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ESPN's punt on soccer looking like a sure bet

FIFA estimated that over 200,000 World Cup tickets were bought by Americas, putting the US second behind Brazil in the supporters' league.

Despite the record-breaking 109,318 
fans who attended the Manchester 
United-Real Madrid pre-season match in Michigan, America's Major League Soccer, with average attendance of 18,594 per game last season, still trails NFL, baseball, basketball and ice hockey.

That 24.7 million American television viewers watched the USA and Portugal in the World Cup wasn't lost on executives at ESPN who've done a four-year sub-licensing deal with Fox Sports to show UEFA Champions League matches.

This season they'll screen 68 matches with English-language commentary and 72 matches on their Spanish language channel, ESPN Deportes.

The American corporate world believe the sport's popularity will continue to grow with one executive pointing to the ESPN and Fox initiative as "a bet on the future".

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Chris Froome will be hoping for better luck when the Tour of Spain pushes off in Cadiz on Saturday. The Team Sky captain suffered three damaging crashes in the first five days of the Tour de France and was forced to quit the race with a broken wrist.

Aiming to go one better than his 2011 second-place finish, Froome must be hoping that a strong team performance in the upcoming three-week event will compensate somewhat for the disgrace of former Team Sky member Jonathan Tiernan-Locke who was handed a two-year ban by the UCI last month for an anti-doping violation.

Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France winner in 2012, will not be on Froome's team in Spain, preferring to defend his Tour of Britain title next month.

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Barry McGuigan has successfully made the transition from boxer to pundit to promoter and is now guiding a stable of boxers towards world championship fights.

His September 6 Titantic Showdown event in Belfast is evidence of his progress.

Headlined by his protege Carl Frampton's IBF World super bantamweight title fight with Kiko Martinez, the undercard also sees another McGuigan signing European champion Jamie Conlan contesting the WBO Intercontinental title and Marc McCullough defending his WBO European featherweight title.

Now McGuigan has added an IBF Intercontinental middleweight title fight for Irish middleweight champion Eamonn O'Kane. Screened in Ireland and Britain by BoxNation, the event will be broadcast in China and Brazil. "This is global," says McGuigan.

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She's called herself "the unluckiest person in racing" but as successful lady jockey Cathy Gannon recuperates from a persistent shoulder injury, her loyal followers can expect to hear happy news from Cathy soon.


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