Inside Lines: Pain in Spain as champions' win becomes TV no-show


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The Independent Online

While millions tuned in to watch the tedious formality of England's five-goal World Cup qualifying victory over San Marino on Friday night there was pain in Spain, where no one got to see the champions continue their defence by beating Belarus 4-0 in Minsk.

It was economically depressed Spain's national day and a public holiday, but none of the cash-strapped major Spanish TV companies (Television Española, Mediaset and Antena 3) were willing to pay the €1.4 million (£1.13m) demanded by Sportfive, the German rights holder, to screen the match. It was the first time a national game had not been screened live on TV since 1983. And radio listeners had to make do with a second-hand commentary as five Spanish radio companies also declined to fork out €25,000 to Sportfive.

Instead they described the action from their Minsk hotel rooms, less than a kilometre from the stadium.

Cold cuts For Olympians

Many who contributed to Britain's glorious summer will soon be waking up to the reality of a cold winter. Cuts to be made by the funding body UK Sport in December under a "no compromise" policy mean that only those Olympic sports which can demonstrate they will qualify for Rio 2016 are likely to receive any of the £508m the Government have pledged for sport. UK Sport's chief, Liz Nicholl, admits: "The sports that are likely to multi-medal will be our top priority."

Lancing the boil

For those of us who worked in journalism in Leeds in the Sixties and Seventies, revelations about Jimmy Savile are no shock. Rumours of what he got up to at the local infirmary were relentlessly pursued but lips were sealed. There are parallels with the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. Here was a seemingly untouchable icon, but many were convinced he was at it. One who said so, Paul Kimmage, is being sued in a Swiss court by the International Cycling Union for defamation after claiming Armstrong "represented the cancer of doping" in the sport. He rests his case.

Brown belt

Colour change at the top in British Judo, where Kerrith Brown has replaced Densign White as chairman. Both are black, so judo remains a rarity in being headed by someone from an ethnic minority. It is also surely the only sport with a boss who has failed a drugs test – Brown, 50, a GB bronze-medallist at the 1984 Olympics, was disqualified in Seoul four years later for using the diuretic furosemide.

Punch line for Khan

Amir Khan has got through more trainers than Mo Farah's feet. After two successive defeats he embarks on No 4, the American Virgil Hunter, saying he was fed up playing second fiddle to Manny Pacquiao under predecessor Freddie Roach, whose parting shot was "keep him away from punchers".

Khan reckons he will get more hands-on coaching from Hunter, despite the San Francisco-based defence specialist's chief charge being the unbeaten world super-middleweight champion Andre Ward. An Olympic gold medallist in Athens when Khan won his silver, Ward labels himself "Son of God".

Not much doubt in the pecking order there, then. Khan's own resurrection against Carlos Molina in Los Angeles on 15 December is awaited with interest.

Ladies' first

Boxing's first female Olympic champion, Nicola Adams will make history again tomorrow when attending the Boxing Writers' Club annual dinner at London's Savoy Hotel. For the first time in their 61-year history the Club are allowing women to break bread with them. The move is a timely one, especially as the principal speaker will be Charlotte Leslie MP, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Boxing Group.