The Big Deal Weekly: Threat of legal action over dry World Cup, bad boys Beckham and Ronaldo, sports stars named in FTX class action, AFL draft as Tasmania inch closer and Tredders' huge betting call
Newsletter No. 11: November 21, 2022
Welcome to The Big Deal!
Before we get in to this week’s wrap, a quick heads up that we’ve got one of Australia’s first big ‘athlete brands’, AFL legend Anthony Koutoufides, coming up on The Big Deal podcast this week.
Now, let’s rip into it .. after a rather dusty and dry start to the World Cup in Qatar which saw the host nation end the first day with a very dubious place in history.
IN THIS WEEK’S WRAP OF THE BIG DEALS
Dry start to World Cup after beer backflip
Beckham brand battered by Qatari cash
Red Devils see red over rogue Ronaldo
Sports stars named in FTX class action suit
NAB ends long association with AFL draft
Tasmania inches ever closer to AFL dream
ATP prize pool raised by record amount
Judge home run ball going to auction
Trouble for Brentford striker a sure bet
Time to ban the betting companies - Tredrea
Ricciardo split second costs Aston Martin
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DRY START TO WORLD CUP AFTER BEER BACKFLIP
“We want beer .. we want beer,” the crowd chanted at the World Cup opener between Qatar and Ecuador.
But there was none. Not alcoholic beer anyway.
Qatar banned alcohol sales in its stadiums just two days before the opening match.
The decision, which is believed to have been driven by the country’s ruling family, immediately jeopardised the A$112 million contract between FIFA and InBev, brewer of the tournament’s official beer, Budweiser.
The brewery and beer have a relationship with the FIFA World Cup that goes back 35 years.
Bud Zero, an alcohol-free beer, will continue to be sold in the grounds for around £7 (A$12.50).
But the threat of legal action now looms large over FIFA for breach of contract.
Conrad Wiacek, head of sports analysis at GlobalData, said the development was a body blow for the governing body.
“Qatar’s decision to ban all alcohol around the grounds for the upcoming FIFA World Cup just days before it begins presents an illusion that FIFA is not in control of its own tournament and risks alienating Budweiser—a key sponsor and long-term partner of the governing body,” he said in an email.
In 2014, FIFA bulldozed the Brazilian government into allowing alcohol sales inside World Cup stadiums.
Jerome Valcke, the former General Secretary of FIFA, said at the time: “Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we’re going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that’s something we won’t negotiate. The fact that we have the right to sell beer has to be a part of the law.”
It seems times have since changed.
If angry soccer fans were demanding retribution in the form of some World cup karma, it arrived with the home side also scoring a zero in the tournament’s opening match against Ecuador.
The South Americans won 2-0, leaving Qatar with the unfortunate title of becoming the first hosts in World Cup history to lose their opening match.
Ecuadorian fans left the stadium happy, yet angry and sober all at once.
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BECKHAM BRAND BATTERED BY QATARI CASH
Manchester United legend David Beckham may have severely tarnished his own reputation with reports he has taken Qatari cash to become the western world’s poster boy for the World Cup.
The report says Beckham is being paid an eye-watering £150 million (A$267 million) for the 10-year deal.
The 47-year-old has long been an icon for football, fashion, style as well as the gay community.
Paradoxically, homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and carries a jail sentence.
The middle east country also has a deplorable human rights record with reportedly thousands of migrant workers losing their lives in the building of the country’s World Cup stadiums over the past decade.
Former Socceroo Craig Foster told Channel 10’s The Project Beckham’s reputation had forever been tarnished by his decision to work for the Arab state.
“I think it already has,” Foster said.
“Because to now be able to promote Qatar and say outwardly that it's a fantastic place to come without mentioning the criminalisation and the oppression of the LBGTIQ community, that's clearly contrary to all the statements he's made in the last 20 years.”
British comedian Joe Lycett has already followed through on a promise to shred £10,000 in banknotes which he would have donated to charity, had the former United prodigy cut ties with the Qataris by the start of the tournament.
RED DEVILS SEE RED OVER ROGUE RONALDO
Manchester United is considering suing one of its favourite sons as the Old Trafford legacy of Cristiano Ronaldo grows more and more tainted.
The Red Devils have told the 37-year-old not to return after the World Cup following an explosive interview with Piers Morgan where he was critical of the club and manager Erik ten Hag.
Ronaldo’s contract expires in June but United is now seeking an immediate termination on the grounds of gross misconduct which the Portuguese star is threatening to challenge.
The club wants a swift resolution to the matter but hasn’t ruled out court action if Ronaldo refuses to go quietly.
Ronaldo is United’s highest paid player earning in the order of £515,000 per week (A$918,000).
If his contract is terminated before the start of the new year, he stands to forego at least £13 million (A$23 million) but could seek a new club in the January transfer window.
SPORTS STARS NAMED IN FTX CLASS ACTION SUIT
Some of American sport’s biggest stars have been named in an $US11 billion (A$16.5 billion) class action suit for misrepresenting failed crypto exchange FTX.
Founder Sam Bankman-Fried has also been named along with seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady, four-time NBA championship winner Steph Curry and NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.
The Golden State Warriors were also named in the action along with Japanese-born LA Angels star Shohei Ohtani and a string of high-profile celebrities.
It is alleged they took “advantage of unsophisticated investors from across the country”, “made numerous misrepresentations” and “controlled, promoted, assisted in, and actively participated” in the affairs of FTX which collapsed last week after being valued at A$48 billion at the start of the year.
The suit described FTX as “truly a house of cards, a Ponzi scheme where the FTX entities shuffled customer funds between their opaque affiliated entities, using new investor funds obtained through investments in the YBAs and loans to pay interest to the old ones and to attempt to maintain the appearance of liquidity”.
The Miami Heat and the Mercedes Formula One team were among the numerous sporting teams that have lost sponsorship deals after the exchange’s collapse.
NAB ENDS LONG ASSOCIATION WITH AFL DRAFT
This week’s AFL national draft will be the final one sponsored by NAB.
The bank will also end its ties sponsoring Victoria’s under 18 competition, the “NAB League”, as well as the AFL Academy program, the national under 18 and under 16 championships and the draft combine.
It will however retain an association with the game, having extended its commitment to the AFLW competition for a further six years earlier this season.
The draft will be held over two nights on November 28-29 with the Giants eventually finishing with the number one pick after a bumper four-way trade that saw last year’s number one, Jason Horne-Francis, leave North Melbourne for Port Adelaide.
Top 20 draft picks are paid $105,000 in their debut season as well as $4000 per game.
Picks 21-40 are paid $95,000 with the balance paid $90,000 and rookies $85,000.
Under the current CBA, top 20 draft picks who play at least 18 games in their debut season are then paid a base rate of $140,000 in their second season, as well as $5000 per match.
There are also bonuses of up to $12,000 if they play 15 games in their second season.
Port Adelaide list manager Jason Cripps recently told The Big Deal that the “bust” rate inside the top 10 - a selected player not delivering on expectation - was as high as 50 per cent.
TASMANIA INCHES EVER CLOSER TO AFL DREAM
Tasmanian premier Jeremy Rockliff has gone to socials to spruik his delight at what now appears the certain and long overdue arrival of a team from the Apple Isle in the national competition.
Rockliff’s media arm quoted him as saying: “I have some news to share with you all before it hits the press. We have reached an in principal agreement on the key commercial terms to bring a Tasmanian team into the AFL. In our colours, singing our song...”
“Some more work still needs to be done, but make no mistake, we will get our standalone team and finally take our rightful place in the national league.”
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan confirmed the “in-principle” agreement had been reached to make Tasmania the 19th team but exactly when it would enter the competition remains unclear.
The Tasmanian government is stumping up $12 million over 12 years as well as $60 million towards a high-performance and administration base with Macquarie Point, just a short walk from the Hobart CBD, chosen as the site.
ATP PRIZE POOL RAISED BY RECORD AMOUNT
Roger Federer might be wishing he had 10 more years left in his 41-year-old legs after the ATP announced the biggest increase in prize money in its history.
The 20.7 per cent jump is worth an extra US$37.5 million and takes the 2023 season’s total prize pool to a record US$217.9 million.
Much of the increase is due to the expansion of three Masters 1000 tournaments from eight days to 12.
There will also be a bonus pool of US$21.3 million next season to reward a larger group of the game’s top performing players.
And there will also be more cash flying around the Challenger circuit with prize money boosted by a very tasty 75 per cent to US$21.1 million.
ATP chairman Andrew Gaudenzi said: “Our players are world-class athletes and it’s our priority to ensure they’re compensated accordingly. These record increases in 2023 are a strong statement for the ATP Tour and highlights our commitment to raising the bar in tennis.”
JUDGE HOME RUN BALL GOING TO AUCTION
The baseball that Yankees slugger Aaron Judge hit out of the park for his record 62nd home run this season will go to auction on November 29.
Goldin Auctions have set the opening bid at US$1 million on behalf of the fan who caught the ball with Cory Youmans having already turned down offers of up to US$3 million.
There is belief the ball could become the most expensive in history .
That was the ball Mark McGwire hit for his record 70th homer of the 1998 season that, including commission, was sold for US$3.05 million in 1999.
Incredibly, the McGwire ball was revalued two years ago at as low as US$250,000 - a drop in value of 92 per cent.
With Goldin’s 20 per cent commission factored in, a winning bid of US$3 million for the Judge baseball will cost the buyer US$3.6 million.
TROUBLE FOR BRENTFORD STRIKER A SURE BET
Prolific Brentford striker Ivan Toney is facing a lengthy ban after being charged with 232 breaches of the Football Association’s betting laws.
The 26-year-old is third on the list of goals scored this season with 10 behind Erling Haaland (18) and Harry Kane (12).
The charges relate to breaches that occurred between February 2017 and January 2021.
Players in England are banned from making any type of bet on the game, or asking others to do so for them.
England and Newcastle defender Kevin Trippier was banned for 10 matches and fined £70,000 in 2020 after it was revealed he had shared information about his impending transfer to Atletico Madrid with friends.
That was despite an appeal made to FIFA which was ultimately rejected, lodged on the grounds that he had not benefitted financially from his actions.
Toney must respond to the charges by November 24.
A statement from Brentford said: “The club has been in discussion with Ivan and his legal representatives about this matter and those conversations will continue privately. We will make no further comment until the matter has been completed.”
Toney’s goals have spearheaded the Bees to 10th in the premiership but a lengthy suspension could be devastating to their survival hopes in a tight table which sees them sitting just six points clear of the relegation zone with well over half of the season to still be played.
TREDREA: TIME TO BAN THE BETTING COMPANIES
The Big Deal’s Warren Tredrea has turned his guns on gambling in sport, declaring its time to ban betting companies from sporting sponsorships.
“Arguably right now gambling is far worse that what smoking ever was for sport,” Tredrea said.
“We talk about mental health, addiction, financial loss, it splits family homes, it breaks up the family dynamic.
“We see sporting clubs particularly AFL, NRL the whole lot they want to be these industry leaders.
“I’d love to say to them, okay, no more gambling partnerships and no more live gambling ads around the game.
“I know that is massive but at the end of the day, I think the gain would be far greater.”
Tredrea admitted it would leave an immediate hole in the revenues of sporting organisations and clubs but is adamant the benefits are worth it.
“Tell me why the AFL needs gambling revenue? They don’t. They just signed the biggest TV deal ever and if they players took marginally less money, I think we’d be better for it. It’s not all about the dollar, you’ve got to be a community, you’ve got to be a wise community.”
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RICCIARDO SPLIT SECOND COSTS ASTON MARTIN
How often is the battle for ninth and tenth in any sport worth $18 million?
That was the stake in what may have been Daniel Ricciardo’s final Formula One race in Abu Dhabi on the weekend.
Ricciardo, driving a McLaren for the last time, held off Sebastian Vettel and his Aston Martin to finish ninth, to finish 0.63 of a second ahead of his former team-mate.
The result left Aston Martin tied on 55 points and in seventh place in the constructor standings behind Alfa Romeo, which finished sixth on countback.
Both were a whopping 704 points adrift of winners Red Bull.
Yet that fraction of a second cost Aston Martin US$12 million (A$18 million) in prize money.
Ricciardo confirmed after the race that a Red Bull return next season as a reserve driver was likely but stressed he would not be attending every race.
“Otherwise, I may as well be on the grid somewhere,” Ricciardo said.
“I made it clear that I need some time off for myself to get away a little bit. But I’ll be around and try to stay involved.”
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