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artisteer/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will now only include 32 teams after FIFA gave up its efforts to expand the field to 48 teams.

Soccer's international governing body had been exploring the possible ways it could expand the field, either by involving neighboring countries or lowering certain FIFA requirements. A statement released Wednesday made clear that neither option was feasible on such short notice.

In order to accommodate the 16 additional matches that the expanded field would require, FIFA had explored whether a nearby nation could host those matches. An internal report had already concluded that the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia would not be able to join as co-hosts unless they restored economic and travel ties with Qatar which had been severed two years ago. While Kuwait and Oman were considered viable options, the latter has said it wasn't interested in hosting matches.

FIFA has now decided that there isn't enough time to prepare an additional country for its games.

Two of the largest stadiums in Kuwait would have required upgrades to be used in the World Cup, and with concerns already abound over working conditions and labor rights in Qatar, such work is not considered possible.

Kuwait also has a full ban on alcohol, which could have been problematic for FIFA, which includes Budweiser as a major sponsor.

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Moses Kinnah/iStock(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) -- Former basketball star Juwan Howard is in talks to become the next head coach of his alma mater's men's basketball team, ESPN reports.

Howard, a member of the University of Michigan's Fab Five recruiting class in 1991, helped the team reach two national championship games an an Elite Eight appearance. He played 19 seasons in the NBA and has spent the last six years as an assistant coach for the Miami Heat.

Howard interviewed for NBA coaching jobs with at least three teams this spring.

While no contract has been finalized, Howard reportedly became the frontrunner for the job after Providence College head coach Ed Cooley withdrew his name from consideration this week.

Michigan is looking to replace former head coach John Beilein, who left last week to become the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Beilein led the program to two national title games in 12 seasons as head coach.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Former MLB pitcher David Cone was known as one of the most impassioned and intelligent players of his era. The architect of one of the greatest games ever pitched, Cone's reputation as a pitcher has followed him into the broadcast booth, where he serves as a television analyst for Yankee games.

Cone and fellow YES Network baseball analyst Jack Curry have teamed up write a new book, Full Count: The Education of a Pitcher. In a conversation with ABC News, Cone and Curry discuss their book and offer their thoughts on the current state of the New York Yankees.
"Not only did he end up taking me on a pitching journey--he gets personal in this book... a lot of emotion," Curry says, as he reflects on their decision to write the book together. "I was always fascinated by how fascinated David was with pitching... I loved his creativity on the mound."

For Cone, he wanted "someone you really trust [to tell these stories], and Jack was that guy for me."

He describes how both his journey through the minor leagues and his upbringing made him a better Major League pitcher, highlighting his father’s impact:

"He was tough on me, and I was headstrong and stubborn, and it did make me tougher. He'd kick me out of practice and I'd stomp off, throw a fit, and he'd have a talk with me later on. It took a while for me to realize how I was coming off... A lot of [those] insecurities I went through and anxiety I went through as a pitcher was something that was taboo to talk about, but it's also something that drives you."

Curry and Cone reveal exactly what Cone was thinking during the most intense moments of his professional career, as well as others of which he is not as proud.

Cone says he sees that same passion he pitched with on the current New York Yankees team, who have competed in the American League East all season despite a slew of early injuries.

“Youth energizes the fan base,” Cone says, referring to some of the Yankees young, unexpected heroes like Domingo German and Gio Urshela. “As each day goes by and they keep producing, you get more excited about it.”

Curry says the team’s success is completely shocking, and with their start, believes they should be able to compete for a postseason berth. He does concede, however, “Some of those young contributors may be sent down [to the minor leagues]” once injured stars like Aaron Judge return.

The authors say they hope Full Count teaches readers about David Cone's approach to pitching and how the five-time World Champion pitched with passion and intensity in every start he made.

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Bob Levey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A relative of NFL star Tyrann Mathieu allegedly tried to extort him for $5 million, according to federal court documents unsealed on Tuesday.

Mathieu, who now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs after stints with Houston and Arizona, was allegedly blackmailed over private information, with the relative saying he would send private information to gossip outlet TMZ if he wasn't paid.

Geourvon Keinell Sears, 20, is described in the criminal complaint as "a family member and heretofore a close associate of Victim #1."

While the victim is unnamed in the criminal complaint -- only referred to as a professional athlete with the initials "TM" -- Mathieu's lawyer, Denise White of EAG Sports, confirmed to Kansas City ABC affiliate KMBC-TV that Mathieu was the victim.

White said Mathieu is dealing with a "private and personal family issue," and offered no further comment.

Sears allegedly spoke to Mathieu on the phone in late April and demanded the NFL star deposit $1.5 million in the suspect's bank account by the end of the week, according to the complaint. Mathieu refused and blocked Sears from being able to contact him by phone.

But a day after being blocked, the suspect allegedly contacted a friend of Mathieu and said in a text, "5 MILLION BY FRIDAY IM DONE TALKING EMAILING TMZ NOW." He also provided his bank account information so Mathieu, or his associates, could deposit the money, according to court documents.

Sears then allegedly went as far as to send Mathieu's friends a voice message saying, "I want 1.5 million by Friday or I am going to kill all you all."

Mathieu told police he feared for his and his family's safety and believed Sears was capable of violence, according to the document.

The suspect then spoke to Mathieu's agent by telephone and said he would "injure TM's reputation by alleging sexual misconduct" if he didn't receive the money.

Sears was initially expected to make a first court appearance in Louisiana, where he lives, on Thursday, but his lawyer successfully petitioned for 30 more days to review evidence in the case.

He will appear in court on June 21.

Sears was released on $25,000 bond and ordered to have no contact with Mathieu or his associates, in person or via social media, cellphone or computer. He is being held on home incarceration and with a monitoring device, according to the court order.

Mathieu struggled with disciplinary issues while at Louisiana State University, but his play on the field was electric as both a freshman and sophomore. As a sophomore he was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, awarded to the best college player in the nation each year.

But following the 2011-12 season, the star was dismissed from the team by head coach Les Miles. While the reason was never released by the school, ESPN reported that he had failed multiple drug tests. Mathieu enrolled back in LSU that fall as only a student, but was arrested for drug possession in October 2012 and declared for the NFL draft a month later.

Mathieu was drafted in the third round due to concerns about his behavior, but quickly became one of the best safeties in the league paired with his former college teammate Patrick Peterson. He made the All-Rookie team in 2013 and was a first-team All Pro in 2015. He signed a five-year, $62 million deal following that season, but was injured in 2016 and released by Arizona in 2018.

He played one season with the Houston Texans before signing with the Chiefs this offseason for three years and $42 million.

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Tuesday's sports events:



Miami 5 Detroit 4, 11 Innings
LA Dodgers 7 Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City at St. Louis 8:15 p.m., postponed


Oakland 5 Cleveland 3
NY Yankees 11 Baltimore 4
Toronto 10 Boston 3
Texas 5 Seattle 3
Houston 5 Chi White Sox 1
Minnesota 8 LA Angels 3


Colorado 5 Pittsburgh 0
Chi Cubs 3 Philadelphia 2
NY Mets 6 Washington 5
Cincinnati 3 Milwaukee 0
San Francisco 4 Atlanta 3
San Diego 3 Arizona 2



Toronto 120 Milwaukee 102

St. Louis 5 San Jose 1 (St. Louis wins series)

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ABC(NEW YORK) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. may be retired from NASCAR but that's not keeping him out of the driver's seat.

At home he's pulling full-time dad duties alongside his wife Amy.

He said he is blown away experiencing his daughter Isla's first milestones as she starts to make some speedy moves.

"When she started crawling we were so excited that she started moving around and now she's just running everywhere," he said on Good Morning America. "It's just amazing to watch them every day process new things."

He continued, "I was so worried I was going to miss it and be doing something and not at the house when that happened, but we were all together, the whole family and [it's] just incredible to see her do that."

"She's really smart," he gushed of his 13-month-old. "She just now started to mimic the words we say."

The two-time Daytona 500 winner will be behind the wheel again soon, but it won't be a race car. He will pilot the 2019 Corvette Grand Sport pace car and lead the field of 33 to the green flag at the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"As a race car driver you just go and do on instinct, but as the pace car driver there's a process, there's rules, there's a speed you have to run. And in Indy I think there's a protocol where you speed the car up with each lap," he explained. "That's different then what we do in NASCAR."

"I know it's not going to be that complicated, [maybe] I'm overthinking it a little," he added.

The famed NASCAR driver will be back in his wheelhouse come Labor Day weekend.

Every year at Darlington Raceway, drivers take to the track in an official throwback paint scheme. This year Earnhardt Jr., 44, will get to drive an extra special set of wheels for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 race.

"The car is basically a throwback to my dad's 1975 paint scheme, his first race in the cup series at Charlotte," Earnhardt Jr. said of the baby blue No. 8 car. "I'm really looking forward to it, [we have] a great looking race car and it's the one race I'll run this year. I don't have any plans to race anything after that. Never say never, but this might be the last one."

In the meantime, Earnhardt Jr. still catches glimpses of car history at his own home.

"I have this race car graveyard. It's hard to explain," he said with a laugh. "It's like 80 acres of woods and about 80 or 90 race cars in the graveyard and they all have a different story."

One of the cars that made it's way to the "graveyard" was an old land speed record car that someone donated to him and was "hidden" until recently.

"I actually tasked my property manager, a friend of mine, to put the cars back there. I don't know where they go -- that's the fun part," he said.

"You get on the four-wheeler and I go riding back there with Isla and Amy and find out where they're sitting and that land speed record car hid from me for a year before I found it."

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ERWIN SCHERIAU/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Niki Lauda, the Austrian former Formula One legend and three-time World Championship winner, has died at the age of 70.

“With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday,” his family said in a statement to the Austrian Press Agency. “His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur … his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain. A role model and a benchmark for all of us, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather away from the public, and he will be missed.”

Lauda was one of the best-known and universally admired figures in Formula One.

The grandson of a wealthy industrialist, Lauda renounced his inheritance in order to pursue a career in racing, according to his Formula One obituary.

He won his first World Championship in 1975 with Ferrari. He would go on to win two more world titles -- in 1977 with Ferrari and in 1984 with McLaren.

At the height of his rivalry with fellow Formula One driver James Hunt, Lauda suffered an enormous crash at the world famous Nürburgring track on Aug. 1 during the 1976 German Grand Prix. His Ferrari burst into flames with Lauda left trapped in the cockpit.

Miraculously, Lauda was saved by fellow drivers and nearby marshals but he was left badly burned by the crash.

Lauda, known for his resilience, reappeared at a press conference a few weeks later, with his wounds still fresh. Lauda only missed two races before returning to the racetrack 40 days after the crash. He eventually lost out on the World Championship that year to his rival Hunt by a single point. During his career he won 25 Grand Prix races.

Their rivalry was the subject of the 2013 movie Rush. Daniel Bruhl played Lauda in the Ron Howard film.

Lauda, who inhaled a great deal of smoke during that 1976 crash, underwent a lung transplant last August.

After retiring in 1985, Lauda pursued a career as a businessman and became an adviser to Ferrari and Jaguar.

The world of racing and beyond posted tributes on social media to Lauda following news of his death.

“Rest in peace Niki Lauda,” the Formula One account posted on Twitter. “Forever carried in our hearts, forever immortalised in our history. The motorsport community today mourns the devastating loss of a true legend.”

Rest in peace Niki Lauda.

Forever carried in our hearts, forever immortalised in our history. The motorsport community today mourns the devastating loss of a true legend.

The thoughts of everyone at F1 are with his friends and family.

— Formula 1 (@F1) May 21, 2019

Ferrari also expressed its condolences.

Everyone at Ferrari is deeply saddened at the news of the death of our dear friend Niki Lauda. He won two of his three world championships with us and will always be in our hearts and in those of all Ferrari fans. Our sincere condolences go to all his family and friends.#CiaoNiki

— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) May 21, 2019

Formula One racer Jenson Button simply said: "A legend has left us. Rest in Peace Niki."

The chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurtz, said that Lauda was “a very great Austrian.”

“The whole country and the motorsport world are mourning the loss of a very great Austrian,” he posted on Twitter. “Niki, we are going to miss you. Personally and also on behalf of the Republic, I would like to express my deepest sympathy to his wife and children!”

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TuelekZa/iStock(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- The matchup between brothers Seth Curry and Stephen Curry came to an end Monday night as Stephen's Golden State Warriors defeated Seth’s Portland Trail Blazers in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

With the 119-117 overtime win, the Warriors are now headed to the NBA Finals for the fifth consecutive year.

They will face off against either the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors. The Bucks are leading the Eastern Conference finals 2-1.

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Monday's sports events:


Boston 12 Toronto 2
Oakland 6 Cleveland 4
NY Yankees 10 Baltimore 7
Texas 10 Seattle 9
Houston 3 Chi White Sox 0
Minnesota 1 LA Angels 1

NY Mets 5 Washington 3
Philadelphia 5 Chi Cubs 4, 10 Innings
Atlanta 4 San Francisco 1
San Diego 2 Arizona 1


OT Golden State 119 Portland 117 (Golden State wins series 4-0)

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Tar_Heel_Rob/iStock(NEW YORK) -- It appears interim coach Ryan Saunders may be staying put with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

League sources tell ESPN Saunders is close to completing a multiyear deal, which could be finalized as early as Monday, to become the team’s head coach. ESPN reports Saunders, 32, is working on putting his staff together.

Saunders stepped in to lead Minnesota after the Timberwolves fired coach Tom Thibodeau in January.

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