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Volume 6 No. 211

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The new FIA sanctioned all-electric racing series, Formula E, is still a work in progress, but Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said he is "extremely satisfied with progress until now." Agag, a 42-year-old Spanish businessman, said a lot of work has to be done before the first race, "but everything [is] coming along nicely." Formula E is scheduled to debut in ’14, however, the racing series has only two confirmed host cities and one confirmed team so far. Asked whether he is concerned about this seemingly limited interest in the series, Agag said: "We are at the moment finalizing the preliminary calendar of cities that will host races in 2014. [We] will focus on teams after we have presented the preliminary calendar of selected cities." F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone recently called Formula E a politically driven series and described it as "a bit of a joke," in an exclusive interview with SBD Global. Agag responded to these comments by saying, "We respect everyone's opinion, and particularly Mr. Ecclestone's. He is the creator of modern F1. Thanks to him F1 is one of the biggest sports and shows in the world. We believe in time, when our Championship is out, we will be able to convince our critics that Formula E is a fantastic concept. We believe it's the future of motor racing." One of the lingering questions that will ultimately determine whether Formula E will be successful or not, is the question of how to attract fans? Ecclestone believes it is going to be difficult to attract motorsports fans to watch "a little car, which doesn’t make any noise." Agag said that Formula E "is not a Championship focused only on the average motorsports fan." Agag said, "Probably people like me, lifelong petrol heads, will find strange in the beginning things like the lack of sound (there is actually a sound) or other. I am a Formula 1 and GP2 lover, and I will continue to be." He added that Formula E is targeting a different kind of fan. Agag said: "This Championship is targeting a different and younger kind of public, [which] is not at the moment into motorsport, but is keen on issues like environment, social media, free streaming, and video games." Agag believes there is a "niche for this in global motorsports scene," and considers Formula E as "complementary to F1, NASCAR or others."

The Australian Football League "will appoint its new general manager of football operations before the start of the home-and-away season after short-listing six candidates," according to Glenn McFarlane of the HERALD SUN. AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou said that interviews for the role "would begin soon." For the first time, he also revealed "how the role would be different to the one Adrian Anderson held for nine years." He said that "there would be changes to the position, making it a much more football-focused role, with all levels of the talent program returned within its jurisdiction." Demetriou confirmed that "the all-important integrity department would be separated from the football operations role. Demetriou said, "The integrity unit, which includes all of the compliance areas, the salary cap, all of the betting stuff, the surveillance and the investigations, will be moved out into a stand-alone unit, which will operate under the legal part of our business" (HERALD SUN, 2/25).

Australia's national netballers "have taken their fight for more pay to Fair Work Australia," according to Rebecca Williams of the HERALD SUN. The Australian Netball Players' Association met with Netball Australia officials at a hearing last week after negotiations "hit a wall." As part of their new Collective Bargaining Agreement, "the players want the $200 per day they receive when they are on duty with the national team, the Diamonds, doubled, arguing the demands on players are greater than ever." NA CEO Kate Palmer said that their demands "were not sustainable for a sport that was still growing." The players initially pushed for a base contract system for all athletes in the national squad in addition to match payments, "but those discussions fell over" (HERALD SUN, 2/25).

A day-night Test "is unlikely to be played any time soon because the worldwide search for a suitable coloured ball appears to have stalled," according to Andrew Faulkner of THE AUSTRALIAN. The issue is at a stalemate because while the Int'l Cricket Council says that "it is happy for day-night Tests to be played, it has abandoned coloured-ball trials." An ICC spokesperson said: "At present there are no plans for further trials by (the) ICC and the onus now for ongoing testing lies with the member boards." But testing in Australia, England, the West Indies and Pakistan "has so far failed to find a suitable ball." Finding a suitable ball -- be it pink, orange or yellow -- "has proved to be cricket's equivalent of alchemy after more than five years of fruitless experiments." A colored ball "is needed because red balls are too hard to see at night and the white balls used in one-day cricket deteriorate too quickly for longer-form cricket." There is "much at stake as the Seven and Nine networks jostle for the broadcast rights when Nine's contract expires next month." Day-night Tests "would draw greater audiences as much of the play would be on TV when fans arrive home from work or school." So including day-night Tests in the scheduling "will greatly influence the price paid by the successful bidder" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/25).

The NBA is opening a $1.5B, 2,300-acre "sports and entertainment superstructure" on the outskirts of Beijing according to Steve Ginsberg of REUTERS. The "glitzy 'lifestyle destination' complex" features an official basketball court, a hoop-themed restaurant and a children's zone. NBA Int'l President Heidi Ueberroth said, "China is our number one market outside of the United States. The growth has been very significant and very much on track, and we are very much still just scratching the surface." The Heat and the Clippers played two preseason games in China in '12 and "the knowledge of NBA history by the fans stunned league officials." NBA China CEO David Shoemaker said, "Bill Russell came to our preseason games in October. And in both Beijing and Shanghai ... we're talking about a young generation of fans here ... we introduced Bill Russell to them without any real description of what he did. Standing ovation in both arenas. It was amazing." The NBA has "capitalized on its popularity by establishing the Chinese Basketball Association Dongguan Basketball School and NBA Training Center for potential pros." Former NBA player Yao Ming "was the catalyst for the NBA's soaring popularity in China but the now-retired eight-time All-Star plays down his influence in the game's popularity." Yao said, "Basketball had a big influence in China, even before the NBA got there." Ueberroth, who hopes to bring the NBA's "blueprint for success" to countries like India, Brazil and the Philippines, said that Africa "is fertile ground." Ginsberg opined that "the still burgeoning success of the league in China may be hard to duplicate." NBA apparel and footwear "is sold in more than 2,200 Adidas stores in the country of at least 1.3 billion people" (REUTERS, 2/22).

The Board of Control for Cricket in India "made it clear" that the second cricket Test between India and Australia will go ahead as scheduled in Hyderabad since the state government has assured the safety and security of the players. The city of Hyderabad was "rocked by two terror blasts" Thursday, killing 17 people and injuring many (PTI, 2/22). ... The Asian Football Confederation has set up a task force to help fight match-fixing in the continent. AFC General Secretary Alex Soosay said that the task force will "collaborate with all stakeholders and educate member associations on ways to combat the practice and introduce mechanisms to fight it" (SHANGHAI DAILY, 2/23). ... Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was fined 10% of his match fee for breaching the Int'l Cricket Council Code of Conduct relating to clothing and equipment for "wearing a batting pad, which had more manufacturers’ logos than permitted under ICC rules," when he batted on the third day (PTI, 2/24). ... Three Kenyan marathoners will serve a cumulative five year bans including a two time winner of the Seoul Marathon, Wilson Erupe Loyanae. Loyanae and Nixon Kiplagat Cherutich "will serve a ban of two years each with Moses Kiptoo Kurgat being sanctioned for a year after both A and B samples returned positive results for banned substance abuse" (XINHUA, 2/23). ... Hockey India has derecognized Air India as its associate member "due to non-payment of its annual membership fees" since '10-11. Air India has been a member of HI since '09 and was demoted to an associate member last year, following non-payment of fees (THE HINDU, 2/23).