More sports in brief
NBC renews deal with EPL
NEW YORK (AP):
NBC renewed its deal with the English Premier League for six years yesterday. The network won the American rights for the top European football league in 2012 from Fox and ESPN with a three-year agreement. This time, the Premier League went with a longer contract that goes through the 2021-22 season. Viewership has been soaring for international football in the US, making the Premier League a hot property with most major sports rights locked up long term.
"Outstanding production, expert analysis and wide audience reach have all been beyond expectations," Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore said in a statement. "First-rate creative marketing and promotional campaigns have driven interest in our clubs, and the competition as a whole, to unprecedented levels."
Premier League viewership on NBC and NBCSN averaged a record 479,000 viewers last season - up nine percent from a year earlier.
Vardy apologises for racist language
LEICESTER, England (AP):
England and Leicester striker Jamie Vardy has apologised after he was filmed using racist language toward a Japanese man in a casino. British newspaper The Sun on Sunday released footage that appeared to show Vardy using a derogatory word for a Japanese person three times to a fellow gambler in a Leicester casino on July 26.
In a statement released by Leicester, the 28-year-old striker apologised and said "it was a regrettable error in judgement I take full responsibility for and I accept my behaviour was not up to what's expected of me."
Leicester said it was looking into the incident.
Smith makes case for captaincy
Australia batsman Steve Smith says he will follow the example set by Michael Clarke and be "aggressive" and "pro-active" if, as expected, he is named as the new captain of the country's Test team.
No official decision has been made regarding who will replace Clarke following his announcement that he'll be retiring after the current Ashes series, although Smith has been described as the "heir apparent" by Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland.
Smith captained Australia during the home series against India last year when Clarke was injured and says "I got a taste of it last summer and really enjoyed the role. If it happens, fantastic."
Smith says Monday that Clarke tried to lead from the front as a player and "I will take that same road as well".
Sri Lankan ex-rugby player's body exhumed for murder probe
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP):
Sri Lankan investigators yesterday exhumed the body of a former international rugby player whose mysterious death three years ago was ruled an accident, but is now suspected to have been a murder in which ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa's son is implicated.
Wasim Thajudeen was found dead in May 2012 inside a burning car that appeared to have crashed into a wall. Following accusations that police had covered up the circumstances of his death during Rajapaksa's presidency, authorities reopened the case after a new president was elected in January.
Rajapaksa has denied any involvement by his son Yoshitha, 28, who is also a former member of Sri Lanka's rugby union team. The former president says the allegations, mainly by members of the current ruling party, are politically motivated to discredit him ahead of parliamentary elections next week.
Rajapaksa is contesting for Prime Minister in a bid to revive his political career.