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  • Medvedev Inspects Sochi; Blatter Bashes MLS; AIPS Targets Match-Fixing in 2013


    Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin at Rosa Khutor in March. (Getty Images)
    Medvedev to Inspect Sochi

    Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will reportedly inspect preparations for Sochi 2014 this week.

    Reports in Russian media say the inspection will come as part of a skiing holiday to Sochi, in between New Year’s and Christmas celebrations. The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on Jan. 7.

    Sochi is a popular holiday spot for both Medvedev and President Vladimir Putin.

    Blatter Bashes Major League Soccer

    FIFA president Sepp Blatter says USA is “still struggling” to develop Major League Soccer into a legitimate professional league on the heels of hosting the 1994 World Cup.
    Sepp Blatter with UEFA president Michel Platini at Euro 2012 (Getty)

    “It is a question of time, I thought,” he said Saturday in an interview aired on Al Jazeera TV.

    "But it is now 18 years in, so it should have been done now.”

    This criticism from the Swiss came in response to a question by interviewer Marwan Bishara about the state of football in USA and China, perceived as two of the game’s largest untapped markets.

    According to Blatter, soccer is USA’s most popular sport in terms of youth participation - but the country still lacks the football frenzy present throughout much of the rest of the world.

    "There is no very strong professional league,” he told Al Jazeera. "They have just the MLS, but they have no professional leagues which are recognized by the American society."

    Notably, the creation of MLS was actually a condition from FIFA for the awarding of the 1994 World Cup.

    Over the years since, Blatter has repeatedly insisted the MLS change its March-October season to better fit with the August-May international calendar, a timetable that would clash with the National Football League, some of whose stadiums MLS teams still share.

    To watch the interview with Blatter, click here.

    Internet, Match-Fixing Top Challenges for AIPS

    In his New Year's message, Gianni Merlo, president of AIPS, the sports journalists association, says the internet’s impact on news and match-fixing will be the big issues journalists tackle in 2013.

    “The internet requires us to work more and to study more because only quality products will have a future,” he wrote. “We all need to get our heads around the fact that computer does not allow us to have more leisure time; rather we have become enslaved in a certain sense."

    While he called for “as much information as possible” to be published online, he said it is imperative AIPS, and other organizations, continue to train a new generation of journalists.

    “The future of our profession and the quality of free information are at stake. In our world of sport nothing is happening other than what plays out in daily social life and we cannot delude ourselves that we are living on a happy island.”

    In 2013, Merlo said AIPS will continue to conduct seminars on match-fixing to continue to educate reporters, saying match-fixing can deal “a mortal blow to the entire sports world.”

    Around the Rings New Year’s Wish

    The Olympic Truce Wall at the London Olympic Village. (Getty Images)
    Around the Rings publisher Sheila Hula sends her New Year’s wish for ATR readers.

    “My wish for 2013 is that sport will continue to unite the people of the world, just as it did in London this past summer,” she said. “Let's focus on those things that bring us together in friendship and goodwill, and pay less attention to those things that divide us.”

    Medalists, Coaches Honored in Canada

    An Olympic medalist, Paralympic medalist and two coaches of medal winners received Order of Canada merits.
    Arnold Boldt competed in para track cycling at the 2012 Games. (Getty Images)

    Charmaine Crooks won a silver medal in the women’s 800m; Danièle Sauvageau coached the women’s gold-medal-winning ice hockey team at the Salt Lake Olmypics; Hiroshi Nakamura coached judoka gold medalist Nicolas Gill; and Arnold Boldt won consecutive Paralympic high jump gold medals from 1976 to 1992.

    “Canada can be proud of what it has accomplished in sport because of these people,” said Canadian Olympic Committee President Marcel Aubut. “Charmaine, Danièle, Hiroshi and Arnold have made a mark on this country that will last forever. In doing so, they have laid a foundation for incredible things to come. These are true leaders and the Canadian Olympic Committee congratulates them wholeheartedly on receiving the Order of Canada.”

    Russian Coach Retires

    Vladimir Alekno, who coached the Russian men to a gold medal in volleyball in London, announced his retirement due to stress.
    Vladimir Alekno. (Getty Images)

    “I just can’t take this stress anymore,” he said on Saturday, following his club’s loss.

    “Winning the gold in London was the biggest thrill for me but it was just too much to take. I’m not ready to do it again.”

    The gold was Russia’s first since the Moscow Olympics.

    Written by Ed Hula III.

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