NBA player Luol Deng, in conjunction with Nike, Evelyn Grace Academy and Reforming Black Britain, will launch his first basketball academy this summer in his adopted hometown of Brixton, South London. DENG Academy will provide an exit route into Brixton Topcats Basketball Club at the elite and grassroots development level (Luol Deng Foundation). In London, Ben Jefferson wrote that the move was motivated by "UK Sport's controversial decision to cut" basketball funding because of the game's "slim medal prospects." Deng "spent his formative years in Brixton after moving to England from Sudan" before he left for the U.S. to play in the NBA. He said he wants to help British kids "follow in his footsteps." Deng said, "UK Sport deciding to cut British Basketball funding is hard to take, as I felt that we have all done so much to grow the sport and the national team. It's just something you have to fight through. Growing basketball in the U.K. has always been important to me and it's something I will continue to do through my foundation" (EXPRESS, 2/20).
People and Pop Culture
German Hockey League (DEL) club Dusseldorf EG has appointed JOCHEN A. ROTTHAUS as its new managing director at its shareholder meeting. Rotthaus, who has been the managing director of Bundesliga club TSG Hoffenheim since '06, "will start his new position on May 1" (RP ONLINE, 2/20). ... Cambodian Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans & Youth Rehabilitation VORNG SAUT "was named as the new president of the Special Olympics Committee of Cambodia," replacing Labor & Vocational Training Minister ITH SAM HENG. Other posts confirmed on Thursday include MEAS SARIN as permanent VP, SAEM SOKHA as VP, KLENG CHANTHOU as secretary general, LAOR VENG as vice secretary general, CHAB RATANA as chief of finances, and CHHUN LENG, EM HEANG, MEAS SARETH, NGIN SOKKROVA, OUNG SAVAN, HUY HOUN and EK EMMARA as exec members (PHNOM PENH POST, 2/20). ... Norwegian biathlete OLE EINAR BJØRNDALEN and Canadian hockey player HAYLEY WICKENHEISER have been elected to the Athletes’ Commission of the IOC by their peers at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. An Olympic record was set by the Sochi athletes after 80.87% of them made their way to the voting booths to cast their votes. Bjørndalen was elected with 1,087 votes, followed by Wickenheiser with 758 (IOC). ... Former Iran volleyball coach JULIO VELASCO was named the coach of the Argentine national volleyball team, replacing JAVIER WEBER (OLE, 2/19). ... Argentine second division side Crucero del Norte coach IVÁN DELFINO "resigned from his position on Thursday for personal reasons." Crucero del Norte President JULIO KOROPESKI named ALEJANDRO DURÉ the club's interim coach (OLE, 2/20).
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WAYNE ROONEY's £70M ($116M) ManU deal "is being held up by ongoing negotiations over his image rights, although the club remain convinced the striker will sign a new four and a-half year contract in the next week." While the football part of the deal "has been agreed," the off-field payments and incentives built into the terms "are yet to be agreed by United and the Rooney camp" (London GUARDIAN, 2/20). ... The Indian National Anti-Doping Appeal Panel "has upheld an 18-month suspension" on boxer AMIT KUMAR "for testing positive for anabolic steroid methandienone" (THE HINDU, 2/19). ... MotoGP world champion MARC MARQUEZ "fractured his right leg during dirt track practice in Spain," his team announced Thursday, but he "hopes to be fit in time for the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix." The 21-year-old Spaniard "was injured on Wednesday and could be out for three to four weeks" (AFP, 2/21). ... Sporting goods retailer Sports Direct Founder MIKE ASHLEY saw the value of his stake rise by about £200M ($333M) on Wednesday, "despite a slowdown in sales growth." The shares rose 7% to 767 pence after Sports Direct, "which last month swooped on shares in Debebhams," said sales in the three months to Jan. 26 rose 11.2% to £655.4M, while gross profit increased 14.6% to £280.7M. Ashley has a 62% stake (FINANCIAL TIMES, 2/19).
PUTIN'S NEW ALLY: Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN "has found himself an ally" in F1 CEO BERNIE ECCLESTONE. Anti-gay legislation "has been a focal point of critics." Ecclestone: "He hasn't said he doesn't agree (with homosexuality) just that he doesn't want these things publicized to an audience under the age of 18. I completely agree with those sentiments and if you took a world census you'd find 90% of the world agree with it as well" (CNN, 2/20).
London Guardian's OWEN GIBSON: "Not entirely sure Bernie backing Putin's backwards stance on gay rights is a very good idea. Protests at F1 races a distinct possibility?"
Bloomberg's TARIQ PANJA: "Head of World Cup security for Brazil govt keeps insisting no one was injured during Confederations Cup protests. SIX people died"
U.K. Sports Minister HELEN GRANT: "Disappointing to see comments I made to the Telegraph on women in sport now taken completely out of context."
N.Y. Times' CHRISTOPHER CLAREY: "Wrong that a 15-year-old is going to feel like a failure after skating in the final group of her 1st Olympics"
FIFA President SEPP BLATTER: "Very sad to hear of death of Walter Lutz, FIFA Order of Merit holder, winner of the Jules Rimet Award & great friend of FIFA. Rest in peace."
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