuesday night’s game against the Grizzlies. Bryant eclipsed passed Havlicek’s mark in 18 fewer games.

The record-breaking miss came on a mid-range jump shot in the fourth quarter.

Bryant, 36, has hoisted at least 1,500 shots in 10 of his 19 seasons. His 2,173​ attempts in 2005-06 were a career high. Bryant has shot 45.3 percent from the field and averaged 25.5 points per game during his career.

Over six games this season entering Tuesday, Bryant has scored 26.5 points per game while posting a 39.4 field goal percentage — which would be a career-low if maintained over the entire season.

Bryant currently ranks fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME NBA

NBA Guard Wayne Ellington’s Father Killed in Philadelphia Shooting

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns
Wayne Ellington #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on October 29, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona. Christian Petersen—Getty Images

Wayne Ellington Jr. has taken an indefinite leave of absence from his team

The father of Los Angeles Lakers guard Wayne Ellington Jr. was shot dead in Philadelphia on Sunday.

Police received a call about an traffic collision in nearby Germantown and found 57-year-old Wayne Ellington Sr. in the front seat of his Oldsmobile with a bullet in his head, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Ellington was immediately taken to the nearby Albert Einstein Medical Center for surgery, but was pronounced dead about three hours later.

A motive for his murder is not yet clear, and the city has offered a $20,000 reward for any further information.

Ellington Jr., who grew up in Philadelphia and joined the Lakers as a free agent in September, took an indefinite leave of absence from the team before traveling home earlier this week.

“I encourage anyone with any information to come forward to help authorities solve this case,” he said in a statement.

TIME Education

Is a Bad College Education Illegal for the NCAA?

Mike McAdoo
Michael McAdoo in a 2011 picture taken as a member of the Baltimore Ravens AP

Former North Carolina football player Michael McAdoo is suing the school over sham classes. Does the case have a shot?

When the University of North Carolina was recruiting Michael McAdoo, Tar Heels head coach Butch Davis made a pledge that helped lure the high school football star to Chapel Hill. “I can’t guarantee that Michael will play in the NFL,” Davis told McAdoo’s mother, grandmother, and grandfather while at their home in Antioch, Tenn. “But one thing I can guarantee is that he will get a good education at the University of North Carolina.”

It didn’t quite work out that way. After enrolling at UNC and playing defensive end during the 2008 and 2009 seasons, the NCAA ruled McAdoo ineligible because he received improper help from a tutor in writing an African-American studies paper. That sort of extra assistance was all too common for top athletes at the highly-regarded public university. According to a devastating report released in October, former federal attorney Kenneth Wainstein found that between 1993 and 2011, over 3,100 UNC students took “paper” classes in the school’s Department of African and Afro-American Studies. These courses required no classroom time, little work, and produced inflated grades that were often assigned by a department administrator, not a faculty member. Of the 1,871 paper classes taken by athletes between 1999 and 2011, 63.5% of the enrolled students were football or men’s basketball players.

McAdoo says he was put in such sham classes against his will. So he’s added another headache for the beleaguered school. On Nov. 6, McAdoo filed a class action suit in federal court against the University of North Carolina, on behalf of himself and other football players on scholarship between 1993 and 2011. The suit accuses North Carolina of fraud, deceptive trade practices, and breach of contract: the school promised a legitimate education in exchange for athletic services, but allegedly failed to deliver. “Legal action was in the ether when I first met Michael earlier this year,” says Jeremi Duru, one of McAdoo’s attorneys (McAdoo declined to comment directly). “But the Wainstein report put the engines in motion.”

The complaint says that “almost immediately after arriving at UNC to begin his freshman year, Mr. McAdoo realized that the promises Head Coach Davis and his assistants made about the football’s program’s commitment to academics were false.” McAdoo says he expressed interest in becoming a criminal justice major, but football players were steered into three options for a major: Exercise Sport Science, Communications, or African-American Studies. Per the complaint: “When Mr. McAdoo asked why he should not pursue other majors, he was told these were the only majors that would accommodate his football practice and playing schedule, and that the football program had ‘relationships’ with professors in those departments.” McAdoo, who majored in Exercise Sport Science and African-American Studies, says that an academic counselor gave him and his teammates pre-assigned course schedules that included paper classes. “Mr. McAdoo had no role in selecting the courses,” says the complaint. “The same thing happened every semester Mr. McAdoo attended the University of North Carolina.”

UNC said in a statement that “the University will reserve further comment until we’ve had the opportunity to fully review the claims.”

Davis, who coached UNC from 2007-2010 after being the head coach at the University of Miami and the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, tells TIME that he wasn’t aware of the sham classes when he promised McAdoo a good education. (Davis was fired after the 2010 season, in part because the turmoil surrounding the program after some of the academic impropriety came to light). “After we recruit the athletes, then everything about their academics was handled outside the athletic department,” says Davis, who is now an analyst for ESPN. “Their classes, their degree programs, their teachers, their mentors, their tutors, and everything fell completely under the supervision of the university academic advisement or career counseling program. The only role that I or my assistant coaches had is they would ask us from an academic standpoint ‘what days would you like to practice and what times would you like to have your athletes?’ … Our coaching staff didn’t know that there was anything corrupt, fraudulent, or cheating going on in those classes. We didn’t know.”

At least one former player doesn’t absolve Davis. A man who identified himself as former North Carolina defensive tackle Tydreke Powell told a Greensboro, N.C. radio station that Davis “came into a meeting one day and he said, ‘If y’all came here for an education, you should have went to Harvard.”

Davis acknowledges the remark, but insists that Powell misunderstood the point. “I said that, OK, in the context that I made that statement one time, and it was a poorly phrased context, but I said it half comical and half in the form of ‘stop complaining,’ Davis says. “Your days are long. It’s a long, hard day. You’ve got to practice, you’ve got to study, you’ve got to go to class, you’ve got to take notes, you’ve got to do extra work. If you wanted to just get an education period, and you didn’t want to play in a high profile football program, and you didn’t want to chance to go to the NFL, you should have gone to Harvard. It was totally kind of halfway joking and halfway whimsical, comical, and halfway saying ‘hey guys, I hear you. I know being a student-athlete in a Division I major college program in any sport is harder than just being a student.’ If you just wanted to be a student, you should have gone to Harvard, you know?”

The Legal Odds

McAdoo’s suit will keep the glare on North Carolina, but will it hold up in court? “I think it’s an absolutely brilliant strategy,” says Marc Edelman, a sports law expert at Baruch College in New York City. “The thrust of what the NCAA purports to be based on is education in exchange for athletic services. That’s supposed to be the quid pro quo. The implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing is a basic tenant of contract law. There’s a very strong argument that North Carolina violated the quid pro quo.”

But McAdoo isn’t the first college athlete to make this argument, and the existing case law could throw a wrench into his suit. In 1992, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit largely upheld a lower court decision to dismiss a case involving Kevin Ross, a former basketball player at Creighton University who sued the school for negligence and breach of contract for failing to educate him. “We agree — indeed we emphasize — that courts should not ‘take on the job of supervising the relationship between colleges and student-athletes or creating in effect a new relationship between them,’” the judges wrote. Courts are reluctant to judge the quality of a student’s education, because “theories of educations are not uniform.” How can you objectively measure the quality of a student’s academic experience? It may be a ‘practical impossibility to prove that the alleged malpractice of the teacher proximately caused the learning deficiency of the plaintiff student.’”

“Courts have consistently been very reluctant to get into the quality of education,” says Phillip Closius, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. “This is not binding precedent. But it seems highly unlikely for a court to ignore it.”

The judges were also concerned about the potential “flood of litigation against the schools.” If McAdoo wins damages because his education is deemed insufficient, what’s to stop other dissatisfied students from bringing their own claims?

But the appellate ruling in Ross’s case did leave a small opening for McAdoo’s suit. In order to avoid the murky matter of judging the quality of Ross’ education, the lower court was ordered to answer a very narrow question. “To adjudicate such a claim, the court would not be required to determine whether Creighton had breached its contract with Mr. Ross by providing deficient academic services. Rather, its inquiry would be limited to whether the University had provided any real access to its academic curriculum at all.”

Under this precedent, McAdoo would have to show that North Carolina offered him no education. That’s tough to prove. (Ross, who left Creighton with seventh grade reading skills, reached a $30,000 settlement with the school, which admitted no liability). And it begs the question of why McAdoo didn’t fight harder to enroll in a major of his choosing. “He’s not a minor,” says Closius. “If you know classes have no content, why don’t you do something about it?”

Duru, McAdoo’s lawyer, argues that for young athletes who’ve trained their whole lives to play college football, taking such a stand isn’t so easy. “Think about the expanse of the academic impropriety, and channeling into these courses, going on at North Carolina,” he says. “It was almost part and parcel of being part of the football team. It was just systematic and normative that an 18-year-old kid drop into it.”

McAdoo declared for the NFL’s supplemental draft after he was ruled ineligible and spent two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens on injured reserve. His suit isn’t just seeking money. He wants the court to appoint someone to review the curriculum and course selection for all North Carolina football players for the next five years, and for the school to guarantee athletic scholarships for four years.

“He’s not trying to vilify North Carolina,” says Duru. “He’s trying to right a wrong.”

Read next: North Carolina Has a Real College Sports Scandal on its Hands

TIME ebola

Morocco Won’t Host the Africa Cup Amid Ebola Fears

Nigeria v Burkina Faso - 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Final
John Obi Mikel celebrates holding the trophy during the 2013 Orange African Cup of Nations Final match between Nigeria and Burkina Faso from the National Stadium in Johannesburg on Feb. 10, 2013. Lefty Shivambu—Gallo Images/Getty Images

Organizers have disqualified the country in response to its refusal

Morocco will not be hosting the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations after being removed by organizers due to the country’s Ebola fears.

Morocco had a deadline of Nov. 8 to confirm whether it would host the soccer tournament, and instead, the country asked for the tournament to be postponed. The Confederation of African Football (CAF), which organizes the event, refused Morocco’s request on Tuesday, and has insisted that the tournament will start on schedule, kicking off Jan. 17.

“Following the refusal of the Moroccan party, the Executive Committee has decided that the national team of Morocco is automatically disqualified and will not take part in the 30th edition of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations in 2015,” CAF wrote in a statement. A new host has not been identified, but CAF says it’s received “some applications” from other countries wanting to host the competition.

The move comes amid growing fear and stigma of the Ebola outbreak which is affecting Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Sierra Leone’s soccer team was hailed with chants of “Ebola, Ebola” while playing in games in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon, and the team has been forced to stay in hotels with no other guests, the New York Times reports.

Ebola is only spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of an affected person, and individuals are not contagious until they start showing symptoms.

 

TIME Morocco

Morocco Barred From 2015 Africa Cup of Nations

FBL-AFR-2013-BUR-NGR-MATCH32
Nigeria's national football team players hold the trophy as they celebrate winning the 2013 African Cup of Nations final against Burkina Faso on Feb. 10, 2013 at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg. Issouf Sanogo—AFP/Getty Images

Nation had requested postponement over Ebola fears

The Confederation of African Football confirmed Tuesday that the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations tournament would not be held in Morocco, which refused to do so over Ebola fears, and that Morocco’s team would be disqualified.

Morocco had asked the confederation to consider postponing the game until health workers had managed to contain the spread of the virus across West Africa, which the World Health Organization reports has killed some 5,000 people so far. The request was denied, the BBC reports, which gave Morocco until Saturday to reconsider.

The confederation also announced that Morocco’s squad would be automatically barred from the games and that its executive committee had already been convened in Cairo to consider alternative sites for the games, scheduled to begin on Jan. 17 and end on Feb. 8.

TIME olympics

Violinist Banned Over Fixed Olympic Qualifiers

OBERHOFEN, Switzerland — The International Ski Federation has banned violinist Vanessa-Mae for four years for taking part in fixed races to qualify for the Sochi Olympics.

FIS says its hearing panel “found to its comfortable satisfaction” that results of four giant slalom races were manipulated in January in Slovenia.

FIS details several rule-breaking incidents that rigged results to help Vanessa-Mae falsely improve her results.

Without the cheating, Vanessa-Mae “would not have achieved the necessary FIS point performance level to be eligible to participate in the Olympic Winter Games.”

In Sochi, the celebrity musician raced for Thailand as Vanessa Vanakorn, using the last name of her Thai father. She finished last of 67 racers in the two-run giant slalom.

FIS also banned five other officials for between one and two years for cheating.

TIME NFL

Former NFL Player Orlando Thomas Dies Of Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Minnesota Vikings v Tennessee Oilers
Orlando Thomas #42 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on against the Tennessee Oilers at Vanderbilt Stadium on December 26, 1998 in Nashville, Tennessee. Joe Robbins—Getty Images

The former Minnesota Vikings safety first revealed he had the disease in 2007

Former NFL player Orlando Thomas died in Louisiana on Monday after succumbing to Lou Gehrig’s Disease, his agent told Bloomberg.

The 42-year-old former Minnesota Vikings safety had revealed in 2007 that he was battling the disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and named after the former New York Yankees star who died of it in 1941.

“If there was ever a test to strip your fight, courage and toughness and make you wallow in self-pity, this would be the disease and yet he was so incredible in his fight and never once made it about him,” said Thomas’ agent Mark Bartelstein.

Thomas spent seven seasons with the Vikings after joining as a second round draft pick in 1995, and notched up 22 interceptions during his career before retiring in 2001.

[Bloomberg]

TIME england

How English Soccer Could Take a Page from American Football’s Playbook

Manager Chris Powell during a Huddersfield Town home game on Oct. 21, 2014 in Huddersfield, England.
Manager Chris Powell during a Huddersfield Town home game on Oct. 21, 2014 in Huddersfield, England. Gareth Copley—Getty Images

Advocates look to NFL to address racial disparity in coaching ranks

It’s not often that England’s football clubs look across the Atlantic for answers, but a new report suggests doing just that. Ethnic Minorities and Coaching in Elite-Level Football in England: A Call to Action, launched on Nov. 10, highlights a glaring whiteness in the upper echelons of management at England’s 92 professional football clubs. There are just two black or mixed race managers in English football, Chris Powell at Huddersfield and Keith Curle at Carlisle, and although as many as 30% of players come from minority ethnic backgrounds, only 3.4% of top coaches—13 of the 552 individuals employed running first teams, developing young talent and in other, similarly key roles—are non-white. The report holds up the National Football League’s Rooney Rule as a possible way to redress than imbalance.

The procedure—nothing to do with Manchester United and England player Wayne Rooney, but named after Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers who helped to formulate the rule and get the NFL to adopt it—requires all NFL teams to interview at least one black or minority ethnic candidate for any head coach and general manager vacancy. In 2003 when the rule came into force, only 6% of NFL head coaches were of black or minority ethnic heritage. Within three years, the proportion had risen to 22%. This has not been the only bonus, says Piara Powar, executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE), co-publisher of the report. “The research from the U.S. tells us that if you implement the Rooney Rule, which is in essence about putting capable and qualified people in front of the people doing the recruiting, that opens up the system even to capable white coaches who might be excluded.”

English football recruitment lacks transparency. Positions are rarely openly advertised and often work through existing contacts. Jason Roberts, a former elite footballer and founder of the Sports People’s Think Tank, joint publisher of the report with FARE, told the British Sunday newspaper, the Observer, that he believes this system allows racist assumptions to go unchallenged. “It starts when black players are characterized by their athletic ability. You will not hear a black player referred to in the same sentence as the words ‘intelligent’, or ‘technique’. It’s always power and pace. This narrative goes right the way through. We’ve seen it in the past – ‘black players are not good in the cold’, ‘not good at certain positions.’ You can see how the decision-makers look at it and say: ‘Well, he’s just not the type.’”

Other prominent non-white figures in English football have expressed skepticism that a Rooney Rule would work in the English context. The former England striker Les Ferdinand doubted that clubs would open up their interviewing process sufficiently. Carlisle’s Curle fears black candidates might be called in “just to tick a box.” Researchers, who spoke to Rooney and many other key figures in the NFL in compiling the report, did encounter similar worries in the U.S., says Powar, but overall the feedback was positive. “There are always suspicions that some people are being interviewed for the sake of it, that some franchises could do more, but in the end this one mechanism has led to a very clear change of the type we want to see here.”

FARE will be publishing more research later this year that surveys the situation across Europe. France and the Netherlands both do better than the U.K., says Powar, who has already seen some of the data. He argues that this represents “a bigger failure” by the English game because “English football is the wealthiest in the world; we have the biggest TV deals here; we have the most international league; the brands are bigger and they’re more well known across the rest of the world.”

Richard Bates of the anti-racism organization Kick It Out sees another problem in English football’s monotone appearance. There has been significant progress in combating racism on the playing field and in the stands, and in that respect “English football is certainly further ahead than a lot of countries on the Continent”. But, he says, the delay in mirroring the diversity of players and fans in football’s board rooms and back rooms risks undermining those advances. “The more diverse the game becomes off the pitch, the more aware people will become in terms of those who watch the game of the need to be fully inclusive.”

Bates argues that not only the football clubs but the governing bodies in English football, in particular the Football Association (FA), the Premier League and the Football League, need to spearhead the drive for better diversity. If so, these bodies should make a start by looking at themselves. Research undertaken for the report shows that a mere 1% of administrators in English football are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. In October 2013, Heather Rabbatts, simultaneously the only black and only female board member of the FA, made public a letter criticising her own organization after a commission it set up to look at ways of improving the performance of the England team in a spectacular own goal failed to include any black or female members.

England last lifted the World Cup in 1966. Rabbatts pointed out that Andros Townsend, a black player, had just helped England towards qualifying for the 2014 World Cup tournament in Brazil. “It is therefore particularly ironic that a commission to look at the national team has been formed with absolutely no representation from the black and ethnic minority communities, many of whom play such an important role at every level of our game.”

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