NEW YORK – Concerns about swine flu prompted CONCACAF to cancel the rest of its under-17 soccer championship in Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and the United States had clinched spots in the semifinals of the tournament, being played in Tijuana.
But after the Mexican government announced it was closing schools nationwide, CONCACAF said Monday it would abandon the tournament “to safeguard the health of players, officials and fans.”
Health officials say 20 deaths in Mexico are confirmed to be from swine flu, which is also suspected of causing more than 100 other deaths there.
The U.S. team, which had won all three of its group matches, was heading back to Bradenton, Fla., where the players and coaches are based.
“Our primary concern is the safety of our athletes and all of the athletes that were involved in the tournament,” said Neil Buethe, spokesman for US Soccer. “If CONCACAF feels this is the best decision to ensure the safety of all the athletes, we support that.”
Varnado to test waters
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State forward Jarvis Varnado announced Monday that he has declared for the NBA draft but won’t hire an agent.
The 6-foot-9, 210-pound junior from Brownsville, Tenn., said in a school news release that he wanted to get a feel for his draft status. By not signing with an agent, he could return to Mississippi State.