ESPN tapped CHARLY CLASSEN to lead the company's operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Classen was promoted to VP & General Manager of the division, replacing ROSS HAIR, who told employees he is stepping down from the position following a restructuring that saw ESPN close down its European channel. Hair is leaving at the end of the month. In his new role, Classen will oversee ESPN's online, mobile and broadband, including ESPNCricInfo and ESPNFC (John Ourand, SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL). ... Spanish third division side Real Oviedo announced on its website that it hired Mexican JOAQUÍN DEL OLMO as sporting director. Real Oviedo is owned by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim's global conglomerate, Grupo Carso (LA AFICION, 1/18). ... La Liga side Real Betis on Sunday sacked coach JUAN CARLOS GARRIDO after the club lost to Real Madrid 5-0 on Saturday. Garrido was "hired in December" (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 1/19). ... RON DENNIS has returned to the role of group CEO of McLaren and, "in an apparent threat" to the position of MARTIN WHITMARSH as team principal, has vowed "there will be changes." Following "long-running speculation that Dennis might return to a more hands-on role with the F1 team," McLaren announced that the 66-year-old had been reappointed to the CEO role he held between '82 and '12 before becoming chairman of the group in '13 (SKY SPORTS, 1/17). ... Cambodian Amateur Boxing Federation President TEM MOEUN was re-elected on Wednesday (PHNOM PENH POST, 1/16). ... MITSURU MURAI "is set to be approved as the J. League’s next chairman on Jan. 31." Murai, who will be the league’s fifth chairman, will succeed its outgoing leader, 65-year-old KAZUMI OHIGASHI, "who engineered both the addition of the J3 and the two-stage format" (KYODO, 1/17).
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