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Volume 6 No. 215

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Canadian Michael Downey "has been appointed" to the role of CEO of the Lawn Tennis Association, according to Neil Harman of the LONDON TIMES. Downey will officially take up his £300,000 ($480,000)-a-year post in January, but his unveiling on Monday -- a "unanimous choice of the five-person selection committee -- heralded the first time that someone outside Britain was given the task of re-shaping the LTA, and driving home the changes in attitude and approach so desperately required." Downey replaces Roger Draper, whose seven-year period of office "was marked by divisions and rancour in the sport" which were not helped when it was revealed earlier this year that he had received a salary of £400,000 ($640,000) plus bonuses (LONDON TIMES, 9/24). The PA's Matt McGeehan reported Downey "inherits one of the toughest jobs in British sport" after years of criticism over the organization's failure to make the most of its annual multi-million pound Wimbledon subsidy. Downey "will begin his role" on Jan. 6. During the interim period, LTA CEO Nick Humby will lead the executive. Some questions will be asked about the non-British appointment, but LTA Chair David Gregson described Downey as "the outstanding candidate for the role." Gregson: "We set out to recruit a CEO with true success in business, with exceptional leadership credentials and ideally with significant knowledge of tennis. Michael demonstrably fits the bill perfectly and was the unanimous choice of our recruitment panel" (PA, 9/24). The BBC wrote Downey was a senior exec at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, owners of the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs and NBA Toronto Raptors, "before taking over at Tennis Canada." Downey: "I really do believe this is a great organization but great organizations can get better and need to continually get better by looking at themselves and also being open to criticism from the outside" (BBC, 9/24).

The South Korean government announced Tuesday that "it will reserve the right to rescind bids by municipalities" to stage int'l sports competitions, as part of changes aimed at ensuring more transparency in bidding processes, according to YONHAP. The Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism said that "it will revise laws guiding the central government's support on prospective hosts of sporting events." Under proposed changes, the government will acquire the right to strip cities of their bid to bring home int'l competitions "if it discovers corruption and other irregularities during the bidding process." The ministry's move comes in light of a recent controversy involving the metropolitan city of Gwangju, which won the right to host the '19 world swimming championships "under disputed circumstances" (YONHAP, 9/24).

Football "may be the number one sport in most of Africa, but basketball is growing fast and the NBA has set its sights on the continent to provide future stars," and fans, according to Vladimir Duthiers of CNN. NBA Africa Managing Dir Amadou Gallo Fall "has embarked on a continent-wide tour including stop-offs in Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa." The "talent hunt is part of the NBA's 'Basketball without Borders' program, a community outreach project for young people, and is key to expanding the sport's global reach." Gallo Fall said, "Making the game accessible, increasing participation, growing a fan base, that's the real priority." Basketball without Borders "takes the top youth players, aged 19 and under, from all over the world and invites them to train with NBA stars and coaches." The program "aims to promote basketball outside the U.S." Gallo Fall: "Part of making the game accessible is also putting it on the televisions. More players are going to come from the continent so we are going to have (NBA) games here, just like in Europe" (CNN, 9/24).

Liga MX President Decio de Maria "has shown his lack of comfort with a proposal for a VAT tax for sporting events," according to Ricardo Magallán of LA AFICION. The proposal was "included in the Mexican government's Budgetary Reform." De Maria said, "Tickets would cost 16% more, and I believe no one agrees with this. We are meeting with the authorities to understand why they are proposing this and explaining that we do not like it. The idea of instituting a VAT tax for live entertainment, except for with theater and the circus, it is an idea that we have to work on with legislators to understand why in two types of live entertainment there is no VAT and in the others there is. This is a question that someone has to answer" (LA AFICION, 9/24).

Asian Football Development Project CEO Urs Zanitti said that "world football is not doing enough to promote a social agenda and calls on Asian football to utilize the power of the game to develop their societies," according to WORLD FOOTBALL INSIDER. The Jordan-based non-governmental organization, which is chaired by FIFA VP Prince Ali Bin Hussein, is leading a drive to implement corporate social responsibility policies in Asian federations, but Zanitti said that "much more can be done worldwide to utilize football for the common good." Zanitti: "The global football family is not doing enough, that is for sure, and should do much more, that is absolutely clear. Where to start and what to do is the difficult question" (WORLD FOOTBALL INSIDER, 9/24).

Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said a football match-fixing ring based in Singapore was the world's "largest and most aggressive" such operation, according to the AFP. Noble "hailed the arrest in Singapore last week of 14 suspects." Noble said, "I'm confident that Singapore law enforcement authorities have arrested the mastermind and leader of the world's most notorious match-fixing syndicate." A source said that "among those arrested was Singaporean businessman Dan Tan, the syndicate's suspected head." He and four others "are now being held without bail under a tough law designed for criminal gang members." European police agency Europol in February said that "it had smashed a network rigging hundreds of games, including in the Champions League and World Cup qualifiers." Europol said at that time that "a five-country probe had identified 380 suspicious matches targeted by a Singapore-based betting cartel" (AFP, 9/24).

Former Board of Control for Cricket in India President N. Srinivasan "faces a last-minute legal challenge to his attempted return to the top job following a betting scandal that has rocked the sport," according to the AFP. India's Supreme Court "agreed to hear a petition on Friday seeking to ban" Srinivasan from running for BCCI president "during crucial elections this weekend." A petition filed on behalf of the Cricket Association of Bihar claims Srinivasan "has no 'moral authority' to vie for a third year as BCCI chief during elections in Chennai on Sunday." There was "no immediate comment from Srinivasan" (AFP, 9/24). The PTI reported the CAB "also sought a direction" to the BCCI that Srinivasan "be not inducted in any committee of the Board till the matter pending in the apex court is decided" (PTI, 9/24). The PTI also reported the Delhi High Court allowed the BCCI to hold its Special General Meeting "to consider the disciplinary committee's report on former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi for alleged financial irregularities in the cricket league." Justice V. K. Shali set aside the trial court's Sept. 21 order restraining the BCCI "from holding its SGM" scheduled for Wednesday. The court said, "So far as appeal of the BCCI is concerned, it is allowed" (PTI, 9/24).

The Professional Cycling Council, which is meeting in Florence, Italy, has agreed to submit stakeholder working group proposals for major reforms of professional cycling to the Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) Management Committee. The PCC approved the project, which, among other reforms, proposed creating a First and Second Division, with fewer riders in each team and fewer racing days each year for the riders. The current annual sporting assessment would be replaced by an automatic promotion/relegation mechanism and the season would be ideally scheduled to take place during a more compact period of the year (between February and October). Among the main principals, the races would be selected based on a number of criteria, including that they did not overlap; there would be racing every weekend (in particular on Sundays) and there would be six weeks of continuous competition for the Spring classics (UCI).

Of the 24 teams that will participate in the 2014 Int'l Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup in Spain, 20 have already been decided. The four remaining spots will be "awarded at FIBA's central board meeting Nov. 23-24 in Buenos Aires." The "wild-card entries come with an expensive price tag." Each must pay $674,600 -- "no small fee, especially for national teams without a huge budget" (USA TODAY, 9/23). ... The Pakistan Cricket Board has said that "it can't force umpire Asad Rauf to go to Mumbai to be questioned in the Indian Premier League betting and spot-fixing scandal." Rauf was named as a "wanted accused" in the chargesheet filed by the Mumbai Police on Saturday (PAKISTAN TODAY, 9/24). ... The WTA "will set up an office at the Singapore Sports Hub once it opens in April next year." The global body in charge of professional women's tennis said that "this is part of its commitment to develop the sport and the WTA Championships which Singapore will host" from '14 until '18 (CHANNEL NEWS ASIA, 9/24).