Germany's Bundesliga is setting its sights on the U.S. market as the next phase of its global expansion plan, and has explored talks with Major League Soccer about sending a team to play in its All-Star Game, according to the league's Head of Business & Specialist Media Dirk Meyer-Bosse. He did not reveal if there have already been discussions with MLS regarding such a matchup, but it is clear the league hopes to have such a game in the near future. Germany's top-flight football league has made forays into Japan and Poland in recent years, and Meyer-Bosse said it is now targeting India and the U.S. "as two core markets for upcoming things." Meyer-Bosse explained that by "upcoming things" he was not talking about the Bundesliga exploring those markets “in the next two years, but before the end of the season.” The German league seems to have laid its eyes on one specific occasion. Meyer-Bosse said, “The American Major League Soccer plays an annual All-Star Game, and there are thoughts of sending a Bundesliga team to play against the MLS All-Star team.” No Bundesliga team has ever played in the MLS All-Star Game as participants have almost exclusively been Premier League clubs. Asked about whether a Bundesliga team will participate in the 2013 or 2014 MLS All-Star Game, MLS Corporate Communications Dir Sean Dennison wrote in an email: “MLS has a long-standing relationship with the Bundesliga. The league is speaking with a number of world-class clubs from multiple leagues about being the opponent in our All-Star Game. We will have additional details in the future.” The Bundesliga has the highest stadium attendance of any football league in the world and recently broke the €2B ($2.7B) revenue mark for the first time.
Leagues and Governing Bodies
State sport ministers will "demand answers" when they meet Australian Senate member Kate Lundy in Melbourne on Thursday, according to Proszenko & Masters of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the Australian Crime Commission will "address an emergency summit," instigated by Victorian Sports Minister Hugh Delahunty. Also on Thursday in Melbourne, CEOs of the major sporting codes will "discuss where their sports stand in relation to the ACC report." The state ministers and the public "have been kept in the dark" since last week's announcement of the ACC's findings into doping in sport and links to organized crime. New South Wales Minister for Sport Graham Annesley said, ''There's no particular agenda other than the states trying to get more information because at this point -- and I'm sure the other sports ministers are the same -- we've got no information over and above what's in the public domain" (SMH, 2/14). In Sydney, Wayne Smith reported the meeting takes place "against the backdrop of growing global athlete discontent" with the World Anti-Doping Agency and its failure to protect "clean" athletes through standard drug-testing methods. Geneva-based peak body of athlete associations UNI Sport PRO has "called for fundamental reform at WADA." The organization claimed WADA and its stakeholders -- which in Australia means ASADA -- "are failing in their mission to protect clean athletes." Australian Athletes Alliance Chair Paul Marsh backed UNI Sport PRO's call for the global athletes' body to be "given a seat at the table in the fight against drugs in sport." March claimed that the various athletes' commissions established by a wide range of sports actually "became part of the sport's internal structure and did not independently represent athletes' interests" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/14).
NRL COACH SPEAKS OUT: The AAP reported "fuming" National Rugby League North Queensland coach Neil Henry "slammed the handling" of his club's mention as "embarrassing, disgraceful and farcical." Henry "condemned the ACC's process and was angered his club's name had effectively been forced out publicly in connection with the report before even they knew any detail of the alleged involvement" (AAP, 2/13). NEWS LTD. NETWORK's Benson & Jones reported anti-doping authority investigators "will interview 150 NRL and Australian Football League players, staff and administrators." Between 70 to 80 players and officials "could be charged with doping violations and various penalties, including the potential for lifetime bans from their code." Players who have doped themselves using substances unable to be detected by drug tests are "also being targeted," with ASADA able to take action "based on intelligence" (NEWS LTD. NETWORK, 2/14).
PHONE TAP WORRIES: In Sydney, Chip Le Grand reported the ACC "did not gather any new information about organised crime or doping in sport through telephone taps" as part of its 12-month intelligence operation. Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said that the investigation "has not provided any basis for a criminal investigation." ACC CEO John Lawler said that "no telephone intercept warrants were sought as part of Project Aperio." The absence of telephone taps "will put at ease" athletes and officials at AFL and NRL clubs who had "feared their private conversations were monitored by ACC investigators." It also removes any prospect of a "smoking syringe" conversation between footballers and drug dealers or "unscrupulous sports scientists existing within the ACC's material" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/14). Also in Sydney, Ben Packham reported Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare "has defended" the ACC's decision to publicly allege widespread doping in Australian sport in the absence of a single criminal investigation. Clare said that the ACC "would have been wrong to suppress its report on sports doping and organised crime, which cast a shadow over the nation's elite athletes and sporting codes." Clare said, "The Crime Commission made the decision, and I backed them, that it was important to tell the public what was going on here" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/13).
BEING HELD ACCOUNTABLE: In Sydney, Cooper, Robinson & Hassett reported Australia's footballing codes "have dismissed concerns" raised by WADA President John Fahey they could do more to police illegal doping by confirming they already compiled the biological passports of their players. AFL Medical Commissioner Peter Harcourt confirmed the league had "long been testing the blood samples of players." Football and rugby union also confirmed that their players "had blood tests taken for biological passports," while rugby league has "reportedly agreed with ASADA to have the records of its players kept" (SMH, 2/14). Also in Sydney, Robert Grant reported AFL Essendon Chair David Evans "could be the only key member of the club's hierarchy to survive" if the Bombers are found to have breached anti-doping rules. Melbourne RMIT University professor of accounting Brendan O'Connell said everyone at the club with a ''hands-on'' involvement in the supplement controversy could be culpable (SMH, 2/14). In Sydney, Brad Walter reported NRL clubs have been told that links with sacked Essendon sports scientist Stephen Dank "were the reason they were being investigated" by the ASADA. The "controversial" biochemist was employed by Manly between '06-10, and was involved with Cronulla for five months in '11, but his links with the other four clubs "were never previously identified." Penrith, Newcastle, Canberra and North Queensland all said that they have "never had any association with Dank," but he told the ACC during two interviews last year that he had "been a consultant to the Panthers and the Cowboys" (SMH, 2/14).
Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) President Pat McQuaid "has been accused of deceit and being derelict in his handling of the blood test results from Lance Armstrong during his comeback years by leading Australian blood doping scientist Michael Ashenden," according to Rupert Guinness of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Ashenden said in a statement he released late on Wednesday McQuaid "has deceitful and deliberately misled the public and media'' about Armstrong's suspicious blood values when he raced in '09 and '10. The UCI announced on Tuesday the ''Athlete Blood Passport software'' found no abnormalities in Armstrong's samples ''at any time during his comeback years." The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, in its ''reasoned decision'' for banning and stripping him of his Tour titles from 1999 to 2005 when he first retired for doping, said that "his samples taken after his comeback indicated blood manipulation." Ashenden said, ''The UCI have been forced to admit that they never sent Armstrong's suspicious blood values to their expert panel for scrutiny" (SMH, 2/14).
Five professional football teams in the K League are "under fire for illegally scouting high-ranking elementary and middle school players by giving kickbacks to school managers and coaches," according to Sung-wook & Sang-soo of the KOREA JOONGANG DAILY. The Busan District Court, headed by Senior Judge Park Hyung-joon, said on Saturday that scouts and officials from five K-League teams; Suwon Samsung Bluewings, Pohang Steelers, Busan IPark, Chunnam Dragons and Ulsan Hyundai Tigers, "gave hundreds of millions of won in kickbacks to four middle and elementary school managers to send their top talent to the middle and high school teams that have been managed by the club for years." Under K League regulations, each club "must run one school team as a measure to improve and support athletic teams in schools." Normally, the player on a school team that is managed by a certain club "joins that club after graduation" (KOREA JOONGANG DAILY, 2/13).
Kontinental Hockey League President Alexander Medvedev said that the league "is set to expand its presence into Western Europe by accepting new members in the near future," according to the AFP. Medvedev said that the Russian-led league, which already includes teams from the former Soviet Union as well as the Czech Republic and Slovakia, "was looking at accepting new members from Italy, Croatia and Poland" (AFP, 2/13). RUSSIA TODAY reported Medvedev said that "the most likely candidates are now Croatian Zagreb and Italian Milan." Polish Gdansk "has also become an official candidate recently." Medvedev said, "Perhaps, one of these cities will join the league starting from the new season." He added that the KHL "is mulling over creating a third conference one day" (RT, 2/13).
The Czech Rugby League Association has unveiled a new format for its domestic competition that will see two divisions of five teams, an increased focus on junior participation and the introduction of a new club (CZRLA). ... Argentina announced to raise its import duties on 100 products from 20% to 35%, which is the highest level these tariffs can go without violation Argentina's World Trade Organization obligations. The products include soccer balls, volleyballs, basketballs and other inflatable balls; ice skates and roller skates; and miscellaneous sports and fitness equipment (Sports & Fitness Industry Association). ... All India Tennis Association CEO Hironmoy Chatterjee said on Tuesday that the national body "would decide on the recognition of the newly launched players' association (ITPA) only after it had a clear understanding of its objectives." Chatterjee said, "It is too premature at this juncture to consider recognizing the new body" (AP, 2/13).