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Friday’s Sports in Brief

September 11, 2021 GMT

SOCCER

NEW YORK (AP) — The head of the U.S. Soccer Federation asked the unions of the women’s and men’s national teams to agree to equalize FIFA’s World Cup prize money on their own.

USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone sent an open letter making the request, which called for the men’s national team to allow the USSF to reallocate a portion of FIFA’s World Cup payments to the federation to the women’s team.

FIFA and the men’s union did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Parlow Cone said the USSF will be offering both unions the same contract, which she said the USSF had done in the past. The union for the women’s team agreed to a deal with differing benefits, such as health care, pay for players in the National Women’s Soccer League and maternity and pregnancy leave and pay. The women’s deal also includes injury pay, 401(k) plans and severance.

BASEBALL

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CHICAGO (AP) — Boston ace Chris Sale tested positive for COVID-19 again, sidelining the left-hander while the Red Sox fight for positioning in the crowded AL playoff picture.

Sale had been scheduled to start Sunday in Chicago against the AL Central-leading White Sox. The seven-time All-Star also had a mild bout with COVID-19 in January that required him to quarantine for two weeks.

The Red Sox have placed 17 players on the COVID-19-related injury list since Aug. 3, including infielders Xander Bogaerts and Christian Arroyo and pitchers Nick Pivetta, Matt Barnes and Martín Pérez.

Bogaerts was reinstated Friday and returned to the starting lineup against the White Sox. But designated hitter J.D. Martinez was scratched because of back spasms.

The Red Sox also placed infielder Jonathan Araúz on the COVID-19 list, and lefty Austin Davis went on paternity leave. The move with Araúz is precautionary; he has some symptoms, but he has tested negative multiple times, according to the team.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer will miss the rest of the season.

Major League Baseball and the players’ association extended his paid administrative leave through the end of the World Series.

Bauer was placed on seven days’ paid leave July 2 under the union and MLB’s joint domestic violence and sexual assault policy after a Southern California woman said he choked her into unconsciousness, punched her repeatedly and had anal sex with her without her consent during two sexual encounters earlier this year. MLB and the union have since agreed to several extensions.

The decision to extend the leave through the rest of the season had been expected, given that Bauer had not pitched since June 29 and was running out of time to get back in shape to return to the mound while games remained. The regular season is scheduled to end Oct. 3 and the minimum ramp-up time for pitchers is generally regarded as three weeks.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

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The American Athletic Conference, a league born from the fall of Big East football eight years ago, is in rebuilding mode again.

This time, it could find some competition in the market from the Sun Belt when it starts courting new members.

Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston, three of the AAC’s most successful schools in the revenue-generating sports of football and men’s basketball, announced Friday they would be joining the Big 12. The schools said the moves will come by July 1, 2024, at the latest.

Meanwhile, the Sun Belt Conference sent out signals it is open to adding to its 10-member football league.

The AAC has held the title of the best non-Power Five major college football conferences during the College Football Playoff era (2014-present). The American even touted itself as a peer to the P5 —- despite a massive gulf in revenue — with its Power Six campaign.

UCF, Houston and Cincinnati account for four of the American’s five New Year’s Six Bowl appearances, and at least one has appeared in six of the conference’s seven football championship games. Cincinnati is currently ranked No. 7 in the country.

OLYMPICS

GENEVA (AP) — Olympic power broker Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah of Kuwait was found guilty of forgery linked to implicating his political rivals in Kuwait in a coup plot — a verdict that puts his long career in global sports politics at risk.

Sheikh Ahmad, his English former lawyer, a Kuwaiti aide and two more lawyers based in Geneva in 2014 were convicted on forgery charges linked to orchestrating a sham arbitration case in the upscale Swiss city.

The sheikh was sentenced to almost 14 months’ jail time with a further 15 months suspended in a case that has put much of his Olympic work on hold for almost three years.

The panel of three judges found the five men took part in a staged legal dispute and arbitration hearing to gain a favorable ruling. It sought to authenticate video footage that would show two Kuwaiti politicians — including a former prime minister — discussing a possible coup in the oil-rich kingdom.

Sheikh Ahmad supported the false arbitration and was its sole beneficiary, presiding judge Delphine Gonseth said.