Prosecutors in Munich are "considering whether to charge F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone for bribery" in connection with $44M he paid to a banker in '06-07, according to Crawford & Stevens of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The long-awaited decision is "expected in the coming weeks." An indictment of Ecclestone, known in F1 as "Supremo," would likely "force him out of the sport." More worrisome for F1, Ecclestone's legal troubles "threaten to upend the multibillion-dollar racing circuit's ties to major sponsors, teams and fans." Ecclestone said last week he takes the allegations "very seriously" and is "absolutely" not guilty. He "has acknowledged making the payment," but said that he only did so "because he was blackmailed." The Munich investigation "comes at a sensitive time" for Ecclestone and the circuit. F1 had planned a $2.5B initial public stock offering in Singapore for earlier this year, but delayed the offering "because of the potential case" against Ecclestone. F1 also is "renegotiating its contracts with racing teams." The multinational carmakers and other sponsors in the F1 arena "require strict legal compliance by partners with whom they do business and don't want to be associated with corrupt entities." Asked whether the investigation into Ecclestone would prompt automotive corporation Daimler to reconsider its F1 involvement, CEO Dieter Zetsche told reporters this summer that the company "requires its partners to abide by the auto maker's compliance policies." Zetsche said Daimler requires "steps to be taken if that's not the case." Zetsche: "That applies to Formula One, too." A Ferrari spokesperson declined to comment, but said that the team's contract is not with Ecclestone directly (WSJ, 11/5).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Telecom giant KT has officially announced its plan to establish a 10th professional baseball club under the Korea Baseball Organization, according to Kang Seung-woo of the KOREA TIMES. The company signed a memorandum of understanding with Gyeonggi Province and Suwon City "for mutual support in creating the new team." KT plans to undertake the tasks to found the club, including selecting players and coaching staff and building a practice facility "when the KBO gives the final nod." It intends to join the nation's second-tier league in '14 and the top flight in '15. KT Chair Lee Suk-chae said, "We have decided to establish a club as baseball has cemented its status as the nation’s No. 1 sport, accompanied by a strong thirst for a 10th team and active support from Gyeonggi Province and Suwon City" (KOREA TIMES, 11/6). YONHAP noted that since March, when the expansion to nine teams was finalized, there have calls for a 10th club "to give the KBO an even number of teams." Under their partnership with KT, Gyeonggi Province and Suwon City "agreed to renovate the 14,465-seat Suwon Stadium to turn it into a 25,000-seat stadium. They will lease the ballpark to KT for 25 years, and KT will have the naming rights to the stadium, "while also guaranteed revenues from advertising and concession" (YONHAP, 11/6).
Rugby Football Union CEO Ian Ritchie "has suggested that football should introduce technology to help referees" and also proposed "the reintroduction of a 10-yard penalty for dissent in an attempt to improve the behaviour of players on the pitch," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. In the wake of the incident involving referee Mark Clattenburg, "the debate over the relationship between players and referees has been reignited." Ritchie said that "a combination of open-mic technology allowing fans and commentators to eavesdrop on referees and players and the 10-metre dissent rule would have an impact on player behaviour." He added: "Our head of referees keeps a recording of every game. That has to be right. You can hear what the players are saying, never mind what the referees are saying. That element of respect is very important, it's back to the core values of the game. The 10-yard situation in rugby, I always rather like that. The minute someone starts disagreeing with the referee on a rugby pitch, it's another 10 yards. I've always thought: "Why can't you apply that [to] football?" Ritchie also said that "goal-line technology, likely to be first used by the FA later this season and introduced by the Premier League at the beginning of next season, should also be embraced as quickly as possible." The FA recently "sought guidance from the RFU when it was compiling a code of conduct for players" (GUARDIAN, 11/6).
The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee has formed a partnership with Interpol, which will see the creation of the Interpol Group of Major Sporting Event Security Experts to ensure the safety and security of the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee's Security Committee Chair Sheikh Abdulla bin Nasser Al Thani and Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble met to sanction terms of the agreement that will see the company provide a permanent chairman and vice chairman to assist the committee in its planning. IGMESE will bring together specialized law enforcement professionals and security experts from all over the world to offer assistance and consultation to the committee on security strategy, framework and practices throughout Qatar to help ensure the safety and security of the World Cup. London Metropolitan Police Service former Deputy Assistant Commissioner Janet Williams, who led and oversaw policing protective security planning for the 2012 London Olympics, will chair the new group (Interpol). INSIDEWORLDFOOTBALL.biz's Andrew Warshaw wrote with thousands of fans meeting in Qatar in unprecedented numbers in '22, "the group's scrope will include providing guidance and 'robust training' to the Gulf state's Ministry of Interior" (INSIDEWORLDFOOTBALL.biz, 11/6).