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Old 03-02-2006, 11:10 AM   #1
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Default Dubai events are rich in prize money, richer in politics

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200...03/01/mailbag/
Anyone else find it strange that Agassi is in Dubai this week? When he's always been "Mr. Vegas," loves his hometown, has all his charitable works there and his home, and now there is finally an ATP tournament there where he would be King Supreme of Las Vegas, he opts to play halfway around the world. Was it simply money talking?
-- Diane, N.Y.

Dubai has emerged as a real player on the tennis-scape chiefly for one reason: money. The amount of cha-ching being lavished on players is stunning. The appearance fees are off the charts, rumored to be in the $1 million range for the top names. Prize money is tremendous. Players leave the event with jewelry, watches and, at least in one case, a horse.

What's more, there's a seven-star (yes, seven) hotel not far from the tennis center. If you were a WTA player, would you have been in Memphis last week?

In the case of Agassi, we hear that he committed to Dubai long in advance (he was eliminated by Bjorn Phau on Wednesday). But yes, especially, in a culture in which changes in scheduling and last-minute pull-outs are commonplace, it's more than a little disappointing that he is missing the ATP's inaugural event in his hometown to make a mint half a world away.

The big money makes it all the easier for both tours to overlook some weighty -- and uncomfortable -- sociopolitical issues. The current "ports controversy" has laid bare the United Arab Emirate's role as a financial and logistical hub in the planning of the 9-11 attacks. As for the tennis, as I wrote a few years ago, the U.A.E. does not exactly have a sterling record on women's rights. Further, like other Arab nations, the U.A.E. doesn't have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Reader Lance Harke called this link to our attention. Note this prominent line: "Nationals of 'Israel' may not enter the U.A.E." If I'm, say, Shahar Peer, the top-40 Israeli player, I'm sure not happy that my tour is sanctioning events in countries in which I am not welcome. It's not a perfect analogy but we'll make this one anyway: Would the WTA or ATP ever even think about sanctioning an event in a country or club that excluded African-Americans? (Then again, if the country in question were offering $1.5 million in prize money, high six-figure guarantees and had a duty free shop that was a chief sponsor of the tour. Well, maybe. )

We asked the ATP and WTA about this issue and both tours reported that before giving their sanction, they had assurances that no player would be denied entry into the Dubai event. I was struck by how closely the logic parallels President Bush's position on the ports. While this country isn't perfect, let's use this as an opportunity to bridge gaps and establish trust.

Here's WTA CEO Larry Scott: "The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and our player and tournament members believe that through sport we can act as a positive influence for social change and equality, particularly in the area of women's rights. We are one of many sporting organizations that has reached this conclusion on the role that sport can play in diverse countries throughout the world."

Like many of you, I have a hard time with Scott's situational ethics. And I also recognize that the U.A.E.'s monopoly money is playing a huge role in the equation. But another part of me is inclined to give him (and the ATP) the benefit of the doubt. Bringing women's tennis to a moderate Arab country may ultimately lead to improving women's rights as well as a better understanding of the West. Who knows? It might even lead to a day when Peer and the 10 other Israeli players ranked by the WTA don't need special permission to enter the country.
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Old 03-02-2006, 11:55 AM   #2
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Default Re: Dubai events are rich in prize money, richer in politics

It's a good event. There should be more of these. Rotterdam and others should compete if they want and not whine about players pulling out.
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Old 03-02-2006, 11:58 AM   #3
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Default Re: Dubai events are rich in prize money, richer in politics

No, the dream has been shattered, so it's money that makes the world go round.
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Old 03-02-2006, 12:36 PM   #4
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Default Re: Dubai events are rich in prize money, richer in politics

The author is very naive.
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Old 03-02-2006, 12:45 PM   #5
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Default Re: Dubai events are rich in prize money, richer in politics

I had wondered to myself with the WTA players would be safe in the UAE...some of these Middle East countries aren't just sexist they are misogynst to the core. I suggest people read Irshad Manji's "The Trouble With Islam" she really breaks down how some of these Middle East Countries basically treat women like slaves......
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Old 03-02-2006, 01:22 PM   #6
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Default Re: Dubai events are rich in prize money, richer in politics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jordanjames
"The Trouble With Islam" she really breaks down how some of these Middle East Countries basically treat women like slaves......
UAE is not one of those countries. Not that it has ANYTHINg to do with the tournament.
I think the author brought out way too many relevant and grossly irrelevant points in this article.
Even managed to bring the Dubai Ports World in to this. Blah blah blah. And 9-11???? Bush??? WTF?!

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Old 03-02-2006, 01:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: Dubai events are rich in prize money, richer in politics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vass
UAE is not on of those countries.

It isn't? Why do you say so?



I agree that it all comes down to money, but, such is life........
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Old 03-02-2006, 04:49 PM   #8
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Default Re: Dubai events are rich in prize money, richer in politics

I love that Roger Federer is getting paid a shit load of money to play Dubai (while skipping Rotterdam), which he's been playing for years. For once, it's not just a top player like Andre Agassi who can be accused of following the green trail. And Safin doesn't mind the color of money, either. Also interesting is that Roddick doesn't play Dubai even though he would be guaranteed a huge payday, all of which flies in the face of his detractors' strange belief that Roddick is just another green-eyed American monster.

Of course, getting paid well doesn't make anybody a bad guy.

Quote:
Federer Pockets Half Mil, Headlines at ATP Dubai

By Richard Vach, Tennis-X.com Senior Writer

No. 1 seed Roger Federer received more than an estimated half a million dollars just to show up for The Dubai Tennis Championships this coming week, approximately three times what he would earn for winning the event, and Dubai organizers see the Swiss as worth every penny of the appearance guarantee.

Organizers of Middle East events can afford to buy the best in professional tennis, as they're showing with their current effort to move the men's and women's Indian Wells event from the U.S. to the desert. Landing the Swiss this week, who is on the fast track to becoming the greatest player ever with what is seemingly a large guarantee sum, is nary a drop in the bucket for the oil-rich organizers.

Last week Dubai hosted a WTA event that, though not even a lauded "Tier I" stop, nevertheless offered $1 million in prize money. This paled in comparison to the under-the-table guarantees to attract five former No. 1s among the star-studded field in winner Justine Henin-Hardenne, runner-up Maria Sharapova, semifinalist Lindsay Davenport, and quarterfinalists Amelie Mauresmo and Martina Hingis.

Both Dubai and Doha businessmen aren't shy about -- when they're not busy building ski resorts inside malls or carting in sand to build giant man-made resort islands in the shape of palm trees, or even setting up ultra-modern sea-side hotels with makeshift tennis courts high above the city on helipads -- throwing wads of cash at players without hesitation.

"It is money well spent and a perfect return on investment for Dubai," Dubai Tournament Director Salah Tahlak told Gulf News last week. "Players like Agassi, Navratilova and Sharapova have this appeal. Therefore, we don't have problems paying them appearance money. The Top 10 players normally do (receive money). The payment is more like a Persian carpet, each one has a different pricing."

Setting up the helipad appearance with Federer and Agassi with the ATP's help last year set them back a measly $10 million, but as an investment in public relations turned out to be a shrewd investment.

"That stunt was valued at $9.5 million, while the marketing and public relations returns for the entire event was pinned at $24.5 million," Tahlak said. "This is sound return on the investments."

Federer will likely be another sound return for Dubai this week, with the Swiss at the top of his game seeking a fourth consecutive Dubai title, and looking to extend his Open Era-record 52-match winning streak on hardcourts.

Federer has made two appearances thus far in 2006, winning at Doha and then the Australian Open, then pulling out of a pair of events and the first round of the Davis Cup to rest, he said, for the back-to-back Masters Series events in Indian Wells and Miami.

Agassi is also also eager to tap the Dubai guarantee flow, and speak of his past experiences in the playland for the super-wealthy.

"Dubai is something I would look forward to sharing with my wife and family," Agassi said. "It's an incredible place to see and to visit for so many reasons. To see what they've built here is really a reflection of a lot of vision, a lot of passion, not to mention the cultures that live peacefully together. It's the way the world is meant to be."

Federer and Agassi's weren't the only bank accounts receiving oil injections this week as the Dubai field also contains world No. 2 Rafal Nadal, Top 10 lesser personalities Nikolay Davydenko and David Ferrer, and features the 2006 debut of Marat Safin who returns from a knee injury.
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Old 03-02-2006, 04:53 PM   #9
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Default Re: Dubai events are rich in prize money, richer in politics

"Federer has made two appearances thus far in 2006, winning at Doha and then the Australian Open, then pulling out of a pair of events and the first round of the Davis Cup to rest, he said, for the back-to-back Masters Series events in Indian Wells and Miami."

He only pulled out of Rotterdam
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Old 03-02-2006, 04:55 PM   #10
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Default Re: Dubai events are rich in prize money, richer in politics

Quote:
Originally Posted by tangerine_dream
I love that Roger Federer is getting paid a shit load of money to play Dubai (while skipping Rotterdam), which he's been playing for years. For once, it's not just a top player like Andre Agassi who can be accused of following the green trail. And Safin doesn't mind the color of money, either. Also interesting is that Roddick doesn't play Dubai even though he would be guaranteed a huge payday, all of which flies in the face of his detractors' strange belief that Roddick is just another green-eyed American monster.

Of course, getting paid well doesn't make anybody a bad guy.
It is a matter of time before Andy plays Dubai. One day he will get an offer he cannot refuse
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Old 03-02-2006, 05:07 PM   #11
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Default Re: Dubai events are rich in prize money, richer in politics

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Originally Posted by Merton
It is a matter of time before Andy plays Dubai. One day he will get an offer he cannot refuse
At this ratio they won't be too desperate to get him.
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Old 03-02-2006, 05:13 PM   #12
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Default Re: Dubai events are rich in prize money, richer in politics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogiman
At this ratio they won't be too desperate to get him.
That is true, but i believe in mean-revertion. Andy will eventually recover his form and his confidence.
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Old 03-02-2006, 05:16 PM   #13
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Default Re: Dubai events are rich in prize money, richer in politics

Maybe I remind people that players such as Anna Smashnova can't play Dubai? I think it's appaling that the WTA and ATP hold an event that aren't open to all players. It should be cancelled.
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Old 03-02-2006, 05:18 PM   #14
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Default Re: Dubai events are rich in prize money, richer in politics

Can someone please clarify the article posted above:

Were the officials from Dubai trying to purchase Indian Wells?
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Old 03-02-2006, 05:24 PM   #15
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Default Re: Dubai events are rich in prize money, richer in politics

Yes Mangoes, there was apparently an offer made for Indian Wells. Two articles were posted here yesterday that Sampras and others have invested in IW in order to buy out IMG's share of the tournament and guarantee that it stays put for the next few years.
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