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Volume 10 No. 24

People and Pop Culture

Team GB Gold Medalist JESSICA ENNIS' coach TONI MINICHIELLO has "cut all ties" with UK Athletics, claiming he felt "bullied" and "not respected," according to Martha Kelner of the London GUARDIAN. Minichiello also alleged that CEO NIELS DE VOS had "not even congratulated him" after Ennis won a Gold Medal in the heptathlon last summer. Minichiello "had been offered a consultancy role" within UK Athletics after his old job came to an end last month. However, Minichiello, who has coached Ennis since she was 12, has "turned down the role" after relations between him and De Vos and head coach PETER ERIKSSON "soured." Minichiello will "continue to coach Ennis" as she targets the World Championships and the 2016 Rio Olympics. Minichiello said, "Pay me or don’t pay me, I am still going to coach Jess" (DAILY MAIL, 2/9). In London, Rick Broadbent wrote Ennis "backed her coach" and said she would "definitely" continue to work with Minichiello despite his "acrimonious divorce" from UK Athletics (LONDON TIMES, 2/11).

TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT: In London, Anna Kessel reported Minichiello, who has been told to "take it or leave it" by Eriksson, said that he has "decided to walk away from the governing body's offer." Minichiello said, "I reflected on it and thought, well, if that's how I'm valued it probably does make sense to leave it. My door's open if they want to come back and renegotiate. It's an open door and it's always going to be that way." Minichiello has "a reputation for speaking his mind." He said he was aware Eriksson had accused him of airing his "dirty laundry" in public, but that he would not be intimidated by a "bullying culture" that he alleges was cultivated under former head coach CHARLES VAN COMMENEE.  Minichiello: "I think they've picked the wrong fat kid to bully. I'm not for bullying" (GUARDIAN, 2/9). Also in London, in a separate piece, Kessel reported Eriksson "denied that there was any bullying element at play." Eriksson: "I can't relate to it, that's all I can say about it. It's not happening as long as I've been there. I don't know about the past." Eriksson said that he "will be seeking to reassure Ennis of UKA's support." He said, "We did that the first time we met. We said that we would continue supporting her and we would do everything we can for her to perform at the next level. When I see her next time we will be just reconfirming that" (GUARDIAN, 2/10).

SIGN OF THE TIMES: The SUNDAY TIMES reported Minichiello admits he has no "divine right" to be employed by UK Athletics, acknowledging that "changes are being made with coaching being centred around a single High Performance Centre in Loughborough." However, he is afraid that his time coaching the heptathlete will "suffer as a result of the need to find other work." Minichiello said, "The sport has gone in a different direction, at this moment in time they don’t think I have anything to offer, so be it" (SUNDAY TIMES, 2/10).

Former Chinese table tennis player ZHUANG ZEDONG, most known "for his participation in the historic" Sino-U.S. pingpong diplomacy in the '70s, died at the age of 73 on Sunday, according to XINHUA. Zhuang "became one of the world's best" pingpong players in the '60s. During a championship game held in Japan in '71, U.S. pingpong player GLENN COWAN "rode on the Chinese team's bus and came to know Zhuang after chatting with him." Later, the Chinese government invited the U.S. pingpong team to visit China, which became known as pingpong diplomacy. It "paved the way for a visit" by then U.S. President RICHARD NIXON to China in '72 and eventually the establishment of Sino-U.S. diplomatic ties in '79. Two months after Nixon's visit, Zhuang led a Chinese pingpong delegation to the U.S. "and served as head of China's national sports authority" until '77 (XINHUA, 2/11).

Eleven U.K. footballers are "being celebrated on a set of stamps" to coincide with the FA's 150th anniversary, according to the London TELEGRAPH. Issued by the Royal Mail, "Football Heroes" feature players from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The players selected were chosen for their "outstanding record on the pitch" in representing their countries. All of the 11 are also in the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame. The players are illustrated by artist ANDREW KINSMAN, who took "existing photography to create the set." Royal Mail Managing Dir ANDREW HAMMOND said, "The U.K. has given the world some of the greatest sports and football is rightly celebrated as a national obsession. The stamps celebrate heroes of the beautiful game who excelled on the pitch at club and national level, and are rightly considered icons of the sport" (TELEGRAPH, 2/8). The BBC reported Welsh footballer JOHN CHARLES "has been honoured" in the stamp collection. Alongside Charles are KEVIN KEEGAN, BOBBY CHARLTON, BRYAN ROBSON, JOHN BARNES, GORDON BANKS, JIMMY GREAVES, DENIS LAW, DAVE MACKAY, BOBBY MOORE and GEORGE BEST (BBC, 2/8).

NOTABLE SNUBS: In London, Rik Sharma reported the Royal Mail has "delivered a snub to some of the game's biggest names by leaving them off the list." PETER SHILTON is not included despite playing for England on 125 occasions. Fellow keepers PAT JENNINGS (119 Northern Ireland caps) and NEVILLE SOUTHHALL (92 for Wales) "don't make the cut." KENNY DALGLISH represented Scotland 108 times and is joint top-scorer with Law on 30 goals, but it "wasn't enough to make the grade" (DAILY MAIL, 2/8).

The Int'l Rugby Board has announced that Commerical Dir HUW MORGAN will leave the organization at the end of March. During an 11-year spell with the IRB, Morgan has overseen an unprecedented growth in revenues from the Rugby World Cup and the HSBC Sevens World Series while managing the governing body’s commercial program. An IRB statement stated that details regarding Morgan’s successor will shortly be released (IRB). ... British Ski and Snowboard appointed three new board directors with immediate effect. Former British Handball Association Chair Professor JOHN BREWER, former Aegis Group Finance Dir JOHN FOSTER and former St. James's Place CEO MARK LUND will all become independent directors of the British national governing body for snow sports (BSS).

The Bangladesh Cricket Board said that Australian SHANE JURGENSEN "has been promoted from bowling coach to head coach of Bangladesh on a one-year deal." BCB Media Committee Chair JALAL YOUNUS said that former Pakistani spinner SAQLAIN MUSHTAQ "could also return to the coaching staff if a deal can be agreed" (REUTERS, 2/9).

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Australian Football League Richmond Tigers have begun "a thorough search" for a new GM of football operations, "following the shock resignation" of CRAIG CAMERON. The "highly respected football administrator" has headed Richmond's football department for the past five years after a stint as Melbourne recruiting manager (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/10). ... Former Japan baseball national team Manager SADAHARU OH, who won the inaugural World Baseball Classic in '06, "will throw out the ceremonial first pitch" before Japan kicks off its '13 tournament. Oh, now the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks chairman, "will take the mound before two-time champion Japan takes on WBC debutant Brazil on March 2" (KYODO, 2/8). ... ManU Manger ALEX FERGUSON has been fined £12,000 ($19,000) after the FA found him "guilty of misconduct." The FA brought the charge following Ferguson's "outspoken attack" on assistant referee SIMON BECK  in the wake of the 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur last month (PA, 2/8). ... Former JJB Sports Chair DAVID JONES and his son, STUART JONES, "were charged over misleading statements made by the company to investors" in '09. The men were charged at a criminal court in Leeds, England (BLOOMBERG, 2/8). ... The Russian Anti-Doping Agency said that Russian long jumper TATYANA KOTOVA "has been provisionally suspended after a re-analysis of a sample dating back to the 2005 World Championships came back positive" (Pakistan DAILY TIMES, 2/10). ... RAFAEL NADAL said that "testing for performance-enhancing drugs in sport should strike a balance between catching the cheats and respecting the athletes." He said, "Not everyone has to pay for some sinners. The important thing is that those who cheat pay for their cheating" (AP, 2/8).

London Telegraph's HENRY WINTER: "Special occasion: Jose Mourinho, in a very elegant coat, is here at Old Trafford. Smiling, signing autographs, being interviewed by MUTV"

Swiss sports journalist FLORIAN BOLLI: "Ui, just in time eingeschaltet die 6. Saisonkiste von @damien_brunner zu sehen. #niceone" ... (Ui, just in time tuned in to see the 6th goal of the season from @damien_Brunner. #niceone)

Golfweek's ALISTAIR TAIT: "BTW, why is it called a touchdown in the NFL when they don't actually touch the ball down? #6nations"

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