Archive for the ‘Sports controversies’ Category

Hodges to Play in Grand Final

Hodges image: commons.wikimedia.org

Despite an obvious attack, on the part of Geoff Bellew, Justin Hodges has beaten a grade one dangerous throw charge and will be taking the field this weekend in the NRL Premiership grand finale.

Despite Aiden Guerra admitting to the judiciary that he jumped into the dangerous position to earn his side a penalty, Bellew did all he could to blame Hodges.

“He (Guerra) came here and spoke to the truth,” said Hodges.

“I didn’t ask him to come here and lie. He came here and told the truth.

“I said (to Guerra) after the charge that this is the way I felt about the tackle and if you feel the same you can come (and testify in my defence).”

Guerra did feel the same way. And he did testify in Hodges defence, claiming he milked the penalty by launching himself past the legal position for a tackle.

Asked how he hoped to win the penalty, Guerra answered, “by going above the horizontal – probably not the smartest decision.

“I thought there was a chance to gain a penalty, nothing was going our way. My aim was clear.”

Guerra admitted he “wasn’t thinking about the repercussions, more about the momentum of the game. I was in control of my actions.”

When he was challenged about the dangerousness of the action Guerra replied: “I am still able-bodied.”

Hodges stuck to his story, denying any role in Guerra’s head going into the ground.

But NRL judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew was like a dog with a bone and interjected several times.

“I grabbed the leg to stop his momentum,” said Hodges.

“He jumped out of my hands. I felt him jump. I knew he was going down, so I let go. I turned to the ref and said ‘he jumped.’”

Bellew went fishing: “Did you apply any force to Guerra’s landing?”

Hodges: “No.”

Guerra, “Was Guerra placed in a dangerous position?”

Hodges: “Not by me.”

Bellew became frustrated at this answer. Despite it being true, it wasn’t the answer he sought. Hodges admitted Guerra did go past the horizontal, but stuck to his story that he had no part in doing it.

Eventually the judiciary panel of Bronson Harrison, Chris McKenna, and Royce Ayliffe took 10 minutes to acquit Hodges.

Upon release of the news the Broncos went from $2 outsiders to $1.85 favourites.

Though anybody who knows the two sides will tell you the game is on a knife-edge.

“I Played for the Penalty,” says Guerra

Hodges image: commons.wikimedia.org

The NRL judiciary looks set to determine another Grand Final.

Brisbane Broncos captain Justin Hodges will have his fate decided on Tuesday night, as he and the club look set to defend a grade one dangerous throw for his tackle on Roosters backrower Aidan Guerra.

But it doesn’t look good.

Not because of the tackle – Guerra himself admitts he was off-balance and contributed to the fall that saw him topple past the horizontal – but because Brisbane have only a seven per cent success rate with the blatantly partisan NRL judiciary.

Queenslanders have long known and seen the Sydney judiciary protecting their own – consistently rubbing out players from teams north of the border, while expressing leniency for NSW clubs. It is an outrage that has existed for such a long time it has all but been accepted.

In fact, the last time the Brisbane club had a player exonerated by the NRL judiciary was Karmichael Hunt back in the year 2000 (Hunt has swapped codes three times since then).

The Brisbane club have virtually given up contesting charges, realising the futility of expecting fairness from the judiciary. The last time they fought a charge was in 2013. Just once in 14 attempts has a Bronco’s player been acquitted by the board.

Aidan Guerra has offered to support Hodges at the hearing. In an interview with Fox Sports he was asked if he jumped off the ground as Hodges had suggested? Guerra said: “Yep, it’s a bit like that.

“To be honest, I played for the penalty.

“If I tried my hardest (to resist Hodges and fellow Broncos defender Ben Hunt) I wouldn’t have got spear-tackled, but I got the penalty and I really hope it’s left where it is.”

Jonathon Thurston, Cowboys Captain said, “You want to play the best teams at full strength and he needs to be in that team for it to be at full strength. It would be a sad way to end his career (suspended from the grand final).”

Criminal Proceedings Against Sepp Blatter

Image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1uW3lwNZas

Swiss investigators have begun criminal proceedings against Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini by searching the former FIFA president’s office while quizzing his UEFA counterpart, Platini.

At the heart of their search is an answer to the legality of a two million dollar payment from Blatter to the French football legend.

“Swiss criminal proceedings against the President of FIFA, Mr. Joseph Blatter, have been opened on September 24, 2015 on suspicion of criminal mismanagement … and – alternatively – misappropriation,” said a statement from the OGA, Switzerland’s Lawyer General’s Office.

Blatter (now 79) is in the process of handing over the reins of the world football governing body amid accusations of corruption.

The Swiss prosecutor said data had been seized and the FIFA President questioned. He is considered a ‘suspect’; while Platini is considered ‘a person called upon to give information’.

Platini, now 60, is the automatic FIFA vice-president as he has been head of UEFA since January 2007.

Blatter was said, by his lawyer Richard Cullen, to be cooperating with the Swiss authorities and that he was confident a review of the evidence would yield ‘no mismanagement occurred.’

The alleged $2.0 million franc ($2.9 million) is thought to have been made in February of 2011 ‘for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002’.

Michael Platini Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Platini

Michael Platini Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Platini

On Friday Platini said the money had been for ‘contractual’ work.

“Concerning the payment that was made to me, I wish to state that this amount relates to work which I carried out under a contract with FIFA,

“I was pleased to have been able to clarify all matters relating to this with the authorities. I also made clear to the Swiss authorities that since I live in Switzerland I am available to speak with them any time to clarify any matters relating to the investigations.”

Blatter is under investigation by US authorities for links with former FIFA vice-resident Jack warner.

It is being alleged that Warner used the Caribbean Football Union as a power base to which Blatter was suspected of contributing.

But Blatter’s lawyer, Cullen, said the contract was ‘properly prepared and negotiated’ by all FIFA staff required for such matters..

Warner is just one of 14 soccer officials and business executives expected to face US prosecutors. It will be alleged they were involved in more than US$150 million in bribes for broadcasting rights and marketing deals.

Push to Legitimise Bare-Knuckle Boxing

Bobby Gunn image: https://twitter.com/RealBobbyGunn

Reputed ex-mobster Danny Provenzano, 51, wants to take bare-knuckle boxing mainstream. He believes it can be turned into a multi-billion-dollar industry and capture the world’s attention.

In an interview with the Daily Mail Provenzano said, “Bare-knuckle boxing requires a lot more skill than gloved boxing. You’ve got to make sure every punch counts, otherwise you’rre going to break your hand.”

He went on to argue that bare-knuckle boxing is safer than gloved boxing, “There are a lot more cuts and bruises, but less long-term damage.”

The medical fraternity appear to be divided on this.

The argument goes like this: Gloves ‘cushion’ a blow allowing for more blows to be delivered during a bout. The more blows there are, the more damage is done to a fighter’s brain.

The other side argue that the greater impact of an ‘un-cushioned’ blow inflicts more trauma on the brain and substantially increases the chance of damage to a boxer’s hand.

What both sides agree on is that the sport already exists. Without regulatory oversight the combatants are without any protection other than their own fists.

Bobby Gunn is regarded as the best bare-knucle boxer in the world. In an interview with MMA Radio he announced that two states in the US are on the verge of legalising the combat sport.

“It’s going to be ground-breaking for the sport.”

Provenzano is working closely with Gunn to legalise the sport throughout the world. To that end they wish to organise a fight with high profile MMA fighter Kimbo Slice to grasp world attention.

“He (Gunn) is the poster boy of the bare-knuckle boxing world.”

While Kimbo Slice rocketed to fame with viral Youtube videos of his accept-all-comers street fights. Gunn won the first officially sanctioned bare-knuckle boxing match in 2011.

He said to barcrogt.tv, “I’ve been fighting since I was 6 years old. I do this for my family.”

While it was an underground sport promoters were happy to allow gambling. Their fighters stood to earn up to $100,000 for a high profile fight. But in a bid to have the sport legitimised they have had to eliminate this side of their events.

“We’ve taken a hit in the pocket,” Provenzano said. “But it will be worth it once we’re mainstream.”

Kelly’s UFC 193 Opponent Switch

Dan Kelly images https://twitter.com/dankellyjudo

In the space of a few hours yesterday Melbourne MMA fighter Daniel Kelly’s training regime changed dramatically.

Kelly was scheduled to face 84kg, 180 cm Brazilian submission expert Ricardo Abreu on November 15 at UFC 193.

But Abreu was forced to withdraw with what is believed to be an injury.

UFC matchmaker Joe Silva scoured the list of available fighters.

The man he found couldn’t be any more of a different opponent.

Florida-based Steve Montgomery is a towering 193cm tall, he fights as a welterweight at 77kg, and he’s  a south paw.

Kelly took he change in stride.

It’s a completely different match-up, but we’re seven weeks out.

“There’s plenty of time to adjust what we’re doing so it’s fine.”

Within two hours of being notified of the change Kelly had already watched most of Montgomery’s fights.

“He’s pretty well rounded and has good knees in the clinch.

“He’ a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and his striking is not bad.

“He’s from a very strong gym America Top Team.

“I’ve watched one of his fights and that’s obviously only happened in the last couple of hours. But we’ve got a fair idea already of what we’re going to do.

“I’ll just make sure I’m fit and strong and I’ll go out there and enjoy it.”

But Kelly was cautious about his new opponent.

Dan Kelly image https://twitter.com/dankellyjudo

Dan Kelly image https://twitter.com/dankellyjudo

“Montgomery doesn’t have the power that Abreu had and he doesn’t have the pedigree that Abreu has on the ground. He’s tall and because he throws good knees as well, I’ll have to be careful going to double legs, but I’ll find another way to make it my game. It’s a different match-up, but they’re all hard.”

Kelly has experience with southpaws. He knocked out Sam Alvey in the first round and won a unanimous decision over Patrick Walsh.

“This is the third fight in a row where I’ll be preparing for a south paw,” said Kelly

“I’ll just keep working and progressing on the stuff we’ve already been doing,

Cricket Will Never Be Free from Corruption

Image: en.wikipedia.org

Sir Ronnie Flanagan, chief of the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption wing, has admitted corruption will never be expunged from the game.

But he was quick to add that fans should know administrators are doing ‘everything humanly possible’ to root out illegal practices.

“I’ll give you the honest answer – That we will never totally, utterly, and absolutely eradicate corruption from the game,” Flanagan said to icc-cricket.com.

“But we can make the game a very difficult environment for those who would seek to bring corruption to bear.”

Flanagan labelled as ‘most evil’ those who attempted to corrupt the game.

“Those are organised criminals. These are members of organised criminal gangs across the world.”

Recently three Pakistan internationals were jailed for spot-fixing during the 2010 Test series in England.

Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt, and Mohammad Asif have since been released and are attempting to resume their cricket careers.

When asked whether he thought the three should be eligible for international duty with the Pakistan side Flanagan said it was a matter for  the Pakistan cricket Board.

“They’ve been punished. They’ve met their punishment. It’s now a matter, I think, for their home board to decide whether they should ever grace an international cricket team again.”

But cricket’s integrity remains under a cloud of suspicion worldwide.

After football, cricket is the main sport in the world attracting illegal gambling.

One expert estimated the sports betting market is worth $3 trillion annually, with the vast majority of that being illegal.

Cricket is thought to make up 12 per cent of that figure.

Floyd’s Final Fight a Flop

Image: https://twitter.com/floydmayweather

According to some reports Floyd Mayweather’s final fight has been the biggest flop in a decade.

He may have retired undefeated, but the lacklustre opponent he chose for his swansong turned viewers away.

Reports put the viewing public between 400,000 and 550,000 – the weakest numbers in ten years for Mayweather.

UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey told TMZ she wasn’t surprised.

“A lot of people were pissed after the Manny Pacquiao fight. Fans aren’t dumb.’

Rousey appears to have hit the nail on the head. Mayweather vs Pacquiao drew a record 4.4 million pay-per-view buys at an average $100 each. But the fight failed to live up to expectations.

Mayweather fought defensively to out point Pacquiao and win. But it was more a points fight than a real fight.

Mayweather had a winning strategy and superior movement. He fought defensively and landed scoring counter-punches without doing an real damage to Pacquiao.

But rather than attempt to win fans back with a real fight before retiring Mayweather chose an easy opponent and hoped his fame would be enough to buy viewers.

It wasn’t.

Boxing is fast losing legitimacy in the eyes of fight fans around the world. And it is doing so at a fast rate than ever now that the UFC is offering a viable alternative.

Fight fans want to watch fights. If you want to watch points being scored watch tennis.

Ronda Rousey is capturing world attention, She has posted the biggest pay-per-view numbers of all time at UFC 190. Her upcoming fight against Holly Holm in Melbourne is expected to be the largest sales promotion of the year.

MMA Fighters Boycott Nevada in Response to Diaz Sentence

Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Diaz

The fallout from the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s handling of the Nick Diaz drug charge continues to worsen.

The Commission handed out a five-year suspension to Diaz (effectively ending his career) for testing positive to cannabis after his UFC 183 bout.

Fans and fighters were outraged at the excessive nature of the ban. And MMA fighters are making their displeasure known by refusing to fight in the state of Nevada.

The latest to add his name to the blockade is Henry Cejudo, an Olympic gold medallist.

Fast rising bantamweight Aljamain sterling tweeted that he is intent on doing the same, “ … let the NSAC know,” he broadcast on the 17th, “they need to be unbiased & give a fair process.”

They join female bantamweight Leslie Smith in expressing their dismay at the Star Chamber-like actions of the NSAC.

“This situation is just the latest example demonstrating the need for mixed martial artists to stand together,” said Smith. “(We need) to influence our sport and have our voices heard by speaking together as the mixed martial arts fighter association.”

These fighters are fervently hoping others will make a similar stand. Alone they will accomplish little; but should the stars decide to follow their lead the NSAC may actually be answerable to someone.

Heavyweight Matt Mitrione blasted ex-UFC fighter now executive Matt Hughes for his comments supporting the NSAC. UFC superstar Ronda Rousey has labelled the ban ‘unfair’. For Diaz to receive a penalty five times greater than that given to Anderson Silva. Silva tested positive for steroids in the fight against Diaz.

‘It makes no sense at all.’

She describes herself as a close friend to Diaz and is shocked at the suspension.

Twonsville Holds No Fear For Sharks

http://www.nrl.com/nrl-finals-week-two-information/tabid/10874/newsid/89777/default.aspx

North Queensland Cowboy’s coach Paul Green believes the Cronulla Sharks are semi-finals favourites.

His comments come as the two teams prepare for their weekend do-or-die clash in the first round of the finals.

The match will be played in front of a sold out Townsville crowd, with both teams needing to win.

Green admitted the Sharks were the only team to have beaten his side in both games they played against each other this year. They beat the Cowboys 24-18 in June (in Townsville) and in round 22 won again 30-18 at Shark Park.

“They probably deserve to be favourites for this game,” said Green.

“They’ve beaten us twice throughout the year, they have knocked off the Roosters and done well against (the) top four teams.

“They play a tough brand of footy.”

Most recently they demolished the sliding defending premiers, the Roosters; while the Cowboys were beaten by the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium 16-12.

Arguably the most divisive man in the NRL, Paul Gallen said to Sky Sports Radio that playing in front of a sold out Townsville crowd held no fear for his side.

“A few of us were having coffee and speaking about this last week – both places hold no fear for us, whether we had to play in Townsville or Brisbane.

“We were saying how exciting it would be to play in Brisbane in front of 50,000 people.

“And in Townsville it would be more than 20,000 and we’ve had success there; so no, it’s not daunting.”

Nick Diaz Suspended for Five Years for Pot?!

Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UFC_183

The MMA world has gone into overdrive, outraged at the five-year ban to UFC welterweight Nick Diaz for allegedly testing positive to marijuana.

Diaz was also fined a ridiculous 33 per cent of his prize purse – $165,000.

If these penalties seem inordinately heavy when compared with the crime, it’s because they are.

The man Diaz fought before the controversy (Anderson Silva at UFC 183) returned a test positive for steroids. He received only a one-year ban.

Lucas Middlebrook, Diaz’ attorney, presented an aggressive defense to the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Monday. In an at times fiery session he questioned the very validity of the test results.

Middlebrook argued that separate tests by the Sports Medicine Research & Testing Laboratory (SMRTL) and the World Anti-Doping Agency both showed Diaz had marijuana well below the 150ng/ ML limit.

The only positive test above the limit was returned from Quest Diagnostics, showing 700ng/ML for marijuana.

Middlebrook then called upon an expert witness to discredit the lone positive result.

Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Diaz

Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Diaz

“With all due respect,” said Middlebrook, “if the commission imposes discipline based on the complaint as written, which wholly igmores the two negative tests, thereby depriving this man of his earnings and his future ability to earn a living, it’s not only the highest form of administrative abuse of discretion, but it’s ripe for judicial review and reversal.”

 But the commission had the scent of blood in their nostrils and argued that Diaz had not claimed the use of marijuana on the pre-fight questionnaire – a document all athletes are required to sign.

Diaz showed his contempt for the proceedings by choosing to plead his Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer the questions put to him.

MMA fans around the world were stunned.

Marijuana isn’t a performance enhancing drug (the way steroids are). Diaz certainly broke the rules, but banning him for five years effectively ends his career; and to recieve a penalty five times worse than someone using PEDs is absurd.

But what has outraged sportsfans most is the declaration made by Chairman Francisco Aguilar that the sentence is also for things other than the marijuana. “This is  not just a casee of marijuana,” he said. “I think this is a case of complete lack of disregard for the sport.”

But Diaz wasn’t on trial for his attitude.

And while he was also suspended in 2007 and 2012 for marijuana use it seems to be drawing an awfully long bow to say this equates to a ‘disregard for the sport’.