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  • Ethnic Tensions Flare During Boxing Champs; IOC Member Blasts FIFA


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    Ethnic Tensions Infect Boxing Worlds

    Tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia are spilling into the boxing arena at the ongoing Baku world championships.
    Stepanakerk, a town in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. (Getty Images)

    As Armenian athlete Andranik Hakobyan entered the ring Tuesday, members of the Karabakh Liberation Organization pelted him with rocks, according to Armenian media, and chanted “Armenians, get out!” and “Karabakh or death”.

    The match was then suspended with boxers and judges leaving the field of play.

    Sebastien Gillot, a spokesman for the International Boxing Association AIBA, confirms the altercation took place but downplays its significance.

    “No huge incident has happened. Only one small stone was thrown during one bout, and the aggressive spectators were immediately sent out by security guards,” he tells Around the Rings.

    “Azerbaijan is giving the maximum security protection to the Armenian delegation,” he adds. “AIBA considers that the Armenian delegation is safe.”

    The measures taken to protect Armenian boxers include separate housing with armed security, a half-empty arena to keep Armenian boxers as far away from spectators as possible and international phones as well as internet access.

    “Despite indignation over the incident, we have to show restraint, lest the rush might affect the performance of Armenian boxers,” says a statement from the National Olympic Committee of Armenia quoted in the country’s media.

    “Upon Armenian delegation’s return and discovery of more detail, we’ll take relevant steps of which we’ll additionally inform the public.”

    In western Azerbaijan near the Armenian border sits the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Primarily Armenian despite being in Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh exercises some autonomy. In 1994, a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia broke out when the region tried to become part of Armenia.

    The KLO says its chief goal is to make Nagorno-Karabakh fully part of Azerbaijan.

    International negotiations to bring Azerbaijan and Armenia together over the issue collapsed in June.

    IOC Member Blasts FIFA’s Accountability

    FIFA is declining to comment on scathing criticism about the crisis-hit organization's lack of transparency dished out by influential IOC member Dick Pound.
    “I am astonished,” says Canadian IOC member Dick Pound. (ATR)

    Speaking at the Play the Game conference in Cologne on Monday, Pound was typically forthright about the IOC's shortcomings but especially those of FIFA, a federation still reeling from a series of bribery scandals.

    In a session on corruption in sport, he spoke about the amount of media attention once focused on the IOC's independent investigation that he led into the Salt Lake City bidding scandal before putting the boot into FIFA.

    "When I compare that firestorm of media attention to the relatively benign, again with certain exceptions, treatment of the remarkable conduct of FIFA and certain of its executives, I am astonished," Pound said.

    "This is a far more serious and far more extensive problem for the world's most popular sport than the relatively narrow conduct, improper as it was, of a few IOC members."

    The Canadian, an IOC member since 1978, went on to slam Sepp Blatter's handling of the World Cup bid bribery scandals and the subsequent FIFA presidential election scandal that brought down Asian football boss Mohamed Bin Hammam.

    When contacted for additional comment, Pound referred Around the Rings to his Monday speech, a transcript of which can be found here.

    For more on this developing story, follow ATR sister site World Football INSIDER.

    Rugby World Cup Quarters Take Shape

    The stage is set for knockout rounds at the ongoing Rugby World Cup.
    The All Blacks are looking for their first Rugby World Cup win since 1987. Their perfect start bodes well. (Getty Images)

    In the final matches of pool play, host New Zealand destroyed Canada to keep its perfect record alive, Argentina beat Georgia to edge out Scotland for a quarterfinal berth, Ireland handled Italy with ease and Wales shutout Fiji to round out the final eight.

    Despite scoring a 19-14 upset over France over the weekend, Tonga finished just short in the standings, meaning none of the three Pacific Island teams labeled as dark horses by chief organizer Martin Snedden on the eve of competition will advance.

    Instead, it’s usual suspects France, Wales, Ireland, Australia, England, Argentina, New Zealand and defending champ South Africa moving on. With the exception of Ireland in place of Scotland, those represent the only countries to ever finish in the final four at rugby’s premiere event.

    Each of the eight gets a full week off before the Oct. 8-9 quarterfinals in Wellington and Auckland. Semis are scheduled for Oct. 15-16 and the final for Oct. 23, all in Auckland.

    Somali Football Official, Player Among Car Bomb Casualties

    The secretary general of the Somali Football Federation is among the injured from a suicide car bomb in Mogadishu that killed 55 people.
    A meeting of Somali Football Federation officials was disrupted by Tuesday's blast. (SSPA)

    According to the Somali Sports Press Association, Said Arab was meeting with SFF colleagues Tuesday in a hotel near the Department of Education compound targeted by the attack.

    The bomb detonated in the middle of the street, killing some students who were busy taking a test in hopes of earning scholarships to study in Turkey.

    Said was taken to a nearby hospital for surgery, according to SSPA first vice president Shafi'i Mohyadin Abokar in a report posted to the International Sports Press Association’s website.

    National football team member Abdulahi Isse Mahmoud was also among the injured.

    No Resolution to Indian Hockey Row

    An emergency meeting Tuesday between the Indian Olympic Association and the country's two competing hockey federations ends without resolution.
    For a country mad about hockey, the ongoing dispute is a real blow to Indian sport. (Getty Images)

    At the center of the issue is a warning from the International Hockey Federation, FIH, over the sport's administration in the subcontinent. FIH only recognizes Hockey India as the sport’s official federation in India, even though the IOA worked out a deal with the Indian Hockey Federation and Hockey India to run the sport together.

    At stake are hosting rights to the sport's Olympic qualifiers scheduled for February as well as India's own participation in the 2012 Games.

    "We have requested both HI and IHF to keep players, country and hockey's interest in mind so that FIH does not take away the Olympics qualifiers from India," IOA president V.K. Malhotra was quoted Tuesday by Press Trust of India.

    "There are a whole lot of issues and to come up with any immediate solution will take some time. The FIH's stand is that there should be only one body governing the game in the country."

    The ongoing row already cost India hosting rights to the 2011 Champions Trophy as well as a berth in the showcase event.

    Written by Ed Hula III and Matthew Grayson.

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