Japan and South Korea are "bidding ferociously" against each
other for the rights to the 2002 World Cup, according to the
FINANCIAL TIMES. The competition has fed into ongoing "quarrels"
over events that took place during World War II, and South Korean
Prime Minister Lee Hong-Ko has warned that the World Cup bidding
could worsen matters. FINANCIAL TIMES' Terazono & Burton write,
if South Korea gets the games, it could be a "fatal blow" to the
Japanese professional soccer league, as Japan has never made it
to the World Cup finals and could give up on the sport. If Japan
wins, it would add to a "long list of grudges" South Korea has
against Japan. FIFA decided against moving the decision up to
December '95. An announcement is still expected in June '96
(FINANCIAL TIMES, 11/18-19 issue).
Doug Logan will reportedly be named the first Commissioner
of MLS today. Logan has an "entertainment and arena-business
background" and will be asked to steer the league during their
inaugural season which will being play in April (USA TODAY,
11/21). Alan Rothenberg is expected to formalize his future role
with the MLS this week. With the "need for a hands-on leader,"
Rothenberg passed on being full-time Commissioner. Rothenberg
has been viewed as "having spread himself too thinly between MLS,
his law practice and the presidency of the [USSF]." Grahame
Jones reports the move has been "mutually agreed-upon" and that
Rothenberg is "not being forced out" (L.A. TIMES, 11/21).
During halftime of "Monday Night Football" last night, ABC's
Al Michaels delivered a video op-ed on the problems facing the
NFL. Michaels opened by describing the league as "spinning off
its axis." He continued, "The NFL will likely soon lay claim to
the dubious honor of becoming the first major professional sports
organization in North America ever to witness four franchise
shifts in a two year period and things are just heating up. ...
Now we're being told that circumvention of that cap is behind all
these franchise moves so that teams can remain competitive.
Excuse me! What's behind these moves is an old game played in
sophisticated ways. The cities of St. Louis, Baltimore, Oakland
and Nashville stood on street corners whistling, 'Hey, sailor.'
And the Rams, Raiders, Browns and Oilers crossed the street and
made the whistlers pay to boot. ... Perhaps scariest of all is
the fact the old guard owners are the ones on the move" ("MNF,"
NEW LEAGUE: USA TODAY's Gordon Forbes reports the 16-team
Fan Football League, proposed by USFL Founder Dave Dixon, would
play a 24-game schedule from September to March. Dixon, who
claims to have received "tremendous response," promises the FFL
would play in "top markets" (warm-weather and dome cities), with
"the best stadiums," and "big-name coaches" (USA TODAY, 11/21).
VIEWING NOTE: Tonight, PBS' "Nightly Business Report" will
feature a segment on the business of pro football ("Nightly
Business Report," 11/20).
The NBA said it has reached its "negotiating limit" with its
locked-out referees and that they are prepared to play out the
regular season with replacements, according to the PHILADELPHIA
DAILY NEWS. NBA Senior VP/Legal & Business Affairs Jeffrey
Mishkin made the remarks after announcing that the refs had
rejected a five-year offer that included "an initial salary
increase of 18.6% and a total of 60% in raises." The refs said
the proposal still would not make them the highest paid officials
in pro sports, and expressed displeasure the NBA "bypassed the
union leadership and sent copies of the deal to every member of
the staff, requesting that they vote on it" (Phil Jasner, PHILA.
DAILY NEWS, 11/21). CNN's Fred Hickman reported union leadership
"has refused to put the latest league proposal for a 10% salary
hike over the next five years to a vote." Hickman quoted NBA
Commissioner David Stern as saying the union "left us no choice
other than to continue our season with new officials who will
begin working 3-man crews December 4" ("Sports Tonight," 11/20).
Stern was "disappointed" the union chose to reject the deal
without having a vote of its membership. No new talks have been
scheduled (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/21).
THE WOMEN'S GAME: The U.S. Women's National Team is hoping
the "momentum from Atlanta will quickly lead to a new era" of
women's pro basketball, according to Mark Starr of NEWSWEEK.
Besides marketing the team prior to the Olympics, the NBA is
expected to help two new leagues scheduled to begin play by next
fall. NBA VP/Business Affairs Val Ackerman: "Our goal of making
basketball the most popular sport in the world is not limited to
the 320 best male players in the U.S." Champion Products VP Matt
Mirchin: "When the NBA puts its marketing muscle behind
something, it usually becomes quite successful." But Starr
writes, despite the corporate involvement, "women's basketball
doesn't yet measure up" to the men's game. In fact, Starr
believes women's basketball is "getting a boost from middle-aged
sportswriters nostalgic for the kind of hoops they grew up with"
(NEWSWEEK, 11/27 issue).
Despite the outcry over a World Tour idea that was floated
just one year ago, the "notion of increasing elite competition
among the world's best players lives on strongly," according to
Jeff Rude in the cover story of the current GOLFWEEK. Frank
Williams, agent to Greg Norman, who backed the proposal last
November, said he believes golf fans will "see some sort of world
tour in 1997 -- not until then because of the existing
(television) contracts." PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem
confirmed he and other pro tour commissioners from around the
world are working on "specially designated series of events with
an international context." Finchem said resolving the Tour's FTC
issues earlier this year has helped move the process forward.
Norman and organizer John Montgomery, Jr., say they have seen
"two other serious proposals," one by Joe Collet, a former agent
for Seve Ballesteros (GOLFWEEK, 11/18 issue). An editorial in
GOLFWEEK states that "golf needs a world tour. The people want
it, the players want it, the sponsors want it." Existing tours
"better deliver quickly" before a "maverick" tour disrupts pro
golf (GOLFWEEK, 11/18 issue).
MONTGOMERY MOVES ON: Montgomery, who was the World Tour
"frontman," is profiled as "recovering from World Tour setback."
He now heads Montgomery Sports in Marietta, GA, which works with
college football athletic directors on logo properties (Richard
Mundry, GOLFWEEK, 11/18 issue).