The European Tour's Andalucia Masters set for next month in southern Spain has been canceled after the Andalucia regional government's decision "to withdraw its funding," according to Iain Rogers of REUTERS. European Tour CEO George O'Grady said the Tour is "extremely disappointed" with the government's decision. The Junta de Andalucia's tourism office said that it was "pulling its sponsorship as it tries to push through sweeping budget cuts" for Spain's heavily indebted regions imposed by the central government. It had agreed to provide €3M ($3.9M) in prize money for the Oct. 18-21 tournament at Valderrama, won last year by Spaniard Sergio Garcia (REUTERS, 9/12). The AFP reported that O'Grady said that the event "was a victim of the economic crisis engulfing Spain." The cancelation came amidst "concerns over the cost of staging major sports events in Spain because of the country's ongoing financial crisis." A change of government in Andalucia "appears to be behind the cancellation, with the new authority keen to reduce public spending." O'Grady absolved Valderrama Golf Club of blame, telling Sky Sports News: "This isn't Valderrama's problem. Valderrama has been tremendously helpful and supportive in the political arena" (AFP, 9/12). SKY SPORTS reported that O'Grady "allayed fears" that this could be the first of many future tournaments to be canceled. O'Grady: "This is, I think, an isolated case. The other tournaments that have had problems, we've known a bit about that for some time. They're with individual promoters, which is different if they can't make the money" (SKYSPORTS.com, 9/12). In Madrid, Alberto Espinosa wrote that "it was an open secret" with only an official announcement missing. The Andalucia regional government "could not cope with the €3M investment required" and the European Tour has canceled the Andalucia Masters (EL MUNDO, 9/12).
Events and Attractions
Rugby union chiefs "hope to attract a new wave of Russian fans" to the sport by offering tickets for next year's World Cup Sevens in Moscow at what they say are "competitive" prices, according to the AFP. Fans will be able to watch the June 28-30 event at the Luzhniki Olympic Park for as little as $5 per day, with a three-day pass costing $8. Rugby Sevens for both men and women will make its Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. The Olympic acceptance "has bolstered the belief of Int'l Rugby Board officials that the cut-down version of the 15 per side game is the best way of taking rugby union beyond its traditional heartlands," centred on the British Isles, France and the southern hemisphere nations of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand (AFP, 9/12).
Wellington, New Zealand "will host the first Australian Football League premiership match outside Australia" next year when the St. Kilda Saints play the Sydney Swans at Westpac Stadium on Anzac Day, according to the AP. The Wellington City Council, St. Kilda FC and the AFL signed an agreement for the city to be a "premier partner" of the Saints. It will allow it to host "home-away-from-home games" each season (AP, 9/12). In Wellington, Sam Worthington reported that an agreement reached between the Wellington City Council, St. Kilda and the AFL is aimed at "increasing the popularity of Australian Rules football" in New Zealand. The deal was announced at AFL House in Melbourne Wednesday with the council's Sports Portfolio Leader John Morrison, Saints officials and AFL COO Gillon McLachlan (DOMINION POST, 9/12).
The Brazilian federal government "will directly invest in the training of athletes" to guarantee more medals in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The program, which will be launched in the upcoming days, will have an estimated investment of R$1B ($495M) until '16 (FOLHA DE S. PAULO, 9/12). ... England will launch the FA's 150th anniversary celebrations with games against Brazil and Ireland next year. The five times World Cup winners will come to Wembley in February "as part of a two-match arrangement that will see England head to South America for a short tour in June." Shortly before that, the Three Lions will take on Ireland for the "first time since their abandoned fixture" in Dublin 17 years ago (PA, 9/12). ... A Test series between West Indies and Sri Lanka scheduled for April in the Caribbean has been "abandoned to accommodate players' participation" in the Indian Premier League. A One Day Int'l triangular series involving Sri Lanka, West Indies and India has "now replaced the series of two Tests," three ODIs and two Twenty20s, originally planned (CMC, 9/12).