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Volume 6 No. 211

People and Pop Culture

World No. 1 RORY MCILROY "may reject the opportunity to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro to avoid any controversy over which country to represent," according to Tom Pilcher of REUTERS. The 23-year-old said that he was "mulling whether to play for Britain or Ireland, and he told the BBC that he might opt out of playing altogether." Golf is scheduled to return to the Olympics for the first time since 1904. McIlroy said in '09 he would "probably play for Great Britain" (REUTERS, 1/3). In a BBC documentary that debuted Thursday, McIlroy said, "I just think being from where we're from, we're placed in a very difficult position. I feel Northern Irish and obviously being from Northern Ireland you have a connection to Ireland and a connection to the U.K. If I could and there was a Northern Irish team, I'd play for Northern Ireland." He added, "Play for one side or the other, or not play at all because I may upset too many people. Those are my three options I'm considering very carefully" (BBC, 1/3).

Air Berlin said that retired triple F1 champion NIKI LAUDA has left its board "so he can devote more time to his new role with LEWIS HAMILTON's Mercedes F1 team," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. Austrian Lauda "was named as non-exec chairman of the British-based team's board when '08 champion Hamilton was signed from McLaren" in September. Lauda, 63 and a former Jaguar team principal, "is expected to play a link role" between the team and the Stuttgart, Germany-based car manufacturer (REUTERS, 1/3). N-TV reported Lauda "will be succeeded by dissolved British airline bmi CEO AUSTIN REID." Air Berlin is Germany's second largest airline, however, it "has been operating in the loss column for years." After implementing a tight policy of saving, CEO HARTMUT MEHDORN has announced a profit for '12" (N-TV, 1/3).

Quiksilver co-Founder BOB MCKNIGHT “will step down this month as CEO," and will be replaced by former Disney Consumer Products Chair ANDY MOONEY. McKnight, who started in his role in ’91, will become Exec Chair. The changes will be effective Jan. 11. McKnight said that Quiksilver “was looking for a successor with experience with bigger brands, electronic commerce and global reach” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/3)… Departing New Zealand Rugby League CEO JIM DOYLE will join the National Rugby League and "conduct a full review of pathways" and assist it with business and community programs within the country. His new role will see him work on the NRL's "whole-of-game review, the NRL 2013-17 Game Plan." Doyle will assist in "guiding investment in the competitions and resourcing for referees, administrators and volunteers" (APNZ, 12/21).

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The BBC has unveiled tennis world No. 3 ANDY MURRAY as its "star attraction for another reboot of the TV classic Superstars." BBC bosses, however, "are not stopping at Murray." Producers are reportedly "targeting footballers who may be allowed to take part by their managers, including potentially an audacious bid for DAVID BECKHAM" (London DAILY MAIL, 1/3). ... Real Madrid forward CRISTIANO RONALDO has been named as nonprofit Save the Children’s global artist ambassador. In his new role, Ronaldo will fight child hunger and obesity, and promote physical activity and healthy eating (Save the Children). ... RUDI VAN HOUTS and LAURA TURPIJN were awarded the titles of 2012 Dutch Male and Female Mountain Bikers of the Year (CYCLING NEWS, 1/2). ... Int'l Yacht Racing Union (now the Int'l Sailing Federation) Racing Rules Committee former Chair LYNN WATTERS died on Dec. 25 at the age of 96. He created the int'l judging system, which is now universally used for all major regattas (ISAF).

The disciplinary committee of the Swiss Football League "has suspended FC Basel player RAUL BOBADILLA for seven games." Bobadilla "viciously insulted an official and displayed violent behavior" in the game of his former team BSC Young Boys against FC Lausanne-Sport on Nov. 25 (NEUE ZÜRCHER ZEITUNG, 1/3). ... Briton ASHLEY GILL-WEBB, 34, went on trial on Thursday after being "accused of screaming abuse at USAIN BOLT and hurling a beer bottle onto the tracks" as the London Olympics men's 100m final was starting (REUTERS, 1/3).

Sports Investment Partners Founder MICHAEL BROUGHTON: Italian clubs slowly turning to stadium ownership, could this be the turning point in Italian Football Economics? #sportbiz

Golf Monthly Editor MIKE HARRIS: "... I was lucky enough to be the first UK golfer to hit the R1 & RBZ Stage 2 way back in November. Very impressive performance from both"

Stoke City footballer MICHAEL OWEN: "That Prince Boatang footage from the Milan game is shocking. Shame it takes a player to do that instead of the authorities being proactive."

Pro tennis player SERGIY STAKHOVSKY: "I don't really like that ATP is buying tournaments and putting them out of calendar without talking to players.."

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