Sydney umpires back Hair
Sydney cricket umpires will wear black ribbons in support of dumped ICC umpire Darrell Hair in this weekend's club matches, their organization said yesterday. The NSW Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association (NSWCUSA) has pledged to continue its support for Hair, a life member and former president of the association, with all umpires at club matches asked to wear the ribbons on Saturday. Hair was dumped from the International Cricket Council (ICC) Elite Panel of umpires after Pakistan lodged a complaint against him for his role in the historic forfeited Oval Test against England in August and demanded an inquiry into his conduct. A statement from the NSWCUSA said the decision to wear black ribbons was aimed at not just showing support, but also "to express concern at a total lack of respect for the role of the umpire by the ICC along with a demise in the idea of playing by the laws."
Yankees win Igawa bid
The New York Yankees won the Major League Baseball bidding process for Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa when the Hanshin Tigers accepted their offer of slightly more than US$26 million on Tuesday. After the bidding closed on Monday, the Tigers were informed of the amount of the high bid, but not which team made it. The New York Mets bid about US$15 million for Igawa, an MLB official said on condition of anonymity because the amounts of losing bids are not disclosed. The Yankees have until midnight New York time on Dec. 28 to negotiate a contract with the 27-year-old left-hander. Igawa is represented by Arn Tellem, also the agent for Yankees left fielder Hideki Matsui.
Chelsea go Chinese
English Premiership champions Chelsea on Tuesday announced that they will launch a new Chinese-language Web site next year as they look to expand their marketing in Asia. Chelsea has signed a deal with China's biggest Internet service, SINA.com to set up the Chinese-language site through their redesigned Web site, www.chelseafc.com. Chelsea's popularity has grown in China since they won their first title in 50 years last year, and they successfully defended it last season. Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon said: "China is a key market for us but our philosophy is to help Chinese football, as well as our own business, and our partnership with SINA will reflect that." Business affairs director Paul Smith added: "This partnership marks the next stage of Chelsea's development in China. Clearly we are becoming more popular and this is the right time to take that to the next level." The club is ranked fourth of all foreign clubs in terms of popularity in China narrowly behind Manchester United and ahead of Barcelona and Real Madrid.