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Volume 6 No. 212

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The NBA will tip off a comprehensive promotion around the Chinese New Year beginning on Tuesday and running through Feb. 4 with 23 live games broadcast and streamed live in China. As an official partner of NBA Chinese New Year Celebration 2014, Mengniu will activate through various marketing initiatives, including a Chinese New Year-themed sweepstakes which will distribute more than 3 million Chinese New Year gifts to consumers across China. NBA China will conduct a series of online and social media promotions during the campaign. Fans will be able to participate through the NBA official Sina Weibo, Tencent Microblog and Weixin accounts to win the opportunity to attend the Chinese New Year viewing party in Shanghai and other NBA prizes.

YEAR OF THE HORSE: This year’s broadcasting schedule will feature live games and coverage of in-arena celebrations on CCTV 5, BTV, Chongqing Satellite TV, Fujian TV, Sina, LeTV, Videoland Taiwan, Fox Taiwan, Elta Taiwan and Taiwan Mobile. In addition, 10 NBA teams will promote the Year of the Horse Chinese New Year in their market with fan giveaways, musical performances, dancers, food, courtside signage, floor decals and partner activation.
The Houston Rockets, who drafted Yao Ming in '02, and currently include Jeremy Lin on their roster, will begin the Chinese New Year promotion on Tuesday, when they host the San Antonio Spurs. The other teams included in the campaign are the Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards, L.A. Lakers, L.A. Clippers and the Sacramento Kings. All 14 NBA teams playing on Jan. 28 will wear specially designed Chinese New Year shooting shirts. This is the third year of the campaign, which has reached 96 million viewers and 107 million viewers in China the last two years, according to league officials.

Spain's Superior Sports Council (CSD) on Tuesday agreed to the creation of a new group formed by 10 Spanish Basketball League (ACB) clubs "with the objective of seeking solutions for the league," according to the EP. CSD President Miguel Cardenal attended the meeting, "which lasted three hours as club leaders looked to maintain the league's status as the leader of European basketball." It was also decided that Joventut President Jordi Villacampa, Cajasol President Fernando Moral and Estudiantes President José Asensio "would share the role of spokesperson for the new group." The ACB "has been without a president after two failed attempts to elect a new leader." The CSD "agreed to act as a catalyst to look for solutions, overcome obstacles and confront challenges alongside the ACB" (EP, 1/21).

South Africa is "highly unlikely to have any joy" in its attempt to prevent the proposals for a shake-up of world cricket -- supported by England, Australia and India -- even being discussed at a board meeting of the Int'l Cricket Council, according to Andy Wilson of the London GUARDIAN. They "have been strikingly snubbed" in the proposals from the ICC's financial and commercial affairs committee, "despite being top of the world test rankings, cast aside by the Big Three among the 'other seven.'" The ICC "has seen no need to amend the simple statement it issued when details of the proposals emerged over the weekend." The statement read, "The recommendations, which have been put together by a working group, are to be discussed by the full F&CA and ICC board when it meets in Dubai from 27-29 January. The ICC will only make a comment on this matter once the board has had the opportunity to meet and properly consider the proposals" (GUARDIAN, 1/21).

SOUTH AFRICA CHALLENGE: In London, Wilson also reported South Africa has "called for the proposal under which England, India and Australia would seize greater control over world cricket to be withdrawn on procedural grounds, confirming the threat of a schism in the game." Cricket South Africa Chair Chris Nenzani "has released an open letter" to ICC President Alan Isaac stating the proposal from the ICC's Financial and Commercial Affairs Committee, which was to be considered at a board meeting in Dubai the week after next, is "fundamentally flawed." Nenzani: "Without addressing the merits of the proposal insofar as it concerns constitutional amendments and changes to ICC competitions, these proposals should first be referred to the relevant ICC committees or sub-committees for proper consideration and to make recommendations to the ICC Board" (GUARDIAN, 1/20). The AFP reported one key proposal "is for a four-man executive committee" where the England and Wales Cricket Board, Cricket Australia and the Board of Control for Cricket in India "would all be guaranteed a place, with the other position selected by the trio annually." On the field, there "is also a suggestion of the creation of two divisions for Test cricket," but with England, Australia and India all guaranteed to avoid relegation from the top tier "because of their commercial importance" (AFP, 1/22).

PAKISTAN, NEW ZEALAND OPPOSITION: REUTERS' Nick Said reported CSA's response follows that of the Pakistan Cricket Board, which confirmed on Monday that "it would oppose any structural overhaul of world cricket's administration." A PCB governing board member said, "Chairman Zaka Ashraf has been told Pakistan should not support any such changes as it would divide the cricket world and effectively give all veto powers to India, Australia and England" (REUTERS, 1/21). FAIRFAX NZ NEWS' Mark Geenty reported the proposal makes "damning reading for New Zealand despite the initial positive response" from New Zealand Cricket board member Martin Snedden. The proposal "scraps the existing Future Tours Programme which underpins a fair chunk of NZC's income" from TV rights, notably from "the current tour by world powerhouses India." The basic principles of the proposal for tours are: "No member should be forced to play another member except as bilaterally agreed; no member should be forced to host uneconomic tours; and the content and timing of all tours should be agreed bilaterally" (FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 1/22).

SRI LANKA CHANGES: The PTI reported Sri Lanka Cricket is "set to oppose the proposed changes in the ICC administrative structure." Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said, "It poses a serious challenge to Sri Lanka Cricket set-up." He added that the SLC's exec committee would meet on Thursday "to take an official stance on the proposals which would then be conveyed to the ICC" (PTI, 1/21).

THE HAVES AND HAVE-NOTS: In Chennai, Nirmal Shekar opined "you cannot fault either Cricket Australia (CA) or the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for agreeing with the game’s most unabashedly autocratic administrative body -- the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) -- to clearly divide the world of cricket into one of haves and have-nots." The "position paper drafted by the International Cricket Council’s financial honchos -- or should we just say a few greedy Indians plus one or two others from the once mighty cricketing powers, England and Australia -- is so flawed that it is not even wrong!" The 21-page document "makes a mockery of the very essence of what we have come to believe as the spirit of the great game." For more than 100 years, "civilised souls in the cricket-playing world have been used to inhaling in horror, uttering the words ‘It isn’t cricket,’ whenever they thought something that was taking place was not fair." Today, "what isn’t cricket IS cricket." If no sport can rise above the meanness of the age, then the ICC’s latest proposal "pushes a great sport that has always been a metaphor for fairness into a moral cesspit" (THE HINDU, 1/21).

The Int'l Premier Tennis League, "inspired by the runaway success of Twenty20 cricket," will be staged from Nov. 28-Dec. 20 in Asia, according to Swanton & McDonald of THE AUSTRALIAN. Franchises "will be based in Singapore, Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and a city in the Middle East to be announced." Organizers want 10 teams by '20, "including a push into China." Total prize money "will be settled when television rights are finalised." Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova "are understood to be certain starters and will be up for auction in a player draft on March 2" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/21). IPTL co-Founder and Indian double specialist Mahesh Bhupathi said, "We've got a pretty exciting player field. We are going to announce that in a couple of weeks. We're in the middle of one of the biggest tournaments in the year. We don't want to distract from that" (REUTERS, 1/21). The AAP reported Lleyton Hewitt "has committed" to IPTL. While Hewitt confirmed his involvement in Melbourne on Tuesday, organizers "were unwilling to give away other names ahead of what they said would be player announcements in coming weeks." Bhupathi said that "players were excited about the potential boost to their earnings." Bhupathi: "From a player’s perspective, players have been shouting about more prize money for a long time. This is a very positive impact for the players." Teams "must include between six and 10 players," with a salary cap of $10M and minimum of $4M. Each match "will include one set each of men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s singles, women’s doubles and legends’ singles." The games "will have no-advantage scoring and the sets will have tiebreakers at 5-5 to keep them short, so the five sets combined will take about three hours to suit broadcasters" (AAP, 1/21).

Boris Becker, co-founder of the IPTL, said: "This is something that tennis needs. Back in my time we would have loved to have a series of tournaments in Asia, where the demand for world class tennis as an entertainment concept merges with the needs and wishes of millions of fans." International TV rights agency MP and Silva, who hold part of the television rights for 2014 FIFA World Cup, the English Premier League and Roland Garros amongst other globally prominent sporting events, have acquired the rights to the IPTL. MP and Silva will be distributing the images of the league on a world wide platform, according to Morgan Menahem CEO of the IPTL.

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ASIAN EVENT NEEDED: The PTI reported IPTL co-Founder Boris Becker said, "This is something that tennis needs. Back in my time we would have loved to have a series of tournaments in Asia, where the demand for world class tennis as an entertainment concept merges with the needs and wishes of millions of fans." Int'l TV rights agency MP & Silva, which holds part of the TV rights for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the EPL and Roland Garros, amongst other globally prominent sporting events, has "acquired the rights to the IPTL." IPTL CEO Morgan Menahem said that MP & Silva "will be distributing the images of the league on a world wide platform" (PTI, 1/21).

Siem Reap, Cambodia "may well host" the Olympic Council of Asia’s 2016 General Assembly if an offer made to the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia by OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah "gets the royal government’s permission and support" (PHNOM PENH POST, 1/21). ... The Delhi High Court stayed the order of a single judge directing the Board of Control for Cricket in India to "determine the age of players on the basis of birth certificates or documents furnished as age proof while doing away with the bone test" (PTI, 1/21). ... A Malaysian betting syndicate "approached Indian clubs to fix I-League matches last season," prompting the country's football federation "to take the first step towards setting up an anti-corruption unit" (REUTERS, 1/21). ... Twelve Russian athletes in seven different sports "have tested positive for banned substances," while two more have been disqualified as a result of earlier failed tests. None of the athletes involved are from winter sports (R-SPORT, 1/21). ... South Korea said that it "will allow North Korean athletes to compete in the Asian Games to be held in South Korea later this year." Seoul will allow Pyongyang to compete in the games "if North Korea informs the organizing committee of the regional sport event of its decision to send its players to Incheon" (KOREA HERALD, 1/21).