Swiss prosecutor cleared in FIFA probe, to leave job

ZURICH (Reuters) – A top Swiss federal prosecutor has been cleared of wrongdoing after being suspended amid questions about his conduct during investigations into suspected corruption surrounding world soccer body FIFA, a special prosecutor in Zurich said on Friday.

Olivier Thormann will nevertheless leave his job as head of the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) white-collar crimes unit, the OAG said.

Ulrich Weder, a Zurich prosecutor who had been appointed to investigate, confirmed that his probe into Thormann’s behavior had been dropped.

Since taking up his investigation, Weder had looked into possible secrecy violations, favoritism, bribery and accepting benefits, but found Thormann had done nothing wrong.

“The initial suspicion was undermined by the investigation, rather than being substantiated,” Weder said, adding his probe against Thormann has been “completely closed”.

In a subsequent statement, the OAG said Attorney General Michael Lauber and Thormann had agreed Thormann would leave. It thanked him for his work in helping his unit fight international corruption, money laundering and other economic crime.

Thormann had been suspended after Lauber in late September received allegations against him involving the OAG’s criminal proceedings in the field of soccer and its governing body FIFA.

Initially, Lauber’s office raised concern that the allegations “may be of criminal relevance”, but Weder said that was not the case.

So far, more than 40 entities and individuals have been charged by U.S. prosecutors in connection with the FIFA investigation. The Swiss OAG has filed no charges in its investigations to date.

Thormann’s suspension was not linked to two meetings between leaders of the OAG and FIFA that became public following publication of the so-called “Football Leaks” earlier this month, the OAG has said.

Thormann’s economic crimes division has been investigating many high-profile cases, including scandals surrounding Malaysian state fund 1MDB and Brazilian energy group Petrobras.

Reporting by John Miller; Editing by John O’Brien and Toby Davis

Golf: Wallace takes narrow lead in Dubai, Fleetwood stays in contention

(Reuters) – England’s Matt Wallace carded a blemish-free seven-under-par 65 to take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship on Friday, while Tommy Fleetwood improved his hopes of winning the Race to Dubai title.

Wallace, chasing a fourth European Tour title victory of a remarkable season, started the day with back-to-back birdies to grab a share of the lead alongside overnight pace setters Adrian Otaegui and Jordan Smith.

The Made in Denmark champion looked in complete control when he sank three birdies in four holes from the 11th to set the clubhouse target at 11-under overall at the halfway stage.

A win on Sunday could make Wallace the 14th player to win four events in a single European Tour season and the first since Alex Noren in 2016.

“I’m playing with freedom now and trying to place as high as I possibly can come the back nine holes on Sunday,” Wallace said.

“That’s when I normally will try and kick in and want to win a tournament, depending on where I am.

“I’ve been in this situation before, just not in this sort of tournament. The best players are out there in the world and I just want to compete and see where my game is at against them.”

Fleetwood’s hopes of finishing at the top of the European Tour’s money list were bolstered with a round of 67, which saw him move up to tied sixth on the leaderboard alongside former world number one Rory McIlroy.

Race To Dubai leader Francesco Molinari stumbled home with three bogeys on the back nine to sign for a 73, leaving the Italian eight shots off the lead.

British Open champion Molinari will secure the Race to Dubai title if he finishes in a two-way tie for fifth or better this weekend, while Fleetwood must win the title to have any chance of defending his season-long European crown.

England’s Danny Willett started the day with a dropped shot but four straight birdies from the sixth ensured he finished with 67 to move up to second spot at 10-under alongside compatriot Smith and Spaniard Otaegui.

Otaegui was another player to start with a bogey but recovered well for his 68, which was matched by Smith following a mixed round.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis

Ramsey expresses loyalty to Jaguars

Outspoken defensive back Jalen Ramsey offended some Jacksonville Jaguars fans with a tweet earlier this week suggesting he was looking ahead to playing for a different team down the road.

On Thursday, he addressed the comments and insisted he hopes to stay in Jacksonville for the long haul.

“When I’m gone from here, y’all gone miss me. I ain’t even trippin lol,” he tweeted Monday.

Ramsey said that comment was meant for “fake fans” and said his position with the team and his future hadn’t changed.

“I’ve said multiple times, over and over and over and over and over and over and over again that I want to play for one team my whole career,” he said, per the team’s website.

Ramsey is in the final year of his rookie contract and the Jaguars hold a fifth-year option.

“If they wanted, they could extend me,” said Ramsey. “And if it’s right, then we’ll get that done and I’ll be here for a number of years. If not, I have a fifth-year option they can pick up and they can franchise me. I mean, I could be here for a while.”

The Jaguars (3-6) have lost five straight games and face the 6-2-1 Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

—Field Level Media

World Series hero Pearce re-signs with Red Sox

World Series MVP Steve Pearce is returning to the Boston Red Sox after signing a one-year contract, the team announced Friday.

The deal is worth $6.25 million, according to multiple reports.

“We’re thrilled to have Steve back with us for another year as we think he’s a great fit for our club,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said in a statement. “Obviously, we all saw what kind of impact he can have on the field, especially with the postseason that he had. He also provides good depth and balance from the right side for us.”

Pearce batted .284 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs in 215 at-bats with the Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays last season.

Pearce, who plays first base and the outfield, was acquired by Boston on June 28 and emerged as a big contributor in the postseason. He had four homers and 11 RBIs in 38 at-bats in the playoffs.

Pearce batted smacked three homers and eight RBIs in the World Series as Boston won the crown in five games over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He hit one homer in Game 4 and two in the decisive Game 5.

The 35-year-old Pearce has a .257 career average with 90 homers and 294 RBIs in 737 games over 12 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates (2007-11), Baltimore Orioles (2012, 2013-15, 2016), Houston Astros (2012), New York Yankees (2012), Tampa Bay Rays (2016), Toronto (2017-18) and Boston.

—Field Level Media

NBA roundup: Irving nets 43, leads Celtics past Raptors in OT

Kyrie Irving scored a season-best 43 points, including four in overtime, and added 11 assists as the Boston Celtics came back to defeat the visiting Toronto Raptors 123-116 on Friday night.

The Celtics, who had lost four of their previous six games, handed the Raptors their third straight loss after a 12-1 start. The teams have split their first two games this season. Jayson Tatum added 21 points, Gordon Hayward had 15 and Marcus Morris and Al Horford had 11 each for the Celtics.

Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors with 31 points and 15 rebounds. Serge Ibaka added 21 points, Pascal Siakam 16, Kyle Lowry 14 while Jonas Valanciunas and Danny Green each had 11 for the Raptors.

The Raptors, who led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, took a four-point edge into the fourth before Irving took over, scoring 19 in the period to help the Celtics take the game into overtime.

76ers 113, Jazz 107

Jimmy Butler scored 28 points in his home debut to lead Philadelphia past Utah.

Butler was 12 of 15 from the field and the Sixers improved to 8-0 at home this season while extending their home winning streak to 18 dating to last season. Joel Embiid added 23 points, JJ Redick had 16 and Amir Johnson 11 for the Sixers.

Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 31 points but shot 13-for-35 from the field and 1-for-11 from 3-point range. Joe Ingles added 14 while Derrick Favors and Ricky Rubio had 13 apiece. Rudy Gobert contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Timberwolves 112, Trail Blazers 96

Andrew Wiggins led six Minnesota players in double figures with 23 points in a romp past visiting Portland.

Derrick Rose scored 17 points, Robert Covington and Karl-Anthony Towns added 14 each, Jeff Teague had 13 and Taj Gibson contributed 12 for the Timberwolves, who won their third straight game and avenged a 111-81 defeat at Portland on Nov. 4.

CJ McCollum scored 18 points, Damian Lillard added 16 and Jusuf Nurkic contributed 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers, who have lost two in a row. Portland made only 8 of 29 shots from 3-point range and had 18 turnovers.

Bucks 123, Bulls 104

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Milwaukee erased an 18-point halftime deficit in the blink of an eye to beat visiting Chicago.

Milwaukee turned up the defensive intensity to start the third quarter and outscored Chicago 46-17 to take control and cruise to the easy win. Milwaukee outscored Chicago 78-41 in the second half and every member of the starting unit for the Bucks scored in double figures.

Eric Bledsoe sparked the Milwaukee third-period onslaught by scoring 14 points in the period. Bledsoe finished with 25 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals. Khris Middleton nearly recorded a triple-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Pelicans 129, Knicks 124

Anthony Davis had 43 points and 17 rebounds as host New Orleans overcame an 11-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter to defeat New York.

Jrue Holiday had 24 points and 10 assists, Julius Randle came off the bench to score 19 with 11 rebounds, E’Twaun Moore scored 13 and Nikola Mirotic added 12 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which trailed by as many as 19 points as it began a stretch of three homes games in four days.

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 30 points, Trey Burke came off the bench to score 24, Emmanuel Mudiay scored 19 and Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier had 11 each for the Knicks, who lost their fourth straight and sixth in their last seven.

Pacers 99, Heat 91

Tyreke Evans, Domantas Sabonis and Cory Joseph led a dominant bench effort as host Indiana defeated Miami.

Evans scored 23 points and added 10 rebounds, both season highs. Sabonis added 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Joseph had 12 points, five assists and three steals. Sabonis has six double-doubles this season — two of them against Miami.

Indiana’s reserves outscored Miami’s bench 53-27, which helped the Pacers overcome an off night by All-Star shooting guard Victor Oladipo, who was held to a season-low eight points on 3-for-12 shooting. His 13-game streak of scoring 20 or more points was snapped.

Grizzlies 112, Kings 104

Jaren Jackson Jr. scored a season-high 27 points to lead host Memphis over Sacramento.

Jackson, whose previous high was 24 against Atlanta last month, combined with Garrett Temple for all the Memphis scoring in a game-opening, 15-2 burst. Jackson had four hoops in the run, including a 3-pointer. Jackson added six rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.

Marc Gasol and Mike Conley each contributed 19 points to the win, which improved Memphis’ home record to 6-1. Temple (14 points) and Wayne Selden (10) also scored in double figures for the Grizzlies. De’Aaron Fox totaled team highs in points (23) and assists (10) points for the Kings.

Nets 115, Wizards 104

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Spencer Dinwiddie scored 25 points off the bench, D’Angelo Russell added 23 and visiting Brooklyn defeated Washington to end a three-game losing streak.

The Nets broke open a close game in the third quarter and led by as many as 19 in the fourth. Brooklyn center Jarrett Allen, who missed the Nets’ previous game due to illness, finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Dwight Howard led the Wizards with 25 points and 17 rebounds despite playing only 27 minutes before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Bradley Beal scored 20 points and reserve Kelly Oubre Jr. added 18 for the Wizards, who saw their three-game winning streak end.

Field Level Media

Rangers acquire Strome from Oilers for Spooner

The New York Rangers acquired forward Ryan Strome from the Edmonton Oilers on Friday in exchange for forward Ryan Spooner.

Strome, 25, had two points (one goal, one assist) in 18 games for the Oilers this season. Overall, he has 162 points (59 goals, 103 assists) in 358 games with the New York Islanders (2013-17) and Oilers.

Spooner, 26, had two points (one goal, one assist) in 16 games for the Rangers. He has 160 points (46 goals, 114 assists) in 289 career games with the Boston Bruins (2012-18) and Rangers.

The Rangers are hoping Strome can reach his potential with them. Strome was the fifth overall pick of the 2011 draft by the Islanders.

“I think he brings a little bit of everything,” New York general manager Jeff Gorton said in a statement, “and with our group right now, having somebody who can play in all different areas of the game, I think he can help us.

“When you’re a top-five pick overall there’s a lot of pressure on you to perform. … I think he feels like, and we feel like, maybe there’s a little bit more that he can still get to the level we’re all hoping he can get to.”

Strome’s best season was when he scored 50 points (17 goals, 33 assists) for the Islanders in 2014-15, his second season in the league.

Spooner was a second-round pick in the 2010 draft. He was acquired from Boston last February.

Spooner’s top campaign was 2015-16 when he tallied 49 points (13 goals, 36 assists) for the Bruins.

—Field Level Media

NFL notebook: Flacco doubtful vs. Bengals

Joe Flacco was listed as doubtful on Friday’s injury report as the Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback mystery continues, two days prior to Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Flacco didn’t practice all week because of a hip injury, while rookie Lamar Jackson returned to practice on Friday after sitting out a day due to illness. Robert Griffin III took all the practice snaps on Thursday.

“There will be a quarterback starting. I can guarantee that,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters, partly in jest. “And, every play, there will be at least one quarterback on the field.”

Harbaugh said Flacco could play despite not practicing.

—Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham has a broken thumb, multiple outlets reported.

Graham had the thumb examined on Friday to determine the extent of his injury. The 31-year-old left Thursday’s 27-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the second half after making one catch for 13 yards.

The Packers haven’t confirmed the injury or released a timetable for his return.

—Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa is expected to be a game-day decision on Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

Bosa, who has missed the entire season with a foot injury, was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report. He returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since training camp.

Tight end Antonio Gates (knee) also is listed as questionable. Cornerback Trevor Williams (knee) will miss the game.

—Denver Broncos left guard Max Garcia will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL in Thursday’s practice, head coach Vance Joseph confirmed.

Garcia didn’t miss a rep Thursday, but he was taken for an MRI after feeling discomfort in the knee afterward.

“It was really weird,” Joseph said. “I watched practice from the last play back to the first play, and he didn’t miss a down. The play he was injured on, I saw it. It was kind of a slip. It was no big deal.”

—Suspended linebacker Mychal Kendricks has rejoined the Seattle Seahawks, coach Pete Carroll told reporters.

Kendricks, 28, will practice next week but cannot play until Dec. 10 against Minnesota.

As a result of his guilty plea to federal insider trading changes, the league suspended Kendricks for eight games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. He faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 24.

—Philadelphia defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan could play for the first time this season on Sunday when the Eagles take on the New Orleans Saints.

“Still optimistic, we’ve got to get through today and tomorrow obviously with him and see where he’s at,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “It’s just a matter of day-by-day and getting through the practice and seeing where he’s at.”

Jernigan returned to practice last week for the first time since having surgery in April to repair a herniated disc in his back.

—Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (foot) will not play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, despite being activated from injured reserve earlier this week.

Head coach Dan Quinn said Jones, who hasn’t played since Week 1, is close but not yet ready to play. Kicker Matt Bryant (hamstring) will play for the first time since Week 6.

—The Detroit Lions will be without wideout Marvin Jones (knee) and tight end Michael Roberts (shoulder) against the Carolina Panthers.

Jones did not practice this week after sustaining a bone bruise in his knee on Sunday. Cornerback Darius Slay (knee) is expected to play.

—Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams is questionable to face the Houston Texans as he recovers from surgery to repair a dislocated thumb.

Also questionable is kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin). Running back Chris Thompson (ribs) and wideout Jamison Crowder (ankle) remain out after not practicing all week.

—The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without linebacker Lavonte David (knee), defensive end Vinny Curry (ankle), running back Ronald Jones (hamstring) and defensive backs Justin Evans (toe) and M.J. Stewart (foot) against the New York Giants.

Curry and Jones practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday, while none of the others practiced this week.

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—The Cincinnati Bengals placed tight end Tyler Kroft on injured reserve and signed linebacker Brandon Bell off the practice squad.

Kroft, who has four catches for 36 yards in five games (two starts) this year, hasn’t played since hurting his foot in Week 5. Cincinnati is already without Tyler Eifert for the season.

—Field Level Media

NHL notebook: Rangers acquire Strome from Oilers for Spooner

The New York Rangers acquired forward Ryan Strome from the Edmonton Oilers on Friday in exchange for forward Ryan Spooner.

Strome, 25, had two points (one goal, one assist) in 18 games for the Oilers this season. Overall, he has 162 points (59 goals, 103 assists) with the New York Islanders (2013-17) and Oilers. Spooner, 26, had one goal and one assist) in 16 games for the Rangers and 160 points (46 goals, 114 assists) with the Boston Bruins (2012-18) and Rangers.

The Rangers are hoping Strome can reach his potential with them. Strome was the fifth overall pick of the 2011 draft by the Islanders.

“When you’re a top-five pick overall there’s a lot of pressure on you to perform,” New York general manager Jeff Gorton said in a statement. “I think he feels like, and we feel like, maybe there’s a little bit more that he can still get to the level we’re all hoping he can get to.”

—Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy will miss four to six weeks with a fractured left foot, the team announced.

Vasilevskiy suffered the injury during practice on Wednesday and was evaluated by doctors on Thursday. The 24-year-old is 9-3-1 with a 2.30 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in 13 games this season. Louis Domingue will fill in as the primary starter during Vasilevskiy’s recovery period.

Vasilevskiy was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalkeeper last season when he went 44-17-3 with a 2.62 GAA and .920 save percentage. He tied for the league high in victories and in shutouts (eight).

—Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott will miss the next two weeks with what the club termed as a lower-body injury.

Elliott was injured during the third period of Thursday’s loss to the New Jersey Devils. He crouched in discomfort before leaving the ice. “It was worse than I expected,” Flyers general manager Ron Hextall told reporters on Friday. “But that’s the way it is.”

Elliott, 33, is 6-7-0 with a 2.59 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 14 games (13 starts) this season. Cal Pickard is expected to see most of the action during Elliott’s absence. Pickard is 3-1-1 with a 4.33 GAA and .865 save percentage this season.

—The Bruins will continue their road trip without Zdeno Chara, who returned to Boston after suffering a leg injury in a 6-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.

The defenseman left the game in the first period after a collision with Avs forward Carl Soderberg and did not return.

Chara, 41, is in his 21st season in the NHL and 13th with the Bruins. He has three goals and one assist in 18 games this season. For his career, Chara has played in 1,441 games and tallied 198 goals and 434 assists.

—Arizona Coyotes forward Josh Archibald was suspended for two games without pay for delivering an illegal check to the head of Nashville Predators forward Ryan Hartman, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced.

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The suspension will cost the 26-year-old Archibald $7,258.

Archibald received a minor penalty on the play in which he smacked his shoulder into Hartman’s head during Thursday’s game. Hartman, who was stationed near the boards, had passed the puck prior to the hit.

—Field Level Media

LeBron’s HS car to drive hard bargain at auction

LeBron James obviously wasn’t an ordinary high school senior. His car wasn’t a run-of-the-mill model, either.

James drove a 2003 Hummer H2, and it is going up for auction on Monday before being sold on Dec. 8.

So what’s the price of the vehicle that LeBron drove while he attended St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio? A piece of his past won’t come cheap.

According to Goldin Auctions president Ken Goldin, the car is “definitely a six-figure piece.”

James’ mother Gloria took out a $50,000 loan to pay for the car that she gave him for his 18th birthday. That led to an investigation by Ohio basketball officials before questions of LeBron’s eligibility were cleared.

Four days after he was cleared, though, the Ohio High School Athletic Association ruled James ineligible for accepting two throwback jerseys valued at $845 from an urban clothing store in exchange for posing for pictures.

After taking the state’s governing body to court and winning the appeal, James led St. Vincent-St. Mary to a third state championship in his four seasons. He was the No. 1 overall pick right out of high school by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA Draft.

James installed a custom sound system, three TVs and a Sony PlayStation 2 when he had the car, undoubtedly increasing its current Kelley Blue Book value of $18,000.

Put up for auction on eBay in December 2013, the Hummer could have been purchased for $64,800, which was the “Buy It Now” price listed then by Cleveland Autos Direct Online. It was sold for an undisclosed amount, and went on display at the Greater Cleveland Auction.

Field Level Media

NHL roundup: Dickinson, Stars drop Bruins in OT

Jason Dickinson pushed the rebound of a shot by Mattias Janmark past Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask 1:34 into overtime to score the only goal of the game and lift the Dallas Stars past the visiting Bruins 1-0 on Friday.

Dickinson and Janmark skated into the offensive zone on a two-on-one break before Janmark unleashed a slapshot that Rask pushed aside and behind the net. Janmark skated after the loose puck and centered it off Rask to the waiting Dickinson, who found a hole under Rask for the game winner.

Dallas goalie Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots to earn his second shutout of the season and the 26th of his NHL career.

The Stars are 2-2-2 in their past six matches after going 5-1-0 in their previous six games. The win allowed Dallas to split the season series after the Bruins beat the Stars 2-1 in overtime in Boston on Nov. 5.

Kings 2, Blackhawks 1 (SO)

Anze Kopitar scored the deciding goal in a shootout as Los Angeles ended a three-game losing streak by beating host Chicago in a battle of recent Stanley Cup champions who have each played below expectations.

In his first career NHL start, Kings goalie Cal Petersen made 34 saves. Petersen, who was signed by the Kings in 2017 as a free agent out of Notre Dame, played his final college game in the Blackhawks’ home rink at the 2017 NCAA Frozen Four.

Petersen’s opportunity in goal came as the result of knee surgeries to both Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell, while Jonny Brodzinski was lost due to shoulder surgery.

Sabers 2, Jets 1 (SO)

After seven rounds of a shootout, Conor Sheary’s top-shelf goal finally clinched a win for Buffalo over host Winnipeg as the Sabres ran their winning streak to four games, the longest since 2014, while halting the Jets’ winning streak at three.

Three of those four wins have come beyond regulation time, as the Sabres also defeated the Vancouver Canucks via a shootout on Nov. 10 and needed overtime to top the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 8.

The lengthy shootout was a fitting end to a duel of goaltenders. Buffalo’s Carter Hutton stopped 25 of 26 shots to earn the win, while Jets backup goalie Laurent Brossoit made 31 saves in his first game action since Oct. 26.

Capitals 3, Avalanche 2 (OT)

Nicklas Backstrom scored a power-play goal 22 seconds into overtime, and short-handed Washington beat host Colorado in Denver.

Backstrom also had an assist and Alex Ovechkin and Devante Smith-Pelley scored goals for the Capitals.

The Capitals (9-7-3) played without their No. 1 goaltender and two of their top forwards but still managed to get the win. Pheonix Copley had 24 saves in his second straight start for Washington.

Field Level Media