Team GB cyclist BRADLEY WIGGINS was voted the 2012 BBC Sports Personality of the Year during a ceremony attended by nearly 16,000 at London's ExCel Centre Sunday night, according to the BBC. The Tour de France and Olympic time trial champion "beat 11 other contenders to the prestigious title." Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour, following that with a Gold Medal at the London Games. Olympic heptathlon champion JESSICA ENNIS was runner-up while U.S. Open winner ANDY MURRAY was third (BBC, 12/16). In London, Ian Chadband noted Wiggins "has fittingly won his last great race of 2012." Wiggins became "a true original of Britain’s sporting life, who was being given the ultimate reward for most successfully capturing the nation’s heart, not just through strength of achievement but also through strength of personality" (TELEGRAPH, 12/16). Also in London, James Riach noted former LOCOG Chair SEBASTIAN COE was presented with a lifetime achievement award for his role in bringing the Olympics and Paralympics to London, his part in the successful staging of the London Games and for his career as a middle-distance runner. The ceremony was "dominated by the endeavours of the Olympians and Paralympians who contributed to Britain's most successful Games." Presenters GARY LINEKER, SUE BARKER and CLARE BALDING gave out eight awards on a night when memories of the 65 Olympic and 120 Paralympic medals were "emotionally recalled" (GUARDIAN, 12/16).
People and Pop Culture
Australian A-League Perth Glory Owner TONY SAGE "has given up hope of luring DAVID BECKHAM to Australia following a chance meeting with the former England captain in London this week," according to the PA. Sage bumped into Beckham at the premier of the Spice Girls-inspired stage show "Viva Forever" at London's O2 Arena and revealed that "he had been rebuffed when asked if a move Down Under was possible." Sage said, "I got the chance to chat to David, and of course I asked him about coming to Australia." He looked me in the eye and basically said, "That would be nice, but it's too far away from my businesses" (PA, 12/14).
Australian A-League club Sydney FC is expected to move Monday to ensure ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO "will be back at the club next season with an announcement expected some time this week," according to Ray Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. The Sky Blues' board will meet later on Monday afternoon "to discuss activating the option on the Italian superstar's two-year A$4M ($4.2M) deal after concerns were raised last week that it was allowing negotiations to drag on for too long." Despite the club being embroiled in controversy and the team struggling at the bottom of the A-League table, the former Italy int'l and Juventus legend has told Sydney officials that "he and his family love the city and want to stay for another season." However, his management "has become frustrated at the lack of action from the other end." In an interview last week Del Piero said, "We have been talking. We are waiting for what (the club) decides." Since that report emerged -- making news in Italy -- the club is understood to "have been swamped by emails and letters calling on it to re-sign the 38-year-old, who has all but become the face of the A-League since arriving in Australia in September" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/17).
When LIONEL MESSI scored his 86th goal of the season last Sunday, it was the "trigger for the Barcelona forward to be showered with yet more praise," according to Simon Rice of the London INDEPENDENT. Yet, challenges emerged claiming that in fact the real record "was much higher." First the Zambian FA said that Kabwe Warriors striker GODFREY CHITALU had scored 107 goals in '72. Brazil legend ZICO "has also been put forward," with his former club Flamengo suggesting he scored 89 goals in '79. FIFA had remained silent "until now." And rather than settling the argument one way or the other, FIFA has refused to get involved, explaining that because the organization does not keep domestic records "it's not an official FIFA record" (INDEPENDENT, 12/14).
MORE MESSI: In London, Pete Jenson wrote Messi is "ready to sign for life at Barcelona with a deal that would give him the highest club wages of any footballer in Europe's top leagues." Messi's father, JORGE, has "already opened negotiations" with the Catalan club over extending his current contract, meaning he will stay at Barcelona until he is at least 31. The contract is expected to be structured so that it increases yearly, rising to £12.5M ($20.2M) a year net before bonuses (DAILY MAIL, 12/15).
French Football Federation President NOEL LE GRAET was re-elected for the next four years (JDD, 12/16). ... ALEXANDER BARON VON SPOERCKEN, long standing European Golf Course Owners Association VP & co-founder and chairman of the German Golf Course Owners Association (BVGA) has been elected as the EGCOA President at the annual general meeting held in Cannes, France. Von Spoercken is also chairman of Clubhouse AG and is currently ranked in Golf Magazine at No. 5 of the 100 most-important people in the German golf market. Von Spoercken has taken over the reins from MARCEL WELLING, owner of the Netherlands largest golf course owning operation BurgGolf (EGCOA). ... PGA Tour Commissioner TOM FINCHEM revealed that JEFF MONDAY has been promoted to the newly created position of PGA Tour Canada president. Monday transitions into the role after overseeing the PGA Tour's season-long evaluation of the Canadian Professional Golf Tour in '12 (PGA Tour).
COACHES/MANAGERS: Bundesliga club Schalke 04 "has released its head coach HUUB STEVENS after Saturday's 3-1 loss to SC Freiburg." Stevens "will be replaced by the club's U17 head coach JENS KELLER" (SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG, 12/16). ... UAE Pro-League club Al Shaab has sacked its coach SERGIO ALEXANDRE and "will be announcing a replacement in the coming days." The decision was made after an emergency meeting of the club's technical committee on Saturday night (THE NATIONAL, 12/16).
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The Rugby Football Union has confirmed that former British Cycling Dir MATT PARKER will join the England rugby squad. Parker "will start work early next month as England's head of athletic performance." Parker "will be joined by new senior team doctor PHIL BATTY, who arrives at Twickenham following spells with EPL clubs ManU, Manchester City and Blackburn" (Belfast TELEGRAPH, 12/14). ... MAURICE HERZOG, the French climber who conquered Annapurna in the first recorded ascent of a peak above 8,000 metres, "has died at the age of 93." Herzog "reached the Himalayan peak's summit without oxygen in '50 alongside his compatriot LOUIS LACHENAL" (RFI, 12/15). ... F1 world champion SEBASTIAN VETTEL and Red Bull Racing "have been included on the list of nominations for the 2013 Laureus World Sports Awards." Vettel will go up against USAIN BOLT, MO FARAH, LIONEL MESSI, MICHAEL PHELPS and BRADLEY WIGGINS. Other "nominations in the Team category include China's Olympic Table Tennis Team, the European Ryder Cup Team, the U.S. Miami Heat Basketball team, Spain's Men's Football Team and the U.S. Men's Basketball Team" (CRASH, 12/14). ... Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee Head DMITRY CHERNYSHENKO revealed that pole vaulter ELENA ISINBAYEVA "will become mayor of the Olympic Village in Sochi during the Winter Olympics in '14." The official also "revealed plans to launch 'embassies' of all Russia’s regions in Sochi’s Olympic Park during the games, which will be held on Feb. 7-23, 2014." Chernyshenko said, "In these ‘embassies’ the regions will be able to demonstrate their historic and cultural legacy as well as their latest achievements in different fields" (RUSSIA TODAY, 12/14). ... Hurdler RYAN BRATHWAITE "was crowned the Digicel 4G Athlete of the Year at the Barbados Olympic Association Christmas Dinner and Awards Ceremony on Friday night at the Hilton Hotel" (CARIBBEAN SPORTS NETWORK, 12/16). ... London Games Opening Ceremony Dir DANNY BOYLE "has turned down an offer of a knighthood to stay as 'a man of the people'" (ITV, 12/16). ... Hockey India, the countries governing field hockey body, "signed legendary Dutchman and three-time FIH World Player of the Year TEUN DE NOOIJER as its third brand ambassador for the Hockey India League due to start in January" (PTI, 12/15).
Brazilian footballer NEYMAR: "Feliz pelo futebol brasileiro, PARABÉNS CORINTHIANS !!" ("Happy for brazilian football, CONGRATULATIONS CORINTHIANS !!")
U.S. skier LINDSEY VONN: "Tough weekend so far in Val D'Isere, France... crashed yesterday and the SG was canceled today due to heavy snow..."
Ferrari F1 driver FERNANDO ALONSO: "Today I finish my commitments for 2012. Have a Merry Christmas and see you in January with I hope big smile. Thank you all. #TwitterOff"
Northern Irish golfer RORY MCILROY: "Hope every1 has a great time at SPOTY 2nite, unfortunately I can't be there in person. @andy_murray gets my vote, US open and Olympic champ"
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