F1, baseball stars among those stepping up

Seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher plans to donate $10 million to aid efforts for tsunami victims in Asia, making the Ferrari driver the leader among a growing number of sports stars providing help.

Schumacher's manager Willi Weber made the pledge Tuesday during a telephone call to a fund-raiser on German television, organized in
collaboration with the German Red Cross, the U.N. Children's Fund
and other organizations.

"It's so unfathomable and horrible what happened to so many
people," Schumacher, who turned 36 Monday, said in comments
on his Web site. "One cannot simply blind it out. We're suffering
with them."

Burkhard Cramer, a bodyguard for Schumacher was among those killed in Phuket, Thailand, Schumacher spokeswoman Sabine Kehm said Wednesday. Cramer's two sons also are believed to have died.

A decision on how Schumacher's donation will be used is
to be made together with the Foreign Ministry in the next few days.

The Dec. 26 disaster killed an estimated 150,000 people and left
5 million in need.

The 2004 Forbes list of highest-paid athletes estimated Schumacher's income at $80 million, just behind golf star Tiger Woods ($80.3 million) and nearly double the yearly income for the No. 3 athlete on the list.

  • In other motorsports reaction, the Sauber F1 team has
    canceled next week's launch of its 2005 car in Malaysia "as a mark of respect to the victims of the disaster." The C24 car will simply debut at testing Jan. 14 in Valencia. The team had planned a Jan. 11 launch in Kuala Lumpur to
    mark Malaysian oil sponsor Petronas' 10th anniversary in Formula One.

    Giants auction off meeting with Bonds, more
    The San Francisco Giants will auction off a meeting with controversial baseball slugger Barry Bonds to help victims of the Asian tsunami.

    The auction at the www.sfgiants.com Web site will offer the winner and three friends the chance to meet the seven-time MVP in the Giants dugout next season -- when Bonds is likely to pass Babe Ruth for second place on the all-time home run list. Yet Bonds is also struggling to save his reputation amid the BALCO doping scandal.

    A private meeting with Bonds could go for thousands or tens
    of thousands of dollars. A small group of fans last month spent $7,500 to attend a small, for-profit cocktail party in New York with Bonds and New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez. In October, an auction for Bonds'
    700th home run ball brought in $804,129.

    The Giants are also auctioning off for tsunami relief the
    right to throw out the first pitch of the season opener and several
    other baseball opportunities the team called "once-in-a-lifetime

    The online auction ends Friday.

    Patriots giving tickets for donations
    The New England Patriots are adding a little incentive in their drive to collect money for victims of the South Asian tsunami.

    Those who donate $1,000 or more to the tsunami fund through the
    New England Patriots Charitable Foundation will receive tickets to
    the Jan. 16 playoff game at Gillette Stadium. As many as 200
    tickets are available for donors.

    One playoff ticket will be provided for each $1,000 contributed
    before 5 p.m. ET on Jan. 12. Contributions will continue to be
    accepted through Jan. 30.

    The Patriots, who have a first-round bye, will play either
    Indianapolis, San Diego or the New York Jets on Jan. 16.

    Contributions can made through www.patriots.com.

    FIFA donating $2M to help soccer associations
    Soccer's world governing body will donate $2 million to help soccer associations in tsunami-affected nations.

    The Asian Football Confederation has promised an additional $1
    million, FIFA said in a statement Tuesday.

    "FIFA and AFC will also call upon famous football personalities
    -- primarily former players -- to help with distribution efforts and
    solidarity movements in the affected region,'' the world body said.
    "Once the initial emergency phase and efforts to save victims are
    over, FIFA and the AFC intend to organize matches in the region to
    demonstrate solidarity and support.''

    The money will be spent in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia,
    Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand, mostly to
    restore soccer facilities and provide balls, shirts, boots and

    FIFA said it also is working with the Confederation of African
    Football to evaluate the situation in Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia
    and Tanzania, which also were affected by the disaster last month.

    NFL cornerback reaches out
    Detroit Lions cornerback Fernando Bryant stood in front of his teammates last week and asked them to
    donate money to help the victims of the Dec. 26 catastrophe.

    Bryant declined to provide financial details but did say the Lions
    would make a donation in "five figures" to Direct Relief
    International, one of more than 50 agencies accepting contributions
    for those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Asia.

    "When things like this happen, people always talk about how bad
    things are, but they rarely act on those thoughts," Bryant said
    Monday. "When you see a natural disaster which is out of your
    control kill 150,000 people, you have to do something. Millions are
    homeless. Parents lost kids and kids lost parents. It's just awful.

    "We're sitting over here making great money and our families
    are safe, so a lot of guys were more than willing to help out."

    Soccer teams work on all-star matches
    Germany's national team will take on an all-star Bundesliga international side Jan. 25 to raise money for the tsunami relief effort.

    The game will take place at the 60,000-capacity Arena
    AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen, home of Schalke 04 and the venue
    for last season's Champions League final.

    "Football is under an obligation to help," German football
    association vice-president Werner Hackmann said.

    The German FA also pledged 1.5 million euros ($2.04 million)
    in emergency aid to be used in consultation with the government.

    About 60 Germans are known to have died in the disaster and
    more than 1,000 other German tourists are unaccounted for.

  • Indian soccer officials have asked governing body FIFA to send a world team to play a fund-raising match.

    More than 15,000 Indians were killed in the disaster, and the All India Football Federation has said it will donate 1.5 million Indian rupees ($34,310) to the relief fund.

    "We have plans to make a bigger contribution and have
    written to FIFA to send a World XI to play a benefit match,"
    AIFF president Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said.

    FIFA said that it was talking with the Asian Football
    Confederation and that, while plans had not been finalized, it was
    possible benefit matches could take place.

    Tennis players at Chennai do their part
    After winning his match at the Chennai Open in tsunami-ravaged southern India, Swede Jonas Bjorkman said his priority at the tournament
    was to get all players to contribute money to help victims of
    the tsunami disaster in the region.

    "It doesn't matter what kind of job you've got, everyone has
    got the disaster on their minds," he said. "Everyone here has
    got to do the best they can. ... "

    "It was a good decision to come and support the tournament, to shine a little light in the dark," said Bjorkman, who wasn't the only one thinking of ways to help.

    "It's very difficult to focus on tennis when so many lives have
    been devastated by this tragedy," said Spain's Carlos Moya, who also won Tuesday.

    "But hopefully by being here we can support the relief effort
    and play a small part in trying to help everybody. So for that
    reason I'm very happy to be here and playing in the tournament."

    Several players at the event, including Bjorkman have pledged prize money to the relief effort.

    Information from The Associated Press, Reuters and SportsTicker was used in this report.