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Posted at 09:31 PM ET, 09/22/2014

U.S. Soccer stands by decision to allow Hope Solo to play despite domestic violence charges


(Jen Fuller / Getty Images)

U.S. Soccer explained its its decision allow goalkeeper Hope Solo to continue to play for the U.S. women’s national team as she awaits trial on domestic violence charges, saying that it takes “the issue of domestic violence very seriously.”

“From the beginning, we considered the information available and have taken a deliberate and thoughtful approach regarding Hope Solo’s status with the national team,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a statement released Monday night. “Based on that information, U.S. Soccer stands by our decision to allow her to participate with the team as the legal process unfolds. If new information becomes available, we will carefully consider it.”

Solo is continuing to play as she faces a November trial on two charges, a decision that, in light of the NFL’s recent controversy over the issue, has drawn some criticism.

The U.S. Olympic Committee also weighed in on the matter Monday evening, with Scott Blackmun, the USOC’s chief executive officer, writing that “abuse in all forms is unacceptable,” in an email to USA Today. “The allegations involving Ms. Solo are disturbing and are inconsistent with our expectations of Olympians. We have had discussions with U.S. Soccer and fully expect them to take action if it is determined that the allegations are true.”

As with NFL stars, there are concerns about Solo’s right to due process. In addition, in Solo’s case, the U.S. Amateur Sports Act also is believed to play a role in the decision-making. Solo was arrested in June on charges of allegedly punching her 17-year-old nephew and, when his mother intervened, Solo allegedly attacked her, too. Solo has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor charges and has continued to play for the national team in friendly matches ahead of next summer’s World Cup.

At a time of unprecedented awareness and national debate over the status of sports stars accused of domestic violence, Solo’s presence has drawn heightened attention, especially when she wore a captain’s armband at a match last week.

By  |  09:31 PM ET, 09/22/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 06:57 PM ET, 09/22/2014

Dolphins refuse to name Ryan Tannehill as starter


Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill looks to pass during the first half of Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

Dolphins Coach Joe Philbin threw Dolphins fans for a loop on Monday when he refused to name Ryan Tannehill as the starting quarterback for Sunday’s showdown against the Oakland Raiders, the first of three NFL games that will take place in London this season.

“We’ll decide our game plan before we leave to play Oakland,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said (via The Palm Beach Post).

Sure, Tannehill, a first-round draft pick in 2012, hasn’t been all that great this season, but certainly he’s not so bad that one would mess with the entire team’s confidence and psyche by benching him and for Miami’s back-up Matt Moore.

“We’re going to choose the best 46 guys we think will help us win a football game and we’re going to go from there,” Philbin said, staying mum about both Tannehill and Moore in the process.

Not everyone played coy, however. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor answered “No,” when asked whether he had any doubts about starting Tannehill. He continued (via the Miami Herald), “Is there any doubt I’ll be the offensive coordinator?”

Of course, just as soon as fans could sigh in relief he added, “We rent these seats…,” indicating that indeed anyone was replaceable. Stay tuned …

By Marissa Payne  |  06:57 PM ET, 09/22/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:54 PM ET, 09/22/2014

British MP thinks FIFA report on World Cup bids in Qatar and Russia could lead to criminal charges


FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced Qatar’s winning bid in 2010. (Walter Bieri/EPA)

Soccer fans aren’t the only people upset by FIFA’s decision not to release the much-hyped report on the allegedly corrupt bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments in Russia and Qatar. Damian Collins, a Conservative member of Britain’s parliament is angry, too. But he doesn’t just want the report made public for truth and curiosity’s sake — he believes the report could contain reasons to criminally prosecute FIFA members or other officials who acted unlawfully during the bidding processes in 2010. Per the BBC:

Damian Collins has asked the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to request a copy of the report into the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. … Collins believes it may provide evidence of criminal activity.

“FIFA seems to believe it is a self-governing body that operates outside the jurisdiction of international and national law-enforcement agencies,” Collins writes in the letter (via ITV.com), which is addressed to SFO director David Green. “I do not believe this is the case and that if it holds information that indicates that offenses may have been committed, this must be shared with the relevant law-enforcement agencies.”

A spokesman for the Serious Fraud Office told the BBC they received the letter and “will respond in due course.”

[RELATED: FIFA official says 2022 World Cup cannot be held in Qatar because of the heat]

The report, which was put together as a result of an independent investigation led by American lawyer Michael Garcia, has been in FIFA’s possession since early September. While the organization promised to make the report public when the investigation first started, officials reneged on the promise after failing to release the report in July. It is unclear what — if any — consequences the report will have on either the decisions to give the World Cup to Russia and Qatar, or whether it will affect the careers of any FIFA officials.

By Marissa Payne  |  05:54 PM ET, 09/22/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 05:25 PM ET, 09/22/2014

Ravens rebut ESPN report that alleges team officials knew more about Ray Rice situation than they let on


Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti faced the media on Monday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Baltimore Ravens owner Stephen Bisciotti on Monday addressed the allegations put forth by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” last Friday, flatly denying and/or clarifying in a lengthy letter addressed to fans every revelation made in the ESPN report.

“We at the Ravens have promised to be open, candid and transparent with our fans, sponsors, ticket holders, and the general public,” the letter begins, before listing specific quotes from the ESPN report and following them with attributed responses that deny or try to clarify everything the report found. In a 47-minute press conference conducted just after the team released the letter, Bisciotti cast ESPN’s report as a ploy by  “Ray’s people” to help get Rice’s NFL suspension lifted.

“I think what’s obvious is that the majority of their sources are people that work for Ray. Almost everything in there is anonymous but it’s clear from the subject matter that it’s Ray’s attorney, Ray’s agent and Ray’s friends. They are building a case for reinstatement and the best way to build a case for reinstatement is to make it look like everybody else is lying.”

ESPN immediately denied Bisciotti’s description of its 20-plus sources, calling it a “simplification.”

In any case, in an attempt prove everybody quoted in ESPN’s report is lying, Biscotti’s letter to fans goes through 15 points brought up in the ESPN article and rebuts them one-by-one, including one of the more controversial ESPN findings, that coach John Harbaugh wanted to cut Rice in February, amid objections from Bisciotti and the team’s general manager Ozzie Newsome. This is the letter’s fourth point:

From the article: “…the images (on the first videotape) horrified Ravens coach John Harbaugh, according to four sources inside and outside the organization. The Super Bowl-winning coach urged his bosses to release Rice immediately, especially if the team had evidence Rice had thrown a punch…

Other allegations the letter denies and/or clarifies:

That Ravens’ head of security Darren Sanders “heard a detailed description of the inside-elevator scene without hours and shared it with Ravens officials in Baltimore.” Sanders states in the letter: “I did not receive an account of what happened in the elevator ‘within hours’ of the incident.”

That Newsome knew the entire story, including that Rice knocked his then-fiancee Janay Palmer out with a closed fist. “When I met with Ray to discuss the incident, I asked him one question: ‘Did you hit her?’ He responded: ‘Yes.’ Ray and I didn’t discuss details beyond that, because in my mind if he hit her, no matter the circumstances or explanation, he needed to own the situation,” Newsome said in the letter. “I immediately focused on Ray taking responsibility and making amends. I later said Ray didn’t lie to me because he told me he hit her, and that is what the video later showed — although the video was much more violent than what I had pictured.” The letter also states that Harbaugh and Sanders never knew Rice “punched” Palmer, but thought he slapped her.

That Bisciotti, Newsome and Ravens President Dick Cass lobbied for leniency for Rice to both the Atlantic City judicial systems and the NFL. “That statement is not true,” Cass says in the letter, “At the request of Ray’s defense lawyer, Ozzie, John and I sent a letter addressed to the Clerk’s office in support of Ray’s application for pretrial intervention. The letter was largely devoted to describing Ray’s extensive efforts in the community. According to the article, our letter was one of 30 such letters.”

As far as lobbying Goodell, the three deny that, as well. “I never asked Mr. Goodell or anyone else at the NFL to do anything for Ray or for the Ravens,” said Newsome. Bisciotti added, “I know and like Roger Goodell, but it is inaccurate to call us ‘good friends.’ The two of us have spent very little time together — as I recall, one round of golf and one dinner several years ago.”

That Cass urged Rice’s legal team to get Rice accepted into a pretrial intervention in part because it would prevent the inside-elevator video from becoming public. “I had never even heard of ‘pretrial intervention’ until Ray’s attorney explained it to me,” Cass, who admits to knowing of the video and now regrets not asking to see it, said. “So yes, I agreed with him that pretrial intervention was in Ray’s best interest. Who wouldn’t? It meant the ultimate dismissal of all criminal claims without a trial and the risk of a guilty verdict. Of course, I did not want a criminal trial because of all the adverse publicity associated with a celebrity trial. But I did not think that pretrial intervention would prevent the video from becoming public. I assumed that would eventually occur in any event.”

Bisciotti also clarified a set of text messages he sent to Rice shortly after the team cut him that basically offers him a coaching job once “things die down.” He admitted to sending the texts, as ESPN reports, but denied that there was any sort of attempt to keep Rice quiet about any attempted cover up. Instead, Bisciotti noted the messages were sincere.

“People that redeem themselves are the best ones to lead others,” Bisciotti said at the press conference. “I  believe that this was Ray’s one terrible moment. .. I believe in my heart that Ray would be a great addition to try to steer [future players] from young men to grown men.” He added that he holds nothing against Rice and his part in the ESPN report that he believes Rice’s people orchestrated to get Rice’s indefinite NFL suspension listed. “[W]hat his lawyer is forcing him to do …  I will not hold that against him.”

Here’s how Twitter was reacting to the Ravens rebuttal during the press conference.

By Marissa Payne  |  05:25 PM ET, 09/22/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:49 PM ET, 09/22/2014

Quack, quack, quack: ‘Mighty Ducks’ cast reunites to form a perfect Flying V


Joshua Jackson, aka Charlie Conway, is too fancy for “Mighty Ducks” reunions now… (Christian Marquardt/Getty Images)

Okay, so Joshua Jackson and Emilo Estevez didn’t show up for the “D2: The Might Ducks” reunion, but the rest of the cast did and they have the pictures to prove it.

For those who didn’t grow up in the 1990s and somehow missed the glory that was “D2: The Mighty Ducks,” here’s what you need to know:

After leaving the minor leagues with a knee injury, Coach Gordon Bombay (Estevez) is charged with coaching Team USA in the Junior Goodwill Games. Most of the Mighty Ducks rag-tag crew from the first movie comes back because, you know, they’re really good now, and Bombay adds a few new characters to the roster, as well, because, you know, it’s a movie. Anyway, things get a little nutty when Estevez gets distracted by Hollywood, as well as the the team’s fearsome rivals … from Iceland! Throughout it all, Wayne Gretzky, Kristi Yamaguchi, Greg Louganis, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar all make cameos. In short, it’s brilliant.

Who do you recognize?

That’s Connie (Marguerite Moreau) and Guy (Garette Ratliff Henson).

It’s Connie again, this time with Julie “The Cat” Gaffney (Colombe Jacobsen).

Oh hi, Greg Goldberg (Shaun Weiss).

From left to right: Luis Mendoza (Mike Vitar), Guy (Henson), Adam Banks (Vincent LaRusso), Dean Portman (Aaron Lohr) and Gunnar Stahl (Scott Whyte).

How times have changed. Remember when the it was Charlie Conway (Jackson) who rallied the team to get back together?

By Marissa Payne  |  03:49 PM ET, 09/22/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

 

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