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Wednesday's Sports in Brief

SOCCER

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MOSCOW (AP) North America will host the 2026 World Cup after FIFA voters overwhelmingly opted for the financial and logistical certainty of a United States-led bid over a risky Moroccan proposal for the first 48-team tournament.

The soccer showpiece will return to the U.S. for the first time since 1994 after gaining 134 votes, while Morocco got 65 at the FIFA Congress in Moscow on Wednesday.

The vote by football federations was public, in contrast to secrecy surrounding the ballot by FIFA's elected board members for the 2018 and 2022 hosts, Russia and Qatar, in 2010.

The U.S. proposed staging 60 out of the 80 games in 2026, when 16 teams will be added to the finals, leaving Canada and Mexico with ten fixtures each. North America will host the 2026 World Cup after FIFA voters overwhelmingly opted for the financial and logistical certainty of a United States-led bid over risky Moroccan proposals for the first 48-team tournament.

The soccer showpiece will return to the U.S. for the first time since 1994 after gaining 134 votes, while Morocco got 65 at the FIFA Congress in Moscow on Wednesday.

UNDATED (AP) - With only two days to go before Spain's opening match at the World Cup, Julen Lopetegui was fired as national team coach after accepting a job to lead Real Madrid next season.

Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales, who made the announcement in Krasnodar, later said Fernando Hierro would replace Lopetegui as coach for Spain's match against Portugal in Sochi on Friday.

The 50-year-old Hierro, a former national team player and Real Madrid captain, will be taking on his first major coaching job. He had been acting as the federation's sports director and was already in Russia with the national team.

''I couldn't have said `no,' I wouldn't forgive myself,'' Hierro said. ''We still have a great opportunity in front of us. We have to remain positive and move forward.''

Rubiales said firing Lopetegui wasn't the best solution but it was needed after the federation was caught by surprise by Madrid's announcement .

COLLEGE SPORTS

College athletes will no longer need permission from their coach or school to transfer and receive financial aid from another school.

The NCAA Division I Council approved the change effective Oct. 15 on Wednesday. The council also decided that D-I football players will be allowed to play in up to four games in a season without losing a year of eligibility if they can no longer play because of injuries ''or other factors.''

The long-awaited transfer reform ended up being a narrow change, but should provide more freedom for athletes to transfer when and where they want.

Under the new rule, athletes would be permitted to be contacted when they notify their current coaches, who have two days to enter the names into a database created and managed by the NCAA that will alert schools who can be recruited. The change will come with stricter tampering rules to help appease coaches who worry illegal recruiting could rise.

Currently, an athlete must ask a coach for permission to contact other schools when choosing to transfer. A school interested in recruiting a transferring player also must ask the current school for permission to recruit. Without permission from the original school, the athlete cannot get financial aid from another school, essentially blocking a transfer.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Anne Donovan, the Basketball Hall of Famer who won a national championship at Old Dominion, two Olympic gold medals in the 1980s and coached the U.S. to gold in 2008, died Wednesday of heart failure. She was 56.

Donovan's family confirmed the death in a statement.

Donovan was at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee, last weekend.

She was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995, was part of the inaugural class of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 and was inducted in the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2015.

The 6-foot-8 center coached both in college and the WNBA. She became the first female coach and the youngest person (42) to win a title in the WNBA, guiding the Seattle Storm to a championship in 2004. She also coached the Indiana Fever, the Charlotte Sting, New York Liberty and Connecticut Sun, working there from 2013-15.

The New Jersey native also coached at Seton Hall for two years.

PRO FOOTBALL

FRISCO, Texas (AP) - The deal making Zack Martin of the Dallas Cowboys the highest-paid guard in the NFL is finally done.

The Cowboys and Martin agreed to terms on an $84 million, six-year contract extension that should keep the two-time All-Pro in Dallas through at least 2024, a person with direct knowledge of the deal said Wednesday.

The contract includes $40 million guaranteed money, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn't been announced.

The sides got close enough to an agreement over the weekend that Martin went through the first two days of mandatory minicamp after missing all nine voluntary offseason practices as negotiations that got serious last year kept dragging.

The Cowboys intended all along to give Martin the biggest contract at his position. The delay pushed the price tag up after Jacksonville's Andrew Norwell signed a $66.5 million, five-year contract in March.

The $14 million average on Martin's deal surpasses Norwell's $13.3 million average.

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
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