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Volume 10 No. 23

Events and Attractions

Doha GOALS, which focuses on sports as a driver of social and economic change, will host a Ministers of Sport Summit for the first time this year. The Summit will be held on the first day of the global forum, which will be held from Dec. 9-11 at the Aspire Academy in Doha. The Ministers of Sport Summit will address the theme "Integrity in Sport," focusing on the promotion of fairness and equality in sport. Among confirmed speakers are: Boris Becker, winner of six Grand Slams and former world No.1 in tennis (Germany); Abinav Bhindra, Olympic champion, shooting (India); Ato Boldon, former world champion sprinter (Trinidad and Tobago); Nadia Comaneci, triple Olympic champion, gymnastics (Romania); Bart Conner, Olympic champion gymnast (U.S.); Jonathan Edwards, world record-holder, triple jump and the chair of the athletes' committee for London 2012 (U.K.); Wilson Kipketer, triple world champion at 800m and current world record-holder (Kenya); Henrik Larsson, former captain of the Swedish national football team, and striker for FC Barcelona, ManU and Celtic (Sweden); Tony Hawk, skateboarding legend (U.S.); and Pamela Jelimo, Olympic champion middle-distance runner (Kenya) (Doha GOALS).

England's top clubs were warned on Wednesday that "their plans to break away from the rest of Europe and form a new Anglo-French tournament would be vetoed" by the Int'l Rugby Board, according to Chris Foy of the London DAILY MAIL. The Premiership elite and their Gallic counterparts "abruptly announced last week that they would be abandoning the drawn-out negotiations" with other European Rugby Cup stakeholders aimed at overhauling the current Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cups. However, "their bold vision for new tournaments run by the clubs require consent from national unions and the world governing body and it has become apparent that such approval would not be forthcoming from the IRB." Speaking about the escalating conflict on Wednesday, IRB CEO Brett Gosper said, "We don't believe in an Anglo-French competition. We strongly believe it should be a European competition. That is our firm belief and what we would be supporting and throwing our weight behind. We have to ultimately approve any cross-border competition. Firstly each union has to approve it and ultimately, the IRB would have to approve it. A full European competition is the right thing for the game of rugby in terms of development, growth and so on. That is how we see it" (DAILY MAIL, 9/18).

OPTIMISM ABOUNDS: The BBC reported Gosper insisted he remains "very hopeful and optimistic" a compromise can be reached. Leicester Tigers Chair Peter Tom said, "The most important thing is that whatever happens is for the benefit of the clubs and English rugby" (BBC, 9/18). In Sydney, Julian Guyer wrote a European Cup without English and French clubs would leave a tournament made up of the same sides that compete in the domestic Celtic League, "although there have been suggestions South African provincial teams could fill the gap caused by an Anglo-French breakaway." The Premiership's French equivalent, the Top 14, have long said that "they will not play in a European competition where no English clubs are involved" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 9/19).

: In Edinburgh, David Ferguson wrote British and Irish Lions Tour Manager Andy Irvine "is confident that the warring factions in the Heineken Cup debate will come together and create a ­vibrant new competition to suit all nations." On the subject of the Heineken Cup debate, he said, "I am an optimist and I know that they still seem quite far apart, but the prize is so great that I can't believe for a minute that common sense won't prevail. I will be very surprised if they don't reach some form of agreement and we see a vibrant new Heineken Cup next season. It's a bit like pressing the ­nuclear button, isn't it? Everybody will lose if they don't manage to save it" (SCOTSMAN, 9/19).

Andy Murray’s Wimbledon triumph "is set to help create an attendance record at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 in November." The Finals "attracted a record 263,229 fans over eight days last year and organisers are confident a new mark will be set because of the interest generated by Murray’s second Grand Slam triumph and the return of Rafael Nadal, who missed London last year with knee problems" (London EVENING STANDARD, 9/19). ... The Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) Congress will be held at Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, on Sept. 27. It is open to the press during the entire procedure (UCI). ... Fiji will host a new $1M golf tournament "starting next August as part of a five-year deal with the PGA of Australia." The Fiji Int'l "will be played at the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course and will be co-sanctioned with the OneAsia Tour" (REUTERS, 9/19).