Monday, November 20, 2017

Tuesday's Sports in Brief

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PRO FOOTBALL

Papa John's is apologizing for comments made by CEO John Schnatter blaming sluggish pizza sales on NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

Papa John's is a major NFL sponsor and advertiser, and Schnatter said on an earnings call Nov. 1 that "NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders" and that the protests "should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago."

The company tweeted a statement saying "the statements made on our earnings call were describing factors that impact our business and we sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive." Papa John's also says the company supports the "players' movement to create a new platform for change" and that it is "open to ideas from all. Except neo-nazis."

The company's stock has fallen by nearly 13 percent since Schnatter's comments.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

LOS ANGELES (AP) Three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting returned home, where they may be disciplined by the school as a result of the international scandal.

Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley arrived at Los Angeles International Airport after a 12-hour flight from Shanghai. They ignored reporters' shouted questions while making their way through a horde of media outside and getting into a van that took off from the departure level.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said the matter "has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities."

The players were detained in Hangzhou for questioning following allegations of shoplifting last week before the 23rd-ranked Bruins beat Georgia Tech in their season-opening game in Shanghai as part of the Pac-12 China game. The rest of the UCLA team returned home last Saturday.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Alabama and Clemson are back on top of the College Football Playoff rankings, the ninth time over the last three seasons that the Crimson Tide and Tigers have held the first two spots in some order.

Alabama was the selection committee's new No. 1 on Tuesday night, with Clemson up two spots to No. 2. Miami and Oklahoma followed, joining the top four for the first time this season. Wisconsin was fifth and Auburn was up to sixth.

Alabama and Clemson have met in the last two national championship games, with each winning one. If they win out, there is good chance they could enter the postseason positioned to make it three straight title game matchups.

The Crimson Tide had been second behind Georgia in the first two selection committee rankings, but the Bulldogs and previously No. 3 Notre Dame were beaten last weekend, opening up the top for changes.

SOCCER

NEW YORK (AP) Fox Sports partnered with a South American marketing firm to make millions of dollars in bribes to high-ranking soccer officials in exchange for lucrative broadcasting rights to major tournaments, the marketing company's former CEO testified at a U.S. corruption trial.

Alejandro Burzaco, former CEO of the firm based in Argentina, testified that Fox and other broadcasters were involved in a scheme to pay bribes concealed using offshore side entities and sham contracts that secured rights for the Copa America and other events.

As evidence of the scheme, prosecutors at the trial at a federal court in New York City produced a 2008 agreement for the partnership to pay $3.7 million to a holding company in Turks and Caicos that was an alleged conduit for the bribes. They say it was signed by a former Fox executive.

Asked whom he kept informed about the bribe arrangements, Burzaco responded, "Fox Pan American Sports. Fox Sports."

Through the bribes, the network "gained leverage and rights to broadcast its signal to Argentina" and other parts of the world, he added.

Fox Sports denied any involvement in bribery in a statement. The statement said Burzaco's company was a subsidiary of Fox Pan American Sports, which at the time was under the control of a private-equity firm.

BASEBALL

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) Bobby Doerr, the Hall of Fame second baseman dubbed the "Silent Captain" of the Boston Red Sox by longtime teammate and friend Ted Williams, has died. He was 99.

Doerr died on Monday in Junction City, Oregon, the Red Sox said in a statement. The Red Sox said Doerr had been the oldest living major league player.

"Bobby Doerr was part of an era of baseball giants and still stood out as one himself," Red Sox owner John Henry said. "And even with his Hall of Fame achievements at second base, his character and personality outshined it all."

Signed out of the old Pacific Coast League on the same scouting trip that brought Williams to Fenway Park, Doerr played 14 seasons with the Red Sox and joined his fishing buddy in the Hall of Fame in 1986. He had a .288 lifetime average and helped the Red Sox to the 1946 World Series.

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