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SBD Global/June 12, 2012/International FootballPrint All
UEFA has asked the mayors of the Polish and Ukrainian cities where open training sessions for Euro 2012 are held to ask that all measures -- including an increased police presence -- be implemented to prevent any display of discriminatory or racist behavior at the sessions. UEFA has also asked that the authorities ensure that anyone found to be engaging in racist behavior be ejected from the stadium and its vicinity, and be subject to criminal proceedings (UEFA).
BATTLE OF WARSAW: The DAILY MAIL wrote that "as Poland prepares for their next Euro 2012 game, you may be forgiven in thinking Warsaw is preparing for battle with Russia." Polish papers went heavy on analogies from Poland's 1920 battle against the Bolshevik Army, "fueling simmering nationalist sentiments" on the eve of the Group A match against Russia. The Super Express tabloid carried a front page mocked-up picture of Poland coach Franciszek Smuda "charging on horseback, saber in hand, in a 1920 Polish army uniform" under the headline "Faith, Hope, Smuda," -- a play on an old army motto: "Faith, Home, Motherland." The Polish edition of Newsweek had a front-page picture of Smuda saluting, in the uniform of Jozef Pilsudski -- who commanded Polish troops in the 1920 battle, under the headline: "Poland-Russia: The battle of Warsaw 2012." The highly-charged match falls on Russia Day, a national holiday, and Russian fans "are planning to march from downtown to the stadium, a move seen as provocative by many Poles" (DAILY MAIL, 6/11).
RACIST CLAIMS 'STUPID': Meanwhile, the AFP reported Russia Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has called allegations that fans hurled racial abuse at the Czech Republic's only black player "stupid." Mutko said that fans were only booing those who did not join their Mexican wave. Mutko told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, "This is stupid and unfair. I was at that match and saw everything. Our fans started a wave, but the Czech sector did not stand up. So they started criticising the Czechs by making the corresponding noises" (AFP, 6/11).
FEWER ARRESTS: REUTERS reported that Polish police have made just 72 arrests since the start of Euro 2012, "fewer than on an average holiday weekend in the host country." There were violent incidents in the cities of Wroclaw and Poznan over the weekend, "mainly involving Croatian and Russian fans." But the ministry pointed to the "relative calm" at fan party zones in its major cities -- the biggest ever at a European Championship -- as evidence "that the tournament is going off smoothly" (REUTERS, 6/11).
SO FAR, SO GOOD: Polish Football Federation President Grzegorz Lato, and Polish Tournament Dir Adam Olkowicz were upbeat in their early assessment of the tournament. Lato said, "I think when it comes to the infrastructure and organisation, the [early] evaluation is very positive." Olkowica: "This is the biggest event, not only in terms of football in Poland, but also the biggest social event that has ever been organised in our country. We would like to continue the tournament without any impediments or problems. After this tournament, I would like the [image] of Poland and Ukraine to have confirmed our openness and our smile with great weather and wonder football emotions" (UEFA).
Chelsea is preparing to appoint their Champions League-winning manager Roberto Di Matteo on a permanent basis "after intensive negotiations over the weekend between the club and his representatives," according to Matt Hughes of the LONDON TIMES. The Italian "has been told that the job is his, subject to the resolution of certain contractual issues," and is expected to be confirmed this week. The main issue to resolve "is a presentational one" over contract length, as Di Matteo is seeking "greater security" than the 12-month rolling deal he signed when initially recruited as an assistant to Andre Villas-Boas last summer (LONDON TIMES, 6/11). The London DAILY MAIL's Matt Lawton noted contract terms "have now been agreed -- and it is definitely more than a one-year deal that would look like he was simply holding the fort until Pep Guardiola made himself available." On Sunday night, both sides were "hoping to complete negotiations within the next 48 hours" (DAILY MAIL, 6/10). In Abu Dhabi, Duncan Castles reported it is understood Di Matteo will be "granted a basic salary" in excess of the £4M ($6.2M) paid to Villas-Boas. Incentives will amount to more than the £1M ($1.5M) bonus the former Chelsea midfielder earned for last season's FA Cup successes, and "there is not expected to be any end-of-season break clause included in the contract" (THE NATIONAL, 6/11). In London, Jason Burt noted senior figures at the club "remain unsure whether the former West Bromwich Albion manager is the right man to take over" (TELEGRAPH, 6/10). Also in London, Dominic Fifield noted Chelsea's recruitment department, headed by Technical Dir Michael Emenalo, "has moved to reshape their squad in his absence and still hope to add" the £38M ($58.9M) Brazil int'l Hulk from Porto FC having secured Lille FC's "exciting midfielder," Eden Hazard for around £32M ($49.6M) (GUARDIAN, 6/10).
Barcelona and Former Assistant Manager Tito Vilanova have “agreed on the principals” of a deal forVilanova to become head coach, according to Joan Josep Pallas of MUNDO DEPORTIVO. The agreement came after Barcelona Sporting Dir Andoni Zubizarreta met with Vilanova’s agent, Josep Maria Orobitg. The two-year contract should be signed by midweek, with Vilanova "probably" being introduced as head coach Friday (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 6/11). AS’s R. Romero is reporting that “if nothing strange happens” Barcelona scout Jordi Roura will be hired as Vilanova’s assistant coach at Barca (AS, 6/11).
EXTENSION: MUNDO DEPORTIVO reported that management for the “Azulgrana” side has also offered Zubizarreta an extension. Management is “very satisfied” with Zubizarreta’s work over the past two years and have offered him an extension through '16. His current contract expires on June 30, '13 (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 6/11).
The "reluctance" of European football fans to travel to the "former Soviet country’s eastern edge" for Euro 2012 threatens Ukraine’s ability to reach its goal in tourist revenue while hosting the tournament, according to Krasnolutska & Panja of BLOOMBERG. Ukraine does not feel it can reach its goal of €1.5B ($1.9B) in tourist revenue for Euro 2012 "as the continent’s debt crisis imperils demand for its steel and grain exports." The final figure "may be less than half of that target." Supporters "balk at transport and accommodation costs" in spite of almost $14B of pre- tournament investment. VTB Capital economist Dmitry Fedotkin said, “Money is unlikely to rain down on Ukraine. I don’t expect Euro 2012 to considerably spur economic growth.” At Euro 2008, visitors spent an average €1,327 ($1,660) and €983 ($1,229) a head in co-hosts Austria and Switzerland. About 500,000 tourists will probably visit Ukraine for the three-week tournament, leaving a combined €400M ($500M), or approximately €800 ($1,000) each, it estimated. English fans are among those reluctant to travel. English officials estimate only 3,000 to 4,000 fans will make the trip to Ukraine and Poland, a 10th of the number that traveled the last time the team qualified for Europe’s premier national soccer contest eight years ago in Germany (BLOOMBERG, 6/11). In London, Shaun Walker reported that "high costs, accommodation chaos and a fear of violence" have combined for England's small band of fans. It is "the smallest travelling England support to attend a major tournament in living memory." However, fans who have made the trip said that they have been "amazed by how welcoming" the city has been, even if many are "dealing with unorthodox accommodation." The shortage of hotel rooms and the high price of those available has left many supporters headed to "a giant makeshift camping park on the outskirts of town," where more than 2,000 England and France fans were expected Monday night. The fans are staying "in tents with temporary bedding" for £7 ($11) per person (INDEPENDENT, 6/11).
European football "is at high risk" from match-fixing mobsters seeking to "load the dice" in an illegal gambling business valued at $90B a year, according to Donovan & Rotondi of BLOOMBERG. Sicily Chief Anti-Mafia Prosecutor Antonio Ingroia said, "The entire football business is at a high risk of infiltration by the Mafia." Italy’s mob has pressured Italian “clubs in ticket selling and gangs have been operating in the ticket-selling black market,” which is often “tolerated by football clubs.” Ingroia: “These activities can generate tons of money, and that’s what Cosa Nostra is after." Interpol estimates the combined worldwide value of legal and illegal gambling at $500B (BLOOMBERG, 6/11).
After members of the Spanish football team complained that the grass was “dry and too long” during its Euro 2012 match against Italy, the Polish Football Federation explained that it could not do anything since Italy was not in agreement, according to EUROPA PRESS. Polish Football Federation President Grzegorz Lato said, “The grass was at its perfect length. Normally, the field is irrigated before the match, but for this the acceptation of both teams is necessary.” He added: “Spain wanted it, but Italy was opposed to the irrigation. If there isn’t an agreement between the teams there is no irrigation”(EP, 6/11) ESPN’s Michael Ballack agreed with the Spanish team about the field. Ballack said, “It’s the European Cup, a big tournament and they should be prepared with the pitches, and I can’t understand why the pitch was so dry. I think they will change it and it’s right to moan” (UEFA Euro Report, ESPN, 6/11).