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P.S.G. President, Nasser al-Khelaifi, Is Charged in Soccer Scheme



LONDON — Swiss prosecutors on Thursday charged Nasser al-Khelaifi, a Qatari businessman who is one of the most prominent figures in soccer, with inciting a former secretary general at FIFA to break the law and the official, Jérôme Valcke, with accepting bribes and criminal mismanagement.

The charges came more than two years after the Swiss authorities announced they had begun an investigation into lucrative World Cup television rights that were secured by BeIN, the Qatar-based broadcaster run by al-Khelaifi. The television broadcaster has been one of the world’s biggest buyers of sports content for much of the past decade.

In that time, al-Khelaifi’s profile and importance in soccer have grown to make him among the most important figures in the industry. Al-Khelaifi not only presides over BeIN; he is also the president of Paris St.-Germain, France’s powerhouse soccer team, and sits on the boards of European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, and an alliance of the Continent’s top clubs, the European Clubs Association.

A more serious bribery charge was dropped after al-Khelaifi struck an out-of-court agreement with FIFA, soccer’s global governing body.

In the charging statement provided by the office of the Swiss attorney general, al-Khelaifi and a third unidentified man were accused of inciting Valcke to commit aggravated “criminal mismanagement” by providing him with “undue advantages.”

According to the indictment, the charges against al-Khelaifi stem from the purchase of a luxury villa on the Italian island of Sardinia that he made available to Valcke while Valcke was the No. 2 official at FIFA. The court estimated the cost of allowing Valcke to occupy the property rent free for 18 months was as much as 1.8 million euros, or $1.9 million.

Valcke, who in his FIFA post was responsible for the World Cup, faces far more serious charges. A Frenchman, Valcke has been out of the public eye since leaving FIFA in disgrace in 2015, is also accused of accepting bribes and falsifying documents.

The bribery charges against Valcke and the third man are related to the awarding of broadcast rights to the World Cup and other FIFA tournaments in Italy and Greece through 2030, according to the indictment.

According to people familiar with the case and an official document, the third man is Konstantinos Nteris, the chief executive of TAF Sports, a Greek sports marketing company that secured rights in Greece and Italy for FIFA tournaments.

Nteris, who is referred to in the indictment documents as “the third accused,” is said to have made three payments totaling €1.25 million, according to the charging document.

When called for comment, an official at TAF Sports said Nteris, who is more commonly known as Dino Deris, was not available. A spokesman for the Swiss attorney general’s office said it had not released the name of the third defendant in line with Switzerland’s criminal code.

The al-Khelaifi episode has been hugely embarrassing for UEFA, which faced regular questioning about how al-Khelaifi could remain on its board while he was under criminal investigation. He has been charged in a separate bribery case by prosecutors in France.

UEFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But its president, Aleksander Ceferin, and Andrea Agnelli, who leads the clubs’ association, have both previously backed al-Khelaifi.

The indictment also said that FIFA, which will hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, had reached an unspecified “amicable agreement” with al-Khelaifi to drop a complaint related to accusations of bribery linked to the awarding of media rights to BeIN for the 2026 and 2030 World Cup tournaments, which were secured by the Qatari broadcaster at the same time that Valcke was offered use of the villa in Sardinia.


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A Triple Crown Hopeful Emerges and Athlete Workouts Get a J. Lo Cameo



The day in (no) sports includes (some) sports, as horse racing preps for a Triple Crown like no other. Elsewhere, athletes improvised workouts and enlisted workout partners, including a special appearance by J. Lo.

If you didn’t look too closely, the Florida Derby on Saturday was like a regular Florida Derby. Tiz the Law, the favorite after winning the Holy Bull Stakes in February, sat just off the pace, took the lead at the top of the stretch and pulled away for a comfortable victory.

But a closer look revealed some irregularities. The grandstand was not full of fans; just a handful of people watched along the rail, a reasonable social distance apart. The news media, and even the horse owners, were barred from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla.

As with most Florida Derby winners, like Spectacular Bid, Barbaro and Maximum Security last year, Tiz the Law was immediately hailed as a Kentucky Derby favorite.

But the Kentucky Derby won’t be run on the first Saturday in May this year; it has been rescheduled for Sept. 5. Tiz the Law’s owner, Sackatoga Stable, which owned the 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide, has to find a new schedule to get its colt to the race in top form.

The Preakness, originally set for two weeks after the Derby, has been postponed, possibly also to September. The Belmont is still on the calendar for June 6, but given the state of sports, and the world, a postponement seems quite likely. If not, it may suddenly become the first leg of the Triple Crown, fully three months before the other two are run.

Just finding races at all for Tiz the Law may be difficult. The three biggest racing jurisdictions, Southern California, Kentucky and New York, are currently shut down. That leaves Florida, Arkansas and a few other tracks in the United States, for now.

“Maybe we can do a Travers-Derby double,” the horse owner Jack Knowlton told The Associated Press, referring to the late August race at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. “Right now it’s a blank slate. Nobody knows what’s going to happen, where or when, with all that’s going on in the country.”

With no teammates to throw to, Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole instead paired up with his wife, Amy, for a game of catch in their backyard. Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo made a makeshift batting cage in his living room so he could take swings off a tee, joking that his neighbors were going to hate him by the end of his quarantine. The Mets’ Dominic Smith, meanwhile, is using dry swings and visualization to keep his mind sharp, paired with the occasional video game workout.

Max Domi, the Montreal Canadiens center, is working on his dribbling skills while balancing on an exercise ball. Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner is tossing logs for his workout. DANIELLE ALLENTUCK

Some of us have reached the stage of confinement where social media is a lifeline to the rest of the world. And forgive us if some of the time we steer away from the frightening coronavirus news and try to find a smile or two.

For star power, it’s hard to top the double whammy of the affianced Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez playing baseball with her daughter, Emme.

In answer to the burning question, yeah, Lopez throws and catches darn well, although the editor of the video kept in one toss that wound up in the hedges.

Some athletes were using their platforms to take a stand. The Super Bowl-winning quarterback Kurt Warner wondered on Monday why some colleges were bringing athletes back for workouts.

And Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem, a Miami native, in a strongly worded article on The Players’ Tribune, scolded well-off college students who were insisting on going to Florida for spring break despite the virus.

“This moment we’re in … it’s not about you. It’s not about your spring break, or the way you wanna live your life. It’s like, yeah, trust me, bro — I wanna chill, too.”

“But this ain’t about me. It ain’t about you. This thing is about us.”


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Dave Edwards, College Basketball Assist Wizard, Dies at 48



This obituary is part of a series about people who died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Dave Edwards grew up in New York City public housing and played in Harlem’s Rucker Park, a spawning ground of basketball greats. He graduated from Andrew Jackson High School in Queens and became a record-breaking, crowd-pleasing point guard for Georgetown and Texas A&M., which announced his death on Monday in Queens.

Mr. Edwards was 48. His family said he had been in good health and had no idea how he contracted the virus.

A street-smart kid with something to prove, Mr. Edwards acknowledged in an interview with The New York Times that his demeanor had caused some people to doubt him.

“I’m cocky, I don’t back down,” he said. “That’s the way I was brought up. I come from a strong family. People talked about my height, my S.A.T. scores. They thought I was dealing drugs because I was living in the projects.”

David Edwards Jr. was born on Dec. 2, 1971, in Richmond, Va., to Paula and David Edwards and moved to New York before high school. At 5-foot-10, he was a star early on, averaging 41 points a game at Andrew Jackson, a New York City record.

He played freshman year at Georgetown, where he scored only two points in his first game, but notched 14 assists — the third highest in the school’s history until then. He played in all 31 games that season, scoring an average of 5.4 points a game.

Differences with the coach (Georgetown’s strategy favored taller players and discipline, rather than playground dazzle) prompted him to transfer to Texas A&M, where his 265 assists as a senior in 1993-1994 remains an Aggies record. He averaged 13.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game that season, ranking second in assists nationally.

Mr. Edwards became one of six Division I players in 1994 to have recorded a triple-double (10 or more in three of five categories — points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots — in a single game). He was named to the all-Southwest Conference team for all three seasons of his Texas A&M career, scoring a total of 1,167 points or 13.5 per game. His school career record of 602 assists and 228 steals stood until 2016.

After college, he played for professional teams in Lithuania and Iceland. Most recently, he was the recreation manager for Elmcor Youth and Services Activities, a community service organization. He coached basketball there and at The Mary Louis Academy, both in Queens.

He is survived by his sons, David and Corey, and his longtime companion, Phenrisa Gilliam.

Mr. Edwards was also part of a basketball dynasty. His father, also named Dave, was a three-time captain at Virginia Commonwealth in the 1970s. His son, Corey, played for George Mason University and is a coach at Monteverde Academy in Florida.


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Tokyo Olympics Rescheduled for July 23-Aug. 8 in 2021 – NBC Chicago



The Tokyo Olympics will open next year in the same time slot scheduled for this year’s games.

Tokyo organizers said Monday the opening ceremony will take place on July 23, 2021 — almost exactly one year after the games were due to start this year.

“The schedule for the games is key to preparing for the games,” Tokyo organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said. “This will only accelerate our progress.”

Last week, the IOC and Japanese organizers postponed the Olympics until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s games were scheduled to open on July 24 and close on Aug. 9. But the near exact one-year delay will see the rescheduled closing ceremony on Aug. 8.

Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori officially announced the summer games would be postponed until 2021.

There had been talk of switching the Olympics to spring, a move that would coincide with the blooming of Japan’s famous cherry blossoms. But it would also clash with European soccer and North American sports leagues.

After holding out for weeks, local organizers and the IOC last week postponed the Tokyo Games under pressure from athletes, national Olympic bodies and sports federations. It’s the first postponement in Olympic history, though there were several cancellations during wartime.

The Paralympics were rescheduled to Aug. 24-Sept. 5.

Both Mori and CEO Toshiro Muto have said the cost of rescheduling will be “massive” — local reports estimate billions of dollars — with most of the expenses borne by Japanese taxpayers.

Muto promised transparency in calculating the costs, and testing times deciding how they are divided up.

“Since it (the Olympics) were scheduled for this summer, all the venues had given up hosting any other events during this time, so how do we approach that?” Muto asked. “In addition, there will need to be guarantees when we book the new dates, and there is a possibility this will incur rent payments. So there will be costs incurred and we will need to consider them one by one. I think that will be the tougher process.”

Athletes dedicate their lives for a chance to participate in the Olympic Games but the coronavirus has thrown a wrench into everyone’s lives, including Olympic athletes. Team USA Karate athlete Sakura Kokumai shares her feelings after the International Olympic Committee made the decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics until 2021.

Katsuhiro Miyamoto, an emeritus professor of sports economics at Kansai University, puts the costs as high as $4 billion. That would cover the price of maintaining stadiums, refitting them, paying rentals, penalties and other expenses.

Japan is officially spending $12.6 billion to organize the Olympics. However, an audit bureau of the Japanese government says the costs are twice that much. All of the spending is public money except $5.6 billion from a privately funded operating budget.

The Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee is contributing $1.3 billion, according to organizing committee documents. The IOC’s contribution goes into the operating budget.

Bach has repeatedly called the Tokyo Olympics the best prepared in history. However, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso also termed them “cursed.” Aso competed in shooting in the 1976 Olympics, and was born in 1940.

The Olympics planned for 1940 in Tokyo were canceled because of World War II.

The run-up to the Olympics also saw IOC member Tsunekazu Takeda, who also headed the Japanese Olympic Committee, forced to resign last year amid a bribery scandal.


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