A "showdown is looming" on Thursday with the Australian Football League and its most powerful clubs "at loggerheads" as CEO Andrew Demetriou and his team "strive to push through a series of new Robin Hood-style taxes in a bid to reshape the competition," according to Caroline Wilson of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Collingwood President Eddie McGuire "is leading the charge" against a tax on club revenues with several other clubs confirming staff "will lose their jobs next season with overseas camps and study opportunities abandoned once the AFL places a cap upon football department spending." The yet-to-be-rolled out equalization measures "seem likely to include:"
- A $0.50 on the dollar tax on clubs "breaking the new football department spending cap."
- The "rapid phasing out" of Sydney's cost-of-living allowance.
- The "removal of the playing veterans' allowance" -- a move which would have stripped A$1M ($900,000) from Geelong's salary cap last season.
- Another "significant pay increase across the board" for players.
- A tax on the wealthier club revenues, which would "hit hard on clubs such as Collingwood, Hawthorn and West Coast."
- An AFL undertaking "not to burden the other 16 clubs in any funding increase" to GWS and the Gold Coast.
- The early purchase of Etihad Stadium to "lift that financial burden from the Bulldogs, St Kilda and North Melbourne" (SMH, 2/26).
German Football Federation (DFB) General Secretary Helmut Sandrock "has dismissed the idea of a Euro boycott by Germany," according to the SID. He said, "In the end, there are democratically made majority decisions of all member federations within UEFA, which we have to accept. And I don’t believe that we would get an especially huge applause from German football fans for a Euro boycott." On Sunday, German Football League (DFL) CEO Christian Seifert "called for a boycott of Euro 2016 by Germany" after UEFA President Michel Platini "made derogatory remarks" about the critique from German national team head coach Joachim Löw on the increase of the Euro finals from 16 to 24 teams. Seifert said, "I find it somewhat arrogant for a UEFA president, and maybe we simply shouldn’t play. Then we would see how much value the European Championship still has" (SID, 2/25). The IRISH TIMES reported Platini “made a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that Germany should not take part in the competition” after Löw said on Friday that the 24-team finals "reduced the 'sporting value of the entire tournament.'" Platini was asked about Löw’s comments during a news conference on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s Euro 2016 qualifying draw in Nice and “gave a typical reply.” He said, “If they don’t like it they don’t have to take part. But this is very important for the international game” (IRISH TIMES, 2/24).
The National Rifle Association of India is "miffed with the Indian Olympic Association for not giving it fair 'representation' despite the shooters’ consistent medal-winning efforts in top international events, including the Olympics," according to the PTI. NRAI President Raninder Singh said, "Overall, I think India finished 45th in London (Olympics), and in shooting we finished eighth. Our aim is to breach the top-five in Rio (2016) and be in the top-three in Tokyo (2020)." Asked if the NRAI tried to speak to the IOA regarding representation, Raninder "responded in the negative." The NRAI and IOA have "not been on good terms for some time now" (PTI, 2/25).
Australian Football League umpires "hope greater resources and clear explanations about rule changes will help improve their standing among football supporters." While most umpires "feel they are respected by AFL coaches and players," far fewer "feel respected by club supporters and the media" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 2/26). ... The pink balls to be used in next week's round of Shield matches have been likened to "comets" with "tails" by players who "have had trouble picking them up in the nets." Shield players "are practising with the pink balls ahead of a full round of day/night Shield matches from Monday." Early reports from the nets indicate the balls appear to "flare" in flight. One player said, "They're definitely different to the red ball. It's almost like a comet going through the air" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/26). ... Japan "plans to set up an organization as early as April, under which both public and private sectors will help developing countries work out sports programs at schools and host sporting events." The move follows up on a vow made by PM Shinzo Abe at the Int'l Olympic Committee meeting in September, at which Tokyo won the right to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, to "provide assistance in sports for the international community" (KYODO, 2/25). ... A tax tribunal "dealt a losing hand to the English Bridge Union," which had wanted to be recognized as a sport so that members would not have to pay VAT on their competition entry fees, which amounted to £631,000 in '12-13. Although it is "seen as a sport -- a contract sport, as the joke goes" -- by other countries, the Charity Commission, the sector's watchdog, and even the IOC, the Tax Chamber of the First-Tier Tribunal ruled that bridge "does not involve enough physical activity to make it so" (LONDON TIMES, 2/25).