Sports Ticker: Farrell red card reversal revoked and Earps shirts hit the shelves – a speed-read of commercial updates from the sports world
In a fortnight which saw the football transfer window slam shut and the start of the Rugby World Cup, we bring you updates on QSI's agreement to acquire the World Padel Tour and the re-instatement of the decision to give a red card to Owen Farrell, ruling him out of England's first two matches. We also feature stories on Mary Earps' shirt finally being made available for sale and England women's cricket team having their match fees increased to equal those of the men's team.
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QSI signs agreement with 'Damm' to acquire World Padel Tour
The owners of Paris Saint Germain football club, Qatari Sports Investment (QSI), have recently acquired World Padel Tour (WPT) from Damm (Spanish beermaker) and are set to combine WPT with its own competition platform Premier Padel to create a new global tournament starting next year. The takeover by QSI aims to resolve a power struggle between the incumbent WPT and Premier Padel since both circuits competed against each other to become the go to tournament for padel players. As of March 2023, Premier Padel had secured over 110 leading female players to take part in the tour. Padel is one of the fastest growing sports around the world and combines elements of squash and tennis. Deloitte estimates the value of the padel sector to be roughly €2 billion spanning clothing, equipment and competitions and expects the sport to treble in size over the next three years. The sport's governing body, the International Padel Federation, note that roughly 25 million people around the world enjoy the sport and given its popularity, padel could also become a new Olympic sport which may further attract investor interest.
RE-amendeD card decision for Farrell
Owen Farrell's red card for his tackle on Taine Basham in a World Cup warm-up match against Wales has been re-instated following an appeal by World Rugby. Farrell was initially shown a yellow card in the match against Wales, which was upgraded to a red following a real-time review by the Foul Play Review Officer ("FPRO"). The FPRO operates from a separate location during matches known as the "Bunker". After the match an independent judicial committee overturned the red card decision, leading to some debate over the fitness of the sport's disciplinary process. World Rugby successfully appealed the decision of the independent committee. The Appeal Committee has now determined that the tackle was always illegal, and that the FPRO was correct to upgrade the punishment to a red card. In considering sanction, the Appeal Committee applied World-Rugby's mandatory minimum mid-range entry-point for foul play resulting in contact to the head (a six-match suspension), and ultimately awarded a four-match suspension. It took into consideration Farrell's acceptance of foul play, clear demonstration of remorse and good character. The decision means that Farrell missed England's first match against Argentina and will miss the next match against Japan.
Towards equity in cricket
England women's match fees for internationals players have been increased to equal that of the men's, following a recommendation from the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) report. The landmark report stated that discrimination is “widespread” in English and Welsh cricket, with appearance fees just one cause of the disparity. In fact, it was found that women were paid 25% of men's fees for white-ball cricket and that the average salary for England women is 20.6% of that for England men,. The England women's captain's allowance is 31% of that awarded to the men's captain. ECB chief executive Richard Gould said the standardising of match fees was only the “first step” in a more equal game and to ensure the market also recognises the value of both he men's and women's game. The change reflects the surging popularity of women's sport and the commercial success of the women’s Ashes series this year.
Nike finally hits the target
Nike has faced backlash in recent weeks due to their decision not to make the jersey of England goalkeeper, Mary Earps, despite making the shirts of all the outfield players available. The decision was criticised throughout the World Cup and even more so after Earps was awarded the Golden Glove for her outstanding performance in the tournament. Supporters on social media including former England goalkeeper David Seaman called for Nike to sell the shirts and an online petition reached 150,000 signatures. Earps herself was outspoken in her disappointment and hurt at Nike's decision, which they termed “commercial”. Nike have now released a statement announcing that it had “secured limited quantities of goalkeeper jerseys to be sold” and acknowledged that it had failed to respond quickly enough to public demand during the World Cup tournament. As part of the announcement, Nike stated that they are committed to retailing women's goalkeeping jerseys for major tournaments in the future.
Carlsen and Niemann settle cheating dispute
The scandal rocking the world of elite chess over the past year has finally been resolved. The dispute, as covered in previous Sports Tickers here and here involved rising star Hans Niemann and chess legend Magnus Carlsen. Niemann had filed a $100 million lawsuit against Carlsen, chess.com, and Hikaru Nakamura, claiming he was falsely accused of cheating. Following an investigation by Chess.com which concluded that Niemann “likely cheated” in online matches between 2015 and 2020 but found no evidence of cheating at any in-person games, the lawsuit was dismissed. In the latest development, Chess.com released a statement saying that they have reached an agreement with Niemann to move forward without further litigation, and have re-instated him to Chess.com. Carlsen responded with his own statement, saying he acknowledged and understood the Chess.com report which found no determinative evidence of cheating in the game between the two players, and expressed a willingness to compete with Niemann in future events.
...and finally, classic football kit lovers will remember the Adidas Newcastle United "Newcastle Brown Ale" shirt from the mid-1990s, synonymous with Alan Shearer wheeling away to celebrate yet another goal. Adidas and Newcastle parted ways in 2010 but the two have officially announced that that relationship will begin again from the 2024/25 campaign. The oddity of this announcement is that it was accidentally leaked early in the Amazon Prime documentary "We Are Newcastle United", when club CEO, Darren Eales, travelled to Adidas HQ to seal the deal. Despite the leak, the announcement itself could not have come at a better time in the wake of the UEFA Champions League draw, which saw the Magpies drawn against European giants Borussia Dortmund and AC Milan, as well as nouveau-riche outfit Paris Saint Germain. Toon fans will be hoping to see the current crop of players celebrating goals while donning the new generation of Adidas shirts next season and for many years to come, with the "multi-year" deal now in place.