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Posted at 03:46 PM ET, 08/27/2014

U.S. soccer parents file class-action lawsuit against FIFA in effort to change concussion protocols


Christoph Kramer of Germany lies on the pitch after a collision during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina. (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Parents of soccer players in the United States have filed a class-action lawsuit against FIFA and a handful of other soccer authorities over their concussion policies in U.S. District Court in California, the New York Times reports.

Besides FIFA, the lawsuit targets U.S. Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization, accusing all three organizations of being negligent when it comes to dealing with head injuries. Instead of money, the plaintiffs are seeking rule changes that, according to the New York Times, range from limiting the amount of headers allowed when children play to changing FIFA’s substitution policies.

FIFA’s questionable head-injury protocol became all-too-evident during the World Cup final, when Germany’s Christoph Kramer suffered a concussion after he collided hard with Argentina’s Ezequiel Garay. Instead of being instructed to leave the game to get a proper medical evaluation, Kramer was allowed back in the game, which he later told German newspaper Die Welt (via ESPN), “I can’t really remember much of.” As a spectator, it was horrifying to watch.


“There is an epidemic of concussion injuries in soccer at all levels around the world, including in the United States, from youth to professionals, from elite players to children playing for the first time, women and men, girls and boys,” the filing says (via the New York Times). “FIFA presides over this epidemic, and is one of its primary causes.”

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a “concussion summit” that brought FIFA, the NFL and others together on Sunday and Monday to talk about the issue and how to remedy the problem.

“This will change the paradigm,” Rich Ellenbogen, chairman of the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee, said about the new cooperative effort (via ESPN).

It’s unclear, however, how motivated FIFA is to changing the paradigm, as it were.

Jiri Dvorak, chief medical officer and chairman of the medical and research center for FIFA, told USA Today when he left the summit on Monday:

“We are not alarmed. The situation is about the same over the past 16 years with a drop (in concussions) in 2006 when we introduced red card (match disqualification for an elbow to the head).”

The plaintiffs — who include Rachel Mehr, a former youth club soccer player; several parents on behalf of their children in youth soccer leagues; and Kira Akka-Seidel, a former club player at the University of California at Santa Cruz — are not satisfied with the status quo, however. Per the New York Times:

The suit seeks an injunction that would change the way soccer is played at all levels. Children under 17 would be limited in how many times they are allowed to head the ball. The suit also seeks to require professional and other advanced leagues — which are currently limited to three substitutions per game — to allow temporary substitutions while a player is examined for a head injury. Medical testing would also be available for soccer players who competed as long ago as 2002 and are now suffering from the effects of concussions.

FIFA has not commented on the lawsuit.

By Marissa Payne  |  03:46 PM ET, 08/27/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:46 PM ET, 08/27/2014

Jeff Fisher angry over ESPN report on Michael Sam’s shower habits


(Joe Robbins / Getty Images)

St. Louis Rams Coach Jeff Fisher said he is “extremely disappointed” in an ESPN report Tuesday about the showering habits of Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL.

ESPN apologized Wednesday morning, but Fisher was still angered by Josina Anderson’s coverage from St. Louis on the first of two days of NFL roster cuts.

“I’m extremely disappointed in her piece,” Fisher said (via Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). “I think it’s unethical. I think it’s very, very unprofessional. Not only the piece itself, the content. The manner in which she did it.”

ESPN President John Skipper called to offer an apology, Fisher said.

“We appreciate John Skipper reaching out to us and apologizing, and their willingness to communicate and work through this with us,” Fisher said.

Fisher was particularly peeved because Anderson spoke to players away from the team facility, something that all reporters do — and something that all coaches hate.

“We have a media policy, and we’re very flexible,” Fisher said. “We have open practices. Players are available. We have open locker rooms. Obviously she came in, in all likelihood to see if there was gonna be a roster move at the 75 cutdown as it relates to Mike Sam. That didn’t happen. But she needed to do something, and it’s my understanding that she manufactured this story.

“She was out of line because she went and contacted several players on their personal time. Misled them with questions and then put this piece together.”

In its apology Wednesday morning ESPN said it regretted “the manner in which we presented our report. Clearly yesterday we collectively failed to meet the standards we have set in reporting on LGBT-related topics in sports.”

On Tuesday, while providing an update about Sam’s quest to make the St. Louis Rams’ final roster,Anderson said that a Rams “defensive player told me that ‘Sam is respecting our space’ and that, from his perspective, he seems to think that Michael Sam is waiting to take a shower, as not to make his teammates feel uncomfortable.”

She also said that [defensive end Kendall] Langford and linebacker Alec Ogletree said “they didn’t know that, specifically, and also weren’t tracking that.”

Rams defensive end Chris Long was especially exasperated by the report and tweeted:

“I’m disappointed for Mike,” Fisher said. “I’m disappointed for the players who she put in this position, and mostly I’m disappointed for her because she felt what she was doing was right — and it wasn’t right.”

By  |  03:46 PM ET, 08/27/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:53 PM ET, 08/27/2014

West Virginia’s Clint Trickett picks four days before Alabama game to talk about kissing Nick Saban’s daughter


(Vasha Hunt / AP)

Good luck, Clint Trickett, with that whole season-opener thing Saturday against Alabama.

The West Virginia quarterback chose this week of all the weeks in which to confide to reporters just how well he knows Coach Nick Saban, with whom his father coached at LSU and ‘Bama, and his family. Specifically, Saban’s daughter, who, it seems, was involved in his first kiss.

“… I don’t know if I should have said that,” Trickett, possibly the possesser of college football’s greatest name this season, quickly added (via Post-Gazette.com) that he and Kristen Saban were “like, 6 years old” at the time.  Just so everyone knows that.”

Kristen, he went on to explain, is engaged now and, he added, “Coach Nick is one of the greatest there is. My brother worked for him. He was a GA for him when be first got to Alabama. And we’ve known him for years, family friends and just one of the best coaches out there.”

Nice try, Trickett.

By  |  02:53 PM ET, 08/27/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:12 PM ET, 08/27/2014

Sloane Stephens stumbles to a second-round exit at the U.S. Open


Sloane Stephens was knocked out of the U.S. Open in the second round. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Sloane Stephens, the third-highest-ranked American women’s tennis player, stumbled out of the U.S. Open in the second round on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old — and No. 21 seed at the event — lost to Sweden’s Johanna Larsson in three sets, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, to mark her earliest exit from the tournament’s main draw. No. 4 seed Agnieska Radwanska of Poland also lost to China’s Shuai Peng, 6-3, 6-4.

Stephens’s loss comes a day after 15-year-old American CiCi Bellis had a surprise of her own when she upset No. 12 seed Dominika Cibulkova in the first round to become the youngest player to win a U.S. Open match since Anna Kournikova in 1996.

Stephens, ranked No. 24 in the world, appeared sluggish at times and committed a whopping 63 unforced errors. Larsson, the 96th-ranked player in the world, had never advanced past the first round at the U.S. Open in her previous four attempts.

Stephens has struggled this year compared with her breakout season in 2013, when she reached the semifinals at the Australian Open and the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Stephens failed to advance past the fourth round in any of the majors this year.

The American appeared defensive in her news conference after the match, per the Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan.

Scoreboard: ATP | WTA

By  |  02:12 PM ET, 08/27/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:09 PM ET, 08/27/2014

Coco Crisp breaks the Astros mascot’s heart when he refuses to play Twister


George Springer of the Houston Astros and mascot Orbit await a ceremonial first pitch. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Baseball really is the greatest. Sure, there’s the home runs, the strikeouts and the the self-serve beer stations, but there’s also the mascots. The Houston Astros’ Orbit is one of the cutest, in a “but-don’t-ever-corner-me-in-a-dark-alley” kind of way.

But Oakland A’s slugger Coco Crisp isn’t such a big fan. Here he is on Tuesday repeatedly snubbing Orbit while the big green guy tries to get him to play Twister.

Orbit resigned himself to looking on from the sidelines after his failure to get Crisp to put his right foot on yellow, or left hand on green, or whatever.

Making matters worse for Orbit, the MLB rubbed it all in later with a photo summary of the snub.

But all was not lost for Orbit. His team won on Tuesday night, 4-2, and the green fuzzball will get another chance to convince Crisp to play Twister tonight when the two teams meet again at 8:10 p.m. EDT.

(H/t: Bleacher Report)

By Marissa Payne  |  02:09 PM ET, 08/27/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

 

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