US Soccer President Resigns After Organization Claims Women Players Have Less Ability Than Men By Joe Lemire March 13, 2020

U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro resigned on Thursday, taking responsibility for a legal filing that “caused great offense and pain, especially to our extraordinary women’s national team players who deserve better.” Vice president Cindy Parlow Cone will serve as interim head.

As part of the ongoing wage discrimination litigation, in which the women’s team is seeking equal pay to the men’s players, U.S. Soccer had submitted a brief arguing that the women had less ability than the men: “The job of the MNT player … Requires a higher level of skill based on speed and strength than does the job of the WNT.” Cordeiro had apologized for the comments on Wednesday and, on Thursday, acknowledged that he “did not have the opportunity to fully review the filing in its entirety before it was submitted, and I take responsibility for not doing so.”

The women are seeking nearly $67 million in back pay, estimated by applying the men’s pay scale to their own accomplishments. The USWNT, which was named SportTechie’s Outstanding Team of the Year in 2019, has won four World Cups, including back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2019, as well as gold medals in the 1996, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Cone played for the national team from 1995 through 2006.

The USWNT players wore their warm-up jerseys inside-out prior to Wednesday night’s match against Japan in the SheBelieves Cup as a protest. Major U.S. Soccer sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Anheuser Busch, Procter & Gamble and Volkswagen all criticized U.S. Soccer’s legal filing.FanDuel Launches Sportsbook in Detroit By Jen Booton March 12, 2020

FanDuel has entered the Michigan sports betting space through a new partnership with MotorCity Casino in Detroit. 

The two-story, brick-and-mortar sportsbook will launch today in anticipation of March Madness. (The NCAA announced on Wednesday that the tournament, which kicks off on March 17, will be played without fans in attendance due to concerns over coronavirus.) 

The FanDuel Sportsbook at MotorCity Casino will feature six betting windows, 67 high-def TVs, one ticker, a VIP area, and 54 self-service IGT PlaySports betting kiosks. 

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It will accept bets on all major U.S. Sports, including baseball, hockey, soccer, football, basketball, golf, boxing and motorsports. (This includes games featuring teams from Detroit.) For compliance, FanDuel, not MotorCity Casino, will administer all core services affecting betting for the sportsbook since the casino is owned by Marian Ilitch, who also owns the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings. 

“Detroit is an incredible sports town—the ‘City of Champions’. As we look to expand our national footprint and bring America’s top sportsbook to more customers across the country, this was a perfect fit,” FanDuel CEO Matt King said in a statement. 

Their partnership is expected to eventually include an online sportsbook as well, though Legal Sports Report says that launch will likely not come to fruition until 2021 due to regulatory hold-ups.NBA Suspends Its Season; College Hoops Fans Won’t Be Allowed to Attend March Madness Games By Matt Gagne March 12, 2020

The NBA has indefinitely suspended its season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, the same day that the World Health Organization upgraded the contagion to a pandemic and President Donald Trump shut down travel to the U.S. From most of Europe for 30 days. The NBA issued a statement Wednesday night, saying that it will use “this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus.”

Earlier in the day, the NCAA announced that its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be played without fans in the venues. The decision, made by NCAA president Mark Emmert, was in line with those made by several other sports organizations in an effort to curb the spread of the virus that has surpassed 1,300 cases across more than 40 U.S. States.

The NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets will play their home games on Thursday and Saturday night with no fans. 

Starting on Thursday, no fans will be allowed at the Big 10 and Big 12 conference basketball tournaments. 

The MLB’s Seattle Mariners will not play home games through the end of March.

Activision Blizzard Esports has canceled its Overwatch League events scheduled for March and April. 

The Ivy League has canceled all spring sports. 

This week’s Indian Wells tennis tournament in California was canceled, and Serie A soccer in Italy was suspended.

This is a fluid story that SportTechie will continue to monitor. Because of the coronavirus, SportTechie’s annual State Of The Industry has moved to a virtual conference setting and will be free to attend. At SOTI, we’ll explore how leagues and teams are adapting to this global disruption and doing their part to help limit the spread of the virus.PointsBet Becomes Official Betting Partner of La Liga North America By Tom Taylor March 11, 2020

Sportsbook operator PointsBet is partnering with La Liga North America to integrate multilingual betting-themed content into La Liga programming in the U.S., and to allow PointsBet to leverage the Spanish soccer league’s IP within its app. The two will also work together to protect the integrity of La Liga games.

“Soccer is growing at a very fast pace in the U.S., and the role that La Liga plays in that growth is important for fans and for brands in the region,” Boris Gartner, CEO of La Liga North America, said in a press release.

PointsBet features both English and Spanish language functionality, which could make its betting app ideally suited to a sports league whose fans will come from both English and Spanish audiences. The partnership will also include a PointsBet Prediction of the Week segment within La Liga’s content, hosted in both languages by Luis Garcia, Jimmy Conrad and Chelsea Cabarcas.

“As an operator that’s in the rare position of owning our technology end-to-end, we are able to move quick and innovate unique features for our customers that enhance their betting, such as being the only sportsbook with deep Spanish language functionality across our entire product,” Johnny Aitken, CEO of PointsBet USA, said in a press release.

This deal is PointsBet’s third with a major sports league. It follows a partnership with the NBA and another with the XFL, both signed in January.Turner Upgrades March Madness Live App for 2020 By Joe Lemire March 11, 2020

Turner Sports is enhancing its NCAA March Madness Live app for this year’s men’s college basketball tournament by enabling the multi-game view on more devices and adding a new feature called “The Catch Up” to quickly summarize previous action.

Last year, March Madness Live had enabled viewers to tune into two concurrent live games on Apple TV, but that functionality has been expanded to Amazon Fire TV and Android TV for 2020. The app, which is managed by Turner Sports in partnership with CBS Sports and the NCAA, saw 25% increases in total streams and hours consumed between 2018 and 2019.

The Catch Up, which is powered by AT&T TV, will show highlights of important moments in each game prior to a fan tuning into the livestream. The premise is similar to what MLB unveiled in 2018 in which viewers can choose to watch a handful of important plays before joining the game in progress.

The Fast Break option—a whip around show highlighting the best live action—returns for the first two weekends of the tournament. The March Madness Live app also once again includes bracket integration to help fans follow their own picks in one experience.Adidas GMR Connects Real-World Soccer Achievements With EA Sports’ Virtual World By Joe Lemire March 10, 2020

A new product developed by Adidas, Google and EA Sports aims to allow soccer players to improve their FIFA Mobile Ultimate Team through real-world performance.

The Adidas GMR is a tech-enabled insole that uses the data capture and machine learning algorithms of Google’s Jacquard tag. The sensor can track a player’s physical movements in games, including metrics such as kicks, shot power, running distance and speed.

The data collected can then enable those who play EA Sports’ FIFA mobile game to reach milestones, compete in challenges and improve their virtual teams. Google’s Jacquard was first available as an insert for certain Levi’s jackets and an Yves Saint Laurent backpack; this is its first foray into sports. 

The Adidas GMR is a gamified entrant into the market for tech-enabled soccer footwear. It follows PlayerMaker, a more serious training device used by English Premier League clubs and national soccer teams.

Two years ago, Brooklyn soccer facility Socceroof envisioned a similar blending of real-world soccer with an online platform. Socceroof planned to place tracking chips on the shoes of every recreational player to make real-world competition feel more like the FIFA video game. But Adidas’s new product is the first to truly combine physical movement with the virtual world.SXSW Cancellation Over Coronavirus Concerns Means eMLS Cup Is Indefinitely Postponed By Joe Lemire March 10, 2020

The cancellation of this year’s South by Southwest conference in Austin means the indefinite postponement of the eMLS Cup, the annual FIFA esports championship tournament for Major League Soccer. SXSW, which was due to begin on Friday, was canceled after the City of Austin declared a local state of disaster over coronavirus concerns.

The eMLS Cup was scheduled for March 21 at SXSW. No make-up date has been announced as the league works through details, which it hopes to reveal in the coming days. SXSW organizers are reportedly hoping to reschedule the international technology, film and music conference, and also considering virtual and online options.

MLS released the following statement through a spokesperson: “The cancellation of SXSW by the City of Austin on Friday has resulted in eMLS Cup—which was an official SXSW event—no longer taking place on March 21 as part of the conference. In the coming days, MLS expects to share updated details regarding our plans for eMLS Cup. As always, our main priority is the well-being of our eMLS competitors, staff and fans.”

Gordon “Fiddle” Thornsberry, who represents FC Cincinnati, won the first two eMLS tournaments of 2020 and currently leads the 12-player pack; he ranks 30th in the world. Cormac “Doolsta” Dooley won all three events on behalf of Philadelphia Union in 2019 and remains in the field in 10th place as the representative of expansion Nashville SC. Brazilian Paul Neto, who plays for Atlanta United, is in second place in the eMLS standings and is 11th in the current world rankings.PGA Tour Live Will Move to ESPN+ From 2022, Linear Broadcasts to Stay on CBS and NBC By Joe Lemire March 10, 2020

The PGA Tour announced a nine-year media deal spanning 2022 to 2030, renewing linear broadcast deals with CBS and NBC and adding ESPN+ as the exclusive new digital home of PGA Tour Live. This was the first time the organization’s television and streaming rights were negotiated simultaneously.

PGA Tour Live debuted in 2015 as a subscription video service offering additional coverage to that available on broadcast television. The package had been available through NBC Sports Gold and Amazon Prime Video Channels. Both of those platforms offered an extra feed covering two featured groups out on the course, shot tracing for every hole and speed rounds allowing viewers to watch 10-minute condensed recaps of each player’s daily round.

The migration to ESPN+, beginning in 2022, will include four concurrent live feeds and coverage from 36 tournaments—of which at least 28 will have four days of coverage. In all, PGA Tour Live will provide more than 4,000 hours of live streaming coverage each year. News that the PGA Tour would begin this relationship with ESPN+ was first reported by the Associated Press in late January.

“We are looking forward to working with the PGA Tour to bring current and future golf fans the next generation of Tour coverage,” Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN president and Disney Media Networks co-chairman, said in a statement. “ESPN+ will offer golf fans unprecedented access and storytelling at an incredible value on the industry’s leading sports streaming platform.”

PGA Tour Live will be part of the ESPN+ base subscription, which also covers Major League Soccer’s out-of-market package, Italian Serie A soccer, UFC fight nights and select MLB and NHL games, among other content.

“The relationship with Disney and ESPN+ gives the Tour the opportunity to expand and diversify audiences, and the Tour and ESPN will work together to bring new and unique content to our fans,” Rick Anderson, PGA Tour chief media officer, added.The BBC Signs Rights to Broadcast Extreme E All-Electric Off-Road Racing in the UK By Jen Booton March 10, 2020

Extreme E has inked a multi-year deal that will bring its races live to a U.K. Audience via the BBC’s media properties. The all-electric off-road racing series is seeking to raise awareness about the impact of climate change through its competition format, with races taking place in different environments. The deal is set to kick off with Extreme E’s debut in January 2021, but the exact length has not been specified.

The first race, the ocean leg, will see all-electric vehicles compete on the beaches of Dakar, Senegal, on Jan. 23-24, 2021. The circuit will then head to Saudi Arabia in March for the desert leg, Nepal in May for the mountain leg, Greenland in August for the glacier leg, and will end in the rainforest in Brazil in October. 

The events will be broadcast live and free across the United Kingdom via the BBC. The U.K. Is a particularly important market since the racing series is headquartered in London and is expected to attract local drivers. British racers Jamie Chadwick and Billy Monger have already signaled their intent to compete for a seat.

“Our goal with Extreme E is to open this innovative new series up to as wide an audience as possible,” says Extreme E’s chief marketing officer Ali Russell, in a statement. “Securing this deal with the BBC is a massive coup in what is a key market for us.”

Russell says the U.K. Has had a groundswell of backing for sustainable technologies and has an “insatiable appetite for world-class motor racing.” Last month, the U.K. Government announced plans to begin banning the sale of new gasoline cars in the country by 2035, five years earlier than a previous commitment.

Extreme E has previously announced rights deals with broadcasters in the U.S., Southeast Asia, Italy, India, New Zealand, Malaysia, Dubai and Belarus.

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