Wednesday's Sports in Brief

WASHINGTON (AP) Boxing legend Muhammad Ali criticized Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, calling on Muslims ''to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda.''

Ali, one of the most famous Muslims in the world, issued a statement saying, ''True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.''

He added, ''I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people's views on what Islam really is.''

More from FoxSports

Ali's statement, first reported by NBC News, did not identify Trump by name but was directed at ''presidential candidates proposing to ban Muslim immigration to the United States.''

Another Muslim sports icon, basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, weighed in with an essay on He described Trump as the Islamic State group's ''greatest triumph,'' a candidate who ''preys on the fears of the public, doing ISIS's job for them.''


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Vikings' internal security staff is investigating after a fan said another man directed racist comments at him during Sunday's game.

Deepinder Mayell wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday in the Star Tribune that he was at Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks when another fan demanded to know if he was a refugee and made other comments Mayell considered hate speech. Mayell described himself as non-white.

Mayell wrote that he reported the man to security but the man wasn't asked to leave.

The Vikings said in a statement that they first learned of the incident from the op-ed.

The statement said the team reached out to Mayell and its security staff is investigating.

The Vikings say they also plan to have ''further conversations'' with security for the University of Minnesota, the team's temporary home amid work on a new stadium.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The New York Mets quickly bounced back from losing out on their first choice for a new second baseman, acquiring Neil Walker from the Pittsburgh Pirates for left-hander Jonathon Niese.

The teams made the swap of established big leaguers at the winter meetings.

The Mets had made it known that they were targeting Ben Zobrist as their No. 1 goal this offseason. But on Tuesday, the All-Star free agent chose the Chicago Cubs and former manager Joe Maddon.

The 30-year-old Walker fills the hole created when playoff slugger Daniel Murphy became a free agent after New York lost the World Series.

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - The Oakland Athletics made two more moves to boost their pitching staff, acquiring a pair of minor leaguers from the Chicago White Sox for third baseman Brett Lawrie and agreeing to terms with right-hander John Axford on a $10 million, two-year contract.

Axford's deal was pending a physical, a person with knowledge of the agreement said on condition of anonymity because it hadn't been announced. Axford spent 2015 with Colorado, but had a scary start to the year when his then-2-year-old son Jameson was hospitalized at spring training in Arizona after being bit on the foot by a rattlesnake. The pitcher missed more than a week to be with his toddler.

The A's announced the trade of Lawrie, an anticipated move for the club during baseball's winter meetings. Oakland received right-hander J.B. Wendelken and minor league left-hander Zack Erwin in the swap.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Major League Baseball recommended teams have protective netting between the dugouts for any field-level seats within 70 feet of home plate.

The guidelines were announced at the winter meetings following a season in which several fans were injured by foul balls, prompting MLB to study fan safety. Most teams are expected to expand their use of netting.

The recommendation also applies to spring training ballparks, many of them owned by municipalities.

Boston, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia immediately said they will follow the recommendation. The Phillies hope to install thinner material that is less noticeable.


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The Charlotte Hornets will be without Al Jefferson for an additional five games once he returns from a leg injury after the veteran center was suspended without pay for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.

Jefferson is currently out with a strained left calf and can't begin serving the five-game suspension until he's healthy, the league announced.

Team officials said on Nov. 30 that Jefferson would miss ''two to three weeks'' with the injury, so it is unclear exactly when Jefferson will be eligible to return to action.


SPRINGFIELD, New Jersey (AP) - The IBF stripped British boxer Tyson Fury of its world heavyweight belt because he was breaking rules by meeting Wladimir Klitschko in a rematch in his next fight.

Fury was supposed to meet the IBF's No. 1 contender, Vyacheslav Glazkov, in a mandatory defense, but couldn't because he was contractually obligated to meet Klitschko.

The International Boxing Federation said in a statement that the contract it received for the Klitschko-Fury bout on Nov. 28 didn't have a provision for a rematch, and if it had been aware of one, then it would have allowed a rematch only after a mandatory defense. If Klitschko and Fury had not agreed to that, the IBF said, then it would not have sanctioned the title fight.

Fury took the IBF, WBA and WBO titles from Klitschko, who exercised his option for an immediate rematch.


LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) - The political and economic turmoil in Brazil will ''inevitably'' affect next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, a senior IOC official said, as Brazilian organizers declared that preparations remain fully on track for the games despite the grim financial situation.

With the opening ceremony less than eight months away, Brazil is dealing with severe recession, impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff and a massive corruption scandal involving state-run oil company Petrobras.

''They have political and economic difficulties,'' IOC vice president Craig Reedie said. ''Inevitably, they will affect the games. There are challenges. I think they and we will have to get through it.''

Reedie spoke after Rio organizers made their latest progress report to the International Olympic Committee executive board. The Brazilians outlined the progress they have made in venue construction over the past year, saying most of the facilities are now ready for South America's first Olympics.