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Volume 6 No. 214

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Pirelli Motorsport Dir Paul Hembery "has been forced to clarify his company's position after initially appearing to criticise the Formula One teams for Sunday's British Grand Prix chaos," according to Ian Parkes of the London INDEPENDENT. Hembery and Pirelli were "adamant the current range of tyres are safe." Pirelli "has cited four reasons:" incorrect reverse mounting of the rear tires, too-low pressures, extreme camber settings and agressive curbing. Hembery said, "I'd like to re-emphasize the fact the 2013 range of tires, used in the correct way, is completely safe." It immediately led to suggestions Pirelli was shifting "responsibility on to the teams." Just more than 90 minutes later, however, Hembery and Pirelli "issued a further response, suggesting no attempt was being made to criticise." Hembery said, "In no way are we intending to create arguments or attack anybody. We have taken our responsibilities upon ourselves ... but not having full control over all the elements that impact on the use of the tyres, we need everybody's contribution" (INDEPENDENT, 7/3).

PIRELLI APOLOGY: CNN's Sarah Holt reported Mercedes Motorsport Dir Toto Wolff "has welcomed Pirelli's explanation and planned changes." Wolff said, "Pirelli apologized and made a clear statement that it wasn't about complaining or saying that somebody else was to be blamed. I guess Pirelli are going to be clearer in advising the teams in terms of camber, on tire pressures and on swapping the rear tires. Most of the teams swap tires and have been doing it for many races." The Italian company is "close to agreeing a new deal to continue as F1's tire supplier when its current contract runs out at the end of the season." Being F1's tire supplier "is an expensive business with Pirelli effectively paying to supply tires to the F1 grid in a negotiated deal which also includes track-side advertising." The teams pay a small contribution toward the rubber but the bulk of the bill for the season's 36,000 spheres of rubber "is picked up by the tire supplier" (CNN, 7/3).

P.R. DAMAGE: REUTERS' Keith Weir reported Pirelli, which supplies all 11 teams in F1 motor racing, "suffered the downside of supporting high profile sport on Monday after images of its shredded tires were beamed to millions of TV viewers around the world." "Terror tires" was the headline on the back page of the London Daily Mail, while the London Times said, "Road to hell as tire chaos almost halts grand prix." F1's complex rules, internal politics and team rivalries "have all complicated Pirelli's efforts to produce a good racing tire this season but those subtleties were lost on most viewers." Octagon Strategy VP Joey Seymour-Hyde said, "A lot of these things are beyond their control. The bottom line is your product is a tire. It goes around on a fast car and it failed spectacularly." Coventry University Sports Marketing Professor Simon Chadwick said that few viewers "would have decided never to buy a Pirelli tire on the basis of Sunday's blowouts." However, the risk "was that the brand would develop negative associations." Chadwick said, "You normally associate F1 tires with safety and security. It's about reliability. Its brand to a greater or lesser extent will have been affected" (REUTERS, 7/1).

CONCERNS REMAIN: The AP reported "safety concern over tires threaten to overshadow what is becoming an intriguing battle for the Formula One championship between three-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari's Fernando Alsonso and several other drivers" (AP, 7/3). The PA reported Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton said he is "satisfied" with the action taken by Pirelli to cure the recent tire blowouts, although he feels there are still concerns going into this weekend's German Grand Prix (PA, 7/3).

Pakistan cricket "has reached its lowest point due to a string of scandals involving players cheating," teams not touring the country and court cases, according to REUTERS. Pakistan Cricket Board interim CEO Najam Sethi said, "The way I see it Pakistan cricket is at the lowest ebb, we are not winning, our cricketers and umpires are embroiled in cheating scandals, teams don't want to tour Pakistan because of security issues, things were never this bad." Sethi, a journalist and political analyst, "was appointed by the government to head the PCB last month." Sethi said that Pakistan cricket "needed to take radical steps to avert a crisis." Sethi said, "I am going to address all these issues first and foremost the team needs to start doing well again and we need to clean up our cricket as we have been embarrassed enough" (REUTERS, 7/3).

Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver "has supported the idea of creating an Anzac team to become a southern hemisphere equivalent of the British and Irish Lions," according to Bret Harris of THE AUSTRALIAN. Pulver said in Sydney that the Lions' tour "had been a phenomenal success" with about 390,000 spectators attending the nine games, including the third and deciding Test at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, "which is expected to be a sell-out." Pulver said that he would "love to see a combined team from the southern hemisphere create the same kind of interest." Pulver said, "We have a cycle where you have a Lions tour one year, a World Cup one year and we've got sevens at the Olympics one year. In some ways there is an extra year that opens itself up to a couple of interesting concepts. It really does invite a lot of creative thought to think of a Lions equivalent from the southern hemisphere" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/4). The London TELEGRAPH reported Pulver said that he would like to investigate a way to mark the centenary of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZA) landings at Gallipoli in World War I, still remembered on April 25 every year in both countries. Pulver: "I'd even be happy to take the best of Australia and New Zealand. A concept I'd love to develop is around the centenary of ANZAC day in 2015. Imagine playing a combined Australia-New Zealand team against an Allies team, or a Lions team, though it probably couldn't be a Lions team" (TELEGRAPH, 7/3). BLOOMBERG's Dan Baynes reported the ARU wants the sport’s governing body "to review the appeals process" that placed Wallabies captain James Horwill in selection limbo before the series-deciding Test against the British and Irish Lions. Pulver described the process as “problematic” (BLOOMBERG, 7/2).

Nearly a half century after professional boxing was banned in Cuba, "the international participation of a Cuban boxing team became official" on Wednesday, according to Ernesto Rodriguez III of OLE. In '62, Cuba's Revolutionary Government eradicated professional boxing with Resolution 83-A, which forced eventual Cuban World Champions like Mantequilla Nápoles, Luis Rodríguez and José Legrá to leave Cuba. This barrier "has fallen 51 years later with the confirmation that the newly formed Cuba Lion Tamers team will participate in the Int'l Boxing Association (AIBA) World Series" (OLE, 7/1). The World Series of Boxing on Tuesday held its Season IV Official Draw in Lausanne, Switzerland. Defending champions Kazakhstan will take on Cuba. Joining Cuba and Kazakhstan in Group B will be Azerbaijan, Mexico, Russia and Poland (World Series Boxing).

Mexico's proposed "Law for Security at Sporting Events in the Federal District," which was introduced Tuesday, has encountered opposition from the Liga MX, according to LA AFICION. Liga MX President Decio de María and Liga MX Dir Enrique Bonilla "raised concerns that the proposed legislation portrays Liga MX as a generator of violence through football." Mexico City representative Eduardo Santillán said, "It has been a long, complex process. It is a law that has many implications and involves many players in the industry. We have found resistance from certain sectors, and in Liga MX they have been very critical and opposed to various points. Decio and also Bonilla are very stern, very reluctant. We had a meeting that was very intense on both sides. We clearly established our objectives. Sometimes we do not agree on certain points, but many of their observations were incorporated" (LA AFICION, 7/3).

National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith "has revealed that some schools had threatened to ban rugby league if the code went soft on on-field violence in State of Origin," according to Brad Walter of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Smith was responding to claims that the crackdown on fighting after the Paul Gallen incident in Origin I "was a reaction to criticism from people outside the game." However, he also said the the game "risked losing the support of those already involved in rugby league if it tolerated the type of violence seen in the opening two Origin matches." Smith cited a letter he had received from a headmaster who said that "he would recommend to a conference of school principals that they should ban rugby league." Smith said, "It is a society-wide issue, and one of those headmasters will be going to a conference of 100 headmasters and they will recommend that rugby league is not played in their schools if we don't get on top of it" (SMH, 7/3).

SATURDAY AFTERNOON FIXTURES: THE AUSTRALIAN reported the NRL "is set to announce a return to Saturday afternoon football over the closing six weeks of the regular season as it looks to combat a recent dip in crowd numbers." The schedule for the remainder of the season will be announced Thursday and the NRL "is believed to have locked in five Saturday afternoon fixtures." Two of the games are earmarked for New Zealand, but the rest "will be played in Australia." It is understood if the move proves successful, it "could be implemented in the schedule on a more permanent basis for next season" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/4).

Australian Football League Deputy Chief Gill McLachlan said that Australia "will field an all-indigenous line-up" for its Int'l Rules Series tour of Ireland in October. McLachlan described the AFL’s decision "as a significant announcement." He said, "To the best of our knowledge, the all-stars representing the AFL in this IRS series will be the first all-indigenous team to represent a sporting code at senior level overseas since that first cricket team toured England in 1868" (AAP, 7/3). ... Russia’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday "gave its final approval for legislation to increase security at sports events and toughen punishments for rowdy fans." The bill states that anyone convicted of "hooliganism" at a sports event "would be punished with a maximum seven-year ban as well as a 15,000 ruble ($450) fine," which garnered the support of 302 lawmakers (RIA NOVOSTI, 7/2).