Tuesday’s Sports in Brief

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SOCCER

NEW YORK (AP) A former South American soccer official was acquitted in the FIFA bribery scandal and walked out of the courtroom saying he’s finished with the world’s most popular sport.

The verdict clearing Manuel Burga, former president of Peru’s soccer federation, of a single racketeering conspiracy charge came days after prosecutors won guilty verdicts on multiple charges against two other former soccer officials.

”God bless America. That’s all I can say,” the 60-year-old Burga said with eyes still wet from tears minutes after the verdict was delivered in Brooklyn federal court.

Burga was the first person to be acquitted among over 40 people and entities in the world of global soccer charged in the U.S. with a scheme to extract hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. Of those, 24 pleaded guilty.

PRO FOOTBALL

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) – Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says a report that he and the franchise have agreed to part ways after this season is untrue, labeling it ”fake news.”

An article in Pro Football Weekly cited ”multiple sources” as saying the split would come next week at the end of Arians’ fifth season as the team’s head coach.

But the 65-year-old coach said nothing has been decided.

”Nothing’s changed,” he said on Tuesday. ”I don’t know where that came from. Nothing changed in the last month and a half and people keep asking me the same questions.”

As for the article’s author Hub Arkush, Arians said, ”I don’t know who the heck this guy is or where these supposed meetings took place.”

Arians can become the winningest coach in Cardinals history with his 50th victory at Seattle in the season finale on Sunday.

Arians is 49-32-1 in five seasons with the Cardinals, including the postseason. They are 7-8 this season.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) – A fired food service worker is charged with ramming other vehicles at Lambeau Field in Green Bay last week.

Forty-year-old Chay Vang was charged with two felony counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety and five misdemeanor counts of damage to property. USA Today Network-Wisconsin reports Vang’s cash bond was set at $10,000.

According to the complaint, Vang was working for Delaware North at Lambeau Field when he got into a fight with a 25-year-old co-worker during a Green Bay Packers game on Dec. 3.

The complaint says Delaware North investigated and fired Vang. The former co-worker was getting out of his car in the employee parking lot last Friday when Vang allegedly drove into the car and repeatedly smashed it.

Five vehicles were damaged. Vang told police he rammed the car because ”he wanted justice” and no one was listening to him.

HOCKEY

TORONTO (AP) – Johnny Bower, a beloved former Maple Leaf goalie who helped Toronto win its last Stanley Cup in 1967, has died. He was 93.

Bower’s family said in a statement the Hall of Famer died following a short battle with pneumonia.

Bower was a two-time Vezina Trophy winner who became known as the China Wall. His career took off after the Leafs claimed him in a 1958 intra-league draft. Bower played 475 regular-season games and won four Stanley Cups for the Leafs before playing his final game as a 45-year-old in 1969.

Bower won the Vezina Trophy in 1961 and shared it with teammate Terry Sawchuk in 1965. The Leafs hoisted the Cup in 1962, `63, `64 and `67.

GOLF

Ernie Els says he received an invitation to Augusta National for the first week in April. It just wasn’t an invitation to play in the Masters.

Els had to clarify a tweet from Sunday that said: ”Thank you for a Great Xmas present! (at)TheMasters Can’t wait!” That led several media sites to post stories that Els, a four-time major champion, had received a special exemption into the Masters.

Instead, the 48-year-old South African received a letter welcoming him as an honorary invitee. His five-year exemption into the Masters from winning the 2012 British Open ended last year. Augusta National has a tradition of inviting past major champions as honorary guests for the week.

Els tweeted Monday: ”Wanted to clarify my excitement getting an invite from (at)TheMasters. Work continues to qualify to compete!

Augusta National occasionally awards exemptions to international players, but those typically are given to players who are not full PGA Tour members and have multiple avenues to qualify on their own. Among ways for PGA Tour members to qualify for the Masters are winning tournaments that offer full FedEx Cup points, reaching the Tour Championship or getting into the top 50 in the world ranking at various cutoff points.

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