President lauds sports leagues, players in handling of coronavirus
UNDATED (AP) — The White House says the president spoke with commissioners of the country’s sports leagues in a conference call Saturday and told them he recognizes “the good work being done by many teams and players” to care for their communities and fans dealing with the new coronavirus.
The White House says the commissioners thanked the president for his “national leadership and for his interest in the sports industry.” He called on them to continue efforts to support their fellow Americans during the current challenge. A wide range of sports league officials participated in the call, including NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
None of the leagues released public comment about the call.
A person with direct knowledge of what was discussed on the call said Trump believes the NFL season will start on time on Sept. 10 with fans in seats.
In other news related to the coronavirus pandemic:
— The president is reassuring Little League baseball players that they should be playing the game again soon. Little League president and CEO Stephen Keener reassured that the players would be back soon. Little League has suspended activities until mid-May, when the situation will be assessed, according to its website.
— The Spanish league and players are still far apart on the size of the salary cuts. The league is trying to reduce the financial impact caused by the outbreak, but players say the organization wants them to carry nearly half the total losses. The league and the players' association have been in talks to try to find ways to mitigate losses that could reach about $1.08 billion if the season cannot be restarted because of the pandemic. Players have said they are willing to reduce their salaries, but not as much as the league or the clubs want.
— English Premier League soccer players have rejected a move by clubs to cut their wages by 30% during the coronavirus pandemic. The stance from the union followed talks involving clubs and the leagues. Liverpool and fellow 2019 Champions League finalist Tottenham have announced that some non-playing staff will be furloughed since the competition has been indefinitely suspended.
BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME
Kobe, Duncan, Garnett headline Basketball Hall of Fame class
UNDATED (AP) — Kobe Bryant’s resume has yet another entry to prove his greatness. He’s now officially a Hall of Famer.
Bryant and fellow NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headline a nine-person group announced Saturday of this year’s class of enshrinees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. They got into the Hall in their first year of eligibility, as did WNBA great Tamika Catchings.
Two-time NBA champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich (tahm-JAHN'-oh-vich), longtime Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, 1,000-game winner Barbara Stevens of Bentley and three-time Final Four coach Eddie Sutton were also selected.
All eight finalists who were announced in February were chosen to get in by the panel of 24 voters.
Former FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann is also headed to the Hall. He was selected as a direct-elect by the international committee.
McLaughlin wins virtual IndyCar event racing from Australia
UNDATED (AP) — Australian V8 SuperCars champion Scott McLaughlin has won IndyCar’s second virtual race.
McLaughlin and NASCAR’s seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson were invited guests by IndyCar to participate in the iRacing Series meant to entertain fans during the stoppage due to the coronavirus. He beat Team Penske teammate and fellow Aussie Will Power in Saturday’s race from virtual Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama.
McLaughlin was scheduled to make his IndyCar debut for Team Penske on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May before the race was postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Hacker posts racial slur on fan chat with black NHL player
NEW YORK (AP) — A hacker posted a racial slur hundreds of times in an online fan video chat Friday with a black New York Rangers prospect.
The NHL team scrambled to disable the hacker on the Zoom chat with K’Andre Miller, the 20-year-old former Wisconsin defenseman drafted No. 22 overall in 2018. The hacker repeatedly posted the one-word slur in all capital letters on the Rangers' “Future Fridays” series on Twitter.
The Rangers said in a statement that “a vile individual hijacked the chat to post racial slurs, which we disabled as soon as possible." The team said it is investigating the matter.
The NHL also released a statement condemning the hack, saying “No one deserves to be subjected to such ugly treatment and it will not be tolerated in our league.”
Ex-Honduran leader caught in FIFA scandal dies in U.S.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — A former president of Honduras convicted in the FIFA soccer bribery scandal has died in the United States. Rafael Callejas governed Honduras from 1990 to 1994, but he was better known for soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in the wide-ranging FIFA soccer scandal over lucrative broadcast rights. The 76-year-old Callejas pleaded guilty in 2016 and was reportedly being held at a prison in Atlanta when he died Saturday.
He pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy in a New York federal court. He said he distributed a significant portion of his bribes to delegates of the Honduran soccer federation so he could remain its president, a position he held from 2002 to last August.