GENEVA -- FIFA has asked authorities in 2018 World Cup host Russia for "clarification and more details" about a new anti-gay law, joining the International Olympic Committee in seeking answers from Moscow. Legislation prohibiting "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors" has provoked an international furor since President Vladimir Putin signed it off in June and sparked growing concern at the IOC ahead of the Sochi Winter Games next February. The two most influential organizations in world sports are both now asking Russia how the law would be enforced during their marquee events. "FIFA has asked the Russian authorities for clarification and more details on this new law," footballs governing body said in a statement Tuesday. "Russia has committed to provide all visitors and fans with a warm welcome and ensure their safety" during the monthlong tournament, FIFA said, adding that "FIFA trusts that the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts will deliver on this promise." FIFA has a direct link to the Russian government, as Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko serves under FIFA President Sepp Blatter on the football bodys 27-member executive board. Mutko has said that Olympic athletes would have to respect the countrys laws during the Feb. 7-23 Winter Games, and that international reaction needed to "calm down." FIFA noted that its statutes "foresee zero tolerance against discrimination." Article 3 states: "Discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion." Russia was awarded World Cup hosting rights in December 2010, when FIFAs board chose it ahead of England and joint bids from Spain-Portugal and the Netherlands-Belgium. That same day in Zurich, FIFA awarded hosting of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, where homosexual acts are illegal. Blatter drew criticism soon after the World Cup votes when he suggested that gay football fans could "refrain from any sexual activities" while attending the World Cup in the Gulf nation. In May, after FIFA member countries approved tougher sanctions for discrimination, Blatter was asked by reporters what gay fans and players could expect in Qatar, and said that he could not offer "a definite answer" at this stage. The potential effect on the Sochi Olympics of Russias attitude toward gay rights is playing out during campaigning for the six-man race to be elected IOC president on Sept. 10. On Monday, candidate C. K. Wu of Taiwan said that "we are not joking" with Russia, and suggested that future bidders should be judged more strictly on their human rights record and follow the Olympic charter. "This should become a basic qualification if you want to apply to host the games," Wu said. Cheap Adidas Shoes For Sale . 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Jeff Teague led the Hawks (1-5) with 17 points and eight assists and Al Horford had 12 points and seven rebounds. Mike Scott scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half. Cheap Adidas Originals Superstar Foundation Shoes . Following a lopsided 5-2 loss against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night, Paul MacLean told reporters that "theres a lack of focus, theres a lack of leadership and theres a lack of preparation" with his struggling team. That came on the heels of Bryan Murray taking the unusual step of going into the locker room at the Prudential Center and addressing the players himself. The Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs will take part in baseballs marquee weekend matchup when they begin a three-game series Friday at Wrigley Field. During an interview at the All-Star Game on Tuesday, Texas ace Cole Hamels broke into a smile when asked if the series could be a preview of the 2016 World Series.That would be cool, Hamels said. At least youd know some team that hasnt won it in a long time is going to win it.The Cubs havent captured a World Series since 1908, and the Rangers have gone title-free since their inception as the Washington Senators in 1961, but theyre entitled to dream big as two of the eight MLB teams with 50-plus wins at the break, with the Boston Red Sox (49), Houston Astros (48) and New York Mets and Miami Marlins (47) next in line.Even beyond that group, several dark horse teams are lurking. St. Louis and Pittsburgh are poised to strike in the NL Central if the Cubs continue to stagger. And just try telling the Kansas City Royals theyre not in prime position to make it to their third straight World Series.If we can just be consistent and play the game we know how to play, our record could be a lot better than it is now, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. If theres a team that can go on another run, its definitely our team.As the MLB schedule resumes Friday with a full slate of games, heres a snapshot of the eight 50-win clubs and their outlook from here to October. San Francisco Giants (57-33) Why they should maintain it: The Giants have been formidable at home (29-17) and on the road (28-16), and theyre strong in all facets of the game. Theyre fourth in the National League with 424 runs scored, fifth in the league with a 3.55 ERA, and second to the Cubs with 41 defensive runs saved. Hunter Pence, Matt Duffy and Joe Panik are all working their way back from the disabled list, and the Bruce Bochy factor is always a plus. No manager in the game is better at guiding his team through injuries and worst-case scenarios.Reasons for concern: Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto might be baseballs best one-two pitching punch. But Jeff Samardzija has a 5.88 ERA since the start of June, Jake Peavy has been up and down, and Matt Cain will have to show he can stay healthy when he returns from a hamstring injury next week. San Franciscos starters lead the NL with 562 innings pitched, and that has allowed Bochy to protect his bullpen. But Brian Sabean, the teams executive vice president of baseball operations, and GM Bobby Evans will be trolling the market for pitching upgrades at the deadline. With the Giants, it almost always comes down to pitching.Catcher Buster Posey on the Giants ability to plug in unheralded, homegrown players with little to no drop-off in team performance: I think our front office has made a conscious effort to have guys in the farm system they feel can [help]. Obviously, wed love for everybody to stay healthy all year. But the front office has done a nice job of developing guys who can step in. We dont get too far ahead of ourselves. Thats a big strength for us. Stay in the moment, and try to focus on what you can do today and help the team win a game.Chicago Cubs (53-35) Why they should maintain it: The Cubs looked a lot like a juggernaut when they were 25-6 and sporting an 8?-game lead in the NL Central on May 10. They have two legitimate MVP candidates in Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, and a lot of young legs that should hold up well in August and September. Dexter Fowler and Jorge Soler are on their way back from the DL, and the schedule gives Joe Maddons team a nice opportunity to regain its equilibrium. The Cubs play 24 of their next 32 games at Wrigley Field, where theyre 26-14 this season.Reasons for concern: After winning the 2015 NL Cy Young Award and getting off to a dominant start this season, Jake Arrieta is 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA in his past four outings. He has been running up big pitch counts and hasnt gone seven innings in a start since June 11. It was widely assumed that president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer would pursue a front-line reliever at the trade deadline. Now that Chicagos rotation has begun showing signs of wear, the front office could dabble in the starter market as well.Second baseman Ben Zobrist on the Cubs recent struggles: Sometimes its difficult to push yourself when you feel like youre out to a big lead. The game is coming so easy when youre playing well, you can let off the gas pedal a little bit. Maybe we did that. We have to focus on putting the pedal to the metal and executing every day.Everybody wants to look at the wins and losses, but the more important thing for our team is the way weve lost. If were gonna lose games, we need to get beat instead of beating ourselves. There have been a lot of games in this past stretch where we beat ourselves. We can be so much better. Washington Nationals (54-36) Why they should maintain it: Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are a formidable one-two punch atop the rotation, and the Nats are solid at the back end with Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark, Joe Ross and (if necessary) Lucas Giolito. The Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos triumvirate anchors the lineup in the Nos. 3-4-5 slots in the lineup, and the Nats have gotten more production of late from Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa. If Harper gets on a roll and rediscovers the .286/.406/.714 Bryce of April, it will go a long way toward burying the Mets and Marlins in the NL East.Reasons for concern: With Ben Revere and Michael Taylor logging the bulk of the at-bats in the No. 1 spot, Washingtons leadoff men rank last in the majors with a .576 OPS. Ryan Zimmerman had a rough first half, and now hes on the disabled list with a rib injury. Washingtons bullpen has been solid with a 3.11 ERA and a .227 batting average against, but Jonathan Papelbons average velocity of 90.9 mph is down about 4 mph from his 2011 peak in Boston, and the relief corps could use another big arm at the back end. Washington GM Mike Rizzo has both the motivation and the weapons to make a run at relievers Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman.Murphy on manager Dusty Bakers influence in the dugout: Dusty is very calm. When you look over there in the middle of the game and something doesnt go your way, it seems like its exactly like what he expected. As a player, when you look over and you dont feel like your manager is ever panicking, it makes it much easier for you to relax and just go out there and play the game as hard as you can. Texas Rangers (54-36) Why they should maintain it: The Rangers have a nice mix of veterans and young players, and they bonded under manager Jeff Banister last year, posting a 38-22 record in August and September and zooming past Houston to win the AL West. The ageless Adrian Beltre keeps his teammates loose, integrates the newcomers into the mix, and wills the Rangers to win during the dog days. The Rangers lead the majors with a .292 batting average with runners in scoring position, and they have the potential for a dynamic one-two pitching punch with Hamels and Yu Darvish.Reasons for concern: Texas starting rotation ranks ninth in the majors with a 4.07 ERA, but its a fragile mix. Darvish is set to rejoin the rotation Saturday, but he is still only 16 months removed from Tommy John surgery. Derek Holland is out with a sore shoulder, and Colby Lewis was recently transferred to the 60-day DL with a lat strain. Prince Fielder showed signs of awakening from his slumber in June, but that .639 OPS is particularly unsightly given the $100 million-plus left on his contract through 2020. While Texas .600 winning percentage is impressive, iits built in part on a 19-7 record in one-run games.dddddddddddd The Rangers have a run differential of plus-16, which ranks 13th among the 30 MLB clubs.Outfielder Ian Desmond on the Rangers chemistry: Theres some serious resilience in our clubhouse. Youve got [Banister], who grinded his way to Manager of the Year last year. It wasnt like he was some phenom manager who was given a job. He worked his butt off to get there. Youve got Adrian Beltre, whos played 19 years in the big leagues and seen everything. Youve got [Rougned Odor], whos a tough little son-of-a-gun who plays the game extremely hard, and Robinson Chirinos, who keeps coming back from injuries and performing.When you put a bunch of good character guys in the room, youre generally going to draw out the best in each one of them. I think thats what youve seen with our team. Theres no lead thats too much for us to feel like we can conquer. Cleveland Indians (52-36) Why they should maintain it: The Indians have baseballs best rotation, one through five: Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Theyve been a good road team, and they never lost more than three games in a row at any stretch before the All-Star break. The lineup is also better than expected, with five players (Tyler Naquin, Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor, Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis) sporting an OPS of .800 or better and Mike Napoli right on the cusp at .793. The Tribe could receive a big lift after the break when outfielder Michael Brantley returns from a shoulder injury.Hes going to play defense and drive in runs, and hes going to help us be successful, just with his demeanor and the way he talks to us, Lindor said. He brings so much just with his presence.Reasons for concern: Brantley rushed back from his injury in April and gave the Indians only 43 plate appearances before returning to the DL. How much can he give the Indians this time around? Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen have been generally solid at the back end of the bullpen, but theyve combined to walk 34 hitters in 74? innings, which can lead to some suspense at times. The Indians could really use a shutdown lefty. But its a stretch to see them making a run at Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller, which leaves Fernando Abad and Will Smith among the potential options.Orioles closer Zach Britton on the Indians: Theyre a dangerous postseason team just because of their rotation. I dont know if you want to play a short series against those guys. Baltimore Orioles (51-36) Why they should maintain it: The lineup has major quick-strike capability. The Orioles lead the majors with 137 homers, and theyre second to Boston with a .467 team slugging percentage. GM Dan Duquette should get executive of the year consideration on the basis of that Mark Trumbo-for-Steve Clevenger trade alone. The bullpen has been terrific, and itll be even better once Darren ODay returns from a strained hamstring. The Orioles have great clubhouse leadership in Adam Jones and Chris Davis, and manager Buck Showalter is better than anyone at coaxing a bullpen through a long, demanding schedule.Reasons for concern: The rotation is a fiasco once you get past Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman. Baltimores starting ERA of 5.15 ranks 28th among the 30 MLB teams -- better than only the Minnesota Twins and Cincinnati Reds. Yovani Gallardo has shown signs of turning it around, but the heat is on Duquette to make some kind of upgrade, and the lack of elite talent in Baltimores farm system means hell have to get creative in making a deal.In a surprise announcement Friday, the Orioles said former first-round pick Dylan Bundy will make his big-league starting debut Sunday against Tampa Bay. Bundy has thrown 38 innings in the bullpen this season after injuries limited him to a total of 63 1/3 innings from 2013-2015, so itll be interesting to see how far the Orioles try to push him.Britton on Bundy: Everyone was talking about him a few years ago. Hes got the stuff. Watching his progression in the bullpen, hes pretty ready to be able to start in the big leagues. Im watching him attack the hitters, and hes starting to get the confidence and his velocity back. Hes a weapon down there. I just dont know what the innings would be like. Los Angeles Dodgers (51-40) Why they should maintain it: The Dodgers are 18-10 against the Padres, Rockies and Diamondbacks, and they still have 29 games left against the NL Wests three bottom-feeders. Now that Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu have returned, theres reason to hope for more consistent innings from the rotation. Rookie of the Year front-runner Corey Seager carried the offense in the first half, but Adrian Gonzalez is slugging .629 in 35 July at-bats and Howie Kendrick also began heating up before the break. Andre Ethier is expected to return from a fractured tibia in early August. That might lessen the sense of urgency for the front office to acquire a bat at the deadline.Reasons for concern: Clayton Kershaw is such a pivotal part of the Dodgers rotation, the front office gets nervous when he sneezes. If his back issues linger or reduce his effectiveness to any extent in the second half, it would be devastating to the Dodgers outlook. Los Angeles bullpen logged the sixth-heaviest workload in the National League by the All-Star break, and the Dodgers need more length from their starters to keep the pen fresh down the stretch.Seager on life under rookie manager Dave Roberts: Hes been great. You dont know what to expect in the first half, but weve kind of broke down the walls and come together united, and its starting to roll a little bit. Its taken some time for us and for him, but were starting to understand what each of us wants and needs. Were in a good spot, for sure. Toronto Blue Jays (51-40) Why they should maintain it: Everybody knows the Blue Jays can mash, but the pitching has been surprisingly good. Marco Estrada and Aaron Sanchez made the All-Star team, and Torontos rotation leads the majors with 823? innings. Marcus Stroman, the only Blue Jays starter with an ERA over 4.00, has begun to figure things out his past few starts and is poised for a big second half. Josh Donaldson has that MVP gleam in his eye, and Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders have some extra motivation to finish strong in their free-agent walk years.Reasons for concern: Estrada, who ranks first among MLB starters with a .173 batting average against, missed his last start with back soreness and has had several cortisone shots to address the issue. Of greater concern, Sanchez is at 118 innings and is fast approaching his single-season high of 133? innings in 2014. Will the Blue Jays move him to the bullpen and plug Drew Hutchison into his spot in the rotation? As the Stephen Strasburg and Matt Harvey situations showed in recent years, these decisions can be quite dicey.Estrada on the Sanchez innings dilemma: Yeah, hes open to being a reliever if he has to. But I know in his mind hes always wanted to be a starter. To finally get the opportunity, hes showing what he can do. Hes an All-Star, and I dont think hes making it back to that bullpen. I hope he doesnt.Id like to see him stay in the rotation with us. We need him. Hes one of the best pitchers out there. I know he has that whole limit on his innings. But were trying to get to the playoffs and win a World Series, and were going to need him to start. I know its not up to him, and its not up to me. Its up to the front-office guys, so its kind of out of his hands. Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys cheap jerseys Cheap Jersyes Cheap Basketball Jerseys Cheap NHL Jerseys cheap jerseys Cheap Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys ' ' '