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Volume 10 No. 25

People and Pop Culture

There was a time when NBA Commissioner DAVID STERN "had dreams of a team or even a division in Europe, a first in American sports," according to Gary Washburn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Stern was "determined to devise a way" for a group of teams in London, Rome, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona and Berlin to compete with the 30 stateside NBA teams and even have a real world championship series. That idea "seems to have fizzled along with the int'l economy and the lack of NBA-worthy venues overseas." What Stern realized is that many of the Euroleague arenas "are not up to NBA standards." Watching the Boston Celtics take on Emporio Armani Milano last week in Milan, Stern said, “I don’t think having a single team in Europe is practical. What I’ve said is if we’re going to have an NBA presence here in terms of the league, it should be five teams. It’s safe to say that there aren’t enough buildings, there aren’t adequate TV arrangements, we don’t have owners, and I’m not sure we could charge the prices that would be necessary." Stern said that part of the problem is European cities "are not financially prepared to build arenas to house anything more than an exhibition game." Stern seems to be satisfied "playing exhibition games and perhaps one or two regular-season games per year overseas." Aside from that, however, the NBA’s "flirtation with Europe appears done" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/14).

France Professional Football League (LFP) President FREDERIC THIRIEZ was unanimously re-elected at a general assembly in Paris on Friday. Thiriez received 84 of a possible 84 votes. The 60-year-old has been in charge of the LFP since May '02 (, 10/12).

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Former Chelsea FC striker DIDIER DROGBA and seven EPL players were "caught up in a riot" as Senegal's Africa Cup of Nations game with the Ivory Coast in Dakar was abandoned after police fired teargas inside the packed stadium when thousands of fans lit fires and threw rubbish in protest at the home team's show. The EPL players involved in the match included Newcastle's pair DEMBA BA and PAPISS CISSE lining up for Senegal, along with West Ham's MOHAMED DIAME. In Ivory Coast's starting lineup were Arsenal's GERVINHO, Manchester City brothers YAYA and KOLO TOURE, and Newcastle midfielder CHEIK TIOTE (London GUARDIAN, 10/13). ... Australian Rugby Union CEO JOHN O'NEILL will stand down from his roll at the end of the month. Deputy CEO MATT CARROLL will take on the role of acting CEO next month, while a "global search is conducted for a long-term replacement" (AFP, 10/12). ... Snooker World No. 7 STEPHEN LEE has been suspended by snooker’s governing body after he "triggered a new investigation into suspicious betting patterns" when he lost 4-2 to four-time world champion JOHN HIGGINS in the Premier League on Thursday. At least two bookmakers "raised the alarm" after significant amounts were placed on Higgins to beat Lee (London TELEGRAPH, 10/12). ... IOC President JACQUES ROGGE said that he would have no issue with London hosting the Games again within the next 20 years. He added that he believed "there would be no objection to the city doing so again soon." Rogge said, "The IOC would welcome always good bids, irrespective of the place they originate from" (London DAILY MAIL, 10/14). ... British tennis player HEATHER WATSON became the first Briton to win a WTA Tour singles title in 24 years by beating Chinese Taipei's CHANG KAI-CHEN, in the final of the HP Open in Osaka, Japan (LONDON TIMES, 10/14).

ON THE PITCH: FIFA President SEPP BLATTER said that "he would be visiting Iran soon." Blatter informed Iran Football Federation President ALI KAFFASHIAN "of his decision in a letter" (IANS, 10/14). The Uruguay Soccer Federation (AUF) filed a letter of protest to Blatter "calling for an investigation into comments" made by FIFA VP JIM BOYCE calling Liverpool striker LUIS SUAREZ's diving a "cancer" in the game (ESPN, 10/12). ...  France football legend ZINEDINE ZIDANE revealed that he hopes to one day coach the French national team "because it has always meant a lot to me." Zidane is currently undergoing the steps to become a qualified coach. Zidane said, "I'll go for the first degree, second degree, to DEF [a qualification], and we'll see later for a professional coaching diploma" (L'EQUIPE, 10/14).

Manchester Evening News' Mike Keegan: "Did a piece on #mcfc tour being worth the £120 fee and I'm still branded an agent of the MUEN. Give up."

The Times' Kevin Eason: "Ha ha. Top Gear Korea on telly from the #Mokpo circuit. More people than at #KoreanGP. They should call it Top Kia"

Reuters' Alan Baldwin: "At the station, waiting for the Seoul train. Complete absence of traffic leaving the circuit. Where did everyone go? Did they ever come?"

ESPN's J.A. Adande: "Weekend recap: A man traveled faster than the speed of sound, while the space shuttle took 2 days to go 12 miles in LA."

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