A new franchise cricket league to be launched in the U.S. next summer has "led to fears that English counties will miss out on signing leading overseas players," according to Nick Hoult of the London TELEGRAPH. The England and Wales Cricket Board is "monitoring the progress of the American league," and counties have already reported that overseas players are "holding off committing themselves to county contracts in case they get a more-lucrative offer" from the U.S. The American Twenty20 league will be at least the fourth launched in two years. The recent boom in leagues has prompted the Int'l Cricket Council to "form a working party to examine how the leagues impact on world cricket." Cricket Holdings America hopes to build an Indian Premier League-style Twenty20 tournament in North America. This week, CHA contracted three int'l public relations firms to help with a launch scheduled for next summer, with a tournament in N.Y. before the league kicks off in '14. CHA CEO Neil Maxwell said, “It will need local players, and that will grow in time, but we see New Zealand players and first-class players from around the world in each team. We have asked for an expression of interest and they have been quite strong. Around 200 players, or their representatives of those players, have been extremely supportive of it” (TELEGRAPH, 10/17).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
One of Int'l Cycling Union's (UCI) commercial partners has called on President Pat McQuaid to "immediately make clear the governing body's position on the Lance Armstrong doping affair or resign to prevent the collapse of world cycling," according to Nick Mulvenney of REUTERS. Compression clothing company SKINS Chair & Australian Jaimie Fuller, whose company is a partner of the Rabobank team and Cycling Australia, has written an open letter to McQuaid warning of catastrophic consequences of the body's "inertia." Fuller said, "I'm just devastated and horrified by what has happened. I'm an optimist, and I would desperately hope that common sense would see the light of day." He added: "(But) if Mr McQuaid and his cohorts are not prepared to say what they are going to do about this systemic issue, to rip the scabs off of what has happened, there is no question they should resign" (REUTERS, 10/18).
AUSSIE TROUBLES: In Sydney, Rupert Guinness wrote CA management "has been challenged to outline its individual roles in the signing of former rider Matt White as its national men's team coach," from which he was sacked on Tuesday after confessing he doped when he was a teammate of Lance Armstrong. Leading blood doping researcher Dr. Michael Ashenden said that such a move "would be a step forward by CA in proving its support was genuine for the criminalisation of doping and greater investigative powers to drug authorities" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 10/19). Also in Sydney, Samantha Lane noted Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority CEO Aurora Andruska "is seeking proof" that her organization approved White keeping his job as national cycling coach last year. However, Andruska has "seen no evidence" to support her claim. The claim suggested ASADA "somehow cleared White after he was sacked by a professional road team for breaching anti-doping rules." Cycling Australia President Klaus Mueller said, "We had a discussion with ASADA, and they indicated to us that they had no current issue which would embarrass us in continuing to employ Matt" (SMH, 10/19). Also in Sydney, Peter Kogoy reported Orica-GreenEdge team "is sticking by its embattled" White for now. Team Owner Gerry Ryan was "unavailable for comment." However, team GM Shayne Bannan said, "We won't rush a decision on his future despite his doping confession. We are certainly in no rush because we understand the situation and will wait until the ASADA outcome, and then we can go through a process from there" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/19).
EVERYONE'S DOING IT: In London, Alasdair Fotheringham reported Britain's Team Sky has "intensified" its anti-doping policies by "asking staff and riders to confirm in a written declaration they have no past or present connection with doping," or else they will leave the team. Team Principal Dave Brailsford said, "We will sit down with every member of staff, every rider, and have an interview and discussion, but it won't be sitting in a room with a light in their face. It will be supportive." Sky's anti-doping policies had come under scrutiny prior to the Armstrong case, following its signing of Dutch doctor Geert Leinders, who had worked on the Netherlands' leading team, Rabobank, in '07 when two members of the squad "were potentially involved in doping" (INDEPENDENT, 10/18).
Sources have confirmed that the inaugural Grand Prix of America in Northern New Jersey "will be postponed one year until 2014," according to Tom Jensen of SPEED.com. Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone and event organizers "will make the announcement on Friday," sources said. The delay is so race organizers can "finish the permitting process needed to complete the 3.2-mile road course along the Hudson River in Weehawken and West New York, N.J." (SPEEDTV.com, 10/18).
German handball national team Head Coach Martin Heuberger said that he "would welcome the reduction the number of the number of teams in the Handball Bundesliga (HBL)," according to Marc Stevermüer of the MANNHEIMER MORGEN. Heuberger said, "I think, considering the competitive level in league, that it would be possible to reduce the Bundesliga from 18 to 16 teams." Heuberger also said that the Champions League "has been blown up in the last few years." He said, "When I look at some of the results, I ask myself if that many teams deserve to be in the Champions League. Sometimes less is more." The "workload of the national team" was another topic that Heuberger referred to. Heuberger said, "The European Championship qualification process has become more extensive than it was in the past. It doesn't have to be this way. We don't need a European Championship in the same year as the Olympic Games. It can't continue that players return from London and only a few days later the Bundesliga season starts like it happened this year. That's insane" (MANNHEIMER MORGEN, 10/18).
Int'l Cricket Council CEO David Richardson admits that the game is "battling a war against corruption that has spread from the elite ranks down to grassroots level," according to Peter Lalor of THE AUSTRALIAN. Richardson said that revelations that umpires and even scorers could be corrupted on the subcontinent was "further proof of the magnitude of the problem." Richardson: "It is everybody now, unfortunately; everybody is susceptible -- the curators, the groundsmen. But the bottom line is, it is a bit of a war we are fighting, and our anti-corruption unit has their work cut out to make sure the players are kept away from temptation, and that we end up with a corruption-free event" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/19).
TARGETING DOMESTIC LEAGUES: The PTI reported that Richardson was asked how the ICC plans to tackle corruption, to which he responded: “The plan of attack is obviously we have got an anti-corruption unit [ACSU] whose resources have been increased in recent times.” Richardson said that with heightened awareness among int'l players about the perils of corruption, the bookmakers "were now targeting domestic circuit." Richardson told ESPN Cricinfo: “So they have got more personnel working there, they have got more money allocated to do their job, their databases have been upgraded. What has happened is because the international players are well educated now and know the risks, displacement has occurred, and the bookies are now targeting domestic leagues” (PTI, 10/18).
THE RISE AND FALL: The AFP reported that every major cricketing country now has its own Twenty20 tournament, "attracting new fans and lucrative sponsorship deals -- and the attention of illegal betting syndicates." As the leagues spread out, experts say that the dangers "should be clear to all." ESPN Cricinfo columnist Sharda Urgra wrote in a recent commentary, "The mushrooming of domestic T20 leagues brings in not merely sponsors, spectators and TV revenue, but also a surging interest from the betting mafia. They will not stop trying to find new footholds in the game. Protecting cricket's integrity does not only involve reacting to TV stings every few months. It is now a 24/7 undertaking" (AFP, 10/18).
National Rugby League interim CEO Shane Mattiske maintained that plans to lock in salary caps for the life of the new broadcast deal "remained a possibility despite the uncertainty surrounding future figures," according to Glenn Jackson of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Mattiske said that he would "discuss the prospect" of confirming the salary cap ceilings for the next five years with the Rugby League Players' Association when talks with the union body resume. The five years is the equivalent of the duration of the A$1.025B ($1.06B) broadcast deal with Channel Nine and Fox Sports. NRL club CEO's met Thursday and Mattiske reiterated to them that they should be working off a A$5M salary cap next year, "with further rises to be confirmed after talks with the players' association about the collective bargaining agreement." Mattiske said that he "could not guarantee when the future salary caps could be locked in," but clubs would have long-term certainty when they are (SMH, 10/19).
The Rugby Football Union, with the backing of England Coach Stuart Lancaster, is becoming "ever more serious about changing perceptions" of referees who are often subject to "criticism," according to Mark Souster of the LONDON TIMES. The union wants to persuade young players that "taking up refereeing might be something to consider" if a professional playing career does not work out. RFU Head of Elite Referee Development Ed Morrison said, “What we have not done well enough in the past is be proactive enough in selling ourselves in terms of the job and why and how we do it. That is changing.” As part of that mission, the union has launched a new scheme entitled ELRA Pro [Entry Level Refeering Award]. It is aimed at "members of the academies" at each of the 12 Aviva Premiership clubs and "designed to improve a player’s overall understanding of the laws of rugby." The first two-day course was held recently at Aviva Permiership club Harlequins FC and will be "rolled out across the Premiership in the coming months." It was run by English referee Chris White, who already has "four individuals on the program and is actively on the hunt for suitable recruits" (LONDON TIMES, 10/17).
Int'l Biathlon Union VP Gottlieb Taschler said that the IBU "wants to launch a third int'l competition series." The intention of the plan is to "provide the leading biathlon nations with better conditions in the World Cup and also strengthen the IBU-Cup." The "third series" is supposed to provide weaker biathlon nations with "an opportunity to compete successfully at int'l events." In addition, young athletes will receive a stage to showcase their talents (DPA, 10/17). ... Two former Italian football referees, Paolo Bergamo and Pierluigi Pairetto, in addition to several other referees "have been sentenced to pay €4M ($5.2M) in damages to the Italian Football Federation (FIGC)." The Italian Court of Auditors sentenced the referees for damaging the image of the FIGC for their involvement in the '06 match-fixing scandal. Bergamo "alone will have to pay €1M ($1.3M) in fines, while Pairetto was handed a fine of €800,000 ($1M)" (SID, 10/17). ... FIFA "is seeking additional information" in its investigation of a Korean player's celebration after a football match at the London Olympics. The Korea Football Association said that FIFA's legal affairs division has given the Korean governing body an Oct. 27 deadline "to submit any additional information in the case of Park Jong-woo" (YONHAP, 10/18).