Dallas police say Bills LB Von Miller facing arrest for assaulting a pregnant person

DALLAS (AP) — Police in Dallas have issued an arrest warrant for Buffalo Bills linebacker Von Miller on charges stemming from a “major disturbance” at a home on Wednesday.

According to police, a preliminary investigation determined that Miller, 34, and the victim got into a verbal argument and the suspect assaulted the victim, who is pregnant. They said Miller left the scene before they arrived.

The victim was treated for minor injuries and an arrest warrant was issued for Miller for allegedly assaulting a pregnant person.

The Bills, who have a bye this week, issued a statement Thursday acknowledging that they are aware of the incident and “are in the process of gathering more information.”

The team said it would have no further comment at this point.

Miller, selected No. 2 overall by the Denver Broncos in the 2011 NFL draft, is an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time first-team All-Pro selection.

Miller, who starred at Texas A&M and was a two-time first-team All-American, has played on two Super Bowl winners and was the MVP of the 2015 game with the Broncos. He won a second title in 2021 as a member of the Los Angeles Rams.

When he was traded by the Broncos, he held the franchise record for career sacks with 110.5.


AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL


Australian women focused on Olympic qualification as they take on Canada in B.C.

LANGFORD, B.C. — While Olympic champion Canada celebrates captain Christine Sinclair's international swansong with a Summer Games berth already secured, Australia is still focused on getting to Paris.

The 11th-ranked Matildas, who face No. 10 Canada in friendlies Friday in Langford, B.C., and Tuesday in Vancouver, have one more obstacle in their way having dispatched No. 63 Iran 2-0, the 44th-ranked Philippines 8-0 and No. 38 Chinese Taipei 3-0 in Olympic qualifying play in October and November.

Australia next plays No. 50 Uzbekistan in the final round of Asian qualifying, a two-legged series with the winner joining the 12-team field in Paris. Unranked North Korea plays No. 8 Japan in the other third-round matchup.

The Canada outings are the last for the Matildas before that final Olympic qualifying step.

"We want to finish on a high. It's really important we do so," said Australian veteran midfielder Emily van Egmond.

"So for us, it's getting as much as we can out of this (international) window and these two games," she added. "And obviously Canada, being the quality opposition that they are, are going to be extremely good for us."

The two teams authored different stories at this summer's World Cup, which ended prematurely for Canada in a humbling 4-0 loss to the Matildas on July 31 in Melbourne. Co-host Australia went on to finish fourth, with an enthusiastic nation cheering it on.

Van Egmond says the Canada tour is a chance for the Australian women to hone their game, adding she doesn't believe the Canadians will be distracted by Sinclair's farewell tour with fellow veterans Erin McLeod and Sophie Schmidt also being honoured at the Vancouver match.

"Any international friendly is a an opportunity for the team to get together and to build some sort of momentum towards these major tournaments that we have coming up. I mean the Olympics are just right around the corner," she said. "So I have no doubt in my mind that it's going to be a competitive game.

"Of course, obviously the retirement of the three players will play a special part and I'm sure Canada is going to want to go out on top for those girls. But ultimately we're here as well and we have a job to do. For us, it's all about that prep now for the Olympics."

But van Egmond, who plays in front of Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan at the San Diego Wave, was generous in her praise of Sinclair.

"I've had the privilege of playing against her quite a bit in the NWSL. Her career speaks for itself," said van Egmond. "She's been an unbelievable player. 

"I don't know her personally but from what I've heard she's an even more unbelievable person. So someone like this, who's had longevity in the game and the respect that she has, I'm happy that she gets to go out the way that she wants to and no better way for her obviously (than) on her home soil."

Sinclair, 40, is the world's all-time leading goal-scorer with 190 goals to her credit

The Matildas, who have been training in Vancouver this week, are without injured captain and star forward Sam Kerr, goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, defender Charlotte Grant and forward Holly McNamara.

Coach Tony Gustavsson has summoned Sarah Hunter, Jada Whyman, Alex Chidiac and Remy Siemsen as replacements.

Gustavsson has dismissed reports linking him to the vacant job in his native Sweden, saying he is committed to taking Australia to the Olympics.

Under Gustavsson, the Matildas finished fourth at the Tokyo Olympics, their best finish at the tournament. Australia lost 1-0 to Sweden in the semifinal before falling 4-3 to the U.S. in the bronze-medal game.

The Canadians have an 8-8-3 career record against Australia, winning in Brisbane and Sydney in September 2022 before the World Cup. Five of the Canadian losses to Australia came before 2000.

The World Cup defeat to Australia consigned Canada (1-1-1 at the tournament) to third place in Group B and a trip home. Australia won the group and went on to defeat No. 12 Denmark and No. 5 France before falling 3-1 to No. 4 England in the semifinal and 2-0 to No. 1 Sweden in the third-place game.

Australia has won three straight since.

The Canadian women are 3-1-0 since the World Cup. Canada dispatched No. 37 Jamaica 4-1 on aggregate in a two-game Olympic qualifying playoff in September, then split a friendly series in October with No. 9 Brazil, losing 1-0 in Montreal and winning 2-0 in Halifax.

After the Australia series, the Canadians' next challenge is the CONCACAF W Gold Cup in February in the U.S.


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2023.

Soccer player agents win key legal ruling in England against FIFA rules aiming to curb their fees

ZURICH (AP) — FIFA lost a key ruling in London on Thursday against its plans to regulate soccer player agents and cap the fees and commissions they earn.

A group of agents and firms representing players challenged the proposed FIFA rules at an arbitration tribunal hearing in September.

FIFA confirmed the tribunal had ruled in favor of the agents, leaving the future of the project in doubt.

In a statement, The Football Forum group of agents congratulated its president Jonathan Barnett — a long-time leading agent whose clients include Gareth Bale — for his role in “this success of paramount importance for all agents.”

The English case was among several national challenges brought across Europe to rules that FIFA wanted to enforce on Oct. 1. FIFA had won a ruling in July at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

FIFA wanted more control and to curb the wilder excesses in an industry it said earned more than $600 million from international transfer deals in 2022.

Elite agencies have earned tens of millions of dollars from transfers for top players in deals typically involving English clubs, such as Erling Haaland's 2022 move to Manchester City from Borussia Dortmund.

Agents countered that most of the industry operated at the other end of the financial market in other countries.

FIFA proposed to cap agent earnings at a maximum 10% of transfer fees when they acted for the selling club.

Agents would also have been limited to taking 3% of a player’s salary when those earnings are more than $200,000 per year, or 5% when the player earns up to $200,000. Those limits would be 6% and 10%, respectively, when the agent acted for both the player and the club signing them.

FIFA also would have prohibited player agents representing both the buying and selling clubs in a transfer.

Fees also would have been paid through FIFA’s Paris-based financial clearing house which aimed to bring more transparency — and potential risks to confidentiality, agents argued — to a global transfer market that historically has had murky elements.


AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer


Adelson adding NBA team to resume of casino mogul, GOP power broker, US and Israel newspaper owner

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Miriam Adelson is one of the richest women in the world, a U.S. and Israel newspaper publisher and political powerbroker who, after selling $2 billion in stock to buy the Dallas Mavericks, will still be the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., the casino company her late husband built.

A company statement on Wednesday confirmed the deal on behalf of the Adelson and the Dumont families — referring to relatives of her son-in-law, Sands company president and board member Patrick Dumont.

The transaction could close in less than five weeks, the statement said, if it gets approval from the NBA board of governors. It could take longer; typically the NBA vetting process takes a month or two to complete, and there is no set timeframe.

The $3.5 billion purchase from team owner Mark Cuban would make Adelson one of a few female owners of a U.S. professional sports franchise, and one of the wealthiest overall. Her net worth, including family trusts, was reported by Forbes at about $32 billion, ranking her fifth-richest among women in the U.S. and 35th-richest billionaire in the world.

Las Vegas Sands and Adelson and Dumont families representative Ron Reese declined Wednesday to comment. Adelson, a physician, rarely gives interviews; in 2021, she told Las Vegas television station KNTV about her work with people fighting addictions.

“Send me people who are sick. I can help them,” Adelson said in that interview. “I'm not for profit. It's all philanthropy. And I would like to help to save more lives.”

Cuban was honored by the Adelson family at their annual Pursuit of Excellence gala in Las Vegas in 2017 for his work in technology, one of the top priorities of the Adelsons’ educational programs for children.

Miriam Adelson spoke highly of Cuban at that event.

“A good person with good values, though he is totally opposite of us in his political views,” she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal then. The Adelson family owns that newspaper.

Adelson, 78, was born in Israel in 1945, the year World War II ended, and later moved to New York City where her medical work focused on addiction treatment.

In 1991, she married Sheldon Adelson, the son of Jewish immigrants raised in a Boston tenement who went on to build the Las Vegas Sands empire. His first marriage ended in divorce in 1988. Sheldon Adelson died in 2021.

The publicly traded company they headed, based in Las Vegas, bought the historic Sands hotel on the Las Vegas Strip and imploded it in 1996 to build the Venetian and Palazzo resorts.

In 2022, less than a year after Sheldon Adelson's death, the company sold the Venetian, Palazzo and adjacent Venetian Expo Center for $6.25 billion to a private equity firm and a real estate investment trust. It now only has casino operations abroad, including five properties in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau and one in Singapore.

The Adelsons became major Republican Party donors in the U.S., and established family philanthropic foundations with goals “to strengthen the State of Israel and the Jewish people” and to focus on healthcare including drug addiction treatment clinics in Tel Aviv and Las Vegas.

The Adelsons were top financial backers of former President Donald Trump before, during and after his term in the White House, and helped pay legal expenses of Trump aides during former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of whether the president’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia.

In 2018, Trump awarded Miriam Adelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the nation reserves for a civilian. Cuban is a longtime critic of Trump.

“Miriam, I want to thank you very much for saving so many lives and helping so many people to get back to a normal way of life,” Trump said that day at the White House before presenting Adelson with her medal. “You’ve been incredible. I know the work you’ve done. And you have been truly incredible.”

Trump has also cited Adelson's influence in other decisions he made regarding pardons, like the one he gave to financier Michael Milken, the “junk bond king” who served two years in prison in the early 1990s after pleading guilty to violating U.S. securities laws.

Miriam Adelson has remained a major party donor and benefactor for the Republican Jewish Coalition, which hosted Republican candidates in Las Vegas in October. But she has vowed to stay neutral in the 2024 U.S. presidential primary.

The Adelson family purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada’s largest newspaper, in 2015, and owns the company that is the primary shareholder in Israel Hayom, a widely distributed Hebrew-language free daily newspaper that is seen as friendly to prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In an Israel Hayom opinion column published last week and referring to the Oct. 7 surprise attacks on Israel by Hamas militants out of Gaza, Miriam Adelson wrote that “foreign fans of Hamas are our enemies, the ideological enablers in the West of those who would go to any length to eradicate us from the Middle East. And, as such, they should be dead to us.”

Miriam Adelson has no corporate role with Las Vegas Sands, but the Securities and Exchange Commission filing that disclosed the $2 billion stock sale said she will retain 51.3% of company shares afterward.

Before Sheldon Adelson died, he helped spur efforts to lure the NFL's Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas but then pulled out of a $650 million pledge toward a $2 billion, 60,000-seat stadium that in 2020 became home to the team.

In recent years, the city once shunned by pro sports leagues has become a tourism, entertainment and sports capital home to championship franchises with the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights and WNBA's Las Vegas Aces, and recently hosted its first Formula One race, the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Major League Baseball owners recently voted to let the Oakland Athletics relocate to Las Vegas, and the city is frequently mentioned as a possible home for an NBA team.

But a move by the Mavericks to Las Vegas is unlikely because Cuban will retain responsibility over basketball operations in Dallas, where he has expressed interest in partnering with Las Vegas Sands to open a casino and sports arena complex.

The Mavericks share an arena in Dallas with the NHL's Dallas Stars. The hockey team's president, Brad Alberts, told The Dallas Morning News this week that he's excited about the prospects of the sale.

“I’m not surprised at all on this,” Alberts told the newspaper. “Mark’s desire to work towards a casino is obviously all well-known by everyone, including us."

It was unclear if Miriam Adelson will be seen courtside with Cuban at Mavericks games. The expectation is that Dumont will likely take the seat that the family would be entitled to on the NBA's board of governors once the sale is complete.


AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba

Inter and Napoli brace for early title showdown as the Serie A leader plays the defending champion

MILAN (AP) — Inter Milan coach Simone Inzaghi will be hoping for less of a “Pazza Inter” performance when the Serie A leader visits defending champion Napoli on Sunday.

Translating to “Crazy Inter,” the nickname came about after years of spectacular implosions and rollercoaster matches. Even one of the club’s anthems is called "Pazza Inter."

And the Nerazzurri lived up to their long-held nickname in Wednesday’s Champions League match at Benfica where — following a first-half horror show — they came back from three goals down to draw 3-3 and could even have won the match had Nicolò Barella’s stoppage-time strike not hit the crossbar.

“We talked at halftime and we came back out with a different spirit,” Inzaghi said. “If Barella hadn’t hit the woodwork, it would have been a historic victory.”

With Inter having already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League, Inzaghi had the luxury of being able to rest several players between two important matches in Serie A and he made eight changes from the 1-1 draw at Juventus.

However, he explained it was Inter’s poor approach to the match that led to its disastrous first-half performance rather than the change of personnel and that was illustrated by the team clawing back two goals before Inzaghi made his first substitutions in the 68th minute.

“We changed the team a lot,” Inzaghi said. “I have the opportunity of having so many starters. Not 11 but 20 and I have to try to use them all.

“I’m happy with our second-half reaction. We all should have done better in the first half, me included. But this team knows where it wants to get to, knows how hard it works every day and I know I can count on the whole squad.”

Nevertheless, it is likely to be a much-changed Inter team that takes to the field at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on Sunday evening.

Inter is top of Serie A, two points above Juventus and eight above fourth-placed Napoli. AC Milan is third, six points behind its city rival.

Napoli, which recently changed its coach, also had a difficult match midweek as it lost 4-2 at Real Madrid.

The match has already been billed as a title showdown, even at this early stage of the season.

“It absolutely is, Napoli is a really great team, the reigning Italian champion and deservedly so,” Inzaghi said. “Like us they had a tricky away match, we will both have difficult trips back so we’ll be equal, it will be a great battle, both teams will want to do their best.”

However, Napoli has not played like the defending champion for much of this season and that led to the dismissal of Rudi Garcia — who replaced title-winning coach Luciano Spalletti in the offseason — and the return of Walter Mazzarri.

Napoli beat Atalanta in Mazzarri’s debut before going close in Madrid to an important result.

The match against Inter will be only Mazzarri’s third in charge but already there is a difference in how the team is playing.

“There is a team that is playing together, for the team,” Napoli forward André Zambo Anguissa said when asked what had changed. “Now you can see that the team is playing one for all and all for one.

“There is a coach that has come in and is trying to give his all for the team, to help it understand the strength is in the team, only in the team, and you can see on the field that we are a real team now.”


AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

Canadian men fall three places to No. 48 in latest FIFA world rankings

Canada has dropped three places to No. 48 in the latest FIFA world rankings in the wake of its CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal loss to Jamaica.

The Reggae Boyz remained at No. 55 after winning the two-legged series on the away goals rule after a 3-2 comeback win Nov. 21 in Toronto knotted the series at 4-4.

It's the lowest ranking for the Canadian men, who are sandwiched between Greece and Venezuela, since they were 53rd in December 2022.

World Cup champion Argentina remained No. 1, ahead of France. But Brazil dropped two places to No. 5 after back-to-back defeats by No. 15 Colombia and Argentina.

England and Belgium each moved up one rung to No. 3 and 4, respectively. The Netherlands climbed one place to No. 6, dropping Portugal to Nov. 7. Spain, Italy and Croatia completed the top 10.

Just outside the top 10, Uruguay vaulted four spots to No. 11, with the CONCACAF-leading U.S. falling one rung to No. 12. Mexico slipped two places to No. 14, behind Morocco.

Canada remains fourth in CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, behind the U.S., Mexico and No. 41 Panama, which was the only team among the top five in the region not to lose ground. Costa Rica dropped six places to No. 52.

The Comoro Islands were the biggest mover, jumping nine spots to No. 119, their highest-ever ranking, after wins over Central African Republic and Ghana. Kosovo (No. 101, up four) also reached an all-time high.

Guinea-Bissau (No. 103, up seven), Azerbaijan (No. 114, up six), Libya (No. 120, up six), Malaysia (No. 130, up seven) and Rwanda (No. 133, up seven) were the other big movers in the November ranking.

Others moving in the right direction were Tunisia (No. 28, up 4), Ecuador (No. 32, up four), Romania (No. 43, up five), Slovakia (No. 45, up five) and Greece (No. 47, up four).

Samoa (No. 187), American Samoa (No. 188) and Tonga (No. 196) re-entered the rankings after months of being out through inactivity.

Peru (No. 35) and Gambia (No. 126) both fell nine places.

FIFA says 118 matches were played in November.


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2023

Eagles host 49ers in matchup of two of NFC’s top teams


Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX

OPENING LINE: 49ers by 2 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: San Francisco 6-5; Philadelphia 6-2-3

SERIES RECORD: San Francisco leads 19-14-1

LAST MEETING: On Jan. 29, 2023, the Eagles won 31-7 over the 49ers in the NFC championship game.

LAST WEEK: Niners won at Seattle 31-13; Eagles beat Bills 37-34 in overtime.





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: 49ers plus-11; Eagles minus-2.

EAGLES PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Jalen Hurts just keeps on winning and is part of the conversation for the AP NFL MVP award. The Eagles are 27-2 in Hurts’ past 29 regular-season games, and Philadelphia’s quarterback has 14 consecutive victories over teams with winning records. Against the Bills last week, he combined for five touchdowns through the air and on the ground. The 49ers defense will have their hands full trying to contain Hurts’ dual threat passing and running attack.

49ERS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Deebo Samuel. The talented 49ers receiver had critical comments for Philadelphia CB James Bradberry, calling him “trash.” Earlier this week, Samuel said he doesn’t regret anything he has said. In nine games this season, the star wideout has just one TD reception. Samuel would love to find the end zone against Bradberry and the Eagles.

KEY MATCHUP: Offensive lines vs. defensive lines. Both the Eagles and 49ers have a supremely talented defensive front. San Francisco had a season-high six sacks against Seattle last Thursday and has 15 sacks in three games since acquiring defensive lineman Chase Young from Washington. The Eagles also present problems on the defensive line, and 49ers RT Colton McKivitz and RG Jon Felciano will need to perform better on Sunday than they did when allowing seven pressures, according to Pro Football Focus, against the Seahawks.

KEY INJURIES: The 49ers already were thin at safety when they placed George Odum (torn biceps) on injured reserve after his injury on Thursday. … Neither the Eagles' Dallas Goedert (forearm) nor Lane Johnson (groin) played against the Bills, but they could play against the 49ers.

SERIES NOTES: The Eagles knocked both San Francisco quarterbacks out of the NFC championship game last season, leading to a rules change in the NFL that now allows teams to dress a third QB for emergency situations. Haason Reddick’s hit on Brock Purdy caused an elbow injury that limited the 49ers QB’s ability to throw. Josh Johnson sustained a concussion, and San Francisco had no functioning QB for most of the second half.

STATS AND STUFF: San Francisco leads the NFC West by two games. … After running for two scores against Seattle, RB Christian McCaffrey has rushed for a franchise-record 11 TDs. … Defensive lineman Javon Hargrave has six sacks this season after finishing with 11 for the Eagles in 2022 in his third year with the club. … The 49ers have a league-best plus-11 turnover margin. ... Philadelphia has trailed at halftime in four consecutive games. … WR A.J. Brown, who has been dealing with a thigh injury, has just 45 yards and six catches in his past two games. ….Philadelphia is 5-0 at home. … The Eagles are first (76.5%) in fourth down conversions and third (47.3%) in third down conversions.

FANTASY TIP: Brown is due for a breakout game. His past two subpar performances have caused the star wideout to slip to fourth in receiving yards (1,050) in the NFL. Earlier this season, he caught passes for at least 125 yards in six games in a row.


AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

French soccer league struggling with violence, discriminatory chanting and low-scoring matches

There's been homophobic and racist chanting in the stands, a team bus pelted with stones, a game called off because of crowd trouble, and precious few goals on the field.

The French soccer league is making headlines for all the wrong reasons this season. And now even the French government is calling for something to be done about it.

After 13 rounds of games this season, the number of incidents is worrying officials who have been dealing with an upsurge of violence in stadiums over the past two campaigns.

According to Interior minister Gerald Darmanin, more than 100 police officers were injured in soccer-related incidents last season, and 870 people were detained. And there is no sign of abatement.

“There’s no other sport with this level of violence,” Darmanin said recently.

In October in Montpellier, a match was stopped in added time after fans threw a firework from the stands that landed next to Clermont goalkeeper Mory Diaw. The Senegal player had to be taken off on a stretcher, but was not seriously injured.

A new nadir was reached a few weeks later in Marseille when the bus carrying Lyon players was stoned by fans outside the Velodrome stadium. The windows were smashed and then-Lyon coach Fabio Grosso was left with his face bloodied, an injury that required stitches.

Supporters were also targeted, five police officers were injured, and nine people placed in custody, according to Darmanin.

Another episode of violence broke out in Montpellier last weekend when a bus transporting Brest fans back home was attacked as they left the southern city following a 3-1 win for the away team. Their bus was hit by stones reportedly thrown from a motorway bridge.

“What happened was very serious. When you look at the impacts on the vehicle, you quickly understand the violence," said Pascal Robert, the club's managing director. “If the paving stone that was thrown at the front of the bus had fallen two meters lower, the driver would have been hit... I can’t imagine the tragedy that would have ensued with our sixty supporters on board.”

Meanwhile, the league isn't offering up a whole lot in terms of entertainment or suspense.

Paris Saint-Germain once again tops the standings ahead of Sunday’s match at Le Havre, having won nine of the last 11 league titles. With its star-studded team lead by Kylian Mbappe — the league’s top scorer with 14 goals — PSG has no rival on the domestic stage.

Nice, however, has mounted a credible challenge this campaign and lags just one point behind the leader ahead of Saturday’s match at Nantes. But the other 16 teams are not giving their fans much to cheer about. According to the league’s statistics, the average number of goals per game after 12 rounds was lower than in the last three seasons — at under 2.5 — with the number of scoreless draws on the rise.

Some supporter groups are finding other ways to stay entertained.

Before the match between Marseille and Lyon was ultimately called off, fans from both teams remained in the stadium and exchanged insults as they waited for play to resume.

Taunting their Marseille rivals, some Lyon fans were filmed making Nazi gestures and mimicking monkeys.

Vincent Labrune, the French league president, believes the violence reached a new high after stadiums welcomed supporters back following the COVID-19 pandemic during which games were played with no fans.

With the reopening of venues, violent individuals who had served stadium bans during the interruption were allowed back, he said.

“The guys had served their time. We ended up with a completely above-average number of crazy people," Labrune said during a hearing with French lawmakers this month.

Labrune estimated that about 50 violent fans at each French league club are causing trouble.

“If we manage to get them out of stadiums, the situation should improve,” he said.

Labrune added that the “zero tolerance” policy implemented by the league — with point deductions and the closure of stadium sections — is needed to improve the situation. But he seemed under no illusion that the violence can be eradicated without a bigger change in mentalities.

“Football is a reflection of society, we’re not going to stop it all on our own,” Labrune said.

Faced with an increasing number of homophobic chants in stadiums, Labrune also called for matches to be systematically stopped as soon as the first offensive chant can be heard.

“We’re prepared to go as far as we can,” he told lawmakers. “I find questions of discrimination in general intolerable, and questions of homophobia drive me crazy. We have to stop the match, this is an appropriate measure.”


AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

Dortmund gaining confidence in Bundesliga after Champions League success. But Leverkusen is up next

BERLIN (AP) — Borussia Dortmund’s success in the Champions League is giving it confidence it can recover its faltering Bundesliga campaign.

Dortmund defeated AC Milan 3-1 away on Tuesday to reach the knockout stage of Europe’s premier competition despite a poor start to what many regarded as the toughest group with big-spending Paris Saint Germain and Newcastle.

The German team lost 2-0 at PSG in its first game, followed up with a scoreless draw with Milan at home, but recovered with back-to-back wins over Newcastle before Tuesday’s win in Italy.

“It’s a real statement to qualify from the group already in the fifth match-day,” Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl said. “Not many believed we could do it.”

Part of the reason for that is Dortmund’s patchy form in the Bundesliga so far this season. The team ended a run of three games without a win in the league last weekend with a 4-2 victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach, but had looked set for more disappointment after finding itself 2-0 down after 28 minutes.

Instead, hopes are high again after two consecutive wins including Tuesday’s success in Milan.

But Dortmund next faces a trip to unbeaten Bundesliga leader Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday — a team that has averaged more than three goals a game so far and is already 10 points clear of Dortmund after just 12 rounds.

Leverkusen leads 11-time defending champion Bayern Munich by two points. Bayern can move provisionally top on Saturday with a win at home over struggling Union Berlin — a team that hasn’t won any of its last 15 games across all competitions.

Leverkusen faced Swedish team Häcken away in the Europa League on Thursday.

Before that game, Leverkusen had won every match across all competitions this season with one exception – a 2-2 draw at Bayern in the fourth round of the league.

Since Xabi Alonso took charge of the team in October last year, Leverkusen has only failed to score in its own stadium once — against Dortmund last season in a 2-0 loss in January. That defeat ended Leverkusen’s five-game winning run.

But Alonso’s team seems to have more resilience this season — Leverkusen has the second-best defense in the league with 10 goals conceded compared to Bayern’s nine. Both teams are the only unbeaten sides after 12 rounds.

“I think we are more mature as a team this season, both with the ball and without the ball,” Leverkusen’s Ivorian defender Odilon Kossounou said, looking ahead to Dortmund’s visit. “It will be an open game. We will play the same way we have all season. I think if we stick to our strengths and respect the challenge, we can pick up a positive result.”


AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

Jude Bellingham keeps scoring and Real Madrid keeps winning despite spate of injuries

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid wasn’t supposed to still be this good after losing its top scorer this summer and being decimated by injuries.

But in came Jude Bellingham and the England midfielder has kept Madrid on course to compete for titles this season.

Madrid is leading the Spanish league and is the only team other than Manchester City to have won all five of its games in the Champions League.

The key to the ongoing success of the 14-time European Cup winners can be boiled down to the depth and overall talent of its squad, and the incredible impact that Bellingham has made since arriving from Borussia Dortmund.

Bellingham led Madrid to another commanding victory on Wednesday when he scored his team-high 15th goal of the season to help beat Napoli 4-2 and remain perfect in the Champions League group stage.

Madrid is also leading the title fight in Spain, where it is in first place, level on points with Girona before hosting the relegation-threatened Granada on Saturday.

“He’s been a wonderful signing,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said about Bellingham on Wednesday, before he dug deep to find a supposed flaw in his new star. “He needs to improve his Spanish, because like I have said, nobody’s perfect.”

Madrid lost the pillars of its attack and defense when Karim Benzema, its top scorer for the five previous seasons, was lured with other European players to Saudi Arabia in June and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois tore a knee ligament just before the season kicked off in August.

Then came more season-threatening injuries. Éder Militão, the team's best central defender, ruptured his ACL in the season opener, and Eduardo Camavinga, Madrid’s most versatile midfielder, tore a knee ligament while training with France this month.

Vinícius Júnior also went down during the most recent international break when he tore a leg muscle with Brazil, an injury that will keep him out of action for the remainder of the year.

Toss in minor injuries to Kepa Arrizabalaga, who came in to replace Courtois, veteran leader Luka Modric, and starting holding midfielder Aurelien Tchouaméni, and it seems Madrid should have struggled against Serie A champion Napoli.

Instead, it rolled over the Italian club just like most of its rivals this campaign. Its only loss this season came at Atletico Madrid in the domestic league in September.

Bellingham leads the Spanish league with 11 goals, two more than Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann.

Madrid also got a boost recently from Rodrygo. The Brazil forward is on a four-game scoring streak, during which he has netted six goals as he fills the void left by injured countryman Vinícius.

“We’re all playing well. We’re scoring a lot of goals and defending well too. I think we’re at our best at the moment,” Rodrygo said after scoring in the win over Napoli.

Rodrygo finished Wednesday's game with cramps but he said he should be fine for the game against 19th-placed Granada.

Ancelotti said that he hopes to have Modric back for a visit to Real Betis the following round.

“We can’t get anyone back for Granada, but I think that Modri? will be able to play against Betis,” he said. “We’ll prepare for the match against Granada with these players.”


Barcelona hosts Atletico on Sunday with third place on the line and the loser in danger of falling behind in the title chase.

The two are tied at four points behind Madrid and Girona, which hosts Valencia on Saturday.

Atletico also has a game in hand to play.


AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

Decorated curling Scot Kelly Schafer to wear Maple Leaf at world mixed championship

Kelly Schafer is now on the other side of curling's intense rivalry between Canada and Scotland.

A regular podium contender for the Scots for two decades, Schafer will represent Canada for the first time at the 2024 world mixed curling championship in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Shaun Meachem, Schafer and Chris and Teejay Haichert won the Canadian mixed title earlier this month in Swift Current, Sask.

So Schafer will represent Canada for the first time just 65 kilometres from her Scottish hometown of Montrose.

"It's pretty ironic if you think about all the permutations that could have happened," Schafer told The Canadian Press. "The times we could have won and didn't win and now we have.

"The fact that it's really close to my hometown and a couple of my old teammates are from there, it's really familiar territory." 

Schafer skipped Scotland to bronze at the 2007 women's world championship in Harbin, Japan. She's played for Britain in three Olympic Games and for Scotland in seven world championships.

Wearing the Maple Leaf in international curling has caused a stir among her siblings, friends and former coaches in Scotland.

"One of my old national coaches has said 'I can't believe that you'll be wearing a Maple Leaf on your back. I'll make this exception once that I will cheer for a Canadian team,' because there's usually such a rivalry between Scotland and Canada" Schafer said. 

The 2024 world championship is Oct. 12-19, 2024 at the Curl Aberdeen facility.

Kelly Schafer was Kelly Wood when she threw third stones for Scotland's Eve Muirhead at the 2010 women's world curling championship in Swift Current.

Not only did the Scots win the silver medal there, but their vice met Jerrod Schafer, who was the city's mayor then. 

Kelly Wood became Kelly Schafer in 2013 and the couple have a son Darby, who is now nine.

The 42-year-old Schafer works as safe places manager for Swift Current. Her husband, who was mayor from 2009 to 2016, is a wealth management adviser.

Schafer continued to represent the Scots internationally after relocation to Canada. She was Muirhead's alternate in the 2017 world championship and 2018 Olympic Games.

Schafer could initially curl on mixed teams in Canada and compete in the 2014 national championship because there wasn't world mixed championship then. 

When the first world championship was played in 2015, Schafer needed Canadian citizenship to compete in both women's and mixed team provincial championships.

After obtaining citizenship in 2019, Schafer curled mixed with her Swift Current teammates and reached the national championship twice before this year's victory.

She once considered herself semi-retired from women's curling. The time and travel needed to play and practice with women from other parts of the province didn't mesh well with work and motherhood.

But Schafer received a call late last year to play vice for Robyn Silvernagle, who cobbled together a last-minute team for Saskatchewan's playdowns.

Silvernagle won the province, which put Schafer in February's Scotties Tournament of Hearts. 

Silvernagle didn't advance beyond the preliminary stage in Kamloops, B.C., but she and Schafer continue to curl together this season along with front-end Chaelynn Kitz and Kara Thevenot.

Canadian teams have stood on the last five podiums at the world mixed championship. Jean-Michel Menard (2022), Colin Kurz (2019) and Michael Anderson (2018) were gold medallists.

Schafer says the realization she's curling for Canada will sink in when she gets her team kit and when Scottish fans aren't cheering for her in Aberdeen.

"We want to win and give our best performance, whoever that's for," she said. "For me, it's more about the curling and the focus on playing your best game and bringing that together with the team and performing. 

"I guess, secondary, would be who it is you are representing. I'm pretty lucky to have the opportunity to do that for both countries. I'm pretty proud of that piece.

"It would be probably not as weird in a different country representing Canada, but now that it is going back to Scotland, there'll be a whole host of other things to think about."

And if Canada faces Scotland for the gold medal in the 2024 world mixed curling championship?

"That would be fun," Schafer said. "That would be like a good fairytale ending."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov, 30, 2023.

Teenage amateur golfer Rachel Lee tied for the lead in the Australian Open women's field

SYDNEY (AP) — Teenage amateur Rachel Lee was almost late to the first tee but finished the first round of the Australian Open in a tie for the lead with American Jenny Shin.

The 16-year-old Lee had to hurry to start her round Thursday after getting the times confused, and she carried momentum to a 6-under 67 at The Lakes Golf Club in a tournament that has men’s and women’s fields and a two-venue format.

“I was putting and my coach says, ‘Rachel, you’re on the tee,’” Lee, who attends a Sydney high school, explained. “So I just ran out there. I’ve learned my lesson.”

Jenny Shin was also 6 under after a 66 at The Australian Golf Club. The pair had a one shot lead over two-time major winner Jiyai Shin of South Korea.

Ashleigh Buhai of South Africa and local Stephanie Kyriacou were in fourth place at 4 under.

Cameron Davis led the men’s field by a stroke at 9 under after an opening 63 at The Lakes. The 2017 champion had an eagle at the par-5 14th and seven birdies to finish one ahead of American Patrick Rodgers.

Scotland's Connor Syme was equal third at 7 under after an opening 64 at The Australian.

All but two of the leading 10 players in the men's field had their first rounds at The Lakes, including Min Woo Lee, who was 5-under just four days after winning the Australian PGA Championship title in Brisbane last Sunday.

His older sister, two-time major winner Minjee Lee, was in a three-way tie for sixth in the women's field at 3 under.

Cameron Smith, who missed the cut in his attempted title defense at the Australian PGA last week, was in a group of 20 players at 1 under after opening with a 71 at The Lakes.

"There’s definitely something to build on there,” he said.

Adam Scott had two birdies and two bogeys in an opening, even-par 71 at The Australian and was among a big group of players nine shots off the pace.


AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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