Leading administrators in Australian rules football "are expected to meet next week to discuss the possibility of extending their domestic season, which could increase the prospect of staging a competitive fixture in Dubai," according to Paul Radley of THE NATIONAL. Australian Football League side Collingwood, the club with the biggest supporter base in the sport, hopes to return to the UAE "to play a match, possibly as soon as next season." Club President Eddie McGuire "has raised the idea of returning to Dubai to play a regular-season fixture as a way of showcasing both the sport and his club to an international audience." He acknowledges the proposal is "in its infancy" at present, not least because of the upheaval it would cause the AFL calendar. However, he insisted that "it is feasible." McGuire, "There is very much an appetite to take the game internationally" (THE NATIONAL, 5/8).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
The European Handball Federation "will test a new goal-line technology system at the EHF Cup in Nantes, France from May 18-19," according to the SID. An EHF statement said, "At the request of referees it will now be possible to check decisions on the awarding of goals via video replay -- and to answer the question as to whether the whole ball has crossed the line." The system "uses a special wide-angle camera fixed to the crossbar to give a complete picture of the goal line." If the referees ask for goal-line technology assistance, the game "will be halted and the referees will watch the video replay provided to them by technicians next to the timekeepers table." The system "will not be used for any other match situation by the referees" (SID, 5/7).
National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith "has struck back at claims rugby league is stonewalling anti-doping investigators" -- and called on them to get on with the job instead of playing a "blame game," according to Andrew Webster of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. In a clear response to claims from World Anti-Doping Agency President John Fahey that the NRL was not handling the drugs crisis as well as the AFL, Smith said that "the anti-doping agencies should be more concerned with doing their jobs." Smith said, "Anyone from ASADA (Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority) or WADA who is party to turning this into a wedge between the sports is doing a disservice to the fans and losing sight of the need to resolve the issues" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 5/9).
FEELING THE EFFECTS: In Melbourne, Honeysett & Read reported Smith's comments "will have major ramifications for the case after suggestions that ASADA could cancel planned interviews with 31 players across the game if it feels they are being unco-operative." NRL Cronulla "welcomed the news from Smith and the NRL before indicating it was more than happy to commence interviews again." Interim Cronulla CEO Bruno Cullen said, "I'm pleased with Dave's statement in that regard and, as we always have been, we are ready, willing and very eager to get back into the interview process." Even if interviews do start again next week, "it could be months before they conclude" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 5/9).
The England and Wales Cricket Board will invest £96M ($149M) in community cricket in the next four years after a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the ECB's recreational assembly. The MOU was agreed during a day of meetings at the Kia Oval, which culminated in the ECB's annual meeting at which Jane Stichbury and Rachael Heyhoe Flint were reelected as independent members to the ECB board and the election of Richard Thompson (Surrey) and Andy Nash (Somerset) confirmed. ECB Chair Giles Clarke said, "During the winter the game has diligently worked up detailed four-year plans, which resulted today in the completion of MOUs with the first-class and recreational game and the commitment to invest £96M into community cricket during that period" (ECB).
Tim May, who was ousted from an Int'l Cricket Council committee following allegations of pressure from India, said it is time someone ''stood up to the cancer of stand-over tactics'' that defines the governing body, according Chloe Saltau of THE AGE. May, the cricket world's most prominent player advocate, "was replaced on the ICC cricket committee by Laxman Sivaramakrishnan," who is employed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India as a commentator. The Federation of Int'l Cricketers' Associations, of which May is CEO, "has called on the ICC to investigate allegations that five countries' boards exerted direct pressure on their captains to switch their votes from May to Sivaramakrishnan when choosing their preferred player representatives." May said that "he would not comment on the specifics of his non-election because he has a vested interest but he pointed to the ICC's chronic failure to enforce its own standards of governance." May said in an email, ''The only thing that I can say and reinforce is that this issue isn't about whether Siva or I got elected or not but it's about, was the process compromised? Did Boards interfere and make threats to captains to change their votes?" (THE AGE, 5/8). The PTI reported "there is a perception about May being anti-BCCI but the former offie sought to clear the air." May said, "There are some aspects of BCCI that I am strong supporter of and there are other aspects that concern me and others. Unfortunately, only the negative stuff gets publicized" (PTI, 5/7).
A NON ISSUE: THE HINDU reported a top BCCI functionary "denied reports that the second vote for the players’ representative to the ICC Cricket Committee was prompted by the BCCI to swing the election in favour of L. Sivaramakrishnan." The functionary said, "I don’t want to comment on it, it’s purely an ICC matter. It is not a BCCI issue at all." Another well-informed source "contradicted FICA’s claim that the first vote was 9-1 in favour of Tim May." The source said that Sivaramakrishnan, now engaged in broadcast work for National and Int'l matches, "may have been ahead or locked in a 5-5 score" (THE HINDU, 5/8).
The Internet campaign that started a week ago to request that the blood bags from the "Operation Puerto" case not be destroyed has more than 20,000 signatures in Spain, according to the EFE. Ex-cyclist Óscar Freire and athletes Pablo Villalobos, Concha Montaner, Antonio Reina, Luis Alberto Marco, Jackson Quiñónez, Rosa Morató and Álvaro Rodriguez are among those who have supported the petition with their signatures. The initiative, located on a petitions platform on Change.org, started after the results of the Operation Puerto anti-doping case were announced on April 30 (SPORT, 5/8).
Pakistan Cricket Board Chair Zaka Ashraf on Wednesday became the country's first elected head of the sport, "winning a four-year term under a new constitution approved earlier this year," according to PAKISTAN TODAY. The Int'l Cricket Council "directed all its members to run their boards democratically and without government interference." Ashraf, 60, has been PCB chairman since October '11, "when he was appointed by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari under the old system." But the PCB's governing board "elected him back into the job under the new regulations" (PAKISTAN TODAY, 5/8).