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Thursday
May282015

US Soccer Voting for Sepp Blatter's Rival in Upcoming FIFA Election Amid Arrests

FIFA President Sepp Blatter delivers his speech during the opening ceremony of the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland on May 28, 2015. (Photo by Fatih Erel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Soccer Federation will vote for the rival of incumbent FIFA president Sepp Blatter in Friday's election amid more than a dozen arrests of high-ranking FIFA officials accused of racketeering and corruption.

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati Thursday said the federation will vote for Jordanian Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, the lone candidate running against Blatter, who is expected to win his fifth term as president of world soccer's governing body. He was not among those arrested or indicted Wednesday.

“For me, and for U.S. soccer, better governance and more integrity at CONCACAF and FIFA are far more important than hosting any international soccer tournament,” Gulati told The New York Times.

In a series of busts on Wednesday, authorities arrested nine current or former FIFA figures and five involved in sports marketing over allegations of racketeering and corruption involving more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks spanning two decades, law enforcement officials said.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron posted to his Twitter account Thursday saying he supported the U.S. probe and issued a call for new FIFA leadership.

Blatter pledged Thursday that FIFA will cooperate with the investigations and vowed to work to restore trust in the organization.

The investigation grew out of allegations of payoffs to officials who decided where to hold the next two instances of the World Cup, the biggest international event in sports. The process landed the games in Russia for 2018 and Qatar in 2022, according to three senior U.S. law enforcement officials. The U.S. was runner-up to Qatar’s win.

The alleged wrongdoing reaches back as far as 1991, and in 2004, corruption purportedly played a role in the process of deciding who would host the 2010 World Cup, an honor that eventually fell to South Africa, according to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. An indictment unsealed Wednesday laid out other alleged bribery schemes, including some involving high-dollar deals for marketing and broadcasting rights related to various tournaments.

FIFA's 209-member federations will vote by secret ballot Friday to elect the governing body's next president.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
May282015

Chicago Bulls Dismiss Head Coach Tom Thibodeau

Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The Chicago Bulls announced on Thursday that head coach Tom Thibodeau was relieved of his duties.

After losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round, Thibodeau's tenure seemed destined to be coming to a close. Chicago made the decision official Thursday, with team Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf offering praise for Thibodeau's "love of the game." Still, Reinsdorf explained the decision to part with the largely successful head coach in a statement, saying that he felt the move was necessary for the Bulls to "continue to grow and succeed."

"Days like today are difficult," Reinsdorf added, "but necessary for us to achieve our goals and fulfill our commitments to our fans."

"When Tom was hired in 2010, he was right for our team and system at that time, and over the last five years we have had some success with Tom as our head coach," Bulls General Manager Gar Forman said, "but as we looked ahead and evaluated how we as a team and an organization could continue to grow and improve, we believed a change in approach was needed."

Thibodeau spent five seasons as the Bulls head coach, racking up more wins than any other Bulls coach since the NBA-ABA merger besides the legendary Phil Jackson. In those five seasons, the Bulls averaged 51 victories, but went just 23-28 in the postseason.

Thibodeau's tenure was hindered in part by injury woes, as star Derrick Rose missed the better part of two seasons with knee injuries and much of the rest of the Bulls roster dealt with nagging health issues.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
May282015

Sepp Blatter: Corruption Allegations 'Bring Shame and Humiliation' to FIFA

Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images(ZURICH) -- FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Thursday that the allegations of corruption brought against 14 people "bring shame and humiliation" to the global soccer organization.

"There can be no place for corruption of any kind," Blatter said in Zurich.

In a series of overnight busts on Wednesday, authorities arrested high-ranking FIFA officials over allegations of vast racketeering and corruption involving more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks spanning two decades in soccer’s controversial governing body, law enforcement officials said.

In all, 14 people, which includes nine current or former FIFA figures and five involved in sports marketing, have been charged by the Department of Justice for allegedly “foster[ing] a culture of corruption and greed that created an uneven playing field for the biggest sport in the world,” as FBI Director James Comey put it. Police also executed a search warrant at a location in Miami related to the investigation.

Many have called for Blatter -- who is up for re-election for a fifth-term as FIFA president on Friday -- to resign. Blatter was not one of the men indicted in the case.

The investigation grew out of allegations of payoffs to officials who decided where to hold the next two World Cups, the biggest international event in sports, that landed the games in Russia for 2018 and Qatar in 2022, according to three senior U.S. law enforcement officials. The U.S. was the runner-up to Qatar’s win.

The overall alleged wrongdoing reaches back as far as 1991, and in 2004, corruption purportedly played a role in the process of deciding who would host the 2010 World Cup, an honor that eventually fell to South Africa, according to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. An indictment unsealed on Thursday lays out other alleged bribery schemes, including some involving high-dollar deals for marketing and broadcasting rights related to various tournaments.

“In short, these individuals, through these organizations, engaged in bribery to decide who would televise games, where the games would be held and who would run the organization overseeing organized soccer worldwide,” Lynch said at a press conference Wednesday in New York.

Lynch said that in one example, a single FIFA executive is suspected of amassing a “personal fortune” by taking over $10 million in bribes over a 19-year period.

IRS Chief Criminal Investigator Richard Weber dubbed the scandal the "World Cup of Fraud" and said the U.S. was issuing FIFA a "red card," a reference to penalties given out in soccer games for egregious infractions.

“This organization has been lawless, doing whatever they want for years. This is the way they do business,” Christopher Fusco, a former prosecutor and sports analyst, told ABC News. “Selecting Qatar [to host the 2022 World Cup] was the straw that broke the camel’s back."

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
May282015

Riley Curry Steals Spotlight Again as Warriors Advance to NBA Finals

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- The true champion of the 2015 NBA Playoffs isn't a player with the Golden State Warriors or Cleveland Cavaliers, the two teams facing off for the title.

No, this postseason belongs to Riley Curry, the 2-year-old daughter of Warriors guard Stephen Curry. Riley stole the spotlight again on Wednesday, celebrating on the court after her father’s team won the Western Conference Finals -- then later singing, reaching for the microphone and walking around lackadaisically during the post-game press conference.

Riley opened the press conference with a giant yawn before resting her head on the table.

She also asked her father for help with her bracelet.

“Dada, help me,” she said.

Riley -- who also appeared at a press conference last week, following Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals -- waved and mumbled into the microphone Wednesday. At times she walked around, owning the moment.

She handed a man her chewing gum before hiding behind a curtain, dragging the sheet halfway through the room.

One of the reporters asked Stephen Curry about his daughter.

“I think she’s taking advantage of the moment, for sure. She’s way too comfortable,” he said.

Curry led the Warriors against the Houston Rockets during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals Wednesday night, scoring 26 points to help his team beat the Rockets 104-90.

The Warriors will now face off against the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. The championship series will begin June 4 in Oakland, California.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
May282015

Blackhawks Defeat Ducks 5-2 to Force Game 7

Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 Wednesday night, forcing a Game 7 in the Western Conference Final.

Blackhawks right wing Andrew Shaw scored two goals in the third period and Brandon Saad, Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane each scored a goal in the second period. Defenseman Duncan Keith had an assist on all three goals scored in the second period.

The Blackhawks and Ducks will go at it again on Saturday in Anaheim, California to determine who will advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. Whichever team wins will face off against either the New York Rangers or Tampa Bay Lightning. That series is also tied 3-3.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
May282015

NASCAR Penalizes Three Teams for Charlotte Infractions

Jerry Markland/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Three Sprint Cup teams have been penalized for infractions at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which hosted the Coca-Cola 600 last weekend.

NASCAR on Wednesday placed Jamie McMurray's crew chief, Matt McCall, on probation through the end of the year because the right rear quarter panel wheel opening for McMurray's car was modified after qualifying inspection for the Coca-Cola 600.

Jimmie Johnson will have one of the last two picks for a pit stall at this weekend's race at Dover, after his team received a written warning for the second consecutive race. The latter warning was for the number of times it took for the team to pass pre-qualifying inspection.

Justin Allgaier's team was similarly penalized for the same reason.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
May282015

Scoreboard Roundup -- 5/27/15

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- INTERLEAGUE
San Diego 5, L.A. Angels 4

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Cleveland 12, Texas 3
Chi White Sox 5, Toronto 3, 10 Innings
N.Y. Yankees 4, Kansas City 2
Minnesota 6, Boston 4
Seattle 3, Tampa Bay 0
Detroit 3, Oakland 2
Baltimore 5, Houston 4

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Colorado 6, Cincinnati 4
Pittsburgh 5, Miami 2
N.Y. Mets 7, Philadelphia 0
San Francisco 3, Milwaukee 1
Washington 3, Chi Cubs 0
St. Louis 4, Arizona 3
Atlanta 3, L.A. Dodgers 2

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION PLAYOFFS
Golden State 104, Houston 90

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
Chicago 5, Anaheim 2

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
May272015

Ray McDonald Arrested for Violating Restraining Order

Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images(SANTA CLARA, Calif.) -- Former San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears defensive lineman Ray McDonald was arrested again on Wednesday after allegedly violating a restraining order.

Released on Monday by the Bears after his second arrest on domestic violence charges, police say McDonald was at a Santa Clara residence prohibited by the order, which was issued as a result of the Monday arrest. Police later found him at a nearby restaurant.

He was arrested without incident and taken to the Santa Clara Police Department for processing before being booked at Santa Clara County Jail.

McDonald's Monday arrest came after he allegedly assaulted a woman "while she was holding a baby," Santa Clara police said at the time.

The Bears released McDonald later that day.

Chicago had given the lineman a second chance after being released by the 49ers due to "a pattern of poor behavior."

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
May272015

IndyCar Driver James Hinchcliffe Released from Hospital After Terrifying Crash

David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe, who was involved in a horrific crash during practice before the Indianapolis 500 last week, was released from an Indiana hospital on Tuesday.

According to the IndyCar Series, Hinchcliffe had surgery on May 18 and was released on Tuesday. He had suffered left thigh and pelvic injuries when his car crashed with a barrier.

Fellow driver Will Power, who came in second in Sunday's Indy 500, was on hand when Hinchcliffe left Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital Tuesday, according to a photo posted to Instagram.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
May272015

FIFA Inquiry Leads to Calls for Delay in Presidential Vote

Photo by Pressefoto Ulmer/ullstein bild via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Amid a U.S. and international investigation of corruption within FIFA, the Union of European Football Associations on Wednesday called for a delayed vote for FIFA's presidency.

The election was set to take place on Friday, with incumbent president Sepp Blatter vying for a fifth term. Blatter has been skewered in recent months on ESPN's Outside the Lines as part of a report by Jeremy Schaap which detailed the shady happenings within the football organization, as well as on HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

UEFA has said that it may boycott the vote altogether.

In a statement, Blatter called it "a difficult time for football, the fans and for FIFA as an organisation." He noted actions taking by FIFA, including an investigation by FIFA's own independent Ethics Committee.

"Let me be clear," Blatter said, "such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game." The executives named in the indictment were banned by FIFA on Wednesday.

"We will continue to work with the relevant authorities and we will work vigorously within FIFA in order to root out any misconduct, to regain your trust and ensure that football worldwide is free from wrongdoing," Blatter concluded.

The indictment also implicated an unnamed U.S. sportswear company for being involved in bribes and kickbacks related to the Brazilian national soccer team's sponsorship. The Brazilian team is sponsored by Nike, which said on Wednesday that it "believes in ethical and fair play in both business and sport and strongly opposes any form of manipulation or bribery." Nike says it is cooperating with authorities.

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