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Volume 6 No. 197

Events and Attractions

A "host of cities" from Oslo, Norway to Baku, Azerbaijan registered an "interest in staging matches" at Euro 2020 ahead of Thursday's UEFA deadline, according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. European football’s ruling body is "expected to confirm the candidate cities" at an exec committee meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia on Friday before "choosing the host venues in a year’s time." Twelve cities will be awarded a "package of three group games plus one knockout-stage game" from the round-of-16 or quarterfinals. Belgrade, Serbia; Budapest, Sofia, Prague, Munich, Basel, Switzerland; Athens, Stockholm, Amsterdam and St. Petersburg have said they "intend to put their names forward to be part of UEFA’s ambitious new-look tournament that will be spread across the region for the first time." An Italian federation spokesperson said that Italy will bid to host "group stage matches plus a knockout tie but have yet to decide between Rome and Milan." The Turkish Football Federation put forward a bid to host the semifinals and final in Istanbul (REUTERS, 9/13).

Huge bonuses "have twisted any sense of sportsmanship" at China's 12th National Games, which ended amid "strikes and calls of unfair judging on Thursday," according to the WANT CHINA TIMES. Athletes and coaches who won gold medals during the event "were lavished with bonus money and rewards from their home provinces, causing some to question the integrity of the competition." Provincial governments across China "spurred on their representative athletes with promises of riches." Shandong province offered its athletes a $57,000 bonus, "throwing in a mansion" worth more than $163,000. Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces offered $49,000 with multiple extra gifts and rewards, while Shanghai promised a $81,000 bonus per person to its football team "if they won a gold medal during the game" (WANT CHINA TIMES, 9/15).

The Rugby Football Union "is coming under increasing pressure to ratify plans for a new European competition after the organisation representing England’s players became the latest high-profile body to back the dismantling of the Heineken Cup," according to James & Mairs of the London TELEGRAPH. The RFU issued a statement on Friday saying that "it would need to see more detail about any new proposed competition before giving authorisation." But the Rugby Players’ Association "has now thrown its weight behind the plans, which are being drawn up by Premier Rugby, the body representing clubs in the Aviva Premiership, and Ligue Nationale de Rugby, the equivalent organisation in France." RPA CEO Damian Hopley said, "The  status quo is unacceptable. We want to ensure that players from all 12 clubs are playing in the optimum competitions, which is not the case at the moment" (TELEGRAPH, 9/14). In London, Robert Kitson reported Premiership owners "are due to meet on Wednesday to discuss what a new tournament will look like," and continue to believe "there is no way back for the existing competition run by the Dublin-based European Rugby Club" (GUARDIAN, 9/15).

BREAKAWAY PLANNED: In London, Paul Rees reported Premiership Rugby and the Ligue Nationale de Rugby said that "an Anglo-French tournament was being planned." Invitations "were issued for teams from the other four countries involved in the Heineken Cup to join in, but they were turned down by the unions involved at a board meeting of the tournament organisers." Former RFU Chair Martyn Thomas said, "The English clubs have a contractual obligation to play in the Heineken Cup next season and the RFU can enforce it" (GUARDIAN, 9/13). The BBC reported "the current two European competitions, the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup, involve teams from England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Wales, Portugal and Romania." However, the English and French "argue their qualification criteria are much tougher and put them at a disadvantage in the competitions." They "served notice to quit the tournament in 2012," however, Thomas does not believe their proposed alternative can get off the ground. He said, "It's grandstanding" (BBC, 9/13).

The Pakistan Cricket Board is set to earn around $10M "from the sale of media, title and ground rights for its upcoming 'home' series against South Africa and Sri Lanka" in the UAE starting in mid-October, according to PAKISTAN TODAY. The PCB "managed to earn more than its expectations from the two series" which it has been forced to organize in the UAE due to the "refusal of the South African and Sri Lankan teams to tour Pakistan because of security concerns." A source said, "The PCB managed to sell the title, co-sponsor and other ground rights" for around $1M and $250,000. The source added, "It sold the media rights for the two series" for a total of $8M and $770,000 to a "Dubai-based channel and a Pakistani media group who made the highest bids" (PAKISTAN TODAY, 9/12). 

Top members of the Asian Cricket Council on Saturday discussed the logistics of "the 2014 Asia Cup tournament, which is to be hosted by Bangladesh for a second straight time, in February-March" (PTI, 9/14). ... Sports Authority of India Dir General Jiji Thomson "has called for more events at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium which would possibly help in proper and regular maintenance of the turf at the stadium" (TIMES OF INDIA, 9/14).