An MP is "calling for a Serious Fraud Office probe" into the financial affairs of F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, according to the BBC. It comes as a seven-week civil case over an £85M ($140M) damages claim against Ecclestone concludes. He "denies making corrupt payments to facilitate the sale of F1," and said that he paid a German banker £10M ($16M) "because he was threatened over his tax affairs." Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry said that U.K. authorities "had a duty to investigate." The Labour MP said, "We cannot just walk away from this case. It does seem to me that we have a duty to investigate this. What is the Serious Fraud Office for if not for investigating cases like this?" (BBC, 12/12).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Hailing the Indian Premier League for "successfully creating loyal followers," India tennis player Leander Paes said that the city-based franchise league is "the way forward to popularise other sports, which need to replicate the model of the popular cricket tournament," according to the PTI. In the U.S., city-based franchise tennis tournament World Team Tennis is "extremely popular and Paes said something on those lines should be introduced in Indian tennis as well as other sports in the country." Paes: "IPL is close relevant of the World Team Tennis. The stadia are packed with fans for entire 21 days. The format of the tournament makes it interesting for the viewers. Also there are great players participating in the league. That is what IPL has been successful in doing here and we have to learn from it to replicate it in other sports." Paes was speaking at the Star Sports India Pro Leagues Forum on the subject of "Growing the Club Culture" (PTI, 12/13).
It appears National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith and the independent commission "are more concerned about making money and the business side of the game rather than the actual football product," according to Phil Rothfield of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Rothfield opined that the emphasis today "is on the bottom line, higher prices for tickets, selling more memberships and moving to the bigger stadiums to improve the financial stability of the clubs." There is "nothing wrong with that as the long as the product you are trying to flog is in good shape." Rothfield noted that last season "both crowds and TV ratings were way down on previous seasons." The big question "is why." He asked, "Was it the quality of football? A poor marketing campaign?" More importantly, "what has been done over the off-season to: Get more live games on free to air television. Make sure State of Origin doesn't ruin the premiership for nine weeks" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/15).
Sport in South Africa is "set to return to normal" on Monday after the funeral of Nelson Mandela, with the "much-anticipated cricket series" against India and an end to the first half of the domestic football season "dominating a busy pre-Christmas period," according to Mark Gleeson of REUTERS. Memorials plus "wet somber weather, necessitated change in schedules, but no one seemed to mind." Bloemfontein Celtic "saw their fixtures for the rest of the year change as the South African Premier Soccer League adjusted their schedule." Bloemfontein Celtic coach Ernst Middendorp said, "We understand that one of the most iconic figures in the world must be remembered." The week "was marked by a massive outpouring of recollections over the role Mandela played in restoring South Africa to international competition after the Apartheid era and his use of national teams to try and foster reconciliation across the color barrier." Monday, which is a public holiday in South Africa, "will see an set of football fixtures and Wednesday marks the start of the first cricket test between South Africa and India at Johannesburg's Wanderers stadium." The Indian cricketers "were due to play a two-day warm-up match on Saturday and Sunday but the game was advanced by a day to avoid a clash with Mandela's funeral in Qunu on Sunday" (REUTERS, 12/15).
The University of Canberra is "confident Basketball ACT will hand over control" of its Australian Women's Basketball League side Canberra Capitals license after the WNBL season, in a "significant step towards creating a multimillion-dollar sporting hub the university hopes will be the best in the country," according to Thomson & Tuxworth of the CANBERRA TIMES. Basketball ACT, however, wants to "retain some influence over the Capitals' operations and believe its members should have a say on the future of the Women's National Basketball League side." The University of Canberra has also "held advanced discussions" with W-League football's Canberra United about "moving to the campus." The ACT Brumbies will move into a A$15M ($13.4M) high-performance center at the university next year, "but it is understood that up to half a dozen sports could join them." The university is looking at the "financial details of running a sporting team in an elite national competition run by the WNBL, but the approximate dollar figures the institution has been working with will not be made public." University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Stephen Parker said that he "wanted the institution to be known as Australia's leading sports university, and said the licence transfer would probably mean the team would be known as the University of Canberra Capitals" (CANBERRA TIMES, 12/15).
Five hundred Indian sportspersons, mostly weightlifters and track-and-field athletes, "have failed drug tests conducted by National Anti-Doping Agency in the last four and a half years." A total of 500 athletes "were found to have violated Anti Doping Rules from January 2009 till July 2013 by the country's main anti-doping agency and a total of 423 athletes were slapped with sanctions by the Anti Doping Disciplinary Panel" (PTI, 12/15). ... Empty seats during India's Junior Field Hockey World Cup "has not gone well" with the Int'l Hockey Federation (FIH) and CEO Leandro Negre said that in the future the organizers "should be pro-active in bringing spectators in the stadium" (PTI, 12/15). ... The Badminton World Federation said on Sunday that the instant review system "will be used in leading tournaments in 2014 following its successful debut at the World Superseries Finals" (XINHUA, 12/15). ... Internal communications from Australian Football League club Essendon suggest that key staff "hoped to continue the supplements program into 2013 and reveal a plan to inject players with an anti-dementia drug until grand final day 2012, despite previous demands for the jabs to stop." The email correspondence "gives fresh insights into the club's fascination with supplements and the involvement of key figures, including James Hird and Danny Corcoran, in a program Essendon previously tried to tie to the actions of 'rogue' staff in Stephen Dank and Dean Robinson" (THE AGE, 12/16).