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Volume 6 No. 197

Leagues and Governing Bodies

As Southeast Asian money floods into English football while local leagues are left to rot, "the proposed ASEAN Super League might just offer those investors a viable alternative and put a stop to the financial drain from the region," according to Patrick Johnston of REUTERS. The ASEAN Football Federation said Tuesday that its new tournament "will start in February 2015 and feature eight franchises initially with no promotion or relegation." The plan is to "eventually increase that number to 16 teams with all 11 members of the federation taking part" in a product the body hopes will enable the region to realize its true potential. The AFF said that "discussions were ongoing," but it was keen to reassure that the new league would "not kill off domestic competitions in the region, many of which are already struggling with investment lacking." Simply mimicking the Premier League model at home "has struggled to bear fruit for the majority of the member associations in ASEAN leading to the AFF's bold, ambitious and brave plans to join forces." Sports rights expert James Scholefield said, "The challenge for the organizers and backers of the league is to develop a product that resonates in this market. The fans need to have a genuine affiliation and loyalty that takes them off their sofas and into stadia to watch games." The success of the biennial AFF Suzuki Cup for int'l teams in the region "suggests it could work, with 90,000 routinely attending matches and television rights proving a hot commodity" (REUTERS, 4/17).

FIA President Jean Todt will not attend this weekend’s controversial Bahrain Grand Prix, but officials "played down the significance of his absence on Wednesday," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. An FIA spokesperson said that "the Frenchman had never had Bahrain on his schedule after being at the first two races of the season in Australia and Malaysia." F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone is due to attend the race, which is set to go ahead "despite calls for it to be cancelled because of continuing civil unrest in the tiny Gulf kingdom." Most foreign visitors to Manama during Grand Prix week "would notice plenty of publicity for the race at Sakhir and few signs of unrest, other than a strong police presence along the highways." Todt was "criticized last week by Britain’s 1996 world champion Damon Hill for failing to take a clear stance on the race" and to demonstrate that F1 was sensitive to the situation. Hill said of Todt, "He has not said anything that has distanced the sport from things it would find distasteful and upsetting, which I believe everybody in the sport would actually like to do" (REUTERS, 4/17).

TEAR GAS BREAKS UP BAHRAIN PROTESTERS: In London, Loveday Morris reported that security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters at a secondary school in Bahrain as calls grew for this weekend’s F1 race to be called off due to escalating violence. The skirmishes "came after the arrest of a student at the boys’ school, amid accusations that the government is arbitrarily arresting potential troublemakers ahead of the Grand Prix." The Bahrain Interior Ministry said that "'thugs' at Al Jabriya School in the capital Manama had been dealt with in line with the law" (INDEPENDENT, 4/17).

Badminton is set to "introduce technology to review disputed line-calls." The Badminton World Federation said that "a test set-up will be used at next month's Sudirman Cup in Malaysia before the new system goes live at the Indonesian Open in September" (XINHUA, 4/17). ... The Pakistan Tennis Federation said on Tuesday that "The International Tennis Federation has agreed to hear an appeal by Pakistan against the awarding of their Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Group 11 tie to New Zealand" (GULF NEWS, 4/17). ... The Int'l Cricket Council has allocated $422,000 for the Afghanistan Cricket Board from its Targeted Assistance and Performance Programme (PTI, 4/17). ... In response to media reporting of an internal memo about Lance Armstrong’s 1999 Tour de France corticosteroid test results, the Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) has published a comprehensive briefing document on its website (UCI).