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North American win gives England renewed confidence for potential bid

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By Simon Evans

MOSCOW (Reuters) – FIFA’s improved bidding process for World Cup hosting rights, which led to victory for the tri-nation North American bid for the 2026 event, has given English officials renewed confidence about a possible future bid.

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While Wednesday’s vote means that Mexico will host their third World Cup and the United States their second, England have been unable to win hosting rights since 1966.

The next available World Cup is the 2030 edition and a South American tri-nation bid involving Argentine, Uruguay and Paraguay has already been announced.

FIFA vice-president David Gill, the former Manchester United chief executive and ex-FA official, had previously stated that England would consider a bid in 2030 if the selection process worked.

England had lost out to Russia eight years ago in the bid for the 2018 tournament in a process that was heavily criticized with several of the voters on FIFA’s executive committee later caught up in the organization’s corruption scandal.

Asked about the reformed bidding process which saw the North American bid defeat Morocco’s fifth attempt to host a World Cup, Gill said: “What it does is it gives you great confidence that the procedures in place now are appropriate and relevant.

“For me, I was very pleased with the process and I think it was very well done and I was delighted with the work that was done over very many months,” he added.

South American officials have said that they are expecting a bid from England – possibly in alliance with the other parts of the United Kingdom – but Gill said any such decision would be one for the Football Association.

However, the man who represents the United Kingdom’s four nations on the ruling FIFA Council, said he personally would relish the idea of his homeland hosting the World Cup.

“If you love football, everyone would like to have it wouldn’t you? We are here there is excitement, you can see it,” he told reporters.

“Ultimately this is the biggest national team competition, we all know that, it is going up to 48 teams, why wouldn’t you?

“If you love football, to see it on your doorstep, I remember (Euro) 96, it was all enjoyable. If you love football why wouldn’t you want to do it? If you look at the assets we have in England, in the UK, some of the best grounds in world football, best training grounds, why not? It would be fantastic.”

(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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NFL notebook: Jags CB Ramsey blasts NFL QBs

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Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey gave critical and blunt assessments of several NFL signal callers in a GQ interview that was published on Wednesday.

Among his targets were Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, Buffalo rookie Josh Allen, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck and Baltimore’s Joe Flacco. Allen, the seventh overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, got the worst of it.

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“I think Allen is trash,” Ramsey said. “I don’t care what nobody say. He’s trash. And it’s gonna show too. That’s a stupid draft pick to me. We play them this year, and I’m excited as hell. I hope he’s their starting quarterback.”

Ramsey, who first failed to come up with Ryan’s name, called him “overrated” and suggested his MVP season was a product of the system he ran. Among Ramsey’s other claims: Roethlisberger is “decent at best,” Flacco “sucks” and as for Luck, “I don’t really think he’s that good.” Allen told reporters he doesn’t “care one bit” about Ramsey’s comments, adding he cares only about how his teammates view him.

–Tempers flared during a joint practice between the Texans and 49ers, leading to a fight between Houston wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and San Francisco corner Jimmie Ward.

The fracas erupted after Ward knocked Hopkins’ helmet off jamming him at the line of scrimmage, and the two began throwing punches early in the session. The pair tumbled to the ground had to be separated. Hopkins was sent inside the practice bubble, while Ward was reduced to running on the sideline as practice resumed.

“Yeah, it’s ridiculous,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “Just have to move on.”

–Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles told reporters he’s not worried about the fact that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn’t shake his hand following Super Bowl LII.

Asked if he’s heard from Brady since the game in February, Foles said he hasn’t, but made it clear that he doesn’t see any unresolved issue between the two.

“We both have a lot going on in our lives so, you know, in time,” said Foles, whose Eagles visit Foxborough for a preseason game Thursday night. “It will happen when it happens. We practiced with the Patriots several years ago, and I got to stand there and talk to Tom for quite a bit. He’s a great guy. I have all the respect in the world for him. …I think everyone’s making a really big deal out of this and it’s not a big deal at all.”

–Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick visited a specialist in Los Angeles to have his shoulder examined after he suffered a few stingers in recent practices at training camp.

“We just wanted to make sure he was squared away,” head coach Jason Garrett told reporters, adding that the team would know more about how the check-up went later Wednesday. The issue is not one that Frederick — who has sat out practices in recent days — has dealt with before, Garrett said.

Multiple outlets reported Frederick’s trip to the specialist, Dr. Robert Watkins, was done as a precaution, and the team is not seriously concerned about the issue. Frederick, 27, has started all 80 games and hasn’t missed a snap since the Cowboys took him 31st overall in the 2013 draft. He has made four consecutive Pro Bowls.

–Broncos defensive end Adam Gotsis will not be charged in a rape investigation, after the case was dropped by the Fulton County (Ga.) district attorney’s office.

Gotsis, who turns 25 next month, was arrested on March 7 and accused of raping a woman five years earlier while he was at Georgia Tech. The case had been under investigation since his arrest, but the DA’s office announced that no action will be taken.

“I’m just relieved that everything’s been taken care of,” Gotsis told reporters after practice. “I’ve got faith in the legal system, and I have faith in the lord and family and friends, and great support from everyone around me — Broncos, friends, family. Just glad that it’s over with and I can just focus on football now.”

–The Seattle Seahawks agreed to a deal with former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Erik Walden, according to Walden’s agents.

The terms of the deal were not announced. Walden played for the Tennessee Titans last year on a one-year, $2.75 million deal.

Walden, who turns 33 on Tuesday, collected four sacks and 36 tackles in 16 games (two starts) for Tennessee last season. He played the previous four years for the Indianapolis Colts, starting 60 of 61 games and tallying 23 sacks in that span, including an 11-sack campaign in 2016.

–The New York Jets placed offensive tackle Ben Ijalana on injured reserve, ending his season after he suffered a shoulder injury in joint practices with the Washington Redskins this week.

Ijalana, who turned 29 on Aug. 6, was expected to serve as the Jets’ swing tackle behind starters Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell. To fill his roster spot, the team signed veteran lineman Gino Gradkowski.

Meanwhile, NFL Network reports starting guard Brian Winters is expected to be held out of all preseason games as the Jets take it slow in his recovery from an abdominal injury that plagued his 2017 campaign.

–Broncos receiver Carlos Henderson, who has yet to report for training camp, was suspended one game for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, the league announced.

Henderson, 23, was arrested in Louisiana in January on a marijuana possession charge.

A 2017 third-round pick out of Louisiana Tech, Henderson spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a thumb injury and then did not report for the start of training camp this season. Head coach Vance Joseph told reporters Henderson is dealing with a personal issue and must decide “if he wants to continue to play football.”

–The Oakland Raiders claimed defensive tackle Gabe Wright off waivers from the Miami Dolphins and placed defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin on injured reserve, the team announced.

Wright was waived by Miami on Tuesday, one day after he reportedly blindsided teammate Kenyan Drake — who was without a helmet — with an elbow during a testy practice.

Wright, 26, is joining his fourth team since he was a fourth-round pick by the Detroit Lions in the 2015 NFL Draft. Rubin, who turned 32 last month, suffered a torn biceps last week during joint practices against the Lions.

–The Houston Texans are signing former Washington Redskins and Los Angeles Chargers kicker Nick Rose, according to a Houston Chronicle report.

Starter Ka’imi Fairburn has been nursing a small, short-term injury, per the Chronicle, that may keep him out of Saturday’s preseason game against the 49ers. Rose, 24, made 11 of 14 (78.6 percent) field-goal attempts and 23 of 26 PATs last year, his first season in the NFL.

–Field Level Media

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MLB notebook: Judge (wrist) progressing slowly

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When Aaron Judge first sustained a chip fracture of the ulnar styloid bone in his right wrist, the New York Yankees estimated it would be three weeks before he could swing a bat in a game situation.

On the eve of that three-week mark, Judge still hasn’t picked up a bat.

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The star outfielder has lingering pain in his wrist that has slowed his recovery from the injury, which sent him to the disabled list on July 27.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday he’s hopeful Judge would soon start getting in swings underwater in the pool. Meanwhile, general manager Brian Cashman seemed to suggest the ailment could linger even when Judge returns.

–The Seattle Mariners placed left-hander James Paxton on the 10-day disabled list with a left forearm contusion.

Paxton left his Tuesday start against the Oakland Athletics in the first inning after taking a line drive off the forearm from Jed Lowrie, but X-rays were negative and the team called initially termed Paxton “day-to-day.”

The Mariners will use right-hander Felix Hernandez, who was recently moved to the bullpen, as Paxton’s replacement in the rotation. In a corresponding move, Seattle recalled right-hander Christian Bergman from Triple-A Tacoma.

–Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve took batting practice on the field as he continues his recovery from right knee discomfort.

Altuve, who ran on a treadmill Tuesday, is expected to have to play through discomfort if he returns this season. Meanwhile, outfielder George Springer is expected to return from his left thumb sprain on Friday.

Altuve, the reigning AL MVP, was placed on the DL for the first time in his career on July 29. Springer has been out since Aug. 6.

–Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg pitched in a simulated game as he nears his return from a pinched nerve in his neck.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters afterward the hope is Strasburg will return during next week’s series against the Philadelphia Phillies. A decision will be made after the 30-year-old throws a side session later this week.

Strasburg and fellow injured righty Erick Fedde took turns pitching against a group of hitters that included Spencer Kieboom, Wilmer Difo and Matt Adams in the simulated game. Strasburg said he threw 70 pitches on the day.

–Wilson Ramos was activated off the 10-day disabled list by the Phillies, and the veteran catcher will make his team debut against the Boston Red Sox.

Ramos was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays on July 31 despite nursing a hamstring injury. He was hurt on July 14.

Ramos, 31, was selected to the American League All-Star team, his second such honor, but had to miss the game due to his injury.

–Though he hopes to recover from a knee injury and pitch again, Atlanta Braves right-hander Brandon McCarthy plans to retire at the end of the 2018 season, he told MLB.com.

McCarthy, 35, hasn’t played since the end of June while battling tendinitis in his right knee, and he’s not eligible to return until September after being placed on the 60-day disabled list. However, he is working to recover enough to return and provide support in Atlanta’s bullpen.

In his 14th season, McCarthy is 6-3 with a 4.92 ERA in 15 appearances (all starts) this year, his first with the Braves. He has played for six other teams, most prominently the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers, going 69-75 with a 4.20 ERA in 255 appearances (197 starts).

–Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun left Milwaukee’s afternoon game with the Chicago Cubs in the fifth inning with what the club announced as right ribcage tightness.

Braun, who hit two home runs in the Brewers’ 7-0 win over the Cubs on Tuesday, apparently sustained the injury while attempting to make a sliding catch of Jason Heyward’s RBI double in the third inning. Braun batted in the fourth inning but bunted out softly to pitcher Kyle Hendricks.

–The St. Louis Cardinals activated Brett Cecil from the 10-day disabled list and optioned fellow left-hander Tyler Webb to Triple-A Memphis.

Cecil has been sidelined with right foot inflammation. He most recently pitched for the Cardinals on July 22. Webb didn’t allow a run in six appearances (7 2/3 innings) with the Cardinals. He was claimed off waivers from the San Diego Padres in late June.

–The Baltimore Orioles released infielder Danny Valencia after designating him for assignment last week.

Valencia, who turns 34 next month, was dropped from the 40-man roster on Friday to make room for the call-up of Cedric Mullins, one of the team’s top prospects. Mullins, a center fielder, is off to a strong start, going 6-of-16 with two RBIs in his first five games in the majors.

Valencia batted .263 with nine homers and 28 RBIs in 78 games this season.

–Astros right-hander Francis Martes underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and is out 12 to 16 months, the team announced.

Martes, 22, was shut down in June without appearing for the Astros this year. He went 0-1 with a 6.41 ERA in five games (all starts) in the minor leagues in 2018, with four of those starts for Triple-A Fresno.

–The Los Angeles Angels expressed their condolences after the passing of minor league pitcher Aaron Cox, 24.

Cox, who was All-Star center fielder Mike Trout’s brother-in-law, had been with the organization since 2015. He made 11 relief appearances earlier this season for high Class-A Inland Empire, going 0-1 with a 4.11 ERA.

–Field Level Media

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Haase stuns Zverev in Cincinnati, Djokovic advances

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(Reuters) – Dutchman Robin Haase upset German fourth seed Alexander Zverev 5-7 6-5 7-5 at the Cincinnati Masters on Wednesday and Wimbledon winner Novak Djokovic cruised into the third round before rain interrupted play.

Haase, who last week kicked off his North American hardcourt swing by reaching the Toronto quarter-finals, converted six of seven break point opportunities to get by world number three Zverev in a match lasting two hours and 25 minutes.

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World number 55 Haase improved to a 2-2 career record against Zverev, including victories in their last two meetings.

“We’ve played four times now,” Haase said. “The first time he literally kicked my ass. … That was the tournament where he actually came up. And, yeah, since then he’s come a long way.

“And now I was there twice physically, mentally and game-wise I was there. And we have to be a little bit lucky, as well, against these top guys.”

Haase will face Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round after the Spanish 13th seed beat Bradley Klahn 6-4 6-4.

Zverev’s older brother Mischa was scheduled to face defending Cincinnati champion Grigor Dimitrov but their match was delayed by rain.

Play will not resume before 5:45 p.m. ET (2145 GMT) but the forecast did not look favorable for the rest of the day.

Djokovic, who needs the Cincinnati title to complete his collection of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies, rallied to defeat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 4-6 6-2 6-1.

The 10th-seeded Serb, who has reached the final five times, suffered stomach problems during the match and was tended to by a doctor during the second set.

Djokovic returned to wrap up the second set and raced into a 5-0 lead in the decider before serving out the match. Djokovic will next face either fifth seed Dimitrov or Zverev.

Former champion Marin Cilic of Croatia, competing in Cincinnati for the first time since lifting the trophy in 2016, beat Romanian qualifier Marius Copil 6-7(4) 6-4 6-4.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori is scheduled to face Swiss wildcard Stan Wawrinka later on Wednesday while Argentine fourth seed Juan Martin Del Potro is due to conclude the evening session with a match against South Korean Chung Hyeon.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Rape case against Broncos DE Gotsis dropped by DA

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Broncos defensive end Adam Gotsis will not be charged in a rape investigation, after the case was dropped by the Fulton County (Ga.) district attorney’s office on Wednesday.

Gotsis, who turns 25 next month, was arrested on March 7 and accused of raping a woman five years earlier while he was at Georgia Tech. The case had been under investigation since his arrest, but the DA’s office announced Wednesday that no action will be taken.

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“After careful and thorough investigation, The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office has decided not to proceed with the case against Mr. Adam Gotsis,” Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard Jr. said in a statement. “My office understands the sensitivity and significance of these investigations, but the evidence presented does not warrant any further action in this case.”

Gotsis met the media after practice Wednesday for the first time since the news of his arrest emerged.

“I’m just relieved that everything’s been taken care of,” he said. “I’ve got faith in the legal system, and I have faith in the lord and family and friends, and great support from everyone around me — Broncos, friends, family. Just glad that it’s over with and I can just focus on football now.”

A 30-year-old woman reported to police on Feb. 1 of this year that she was raped by Gotsis on March 9, 2013, when she was 25.”

Gotsis surrendered to authorities in March after a warrant was put out for his arrest, and he was released after posting $50,000 bond.

Gotsis’ attorney, Sarah Becker, denied the accusation in a statement at the time of her client’s arrest, saying in part, “We steadfastly maintain that the allegations are false.”

The team also released a statement at the time saying it took the accusation “very seriously” and had reported it to the NFL, who likely will not investigate the incident under the personal conduct policy because it happened before Gotsis entered the league.

Gotsis, a 6-foot-4, 287-pounder who Denver drafted in the second round in 2016, participated fully in the Broncos’ offseason program and training camp, and he played in the team’s first preseason game.

He has played in all 32 games since he was drafted, starting 13 last year while totaling 41 tackles, 2.0 sacks and four passes defensed.

Born in Melbourne, Australia, Gotsis came to the U.S. to play football at Georgia Tech in 2012, playing for the Yellow Jackets through 2015.

–Field Level Media

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Braves RHP McCarthy retiring after this season

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Though he hopes to recover from a knee injury and pitch again, Atlanta Braves right-hander Brandon McCarthy plans to retire at the end of the 2018 season, he told MLB.com.

“I’m done after this,” McCarthy said in a story published Tuesday. “This is it. The offseason is the rest of my life. If I was going to keep playing, a month and a half ago, I would have had the surgery that cleans the and I’d be back next year just a little bit after spring.”

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McCarthy, 35, hasn’t played since the end of June while battling tendinitis in his right knee, and he’s not eligible to return until September after being placed on the 60-day disabled list. But he’s working to recover enough to return and provide support in Atlanta’s bullpen.

McCarthy told MLB.com he’s been working on mechanical adjustments to help compensate for the knee issue, including a lower arm slot and a locked right leg.

“It felt awkward at first, but now it doesn’t feel awkward,” he said. “There’s no more load in the back. It’s like I ride down the mound as long as I can and then just throw it. It’s a lower arm slot, so it’s easier to get to. So it doesn’t feel like I threw before, but it’s not crazy different.”

He is expected to test out the new mechanics in rehab outings at Triple-A Gwinnett over the next few weeks.

In his 14th season, McCarthy is 6-3 with a 4.92 ERA in 15 appearances (all starts) this year, his first with the Braves. He has played for six other teams, most prominently the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers, going 69-75 with a 4.20 ERA in 255 appearances (197 starts).

He made three relief appearances in 2017 and one in 2016, but almost all of his work out of the bullpen came in 2006 with the Chicago White Sox.

–Field Level Media

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Thompson back in swing of things after emotional break

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Lexi Thompson is back on the golf course this week, and it isn’t her driver or putter that is at the forefront of her mind.

It is the mental side of life that Thompson continues to ponder as she returns to play in the Indy Women in Tech Championship starting Thursday at Indianapolis.

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The tournament is the first in more than a month for the LPGA star, who withdrew from last month’s British Open due to the need to focus on herself.

The 23-year-old American simply felt she needed the time away from golf — from both a mental and emotional standpoint.

“I would say it’s just figuring out what really makes me happy off the golf course, as well, figuring myself out,” Thompson said at Wednesday’s press conference. “I have transformed myself around this game for such a long time, ever since I was 5 years old.”

The nine-time winner hasn’t posted a victory this season. In fact, her most recent title was at the Indianapolis event last season.

Overall, 2017 was a tough year for Thompson. Her mother, Judy, was battling uterine cancer, and there also was the controversial four-stroke penalty she received for incorrectly marking her ball at the ANA Inspiration. She was penalized one day after making the mistake at the major tournament.

Later in the season, Thompson missed a two-foot putt on the 18th hole at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship to wave good-bye to a potential victory.

Thompson said she is working with a therapist to deal with her personal struggles.

“It was honestly just a buildup,” Thompson said about her need for an emotional break. “The last year and a half, I have honestly been struggling a lot, emotionally, and it’s hard because I can’t really show it. It was just so much to deal with, and I had to show that I was still OK and still play golf.

“And I don’t even know how I played that well, honestly. And I think it just kind of all hit me coming into this year. You can only stay strong for so long and hide it. I am a very strong person, but at times you just need a break.”

Despite this year’s 13-tourney winless stretch, Thompson does have five top-10 finishes and is ranked fifth in the world.

“You just have to take the positive out of everything, realize that I have had a great year,” Thompson said. “I haven’t won, but I’m trying my best in every tournament, that’s all I can do.”

One thing Thompson has realized is simplistic in nature.

“I’m not just a robot out there,” she said. “I need to have a life.”

–Field Level Media

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