Thursday 15 April 2021 10:12 am

Week in Sportbiz: Amazon sign Serena Williams and Paul Pogba; Javier Tebas takes up league fight; Japan still cool on Tokyo 2020 with 100 days to go

Amazon has continued its push into glossy sports documentaries by signing up Serena Williams and Paul Pogba.

Both Williams and Pogba have committed to appearing in behind-the-scenes series about their personal and professional lives as part of wider deals with Amazon.

Gary Lineker’s Goalhanger Films is among the producers of the currently untitled Serena doc. 

Executive producers include Williams herself and her coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who appeared in the Playbook series on rival streaming service Netflix.

The Pogmentary, as Pogba’s series will be called, is being produced by Black Dynamite, the outfit behind previous docs on fellow French football stars Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann.

They follow the success of Amazon Prime Video’s All or Nothing series, which has featured Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, the All Blacks and a host of US sports teams.

Firebrand Tebas takes up league fight

Anyone expecting a dialling down of the rhetoric in the squabbling over the future of European club football looks likely to be disappointed.

That’s because firebrand LaLiga boss Javier Tebas is to replace Swede Lars-Christer Olsson as the voice of European Leagues at Uefa’s top table.

European Leagues, the umbrella body that represents domestic competitions such as the Premier League and the Bundesliga, has been vocal in condemning moves to hand more power and money to the biggest clubs as part of proposed changes to the Champions League.

A man who memorably accused Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City of “peeing in the pool” with their big spending seems unlikely to back down in the power-struggle with the European Club Association.

Javier Tebas, the head of Spain's LaLiga, will represent umbrella body European Leagues at Uefa's top table
Javier Tebas, the head of Spain’s LaLiga, will represent umbrella body European Leagues at Uefa’s top table (Getty Images)

Japan still cool on Olympics as Tokyo 2020 reaches milestone

Japan this week marked 100 days until the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, although locals seemingly still wish it wasn’t happening.

Latest polls suggest 72 per cent of Japanese oppose the Games taking place this year, with 39 per cent favouring cancellation and 32 per cent another postponement.

Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa, meanwhile, have just introduced tougher Covid-19 restrictions.

“I’m very confident that public opinion will turn,” said International Olympic Committee coordination commission chairman John Coates.

Former NASA man modernising rugby

Rugby union isn’t rocket science, as some of its most eminent practitioners have pointed out.

But it has tapped into its expertise to create a new smart ball which was given a Test debut in last weekend’s England-Scotland Women’s Six Nations match.

The Gilbert x Sportable ball contains a tracking chip that provides real-time data on the speed of passes and the distance and hang-time of kicks.

It was developed by London-based tech company Sportable, whose co-founder Dr Pete Husemeyer previously worked for NASA.

Pithy Broad masks pride at Wisden honour

Cricketers’ handbook Wisden reflected the pandemic’s impact on sport with a striking cover image for its 2021 edition, published this week.

It features England seamer Stuart Broad wearing a disposable facemask. 

Broad noted wryly: “It’s one to tell the eventual grandchildren about: the time I made the cover of Wisden and nobody could tell it was me.”