SBD/March 14, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Qatar FA Denies Dream League Report, While Some Question The Legitimacy Of The Story

The Qatar Football Association has “denied a report that the Gulf state is planning to launch a summer football league" that will see Europe’s top clubs paid U.S.$261.4M each to compete, according to Paul Kelso of the London TELEGRAPH. Reports yesterday had Qatari football officials in Doha and Paris, home of the Qatar-controlled Ligue 1 club Paris St-Germain, “driving plans for a ‘Dream Football League’ which would play biannual tournaments in the Gulf summer.” Qatar “denied that it, the QFA or any ‘Qatari football entities’ had any involvement" in such a plan. Sources said that they had “heard rumours of a European club football scheme but not to the level of detail” in the report (London TELEGRAPH, 3/14). In London, Oliver Kay, who initially broke the story, reports EPL club Manchester United will "lead the opposition" against the Dream Football League. Contrary to "denials and conspiracy theories," several of the clubs under consideration for the tournament "admitted privately yesterday to having been sounded out be intermediaries working on behalf of such a project." No English club has "indicated any support for the project," with ManU "expressing particularly distaste for any proposal that threatens the existing European club competition structure." Kay writes there is a "fervent desire among clubs" including EPL club Arsenal, ManU and German Bundesliga club Bayern Munich who "hold sway with the European Club Association to fight threats to the existing structure and to the increasingly imaginative schemes being discussed as means of trying to overcome UEFA's new Financial Fair Play regulations" (LONDON TIMES, 3/14).

IS THIS REAL OR IS IT JUST A DREAM? The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Joshua Robinson writes the London Times claimed its story was true, but a French website said that it had "published the same news a day earlier as a hoax.” The news in the Times article “appeared on the quasi-satirical Cahiers du Football, a soccer site in France, in the form of a fake wire story credited to the nonexistent ‘Agence Transe Presse.’” The online story “included many of the same details as the Times and both outlets used the same DFL logo.” Kay wrote on his Twitter feed Cahiers du Football "was 100% NOT the source of my story." Kay “further disputed Cahiers du Football's claim in a webcast” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/14). Les Cahiers du Football Editor Jerome Latta said, "It all came out of my imagination. But the fact that it made its way to the mainstream press is quite significant.” However, the Times "stood by its Wednesday story." The Times said that its story had "nothing to do with the website version and was based on research by its own reporter" going back "quite a while." Kay said, "I’ve been amused by the speculation about the source of this story. I can guarantee you 100 percent, 1,000 percent, 175 million percent, that my story had nothing to do with any website, spoof or otherwise. I’ve no idea about their modus operandi. What I know is that my source is very good, the information is very good and that there is more where that story came from" (REUTERS, 3/13).
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