The NFL said that it wants to "continue to grow" its fanbase in the U.K., according to the BBC. NFL Int'l VP Chris Parsons said, "In the U.S. we are essentially saturated. What we have been doing over the past six years, playing games here in the U.K., is really about embedding the sport into the popular culture. Our next frontier is international. We have made a real focus of the U.K. being our primary investment market globally." The Pittsburgh Steelers "take on Minnesota Vikings this weekend, while the Jaguars will play San Francisco 49ers" on Oct. 27. Parsons: "We want to continue to play more games and nurture a young fanbase that will grow up loving the NFL" (BBC, 9/26)
ANALYSIS: In monitoring the London news outlets in the final four days before the game, there was spotty coverage of the NFL and the int'l series. On Monday and Tuesday, London newspapers reported on the possibility of an NFL franchise moving to London as well as the chance Wembley Stadium could host a future Super Bowl. However, coverage of Sunday's Pittsburgh-Minnesota game was limited. On Thursday, for instance, neither the London Telegraph, Times, Independent, Daily Mirror or Evening Standard posted any NFL coverage on their web sites. The London Guardian and Daily Mail were the lone exceptions. The Guardian's Sean Ingle wrote a piece highlighting Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's stardom and skill set. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail published a story on the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers as well as a feature on Minnesota Vikings DE Jared Allen and his love of English cuisine (SBD Global).
From "being the poster boy of Indian cricket, Lalit Modi, creator of the highly lucrative Indian Premier League, is being made the fall guy today for all the ills plaguing the premier T20 tournament," according to IANS. Modi, who has had a meteoric rise in Indian cricket, "has come hurtling down and his friends-turned-foes in the Indian cricket board did not pause for a second before taking the drastic decision on Wednesday." They all "fell in line" with Board of Control for Cricket in India President N. Srinivasan and "banned Modi for life." For Modi, who hails from one of the most reputed business families of the country, "he knew what was coming and is now gearing up to take on his rivals in the board." Modi tweeted, "Ban on me as predicted. Like I said not perturbed about it. Rather happy not to be sitting on same table as facilitators of match fixing." Modi "was soon on various television channels warning the board chiefs to be prepared for a long drawn-out public spat and watch out for some sensational stuff" (IANS, 9/26). The HINDUSTAN TIMES reported "the ban was expected." But "the one vote of support" for Modi, that of the Punjab Cricket Association, "was missing and it surprised" considering that I.S. Bindra has been a long-time friend of Modi. The PCA chief, who had stepped up the attack on Srinivasan following the match-fixing allegations, "was missing from the meeting." Instead, he sent secretary M.P. Pandove, "who supported the ban on Modi" (HINDUSTAN TIMES, 9/26).
Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) staff "have been accused of a last 'desperate' attempt to torpedo" British Cycling President Brian Cookson’s bid to unseat Pat McQuaid as UCI president "after banning the use of audio-visual material during Friday’s pre-election speeches," according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. The UCI last week "had no objection to either candidate employing visual aids during their 10-minute presentations." UCI Dir General Christophe Hubschmid's assistant emailed them to request a “storage device” in order to facilitate the presentation of the material. However, she "followed that up on Thursday with an email to management committee members making it clear no 'backdrop' could be used." One delegate in Florence who did not wish to be identified said, “The switch on this is bizarre and a bit desperate. The outside world is watching and the UCI are now not even allowing the use of visuals. Sadly, it symbolizes the way things are run under the current regime" (TELEGRAPH, 9/26). In London, Owen Slot wrote there is a possibility that "one of the dirtiest and most controversial battles in sports politics will draw to a close" Friday morning. Yet if McQuaid, the Irish incumbent, successfully retains his position, the "blood-letting and the embarrassment heaped on the sport will only continue" (LONDON TIMES, 9/26).
The proposed Indian Wrestling League "has been postponed once again due to mild response from prospective franchises," according to the PTI. IWL, a tournament along the lines of the Indian Premier League, "was announced after impressive showing by Indian grapplers at the 2012 Olympics and was initially scheduled for January-February." IWL Commissioner and Chair G. S. Mander said, "There is no possibility of having the proposed league this year. This requires huge investments and we are still working towards it" (PTI, 9/26).
The National Rugby League "is confident the integrity of its final series won't be compromised," according to Adrian Proszenko of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The NRL believes the Sydney Roosters "didn't use banned substances during their association with a controversial nutrition company." The minor premiers "cut ties with weight loss and nutrition company Nubodi earlier this year, claiming players were tested for human growth hormone without the consent of club officials and staff." However, there "are no concerns" about the Roosters taking their place in the grandfinal qualifier, or the grand final itself, "should the Bondi Junction outfit make the decider." NRL Integrity Unit Head Jim Doyle said, ''The NRL integrity unit was made aware of these matters earlier this year and we have no reason to suspect a doping issue" (SMH, 9/27).
QUESTIONS ABOUND: In Melbourne, Andrew Webster wrote of all the unanswered questions raised about the Roosters' involvement with Nubodi, "this is the one the NRL cannot ignore: how did the results of blood tests, allegedly showing elevated levels of human growth hormone in six Roosters players, find their way into the mobile phone of a prominent crime figure?" For months, those close to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation into the use of performance-enhancing substances in rugby league "have been talking about the depth and complexity of what will be revealed." The "most nefarious link was to organised crime" (THE AGE, 9/26).
ROOSTERS REGROUP: In Sydney, Josh Massoud reported "as a dark cloud on Thursday descended over the Roosters" in the wake of revelations that at least two current players could be dragged into the ASADA investigation, unrelated recent inquiries "have unearthed evidence connecting the pair to cocaine and ecstasy rings." Authorities already "have their sights set on two Blues players, along with a current player from an out-of-Sydney club who is suspected to have contact with outlaw motorcycle gang members" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 9/27). Also in Sydney, Massoud & Hooper reported photographs of blood tests "showing elevated testosterone and HGH levels" for three Roosters players "were taken without permission and deliberately leaked to a figure suspected of dealing illicit party and performance enhancing drugs" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 9/27). Also in Sydney, James Hooper reported Roosters coach Trent Robinson "called a snap team meeting at the club's Moore Park headquarters." Robinson brought the Roosters together "to try and ensure the club's focus remained on progression to the first weekend in October rather than any looming ASADA probe" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 9/27).
The Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation announced that it has completed the appointment of a new, independent Foundation Board. CADF Dir Francesca Rossi announced that the new Foundation Board will be presided over by Dr. George Ruijsch Van Dugteren. The board will also include two legal experts in Swiss law and anti-doping/results management, Maitre Christophe Misteli and Thomas Capdevielle from IAAF, as well as financial expert Yvan Haymoz (UCI). ... The Sri Lanka Cricket institute stated that the Board of Control for Cricket in India has informed that there are no match-fixing charges "leveled against Sri Lankan cricketer Thisara Perera in the Indian Premier League tournament" (SRI LANKA MIRROR, 9/25). ... FIFA revoked the provisional suspension of Bulgarian int'l Yordan Minev on Thursday "only hours after announcing the defender failed a dope test at a World Cup qualifier away to Malta this month." FIFA said the chairman of its disciplinary committee made the U-turn "following clarification by medical bodies." FIFA added, "It appears that there is no circumstantial evidence that anti-doping rules have been violated" (REUTERS, 9/26). ... FIFA and INTERPOL have launched a series of e-learning programs aimed at educating players, coaches and referees on the dangers of match manipulation to help them avoid becoming victims of this threat to football integrity. The online programs, each focusing on a different group often targeted by match-fixers, offer an interactive guide on how to recognize, resist and report attempts at match-fixing and related issues. The programs are available in five languages (Arabic, English, French, Spanish and German) on both the FIFA and INTERPOL websites (FIFA).