TIME Skiing

2 U.S. Ski Team Prospects Die in Avalanche

Avalanche US Skiers Killed
From Left: Ronnie Berlack and Bryce Astle Sarah Brunson—U.S. Ski Team/AP

They were skiing near their European training base in the Austrian Alps

Two prospects from the U.S. Ski Team were killed in an avalanche Monday while skiing near their European training base in the Austrian Alps.

The U.S. ski team said Ronnie Berlack, 20, and Bryce Astle, 19, died in the incident near the Rettenbach glacier near Soelden, the venue for the annual season-opening World Cup races.

Berlack, from Franconia, New Hampshire, and Astle, from Sandy, Utah, were part of a group of six skiers who were descending from the 3,056-meter Gaislachkogel when they left the prepared slope and apparently set off the avalanche. The other four skied out of the slide and escaped unhurt.

Officials in the Tyrolean region said an avalanche alert had been declared for the area after days of heavy snowfall and mild temperatures.

“Ronnie and Bryce were both outstanding ski racers who were passionate about their sport — both on the race course and skiing the mountain,” U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Tiger Shaw said. “Our hearts go out to the Berlack and Astle families, as well as to their extended sport family. Both of them loved what they did and conveyed that to those around them.”

Berlack grew up racing in New Hampshire and had been a student-athlete at Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy. He was named to the so-called development team for potential World Cup racers following two top-20 finishes at the 2013 U.S. national championships and a spring tryout camp.

Astle was invited to train with the development team this season after strong early season results, including two top-10 results at NorAm Cup races last month in Canada.

The tragedy has left the U.S. ski team “in shock,” Alpine director Patrick Riml told The Associated Press in Croatia, Zagreb, where the American slalom team was preparing for a night race on Tuesday.

“We are all very close,” said Riml, an Austrian who was born and grew up in Soelden. “We train a lot in Park City. We’ll see how they handle the whole thing and how they react.”

Riml added “it’s a shock for everybody. Two great boys, great athletes, good skiers. They were fun to have around. We are all in shock, still. It’s very tragic.”

Berlack and Astle were part of a group of 10 skiers on the development team who gained experience in the Europa Cup and were preparing to race on the top-level World Cup.

“They all have the potential (to be on the World Cup),” Riml said. “These two boys were among the other eight boys who are our future. We believed in these guys, that’s why we selected them.”

Soelden has been the European base for the U.S. ski team since 2011.

TIME Soccer

A Nepalese World Cup Worker Dies Every Other Day in Qatar

Nepalese migrant workers queue to receive official documents in order to leave Nepal from the Labour department in Kathmandu on January 27, 2014. Prakash Mathema—AFP/Getty

The appalling toll comes despite Qatari claims of reform

The Guardian reports that Nepalese migrants building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar died at a rate of one in every two days during 2014.

The death toll excludes deaths among Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi workers. The Guardian believes that if these figures were included, the death toll would “almost certainly” be more than one a day.

Human rights organizations have accused Qatar on falling behind on the investigations and labor reforms they vowed to implement following a report by international law firm DLA Piper published in May.

“It’s Qatar’s responsibility to determine if deaths are related to living and working conditions, but Qatar flatly rejected a DLA Piper recommendation to launch an immediate investigation into these deaths last year,” said Nicholas McGeehan, the Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch.

The Nepalese foreign employment board told the newspaper that 67 of its nationals had died of cardiac arrest and 8 of heart attacks, while 34 death were logged as workplace accidents.

Read more at the Guardian

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 Soccer

Pelé Discharged From Hospital Following Kidney Surgery

The 74-year-old soccer star says he's ready for the Olympics

Soccer legend Pelé quipped that he may still be ready to take to the field, after he was released from the hospital following a procedure to remove kidney stones.

The 74-year-old Brazilian star had contracted an infection during the operation and was placed in semi-intensive care, but he received his own room on Saturday and left the hospital in São Paulo Tuesday, the Guardian reports.

“It is gratifying and good to know that I had the support of so many people around the world who were hoping the situation improved,” he said at a press conference, according to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo. “Now I am preparing for the Olympics!”

The soccer star underwent haemodialysis after suffering a urinary tract infection.Pelé had one of his kidneys removed when he was still a professional athlete.

[The Guardian]

TIME World Cup

Report: Russia’s World Cup Kickbacks Included Picasso Painting

FIFA president Joseph Blatter graces  the ground breaking ceremony of the FIFA Goal Project III
FIFA president Joseph Blatter delivers his speech prior to the Ground Breaking Ceremony of the FIFA Goal Project III for the national teams' training center at the San Lazaro Leisure and Business Park in Cavite province, south of Manila, Philippines, Nov. 30, 2014. Dennis M. Sabangan—EPA

Insiders allege a system of kickbacks helped countries secure bids to host the game

World Cup officials accepted valuable works of art from Russia as it was bidding to host the 2018 soccer tournament, according to a new report published Monday.

The dossier of findings, which was submitted by investigative reporters at a British newspaper to a UK Parliamentary committee, includes allegations that Russia’s successful bid to host the tournament in 2018 was bolstered by a handout of a Picasso painting to FIFA executive member Michel Platini. Belgian executive committee member Michel D’Hooghe also allegedly accepted a valuable painting.

Investigative reporters for British newspaper the Sunday Times gathered allegations by unnamed whistleblowers, including a British intelligence agent who reportedly spied on rival countries’ bids to host the World Cup tournament. The dossier also alleges that Russia and Qatar traded votes for their successful bids as part of a gas deal.

Platini dismissed the allegations as “total fabrications,” CNN reports, while D’Hooghe characterized the painting given to him as “absolutely ugly,” and insisted it had no bearing on his vote, which he said did not go in favor of Russia.

The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee accepted the dossier as part of an ongoing investigation into the World Cup bidding process.

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 Soccer

FIFA Alleges Misconduct in World Cup Selection

The organization has faced allegations of bribery in previous years

FIFA filed a criminal complaint in Switzerland Tuesday against unnamed individuals, alleging “international transfers of assets” that “merit examination” in connection with the selection process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The international soccer organization, now in the accuser seat, has in the past faced accusations of a lack of transparency and corrupt practices in choosing World Cup venues.

“There are indications of potential illegal or irregular conduct in certain areas, which must now be followed up both internally by FIFA and by the relevant national criminal prosecution authorities,” said Hans-Joachim Eckert, co-chair of FIFA’s ethics committee, in a question and answer.

The complaint follows the completion of an internal investigation into the selection processes. While the report has not been released in its entirety, Eckert admitted that it contained some evidence of wrongdoing.

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: From the FIFA Probe to Kim Kardashian’s Assets

Here are four of the biggest stories for the second week of November

This week, a number of media reports suggested President Barack Obama is poised to unilaterally overhaul the U.S. immigration policy, in a move that could allow up to 5 million undocumented immigrants to remain in the country.

The European Space Agency’s Philae probe became the first to land on a comet. The probe landed one kilometer away from its target site, but may run out of energy soon due to lack of sunlight.

FIFA ruled that Qatar will still host the 2022 World Cup, despite allegations it had paid officials to campaign for the bid back in 2010.

And Kim Kardashian posed nude for the cover of Paper magazine, which said its goal was to “Break the Internet.”

TIME Soccer

Even Soccer Fans Don’t Recognize Clint Dempsey Without a Jersey

The U.S. men's soccer team captain is apparently hard to spot when not playing

Soccer player Clint Dempsey, who captained the U.S. Men’s National Team through the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, may have won the adoration of American fans on the field, but off the green he appears to be harder to spot. In fact, even soccer fans seem to have trouble recognizing America’s star soccer player out of uniform.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser