PHIL TAYLOR said that he heads into the Professional Darts Corp. World Championship "in some of the best form of his career and is confident of winning a 16th world title," according to Gary Rose of the BBC. Taylor said, "I am feeling brilliant, and I can win a 16th title without a shadow of a doubt." Taylor is the No. 1 seed for the event, which takes place between Friday and Jan.1. Taylor "has dominated darts" for more than two decades but has failed to win the World Championship for the last two years (BBC, 12/13).
People and Pop Culture
Mercedes revealed that Motorsport Head NORBERT HAUG "will leave the company at the end of '12," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. Mercedes said in a statement, "His contract will come to an end by mutual agreement with the Board of Management. Preparations for the forthcoming season continue as planned." Haug, who turned 60 last month, "has led Mercedes' motorsport division since Oct. '90 and played a part in signing Britain's '08 F1 world champion LEWIS HAMILTON from McLaren for next season." Haug was also VP of the Daimler AG (REUTERS, 12/13). The PA reported "during his time in charge, Haug oversaw Mercedes' return to F1 in '94, primarily as an engine supplier." In '10, Mercedes "made a comeback as a manufacturer in their own right after buying out '09 world champions Brawn GP, playing a part in tempting MICHAEL SCHUMACHER out of retirement." Aside from F1, Haug "oversaw projects in DTM (German Touring Car Championship), Champ Car, GT, Group C and Formula Three, with Mercedes winning 439 of the 986 races in which they competed with Haug at the helm" (PA, 12/13).
LASTING LEGACY: In London, Simon Cass reported Haug's "departure comes two months after the appointment of three-time F1 world champion NIKI LAUDA as non-exec director," his principle role being to liaise between the Mercedes' board and its Brackley, England-based F1 operation. Lauda "was instrumental in persuading Hamilton to turn his back on McLaren to accept the challenge of turning Mercedes into F1 frontrunners." However, Hamilton "has a long-standing relationship with Haug, and his departure is likely to make his transition from McLaren to Mercedes that little bit more taxing" (DAILY MAIL, 12/13). Daimler AG CEO & Mercedes-Benz Cars Head DIETER ZETSCHE said, "Norbert Haug was the face of the Mercedes-Benz Motorsport program for more than 20 years. For me, he put his stamp on a whole era and, as a highlight, he was responsible for the successful comeback of the Silver Arrows to Formula One. In the name of the board of management and the whole motorsports family, I would like to thank Norbert for his extraordinary commitment to the three-pointed star (AUTOWEEK, 12/13). The DPA noted Haug "thanked the company for their trust and said that there had not been a single moment without passion in the 22 years. Haug said, "Since 1991, we had tremendous achievements and wins, for which I want to thank all of my colleagues. Unfortunately, with one victory in 2012 since founding our own Formula One works team in 2010, we couldn’t fulfill our own expectations. However, we have taken the right steps to be successful in the future. Our team and our drivers will do everything to achieve these goals" (DPA, 12/13).
Puma CEO FRANZ KOCH is leaving the company "as owner PPR, the French retail group, implements a turnaround strategy at the German sports goods maker," according to Wilson & Daneshkhu of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Puma yesterday said Koch will depart in March "by mutual agreement." PPR Managing Dir and Puma Chair JEAN-FRANCOIS PALUS said that he "hoped to find a new chief executive by next spring." The departure comes as Puma "has struggled to keep pace with arch-rival Adidas, based in the same German town." The 34-year-old Koch "joined Puma in 2007 and after being named as strategy head in 2008 took over as chief executive in July last year from JOCHEN ZEITZ, who oversaw the brand’s revival." Zeitz himself "stood down as Puma’s chairman at the beginning of this month." Puma COO KLAUS BAUER and CMO ANTONIO BERTONE had "already said in July they would leave at the end of the year." Puma’s "rapid expansion over the past decade, principally under Mr Zeitz, has come at the expense of profitability, as support functions, such as marketing and IT systems have failed to keep up with its growth" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 12/13). REUTERS' Sheahan & Bryan noted PPR said that Puma "was not spending enough on products, which has seen it lag rivals in bringing out new high-tech running and soccer shoes." One sector analyst said, "This is the closing chapter on Zeitz's legacy. They are starting all over" (REUTERS, 12/12). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Cruz & Roberts cited German publication Manager Magazin as reporting Puma named former adidas Manager ANDY KOEHLER COO. adidas Corporate Communications Dir KATJA SCHREIBER "confirmed" the hire (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 12/13).
Russian Premier League FC Spartak Moscow interim coach VALERI KARPIN has put pen to paper on a one-and-a-half-year deal to take up the role on a permanent basis following UNAI EMERY's dismissal on Nov. 25. The 43-year-old had been in charge for three games (UEFA). ... The Football Federation of Cambodia appointed PRAK SOVANNARA as head coach of the national team. Sovannara will leave "his job as head coach of Naga Corp FC." He replaces fellow former national team colleague HOK SOCHETRA, who quit the post in October after a "woeful run" at the Suzuki Cup qualifiers in Myanmar (PHNOM PENH POST, 12/13).
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German Hockey League (DEL) club Hannover Scorpions have to pay €95,000 ($124,300) in compensation to ex-coach TONI KRINNER. In addition, the club must pay €60,000 ($78,500) in taxes plus Krinner's car and apartment bills. Overall, the firing of Krinner has cost the team more than €200,000 ($262,000) (SPORTAL, 12/12). ... Former Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner HIROMORI KAWASHIMA died Sunday at a Tokyo hospital. The 90-year-old "is credited with helping improve ties between professional and amateur baseball in Japan" (KYODO, 12/12). ... DAVID BECKHAM and Manchester City Owner & UAE side Al Jazira Chair SHEIKH MANSOUR BIN ZAYED "attended the same invitation-only gala dinner for a magazine launch" at the Emirates Palace marina Wednesday night. Beckham, who is in search of a new team, "has been linked in the int'l media with a move to a Middle East team." When asked if he might join Al Jazira, he said, "We'll see" (THE NATIONAL, 12/13). ... Premiership rugby club Sale Sharks confirmed that former player DAVID TAIT "has died at the age of 25." Tait "was found dead after falling from an apartment block in Hong Kong" (PA, 12/13).
CONVICTION AND JUSTICE: A gang who "targeted rich Londoners," including F1 CEO BERNIE ECCLESTONE and airport operator BAA Chair NIGEL RUDD, "in a string of terrifying raids" were Wednesday jailed for 53 years (London EVENING STANDARD, 12/12). ... Former Asian Football Confederation President MOHAMED BIN HAMMAM "will not face new charges that he bribed Caribbean officials during his campaign." An investigation into Bin Hammam by FIFA Chief Ethics Investigator MICHAEL GARCIA "has been closed after failing to find new evidence" (THE NATIONAL, 12/13).
The New Paper's IAIN MACINTOSH: "Well done, UEFA. I think that £69,500 fine should be enough to FINALLY end the scourge of racism in football. *applauds slowly*"
London GUARDIAN's OWEN GIBSON: "Platini looks cold and gloomy in the stands. Perhaps he's fed up about goal line technology finally being used."
London Times' MATT HUGHES: "#Chelsea fans singing "he's just a fat Spanish waiter" about their manager. Which is nice."
Scottish former F1 driver DAVID COULTHARD: "A lot of drivers (including myself) owe Norbert Haug a great deal for nurturing and supporting racing careers. Danke Norbert @MercedesAMGF1"
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