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Will NCAA Concussion Lawsuits Be Consolidated?

Ten ex-football players' concussion-related lawsuits are pending against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). But the cases may soon be consolidated to streamline the settlement process. A two-year-old concussion lawsuit against the NCAA is in settlement talks -- now nine other lawsuits may enter the mix.

But what does it mean to consolidate cases?

Trash talk is being taken out of New Jersey high school sports, pursuant to a new state policy that bans taunting in an attempt to curb bullying.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), along with the New Jersey Attorney General's Office, announced the new policy last week. It prohibits high-school athletes from harassing others on the field or court, and takes effect this fall, reports the Associated Press.

Will this ban be the end of trash talking in New Jersey?

A Utah father and soccer referee died Saturday, one week after being punched in the face by a teenage soccer player.

Ricardo Portillo, 46, slipped into a coma following severe internal head injuries from the teen's assault April 27. It all happened because Portillo had given the player a yellow card, reports CNN.

Although Portillo's family has begun to grieve, they also want justice.

Hope Solo Allegedly Assaulted; Jerramy Stevens Not Charged

Former NFL tight end Jerramy Stevens was arrested, then released without charges, after allegedly striking Team USA soccer goalie Hope Solo on the eve of their wedding.

The two had been dating for only two months, and were set to wed Tuesday. But instead of a wedding, Solo had to appear in court as her groom-to-be faced domestic assault charges, reports USA Today.

Stevens and Solo reportedly started to argue over where they wanted to live -- Florida or Washington.

Soccer Player Kicks Owl: Video Shows Injured Bird

Before the Daily Mail posted the suddenly famous owl kick video, they added “Warning: Contains animal cruelty.” It sort of reminded me of a warning from a package of cigarettes. “Warning: Cigarettes cause cancer.” For some reason, that struck me. The other thing of course that was striking was the video itself, of Pereira player Luis Moreno kicking an owl nearly ten feet across the field during a match in Colombia.

The owl was a good luck charm for the fans of Pereira’s opponents, the home team, Junior Barranquilla. The owl came onto the field and was hit with the ball. That’s when Moreno ran over and kicked the owl off the field. The crowd started screaming at Moreno and chanting: “murderer, murderer, murderer.”

UWGB Soccer Players Accused of Rape, Suspended

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay soccer team may be in a whole lotta trouble these days, and I am talking way more than a red card. The Chicago Tribune reports that two UWGB soccer players have been accused of rape and suspended from the team.

Although few details are known at this time, The Tribune fills in some specifics of the incident: an alleged victim contacted police and said she had been assaulted by two players at an on-campus apartment ... she told investigators she couldn't remember all the details because she was apparently drugged. She says she wound up back at her home about 12 hours later and went to the hospital. The victim also claims she only had one drink the night of the incident.

Last month brought a Forbes report on the influence of the massive debt carried by many top European soccer clubs. Despite worldwide popularity and huge revenues from sponsorships and television licensing, many clubs do not bring in enough to keep up with the huge debts they incur trying to compete in the top leagues in Italy, Spain, and England.

The Forbes story notes that some commentators now expect a major shift in the economic model of top-flight soccer. Sports business expert Sean Hamil maintains that "the current model is reliant on high-net-worth individuals subsidizing premier league clubs as trophy assets," an arrangement he calls "unsustainable." In boom times, billionaires may actually enjoy throwing money away on a high-profile sports franchise, but in today's economic climate even the ultra-rich are thinking twice about money-losing hobbies.

A prime example of the high-debt model: Manchester United, said to be the world's most valuable sports club at $1.7 billion, but carrying an estimated $700 million in debt.

Juventus Won't Play in Empty Stadium (Yet), Despite Fans' Racist Insults

For the odd soccer fans out there who were looking forward to the spectacle of an eerily quiet match on May 3 between Italian soccer clubs Juventus and Lecce, prepare for possible disappointment. The AP reports that the Italian Olympic Committee has put a hold on a ruling that would have required Juventus to play its next Serie A home match in front of a crowd of empty seats. The original ruling against Juventus was handed down by an Italian sports judge last week as punishment for racist insults directed (presumably by Juventus fans) at Inter Milan striker Mario Balotelli, who is an Italian of Ghanaian descent.

However, Juventus isn't off the hook just yet, as this ruling appears to be just a temporary reprieve. The Committee reportedly indicated it would meet on May 14 to rule in the matter. Juventus is claiming that "Balotelli and other players were booed at many other matches and the Turin-based club was being singled out for punishment." So, apparently they don't want to be discriminated against ... But, for what it's worth, Inter Milan's coach Jose Mourinho didn't think the insults at issue were racist, either. In fact, he appears to agree with the Juventus side as to the penalty, saying:

"'If I can say something in defense of Juve, Saturday was not the first time. It's happened in many stadiums and even at our own ground,' Mourinho said, according to the ANSA news agency. 'I don't know what the difference is between 3,000 or 4,000 fans in Turin or 500 visiting fans at the San Siro, but it's not the first time.'

'Something has to be done,' Mourinho added. 'But I definitely don't like the idea of playing a game behind closed doors, because half the reasons for playing remain outside also, with the fans.'"

Sports Museum's Bankruptcy Leaves Athletes' Artifacts Held for Ransom by Court?

A U.S. bankruptcy court is apparently holding a variety of professional athletes' equipment, mementos, and memorabilia hostage until the athletes pay up enough dough to establish their ownership over the goods, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In an article yesterday, the WSJ explained that the situation involves items on loan to the "Sports Museum of America in New York, a for-profit organization that recently declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy after opening to great fanfare in May." Obviously the "great fanfare" wasn't big enough, but the bigger problem (at least for the athletes involved) is that some of their stuff has been thrown into a storage facility in New Jersey. That doesn't sound too bad, but the athletes are reportedly being forced to pay some pretty sizeable sums of cash to get their items back.