Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore "has increased the pressure on clubs to ratify its new financial regulations to combat the threat of a veto" at Thursday's shareholders’ meeting in London, according to Oliver Kay of the LONDON TIMES. In an e-mail seen by The Times, Scudamore has urged all 20 clubs to "endorse the plans." Scudamore also "took the unusual step" of suggesting the six clubs who opposed the motion at the previous meeting -- Aston Villa, Fulham, Manchester City, Southampton, Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion -- "may wish to reconsider their position." The required two-thirds majority passed in February when Reading "unexpectedly abstained." The regulations are expected to be approved, but Reading’s position was "thrown into doubt" Wednesday when Chair John Madejski said that it "would be wrong to 'start handcuffing' clubs and that they should be 'allowed to do what they want.'" Scudamore wrote: “Given the will of the clubs has already been expressed, I would expect clubs to at least maintain their voting position ... and actually hope some previous dissenters may see their way to approve the rules as being consistent with the will of the majority” (LONDON TIMES, 4/11).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
UEFA has "signalled a clampdown on racism" by proposing a minimum 10-match ban for any player found guilty of the offense, according to Jamie Jackson of the London GUARDIAN. The measure was announced by UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino and will be introduced next season in all European competitions. Infantino also said that "there would be partial closure of stadiums for a first incident of racist abuse by fans and a full closure for a second offence plus far tougher financial penalties." The measures will apply to UEFA club competitions, the Champions and Europa League, and the European Championship. However, Infantino said that UEFA "will urge member associations to follow the recommendations in domestic football" (GUARDIAN, 4/10). The PA's Martyn Ziegler reported Infantino said, "We have to have sanctions and they must have a deterrent effect and what we are proposing is if a player or official is convicted of racism they should receive a 10-match suspension at least. If supporters at a club are found guilty of racist abuse the first sanction will be a partial closure of the part of the stadium from which the racist abuse took place. For a second offense there will be the full closure and a minimum fine of €50,000 ($65,000)" (PA, 4/10).
ZERO TOLERANCE: In London, Oliver Kay reported Infantino admitted that UEFA needed to make sure that, having previously failed to live up to its “zero-tolerance” vow, it was "time to back up words with actions." Infantino said, "It’s nice to talk about zero-tolerance and ‘kicking it out,’ and the situation has improved, but it is still widespread. The action is two-fold. The first part is that we need to consider more the education. There we have to improve and increase" (LONDON TIMES, 4/10).
FAN FARE: REUTERS' Mike Collett reported Infantino said UEFA was "backing referees to abandon matches if fans continued with racist abuse after a first public warning." Infantino: "If there is racist abuse, the referee is empowered to take the players off the pitch and a public announcement will be made to tell the fans to stop the abuse. The players will then return to the field, but if it continues the referee has the authority to abandon the match" (REUTERS, 4/10).
RACISM PENALTIES: Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev must play its next UEFA competition home game behind closed doors "due to the racist behaviour of their fans" at a Champions League match at home against Paris St. Germain Nov. 21. Kiev has "appealed against the sanction" (REUTERS, 4/10). REUTERS' Tom Pilcher reported Scottish Third Division Rangers CEO Charles Green "has been issued with a notice of complaint for alleged comments of an 'offensive and racist nature.'" Green's comments in The Scottish Sun on Sunday about his Pakistani friend and former Rangers Dir Imran Ahmad broke two SFA rules for ''bringing the game into disrepute by making comments in a media interview of an offensive and racist nature" (REUTERS, 4/10).
As part of the continued professionalization, the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) and German Basketball Federation (DBB) have issued, for the first time, 40 player agent licenses on March 15. During the licensing process of the BBL and DBB, which was created together with the 2nd Basketball Bundesliga (DJL) and Youth Basketball Bundesliga (NBBL) and is based on FIBA regulations and received its approval, the agents acknowledged all statutes, regulations and decisions of the four organizations and FIBA. In reward, the licensed agents will be listed as "official in Germany registered player agents" (BBL).
Premiership rugby side Saracens "became the first professional sports club to announce they will mark the death" of the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, according to Mick Cleary of the London TELEGRAPH. Saracens will hold a minute of silence before their match against Worcester Warriors at Allianz Park on Sunday. Fellow Premiership side Exeter later said it would "also stage a minute's silence" prior to its match with London Irish on Saturday. Saracens CEO Edward Griffiths said, "This is about a mark of respect not about politics. If the Queen deems the event significant enough to attend the funeral of a former Prime Minister for only the second time in her reign, then the least we can do is to recognize the importance of the moment." The stance taken by the rugby clubs "is in notable contrast" to that of the FA not to mark Thatcher's passing with any tribute prior to the FA Cup semifinals (TELEGRAPH, 4/10). Liverpool Manager Brendan Rodgers said that "the only tribute at Liverpool’s match against Reading this weekend will be in memory of the 96 fans who died at Hillsborough" (LONDON TIMES, 4/10). In London, Dominic King reported Reading Chair John Madjeski and Wigan Chair Dave Whelan "had suggested that sport should find a way of remembering" Thatcher. Madjeski subsequently acknowledged that there was "no chance of silence" for Thatcher, given the level of enmity toward her from the city of Liverpool, and the Hillsborough Family Support Group said it would be 'a mistake' to try hold it this weekend" (DAILY MAIL, 4/10).
German Football League (DFL) Managing Dir Andreas Rettig said the elimination of the Bundesliga's summer break is being "very openly discussed" at the DFL, according to the SID. Rettig said, "At the end, it also depends on FIFA's decision in the debate to reschedule the World Cup in Qatar from summer to winter. If it happens, it would have a big impact on the discussions." Bayern Munich Exec-Chair Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who is also the European Club Association chair, "could also imagine to change the season schedule." He said, "The football family is in agreement: Either we play in January and February, or we play in October and November. I see a chance for the Bundesliga with this model." Rummenigge added: "From May until August, we don't play football in Germany despite having the best weather in those months. Maybe we should have a break when the weather is bad. It could be an advantage" (SID, 4/9).
Sport England, the government organization that invests £100M ($153M) a year in grassroots sport, is to pour an extra £24M ($37M) into a program "designed to get teenagers and young adults involved in new sports," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. The Sportivate scheme, part of a wider attempt to deliver on promises to use the £9.3B ($14.2B) invested in hosting the London Olympics, "is designed to help teenagers and young people find a sport that is right for them." The additional investment, which comes from the National Lottery, will allow Sport England to top up the £8M ($12.2M) already announced over the next two years to £10M ($15.3M) per year and extend the scheme for a further two years to '17. It said that 190,000 14-25-year-olds "had already benefited from free or discounted six- to eight-week sports courses in a wide range of activities." The government claims that "Sport England's strategy, and recent figures showing an uplift in the number of adults playing sport at least once a week, demonstrate that its investment is paying off" (GUARDIAN, 4/9).
Middlesex County Cricket Club Managing Dir Angus Fraser "expressed doubts about the long-term future of Twenty20 franchise cricket as England players crave regular involvement in the Indian Premier League," according to Tom Collomosse of the London EVENING STANDARD. England and Wales Cricket Board CEO David Collier said that "Indian authorities were considering altering the dates of the IPL to give England cricketers a larger window in which to take part." But Fraser "believes leagues such as the IPL and Australia’s Big Bash are not the guaranteed source of wealth they might appear to be." Fraser said, "I’m not anti-Twenty20, but I try to be a bit more realistic and reasonable than just looking at what Kevin Pietersen earns in the IPL. It’s still good money, but it’s not as sexy as some people might believe" (EVENING STANDARD, 4/10).
An anti-hooliganism bill "designed to ensure public safety at Russian sporting events by banning violent or abusive fans for up to one year was adopted by the State Duma on Tuesday." The bill, which was introduced last November, "passed through its first reading in the lower house of parliament with 226 votes and one abstention." The bill "now goes to vote in the Federation Council, parliament’s upper house, and, if passed, would go into force 180 days after it’s signed off by President Vladimir Putin" (R-SPORT, 4/9). ... Germany's sailing clubs "have founded the Deutsche Segel-Bundesliga" (German Sailing Bundesliga) in which "18 German sailing clubs compete for the Bundesliga-Pokal" (Bundesliga Cup) and determine the best German sailing club (SCHWÄBISCHE, 4/9). ... The former head of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority "has encouraged the players at the centre of the investigation to source their own independent legal counsel, warning a show of solidarity will result only in some being left 'without a chair'" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 4/11). ... Human Rights Watch said that Bahrain "has been rounding up pro-democracy activists ahead of its controversial staging of the April 21 Formula One Grand Prix, two years after a bloody crackdown." Plainclothes police officers "have arrested 20 people so far in raids in towns around the Gulf state's Sakhir circuit" (AFP, 4/10). ... Athletics South Africa President James Evans said that six ASA board members and Financial Manager Terrence Magogodela "were suspended." ASA VP Hendrick Ramaala, a former elite marathon runner, Shireen Noble, Esther Malema, Pieter Lourens, James Moloi and Qwadiso Ntathu "would all face disciplinary hearings." Evans said that Morgan Matholeni had been appointed as acting ASA GM (SOWETAN LIVE, 4/10).