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Stern Not Happy With
Misuse Of Buyout In NBA
TANKING SEASON: SI.com's Steve Aschburner wrote by the final five or six weeks of the NBA season, there are "as many teams with good reasons to lose as there are teams with good reasons to win." Aschburner cited a potential solution, recommended by a group including Boston educator Peter Harris. The system "measures a team's performance from the time it is eliminated from a potential postseason berth until the end of the season; teams that win more, late in the schedule with few tangible rewards otherwise, benefit by moving up in draft order. Those who lose, particularly at a sorrier rate late in the year than they did early, get penalized" (SI.com, 3/11).
A Swiss judge yesterday during a "fraud trial into the bankruptcy" of Int'l Sports & Leisure (ISL), FIFA's former marketing agency, revealed that more than US$134.4M was "allegedly paid to leading sports officials in 'bribes' to secure valuable marketing and television rights contracts," according to David Bond of the London TELEGRAPH. ISL in '01 "collapsed" with debts surpassing US$311.7M, and after a four-year investigation into ISL, six former company execs including former Chair Jean Marie Weber were "finally accused this week of a series of charges including fraud, embezzlement and the falsification of documents." Paraguayan FIFA Exec Committee member Nicolas Leoz was "found to have received two separate payments from ISL totaling" about US$173,096, making him the "only official of any note who has emerged from the inquiries." Leoz' name was released to the court Tuesday on a "list of payments made to sports officials via bank accounts in offshore tax havens" including Liechtenstein. The released list showed that almost US$18.3M had been paid to sports officials between '99-'01. However, Bond notes because none of the defendants are facing bribery charges, the trial is "unlikely to reveal the identity of the officials who received the sweeteners to secure contracts worth billions of pounds" (London TELEGRAPH, 3/13).
OFFSIDES? ESPNSOCCERNET.com's Jon Carter wrote the decision of the Int'l FA Board (IFAB) to "halt work on developing technology to aid in goal-line controversy was dealt with deplorably." The IFAB voted "against continuing experiments for the foreseeable future" on the Hawk-Eye technology. Carter wrote FIFA likes to "project an image of progression, while the reality is that they would rather hark back to older and, in their view, happier, times" (ESPNSOCCERNET.com, 3/11).
BYE BYE BECKHAM? ESPN's Jim Rome, on reports that David Beckham wants a team to buy out his Galaxy contract so he can return to Europe: "Soccer may be the world sport, but here it ranks right behind darts and just ahead of foosball. It doesn't matter now and it never will. The fact the greatest footballer of them all came here and didn't move the needle at all proves that once again" ("Jim Rome Is Burning," ESPN, 3/12).
Palmer Feels Pros Should Work On Penmanship
In S.F., Susan Slusser reports the April 2 Red Sox-A's game has been moved from a 7:05pm PT time slot to 12:35pm PT in a decision imposed by MLB "at the behest" of the MLBPA. The MLBPA argued that the Red Sox, whose next game would be on April 4 at the Blue Jays, need "adequate time to adjust to Eastern time after a week in Japan and then a week on the West Coast." A's President Michael Crowley: "We would prefer not to change the time, obviously. It's not ideal." Slusser notes it is "certainly not ideal" for TV rights holder KICU-Ind., which does not air day games on weekdays. Therefore, the game will not be broadcast on TV and KICU's first A's telecast will now be the Indians-A's game on April 4 (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/13).
NHL: Sources indicated that there "may be an outdoor component" of the '09 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal, though it "won't be the actual game itself." In Toronto, Eric Duhatschek writes even though outdoor games "can be risky, expensive and bothersome to stage, there is a growing sentiment in the league to schedule one every year for the foreseeable future, preferably on New Year's to take advantage of its potential as a made-for-TV event" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 3/13).
Baker Looking Into Int'l Expansion Of AFL
IRL: Minardi Team USA Owner Paul Stoddart, whose team was scheduled to make the switch from Champ Car following the unification of the two open-wheel racing leagues, yesterday said that he is pulling out of the '08 IndyCar season because he "doesn't think new teams could be competitive in the IRL." In Toronto, Dean McNulty writes, "More and more it is looking as if there will only be two teams, Newman-Haas-Lanigan and KV Racing," that transition from Champ Car when the IndyCar season debuts March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Stoddart: "I think realistically 2010 is the first opportunity for Champ Car teams to be competitive." Meanwhile, KV Racing co-Owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser have signed Will Power to join Oriol Servia as the team's two IndyCar drivers in '08 (TORONTO SUN, 3/13).