What Griner may endure at a penal colony; Hey Yank! It's football, not soccer. Or is it?: top sports stories

Photos by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; FOX Sports; Gao Jing/Xinhua via Getty Images; Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

What life looks like at Russian penal colonies, and at Brittney Griner's prospects of being freed in a U.S.-Russia prisoner exchange; when Qatar made its pitch to host the tournament, the country agreed to FIFA’s requirements of selling alcohol in stadiums; Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers believes it's time to go all grass throughout the league; the 2024 Olympics are in France, but the a majority of the mascots are made in China; and why soccer is called football in the rest of the world. These are the top stories in the world of sports from Nov. 14-20:

1. What Brittney Griner may endure in Russian penal system

WNBA star Brittney Griner has begun serving her 9-year sentence for drug possession at a remote Russian penal colony that human rights advocates say is known for harsh conditions and violent criminals. Here's a look at what life looks like at Russian penal colonies, and at Griner's prospects of being freed in a U.S.-Russia prisoner exchange. It's in a region once synonymous with the Soviet gulag.

Griner was convicted Aug. 4 after customs agents said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. The all-star center with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and two-time Olympic gold medalist said she had been prescribed cannabis for pain and had no criminal intent.

US basketball player Brittney Griner is seen on a screen via a video link from a remand prison during a court hearing to consider an appeal against her sentence, at the Moscow regional court on October 25, 2022. (File photo KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via

2. World Cup fans 'will survive' without beer, FIFA head says

FIFA president Gianni Infantino downplayed Qatar's last minute ban on the sale of beer at World Cup stadiums as nothing more than a brief inconvenience to spectators.

"If this is the biggest problem we have, I’ll sign that (agreement)," Infantino said Saturday, a day after the conservative Muslim emirate did an about-face on the deal it had made to secure the soccer tournament.

Infantino blamed "crowd flows" in Doha for the decision, though it appeared to be a ruling by Qatar’s autocratic government to placate its conservative Wahhabi citizens who already have been angered by some events around the tournament they view as Western excesses.

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino speaks during a press conference ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 tournament on November 19, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Maryam Majd ATPImages/Getty images)

3. 2024 Paris Olympics mascots fuel criticism for actually being made in China

The mascots for the 2024 Paris Olympics are a symbol of the French Republic. Most of them are made in China, and that does not go down well in France.

The Phryges mascots are manufactured by French companies Gipsy Toys and Doudou et Compagnie. They use fabric developed in the French region of Brittany, but the toys are primarily manufactured in China. Only about 8% of the mascot will be made in France.

Tony Estanguet, President of Paris 2024, poses with the Phryges, unveiled as the official mascots of Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games during a press conference in Saint Denis, France, Nov. 14, 2022. (Photo by Gao Jing/Xinhua via Getty Images)

4. Aaron Rodgers, NFL players urge league to replace turf with grass

Aaron Rodgers has hit the ground in every NFL stadium except one. And while the "frozen tundra" of Lambeau Field has delivered its share of bumps and bruises, the venues with artificial turf have been even rougher on Rodgers’ nearly 39-year-old body.

The outpouring comes a week after NFL Players Association called on six venues to change their field types, saying the artificial turf in those stadiums was resulting in higher injury rates.

Silly old Americans, they don’t even call the sport by its proper name. It’s not soccer, say the English. It is football. (FOX Sports) 

5. Hey Yank! It's football, not soccer. Or is it?

It's not an American thing. As a word, "soccer" is as English as a pint of warm ale.

To most of the rest of the world, the activity that will transfix millions when it is beamed from Qatar over the next month is, indeed, football. In this country, obviously, it is soccer, a convention largely necessitated because what we call football is that game where Tom Brady never gets old, Justin Jefferson makes ridiculous catches, and colleges have stadiums bigger than the population of their town. And where, if it’s a fall Friday, the high school lights are always on.

How it came to pass that soccer became embedded in the sporting lexicon actually has some pretty intriguing history behind it, and we will get into all that, but first let’s take note of the reality that the "soccer or football" debate is one that causes the American soccer diehard to dive for the aspirin. 

Continuing coverage of World Cup Qatar 2022

The Associated Press contributed to this report.