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Volume 6 No. 212

Leagues and Governing Bodies

A new report has revealed that "women still hold fewer than 20% of board-level positions at the top governing bodies for sport in the UK," according to Lottie O'Conor of the London GUARDIAN. The Gender Balance in Global Sport report from Women on Boards covers over 600 bodies, including 128 national Olympic committees, 54 Commonwealth Games Associations, 30 Paralympic committees for Commonwealth and Olympic sports and 34 int'l sports federations. The federations had just 15% female board representation, while the NOCs "were only marginally higher at 16.5%." Federations representing paralympic sports "performed better overall, with almost 10% more board positions occupied by women." Overall, the report demonstrates that the NOCs "have failed to meet a target" dating back to before the 2000 Sydney Olympics, which specified that a minimum of 20% of all board members must be female by '05 (GUARDIAN, 7/9).

Starting next year in Spain, "all women's beach handball players will have to follow the European federation's regulations and dress" in bikinis, according to Dani Ortín of LIBERTAD DIGITAL. It is a "situation that has caused protests, above all by the Basque federation, which considers the rule sexist." Until now, women playing this sport "could wear practically any uniform they wanted." But during the last tournament held in the region of Cantabria, "21 of the 22 women's teams were reprimanded for not dressing according to the rules." The players "chose to wear cycling shorts and sleeveless shirts." The Basque federation "warned that it is now deciding whether to continue participating in events organized by the Spanish federation." Spanish Handball Federation President Francisco Blázquez said, "It is a European regulation that has to be observed. It is already in place at the European and int'l level and in Spain we have given a year of notice and warning." Blázquez added that "no one from the Basque federation had been in contact with him." Blázquez: "It is one thing if the leader of beach handball has said this. But if there is a rule to participate and you do not want to follow it, well then you can not participate. .. What happens is that it is taken out of context and they want to attach themes of sexism." Beach handball is now "experiencing a controversy seen on other occasions with beach volleyball, where the women wear bikinis" (LIBERTAD DIGITAL, 7/8).

CVC Capital co-Founder Donald MacKenzie said that F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "never demanded to keep his position during the sale of the racing series eight years ago," according to the DPA. MacKenzie, who was called to the witness stand during Wednesday's court session, told the judge that Ecclestone only said, "If you want me, I could be available." The statement "raises questions about one of the prosecution's basic assumptions." The prosecution accuses Ecclestone of bribing former BayernLB banker Gerhard Gribkowsky "to sell the majority stake of F1 to CVC so he could keep his position as 'F1 supremo.'" MacKenzie, however, said that "Ecclestone's personal future was not part of the negotiations." He said, "We've showed him a contract of employment, but he never showed any interest and didn't negotiate" (DPA, 7/9).

Nigeria has been suspended from FIFA due to government interference, the governing body announced on Wednesday. FIFA's Emergency Committee took the decision with immediate effect. The decision comes after a letter sent by FIFA to the Nigeria Football Federation on Friday in which it expressed its concern after the NFF was served with court proceedings and, consequently, an order preventing the president of the NFF, the NFF exec committee members and the NFF Congress from running the affairs of Nigerian football. The suspension will be lifted once the court actions have been withdrawn and the properly elected NFF exec committee, the NFF general assembly and the NFF administration are able to work without any interference in their affairs (FIFA).

Australian Football League side Gold Coast CEO Travis Auld is "looming as one fresh face" in AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan's "new look executive team as the new AFL boss sets in place a long-term plan to bring more fans to the football," according to Caroline Wilson of THE AGE. Not only is McLachlan devising a "more traditional football fixture" for '15, but he is driving with the "strong support of the AFL Commission a push to make AFL games a more enjoyable experience for the public from the time of ticket purchase through to the journey home from stadiums." Auld has been "sounded out by McLachlan with a view to bringing on board his expertise in building a fan base from scratch and overseeing the construction and running of an award-winning stadium which remains totally controlled by the club." The "early purchase of Etihad Stadium remains a priority target of the AFL." Auld's experience would "prove invaluable should the purchase become a reality." As part of a series of "fan-friendly initiatives, McLachlan is also expected to scrap the unpopular and overly complex variable ticket pricing with a view to simplifying and rebranding" the "controversial" '14 league policy of pricing games and seating "in line with demand and popularity." The AFL will "also study the cost of booking tickets, transport and parking -- something Auld has dealt with at Metricon Stadium with positive results -- along with the vexed question of food and beverage costs at AFL grounds." The league is also reviewing "restrictive attempts by stadiums like Etihad which prevents fans from bringing their own food into the football" (THE AGE, 7/9).

Hong Kong Premier League club official Peter Leung Shou-chi said that the league, due to be launched in September, "is little different from its predecessor and will hardly change domestic soccer," according to Chan Kin-wa of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. Leung, a director of ambitious side Eastern, said that he "was disappointed with the way things were being handled by the administration, saying nothing had been done to move the sport forward." Leung: "The Hong Kong Football Association has become more bureaucratic under Phoenix Project; the only thing they have done is hire more people to do jobs, which were handled by fewer people before." Leung said in professional leagues like those in England, Europe and Japan, clubs "have a strong say in matters relating to the league, but this did not appear to be the case in Hong Kong." Leung: "There have been no discussions on setting up a Premier League decision-making body consisting mainly of the participating clubs" (SCMP, 7/9).

National Rugby League side Manly Sea Eagles winger David Williams is the first player "named and shamed in the NRL betting scandal -- not that he was betting in big amounts or involved in match-fixing," according to Rothfield & Massoud of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Under the NRL's "strict gambling guidelines, no player, official, coach or agent can bet on rugby league." A second Manly player -- back-rower Daniel Harrison -- has been "contacted by the NRL about illicit betting, albeit to a far lesser degree than his teammate." The NRL is pushing for Williams to be "banned for the rest of 2014 after learning 'The Wolfman' made dozens of bets featuring rugby league options over a three-year period." Up to 30 bets were made from Williams' Sportingbet account. They "extend as far back as 2011, but tapered off last year." The bets "also include wagers in matches involving his own team, which encouraged the NRL to hit him with such a heavy penalty." It is "understood he never backed the opposition to defeat Manly" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 7/10). The AAP reported the NRL was "expected to sanction a number of other players on Thursday for placing small bets on matches -- often as little" as A$5 ($4.71) -- following an audit by its Integrity Unit. The NRL said last month that it had "found no evidence of widespread involvement of players in betting on matches" (AAP, 7/9). 

Pakistan officials have asked the Int'l Cricket Council "for advice following former captain Salim Malik's plea to have his 2000 life ban for match-fixing removed" (REUTERS, 7/9). ... McLaren Racing Dir Eric Boullier "has revealed that his team was surprised by the FIA's attempt to outlaw interconnected Formula 1 suspension systems." The FIA has "written to all teams informing them that it believes the FRIC (front-and-rear interconnected suspension) systems were illegal." The ban "could come into effect in time for the next race in Germany, although the FIA has asked all teams to vote on whether or not they want to delay this until the start of next season" (AUTOSPORT, 7/9). ... The Australian Football League said that it "did not force players to retire because of their drug addictions as had been intimated by the league’s chief medical officer Dr Peter Harcourt." But the league "would not directly answer whether its three strikes illicit drugs policy was being administered in such a way that there was little likelihood a player would record a third strike" (HERALD SUN, 7/9).