FIFA rejects calls to strip Russia of World Cup
Soccer • FIFA rejected calls to move the 2018 World Cup from Russia, saying the tournament "can achieve positive change."
Some lawmakers in Germany want the hosting rights reviewed because of Russia’s alleged involvement in shooting down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine last week.
Political pressure on Russia increased Friday when the European Union sought to freeze assets and restrict travel for more individuals and businesses.
FIFA said in a statement it "deplores any form of violence" but questions the purpose of relocating the showcase tournament.
"History has shown so far that boycotting sport events or a policy of isolation or confrontation are not the most effective ways to solve problems," FIFA said, adding that global attention on the World Cup "can be a powerful catalyst for constructive dialogue between people and governments."
The conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russia separatist rebels escalated days after the World Cup ended in Brazil. On July 13 in Rio de Janeiro, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a World Cup handover ceremony with Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff. Both then sat next to FIFA President Sepp Blatter to watch the final at the Maracana Stadium, won by Germany.
Striker Drogba returns to Chelsea
soccer • Didier Drogba rejoined Chelsea on Friday, reuniting one of the sport’s most theatrical characters with flamboyant manager Jose Mourinho. The 36-year-old Ivory Coast striker, who was a free agent after stints with China’s Shanghai Shenhua and Turkey’s Galatasaray, signed a season-long deal with the Premier League club. With the last kick with the club in May 2012, Drogba won the Champions League title for Chelsea, scoring the decisive penalty in the shootout against Bayern Munich.
Mourinho, who was away from Chelsea from 2007-13, is reshaping the team after failing to win a trophy in his first season back at Stamford Bridge.
Isner, Sock reach Atlanta semifinals
tennis • Top-seeded defending champion John Isner and Jack Sock each rallied from early deficits to set up an all-America semifinal in the Atlanta Open. Isner beat Marinko Matosevic 7-6 (8), 6-4 . Sock later topped Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko, 7-6 (6), 6-2. Germany’s Ben Becker beat Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker 6-4, 6-2, and will face either Israel’s Dudi Sela or Canada’s Vasek Pospisil of Canada.
From wire reports