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Volume 10 No. 24

Leagues and Governing Bodies

National Rugby League CEOs "are set to discuss calls for a bigger salary cap and club grant next season at a meeting in Sydney on Wednesday in a move that may help to resolve the futures of Israel Folau and Brett Stewart," according to Brad Walter of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Clubs "were allocated A$7M ($7.3M) in funding for the '13 season, with A$5M to cover the salary cap." However, the Rugby League Players' Association "has not agreed to the A$5M salary cap and is still negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with the NRL and clubs." Fairfax Media "has been told the association wants a salary cap of A$6.5M to be spread amongst the top 30 players at each club rather than the 25 currently included." Any increase in the salary cap "will eat further into the annual grant that clubs receive, but Fairfax has been told there is a feeling among the clubs they will not be able to reach an equitable agreement with the association by sticking to a A$5M ceiling on player payments next season" (SMH, 11/28).

The German Football Federation (DFB) said that "a plan to stage the 2020 European football championships across the entire continent instead of one or two countries enjoys wide support among national federations," according to Karolos Grohmann of REUTERS. Ahead of two days of meetings in Brussels, Belgium with UEFA, DFB General Secretary Helmut Sandrock said that "they were initially surprised by UEFA President Michel Platini's concept." The proposal, yet to be ratified by the UEFA exec committee, "could see 12 countries hosting an expanded tournament involving 24 teams, up from the current 16." Sandrock said, "But I myself had discussions to learn more about this idea, and we know that there have been two strategy discussions with national federations already, and there is a lot of support for such a Euro tournament." Platini had said in October that "he would press ahead with the idea, only if member associations were in favor of the plan." Sandrock added, "I think a Euro across Europe offers a shorter road (of preparations). Look at (2014 World Cup hosts) Brazil and the distance they need to cover" (REUTERS, 11/27).

Four professional golfers "forced the Asian Tour to pay back fines and legal costs and let them play on the rival OneAsia circuit after winning a lengthy court battle on Tuesday," according to the AFP. The players -- Australia's Terry Pilkadaris and Matthew Griffin, Manila-based Dutchman Guido van der Valk and Malaysia's Anis Hassan -- "emerged victorious after a year-long restraint of trade case at the Singapore High Court." Legal action was launched after the players were fined and barred from Asian Tour events for playing OneAsia tournaments in '10. The players' lawyer Christopher Daniel said, "The judge declared that all of those rules which allowed the Asian Tour to prohibit its players from playing on other tournaments... were restraint of trade and therefore null and void." The case "highlighted a major point of contention between the Asian Tour and OneAsia," which launched in '09, sparking what has been called the region's "golf war." Pilkadaris said he was "delighted" with the ruling, adding it was "simply unfair" that the Asian Tour barred players from OneAsia events even when the circuits' schedules were not in direct conflict (AFP, 11/27).

Police briefly detained one of Brazilian football's most-powerful men on Monday after searching his home in what it said "was an investigation into criminal organisations practising extortion, corruption and financial crimes," according to Andrew Downie of REUTERS. Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) VP Marco Polo del Nero, and a member of FIFA's exec committee, were questioned as part of a massive police operation in which authorities served 87 search warrants and made 33 arrests in six Brazilian states. Police did not say if Del Nero "would be the subject of any criminal charges and declined to provide any details on his questioning." However, "the pre-dawn raid of his home in São Paulo was an embarrassment to senior FIFA officials, many of whom are in Brazil this week for a Soccerex trade fair and Saturday's Confederations Cup draw." In an interview with local news agency UOL Esporte, Del Nero said that he was "questioned for about 20 minutes about personal affairs that are unrelated" to his football activities. Del Nero said, "I'm totally at ease. This is a personal matter that I cannot discuss publicly...It will not affect anything" (REUTERS, 11/26).

NO COMMENT: BLOOMBERG's Raymond Colitt reported FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke told reporters in Rio de Janeiro that the police questioning of Del Nero "was an internal Brazilian issue he would not comment on." Police are "investigating Del Nero’s alleged links to a criminal organization it says engaged in illegal spying and extortion of politicians suspected of fraud in public tenders" (BLOOMBERG, 11/26).

Major League Soccer L.A. Galaxy's David Beckham "may be on his way out," but Commissioner Don Garber was clear during Monday's state of the league conference call that the league is "in a far different place than it was back when the English icon signed nearly six years ago," according to Brian Straus of SPORTING NEWS. Garber said, "We needed David Beckham in 2007 to help drive our credibility. We don't need anything today." Garber continued, "I believe we had 12 teams in the league. We had not yet had the television relationships that we have today. We had probably half the number of soccer(-specific) stadiums and the league was just more immature." Garber noted there was "still a lot of work to do to figure out" how Beckham's ownership option "gets exercised." Garber confirmed that Beckham "will not be able to purchase an interest in the expansion club planned" for N.Y. Garber: "There is a possibility for him to work with the league office to find ways to transfer that option into an opportunity in LA." Garber also noted that the "34-game regular season and playoff format (including an MLS Cup final at the site of the participant with the better record) will remain in place next year." The one change will be "an earlier start." After kicking off on March 10 this season, MLS "will open its 18th season on March 2, its earliest launch ever." Garber "promised that MLS 'will continue to invest massive amounts of money' in player development and acknowledged Monday that the league’s investment to this point, which has reached $20M per year, 'has not yet paid off'" (SPORTINGNEWS, 11/26). 

MARKETING MACHINE: Garber said that Beckham "did everything" MLS asked of him to "grow football" in the U.S. The AP's Ronald Blum noted Beckham "left Real Madrid in '07 to sign a $32.5M, five-year deal with the Galaxy," he said then that he "wanted to win and increase the league’s popularity both domestically and abroad." Garber said, "I don’t think anybody would doubt that he has overdelivered on every one of those measures. There’s arguably not a soccer fan on this planet that doesn’t know the LA Galaxy and Major League Soccer, and David played a significant role in helping us make that happen" (AP, 11/27). In L.A., Phil Collin wrote of Beckham, "As polarizing as a world icon can sometimes be, even critics won't be able to deny that soccer in America has been boosted beyond what many thought was attainable." But the "most interesting aspect of Beckham's overall legacy ... won't be able to be measured for years." Galaxy VP Chris Klein said, "If you look at David and his time here, his influence has spanned everything that our league touches, from commercially what our league looks like, to ticket sales, to soccer-specific stadiums, to designated players being more interested in our league" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/27). In Miami, Michelle Kaufman wrote Beckham "leaves the league stronger than he found it, and he no doubt made a significant contribution to that growth." His "int'l name recognition and sex appeal, and his genuine commitment to raise the profile of American soccer, left an indelible mark." He did "make a difference. A big difference. A difference that surely was worth the $32.5M investment." Kaufman: "Yes, Becks was worth every penny" (MIAMI HERALD, 11/25).