- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 9, 2017

SOCCER

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) - North America will move closer to securing the 2026 World Cup when the FIFA Council is expected to approve plans for an accelerated bidding process on Tuesday.

World soccer’s 211-strong membership will then be asked on Thursday to rubber-stamp a proposal to confirm the United States, Canada, and Mexico as co-hosts by June 2018, if they meet the FIFA requirements.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino told The Associated Press it’s an “interesting, original proposal and we will discuss it tomorrow at the council and present the recommendation to the congress.”

By avoiding a contest, the bidding process should be resistant to the allegations of wrongdoing that have tainted recent votes.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

High school seniors can now sign football letters of intent in December in addition to the traditional signing period that starts the first Wednesday of February.

The Collegiate Commissioners Association announced its approval of the new signing period, the last step in the process of implementing a package of reforms passed by the NCAA in April. The CCA administers the national letter of intent and therefore had final say in whether to adopt the early signing period. Approval was expected as some of the conference commissioners were also involved in crafting and pushing for the recruiting reforms.

College football’s first early signing period is scheduled for Dec. 20-22, 2017, coinciding with the first three days of the initial date of the football midyear junior college transfer NLI signing period.

The early letter-of-intent signing period is part of comprehensive legislation that also permits high school juniors to take official visits from April through June and imposes a two-year waiting period before FBS schools can hire people close to recruits to non-coaching positions. The reforms also put restrictions on where and when Division I coaches can participate in summer camps and increases the number of on-field assistants in football from nine to 10, effective in January.

BASEBALL

ATLANTA (AP) - The Braves have released former National League MVP Ryan Howard from his minor league contract after he struggled at Triple-A Gwinnett.

Atlanta signed Howard, a longtime star with the Philadelphia Phillies, shortly after the season began. He went to extended spring training in Florida before joining the G-Braves a couple of weeks ago.

He lasted only 11 games. Howard was released after hitting .184 with one homer and five RBIs.

The Braves were hoping Howard could bolster an anemic bench and serve as designated hitter for interleague games. But his options were limited since he can only play first base and Atlanta already has Freddie Freeman.

Going in a different direction, the Braves completed a deal with Minnesota for utility player Danny Santana. The Twins received left-handed reliever Kevin Chapman and cash considerations.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon underwent surgery for suspected testicular cancer. The right-hander had the surgery at Allegheny General Hospital.

After alerting the team’s medical staff of an abnormality, Taillon, 26, consulted with Dr. John C. Lyne during the weekend. Lyne performed the surgery.

The recommended treatment plan for Taillon is pending further testing. Taillon remains on the 10-day disabled list.

“Today I lost a piece of my ‘manhood,’” Taillon said in a statement posted to his Twitter account. “But today I’m feeling like more of a man than I ever have. My journey hasn’t been the smoothest. But it is my journey and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

NEW YORK (AP) - Matt Harvey is to rejoin the New York Mets’ rotation Friday at Milwaukee after serving a three-day suspension for not showing up at Citi Field for a game last weekend.

Mets manager Terry Collins made the announcement a day after the team made public the discipline for the 28-year-old pitcher.

Collins says Harvey will return to the Mets on Tuesday and it is up to the pitcher whether to address teammates as a group or individually.

The suspension is costing Harvey $84,016 of his $5,125,000 salary. Collins says he expects Harvey’s agent, Scott Boras, to challenge the discipline.

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A preliminary timeline for the proposed stadium that would be home to the Raiders in Las Vegas shows construction would be finished only three months before the 2020 regular season begins.

The draft of the timeline made public Monday by the Las Vegas Stadium Authority shows construction on the proposed 65,000-seat stadium would begin in January and last 30 months, giving the team three months to move in.

Members of the board overseeing the $1.9 billion project are expected to discuss the preliminary timeline during their regularly scheduled meeting Thursday. The Raiders did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

The NFL’s newest stadium took two-and-a-half years to complete. The first Minnesota Vikings preseason game at the venue took place in August.


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