- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

MADRID (AP) - Spanish tax authorities say they are investigating allegations of tax irregularities involving soccer player Lionel Messi after documents released by an international probe of offshore accounts.

Messi’s family released a statement denying wrongdoing and threatened to sue media outlets that released the information linking the Argentine player to accounts in Panama.

The Barcelona star was among those named in reports by international media who received a vast trove of data and documents leaked from a law firm based in Panama.

Last year, Spanish authorities charged Messi and his father with three counts of tax fraud for allegedly defrauding Spain’s tax office of 4.1 million euros ($4.4 million) in unpaid taxes from 2007-09. They will stand trial in late May and face nearly two years in prison if found guilty.

GENEVA (AP) - A FIFA judge who helped ban Sepp Blatter for financial misconduct is now under investigation by his ethics committee colleagues after being named in an international probe of offshore accounts.

The FIFA ethics prosecution chamber said that it “opened a preliminary investigation to review the allegations” linked to lawyer Juan Pedro Damiani of Uruguay.

Damiani was identified in reports Sunday by international media who received a vast trove of data and documents leaked from a law firm based in Panama. The firm, Mossack Fonseca, specializes in creating offshore accounts which can be used to avoid tax.

He heads his family’s legal and accountancy practice in Montevideo founded by his late father, Jose Pedro Damiani.


HOUSTON (AP) - Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming, Sheryl Swoopes, Tom Izzo and Jerry Reinsdorf have been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The announcement was made Monday hours before the NCAA Tournament championship game between North Carolina and Villanova.

Iverson was named the NBA rookie of the year in 1996-97 and was an 11-time All-Star. O’Neal, the top overall pick in the 1992 draft, was the NBA MVP in 2000, a three-time NBA Finals MVP and 15-time All-Star. Yao, the top overall pick in 2002, was an eight-time All-Star.

Swoopes helped Texas Tech to a national title, won four titles with the Houston Comets, was a three-time WNBA MVP and won three Olympic gold medals.

Izzo, Michigan’s State coach, won a national title in 2000 and has taken the Spartans to the Final Four seven times.

Reinsdorf has been the owner of the Chicago Bulls and White Sox for more than two decades.


Arizona guard Allonzo Trier is returning for his sophomore season.

The talented 6-foot-6 guard was projected as a late first-round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, but opted to stay at Arizona. The school announced his decision.

A highly touted recruit from Seattle, Trier was Arizona’s third-leading scorer with 14.8 points per game, with a high of 27 against Fresno State on Dec. 9. He missed seven games with a broken right hand.

Trier’s return will be a huge boost for the Wildcats with leaders Kaleb Tarczewski and Gabe York graduating.

He will help give Arizona a formidable backcourt with redshirt freshman Ray Smith, who missed the 2015-16 season with a torn ACL, and the additions of five-star guards Kobi Simmons and Rawle Alkins.


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Authorities in Alaska were investigating after a female competitor in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race said two men on snowmobiles groped her as her mushing team passed by.

Alaska State Troopers were looking into the March 13 incident as harassment for now, Trooper James Lester said. The 27-year-old rookie musher reported the groping at the checkpoint in the village of Nulato, almost 350 miles from the Nome finish line.

The incident happened a day after a man on a snowmobile intentionally drove into two top Iditarod teams, killing one dog and injuring others, authorities say.

Lester said he has been trying to contact the rookie musher and has not interviewed her yet. The woman, who went on to complete the 1,000-mile race, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment by The Associated Press on Monday.

The AP generally does not name people who may have been a victim of a sex crime.


NEW YORK (AP) - Twenty-three Cubans were on opening day major league rosters following a series of high-profile defections, an increase of five over last year and the most since the commissioner’s office began releasing data in 1995.

Major League Baseball said that 238 of 864 players on opening day rosters, disabled lists and the restricted list were born outside the 50 states, with the percentage rising to 27.5 percent from 26.5 percent.

The percentage is the highest since 2013’s of 28.2; the high of 29.2 was set in 2005.

The Dominican Republic led with 82, followed by Venezuela with 63 and Cuba. Puerto Rico was next with 17, its most since 2011, and was followed by Mexico (12), Japan and South Korea (eight each). South Korea’s previous high was five.

Canada had six, Panama four, Colombia and Curacao three each, and Brazil and Taiwan two apiece.


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had surgery to remove a blood clot from near his right collarbone and is expected to miss 1 to 3 months.

The two-hour procedure was performed by Dr. Karl Illig in Tampa.

Illig said in a statement released by the team: “Everything went as expected for Steven. We plan to re-evaluate him in about two weeks and we should know more about his prognosis at that time.”

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman announced Saturday that Stamkos had tingling and swelling following a game Thursday and it was determined that he had vascular thoracic outlet syndrome.

The Lightning need just one point Monday night against the New York Islanders to clinch a playoff spot,

Stamkos has 36 goals and 64 points in 77 games.

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