Ger­many

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tiga­tion into FIFA cor­rup­tion. More than 40 soc­cer of­fi­cials and busi­nesses in­dicted, con­victed or pleaded guilty.

The bribery scan­dal put the gov­ern­ing body on the brink, FIFA Pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino told the con­gress ahead of Wed­nes­day’s vote.

“FIFA was clin­i­cally dead as an or­ga­ni­za­tion,” In­fantino said, re­flect­ing on his elec­tion in 2016. “Two years later, FIFA is alive and well, full of joy and pas­sion and with a vi­sion for its fu­ture.”

The North Amer­i­can vic­tory sug­gests foot­ball of­fi­cials are ready to gather for a World Cup in a coun­try whose gov­ern­ment has demon­strated its will­ing­ness to jail cor­rupt sports lead­ers through un­der­cover in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The North Amer­ica bid also had to over­come con­cerns about the im­pact of poli­cies from the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, in­clud­ing at­tempts to im­ple­ment a ban on travel by res­i­dents of six ma­jor­ity- Mus­lim coun­tries.

The main in­ter­ven­tion In this file photo, the roof of Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium is open as At­lanta United for­ward Josef Martinez cel­e­brates his goal against the Philadel­phia Union on a penalty kick while Miguel Alm­iron jumps on his back dur­ing an MLS soc­cer match in At­lanta.

by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was a warn­ing in a White House news con­fer­ence, dis­cussing the FIFA vote, that he would be “watch­ing very closely.” It was a veiled threat to with­hold U.S. sup­port from coun­tries op­pos­ing the bid.

FIFA now has the fi­nal say on which cities are se­lected to host games and whether all three coun­tries are guar­an­teed a place at the tour­na­ment. Vic­tor Mon­tagliani, the Cana­dian who leads CON­CA­CAF, wants them to take three of the six qual­i­fi­ca­tion slots re­served for the re­gion. had by virtue of when the draft fell and the way our league sched­ule un­folded. We were look­ing at some cre­ative op­por­tu­ni­ties to do some­thing dif­fer­ently,” Tri- City Val­leyCat gen­eral man­ager Matt Cal­la­han said Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon. “Typ­i­cally we don’t over­lap as much with the school year and for the first time we did that year and we de­cided that we would try to do a day game, much ear­lier than we nor­mally do.”

“We started ex­plor­ing it and talk­ing to some schools and as we were do­ing it we wanted to make sure we were pro­vid­ing a good ex­pe­ri­ence for the schools and at least try to con­nect some of the ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties that ex­ist within the game of base­ball to the stu­dents and in 1966. Mex­ico will try to ad­vance past the sec­ond round for the first time since 1986, but El Tri opens against Ger­many and its likely sec­ond-round op­po­nent is Brazil. try to get them in­volved with learn­ing math, learn­ing sci­ence, ge­og­ra­phy and some of the dif­fer­ent sub­jects as a way to re­late that to every­thing we have go­ing on on a daily ba­sis at the ball park.”

The Val­leyCats hit it out of the park as the op­por­tu­nity for schools to take at­ten­dance and then take in a ball game at Joe Bruno Sta­dium was too good to pass up and the event has con­sis­tently been filled with more than 4,000 fans each year.

“It re­ally is a great way to kick off the sea­son and I think the en­ergy, that youth­ful en­ergy that comes from a ball park filled with stu­dents and kids is phe­nom­e­nal,” Cal­la­han said. “It’s awe­some for our staff be­cause it re­minds you of why we put in so much work to try and cre­ate that fun at­mos­phere and the pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence day in a day out.”

There also has been a gen­er­a­tional change within FIFA. Many of its lead­ers have­moved frompent­houses to pris­ons fol­low­ing in­dict­ments by the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice that de­tailed kick­backs to be as much a part of soc­cer as free kicks.

Ex­pect con­tro­versy on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

FIFA’s Con­gress votes

For Val­leyCats man­ager, 27-year- old Ja­son Bell, the youngest man­ager in mi­nor league base­ball, he too could feel the en­ergy dur­ing his first game at Joe Bruno Sta­dium.

“It’s a great at­mos­phere,” Ja­son Bell said. “All I’ve heard about from ev­ery­body in the or­ga­ni­za­tion from the top down is how great of an area this is, how great of a sta­dium, good fan base and al­ready to­day at 10 a.m. on a Wed­nes­day we al­ready felt it, which was awe­some.”

The op­por­tu­nity to hear more than a ball mak­ing con­tact and the snap of a leather glove was a wel­come sound for the Val­leyCats.

“A lot of these guys have ei­ther been in ex­tended spring train­ing lit­er­ally play­ing in front of no­body and even some of the col­lege kids that just signed out of the draft are not used to play­ing in front of

June 13 on the host of the 2026 tour­na­ment, and a joint bid by the U.S., Mex­ico and Canada is com­pet­ing against Morocco — where most of the in­fra­struc­ture would have to be built — on a bal­lot that in­cludes a none- of-the-above op­tion.

Fol­low­ing the drugtest­ing scan­dal that en­gulfed the 2014 Sochi Win- crowds like this,” Cal­la­han said.

The end­less cheers for every strike, strike­out, hit, run and out wasn’t lost on the Val­leyCat play­ers.

“There were a bunch of peo­ple here, I think I’ve only played in front of a crowd like this one other time, so be­ing able to play in front of this many peo­ple is re­ally ex­cit­ing,” this year’s 16th- round draft pick, catcher Alex Holder­bach said. “I’ve heard that this place gets packed and they bring a lot of peo­ple every night, so it’s go­ing to be ex­cit­ing to play here.”

The Val­leyCats open the 2018 reg­u­lar sea­son against the Ver­mont Lake Mon­sters 7 p.m. Fri­day at Joe Bruno Sta­dium. All fans will re­ceive a 2018 Val­leyCats sched­ule mag­net and the fire­works will fol­low at the con­clu­sion of the game.

ter Olympics, FIFA’s med­i­cal com­mit­tee chair­man said no Rus­sians will be in­volved in col­lec­tion of urine and blood sam­ples, which will be flown to Lau­sanne, Switzer­land, for anal­y­sis.

VAR will be the acro­nym of the mo­ment: video as­sis­tant ref­er­ees in soc­cer- speak, in­stant re­play for most view­ers at home.

CUR­TIS COMP­TON — AT­LANTA JOUR­NAL- CON­STI­TU­TION VIA AP, FILE

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