FIFA Development Officer has positive meeting with Sancho

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FIFA Development Officer Howard McIntosh paid a visit to this country on Friday during which time he attended meetings with officials of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association and the Minister of Sport Brent Sancho.

McIntosh described the meetings as significant and expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the discussions with the Sports Minister which he said augurs well for the future of the local game and the relationships among the various parties including FIFA, CONCACAF, the TTFA and the Government.

“We are very happy to meet the new Minister of Sport. It’s greater see one of our world class players from the Caribbean going on to become a Minister and we are proud of that fact. We took the opportunity to discuss the Goal Project, and other programmes and the possibilities of collaboration between the TTFA and the Government and of course FIFA and CONCACAF,” McIntosh said.

He revealed that Sancho was supportive of the establishment of the National Training Centre in Marabella, close to the Manny Ramjohn Stadium and efforts are ongoing to have the land provided for the construction of the facility.

“The Minister is very supportive of the efforts. We are going to work together to see what can be done very quickly with the Goal Project being one of the immediate initiatives and looking at possible collaborations with community-type activities along with the grassroots and women’s programmes,” McIntosh said. “The Minister confirmed in the meeting the immediate need to have a national technical centre and he understands it especially with his background and that’s a very positive sign for us.

What we have to do now is to ensure that whatever information he needs to get the Goal Project situation dealt with, he gets it so that we can move forward,” he added.

Sancho described the initiative and the partnership with the TTFA as “exciting” and said he was pleased with the way the discussions went on Friday.

“The Goal project is an exciting initiative not just for the development of football locally but across the region. It will create local employment during the construction phases as well as when the facility becomes fully operational. The sectors that will be engaged will run the gambit from athlete support services, hospitality, facilities management and even transportation services,” Sancho stated.

The minister, a former National footballer, did emphasise that it was important that the TTFA continued its efforts to ensure accountability and transparency, particularly during this Goal Project initiative.

“While the potential of the Goal Project is extremely exciting we must continue to ensure that there is accountability and transparency in all transactions involving State funds and resources” FIFA Development officer Gregory Englebrecht, during a two-day visit to Trinidad and Tobago last August, met with officials of the TTFA and made site visits to the potential location for a National Football Training Centre in Marabella, near to the Manny Ramjohn Stadium.

Englebrecht, who is a senior manager for development for the Americas, stated that FIFA approved funding to the tune of US$500,000 for the establishment of a National Training Centre through the FIFA Goal Project.

Englebrecht stated that the funding would be accessible by the TTFA once the association can enter into a lease agreement with the Government for use of the property.

“FIFA makes available US$500,000 which can be invested into the project. We have certain conditions and one of them is that the property has to be a lease agreement, usually with Government, for use of the property for a minimum of 25-30 years so that it can be developed and that it will benefit football in the country for a long period.

“The location is close to the Manny Ramjohn Stadium which is a quite a large area with capacity for four to five fields. This is very good and if the TTFA can coordinate with the Government all the arrangements and paperwork necessary to get access to this area, then we can help them develop it into a very useful modern facility for Trinidad and Tobago football,” Englebrecht stated.


Twitter blamed for jamming Olympic information during cycle road race

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By Andrew Warshaw at the Main Press Centre on the Olympic Park in London


In the first broadcasting controversy of London 2012, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) pledged today that the problems which beset yesterday's men's cycle road race were "teething troubles" which would not be repeated.

The BBC and other broadcasters registered concerns with the IOC about a lack of key timing data that left millions of viewers baffled and unable to follow the race properly.

The IOC's broadcasting arm, Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), provides TV pictures to networks around the world.

But for large periods of time yesterday there was no information about the gaps between the various teams with OBS unable to supply crucial information to commentators.

With around one million people lining the roads for the race networks became jammed by too much tweeting, preventing organisers from receiving crucial timing and positional updates.

As a result, said IOC spokesman Mark Adams, crucial GPS data could not be received.

He said that OBS was now attempting to disperse its communications onto other networks so that information could be received.

"From my understanding one network was oversubscribed and OBS are trying to spread the load to other providers," said Adams.

"We don't want to stop people engaging in social media and sending updates, but perhaps they might consider only sending urgent updates.

"Of course, if you want to send something, we are not going to say 'Don't, you can't do it', and we would certainly never prevent people.

"It's just [a case of] if it's not an urgent, urgent one, please take it easy."

Adams said talks had taken place late last night and early this morning in attempt to solve the issue.

"We are taking action on a number of things," he said.

"It's a network issue, teething troubles, and it is that which we are working on."

St Kitts/Nevis' Williams sent home

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St. Kitts & Nevis sprinter Tameka Williams has been sent home from the London Olympics by her team for a potential drug violation.

Williams had been using a substance which was "clearly oyesteron Sunday.

Knight said Williams had not tested positive, but the team acted after consulting with the World Anti-Doping Agency "to find out about the product."

"In discussions with our team management, she volunteered to them that she had been using a particular substance which, when we did our own investigations, we considered to be outside the accepted medical code," Knight said.

Williams told team officials about using the substance — which the team has not disclosed — in a pre-Olympics training camp.

"It was a matter of the management of the team doing their due diligence," Knight said.

The 22-year-old Williams had qualified for the 100 and 200 metres, and gave samples for anti-doping tests at national Olympic trials last month.

"It was not based on any positive drug test. She turned up a clean test," Knight said.

Williams marched at the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday as the only woman in a seven-member team from the Caribbean islands, who are all track sprinters. The best known is five-time Olympian Kim Collins.

Knight said St Kitts team officials sought expert advice in London before acting.

"We wanted to consult with the anti-doping fraternity," he said. "We are a very tiny country with limited knowledge of these things."

Bassarath slams CPL ‘disrespect’

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Azim Bassarath, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) believes their will be no tangible benefit to local cricket from this country hosting seven matches in the upcoming Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

In a media release, Bassarath also argued that the US $4.2 million gifted to the foreign owners of the regional competition could be better spent on supporting home grown talent.

Bassarath also expressed his displeasure at the treatment meted out by the CPL organisers who last week launched the 2015 edition of the tournament in Port-of-Spain but left out the local board.

“It was yet another demonstration of the lack of respect that the CPL has for regional cricket boards who are responsible for the growth and development of the local game yet are locked out of all that they have to offer,” said Bassarath.

He said over the past four years, the TTCB faced an uphill battle to access funds earmarked by the Government for cricket development and assistance of the national senior team.

Bassarath said the TTCB recently met with new Minister of Sport Brent Sancho and was pleased with the way the discussions went insisting that the national cricket organisation has not been going to Government “cap in hand”.

“We have a track record of accountability and transparency and won the ‘Best Sports Administration of the Year’ award on several occasions. What we have been making representation for is what was promised us and which we believe we deserve,” said Bassarath. He said that over the past several years TT cricket has put the country on the international map as local players have excelled on the international stage for both their country and overseas franchises.

Bassarath said this has been achieved while more than TT $24 million in funds due to the organisation for national development and preparation of the TT Red Force for the Champions League T20 tournament for four years has as yet remained unpaid.

He said that it was a slap in the face of the local game and its administrators for taxpayers’ money to be funnelled to foreign investors who are exploiting the skills and talent of a legion of local cricketers nurtured and cultivated by the TTCB.

Bassarath said he remembered clearly at the launch of the CPL that the investors publicly stated that they would not be approaching regional governments for funding to stage their competition.

“It was stated then that their sponsors for the six teams will come from India and we were all persuaded that this would be the case which has turned out to be not true at all. Regional cricket boards are the ones being done a great disservice,” Bassarath fumed.

He also made reference to a proposal that the TTCB made to the previous Minister of Sport Dr Rupert Griffith requesting assistance for 191 clubs who participate at all levels of the local game.

The expected cost of the exercise was close to TT $5 million per season and this would have covered the most important aspects of enabling the teams to participate in competitions and help strengthen the clubs at the grassroots level.

“We are hoping that the new Minister will take up this initiative as it will impact 191 communities in Trinidad and Tobago and the benefits will be innumerable not transient and miniscule like what the CPL promises,” said Bassarath.


Alex Kelham: Agenda 2020 behind the headlines

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Faster, higher, stronger: progress is hard-wired in to the Olympic ideal. So it follows that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has unanimously agreed a new "'strategic roadmap" to carry the Olympic Games forward through the 21st century.

The Agenda 2020 initiative put forward by IOC President Thomas Bach in December 2014 included forty (20+20) "recommendations". Their aim being better promoting the Games and Olympism, particularly to youth, strengthening the role of athletes, good governance, ethics, and reform of the IOC.

These recommendations have garnered considerable column inches. The media had generally focused on a handful of the recommendations including: the addition of protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to the Olympic Charter (Recommendation 14); the potential for multi-city or even multi-country bids to host the Games (Recommendation 1); and a change in emphasis in the sports programme with the removal of the 28 sport cap for the Summer Games but instead limiting the number of events and participants (Recommendations 9 and 10).

However, very little has been written about the impact that implementation of some of the recommendations will have on commercial rights and use of the Olympic brand. Some of these recommendations are relatively subtle and simply follow what Organising Committees of the Olympic Games (OCOGs) have already been doing.

Others, like the proposal for an "Olympic Channel" could, however, have as profound an impact as the introduction of the IOC "TOP" global sponsorship programme did in 1985. The latter is now a $1billion per quadrennial programme which supports the Olympic Movement and provides a worldwide marketing platform for the 10 TOP sponsors.

An observation before looking more closely at these commercially-focused recommendations: while the focus of the media reports may be elsewhere, the identity of the individuals chosen to lead the relevant IOC Working Groups suggests that these issues were far from peripheral in the eyes of the IOC. The Working Group dedicated to the Olympic Channel was chaired by President Bach himself.

President Bach's recommendation to launch an Olympic Channel is ambitious, but frankly obvious, and probably essential if the IOC is to achieve its aim of better engaging with youth and securing the future of the movement. The Channel will not be alone in this space, with others already ahead of the game.  The International World Games Association launched a YouTube channel last year and SportAccord aired its "Sports United" joint venture with Euronews in January. However, compared with the Olympic Channel's aspirations, these are relatively small fry. The proposals suggest the Olympic Channel will be far more commercial, with a budget of over half a million dollars for its first seven years. So what will this investment produce?

It is not proposed that the Olympic Channel will carry live coverage of the Games - the rights holding broadcasters (RHBs) have invested very considerable sums for the exclusive broadcast rights and would have something to say about that. Instead the content will be historic, including previous Games footage, educational, and promotional, highlighting "Olympism in Action", for example. It is also proposed that coverage of Olympic Sports which don't otherwise have a broadcast platform could be featured, making the channel the "home of Olympic Sport". The intention is to give Olympic fans the opportunity to engage with Olympic Sport 365 days a year, rather than 16 days once each quadrennial.

While this sounds great, there will be significant challenges. Lawyers will have to carefully examine the extent of the exclusivity already granted to RHBs and, if not managed carefully, RHB's may feel their investment is threatened by the Channel. The IOC's sponsorship model will also have to be considered in a new light: the Olympic Games famously provide "clean" venues, free of advertising. Even the IOC website remains advert-free for now.

But it appears that this approach will not be taken with the Olympic Channel. There are indications that the Channel could be a platform for TOP sponsors to air branded content about their activations, as well as being offered regular commercial slots. But will the IOC accept advertising from outside the TOP family?

At the moment it appears the Olympic Channel will be a single global platform. Will OCOG or National Olympic Committee (NOC) sponsors, who are normally restricted to domestic visibility in the host/home country, be given any opportunities to advertise on the channel? And if carrying coverage of other events to promote Olympic Sports outside the Games, how will the IOC deal with the sponsors of such events?

Will TOP sponsors accept that their competitors, perhaps paying relatively small fees to become title sponsors of a minority sport event, could gain global profile on the "Olympic Channel"?

Recommendation 34 states that the IOC will develop a global licensing programme. This will cover an "Olympic Collection (five-rings plus vision value message), Olympic Heritage Collection (previous Games editions), and Olympic Games Programmes (future Games editions)". This sounds uncontroversial and the purists will be pleased with the emphasis "on promotion rather than on revenue generation".

However, OCOGs and NOCs which currently run their own domestic licensing programmes will no doubt be wondering what impact a global programme will have on their sales. This will also be of great interest to sportswear brands, such as Adidas and Nike which sponsor NOCs, with the view not only of gaining an association with the Olympic team but also to selling Olympic-branded products to the general public.

‎Sponsors may also raise their eyebrows at Recommendation 36: "Extend access to the Olympic brand for non-commercial use". Listed in the Recommendations without further explanation, this appears to be a fairly cavalier approach. However the IOC's "Context and Background" document does contain caveats which may offer some comfort:

"- Prioritise non-commercial use/entities, based on contribution to the Olympic Movement/Olympic Games.

- Maintain balance between inclusiveness and integrity of the brand, to avoid fragmentation of the brand message.

- Continue to protect TOP Partners against ambush and unauthorised use of Olympic IP.‎"

Recent OCOGs have successfully established non-commercial licensing programmes, such as the London 2012 Inspire Mark. This was a variation of the London 2012 logo, without the Olympic rings, which was granted to non-commercial entities running sport, social and cultural projects which were inspired by the Games and promoted the Olympic values. The Inspire Mark is quoted as a possible model for adoption by the IOC.

However, no mention is made of the detailed vetting, licensing and approval processes which London 2012 undertook to ensure that there were no sponsor conflicts or ‎misuse of the brand. Current sponsors of the Olympic Movement will be keen to ensure that such rigour is maintained.

Other Recommendations emerging from the Working Group on "Strategic review of sponsorship, licensing and merchandising" seeks to help NOCs with their marketing efforts and their domestic team sponsorships. They also seek to encourage TOPs to engage with NOCs and to promote Olympism at the local level. Such recommendations emphasise that TOPs are more than simply sponsors; they are "The Olympic Partners".

Finally, it is worth returning to Recommendation 1 and ‎considering the impact of the Games being hosted in multiple cities, or even multiple countries. The Recommendation appears to recognise that there will always be a primary "host city" but provides for the involvement of other cities or "in exceptional cases" other countries (although only for geographical or sustainability reasons).

It seems inevitable that the IOC will demand the same standards and guarantees from all Local, State and Federal Governments that are involved. One such guarantee relates to the protection of the Olympic brand and the prevention of ambush marketing. This has led to the passing of specific legislation in the host countries of past Games, such as the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 in the UK, and the Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act 2007 in Canada ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Passing and implementing such legislation is no simple matter. For example, the introduction of detailed legislation to protect against ambush marketing at Rio 2016 has been delayed by the political landscape of Brazil.

The idea of having to go through the same process for two countries, ensuring consistency in law and enforcement, is a challenge which will no doubt give the IOC and future OCOG lawyers a headache. Parliamentary scrutiny in democratic countries means that even if two co-operating Governments sought to ensure similar provisions were initially proposed, they are ultimately likely to end up with significant differences in law.

Sponsors may be happy to accept a degree of inconsistency, provided the same fundamental protection is in place. However, there is a concern that doubling the legislative burden could simply deter these special measures entirely.

Interestingly, despite UEFA's demands for protection to be in place for football's Euro Championships in 2020, the multi-city/country model for that event - it will be hosted in 13 cities across Europe - has perhaps led to a dilution in protection. For example, there is no promise from the UK Government to implement anti-ambush legislation when it hosts the semi-finals and finals of the competition in London. Would a dual-country Olympic Games suffer the same fate?

So, while the focus of the media reports may be elsewhere, sponsors, broadcasters and those interested in commercial rights issues should watch with keen interest how these recommendations are implemented. Like an athlete in training though, the challenges and hard work that the recommendations will necessitate will surely have positive results in the long run.

Alex Kelham is the head of Lewis Silkin's Sports Group, where she helps clients focus on managing, exploiting and protecting their commercial rights. She was previously the senior lawyer for brand protection at London 2012. A former swimmer, she won a gold medal and two silvers at the 1994 Commonwealth Games for England at Victoria 1994.