AP Sports SummaryBrief at 1:19 p.m. EST

Blatter says picking Qatar as World Cup host was a ‘mistake’

GENEVA (AP) — Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter says picking Qatar to host the World Cup was a mistake 12 years ago. Blatter led FIFA at the time of the vote and says soccer and the World Cup are too big for a country as small as Qatar. He repeated his claim that key votes for Qatar were swayed by a 2010 meeting in Paris between then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy and FIFA vice president Michel Platini. The 86-year-old Blatter spoke with a Swiss newspaper group. It was his first major interview since being acquitted with Platini in July of financial misconduct at FIFA.

2 coaches fired, several others remain on hot seat

There has already been two coaching changes halfway through the NFL season with Indianapolis firing Frank Reich this week four weeks after Carolina did the same to Matt Rhule. Based on recent history there likely will be more. The NFL had a record-tying 10 coaching changes last offseason and three-quarters of the teams have changed head coaches at least once in the past five years. Patience runs thin with 14 teams making the playoffs each season and several recent squads undergoing rapid turnarounds.

World Cup ambassador from Qatar denounces homosexuality

BERLIN (AP) — An ambassador for the World Cup in Qatar has described homosexuality as a “damage in the mind” in an interview with German public broadcaster ZDF only two weeks before the opening of the soccer tournament in the Gulf state. The comment highlights concerns about the conservative country’s treatment of gays and lesbians. Former Qatari national team player Khalid Salman told a German reporter in an interview that being gay is “haram.” That means forbidden in Arabic. He also says he has a problem with children seeing gay people. Excerpts of the television interview were shown Monday on the ZDF news program Heute Journal. The full interview will be shown Tuesday on ZDF.

World Cup has 3 women set to referee matches in Qatar

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita knows that being one of three women picked to officiate matches at the World Cup is more than just about soccer. Stephanie Frappart of France and Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda must be of the same mind. It will be the first time a woman will be in charge on the game’s biggest stage. The three women are in a pool of 36 referees listed for Qatar. The rest are all men. FIFA has also named three female assistant referees. They are Neuza Back of Brazil, Karen Diaz Medina of Mexico and Kathryn Nesbitt of the United States.

Analysis: Warriors’ Steph Curry shines spotlight on women

Stephen Curry wants people to know about Nanea McGuigan. She’s the Golden State Warriors executive who got her championship ring along with the rest of the players three weeks ago. It was a sneak attack led by Curry and a few others within the organization. Their motive was simple. They wanted the world to see that some women play very big roles in a male-dominated league.

Rizzo, Bassitt turn down options, among 11 now free agents

LAS VEGAS (AP) — First baseman Anthony Rizzo became a free agent again when he declined his $16 million option with the New York Yankees for 2023. Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt declined his $19 million option with the New York Mets and followed rotation mates Jacob deGrom and Taijuan Walker into free agency. They were among 11 players who became free agents, raising the total to 151. About 33 more players are potentially eligible to go free by Thursday, joining a free agent class headed by Aaron Judge, Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson, deGrom, Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts.

Michigan State among college hoops teams facing tough tests

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Tom Izzo is proud of the fact that Michigan State has consistently played tough nonconference schedules throughout his career. Playing challenging competition before the Big Ten season begins has prepared the Spartans for conference play and set them up in the NCAA Tournament to make eight runs to the Final Four under their Hall of Fame coach. Even Izzo acknowledged he might’ve bit off more than his unranked team could chew this year.  Izzo is the first coach since at least 2009 to play two opponents ranked in the top four and two other teams in the poll in November.

Duke’s Scheyer focuses on enjoying moment in coaching debut

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke’s Jon Scheyer focused on enjoying the moment as he led the seventh-ranked Blue Devils past Jacksonville in their season opener. It marked Scheyer’s debut as the successor to retired Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski. Scheyer said he took a moment before the game to collect his thoughts and enjoy the opportunity. But he said he didn’t talk about his debut to the team beforehand. Scheyer is a former Blue Devils player who won a national championship under Krzyzewski. The school named Scheyer as Coach K’s successor in June 2021.

Judge, Ohtani among 3 finalists for AL MVP award next week

NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani and Yordan Alvarez are the finalists for American League MVP in voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. St. Louis Cardinals teammates Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt remain contenders for NL MVP, along with San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado. Balloting was conducted at the conclusion of the regular season, and winners will be announced next week. Justin Verlander of the World Series champion Astros is a heavy favorite to win his third Cy Young Award. Dylan Cease of the White Sox and Alek Manoah of the Blue Jays are the other AL Cy Young finalists. Miami ace Sandy Alcantara, Atlanta left-hander Max Fried and Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Julio Urías are the top three vote-getters for the NL Cy Young Award.

Bills QB Allen’s status uncertain with throwing elbow injury

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Josh Allen is nursing a sore right throwing elbow, leaving cause for concern over the Buffalo Bills starter’s status against the NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings this weekend. Coach Sean McDermott would only say he’s awaiting the results of tests to determine the severity of the injury sustained a day earlier in a 20-17 loss to the New York Jets. McDermott said it was premature to say whether Allen could practice this week or play before adding he would never count him out. If Allen is unavailable for this weekend, the AFC-leading Bills would turn to veteran backup Case Keenum to face the Vikings.

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