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Volume 6 No. 212

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The year '13 marks the 30th anniversary of South Korea's professional football league, the K-League, which is looking to "put in place major changes," such as the inauguration of a two-tier division, according to Park & Moon of the KOREA JOONGANG DAILY. Two bottom teams of the 16 K-League teams, Gwangju FC and Sangju Sangmu Phoenix, lost their qualification to stay with the league last year and will join the newly-formed second division along with six other newcomers, Goyang Hi FC, Bucheon FC 1995, Suwon FC, FC Anyang, Chungju Hummel FC and Korean Police FC. K-League clubs will have to have at least one player 23 or younger on the roster for each of the season games. Additionally, the number of players that make a professional debut through the free recruitment system will rise from one for each team to two this year. It is part of the league’s multi-year plan "to completely replace the current drafting system with the free recruitment system until '16." The drafting system, which has long been used by the K-League to recruit rookies, "has been criticized for being too rigid and lacking incentives," leading some young talents to choose "to start their career overseas" (KOREA JOONGANG DAILY, 1/1). YONHAP's Yoo Jee-ho noted the 13th and 14th ranked teams, or the two worst clubs, in the first division in '13 will be "automatically relegated to the second division for '14." Then, the No. 12 team from the first division and the No. 1 seed from the second division "will collide in a playoff for a spot in the first division." The new format means "up to three clubs from the first division can be sent down to the lower tier" each year. The K-League said, "Much like in European leagues, second-division teams can earn a promotion. We think this will be a great source of motivation for the second division teams" (YONHAP, 12/31).

Bangladesh has shelved the first planned int'l cricket tour of Pakistan since an '09 terror attack on Sri Lanka's bus due to "safety grounds," according to the AFP. Bangladesh Cricket Board President Nazmul Hassan said that the proposed tour "had been put off indefinitely amid fears over players' safety, in the wake of protests and a Facebook campaign opposing the visit." Hassan: "Bangladesh will not visit Pakistan for now. We've made the decision after considering the overall security situation in Pakistan and the concern that our people have expressed over the safety of their players." Hassan said that Bangladesh had "informed the Pakistan board of its change of heart," and added that the team would visit Pakistan "if security improves." Hassan: "We've sent a letter to Pakistan three days ago explaining our position. We've decided to wait and see" (AFP, 12/31).

CRITICAL DECISION: The SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST reported Pakistan "criticised Bangladesh's decision" to abandon the planned cricket tour. Pakistan Cricket Board Chair Zaka Ashraf said that the decision was "inappropriate." Ashraf: "We never forced Bangladesh, but to say the security situation was not conducive is inappropriate because their own delegation was satisfied with arrangements." Ashraf said that the Pakistani government "had promised top-level security" (SCMP, 1/2).

ONGOING FEUD: The PTI reported the PCB is "furious," and hinted that it "will not release its players" for the '13 Bangladesh Pemier League set for later this month in Bangladesh. The PCB indicated in a statement that Bangladesh's refusal to send its team to Pakistan has "affected relations between the two boards." The statement said, "Now for the 2013 edition of BPL, we have to see the commitments and engagements of our players before releasing them for the tournament. To associate the release [of] the Pakistani players with Bangladesh tour to Pakistan does not hold any merit" (PTI, 1/1).

The 32nd gameday of the '12-13 German Hockey League (DEL) season set a new season attendance record. A total of 59,200 fans were in attendance at the seven games. The number translates into an average of 8,457 fans per game. The previous record of 53,548 fans in attendance was set on the fifth gameday of the season (DEL). ... The All India Tennis Association said that it is "examining the concerns of the eight elite players who have shot off a communication to the federation, demanding drastic changes in the way the country's Davis Cup team is handled by the AITA." The AITA said that "the talks are already on with the rebel players and a decision in this regard will come soon" (PTI, 1/2).