THE TICKER: Klitschko asks IOC for Russian ban in 2024; U.S. men’s soccer team paves way for equal-pay agreement with women; cork knocks out Giro winner Girmay!

Ukraine's Wladimir Klitschko on Piers Morgan Uncensored (Photo: screenshot from YouTube)

Plus: Olympic Winter Games 2030: Winter Games in Salt Lake City would have $3.9 billion in economic impact = European Games: 2023 host agreement signed with Krakow = World University Games: Interesting agreement with World Games for future cooperation = Athletics: Radio Jamaica identifies Swiss sprinter in Lira doping case = Basketball: FIBA removes Russian and Belarus from more competitions = Bobsled & Skeleton: Ferriani to run unopposed for fourth term = Cross Country Skiing: FIS committee agrees to equalize distances for men and women = Skating: ISU adds rule proposal for extra powers in case of a future war = SCOREBOARD => Cycling: Dainese wins 11th stage sprint to Reggio Emilia = Ice Hockey: Canada, Switzerland, Finland and Sweden still undefeated in IIHF men’s Worlds = Swimming: World leader in women’s 100 m Free at Australian Nationals ●

The latest news, notes and quotes from the worldwide Five-Ring Circus:


Ukraine’s Atlanta 1996 boxing gold medalist and former professional world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, now 46, pushed for the International Olympic Committee – meeting this week – to ban Russia from the Paris 2024 Games now.

Speaking on Tuesday’s syndicated “Piers Morgan Uncensored” show, he explained that removing Russia’s athletes from international competitions is an important part of an isolation strategy he supports (our transcription, with inserts for readability):

“On the economical side: isolation of Russia – on different points of it: gas, oil, coal, no ships can park at any ports – they should understand that the world is against this senseless war, against not just with wording and sanctions, but in reality nothing [but isolation].

“Athletes? Next Olympic Games? I think that IOC should ban the Russian team now. The war is going on, they cannot participate at next Olympic Games, they cannot participate at any athletic events because this war is represented by Russia. So athletes [are] representing Russia, and there is definitely connection.

“And I believe that this is going to be the message and is exactly the answer for the question, ‘What would you say to Mr. Putin?’ It’s really saying [talk] it’s cheap now.

“Actions speaks louder than words. Isolation. Isolation. And this isolation speaks louder than any line and any word because isolation is painful. Yes, it’s going to be painful for athletes, it’s going to be painful for economy, it’s going to be painful for everybody and anybody involved with Russia.”

“[Even those involved] Silently. Trading with Russia, supporting them financially in this trade, because the money that Russia is getting and filling up their budget, they’re getting and producing more weapons and financing their soldiers that today are killing us Ukrainians. And that must be stopped with isolation. And athletes is not an exception.”

Klitschko’s brother, Vitali, also a multi-time heavyweight champion, was elected Mayor of Kyiv in 2014 and has been highlighted in reports from his city during the Russian invasion.


U.S. Soccer announced a breakthrough agreement with the player associations of the men’s and women’s national teams on a collective-bargaining agreement through 2028.

Thanks to the willingness of the men’s team to share its earnings from the 2022 and 2026 FIFA World Cups, an “equal pay” agreement was reached. The U.S. women’s labor agreement ended in 2021 and the men had been operating from the terms of an expired agreement from 2018.

The new format is a major change from prior agreements for the Women’s National Team, whose contracts had included (1) national team salaries from U.S. Soccer, rather than game-based payments, and (2) National Women’s Soccer League salaries paid by U.S. Soccer. Now:

“For friendly games, players on the USWNT and USMNT will be paid identical roster appearance fees and performance payments, based on the outcome of the match and the rank of the opponent, with identical tiering structures. Players not on the game roster will earn the equivalent of an appearance fee for their participation in a Senior National Team camp.

“For official competitions, including the World Cup, USWNT and USMNT players will earn identical game appearance fees. For official competitions other than the World Cup, USWNT and USMNT players will earn identical game bonuses.”

Appearance fees are set at $8-10,000 a game and game bonuses from $5-14,000 for a win and $2-4,000 for a draw, depending on the opponent or tournament.

A major stumbling block had been the wide gap in FIFA World Cup payments between the men’s and women’s events. Under the new agreement:

“U.S. Soccer has agreed with both the USWNTPA and the USNSTPA to pool and share a portion of prize money paid for the teams’ participation in the 2022 Men’s World Cup (MWC) and the 2023 Women’s World Cup (WWC). In this arrangement, the players on the 2022 MWC roster and on the 2023 WWC roster will be paid an equal percentage of the collective prize money paid by FIFA for the teams’ participation and performance in their respective World Cups. The same will occur with the 2026 MWC and the 2027 [WWC].”

The federation will receive 10% of the 2022-2023 World Cup prize monies and the teams will split 90%. For the 2026-2027 World Cups, the split will be 20% for the federation and 80% for the players. The federation will get 30% from non-World Cup international competitions, such as the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Further, the three entities agreed on a commercial revenue split in which the teams will be paid 10% of the sponsorship and television rights to national-team games above $55 million and 15% above $75 million, and that share will be split 50/50 between the men and the women’s teams. U.S. Soccer will also share ticket revenue from home matches controlled by the federation: $5.06 per ticket from 2023-26 and $5.75 in 2027-28.

The federation also committed to equal working conditions in a variety of areas.

The agreement should end the class-action suit by the USWNT against U.S. Soccer, but must be approved by the plaintiffs and the court.

Observed: Based on the outline of the deal points, much of the credit has to go to the U.S. National Soccer Team Player Association – the men – for agreeing to pool its share of any FIFA World Cup money it wins with the women’s team.

Since the U.S. men returned to the World Cup in 1990, its seven appearances have produced exits in the group stage three times, the round of 16 three times and the quarterfinals once. In the meantime, the women have won the trophy four times, been runner-up once and third twice. Much better.

The men are a long way from seeing any serious money from the FIFA World Cup, so the decision to pool the FIFA prizes with the women’s team makes sense in the short term. Furthermore – and this must be emphasized – this is not rent or meal money for the men’s players, who are employed by clubs all over the world as well as playing for the national team. This is bonus money, and good for them for being the ones who really solved the equal-pay issue with the World Cup.

The women are also finding new freedom in the expansion of women’s club soccer in the U.S. (NWSL) and the rush by major European clubs to expand their women’s programs and hire U.S. players, and feel they do not need salary protection any longer.

But the big winner is U.S. Soccer. It now has a detailed financial footprint of its next six years with its national teams, so it knows its costs. The federation can envision a financial bonanza heading into the 2026 FIFA World Cup to be hosted in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. and now knows what its financial responsibilities to the players will be.

It reached an agreement with the class-action plaintiffs last February to pay $24 million ($22 million to the players) to settle their lawsuit, even though the federation had won a summary judgement against the players in U.S. District Court.

Assuming the deal is accepted by the class-action plaintiffs and is signed off on by the U.S. District Court, the federation will close this difficult chapter with its players and can claim victory – as it is doing today – for creating an equal-pay model.

And for that, they can thank the U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association. Good for them.


● XXVI Olympic Winter Games: 2030 ● A 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City would provide a cumulative economic impact of about $3.9 billion, 30,002 job-years of employment and $2.2 billion of new, direct spending due to the Games.

That last figure is important because it removes displacement of other activities, out-of-state spending and in-state revenue sources. The Games project would bring in $3.2 billion in total spending, with about $1 billion eliminated by displacement and so on and leave $2.2 billion in new spending related to hosting the Games that would not otherwise be there.

With multiplier effects, the Games would be worth $3.9 billion in economic impact all together.

The study, by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute of the University of Utah, also stated that the “Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games (OCOG) budget for a 2030 Games is $1.7 billion (in 2030 dollars).” That’s a lot less than Sapporo’s projected $2.6 billion for a 2030 Games there, but the Utah bid organizers have added a contingency of $200 million and a $250 target for legacy support of sports in Utah, bringing the total to about $2.2 billion, still 15% less than Sapporo’s estimate.

The key to this, of course, is the use of existing facilities already built for the 2002 Winter Games. The study notes:

“Capital investment for the 2002 Games equaled approximately $478.4 million in 2021 dollars; the 2030 Games are expected to require $23.1 million in capital investments.

“The largest investments will be in improvements to the sliding track, a new equipment maintenance building, Nordic lift renovation/replacement, and a sports turf field for Nordic flats at the Utah Olympic Park, plus ski trails, parking and road improvements, and course lighting at Soldier Hollow.”

The study also reviewed the 2002 economic impact figures, updated to 2021, which showed $3.7 billion in direct spending (in 2021 dollars), $1 billion in displacement, so $2.7 billion in new spending, and a total economic impact of $6.5 billion.

Fraser Bullock, the chief executive of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games bid group, told reporters, “[W]e aspire to 2030 but we recognize that everything has to line up for that to happen. And if that doesn’t happen, we certainly would aggressively pursue 2034.”

● III European Games: Krakow 2023 ● The host agreement for the 2023 European Games was executed on Tuesday in Warsaw (POL) with the city of Krakow, the Malopolska Region, the Polish Olympic Committee, and the organizers.

The event will include 26 sports, with 18 sports to use the Euro Games as a qualifier for the Paris 2024 Games. Track & field has not been a feature of the first two European Games, but the European Athletics Team Championships is incorporated into the program this time, a major step up. The expected dates are 21 June-2 July.

Poland’s Minister of Sport and Tourism Kamil Bortniczuk explained that 250 million PLN (~$56.52 million U.S.) has been allocated “that allow for the implementation of the necessary investments in both the field of sport and infrastructure.

The European Games was introduced in 2015 in Baku (AZE) with 30 sports, but only 15 on the program in 2019 in Minsk (BLR). Krakow could be a breakthrough if successful to make the Games more appealing to other western European countries.

● World University Games ● Hardly earth-shaking, but an interesting agreement for mutual cooperation was signed last week by the International University Sports Federation (FISU) and the International World Games Association.

While FISU is mostly concerned with Olympic-sport programs, both organizations can benefit from a higher profile and agreed to “explore possibilities of closer cooperation regarding their respective communication, cooperation, promotion, and marketing.”

This could be something, or it could be nothing. But there are real possibilities here.

● Athletics ● Radio Jamaica reported that the unidentified sprinter alleged to have received drugs from El Paso-based therapist Eric Lira is Swiss sprinter Alex Wilson.

Lira was charged in January with providing performance-enhancing drugs in the first prosecution under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act of 2019. Two athletes were identified in the filings as receiving drugs from Lira, one of which was identified as Nigerian star Blessing Okagbare, now serving a 10-year ban.

The other athlete, according to Radio Jamaica, is Wilson, who was born in Jamaica, but runs for Switzerland, winning a European Championships bronze medal in the 200 m in 2018. He is not shown on the Athletics Integrity List of ineligible persons, but has not competed since 1 July 2021; he has bests of 10.08 and 19.98 from 2019.

Evidence in the Lira case indicates he had a positive drug test in mid-2021, which he blamed on contaminated beef. The Swiss anti-doping authority is handling the inquiry.

● Basketball ● The FIBA Executive Committee confirmed the removal of Russia and Belarus from its competitions, including a ban on FIBA events being held in either country and a ban on Russian or Belarusian individual players or teams in all FIBA 3×3 competitions, or in the 2022 Women’s World Cup, 2023 Men’s World Cup or the 2022 Women’s U-17 World Cup.

For the 2022 Women’s World Cup, Russia will be replaced by Puerto Rico and for the Women’s U-17 World Cup, Serbia will replace Russia.

● Bobsled & Skeleton ● The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) posted its candidates list for the upcoming election at the 2022 Congress in July, with President Ivo Ferriani (ITA) running unopposed after being elected in 2010-14-18.

American Darrin Steele, the incumbent Vice President/Sport, is running for re-election against Spain’s Ander Mirambell.

The elections are scheduled for 15 July.

● Cross Country Skiing ● A major move forward for this discipline, as the FIS Cross-Country Committee agreed to equalize the event distances for men and women.

Most races for women during the 2021-22 World Cup were 10 km and 15 for men. The committee agreed to standardize distances at 10 km and 20 km for most World Cup races. Skiathlons will be held at 20 km (10 km each for Classical and Freestyle) and the occasional marathon race will be held at 50 km. This will be implemented immediately for the forthcoming World Cup season.

An alteration to the 2023 World Championships distances will be requested, but needs the agreements of more stakeholders. The FIS report noted:

“The National Ski Federations, of which the voting members consist, did not go into a long discussion but came with a clear opinion. All up front, the main argument to vote for equal distances was that there should not be any question whether women were capable of racing the same distances as men, as they prove that they physically are capable of doing so already.

“The main argument against was the time that women need to cover the same distance as men and the effective TV time.”

● Cycling ● In an unbelievable bit of bad luck, Eritrean star Biniam Girmay was knocked out of the 2022 Giro d’Italia by a cork!

The accident came during the post-stage celebration of his victory in Stage 10 in Jesi, after he out-sprinted Mathieu van der Poel (NED) to the line for his first Grand Tour stage win. On the podium, the cork from the bottle of Prosecco – an Italian sparkling wine – hit him in the left eye.

His vision returned quickly, but the injury was serious. He posted later:

“I’m also happy now – I was a bit sad about what happened with the champagne. When I came back to the hotel, everyone was super happy, though they were a bit afraid. But when I looked okay, we really enjoyed ourselves.

“But today I will not start the race because my eye still needs some rest, to give more power to the eye. So, I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. I am okay now. See you all soon.”

His team, Intermarche, said in a statement:

“In consultation with the medical and sport staff, the decision has been made that Biniam Girmay will not take part any longer in this Giro d’Italia, which he is leaving with a stage victory, a second place and three other top five finishes. The injury is moving in the right direction but in order not to aggravate it it has been strongly advised to avoid intense activities.”

Girmay left the Tour sitting in 105th place overall, but second in the Sprint standings. His next race is scheduled to be the Brussels Cycling Classic on 5 June.

Overnight, the Giro d’Italia organizers changed the post-race protocol and the Prosecco will be given to the winners already uncorked from now on. Wow.

● Skating ● A late addition to the agenda of the International Skating Union Congress upcoming from 8-10 June has been proposed, giving the ISU Council special authority in case of an “extraordinary event” such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The new section of Rule 104 would provide that:

“[T]he ISU Council may decide to impose exceptional protective measures aimed at preserving the safe, peaceful and regular conduct of the ISU’s activities defined in this Rule in accordance with the ISU’s objective.

“Protective measures may include, without limitation, the temporary suspension of:

“a) the exercise of rights of ISU Members representing countries that caused or contributed to or are otherwise relevantly involved in the Extraordinary Event; and/or

“b) persons who are affiliated to the ISU Members referred to in sub-paragraph a) above and/or citizens of the concerned countries, to the extent they are participating in the ISU’s activities defined in this Rule (including, without limitation, persons who are elected or appointed as members of ISU Bodies/Commissions, athletes, Officials, support personnel); or

“c) any other measure that the ISU deems appropriate in light of the nature and circumstances of the Extraordinary Event.”

In other words, the new rule would allow the ISU Council to suspend Russian and Belarusian athletes, judges, officials, teams and federations. The ISU acted under emergency authority in its rules to act against Russia and Belarus earlier this year, and this new section “will ensure that in the future and under similar circumstances, the ISU Council will be able to act swiftly within well-defined limits, known and accepted by the ISU Members.”


● Cycling ● Stage 11 of the 105th Giro d’Italia was a nice, flat route over 203 km from Santarcangelo di Romagna to Reggio Emilia and ended with the expected mass sprint, won by Alberto Dainese of Italy in 4:19:04.

While Dries De Bondt (BEL) made an early getaway attack, he was reeled in with 5 km left. Colombian star Fernando Gaviria made an early try for the line, but Dainese flew by at the line for his first win in a Grand Tour. Gaviria finished second, ahead of Simone Consonni (ITA) and Arnaud Demare (FRA).

Spain’s Juan Pedro Lopez maintained the overall race lead, now just 12 seconds up on Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz and Portugal’s Joao Almeida.

● Ice Hockey ● The IIHF men’s World Championship continues in Finland with round-robin play, which will continue through the 24th.

In Group B, Sweden and Finland are both 3-0, with the Finns paddling the U.S., 4-1, on Monday, scoring once in the first period and three times in the third, with the first three scores all coming on power plays. The U.S. stands third in the eight-team group with 5 points, ahead of goal-differential with Norway. The top four make the playoffs.

In Group A, Canada and Switzerland are both 3-0 (9 points), with Denmark and Germany at 2-1 (6 points each: both with overtime losses).

● Swimming ● The Australian Nationals started in Adelaide with world-leading marks in the women’s 100 m Freestyle.

Mollie O’Callaghan, Shayna Jack and Meg Harris posted the top three times in the world for 2022, finishing 1-2-3 in the final in 52.49, 52.60 and 53.09.

Rio Olympic men’s 400 m Free champ Mack Horton finished second to 2020 Olympian Elijah Winnington and made the national team after missing out on Tokyo in 2021. The meet continues this week.

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