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ATP World Tour Exec Chair & President Brad Drewett shockingly announced that he would soon resign because he has been diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease). Drewett, who has been in his role for more than a year, but with the ATP for 35 years in some form as a player or administrator, made the sad announcement during the start of the Australian Open. Drewett has worked tirelessly during the last year seeking dramatic changes in prize money from the Grand Slams, which he won from the Australian Open. During that time he spoke with an unusually soft voice, which he said was due to problems with his vocal cords. It is unclear if the voice issue is related to ALS. Drewett said, "It has been a privilege to serve as Executive Chairman and President of the ATP, an organization that I've been a part of for more than 35 years since I became a professional tennis player. I hold the ATP very close to my heart, and it's with sadness that I make the decision to enter this transition period due to my ill-health." He will continue in his current role on an interim basis as the ATP board of directors begins the search process for his successor in the near future. Drewett was recently named one of SportsBusiness Journal’s "50 Most Influential People In Sports Business" for the work he had done on the Grand Slam prize money issue. WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster said in a statement, “The thoughts and prayers of the WTA family are with Brad, his family and the entire ATP community at this very difficult time” (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).
A FRIEND TO MANY: In Sydney, Courtney Walsh wrote Roger Federer, who as president of the ATP Tour Players Council "dealt with Drewett on several issues including negotiations that led to a massive increase in prize money" for this Australian Open, was "shattered when told" the news. Federer said, "I saw him yesterday and he told me the news. I was very emotional." Andy Murray, too, was "dispirited after being told of the illness." Murray said, "It's obviously tough to hear. He's a positive influence on the game. It is shocking news, and I am very sad" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/16). Australian coach and analyst Darren Cahill, who has long been a friend of Drewett's, said: "I felt sick when the news came out today. Sometimes the worst things happen to the best people. We don't know why, but he's always been a great friend to us and always will be, and our love and support goes to him and his family and his three kids" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/15).
Former Test seamer and departing Sydney Sixers GM Stuart Clark "has ruled himself out of the running" to be Cricket New South Wales' next CEO but "has launched a stinging critique of the game in the state, saying a review was 'essential,'" according to Andrew Wu of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Clark announced in November that "he would step down from the Sixers when his contract expires in May because he did not want to be pigeonholed as a cricket administrator." Clark said, ''I'm not interested. If I don't get out now I'll never get out.'' Clark "fears for the direction of the game in the NSW, which he represented with distinction in a career that spanned 14 seasons and yielded 24 Test appearances." Clark said, ''The review of cricket in NSW is essential because we're getting left behind. After finishing seventh and eighth in the Big Bash and not doing so well in first-class and one-day competitions, our cricket's not working. We need a good wholehearted look at everything in cricket" (SMH, 1/16).
FIFA President Sepp Blatter "has criticised Premier League teams for holding back the England team by playing too many foreign players in key positions," according to Paul Kelso of the London TELEGRAPH. Blatter said that while he admired the "absolutely outstanding marketing" of the Premier League around the world, "the dominance of overseas stars was holding back the national team." Blatter "also called for stiffer penalties for players and clubs whose supporters engage in racism," and confirmed he would stand down in '15, tipping UEFA President Michel Platini as a "good possibility" to replace him. Asked if he feared the EPL had gotten too big, Blatter focused on the impact on the national team: "You have in the key positions in the Premier League too many foreigners and not English players, so your national team is not yet, I have to say, is not yet at the level of these national teams [Spain, Italy and Germany]" (TELEGRAPH, 1/14).
SUMMER IN THE CITY: The AP reported Blatter "raised fresh doubts about the safety of playing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in summertime," saying that "supporters could struggle to cope with the heat outside stadiums." There "have been growing calls to move the tournament to the winter to avoid the sweltering desert heat, which is expected to exceed 40 degrees Celsius." Blatter said, "It has been presented in the bid documents and in the presentation they made here in Zurich that there is a system that the stadia can be presented in, let's say, an atmosphere where it will not be too hot, too warm. But the World Cup is not only played in the stadia. The World Cup is also outside of the stadia, so it is a question mark" (AP, 1/15).