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Volume 6 No. 216

Leagues and Governing Bodies

After years of UFC “teasing the possibility, Mexico finally could be next” for league expansion, according to Dann Stupp of USA TODAY. UFC to date has “never ventured south of the border despite Mexico's quickly growing circuit of regional fight promotions.” But the “pieces are falling into place, including a new TV deal and a planned Spanish-language version of 'The Ultimate Fighter' reality series.” UFC Managing Dir of Int'l Development Marshall Zelaznik had “hoped an event could take place in Mexico this year." But he added that that was "probably a bit too ambitious.” Zelaznik said, "I think it'll probably slide to next year, in Mexico City.” As with other markets, UFC's success in Mexico “could hinge on its ability to build and promote local talent.” Mexican-American and UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is “already a star in the country,” and Erik Perez is “a rising bantamweight contender.” If UFC's expansion into Mexico “proves successful, it could set the blueprint for the rest of the world” (USA TODAY, 6/10).

LOCAL SUPPORT: SPORTSNET’s Perry Lefko wrote Brazil “surely has to be [the] heart and soul” of MMA. As UFC “comes to Brazil with more regularity, the fans are treated to quality cards because for the most part the competitors come to fight.” At UFC on Fuel TV 10 in Paola Sarasate Arena in Fortaleza, Brazil, on Saturday, the crowd “roared as one Brazilian after another ramped up” the card “with stellar performances.” The crowd, which “numbered 6,286 but seemed much larger because of the sheer volume of noise it elicited, cheered wildly.” It sometimes “seems like watching a UFC card in Brazil is like viewing a soccer event because of reactions of the crowd" (SPORTSNET, 6/9).

The Board of Control for Cricket in India on Monday came up with a set of proposals to “clean-up“ Indian cricket -- "Operation Clean-up," according to Pragya Tiwari of the DECCAN HERALD.  It included suggestions "ranging from removing sleaze in the Indian Premier League to strict code of conduct for players, support staff and owners following the spot-fixing and betting scandal in this year’s IPL." BCCI interim CEO Jagmohan Dalmiya read out the pointers of the blueprint that will be discussed with the IPL captains and team owners before being finalized. Operation Clean-Up features 12 points (DECCAN HERALD, 6/10). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS reported the BCCI on Monday decided to "do away with IPL after-match parties and cheerleaders." The BCCI also put in place "some stringent rules for players, officials and support staff by barring them from accepting gifts and requiring them to furnish their telephone numbers before the start of the Indian Premier League" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/10).

BCCI SUSPENDS KUNDRA: The HINDUSTAN TIMES reported the BCCI on Monday suspended Rajasthan Royal's “minority stakeholder” Raj Kundra pending probe and decided not to have cheerleaders and after-match parties in the T20 league. The decision to suspend Kundra "was taken at the BCCI working committee meeting following his alleged confession to the Delhi police" that he had placed bets to the tune of Rs one crore ($175,690) on T20 league matches during the past three years. The committee has assigned the Kundra probe to the two-member panel, comprising Justice T. Jayaram Chouta and Justice R. Balasubramanian, which is "currently investigating" former Chennai Super Kings CEO Gurunath Meiyappan and CSK roles in the betting racket. Kundra's counsel Majeed Memon termed the BCCI decision “hasty” and “shocking.” Memon: "The decision violates the principals of natural justice … We will challenge the suspension order" (HINDUSTAN TIMES, 6/10). Kundra, who along with his Bollywood actress and wife owns 11.7% stakes in the Royals, is the second person associated with the senior management of an IPL franchise to be arrested by police and later suspended by the Indian cricket board. The first was Meiyappan, who was "supposedly team principal at Chennai Super Kings" (THE NATIONAL, 6/10).

BOARD CONSIDERS KUNDRA PROBE: In New Delhi, Somshuvra Laha wrote the BCCI could initiate a separate probe against Kundra "on the betting allegations levelled against him by the Delhi Police." The BCCI was "supposed to discuss the allegations in Monday’s emergency working committee meeting," but might change its mind and launch a full investigation. Dalmiya said, “We are discussing that in our meetings right now. I can’t give you any details" (HINDUSTAN TIMES, 6/9).

KUNDRA SPEAKS OUT: The PTI reported on Monday Kundra "expressed shock at BCCI’s decision to suspend him on charges of gambling in IPL and said he was being made a 'scapegoat' by people in powerful positions." Kundra: "I am shocked and upset at the unilateral decision taken today by the BCCI and will fight the grounds of suspension. All sorts of accusations were made against me without proof, by people in powerful positions. It is sad that without accurate facts, I am being made a scapegoat and put under trial by the media based on unproved claims.” Kundra said that he was "committed to the development of sports in India and was hurt by the allegations which were levelled against him." Kundra said, "All those who know me are aware that sport is my first love" (PTI, 6/10).

RAMDIN SUSPENDED: The PTI also reported West Indies cricketer Denesh Ramdin was on Monday suspended for two One-Day Int'l's and also fined 100% of his match fee after he was "found guilty of conduct contrary to the spirit of the game" in an Int'l Cricket Council hearing. The decision means Ramdin will miss Tuesday's Champions Trophy clash against India (PTI, 6/10).

A Singapore court "jailed two Lebanese assistant referees for three months on Monday and postponed passing sentence on a Lebanese referee after all three pleaded guilty to accepting sexual bribes" to fix a football match, according to Kevin Lim of REUTERS. Singapore has been the focus of an int'l probe into football match-fixing, "with European anti-crime agency Europol saying in February that hundreds of matches had been fixed in a global betting scam run from the Southeast Asian city-state." Prosecutors said that referee Ali Sabbagh "first made contact with accused Singaporean match fixer Ding Si Yang" in June '12 at a cafe in Beirut. Ding has also been arrested, "and his case will be heard after the one involving the Lebanese officials." Ding, who is out on S$150,000 ($119,000) bail, "has pleaded not guilty" (REUTERS, 6/10).

CLEANING IT UP: BLOOMBERG's Andrea Tan wrote Subordinate Courts Judge Low Wee Ping said, "The Singapore public has an interest in preserving football as a professional sport in Singapore. Singapore is proud to have an almost corruption-free society." Prosecutor Asoka Markandu said, "They've tarnished the reputation of FIFA." Markandu said the three traded sportsmanship for sexual favors and damaged the integrity of the "beautiful game" (BLOOMBERG, 6/10). The AFP reported "the assistant referees broke down into sobs and repeatedly looked up as if to thank God" after Judge Ping said they could be freed by later Monday or Tuesday, after remission for good behavior and due to time already served awaiting sentence. Turning to Sabbagh, the judge said, "I need time to consider your sentence. I don't, for the moment, accept that you should be sentenced to six months" (AFP, 6/10).

Tonga's rugby coach Mana Otai is claiming that int'l referees "are picking on his players because they are black." His comments came "after violence riddled and red and yellow card marred Pacific Nations match between Tonga and Canada in Kingston, Ontario." Canada won 36-27 (FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 6/10). ... Int'l Judo Federation President Marius Vizer said that "Japan's judo authority needed to shape up because he is aiming to raise the sport's profile in the Olympics with reforms." Vizer said, "The IJF with the All-Japan Judo Federation will do our best to clean up the situation and start with new reforms and new development in Japanese judo" (AFP, 6/10). ... The pressure on National Rugby League salary-cap auditor Ian Schubert "has intensified after it emerged he turned down a request at the start of the season to meet club officials over concerns about the second-tier salary cap." The matter is set to raise its head Tuesday when Schubert fronts NRL CEO Dave Smith and COO Jim Doyle "to discuss solutions to the growing problem" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 6/11).