On Richmond’s Monument Avenue, the collection of towering statues honoring Confederate veterans was interrupted by one noticeably different: a monument to Black tennis legend and civil rights activist Arthur Ashe. The Ashe statue seemed safe from defacement during recent protests over racism and police brutality, when protesters covered Confederate statues with graffiti and pulled down a statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States during the Civil War. But after someone painted “White Lives Matter” on Ashe’s statue, city officials considered a request from Ashe’s family to temporarily remove the statue to protect it. On Friday, however, Ashe’s nephew, David Harris, Jr., said the statue is not going anywhere. Harris said the original request was a contingency plane. A spokesman said Richmond mayor Levar Stoney is “going to listen to the family” and not remove the statue . . . FedEx, which signed a $205-million stadium naming rights deal with the Washington Redskins in 1999, notified the team in a July 2 letter that, unless the team changes its name, it will remove its signage from the stadium after the NFL’s 2020 season, six years before the deal’s expiration. The two-page letter was emailed the same day FedEx publicly acknowledged in a one-sentence statement that it had communicated its “request” that the team change its name. It noted that the team’s name, which it never cited, poses the risk of harming FedEx’s brand reputation and is inconsistent with its commitment to a more inclusive society. In short, if team owner Daniel Snyder keeps the name, which he vowed in 2013 he would never change, he faces an exodus of the team’s major sponsors.
Keepers star in MLS draw
Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei made eight saves, including a diving stop on a deflected shot in the 70th minute, and the Sounders and San Jose played to a 0-0 draw in the MLS is Back tournament on Friday night. The West Coast squads seemed to wilt in the heat and humidity of Central Florida as they combined for 28 total shots but could not beat either goalkeeper. Frei had the more highlight-worthy saves, the best coming off Jackson Yueill’s deflected shot. But San Jose goalkeeper Daniel Vega was his equal. Vega stopped Cristian Roldan on a clear chance in the first half. Vega then made a pair of key saves late in the match. He denied Raul Ruidiaz inside the penalty area in the 84th minute. Vega finished with six stops.
Stacked Champions’ draw
All five former Champions League winners were put into the same half of the draw, setting up a possible semifinal pairing between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Real Madrid, Juventus, Barcelona, Chelsea and Bayern Munich — who have combined to win 26 European Cups — will whittle down one side of the draw to reach the final on Aug. 23 at the Stadium of Light in Lisbon. The other side will see three-time finalist Atlético Madrid face Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain meet Atalanta. Leipzig and Atalanta are newcomers to this stage. The single-leg quarterfinal matches will be played on four straight evenings from Aug. 12-15 to start a mini-tournament without fans in Portugal. The semifinals are scheduled for Aug. 17-18 . . . Manchester City will get the verdict on Monday in its appeal against a two-year ban from UEFA competitions. Man City was punished in February for “serious breaches” of rules monitoring club finances and failing to cooperate with investigators. The allegations included that City, owned by Abu Dhabi’s royal family, misled UEFA over several years to meet financial integrity rules — known as Financial Fair Play (FFP) — required to enter the Champions League. The club denied wrongdoing, and said it has “irrefutable evidence” the claims are not true.
Woj, ESPN apologize to US Senator
Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., tweeted an image of an email from Adrian Wojnarowski in which ESPN’s NBA reporter responded to a news release sent out by the senator’s office with an expletive. Hawley sent out an announcement publicizing a letter he sent to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver that criticizes the league for allowing messages that promote social justice on player jerseys during the season’s restart this month, while not allowing messages of support for law enforcement or criticism of China’s Communist Party. Wojnarowski responded to Hawley’s press office email, writing, “F--- You,” without censoring the expletive. Hawley then posted an image of Wojnarowski’s response on Twitter with the message, “Don’t criticize #China or express support for law enforcement to @espn. It makes them real mad.” By Friday afternoon, Wojnarowski tweeted an apology, writing: “I was disrespectful and I made a regrettable mistake. I’m sorry for the way I handled myself and I am reaching out immediately to Sen. Hawley to apologize directly. I also need to apologize to my ESPN colleagues because I know my actions were unacceptable and should not reflect on any of them.” In its own statement, ESPN said, “This is completely unacceptable behavior and we do not condone it. It is inexcusable for anyone working for ESPN to respond in the way Adrian did to Sen. Hawley. We are addressing it directly with Adrian and the specifics of those conversations will remain internal.”
Dutch speed skating champion dies
World champion short-track speed skater Lara van Ruijven died Friday as a result of complications from an autoimmune reaction. The 27-year-old van Ruijven had been in critical condition for a days at a hospital in the French city of Perpignan. Last year, with her 500-meter title in Bulgaria, she became the first Dutch short-track skater to win a world title. Herman de Haan, director of the national skating body in the Netherlands, said “It’s incomprehensible that she has been taken from us while in the prime of her life.” . . . Austin Cindric dominated in sweeping the NASCAR Xfinity Series doubleheader at Kentucky Speedway. A night after racing to his first career oval victory in an overtime finish, the Team Penske driver was even stronger in the No. 22 Ford Mustang in the 300-mile capper. Cindric was third in the first stage, won the second and stretched it out in the final segment. He trailed briefly on the final restart, then sliced through two cars out of Turn 2 and rolled to victory by 2.262 seconds over points leader Chase Briscoe in the No. 98 Ford. Just after Cindric celebrated his victory with a burnout, drivers Harrison Burton and Noah Gragson argued before throwing punches in a fight that lasted several moments before they were separated.
Filly the favorite for Blue Grass Stakes
Multiple graded stakes winner Swiss Skydiver, scheduled to become the second filly to run in the Blue Grass Stakes since Harriet Sue finished fifth in 1944, will be the favorite in a 13-horse field Saturday for the key Kentucky Derby prep race at Keeneland . The daughter of Daredevil is already nominated for the Triple Crown and a victory would only increase the speculation she would race against the boys in the Kentucky Derby (she leads all fillies with 310 points on the Kentucky Oaks leader board). This weekend she will have a five-pound advantage against the colts, who all carry 123 pounds. Swiss Skydiver will carry 118 pounds . . . The California Horse Racing Board put Los Alamitos on probation for 10 days while the track develops a plan to address an increase in horse deaths. According to the board, 19 horses have died from racing or training at the track in 2020, including eight since May 26. Los Alamitos was the only track in California allowed to continue operating during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who keeps a division of horses at Los Alamitos, considers the track the “best surface . . . and safest racing surface I that I’ve trained on.”