The NFL has sold out both games scheduled for London in '13, according to Paolo Bandini of the London GUARDIAN. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hailed the news as "evidence of the league's growing support" in the U.K., and "left the door open to the possibility of one day placing a franchise in London." Goodell said, "I think the message is very clear. We've got passionate fans that love the NFL in the U.K." This is the first year in which the NFL has attempted to host multiple games in London. The early sellouts are "viewed in league offices as a powerful indication of the market's strength." Goodell said, "We're always asking what is the next step after two games. Do we move to three, do we try something else?" (GUARDIAN, 2/1).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
India has again "struck down the latest attempt to bring more consistency to the implementation" of the Decision Review System by "threatening to pull out of any tour in which the host country insisted on using the technology," according to Nagraj Gollapudi of ESPN. At the Int'l Cricket Council exec meeting in Dubai, UAE, the England & Wales Cricket Board, represented by Chair Giles Clarke, "was the only board that spoke in favour of a policy change where the approval of the host country would be enough to implement the DRS." BCCI President N. Srinivasan "shot down the proposal" and the remaining boards "did not make a stand." Srinivasan's "concerns are understood to still centre on a belief that the technology could be easily manipulated and is unreliable." It has been learned that he made the claim that India "would pull out of bilateral series if a system was in place where the home side could insist on the DRS." The existing playing conditions "require the approval of both countries on DRS during a bilateral series," but the ICC Chief Executives Committee "suggested a change in policy that would see the home board having the right to choose the use of the DRS regardless of what the opposition wanted." The CEC recommended that the issue "should be resolved via a vote during the executive board meeting" (ESPN, 1/31).
The All India Tennis Association on Sunday "formed a three-member committee," including Justice Deepak Verma and former Davis Cup player Naresh Kumar, to resolve the issues with the rebel players, but its suggestions "apparently would not be binding on the national tennis federation," according to the PTI. The third member of the committee is retired bureaucrat M. C. Gupta. The decision to appoint the committee was taken at the AITA Exec Committee meeting. The committee "will discuss the issues with the rebel players and before giving a final report within four months, it will file an interim report so that top players could be brought back for the next tie, slated for April 5-7 in India." If the players "refrain from accepting the committee's suggestions or even refuse to talk, the status quo will remain on the issue." The players "are expected to respond to the formation of the committee on Monday" (PTI, 2/3).
With attendance dwindling at major Test match venues across India, some Board of Control for Cricket in India working committee members "are batting in favour of staging Tests in smaller centres, a formula which seems to have worked with One-Day Internationals," according to Indrani Basu of the TIMES OF INDIA. Sources said that "a proposal to this effect is already with the BCCI, with Rajkot and Cuttack being proposed as additional Test venues." Some BCCI members "strongly feel two more venues should also be added to the proposed list, while others in the working committee want the number of Test venues to be increased from 10 to at least 15." A top BCCI official said, "The attendance in Test matches at bigger venues hasn't been great in recent days, and so it's important to take Test cricket to smaller centers in future." In recent times, centers like Rajkot, Ranchi, Indore, Cuttack, Jaipur, Kochi, Pune and even Dharamshala "have successfully hosted ODIs and attracted large crowds." A BCCI official said, "There is no reason to believe that these venues can't stage Test matches too. Enthusiasm is high among fans in smaller centers, and they still love their cricket" (TIMES OF INDIA, 2/2).
The Western India Football Association "temporarily suspended cash-rich Dodsal FC from participating in competitions at any level" after it "failed to release six players for selection trials of the Maharashtra state team that will take part in the Santosh Trophy," which begins on Feb. 1 in Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, according to Kunaal Majgaonkar of the TIMES OF INDIA. But while WIFA's blanket ban has "prevented the club from taking part in any local, national and international leagues or tournaments," there was confusion over Dodsal's much anticipated participation in the I-League Division II that begins in March. WIFA "had written to Dodsal asking them to release NP Pradeep, Paresh Shivalkar, Mohammed Rafi, Kali Allauddin, Arup Debnath and Ravindra Ghosh." WIFA Secretary Souter Vaz said, "We contacted the club asking why they hadn't released the players only to be told that instructions were being awaited from the club's owners in Dubai. After waiting for a week, we sent them another letter asking the players to report on January 24 failing which we would be forced to take stringent action but nothing changed and we were forced to suspend the club" (TIMES OF INDIA, 2/1).
Cricket Australia has written to the Int'l Cricket Council "to implore possibilities of relaxing its standards for the resumption of rain-affected matches," after being "embarrassed by the abandonment of last month's" One-Day Internationals against Sri Lanka at the Sydney Cricket Ground (PTI, 1/2). ... The World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry added 15 new members, summing up its total to more than 200 direct members (WFSGI).