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Volume 6 No. 213

People and Pop Culture

MARIA SHARAPOVA is "known for her punishing ground strokes on the tennis court and elegant style on the red carpet," but candy "was not an obvious choice for a first foray into business," according to Ezekiel Pfeifer of the MOSCOW TIMES. However, "all the pieces came together." Sharapova spoke to the Moscow Times before she "arrives in Moscow on Monday for an event at the high-end Lotte Plaza shopping mall" to mark the start of sales in Russia for her candy, Sugarpova.

Q: Why did you choose candy for your first business?
Maria Sharapova: Over the course of many years, I've been really fortunate to work with and be a part of many collaborations, whether it's creating a collection for Nike or working with Cole Haan on shoes and bags or working on marketing ideas with TAG Heuer. So I've played a very small part in brands’ overall performance. But I realized that I wanted to own something where, in the end, I was the one making the decisions that came with a little pressure, or, not a little, but a lot. And I really wanted to own something that was financially mine as well.

Q: Are you able to harness your grit and determination from the tennis court in the business world?
Sharapova:There are very different kinds of businesses, and the one similarity between the candy company and tennis is the competitiveness. I want this to be the best gummy brand in the world. When I thought about the idea, I did a lot of Internet research on candies, and I asked my friends: "What's your favorite gummy candy?" They would never mention a brand name. They would only name, for instance, the shape, like "Oh, that round one" or "bears" or "little worms." I thought that was really interesting, because not one person told me a specific brand of candy, and I felt like there was a huge opportunity there.

Q: What advice would you give to someone wanting to do business in Russia?
Sharapova: We first launched Sugarpova in the States, but Russia was a big target of mine. I think Russians appreciate quality very much. We all know that they like brands and they like names, but at the end of the day, I think they’re very good at differentiating what’s a good product and what’s not a good product. Maybe they’ll buy it once when it’s not a good product, but they realize it, and they’re not going to be repeat customers.

Q: What advice would you give to young Russians interested in starting a business?
Sharapova: For me, it was important to create a story that was mine about my brand and what I wanted it to stand for, the qualities it represented. I think that’s really important, because when you have an idea and you bring it into the world, you get many people’s opinions on it, and it can represent different things in their eyes (MOSCOW TIMES, 4/25).

Uruguayan EUGENIO FIGUEREDO took charge of South America's football governing body CONMEBOL on Wednesday following the resignation of its President NICOLAS LEOZ. Figueredo was president of the Uruguayan FA, one of the 10 members of CONMEBOL, from '97-06. CONMEBOL's exec committee will meet at the body's Asuncion, Paraguay headquarters on Tuesday for the formality of Figueredo's appointment but Leoz said his decision to resign was final (REUTERS, 4/25). ... Sportswear company Fila appointed KAI MARQUARDT as its key account manager. Marquardt will be in charge of sales of Fila's sports apparel collection, excluding the tennis collection. Marquardt will be active in the European market, except Russia, the U.K., Ireland, Ukraine and the Channel Islands (SPORTSWEARNET, 4/25). ... A-League Central Coast Mariners CEO JOHN MCKAY has "been formally ousted this week." Apart from a brief spell in late '11, McKay has been the club's CEO since it was formed in '04, "making him one of the longest-serving staff members at any A-League club." McKay "has been relieved of his duties" by new Mariners Owner MIKE CHARLESWORTH, who "is seeking to give the club fresh impetus and direction" as it attempts to capitalize on the club's maiden championship (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 4/25). ... South African Premier Soccer League Ajax Cape Town heach coach JAN VERSLEIJEN has resigned from his position "with immediate effect following the appointment" of Technical Dir MUHSIN ERTUGRAL (SOWETAN LIVE, 4/25).

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British Paralympian DAVID WEIR on Thursday "ruled himself out of the World Championships in Lyon" in July. That "may open the door for the winner of four gold medals last summer to return to the Olympic Stadium for the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games." Weir is still deciding whether to take up the invitation, "which on paper looks a no-brainer" (London TIMES, 4/25). ... Two former top officials of Finnish football club Tampere United "were found guilty on Thursday of money laundering after accepting funds from a Singaporean company that had obtained the money through match fixing." The court of appeals of Turku, Finland, handed former Managing Dir DENIZ BAVAUTDIN and former Board Chair HARRI PYHALTO "six-month suspended sentences" (REUTERS, 4/25). ... The Russian Hockey Federation announced Wednesday former NHL player ALEXEI KASATONOV "has been appointed general manager of the Russian national hockey team for next year's Sochi Olympics." Kasatonov held the same post at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano "when the Russian team took silver after a 1-0 defeat to the Czechs in the final" (R SPORT, 4/24). ... League One side Portsmouth has appointed GUY WHITTINGHAM as its permanent manager. Whittingham "signed a one-year rolling contract" (BBC, 4/24). ... LANG PING was appointed head coach of the Chinese national women's volleyball team. Lang, nicknamed "Iron Hammer," was a former Chinese volleyball player in the '80s and the former head coach of the United States national women's volleyball team (GLOBAL TIMES, 4/25).  

CNN Int'l's ALEX THOMAS: "Fair play to Jose. The Special One admitting how special Dortmund were tonight. Lavishes praise on Lewandowski. @CNNFC"

Sat.1 & kabel eins' ANDREA KAISER: "Ich sag nur #lewandowski :-))))) Sensation @BVB" ... ("I only say #lewandowski :-))))) sensational @BVB")

London Daily Telegraph's PAUL HAYWARD: "Racing's Al Zarooni steroids scandal isn't just about cheating, it involves cruelty. Substances not even licensed for veterinary use"

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