LATROBE, Pa. (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers trickled into training camp on Thursday in pickup trucks and Porsches, Rolls Royces and Rubicons.
And in the case of ageless linebacker James Harrison, a firetruck.
Because of course he did.
Left tackle Alejandro Villaneuva showed up too, arriving with pen in hand to sign a contract extension that made the former Army Ranger a millionaire several times over as the protector of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side for the rest of the decade.
Yet the player perhaps most vital to Pittsburgh’s hopes of tracking down Super Bowl champion and longtime nemesis New England by the end of January was nowhere to be found.
While his teammates went through the customary opening paces — from check-in to a conditioning test — Le’Veon Bell never made it to St. Vincent College.
The Pro Bowler has yet to sign the franchise tender that will pay him more than $12 million this season.
And while they’d rather have Bell’s familiar No. 26 on the sideline when practice starts Friday, the guys blocking for him understand business is business.
“I’m not mad at him, I’m happy for the guy,” guard Ramon Foster said. “It’s an opportunity for Le’Veon to take care of his family for generations, so why not take care of it now?”
Pittsburgh placed the franchise tag on Bell in the offseason, but was unable to find common ground for a long-term agreement.
General manager Kevin Colbert tabled any talks of revisiting an extension until after the 2017 season.
Bell, who averaged more than 150 yards of total offense last fall, tweeted “I guess I just gotta get better” when the July 17 deadline passed without a new deal in place.
Wide receiver Antonio Brown isn’t concerned so much about Bell improving as much as he is about Bell simply getting to camp.
Brown, who signed a four-year, $72-million extension in February and strolled into camp in the back seat of a 1931 Rolls Royce, isn’t sure Bell is making a point by holding out.
“I just understand the history of how these things work out,” Brown said.
“The Steelers never negotiate with civilians, especially when you don’t show up. The first rule of getting better is showing up. But I’m here, everyone’s here, you have to get the year started off on the right foot.”
Center Maurkice Pouncey offered to take a pay cut to help speed up the process.
“He can have some of my money,” said Pouncey, who signed a $44-million contract extension in 2014. “I’m totally fine with that. They can erase a year of my contract. I’m cool with just going out there and playing.”
Bell wants to reset what has been a stagnant (by NFL standards) market for running backs in recent years.
While the 25-year-old is among the most versatile players in the league — Bell caught 75 passes in just 12 games last season — he has been suspended twice for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and also has struggled to stay healthy.
Knee injuries ended his season in 2014 and 2015 and a tweaked groin rendered him a bystander in a one-sided AFC championship game loss to the Patriots.
He underwent surgery in the offseason to fix the groin and coach Mike Tomlin said there are no concerns about it being an issue whenever Bell decides to pull into the parking lot. It’s everything else that has Tomlin concerned.
“We’re a group that values this team building process and doing it in this setting,” Tomlin said. “There are consequences of him not being here.”
Tomlin called Bell’s absence an “unfortunate circumstance,” one the team managed to avoid with Villanueva.
The 28-year-old — who did several tours in Afghanistan after graduating from the Army before giving the NFL a shot in 2013 — had yet to sign his one-year exclusive rights free agent tender the club offered him in the spring, fueling speculation he might hold out.
Instead, Villanueva was on the field running sprints by late afternoon.
The question now is when the weapon Foster called “an MVP candidate” will join in.
No matter how long Bell’s holdout lasts, the Steelers don’t expect it to be a distraction.
“Look at his numbers, look at his production,” Foster said. “You know what he’s going to do and he does it and you can’t stop it. Those are most valuable player type of folks and I’m happy to be blocking for the guy.”
NOTES: The NFL has not cleared WR Martavis Bryant, coming off a year-long suspension for violating the league’s drug policy, to practice or play in games. Tomlin called the issue “procedural” and that Bryant and the team “will work extremely hard” to fulfill the conditional terms of Bryant’s re-instatement. … WR Sammie Coates will start camp on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing a second arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. … WR Canaan Severin was also placed on the PUP list after failing the conditioning test. … S Daimion Stafford was put on the reserve/did not report list.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Broncos coach Vance Joseph’s first training camp got off to a rough start with word that Devontae Booker, who was pushing to unseat C.J. Anderson as Denver’s starting running back, will undergo wrist surgery Friday and is expected to miss six weeks.
Booker suffered a hairline fracture late in OTAs but he and the team thought it was just a minor sprain until the Broncos did X-rays Wednesday when he reported for his training camp physical.
“And it was a wrist fracture,” Joseph said. “So, it’s obviously been there for a couple of months and we didn’t know and he didn’t know.”
It wasn’t something Booker tried to keep from the team, either.
“No, he didn’t hide it. It was a football nick, he thought. It wasn’t anything serious. He went home for the summer, he couldn’t bench press. He came back, we X-rayed it and it was fractured,” Joseph said.
“And, guys, he can play with this. But the concern is his long-term health. That bone can die and his hand can be kind of messed up forever. So, we didn’t want that for the kid.”
The setback marred the offseason for the second-year pro who had a solid spring in bouncing back from a rough rookie season that followed two knee surgeries.
“You see the big jump,” Anderson said. “You see that he’s a lot more concentrated. He’s a lot more focused and putting time in the playbook. Just to have a little setback like that, it’s definitely disappointing for him. We have a job to do out there and when he comes back, his spot will definitely be warm and ready for him.”
It will be hard for Booker to unseat Anderson now.
The Broncos had been planning to split first-team snaps at training camp between Booker and Anderson, who is returning from a torn meniscus last season, while Jamaal Charles slowly works his way into action after missing most of the last two seasons in Kansas City with leg injuries.
Booker led the Broncos with 174 carries for 612 yards and four touchdowns in 2016 after Anderson went on IR after getting hurt in the seventh game.
With Booker shelved, the Broncos signed free agent running back Stevan Ridley on a one-year deal. He’ll join a backfield with Anderson, veteran Juwan Thompson, rookie De’Angelo Henderson and free agent Bernard Pierce.
“I’m very thankful to have another shot,” said Ridley, a seventh-year pro who has played sparingly since 2012, when he rushed for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Patriots.
Running back was one of the positions GM John Elway mentioned Wednesday when he emphasized there was a lot more to training camp this summer than the headliner competition between quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.
QB COMPETITION KICKS OFF IN EARNEST: The Broncos skipped the 2-minute drills and the team drills where wide receivers and DBs routinely sprint 40 or 50 yards downfield and went straight — and strictly — to red zone drills with Siemian and Lynch.
“Trevor said that’s crazy because that’s one of the hardest things that the quarterback has to do,” linebacker Brandon Marshall said. “But, why not throw them right into the fire? That’s perfect.”
Although Denver’s star-studded defense made it hard for both QBs, Siemian said he appreciated Joseph going straight to red zone drills a day after players went through conditioning drills because it was good for players’ bodies and minds.
“Usually you get back and you’re in the first install and you’re throwing to a bunch of green grass and kind of ease your way into it,” said Siemian, whose strength is the short and intermediate passes. “Whereas down there, it’s bang-bang, especially with our guys. So, good to get those reps early on.”
Lynch, whose hallmark is the deep ball, said, “It’s kind of tough with those guys. We’ve got a good defense and when you get down into the red zone you’re going to have to take some chances with the ball and throw it into some tight areas. But I think Coach Joseph did a good job of letting everybody kind of get their feet under them and not having them running all over the field.”
OFFENSIVE LINE CONTINUES MAKEOVER: The acquisition of guard Allen Barbre from the Eagles means the Broncos could have four new starters along the offensive line with center Matt Paradis: Garett Bolles and Menelik Watson at tackle, Barbre and Ron Leary at guard.
The Broncos traded a conditional draft pick to the Eagles for Barbre, a 10th-year veteran.
“He’s a smart, steady guy,” Joseph said. “He’s a nice addition.”
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Marreese Speights is finally returning home — or close to it.
The Orlando Magic announced Thursday that the 6-foot-10 veteran center from St. Petersburg has signed a contract. Speights couldn’t be more thrilled to between his hometown and Gainesville where he won a national title with Florida in 2007.
“It’s an unreal feeling,” he said. “If I try to explain it it would be an understatement. I just feel blessed to be here. I never thought I’d be playing for my home team.”
In addition to Speights, the Magic also announced the signing of veteran guard Arron Afflalo and free-agent center Khem Birch.
With Speights, the Magic get a proven post player who has been one of the best bench players in the NBA the last few years. He spent last season with the Los Angeles Clippers after winning a championship as a key reserve during his stint with the Golden State Warriors.
Speights, who is entering his 10th season, will likely serve as the backup to Nikola Vucevic but the Magic also have shot-blocker Bismack Biymobo, which could make for a logjam in the post in an era where NBA teams favor small ball.
Speights, however, gives the Magic a chance to space the floor even more because of his 3-point shooting ability. He made 103 3-pointers for the Clippers last season, converting 37 percent from beyond the arch while averaging 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds.
“Only thing I can really control is coming in and work every day,” Speights said. “If I don’t play it’s okay. I’m not really chasing nothing coming here, I’ve already won a championship.”
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.
The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.
John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.
ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Nationals staged their own version of the Home Run Derby, with Michael Blazek serving as the unwilling batting practice pitcher.
Washington tied a franchise record with eight homers and matched two major league marks during a prolific third inning that highlighted a 15-2 rout of the fading Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday.
Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman each homered twice for the Nationals, who banged out 19 hits in reaching double figures in runs for the 18th time this season.
“We have a lineup that can do some special things,” Harper said. “Anything can happen.”
Washington equaled two big league records in a seven-run third: Most consecutive home runs (four) and most home runs in an inning (five).
“We had a big offensive barrage today,” manager Dusty Baker said, understating the obvious.
All the home runs in the third inning were hit off Blazek (0-1), who was making his first major league start following 108 appearances in relief.
“I felt like I made some decent pitches but they were locked in on everything,” the right-hander said. “It’s not how I pictured it going.”
He could have hardly imagined becoming the first pitcher in baseball history to allow five home runs in an inning.
Only five other major league teams hit five homers in an inning, a feat that had not occurred since Milwaukee did it in 2006. Washington became the eighth team to hit four in a row, the first since Arizona in 2010.
After Harper connected in the first inning, Brian Goodwin started the long-ball party in the third with a two-run drive after Blazek walked Washington starter Max Scherzer.
“The last thing I wanted to do was lead off the inning with a walk, especially to a pitcher,” Blazek said. “It just kept building and building from there.”
Wilmer Difo, Harper and Zimmerman followed with long home runs.
The streak was interrupted when Daniel Murphy flied out, after which some of the fans reacted with good-natured booing.
Anthony Rendon resumed the fun with a shot to dead center that finally chased Blazek, who gave up seven hits — six of them long balls.
Zimmerman and Jose Lobaton both homered off Wily Peralta in the fourth for a 15-1 lead.
The eight home runs tied the franchise mark set in July 1978 by the Montreal Expos against Atlanta.
Pitching on his 33rd birthday, Scherzer (12-5) allowed one run over six innings and struck out nine to bring his total this year to 201 — his sixth consecutive season with at least 200, the longest active streak in the majors.
He contributed offensively with two walks and an infield hit.
“What a birthday gift! I wanted to get a win and a knock,” he said. “Fifteen runs, a pitcher’s best friend.”
Harper chipped in with three hits and four RBIs while extending his career-best hitting streak to 19 games.
Travis Shaw and Lewis Brinson homered for the Brewers, who have lost nine of 11 to drop from first place in the NL Central.
“It’s on to the next challenge,” manager Craig Counsell said, referring to a weekend series against the division-leading Cubs in Milwaukee.
One positive for the Brewers in this one: Left fielder Hernan Perez pitched a scoreless eighth inning.
MOVE OVER, HONDO
Zimmerman’s two home runs upped his total with the Nationals to 237, tied with Frank Howard for most in D.C. history.
Known affectionately as “Hondo,” the 6-foot-7 Howard played with the expansion Senators from 1965-71.
The Brewers added RHP Anthony Swarzak to the roster after obtaining him Wednesday in a trade with the White Sox.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (10-3, 3.25 ERA) was placed on the 10-day disabled list with an elbow impingement. Baker expects Strasburg to miss only one start. … OF Michael Taylor (oblique strain) is almost ready to begin baseball activities, Baker said. Taylor has been on the DL since July 7.
Brewers: Brent Suter (1-1, 2.84 ERA) takes the mound Friday night against the Cubs.
Nationals: Tanner Roark (8-6, 4.83 ERA) helps Washington launch a three-game series at home against the Colorado Rockies.
TORONTO (AP) — Steve Pearce became the latest Blue Jay to hit a game-ending home run.
Pearce hit a tiebreaking grand slam in the 10th inning and Toronto beat the Oakland Athletics 8-4 on Thursday to complete a four-game sweep.
“Hopefully we just keep the ball rolling,” Pearce said. “We’re getting down to the end of the season so we’ve got to step it up and this was a great series to get it started.”
Oakland reliever Liam Hendriks (3-2) walked the bases loaded with two outs before Pearce hooked a 3-2 pitch down the left field line and into the second deck. The grand slam was the second of his career and first since May 2015.
The Blue Jays won consecutive games on home runs for the first time in team history.
Kendrys Morales, who hit a game-winning homer in the ninth inning Wednesday, had two more home runs Thursday. Morales connected off Sean Manaea in the fifth and added a tying blast off Blake Treinen in the ninth, the 19th multihomer game of his career.
Treinen got the ninth in place of Santiago Casilla, who blew Wednesday’s game. The Athletics have blown five of their past six save opportunities.
“We’re just having trouble finishing off games,” manager Bob Melvin said.
Toronto has hit four game-ending home runs this season, the third-highest total in team history. They hit six in 2011.
Josh Donaldson also homered for Toronto, a solo blast in the first.
Roberto Osuna (3-0) worked one inning for the win.
Marcus Semien had three hits and a walk for the Athletics, who have lost 12 of 13 in Toronto.
In the fifth, one batter after Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was ejected for arguing ball and strikes with home plate umpire Will Little, Stroman and catcher Russell Martin were both tossed. An irate Stroman charged toward home plate to confront Little, and had to be restrained by Martin and bench coach DeMarlo Hale.
Right-hander Chris Smith replaced Stroman and Miguel Montero took over for Martin.
Stroman allowed three runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings, walking a season-high six. Asked about the ejection afterward, he had little to say.
“When it comes to umpires or any of that, I’m not going to be making any comments about that,” Stroman said. “I want to make my next start.”
Oakland struck quickly against Stroman, scoring three runs in the first against a pitcher who had allowed just four earned runs combined in his previous four July starts. Ryon Healy drove in a run with a groundout and Bruce Maxwell followed with a two-run single.
Donaldson replied with a one-out blast in the bottom half, his 10th, and Morales connected to begin the fifth, his 19th.
Toronto tied it in the sixth when Jose Bautista hit a leadoff double and scored on Justin Smoak’s two-out single.
Troy Tulowitzki tried to score from second on Darwin Barney’s two-out single in the seventh, but was thrown out at home plate by a strong throw from right fielder Matt Joyce.
Manaea allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings.
“It kind of stings a little bit,” Manaea said. “We had an opportunity to win and just didn’t put it together.”
Oakland broke a 3-all tie against Ryan Tepera in the eighth when Semien’s two-out single scored Jaycob Brugman, but Morales answered in the ninth.
GETTING THE AX
Oakland RHP John Axford, the NL saves leader in 2011, was designated for assignment. Melvin said it was tough to cut Axford, citing his veteran presence in the clubhouse. Axford went 0-1 with no saves and a 6.43 ERA in 22 appearances.
WORST IN THE FIRST
Blue Jays pitchers have an AL-worst 6.35 ERA in the first inning.
Athletics: C Josh Phegley (left oblique) was placed on the 10-day DL and C Ryan Lavarnway was recalled from Triple-A Nashville. … RHP Ryan Dull (right knee) was activated off the DL, taking Axford’s spot on the roster.
Blue Jays: Quality control coach Derek Shelton replaced first base coach Tim Leiper (illness) midway through the game.
Athletics: RHP Daniel Gossett (2-5, 5.40) starts the opener of a three-game home series against Minnesota. Gossett has allowed at least one homer in seven of his first eight starts. Newly acquired LHP Jaime Garcia (4-7. 4.30) goes for the Twins.
Blue Jays: LHP J.A. Happ (3-7, 4.13) starts the opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. Happ allowed a season-high seven earned runs in his previous outing, a July 23 loss at Cleveland. RHP Parker Bridwell (4-1, 3.09) starts for the Angels.
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — The LA Galaxy are running out of time to save their season, so they’ve brought back a familiar face to lead their playoff charge.
The Galaxy fired coach Curt Onalfo on Thursday just 20 games into his first season and re-hired veteran coach Sigi Schmid to run the struggling MLS powerhouse.
A few hours after their coaching change, the Galaxy also signed Mexican midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos as their third designated player. Dos Santos leaves Villarreal of Spain’s La Liga to join his brother, Galaxy star Giovani Dos Santos.
The moves indicate President Chris Klein’s desire for urgent improvement by the Galaxy (6-10-4), who sit ninth in the 11-team Western Conference after losing six consecutive games across all competitions in July, including an embarrassing 4-3 loss to New England last weekend.
With just 14 league games left and mounting pressure to avoid missing the playoffs with a high-priced roster of international talent, Klein scuttled his preseason plan with Onalfo. He quickly brought back Schmid, the winningest coach in MLS history and a two-time league champion who spent the previous nine seasons with the Seattle Sounders.
“It didn’t take me long to think about it, because this is a club that’s always been dear to my heart,” said Schmid, who first coached the Galaxy in 1999. “Coming back is certainly a great situation. It’s a matter right now of just getting to know the players, establishing our trust and our relationship, and getting them to understand the passion that I have.”
The German-born coach grew up in the Los Angeles area and spent 28 years at UCLA as a player and coach, winning three national championships. Schmid’s largely successful first tenure with the Galaxy included the franchise’s first MLS Cup title in 2002.
After leaving the Galaxy in 2004, Schmid went on to coach Columbus and Seattle, where he became the expansion franchise’s first coach in 2009.
The Galaxy host Seattle on Saturday night in a timely reunion for the 64-year-old Schmid, the only coach in Sounders history before the club fired him last summer. The Sounders went on to win the MLS Cup after dropping Schmid last year, but he holds fond feelings for his tenure in Seattle.
“The way things ended (with the Sounders), it just reminded me I’ve got to stay consistent and true to what I feel are my strengths as a coach, and that’s something I’m really excited to have the opportunity to do here,” Schmid said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s a unique challenge, and I feel very blessed to be able to coach in my home city.”
Onalfo was promoted from the Galaxy’s developmental squad last winter when longtime coach Bruce Arena went back to the U.S. national team. The Galaxy had an offseason of major franchise upheaval that also included the departures of Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Landon Donovan.
But Onalfo, a veteran MLS coach and former assistant to Arena, never got consistent results from a group including Ashley Cole, Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, Jermaine Jones and Gyasi Zardes.
“This is not a change in club direction,” Klein said. “This is a new leader coming in that can lead us to where we want to go. Sigi’s record speaks for itself, so when we took a step back and evaluated everything, he was the right man for the job. He understands our club. Certainly no one has a better understanding of the league. It became an easy decision.”
While newcomer Alessandrini and team leader Dos Santos have had outstanding moments in attack, the Galaxy’s defense has been particularly porous, and Schmid cited its improvement as his first priority.
Despite injuries that have sidelined Robbie Rogers for the season and limited other players on the back line, Schmid believes the Galaxy can defend better.
“I think it’s more than personnel,” Schmid said. “It’s a question of how we’re defending, so we need to alter a little bit how we’re defending to fully take advantage of the skill sets of the players we have back there. At times the team defended in a way that made it difficult for those guys.”
Jonathan Dos Santos won’t be available to play Saturday against the Sounders, but Schmid and Klein expect an immediate impact from the talented 27-year-old member of the Mexican national team.
“He can fit into our lineup at a number of different positions and improve our team in multiple ways,” Schmid said. “He still has his best years of playing in front of him, and we are excited to add him to our team.”
GENEVA (AP) — The corruption crisis in world soccer has removed another top FIFA official.
Jailed in Spain on suspicion of financial wrongdoing as head of the Spanish football federation, Angel Maria Villar has resigned his top positions at FIFA and European governing body UEFA.
FIFA confirmed Thursday that Villar resigned as its senior vice president. That followed UEFA’s announcement he had left its executive committee after 25 years. He was suspended as Spanish federation president on Tuesday amid a criminal investigation into allegations of corruption.
Villar exits international soccer in disgrace after rising to the No. 2 elected position at FIFA, the most senior of eight vice presidents behind president Gianni Infantino.
Despite Infantino’s claim last year of the crisis ending for scandal-scarred FIFA, two colleagues on the ruling Council have resigned within three months under a cloud of suspicion.
“FIFA is back on track. So I can officially inform you here, the crisis is over,” Infantino told FIFA member federations in May 2016 in Mexico City at his first congress since replacing Sepp Blatter.
However, Villar follows Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, who resigned in April. The Kuwait royal left FIFA three days after he was identified in a federal court case in Brooklyn as the source of bribes paid to Asian soccer officials. He denies wrongdoing.
Villar left the week after he was arrested in his native Spain, one of four football officials detained on charges of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.
Villar’s influence had weakened since American and Swiss federal investigations of FIFA-linked corruption were revealed in 2015. Once seen as a potential UEFA presidential candidate, he could not gather support to launch a bid for the European soccer leadership one year ago.
Still, the arrest of a one-time international player turned lawyer, and former chairman of FIFA’s legal and referee committees, is another blow to the battered image of international soccer bodies.
Villar was arrested in Madrid along with his son Gorka Villar, also a lawyer and former director general of South American soccer body CONMEBOL, and two other senior Spanish federation officials.
Spain’s government suspended the 67-year-old Angel Maria Villar from the national federation presidency for one year on Tuesday. An interim replacement was appointed Wednesday.
In a statement on Thursday, UEFA said Villar had offered his resignation a day earlier “as vice president of UEFA and member of the UEFA Executive Committee with immediate effect.”
UEFA said its president Aleksander Ceferin accepted Villar’s letter of resignation and “thanked him for his many years of service to European football.”
“In view of the on-going court proceedings in Spain, we have no further comments to make on this matter,” UEFA said in a brief statement.
Villar was elected to the executive panel in 1992, and was UEFA’s top official for nearly a year in 2015-16 while then-president Michael Platini was suspended from duty by FIFA. Like France great Platini, Villar played for his country, then rose in soccer politics and fell due to allegations of financial wrongdoing.
UEFA said member federations can elect an executive committee replacement for Villar at its next 2018 congress, to be held Feb. 28 in Bratislava, Slovakia. At that same meeting, European officials can also elect a new FIFA vice president. All candidates must pass an integrity check.
Villar and his son were denied bail last week and transferred from a police jail to the Soto del Real prison near Madrid after being questioned by a judge. The judge cited flight risks after detailing how Villar allegedly misappropriated private and public funds while president of Spain’s federation “at least since 2009.”
Prosecutors allege that Villar used his influence to funnel private and public funds into regional federations in exchange for votes to remain in power for eight consecutive terms.
He is also suspected of using his control of the television rights for Spain’s friendly matches to secure economic benefits for his son, who worked under three CONMEBOL presidents that were all indicted for corruption in a sprawling U.S. Department of Justice case.
That same DoJ investigation implicated Sheikh Ahmad, an influential International Olympic Committee member. As head of Spanish football for almost three decades, Villar was also a board member of the Spanish national Olympic committee.
Villar’s interim replacement as head of the Spanish soccer federation, treasurer Juan Luis Larrea, stood by his longtime boss on Thursday after answering a judge’s questions at a Madrid court. Larrea said he saw no reason for Villar to also quit as president of the Spanish federation.
“I believe he considers himself innocent and he believes he doesn’t have to resign,” Larrea told Spanish national television.
OAKVILLE, Ontario (AP) — Matt Kuchar fought dizzy spells in the first round of the RBC Canadian Open on Thursday, four days after finishing second behind Jordan Spieth in the British Open.
“I had a couple of spells where I got a little bit of dizzy and I feel weak,” Kuchar said. “I don’t know where it came from. I’ve had plenty of time to get over the travel. Hopefully, it’s just something that passes real quick. … I shook it off the couple times it happened.”
The 39-year-old American became dizzy marking a ball and sought medical attention during the morning round at Glen Abbey. After playing the first 11 holes in 4 under, he made a double bogey on the par-4 third and bogeyed the par-4 eighth en route to a 1-under 71.
Kuchar was six strokes behind leaders Kevin Chappell, Matt Every, Hudson Swafford, Brandon Hagy and Ollie Schniederjans in the round that was suspended because of darkness after afternoon play was interrupted for nearly two hours by lightning and rain.
“He had been over to mark a putt after he missed it and got a little light-headed,” said playing partner Bubba Watson, a stroke back after a 66. “He just came up a little slow. I don’t know why. It’s a little warm after the rain. Had a rain jacket on. Probably just a little light-headed. And then the travel. He played over there, a lot of energy used last week. Second place is a lot of energy used over that and then flying back over here with the time change, probably just one of those things. Maybe a little dehydrated.”
Kuchar has an endorsement deal with tournament sponsor RBC.
On Sunday at Royal Birkdale in England, he finished three strokes behind Spieth. Kuchar had a one-stroke lead with five holes to play before Spieth rallied and pulled away with a birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie stretch.
Defending champion Jhonattan Vegas, Vijay Singh, Jim Herman, Peter Malnati and Martin Flores matched Watson at 66. Top-ranked Dustin Johnson had a 67. He eagled the par-5 13th and had six birdies and three bogeys.
“Just had a few putts lip out on the back, and then, just didn’t drive it well the back nine,” Johnson said. “But when I did drive it in the fairway, I had good holes. I’m swinging really well, especially with the irons. … Tomorrow, I just need to go out in the morning and hit a few more fairways.”
Chappell had two eagles, playing alongside fellow leader Every in the afternoon. Chappell made a 12-foot putt from the fringe on the par-5 16th for his first eagle and holed a 15-footer from the fringe on the par-5 second.
“Doesn’t happen too often, but I’m glad it happened today,” Chappell said. “I hit it really well. Got the ball in play on the par 5s, so I was able to attack those.”
Schneiderjans also had two eagles. He chipped in on 13 and made a 15-footer on 18.
“I took advantage of the par 5s and just played real consistently well off the tee,” Schneiderjans said. “I was in good positions all day. Just a solid round.”
Mackenzie Hughes topped the 17 Canadians at 67.
“If you hit it in the fairway, you can be aggressive,” Hughes said. “The few fairways I missed, I was just trying to make par and you have to be a little bit defensive. All in all it was a great day. Probably could be a bit better, but I made a couple nice par putts, too. Overall, happy with my start.”
IRVINE, Scotland (AP) — Hall of Famer Karrie Webb shot a 7-under 65 in cold and windy conditions Thursday to take a one-stroke lead over Cristie Kerr in the Ladies Scottish Open.
“When we were warming up and our first few holes, obviously it was really cold and really windy,” Webb said. “I looked at the scoreboard and saw that Cristie Kerr shot 6 under, and I was like, ‘What course did she play today?'”
Webb played the final 10 holes in 7 under at Dundonald Links. The 42-year-old Australian star birdied the par-4 ninth, made five straight birdies on Nos. 11-15 and added another birdie on the par-5 18th.
“I sort of really hung in there through the front nine and made a nice birdie on 9 to turn at 1 under,” Webb said. “Then just really started swinging at it well and hitting it quite close and had some good birdie chances and made the most of them.”
She won the last of her 41 LPGA Tour titles in 2014 at the Founders Cup.
Kerr closed with a birdie on the No. 9 in her bogey-free round in the event sanctioned by the LPGA Tour for the first time. It has been part of the Ladies European Tour since 1986.
“It was still tough to stand over the shots that you needed to execute, and it’s never easy here. So, I’m very pleased with the score,” Kerr said. “I just controlled my ball really well out there, with the crosswinds and trajectory and I had a great day. I just kind of hit the ball where I was trying to hit it in the areas I was trying to hit it in, and made some putts, as well.”
Fellow major champions Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park were tied for third at 69 along with Sei Young Kim, Lina Boqvist and Pornanong Phatlum. ANA Inspiration winner So Yeon Ryu had a 71, and Michelle Wie shot 72.
“The weather wasn’t good this morning but definitely got off to a great start.” Lewis said. “It was super hard out there and just really happy, happy to be done and getting to warm up.”
Lydia Ko opened with a 74. She has gone a full year without winning on the LPGA Tour.
Defending champion Isabelle Boineau shot a 76.
The Ricoh Women’s British Open is next week at Kingsbarns.
VISTA, Calif. (AP) — The father of retired tennis star Mark Philippoussis has pleaded not guilty in California to molesting two 9-year-old girls.
Nikolaos Philippoussis entered pleas Wednesday in Vista to more than a dozen counts of lewd conduct and sex with a child. He was ordered held on more than $9 million bail.
The 68-year-old Philippoussis is accused of molesting two students while he was a private tennis coach in San Diego County.
Prosecutors contend the assaults continued for a year in his home, car and at a country club.
Philippoussis, who’s an Australian citizen, could face up to life in prison if convicted.
The San Diego Union-Tribune (http://bit.ly/2eRKjft) says his son, a former Wimbledon finalist, attended the hearing but declined comment.
MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Rust Belt state that built a manufacturing legacy through assembly-line jobs will have to quickly transition to a more highly skilled workforce now that Foxconn has selected Wisconsin as the site of its coveted U.S. electronics plant.
“This will not be your grandfather’s factory,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “This will be a high-tech facility that will attract workers of various skill levels to produce products that will really define where the economy is going to go for years to come.”
Foxconn is best known for making iPhones and other Apple products in China. It entered into a memorandum of understanding Thursday to build its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Wisconsin — a decision cheered for its potential to transform the state’s economy. But many questions remain, including the type of jobs the Taiwan-based electronics giant will offer and whether it will follow through on its plans.
The deal calls for finalizing terms of the agreement — which will require a special legislative session to approve a $3 billion incentive package — no later than Sept. 30. Gov. Scott Walker and Foxconn CEO Terry Gou signed the memorandum inside Milwaukee’s art museum, a white, winged-shaped structure by Santiago Calatrava that sits on Lake Michigan. The project to bring Foxconn to Wisconsin was called “Flying Eagle,” they said.
Foxconn said its $10 billion factory — at a yet-to-be-determined site in southeastern Wisconsin — will initially bring 3,000 jobs and eventually employ 13,000 workers. It would be a substantial gain for a state that currently has 472,000 manufacturing jobs and is still recovering from factory layoffs — including the closure of a General Motors plant after the 2008 financial crisis.
Foxconn has not said what type of jobs it will offer in order to produce liquid-crystal display panels that are used in televisions and computer screens. But the average salary for the jobs will be nearly $54,000, suggesting some of the higher-end positions will be engineers, software developers and people proficient in computer-assisted design, Still said.
Economists elsewhere note highly skilled postings aren’t always easy to fill.
“For an indicator I would look at Michigan. There’s lots of workers in Michigan and there’s lots of advanced manufacturing jobs in Michigan, and most of them are difficult to fill,” said Stefanie Lenway, dean of the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.
Lenway also said that making LCD screens doesn’t involve people “because people create defects on the glass and that’s expensive,” so it’s unclear how many of the jobs will be for assembly workers.
Still said worker shortages for higher-skilled jobs are common around the country and it’s a challenge that Foxconn could’ve faced with any of the other states it was considering — Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
But Wisconsin officials say the state’s higher education system is capable of producing enough employees by the time the plant opens in 2020. However, it’s a process that needs to start now.
Walker said part of wooing Foxconn to Wisconsin included meetings with chancellors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and UW-Milwaukee and the president of Gateway Technical College to talk about training opportunities so graduates would be prepared to work at the plant.
“For something of this magnitude we’re going to have to quite literally start training people now for jobs that will be open over the next couple of years,” Walker said Thursday during an interview on WTMJ-AM. “We’re going to start doing programs specifically targeted towards getting the workforce they’re going to need.”
To close the Foxconn deal, state lawmakers still have to approve a $3 billion worth of tax credits for the company. The incentive package, which lawmakers could take up in a special session next month, will be pro-rated on how many jobs the company creates and how much it spends.
Walker and other state officials have said the trade-off for the incentives will pay off in the long run, noting that Foxconn’s presence will create thousands of other jobs through the hundreds of suppliers it will rely on for materials.
Walker said Democrats who were skeptical of the deal were “cynics.”
But the full impact of Foxconn’s planned factory may still be too early to measure, according to an economics expert at the UW-Milwaukee.
“It’s difficult to assess how this factory, if in fact it comes to be, will affect the labor market without knowing what the jobs are,” said Marc Levine, senior fellow and founding director of UWM’s Center for Economic Development.
Critics have also cautioned that Foxconn has made promises before to invest in the U.S. and not followed through. Foxconn promised in 2013, for example, to invest $30 million and hire 500 workers for a new, high-tech factory in Pennsylvania that was never built.
“So I think there’s some question about the modus operandi of Foxconn on these sorts of things,” Levine said.
NEW YORK (AP) — A Chinese billionaire who wanted to build a United Nations center in Macau was convicted on Thursday of paying more than $1.7 million in bribes to U.N. ambassadors to get it done.
The verdict was returned after a day of deliberations in Manhattan federal court against Ng Lap Seng, one of China’s richest men. Ng was convicted of bribery, conspiracy and money laundering charges.
Prosecutors presented evidence that Ng from 2010 to 2015 bribed two U.N. ambassadors, including a U.N. General Assembly president, paying one $50,000 monthly at the scheme’s peak to create a center to serve struggling Southern Hemisphere nations.
Defense lawyers contended the payments were ordinary. But the center was never built.
Ng looked at jurors as the verdict was announced but otherwise did not display emotion.
U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick tightened Ng’s bail conditions, saying he was now “literally under house arrest,” confined under $50 million bail to a luxury Manhattan apartment where he has remained for most months under 24-hour guard since his September 2015 arrest.
“He cannot leave that apartment. No ifs, ands or buts about that,” the judge said.
No sentencing date was set. Ng, 69, could face up to 65 years in prison.
Ng’s lawyer, Tai Park, did not immediately comment. After the verdict, he told the judge there were multiple avenues for appeal.
“Nothing has changed other than the presumption of innocence is no longer there,” Park said. “We’ve been preparing him for this eventuality.”
In a statement, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said Ng “corrupted the highest levels of the United Nations.”
“Through bribes and no-show jobs, Ng turned leaders of the league of nations into his private band of profiteers,” Kim said.
The United Nations said it “cooperated extensively to facilitate the proper administration of justice in this case, by disclosing thousands of documents and waiving the immunity of officials to allow them to testify at trial.”
“The organization is considering next steps as a victim of these crimes,” U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.
The verdict was a triumph for prosecutors who navigated thorny legal issues surrounding immunity given to U.N. diplomats before winning the cooperation of suspended Dominican Republic Ambassador Francis Lorenzo, who pleaded guilty to charges and testified against Ng.
Lorenzo said Ng initially paid him $20,000 a month as president of a media organization before boosting that by $30,000 a month with instructions to get Ng’s construction company named on official U.N. documents as the company that would build the Macau center.
In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Janis Echenberg said Ng paid more than $1.7 million in bribes to build a U.N. facility as big as New York’s, to create the “Geneva of Asia.” She said Ng “corrupted the United Nations.”
“Brick by brick, bribe by bribe, the defendant built the path that he thought would build his legacy,” she said.
In closing, Park derided the prosecution as “frankly outrageous.”
“It falls by its own weight,” he said. “It’s a big zero.”
He blamed the ambassadors — former U.N. General Assembly President John Ashe and Lorenzo — for manipulating Ng.
“Mr. Ng literally threw his money in every direction he was asked,” Park said.
Ashe, who was arrested in the case but was not charged with bribery, died last year in an accident at his home.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Utah man killed his wife aboard an Alaska cruise and told an acquaintance who later walked into the couple’s blood-splattered room that he did it because she laughed at him, the FBI said in documents released Thursday.
Kenneth Manzanares of Santa Clara, Utah, was charged with murder after he was found with blood on his hands and clothes, and with blood spread throughout the cabin on the Princess Cruises ship Tuesday night, according to a criminal complaint by FBI Special Agent Michael L. Watson.
Kristy Manzanares, 39, had a severe head wound, but authorities have declined to release other details in the case, including how many people were traveling with the couple on the 3,400-passenger Emerald Princess that left Sunday from Seattle.
A man and other people went into the room before medical workers and security officers had arrived and saw the woman on the floor covered in blood, according to court documents.
The man asked Manzanares what happened, and the suspect said, “‘She would not stop laughing at me,'” according to the FBI complaint.
Manzanares then grabbed his wife’s body and tried to drag her to the balcony, but the man stopped him, Watson wrote. The name of the man was not included in the complaint.
A ship security officer handcuffed Manzanares, who was held in a nearby cabin, authorities said.
While the FBI searched him, Manzanares said, “‘My life is over,'” the complaint states.
Manzanares, 39, participated in his first court appearance Thursday by teleconference from Juneau, where he is in custody.
He appeared to be crying at times before the hearing and near the start, when U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin F. McCoy began speaking.
Manzanares dabbed at his eyes and nose with tissues.
He was wearing an orange jumpsuit during the proceedings. He had his ankles shackled and was wearing slip-on shoes.
McCoy appointed assistant Federal Defender Jamie McGrady to represent Manzanares. McGrady was not at the hearing and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bail has not been set and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 10. A federal prosecutor in Juneau indicated he would seek a change of venue from Anchorage to Juneau.
Manzanares has no criminal history, according to online Utah court records.
Kristy Manzanares was a trusted adviser and valued sales associate, her employer said in a statement.
“Kristy was a dedicated and loving mother who juggled her business schedule to make her children the top priority,” the statement from Summit Sotheby’s International Realty in St. George, Utah, says.
The ship was diverted to Juneau because of the investigation, which the FBI is leading because the death occurred in U.S. waters. The ship docked Wednesday and passengers were kept on board for hours before it departed late that night for the town of Skagway.
Princess Cruises said passengers will receive $150 onboard credit because of the effect on their vacations.
“You feel sorry for the family, but a lot of people had to wait,” said Lloyd Barrows, a passenger from Alberta, Canada.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is visiting New Mexico this week as part of his nationwide tour connected to a review of 27 national monument designations. His visit comes after a media report said he told Alaska’s senators that the state’s future with the Trump administration was in jeopardy because of a vote on health care by one of the senators.
Zinke is limiting his availability to reporters and avoiding a Las Cruces, New Mexico, town hall meeting with monument designation supporters and area elected officials. His itinerary is tightly controlled and most of his activities will be away from the public eye.
“The secretary was invited to a meeting; however, he already had a scheduling conflict,” department spokeswoman Heather Swift said.
Zinke recently called Alaska’s two Republican senators to warn them of repercussions for the nation’s largest state if they failed to toe the Trump administration’s line on health care, according to a published report.
The Alaska Dispatch News reported Thursday that Zinke called Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and complained that Murkowski’s vote against proceeding on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act had put Alaska’s future with the administration in jeopardy.
Murkowski confirmed that she received a call from Zinke, but said she did not perceive the call as a threat against her or Alaska.
Zinke is scheduled Thursday to take a helicopter tour of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in southern New Mexico. After that visit, he will meet briefly with supporters and opponents and hold a quick press conference.
He is scheduled Friday to go on a private hike and meet with supporters of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico.
Zinke also is scheduled Saturday to go on a private horseback ride with Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats.
President Donald Trump ordered the review of the national monuments based on the belief that a law created by President Theodore Roosevelt allowing allows presidents to designate monuments has been improperly used to protect wide expanses of lands instead of places with particular historical or archaeological value.
Monument designations protect federal land from energy development and other activities.
A final report from Zinke is due next month. He has recommended that Bears Ears National Monument on tribal lands in southern Utah be downsized. Zinke has also said three monuments in Colorado, Idaho and Washington will be left alone.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Republican Party of New Mexico headquarters has been hit with spray paint, and officials say two protesters are responsible.
New Mexico GOP spokesman Dominic Pacheco said Thursday a receptionist saw the demonstrators paint a red “A” on the Albuquerque headquarters building sign before fleeing.
The protesters arrived Thursday afternoon and held signs accusing Republicans of promoting “hatriotism.” The two female protesters told a reporter with The Associated Press they were from the group Betsy Riot.
The group’s website says members are “neosuffragists and punk patriots” whose mission is the rescue the country from President Donald Trump. The group says it engages in “street theater, disruption, and creative acts of trumpculture sabotage.”
No arrests have been made.
Betsy Riot said in a statement the protesters used red energy drink and the “A” stood for an expletive.
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — For weeks, Native American writer Sherman Alexie has been on a book tour connected to his new, intense memoir about the dysfunctional relationship between him and his late mother.
Then, earlier this month, the 50-year-old novelist and poet abruptly announced in a social media post he was canceling the tour because of the emotional stress of reliving that relationship.
But Alexie promised to keep just a handful of engagements, and on Friday, Alexie is scheduled to speak in Santa Fe as part of a unique gathering of Native American writers. It is one of the few commitments he’s keeping follow his public, heartfelt announcement.
The Seattle-based writer is slated to address the Institute of American Indian Arts in connection with the school’s creative writing program’s summer reading series.
Jon Davis, the director of the creative writing program, said they were happy to host Alexie, who serves as a consultant.
Alexie had been on a book tour in the United States to promote the memoir, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.” He had given a number of interviews in the U.S. and Canada, and often wept when recounting his tense relationship with his late mother, a recovering alcoholic who he says likely struggled with bipolar disorder.
Earlier this month, he wrote in a Facebook post he could no longer bear the emotional toll.
“I have been sobbing many times a day during this book tour. I have sobbed in private and I have sobbed onstage,” Alexie wrote in a post that went viral. “I have been rebreaking my heart night after night. I have, to use recovery vocabulary, been retraumatizing myself.”
The Friday appearance isn’t just about Alexie, organizers of the summer reading series say. He will be reading with two up-and-coming Native American writers — novelist Tommy Orange and memoirist Terese Mailhot.
The Low Residency Master of Fine Arts creative writing program at the Institute of American Indian Arts is now in its fourth year and has been supported by Alexie. The program allows graduate students the flexibility for campus instruction for weeks at a time.
The school’s summer reading series attracts some of the nation’s top Native American writers as readers and summer teachers. Alaska Native poet Joan Naviyuk Kane, for example, was among this year’s guests.
GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — The Gallup City Council has passed an ordinance limiting the timeframe that takeout alcohol can be purchased within city limits.
Alcohol not being consumed at an establishment such as a bar or that is packaged to be taken out of the establishment can only be purchased from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. effective August 24.
The Gallup Independent reports (http://bit.ly/2o70OE6) that City Attorney George Kozeliski says the ordinance is aimed at giving police officers a chance to “catch their breath.”
The purchase timeframe was cut by three hours, which is the maximum amount of time Class B counties are allowed to limit sales per a bill signed in March by Gov. Susana Martinez.
Gallup Police Department Deputy Chief Franklin Boyd says pushing the hours back will provide “tremendous relief.”
PORTALES, N.M. (AP) — A day care worker who is accused of leaving two toddlers in a hot car for over an hour said she found the children after she went back to fetch paperwork, court records showed.
Sandi Taylor, 31, and her mother Mary Taylor, 62, were charged with child abuse after a 22-month-old toddler died and another girl was in critical condition and unresponsive at a hospital, the Eastern New Mexico News reported Thursday (http://bit.ly/2w3XJIs).
The women operated a home day care in Portales, in eastern New Mexico. The Taylors left Maliyah Jones and Aubrianna Loya in the car after returning from lunch at a park with 10 other children Tuesday, according to an affidavit for arrest warrant. The two could not get out of their car seats without assistance.
About an hour and half later, Sandi Taylor returned to car to look for documents requested by the Child, Youth and Families Department and found Loya “slumped over toward the door”, the document said.
The day care has since remained close and will not remain, said Sandi Taylor’s brother, Mark Jones.
“We feel the loss, too,” he said. “We’re mourning, too. It’s just a horrible accident and I don’t know where we go from here.”
The temperature in Portales on Tuesday, the day the girls were left in the car, hit the mid-90s, according to the National Weather Service. Research meteorologist Jan Null said the temperature inside the car could have reached 135 degrees in an hour. People can suffer clinical heat stroke at a body temperature of 104 degrees and can die after a having a 107 degrees body temperature, according to Null.
Jones’ cousin, Janet Bradley described the young girl as a bright, sweet and happy child. She would have turned 2 in September.
Jones’ mother had Portales last fall for a job, and researched day care facilities for several weeks before deciding that her daughter would be well taken care of at Taylor Tots, Bradley said.
“No one expects to drop a child off and go to work and get called and told your child will be fighting for her life and then pass away …,” she said. “This is heartbreaking for all of us. It’s just a horrible thing that happened due to someone’s neglect and stupidity.”
Loya was breathing on her own as of Wednesday, but remained unresponsive and in critical condition, according to her family. She is under the age of 3.