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Volume 6 No. 212

International Football

UEFA fined the Russian football association $150,000 because its fans "attacked stadium stewards" at a Euro 2012 match, according to the AP. Russia "could be deducted six points" in its Euro 2016 qualifying group for a repeat offense. UEFA rules "hold football associations responsible" for their fans' behavior inside stadiums. UEFA said in a statement, "'This decision is suspended for a probationary period running from now until the end of the playoffs of the next UEFA European Football Championship." Russia "can appeal the verdict within three days" (AP, 6/13). BLOOMBERG's Tariq Panja reported that the Russian federation "was facing the penalties because supporters set off fireworks and displayed illicit banners” during the team’s opening game June 8 with the Czech Republic (BLOOMBERG, 6/13). The London TELEGRAPH reported that Poland Sports Minister Joanna Mucha revealed her "shame" at local fans who "attempted to disrupt the European Championship by attacking rival Russia supporters." Warsaw police have made more than 183 arrests "relating to clashes between Poland and Russia fans" and "expect to add to that number" as investigations continue (TELEGRAPH, 6/13). The London TELEGRAPH also reported that "it was unclear whether either team will face any sanctions." UEFA condemned the violence in a statement, but but was otherwise "unavailable for comment" Wednesday (TELEGRAPH, 6/13). The London GUARDIAN's Paul Wilson opined on The Sport Blog that "you cannot have a match involving Russia in Poland, especially on a Russian bank holiday for Russian Day, without expecting a certain amount of friction." It was always a "mad idea to allow a Russian march from Warsaw central station to the stadium two miles away" (GUARDIAN, 6/13).

PITCH PROBLEM: In London, the GUARDIAN's Sid Lowe reported that Spain's players and coaching staff "criticised the fact that the pitch was dry and the grass long" during the Italy game, "slowing the surface and making it harder to pass the ball." The Spanish federation "complained to UEFA." Italian Federation VP Demetrio Albertini admitted that he "had refused a request to have the pitch watered" just before kick‑off, which is "in line with UEFA rules." Spain goalkeeper Pepe Reina said, "They've got to do something about the state of the pitch if they want the quality of the game to be better. For the sake of the game, I hope it is better" (GUARDIAN, 6/12).

THAILAND TURN DOWN: In Thailand, UEFA has "turned down" media conglomerate GMM Grammy's request to allow pay-television provider TrueVisions to gain access to the signal of Euro 2012 matches. UEFA Media Rights Manager Ian Wilson explained in a letter to GMM Grammy that the sub-licensing request "had come too late" because the tournament had already started. The letter read, "TrueVisions cannot transmit any Euro 2012 programmes because it is not owned by or affiliated with Grammy" (BANGKOCK POST, 6/13).

Two former Chinese Football Administrative Center directors Nan Yong and Xie Yalong were both sentenced to more than 10 years of imprisonment for taking bribes, according to Ma Xiangfei of the XINHUA NEWS AGENCY. Prominent players in China's only trip to the World Cup in '02 Qi Hong and Shen Si were among the four former internationals who received punishments Wednesday. Some believed that the verdicts should be a "comma rather than a full stop in the fight against match-fixing, gambling, bribery and embezzlement that ravaged" China's professional soccer leagues for more than a dozen years. Master of the Chinese game "go" Nie Weiping told Zhengzhou Evening News, "It was not a thorough campaign. Many are off the hook." Former Zhejiang Sports Chief Chen Peide agreed saying: "Will Chinese soccer be free of corruption after this houseclean? I am not that optimistic" (XINHUA, 6/13). In London, Simon Rabinovitch noted the number of former football officials, players, coaches and referees "behind bars" has reached two dozen as China has demonstrated its "boldest attempt to clean up the corruption-plagued sport." The jail sentences are the "culmination of a campaign against bribery and match-fixing" that began in '10. Nan, who held the "most powerful position in the sport in China," accepted bribes of nearly RMB1.5M ($235,000). The reputation and popularity of the Chinese Super League "crumbled after allegations into widespread match-fixing" circulated two years ago, but the "severity of the resultant crackdown has helped it regain and expand its fan base since then" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/13).  The BBC noted that in Dandong, a former national team captain was also sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail and fined RMB200,000 ($31,500). Four former national team players were sentenced in Shenyang for up to six years of jail time and fined RMB500,000 ($78,700) for taking bribes and match-fixing (BBC, 6/13). In N.Y., Alfred Cang noted Nan and Xie are the "highest-ranking officials to be sentenced since China began a nationwide campaign" in March '09 to root out graft in domestic soccer. Xinhua reported that the two men told the courts they needed to speak with their respective attorneys "before deciding whether to appeal the verdicts" (BLOOMBERG, 6/13). In Shanghai, David Barboza wrote that the CSL is trying to "strengthen itself" after a decade of scandals. Some of China's wealthiest real estate developers have purchased soccer clubs and even hired "European stars and coaches to enliven soccer," which remains a popular sport in China (N.Y. TIMES, 6/13).

English Premier League Swansea City have unveiled a new gold-trimmed home strip to mark the club's 100-year anniversary. The kit, made by adidas and "bearing more than a passing resemblance to that of Real Madrid," has a plain white style with gold trim and features a brand new gold badge, which commemorates the club's centenary. Danny Graham, Nathan Dyer, Scott Sinclair and Garry Monk, "stars" of the team, "can be seen sporting the kit" ahead of their second top-flight season (, 6/11).

TRAVEL TIME: The PRESS ASSOCIATION's Simon Stone reported ManU confirmed they will start their pre-season tour with two matches in South Africa next month. ManU will play against AmaZulu FC in Durban on July 18 and Ajax Cape Town FC on July 21 (PA, 6/13).

CAT'S OUT OF THE BAG: The London DAILY MIRROR reported Manchester City's "top secret new strip for next season is already on sale," in Brisbane, Australia. The club is set to investigate the "blunder after an Oldham fan found the black-collared Umbro top in a sports shop" for £63 ($98). The shopper said, "It was obviously the genuine article. I was surprised, so I phoned the club" (DAILY MIRROR, 6/13).

CHARGE IT: Maybank Malaysia's official Maybankard Manchester United Visa Card logged a 50% increase in the number of subscribers forecast for the year. Since the card's official launch on April 22, Maybank has issued 100,000 cards, despite forecasting for 50,000 cards (ManU).