Spanish Basketball League (ACB) side UCAM Murcia has fired its coach, ÓSCAR QUINTANA, and replaced him with Argentine MARCELO NICOLA (EFE, 1/20). ... Second Bundesliga club 1860 Munich has appointed MARKUS REJEK as the club's new managing director. The 45-year-old will start his new position on Feb. 1 (ABENDZEITUNG MÜNCHEN, 1/20). ... Badminton Association of India President AKHILESH DAS GUPTA was on Monday "unanimously re-elected for a four-year term" starting in June. Das Gupta was "the only one to have filed the nomination for the post." BAI Secretary VIJAI SINHA and Treasurer ASHOK BAJAJ "were also unanimously re-elected in a clear mandate to the current leadership" (PTI, 1/20). ... La Liga side Real Betis has hired Argentine GABRIEL HUMBERTO CALDERON as coach. Betis sacked JUAN CARLOS GARRIDO on Sunday. Calderon "will take over until the end of the campaign with an option for another season if the Seville-based side avoid the drop" (REUTERS, 1/20). ... The Int'l Air Sports Federation (FAI) appointed SUSANNE SCHÖDEL as its new secretary general, effective March 1. Schödel, a 41-year-old German native, combines experience in air sports, management of non-profit organizations and political matters. She has held several positions in non-profit organizations, including that of exec director at the Susan G. Komen Society for the Cure of Breast Cancer (FAI).
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Violinist VANESSA MAE "is set to ski for Thailand at the Winter Olympics in Russia next month." The 35-year-old former child prodigy, whose father is Thai, "is one of two skiers due to represent the kingdom in Sochi" (AFP, 1/20). ... The legal battle over the National Rugby League side Cronulla Sharks drugs scandal "is set to intensify, with one of Sydney's highest-profile barristers" to defend suspended head coach SHANE FLANAGAN in his fight against the NRL. Queen's Counsel STUART LITTLEMORE, "who most recently represented disgraced Labor powerbroker" EDDIE OBEID, will advise Flanagan as he considers his legal position (Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH, 1/20). ... A-League Sydney FC player ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO "is weighing up his future," with "reports from Asia" claiming that Thai club PTT Rayong is "being considered." Goal Malaysia said that newly promoted side PTT Rayong "have made moves to sign the former Juventus captain and World Cup winner at the end of the A-League season" (FOX SPORTS, 1/21). ... Tri-Asia Phnom Penh FC "completed the signing" of former J.League midfielder MASAKAZU KIHARA of Japan, with the 26-year-old "inking a one-year deal that will see him start in the upcoming Metfone C-League season" (PHNOM PENH POST, 1/20).
IN LIMBO: Super Rugby side ACT Brumbies winger HENRY SPEIGHT's int'l exile could end this week when the Int'l Rugby Board "meets to determine if he's eligible to play for Australia." The Fijian-born "try-scoring machine's Wallabies dream has been sitting in limbo for more than a year as officials debate how long he has been living in Canberra." A three-man IRB panel "will decide this week to either immediately lift the ban that prevents Speight playing for Australia or delay his Test hopes until November" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 1/21).
GOING TO SOCHI: Chinese President XI JINGPING "will attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi." The foreign ministry said that Xi would be in Russia from Feb. 6-8 for the Opening Ceremony. Xi’s decision to attend "is a positive development" for Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN, after U.S. President BARACK OBAMA and his German counterpart JOACHIM GAUCK both said that "they would not travel to Russia for the Games" (SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, 1/20).
NBC's WILL BUXTON: "British F1 fans are a hardy breed. Usually it’s awful traffic and bad weather. This year they’re also being subjected to the Kaiser Chiefs."
AP's ROB HARRIS: "A point on Champagne, Blatter hasn't been doing a bad job of late. Most issues go back to last term & World Cups which are Valcke's problem"
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