Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 10 No. 22

2013 Year In Review

The SBD Global staff compiled the top sports business stories for '13 by region to be published in the final four Global editions of the year. Here are the top stories from Europe and Russia.

TAX HIKE: When French President François Hollande ran for office in '12, he promised a 75% tax on the country’s top earners. More than a year into his presidency, the 75% tax has still not been introduced and was even ruled unconstitutional by a French court. However, Hollande revised his original plan of taxing individuals earning more than €1M ($1.37M) to taxing employers which pay their workers more than €1M. This, of course, would also apply to football clubs, which regularly pay wages in excess of €1M. Hollande’s plan to put a 75% tax on the country’s top football clubs caused uproar across Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. The country’s top two divisions even considered going out on strike. While the proposed strike could be averted, the 75% tax rate is still not off the table. The government's recently announced decision to exempt Ligue 1 side AS Monaco from the tax could be an indication that Hollande is backtracking from his plans. Otherwise, Monaco would have an unfair advantage.

SPANISH ARMADA: The European Commission will launch an investigation into allegations that several Spanish teams unfairly received government assistance in the '90s. A complaint made by the EU’s antitrust body in '09 claimed that the clubs received several billion euros worth of improper tax breaks and loans from the Spanish government. Should investigators determine the clubs received illegal state aid, they will be forced to pay back the financial assistance to the government. The seven Spanish clubs in question are La Liga sides Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Osasuna, Athletic Bilbao, Valencia, Elche and second-division club Hercules. The Commission said it was concerned that the alleged aid had given these particular clubs an unfair advantage at a time when all clubs were struggling financially. The investigation is expected to shed light on the close ties in Spain between all levels of government and football teams.

SUMMER IN THE CITY: FIFA has arguably had better years than '13. First there was the issue of bribery inside the association, which was followed by accusations that Russia and Qatar bought their respective World Cups in '18 and '22. As the Confederations Cup approached during the summer, people focused their attention on Brazil. The South American country has been plagued by protests, rising costs, construction delays and the death of several stadium workers. Meanwhile, a heated debate ignited regarding expected high temperatures during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. While the top int’l football leagues are still figuring out during what time of the year the tournament should be played, FIFA acknowledged that it should have realized when it made the decision in '10 that a World Cup in Qatar in the summer would be a mistake.

NO SNOW IN PARADISE: The build-up to and construction for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games were overarching themes throughout the year. The cost explosion from an original $12B estimate to now more than $51B, including a 30-mile road and rail line from Sochi to the mountains where the skiing events will take place, is just one of the troubles organizers are dealing with. In addition, Russia’s anti-gay law, which bans the promotion of homosexuality to minors, has resulted in calls for boycotts and protests by LGBT groups around the world. As if that’s not enough, organizers, politicians and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been accused of corruption and money laundering. Besides all these behind-the-scenes issues, there is the very obvious problem of snow, or the lack thereof.

We wanted to give a strong signal ... we could not continue the game in an atmosphere like this.
-- AC Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini, after the club walked off the pitch during a friendly against Pro Patria because of racial abuse by fans.

We are on the right road to achieving something positive.
-- Scottish Football League CEO David Longmuir, on the talks to reorganize the country's professional football leagues.

There is no investment with a greater medium- and longterm benefit than the Olympic Games.
-- Spanish Olympic Committee President Alejandro Blanco, on why Spain's Olympic bid was viable despite the country's struggling economy.

Will I stay in Russia? We'll see. Time will tell. We shouldn't rule it out.
-- New Jersey Devils player Ilya Kovalchuk, on whether he would leave the KHL and return to the NHL after the lockout ended.

When a club builds a stadium, it sets a manageable timetable in which it pays off debt to later own the stadium. However, we shovel our money in a bottomless hole.
-- Bundesliga Eintracht Frankfurt coach Armin Veh, on the team's $13.3M annual rent for Commerzbank-Arena.

Not all the people who govern NHL teams have a hockey heart.
-- KHL President Alexander Medvedev, on the American league not allowing its players to play in the Russian league's all-star game over the weekend.

They wanted to fish here, but there were no fish left.
-- Barcelona President Sandro Rosell, complaining that Manchester City was trying to hire away his players and staff.

I wouldn't be keen on sharing our thought process or detailed preparation. It's sport, it's not 'Big Brother.'
-- London Irish coach Brian Smith, on BT's proposal that coaches share game plans with TV commentators to add to the coverage.

If tomorrow, we go watch a game already knowing the outcome, football is dead.
-- UEFA President Michel Platini, on why match-fixing is more of a threat to the future of the game than racism or violence.

If you don't want to know what people think about you on Twitter, don't be on Twitter.
-- EPL QPR Manager Harry Redknapp, on his advice to QPR Chair Tony Fernandez, who was upset over criticism from fans on Twitter.

I was told very early on that a gentleman never speaks about last night or money.
-- F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, dodging confirmation on the value of the circuit's sponsorship deal with Emirates for a reported $200M.

This is not a black day in Australian sport. This is the blackest day in Australian sport.
-- Former ASADA Head Richard Ings, on the Australian Crime Commission report that found the country's sports leagues rife with doping, illicit drugs and match-fixing.

I think they've picked the wrong fat kid to bully. I'm not for bullying.
-- Jessica Ennis coach Toni Minichello, on cutting all ties to UK Athletics, after saying he felt "bullied" and "not respected" by the organization.

The ambition, is to quickly enter the closed circle of the top five European clubs. We want to build a worldwide brand. It is a new strategy in France.
-- PSG Dir General Jean-Claude Blanc, on the club's aims for the immediate future.

Handball isn't football. There aren't any huge sums for titles.
-- THW Kiel Chair Hinrich Vater, on why the club's three titles only generated a $33K profit.

I would like to see the AFL sever its relationship with the alcohol industry.
-- Australian Greens Sen. Richard Di Natale, calling for alcohol ads to be banned on broadcasts of sporting events.

In France there is a cultural problem. Winners are not popular.
-- Ligue 1 Olympique Lyonnais Owner Jean-Michel Aulas, on his long battle to gain approval for a new stadium complex for the club.

I would never measure organizing countries against the punctuality of Swiss trains.
-- FIFA President Sepp Blatter on his level of confidence in Brazil being ready for the 2014 World Cup.

I was brought up in a household where my father was much more interested in whether or not you had won at football than whether you had passed your exams. In my case that was just as well.
-- Greg Dyke, proposed candidate to replace David Bernstein as FA chairman.

I will be in Australia on my surfboard -- the phone won't be engaged.
-- F1 driver Mark Webber, on talking with his Red Bull bosses after teammate Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders and passed him to win the Malaysian Grand Prix.

More and more sports execs, athletes and journalists are using social media to express their thoughts and, in some cases, stir the pot. Here are some tweets from 2013 that caught our eye.

Press Association's MARTYN ZIEGLER: "FIFA to consider moving 2026 World Cup in Antarctica to the summer. *Why didn't the bloody penguins tells us it was -30*”

BBC presenter GARY LINEKER: "Things looking reasonable for Argentina. They've got Messi, the Pope and now possibly it's Angel's Masters"

London Times' KEVIN EASON: "Whatever happens, Lewis Hamilton must be going over the fine print of the contract and wondering what the hell is going on"

FIFA President SEPP BLATTER: "Sanctions against discriminatory acts must be very severe. We will discuss this at next Strategic Committee in 3 weeks”

London Guardian's OWEN GIBSON: "Tokyo's revamp of their 1964 stadium designed by Zaha Hadid. Has moveable seats, retractable roof. So they've learned something from London."

Daily Star Sunday TV reporter EDWARD GLEAVE: "Beckham moves to the fashion capital of the world... I wonder whose idea that was"

London Guardian's AMY LAWRENCE: "Australia's sports investigation has drugs and organised crime in one package. 2 huge birds to take out with 1 stone"

PA's MARTYN ZIEGLER: "After Olympics bombshell wrestling's world fed to meet on Saturday in Phuket. That's also what they said when they heard the news."

Yahoo!'s CHARLES ROBINSON: "Tiger. Lance. Oscar. Rough patches for those international Nike campaigns the last few years.”

CNN Host PIERS MORGAN: "Bayern look like Wenger's old trophy-winning Arsenal teams - tall, powerful, fast, skilful, aggressive, focused."

BBC's PHIL MCNULTY: "Borussia Dortmund 4 Real Madrid 1. What is German for "El Clasico"?"

Bloomberg's TARIQ PANJA: "Nike throwing the kitchen sink at Neymar. Will be interesting to see how he copes with all this pressure/ focus over next 12 months"