League Notes: Australian Football League Umpires To Be Better Resourced
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).