The NFL on Thursday announced that the San Francisco 49ers will be the Jacksonville Jaguars' opponent in the '13 regular-season game at Wembley Stadium. The game, scheduled for Oct. 27, will mark the 49ers' second appearance in the NFL Int'l Series. The team in '10 won a 24-16 game against the Broncos before a Wembley crowd of 83,941 (NFL). Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan said, "This is a unique and important opportunity for the Jaguars franchise, as well as for our fans and community. To share this stage in our first year at Wembley with a rising power like the 49ers will bring additional attention and respect to what we're trying to achieve as a franchise. We can't wait to see our global vision for the Jaguars become reality next season" (London DAILY MAIL, 10/11). In New York, Brian Solomon wrote "For Khan, the match-up with the 49ers represents his first chance to fulfill his mission of bringing Jacksonville to the rest of the world." Recently in a Forbes cover story, he expressed excitement about the chance to win over NFL fans in London. Khan: “One of the good things is they don’t have a team loyalty, so we get a chance by being the first team presented; hopefully we can get them” (FORBES, 10/11).
MORE EXPANSION?: The NFL said that "other teams could take games to continental Europe or Latin America if the Jaguars made a success of their foray across the Atlantic." NFL CMO Mark Waller said, "We want to prove that fans here can become fans of a specific team." Waller, a U.K. native, added, "If we can make this work here, there are many other markets." REUTERS' Keith Weir noted European football clubs have "made themselves more attractive to sponsors by building a global fanbase who follow their matches on television and online." Khan: "The Premier League has led the way in terms of globalization. Perhaps we can learn some lessons from them about how to spread the love for the NFL" (REUTERS, 10/11).
Hollywood stars such as Australians Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman are "among the celebrities targeted by organizers of a new U.S.-based Twenty20 cricket competition to help sell six $40M franchises," according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG. Cricket Holdings America "is copying the approach of the celebrity-endorsed Indian Premier League" as it builds toward the June start of the UST20 League. Cricket Holdings America CEO Neil Maxwell said, "We want to combine Hollywood and Bollywood and integrate celebrities into this entertainment product that we’re building." Twenty20 is the newest and shortest form of cricket, with three-hour games "punctuated by big hits, thumping music and cheerleaders attracting larger crowds than the traditionally longer forms." Organizers are aiming "to play the matches at temporary venues in N.Y. before setting the six franchises up in different U.S. cities." Maxwell said that attracting Hollywood, and even some Bollywood performers, "may help the league attract women and children, a key demographic for the start-up." Maxwell added: "The IPL has challenged the soap operas in India in that 4:30 time slot when a lot of women sit down and watch. It did that by integrating Bollywood into the cricket product. From that learning we’re very keen to build a similar structure" (BLOOMBERG, 10/10).
Australian Open officials said that they "held constructive talks with players pressing for a greater share of revenue" at the tournament, according to the AFP. Tennis Australia CEO Steve Woods said that he met representatives of the ATP and Player Council on Thursday at the Shanghai Masters "about a fairer distribution of the prize money, and talks were productive." Woods said, "We have talked about our long-term plans for player compensation, including further significant increases, and the feedback we have received from the ATP and the players has been positive." Players Council President Roger Federer on Sunday "cautiously welcomed the move to boost prize money but said he was not sure it was significant enough to quell player unrest over the long-running row" (AFP, 10/11). In Sydney, Linda Pearce noted British competitor Andy Murray is "pleased there will be no player boycott" even though he never considered such a "drastic move." Murray said, "I never viewed striking at the Australian Open as a real option. From all the players I've spoken to so far, everyone's been very happy with the increases in the prize money and their plan over the next few years, as well" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 10/12).
THE RIGHT DIRECTION: In London, Paul Newman wrote the "general view among players was that Tennis Australia had responded well to complaints that the competitors' share of the revenues generated by all four of the Grand Slam tournaments was too small." Murray said, "From our side, it's definitely going in the right direction. All the conversations we've had with [the Australian Open] have been fairly positive." He added: "They've really been the first ones to step up. I think for the players it's important to remember the amount that they've invested in the facilities there, as well. It's not just always the prize money" (INDEPENDENT, 10/11).
The Int'l Cricket Council has suspended six umpires from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan "over allegations of corruption" in the build-up to the World Twenty20, according to Josh Burrows of the LONDON TIMES. India TV has broadcast undercover footage "claiming to prove that six officials were willing to fix matches for money" before the event in Sri Lanka. The ICC issued a statement Wednesday confirming that "none would be asked to stand in any matches until the investigations were complete." The statement read, "The International Cricket Council and its relevant full member boards have agreed not to appoint any of the umpires named in a sting operation recently conducted by India TV to any domestic or international cricket matches pending the outcome of the ongoing investigations into the allegations made" (LONDON TIMES, 10/10). The TNN reported that the cricket boards of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have "launched investigations" into the corruption allegations against the umpires. A Bangladesh Cricket Board spokesperson said, "Like the ICC, we all have zero tolerance against corruption, and if they are found guilty, they will have to face the heat." A Sri Lanka Cricket official said that the board is "studying the tapes of the sting operation." The Pakistan Cricket Board also said that it has launched investigations into the matter. A PCB spokesperson said, "We are in contact with ICC and carrying out a detailed investigation into the matter. We have sought the details involved in the matter" (TNN, 10/10).
UMPIRE PLANNING LEGAL ACTION: The PTI reported that Pakistan umpire Nadeem Ghauri, who was implicated in the TV allegations, is "planning to take legal action against the channel" after getting the subtle backing of PCB, which has "decided against jumping to conclusions." Ghauri has been shown "speaking about corruption in cricket by umpires on Skype." Insisting that the video "was fake and had been altered by the channel," Ghauri said that he has met PCB officials and "informed them about his stance on the issue." Ghauri said, "I will take legal action once the board also completes its inquiry" (PTI, 10/10).
UMPIRE BACKS FIXING CLAIMS: The TNN's Partha Bhaduri noted that "no Indian umpire was implicated" in Monday's TV sting. Several Indian umpires have told The Times of India that they are "often asked to favour particular teams or players" during tournaments in Delhi and at state-level age-group events and trials. A Board of Control for Cricket in India level-1 umpire told The Times of India, "Big local tournaments are often fixed through umpires. Some local umpires are known punters. In age-group events, say an under-16 trial match, it's not uncommon for umpires to be given incentives to favour players" (TNN, 10/10).
The Board of Control for Cricket in India, "often criticized for lack of professionalism, could undergo a makeover very soon," according to K Shriniwas Rao of the TNN. It plans to bring in professional managers "to improve the administrative machinery." The board's goal is to have three general managers in place: for operations, cricket and the Indian Premier League. The candidates will be "hand picked for the job." BCCI Chief Administrative Officer Ratnakar Shetty "is likely to take over" as GM of Operations, therefore leaving the post of CAO redundant. IPL CEO Sundar Raman "is likely to take over" as the league's GM, while "an accomplished ex-cricketer will take over as GM of Cricket (TNN, 10/11). The PTI reported the BCCI "has been forced to delay" the first meeting of its National Cricket Academy sub-committee, as it has yet to finalize the name for the post of director with another former captain Kapil Dev's "name coming into picture." However, former Indian captain Rahul Dravid "is believed to be the front-runner for the post," but he remains undecided on whether he should take up the offer. His indecisiveness "is precisely the reason for the delay" of the meeting (PTI, 10/11).
The Circuit of the Americas signed a formal, multi-year agreement with the V8 Supercars series that will allow the Australian touring car series to make its North American debut at the new central Texas sports and entertainment venue from May 17-19. The V8 Supercars championship is made up of 15 championship events across Australia, New Zealand and Abu Dhabi of the UAE, with the U.S. joining the schedule in '13. The series is the world’s leading touring car championship recognized by the motorsports governing body FIA and receives regular carriage by the SPEED TV network. The cars are based on modified versions of Australia’s two most popular passenger cars, the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore. Automakers Nissan and Mercedes have revealed that they will also provide vehicles for the series in '13 (COTA).
The Cambodian Golf Federation has introduced a national system for male and female golfers' handicaps of differing skills, "so that they can compete on a level playing field," according to H S Manjunath of the PHNOM PENH POST. The formal handicap system, which came into effect on Sept. 1, "followed a coordinated effort in its creation" involving the CGF and the U.S. Golf Association. The CGF is now licensed to use the USGA course rating and handicapping systems within Cambodia (PHNOM PENH POST, 10/11).
The FA has drawn up "a tough new code of conduct" for English players that will leave them "under no illusions" about the penalties for misbehavior off the pitch, according to Gibson & Fifield of the London GUARDIAN. The announcement comes following "damaging cases" involving players John Terry and Ashley Cole. FA Chair David Bernstein believes that the new rules should have been brought in "years ago" but would make it "crystal clear" where they stood. The rules include "separate sections for when players are on England duty or with their clubs." England’s senior squad was presented with the code on Monday night. Berstein said, "The England players are representing their country, they’re role models. Their behaviour is incredibly important in respect of everything else we’re trying to do." The code will encompass three sections: General conduct, applicable whether the player is with England or not; another on "conduct and behaviour" when players are with England; and a third on "how any breach will be dealt with." Sanctions are "not laid out" in the six-page document but will range from fines to bans and will be decided by the Club England management board. (GUARDIAN, 10/9).
LONG TIME COMING: In London, Matt Barlow reported that "plans have been unfolding since February, following the example set by England’s cricket team," who banned player Kevin Pietersen in a recent high-profile case. The code will cover England players and includes social networking activity like Twitter as well as "offences of discrimination, including racism." The code of conduct "will exist independently" of FA discipline and under the auspices of the Club England board (DAILY MAIL, 10/10). Also in London, Henry Winter reported that having consulted with the Rugby Football Union and the England and Wales Cricket Board about their codes for players, the FA "aims to have its version signed by the squad" before next month’s friendly with Sweden in Stockholm. The FA Board and all the England coaches "have approved it" (TELEGRAPH, 10/9).
Honda "could make an F1 comeback in '14," according to AUTO BILD. Honda Research & Development CEO Yoshiharu Yamamoto said that he "would welcome an F1 return." Yamamoto said, "It is true that we watch the races and hope to return at some point." Although Yamamoto does not believe in an immediate F1 return, he "sees the potential that the upcoming rule changes provide." He said, "I obviously follow the rule changes, and if they provide an opportunity for us then it would be nice to come back." The financial crises in '08 led to Honda's withdrawal from F1. It seems that "Honda's return is dependent on whether F1 goes through with its proposed engine change or not." The plan calls for new, less expensive 1.6-liter turbo engines to replace the currently used 2.4-liter V8 engines in '14. The change "seemed practically implemented," however, F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "recently hinted that he wants to stop the change at the eleventh hour." French car maker Renault, which provides four teams with its engines, "would be far from pleased if Honda returns." Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes are the only three car manufactures currently active in F1. Therefore, a Honda comeback "would be extremely attractive" (AUTO BILD, 10/10). MOTORSPORT MAGAZIN's Robert Seiwert reported that Mercedes Motorsport Dir Norbert Haug "would not mind seeing manufacturers return to F1." Haug said, "The new engine is an attractive opportunity. Everybody is welcome as long as the pit is long enough. It isn't my decision, but we like the competition." He added, "If you win in F1, and especially with our factory team, then it is extremely positive. It isn't our choice if Toyota, Honda or BMW participate or not, but for us as a premium manufacturer it is positive to compete in F1. Of course it isn't good if you don't win. We had to experience that this season" (MOTORSPORT MAGAZIN, 10/11).
Red Bull Racing F1 Team Principal Christian Horner explained that "his team was not invited to the Formula One Team Association meeting on the morning of the Japanese Grand Prix, and therefore he does not know what was discussed," according to Frederik Hackbarth of MOTORSPORT MAGAZIN. Ten of the 12 F1 team principals met Sunday morning in Suzuka, Japan to discuss "urgent issues in regard to the racing series' future management structure, the potentially increased starting fees and cost reduction." The two teams that were not represented were Red Bull and its sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso, as "they were simply not invited." However, Ferrari and Sauber, which are both non-members of the team association, participated for the first time in a long time at the meeting. The "controversial decision" of FOTA to hold a meeting without Red Bull and Toro Rosso comes "only days ahead of an important meeting" between FOTA, FIA and F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone in Paris on Oct. 23. Horner said, "I don't even know what was talked about because I wasn't there -- therefore I can't commentate on it. We have the FOTA, which consists of some teams and not of others. I have no idea what was talked about, but whatever it was they obviously feel it doesn't concern Red Bull" (MOTORSPORT MAGAZIN, 10/9).
The NBA and Chinese Basketball Association agreed to a multi-year extension of their joint coaching program, which has trained more than 580 CBA pro and junior level coaches since '09. Through the extension, the two leagues will continue to work together to improve coaching, which will result in youth development and the overall growth of basketball. The NBA will create training and observation programs to develop CBA coaches, based on their experience, at both the elite and grassroots level. CBA coaches will travel to the U.S. for basketball study, observation and participation in coaching activities with NBA coaches and teams. NBA coaches, athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches and nutritionists will travel to China to lecture at the CBA's annual coaching training camps (NBA).
Free licenses for competitive racing will be issued to all Emirati drivers in '13. The move is part of an ongoing commitment by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE "to encourage greater participation among Emiratis" (GULF NEWS, 10/8). ... The Australian Rugby League Commission "is close to finalising a proposal that could solve the issue of State of Origin eligibility" by preventing players who have represented the junior Kiwis [New Zealand] declaring allegiance to Australia. Junior Test matches currently do not count toward full eligibility (AAP, 10/11).
A new A$12M ($12.3M) national strategic fighting fund looms as the key in Cricket New South Wales' attempt "to combat the Australian rules insurgency" in the country's fastest growing area, western Sydney, according to Chris Barrett of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The extra cash pool is to be voted on when Cricket Australia's new nine-member board meets for the first time in two weeks and is considered "a way for the major states to finally be granted a more proportionate slice of the broadcast rights revenue pie." Under the national financial distribution model, all associations "receive an equal one-sixth share of CA revenue." That structure will soon receive "a dramatic overhaul." The annual pot of money in the fund will start between A$8M and A$12M, with those details "set to be finalised when the board sits down" (SMH, 10/12).
South Africa is one of 10 countries that has not been able to take advantage of free FIFA money because it has "failed to put together a concrete project" for the organization to fund, according to Mark Gleeson of the SOWETAN. Football's governing body has paid for 600 projects in other countries, but the South African Football Association is "lagging behind." Three years ago SAFA proposed to FIFA a project to upgrade the School of Excellence in Tembisa, but it "first had to get a lease on the land" before the money would be sent from Zurich. Nothing has happened since, even though last month SAFA President Kirsten Nematandani claimed that the "long wait for the lease was at an end." Reports now suggest this is not true, "the document is still not signed" because the SAFA is not happy with all the clauses (SOWETAN, 10/11).