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Volume 6 No. 212

People and Pop Culture

DICK VITALE will call the NCAA Final Four games on ESPN Int'l, marking the first time a "voice synonymous with college basketball will be heard only outside" the U.S., according to the AP. Vitale will work a semifinal and the championship for ESPN Int'l, his first time announcing the Final Four. The telecasts go to 150 countries and territories across 35 broadcast networks in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Canada. BRAD NESSLER will handle play-by-play from Atlanta alongside Vitale on April 6 and 8. JAY BILAS will be the analyst for the other semifinal (AP, 2/5).

Four women are candidates to be elected as the 25th member of the FIFA Exec Committee at the FIFA Congress to be held in Mauritius on May 30-31. Four confederations have proposed a candidate for the election: Asian Football Confederation, MOYA DODD; Confederation of African Football, LYDIA NSEKERA; CONCACAF, SONIA BIEN-AIME; and Oceania Football Confederation, PAULA KEARNS (FIFA). ... Brasileiro Santos Marketing Dir ARMÊNIO NETO will leave his post at the club at the end of the week. Neto, who has been at the club since '10, was one of the "main reasons" for the increase in revenue the marketing department has experienced since '10 (MAQUINA DO ESPORTE, 2/4).

COACHES/MANAGERS: La Liga side RCD Mallorca and coach JOAQUÍN CAPARRÓS have agreed to part ways after the island side recorded its fourth successive loss, 3-0 to Real Sociedad de Fútbol, on Sunday (UEFA). ... Serie A side Palermo sacked head coach GIAN PIERO GASPERINI "following the 2-1 defeat against Atalanta." Palermo added in its statement that the new coach "would be announced before Tuesday" and is expected to be former Fiorentina coach ALBERTO MALESANI, who was sacked twice by Genoa last term (XINHUA, 2/4). ... League Championship Nottingham Forest Manager ALEX MCLEISH left his position Tuesday "by mutual consent" (London EVENING STANDARD, 2/5).

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Sky Deutschland F1 commentator JACQUES SCHULZ "has announced his retirement due to private reasons" only days after Sky extended its F1 media rights deal until '15. Schulz leaves his position after 16 years and almost 300 grand prix with the Sky F1 team. He will be replaced by in-house GP2 commentator SASCHA ROOS (DWDL, 2/5). ... World No. 3 tennis player ANDY MURRAY insists that the sport must conduct more blood testing to "avoid being hit by the kind of doping scandals that have plagued cycling." Murray feels that the sport's authorities "need to invest more heavily in antidoping programmes -- even if it means siphoning funds from players' prize money" (REUTERS, 2/5). ... Olympic heptathlon champion JESSICA ENNIS "will not compete indoors" in '13, but will focus on the World Championships in Moscow this summer as her goal (London TELEGRAPH, 2/4). ... Portugal's Olympic committee has banned windsurfer CAROLINA BORGES for life for "concealing she was pregnant but attending the London Games anyway to see her husband." Borges traveled to London as part of the Portugal team but "then sent an email during the Games in July saying she was quitting before her RS-X event had even started" (REUTERS, 2/5).

BIG NAMES IN CHINA: Former Danish footballer and ManU "legend" PETER SCHMEICHEL had not even "officially entered Hong Kong before fans descended." As he "approached immigration on his visit to launch the club's friendly with Kitchee, the officer in charge abandoned his booth to get a photo." Schmeichel joked: "I'm not sure I should tell you this. Even his supervisor was taking pictures" (SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, 2/5). ... The Zhejiang College of Sports has revealed that Chinese Olympic swimmer SUN YANG has been "punished for breaking a series of team rules." The college accused Sun "of a lack of discipline." The college's President LI JIANSHE said the institution withheld a month of Sun's allowance and "provisionally suspended" him from all social and commercial activities, including personal endorsements (CHINA DAILY, 2/5).

ATHLETE SIGNINGS: Barcelona striker LIONEL MESSI will sign a new contract with the club on Thursday. The Argentinian's new deal will run through June '18 (MARCA, 2/5). ... German Hockey League (DEL) club Cologne Sharks has signed former NHL player MARCO STURM. The 34-year-old, who has played in more than 1,000 NHL games, will join the team in mid-February. Sturm most-recently played for the NHL Florida Panthers (SID, 2/4).

BBC F1 presenter SUZI PERRY: "For an excuse not to work .. … for all test news from Jerez & follow @andrewbensonf1 .. I'm incoming!"

SAUBER F1 TEAM: "congratulations @Laragut. great performance. silver medal for #SwissSki! get well soon @lindseyvonn! #Schladming2013"

London Times' ASHLING O'CONNOR: "Uefa still hasn't received evidence promised by Europol of fixing in CL. You'd have thought they'd have got their ducks in a row"

Süddeutsche newspaper's THOMAS HUMMEL: "Oha, #Europol hat ermittelt und Wettmanipulationen im Fußball aufgedeckt. Mal sehen, ob Namen und Vereine herauskommen." ... ("Oha, #Europol has investigated and uncovered match-fixing in football. Let's see if names and clubs will be revealed.")

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