F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said that the "controversial decision to award double points at the final grand prix of each season could be overturned by next month," according to Tom Cary of the London TELEGRAPH. Ecclestone said that "the rule change is likely to be put to a new vote at the next meeting of the Strategy Group in January." The idea of issuing double points at the season finale "was greeted with derision by almost everyone within the sport when it was announced this month." Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo became the latest to voice his objections this week when he said he found the concept "too artificial." Montezemolo said, "I'm not enthusiastic." According to Ecclestone, however, "the change could well come as soon as next month." Ecclestone said, "Personally my preference would be for the final three races to be worth double points. But it may well be that the rule is canceled altogether at the next [Strategy Group] meeting in January. I think it should be the final three races or nothing" (TELEGRAPH, 12/20). EUROSPORT reported world champion Sebastian Vettel said that "the double points idea was absurd." Vettel: "This is absurd and punishes those who have worked hard during a whole season. I respect the old traditions in F1 and do not understand this new rule" (EUROSPORT, 12/22). FOX SPORTS reported had the plan been in place this year, "it would have borne little impact on the F1 drivers' title chase." Vettel wrapped up the title with three races to go at the Indian Grand Prix, "while Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber would still have finished second and third." But over F1's 54 world championship seasons, "double-points finales would have changed the course of history several times" (FOX SPORTS, 12/22). CRASH reported Montezemolo "has called on F1 teams to start planning for a future" without Ecclestone at the head of the sport. While Ecclestone remains in charge of F1, the 83-year-old "is currently embroiled in a series of legal battles linked to allegations of bribery over the deal that saw CVC secure control of the sport, with Ecclestone having always denied any wrong doing." Should Ecclestone be forced to stand down, or indeed when he elects to retire himself, "there is currently no-one lined up as his replacement." Montezemolo: "We are arriving a little bit at the end of a very, very important cycle and era of Formula One. While Bernie is here, Bernie knows and Bernie is intelligent. Sometimes he is too conservative but he's Bernie. We have to discuss, because at the end of the day this is our business. I think that after Bernie, who is unique, it's necessary to approach a different governance for the sport" (CRASH, 12/21).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Argentina hopes to have a Super Rugby franchise beginning in '16 and "will hold talks with senior officials early next year," according to Rex Gowar of IOL SPORT. National union (UAR) Communications Manager Guillermo Quevedo said, "There will be a meeting with the Sanzar (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia) nations in March.'' Establishing one or two franchises in the southern hemisphere's top club competition "is seen by Argentina as another step in their growth as a rugby nation," following an "outstanding third place" at the 2007 World Cup in France. The UAR "launched a new badge and team brand this week, in an effort to cash in on the Pumas' selling power" (IOL SPORT, 12/20).
The Spanish state of Catalonia's advisory council said on Friday that "nothing should stop Barcelona or Espanyol from continuing to compete in La Liga in the event that Catalonia gains independence from Spain," according to the EFE. This "was the conclusion from one of four reports presented by an organization studying Catalonia's pursuit of independence." The report indicated that both clubs would "probably stay in La Liga" because of "the sporting and economic interests of the clubs." The statement said, "Without predicting at this time what decisions clubs will make, nothing would prevent, for example, FC Barcelona and Espanyol from participating in Spanish leagues" (EFE, 12/20).
Korea Baseball Organization Secretary General Yang Hae-young said that general managers in the top domestic baseball league "are considering abolishing the salary cap imposed on foreign players" after a series of offseason transactions raised questions about the rule's effectiveness, according to YONHAP. Yang said that general managers of the 10 clubs agreed "in principle" to get rid of the current cap of $300,000 during their meeting this week. Yang insisted, however, that no immediate change is forthcoming. Yang said, "The officials will try to come up with a series of alternatives, such as introducing a foreign player tryout or increasing the salary cap. We will all discuss them at a separate meeting [of the general managers] early next month." According to the KBO, the general managers "agreed that they should be more transparent about their foreign player contracts." Another potential alternative that was discussed "was to bring back the open tryout for foreign players" (YONHAP, 12/20).