Sports Digest: Mercedes withdraws appeal and won’t contest Verstappen title

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CAR RACE

Mercedes ended the dispute over the Formula 1 season finale by withdrawing its appeal from the controversial finish that cost Lewis Hamilton an eighth championship record.

Mercedes had filed a pair of protests after Sunday’s race, in which a late crash at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix helped Max Verstappen beat Hamilton to the title. Both protests were dismissed, and Mercedes subsequently sought a reconsideration from the International Court of Appeal, a process that could have dragged on into the next year.

Mercedes was protesting against the use of the safety car following an accident five laps from the end. Hamilton was almost 12 seconds ahead of Verstappen when the crash brought out the yellow flag.

Verstappen refueled for new tires while Hamilton stayed on track. The clerk of the course first said the overtaken drivers couldn’t overtake the safety car, then quashed the appeal in a decision that saw Verstappen start straight behind Hamilton with one lap remaining. Verstappen then passed Hamilton to win his first world championship.

COLLEGES

UMAINE: The University of Maine system has updated its COVID-19 safety protocols for indoor events to include children at least 5 years old.

As of January 4, anyone 5 years of age or older must show proof of vaccination or a negative test taken within 72 hours to attend any event with more than 250 people. The policy applies to all indoor sporting events held at schools in the UMaine system, as well as UMaine matches played at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

The updated guidelines reflect a recent recommendation from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that children aged 5 to 11 receive COVID-19 vaccines.

FOOTBALL

MLS: Midfielder Sebastian Lletget was acquired by the New England Revolution from the LA Galaxy for $ 500,000 in 2022 and 2023 as a general allowance.

A regular with the U.S. national team, the 29-year-old had spent the past seven seasons with the Galaxy and will reunite with New England coach Bruce Arena, the former Galaxy coach.

ENGLAND: This weekend’s Premier League schedule has been wiped out as coronavirus outbreaks in clubs forced the postponement of five games, bringing the total number of games canceled over the past week to nine.

In addition to the postponement of the Manchester United-Brighton match on Saturday, the league said the following matches were also called off: Southampton-Brentford, Watford-Crystal Palace, West Ham-Norwich (all Saturday) and Everton-Leicester (Sunday).

There are only five league games left to play this weekend, with the growing number of infections among teams reflecting the worsening health emergency in Britain as the omicron variant spreads.

Two games were played Thursday night. Liverpool won at home against Newcastle, 3-1, but said three players – Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Curtis Jones – were missing due to suspected positive tests for the virus.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has said Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi were unavailable for a 1-1 draw at home against Everton after testing positive. Ben Chilwell, who is injured, also tested positive and Kai Havertz was missing because he was not feeling well.

SPAIN: Real Madrid may have encountered their toughest opponent of the season: COVID-19.

A virus epidemic has infected six Madrid players. The club said on Thursday that Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio, Rodrygo and substitute goalkeeper Andriy Lunin had been infected, a day after midfielders Luka Modric and Marcelo tested positive.

The club did not mention the state of health of any of those infected.

As Madrid made the outbreak public, the Spanish soccer federation said it was reinstating a ban on shaking hands and other greetings as well as all tributes held before kick-off “as additional preventive measures given the increase in cases “.

The infections come as Madrid prepare for the winter break with a sizable lead in the Spanish league.

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