Report: 2018 cup to be in Europe no matter what
LONDON — FIFA, soccer's world governing body, has told non-European nations hoping to host the World Cup to drop out of the 2018 bidding and focus on 2022, Bloomberg reported.
That would leave England, Russia and joint efforts from Spain and Portugal and Holland and Belgium for 2018. The United States, Australia and Japan are bidding for both, which are being awarded in December.
FIFA declined comment. David Downs, executive director of the U.S. bid committee, said he isn't aware of "official" word on the bids.
The World Cup never has been held outside of Europe two straight times. After being held in Germany in 2006, it's in South Africa this year and Brazil in 2014.
MLS: The collective bargaining agreement expired after players balked at a third extension. Players said they won't strike yet, but union leader Bob Foose said, "All options are being considered." League president Mark Abbott said last week there are no plans for a lockout, and he's prepared to start the season under the previous contract. Players want free agent rights and more guaranteed contracts.
Big finish helps get Djokovic into semis
Novak Djokovic beat Ivan Ljubicic 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 to reach the semis at the Dubai Championships in the United Arab Emirates. He won the final eight games and faces Marcos Baghdatis, who beat Michael Berrer 7-6 (7-5), 6-1. Jurgen Melzer faces Mikhail Youzhny in the other semi.
Mexican Open: Venus Williams trailed 5-1 in the third before beating Laura Pous Tio (ranked No. 399 in the world) 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in Acapulco. She faces Edina Gallovits in the semis while Polona Hercog faces Carla Suarez Navarro.
Delray Beach International: Tampa residents Mardy Fish and James Blake reached the quarterfinals. Fish, the defending champion, beat Mischa Zverev 6-2, 6-4 and faces Jeremy Chardy. Blake beat Robin Haase 6-3, 6-1 and faces Ivo Karlovic.
Touted QB leaves Auburn for I-AA
The father of QB Tyrik Rollison said the redshirt freshman will transfer from Auburn to I-AA Sam Houston State. The touted recruit was expected to compete for the starting job. But he was suspended before the Outback Bowl. And in December, Auburn signed former Gators QB Cameron Newton.
More football: Three Michigan State players pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault related to a Nov. 22 fight with frat members: DT Oren Wilson (two counts) and DB Chris Rucker and WR Myles White (one). Conspiracy charges were dropped. All 11 current or former players charged pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
Swimming: Megan Romano, a star at St. Petersburg's Northeast High, was named first-team All-SEC. As a freshman for Georgia at last weekend's conference meet, she finished third in the 100-yard back and fifth in the 100 free and was part of three relays that finished among the top three.
WNBA: Dan Hughes, the only coach to take three different teams to the playoffs, resigned as San Antonio's coach to focus on his GM duties. Sandy Brondello, an assistant since 2005, takes over and will be assisted by husband Olaf Lange.
Greyhounds: Bow Tie Brigade and Deco Bull Rum drew No. 1 boxes for Saturday's third qualifying round of the Sprint Classic at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg.
Don Jensen, Times correspondent; Times wires