FIFA will investigate spot-fixing claims made by EPL Southampton ex-captain Claus Lundekvam, who has claimed that he and other players "were involved in the betting fraud," according to Jamie Jackson of the London GUARDIAN. A FIFA statement read: "FIFA is monitoring this issue and involved its chief investigator in England. Once all information is known it will be decided who is leading the investigations" (GUARDIAN, 7/11).
ALARM BELL: The London TELEGRAPH reported that Lundekvam claimed that "he put huge bets on minor incidents in games," such as who would win the first throw-in or corner. Then, after conspiring with opposition players, "ensured they happened at the correct time." Lundekvam claims he and fellow Premiership players "raked in thousands of pounds betting on their own games," and for a while did it "almost every week." Lundekvam said, "The results were never on the agenda. That is something I would never have done. We were professional competitors" (TELEGRAPH, 7/11). In London, Ed Hawkins wrote that the allegations made by Lundekvam have sounded an "alarm bell" for English football by an anti-corruption expert. Former FIFA Security Head Chris Eaton, who is now Int'l Centre for Sport Security Dir, said the player's claims suggested a "permissive culture" with regard to gambling corruption. Eaton said, "This is a big alarm bell. The Premier League needs to look deeply at what's been said" (LONDON TIMES, 7/11).
DENIALS: The BBC reported that ex-Southampton captain Francis Benali "has denied there was a culture of spot-fixing at the club." Benali said, "I can say categorically I have no knowledge of the betting allegations made by Claus. Dressing rooms are very tight environments, and if something was widespread, even if you weren't part of it, you would hear it being discussed and talked about" (BBC, 7/11).
Liverpool FC will become the first Premier League club to be "officially represented in a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) event" in Britain, according to Robert Woodward of the London GUARDIAN. A banner featuring the team's crest will be carried by club staff and members of the women's team at next month's Liverpool Pride. Liverpool Managing Dir Ian Ayre said that the club's involvement underlines its determination "to rid football of homophobia." Liverpool FC will also "have a stall at the festival's Waterfront site" on Aug. 4 and will "provide signed merchandise" for fund-raising auctions. The club has already worked with Liverpool Pride in establishing the Football v Homophobia tournament (GUARDIAN, 7/10).
A report by the Ranger's administrators explains that owner Charles Green's £5.5M ($8.5M) purchase of the Rangers' assets included a £2.75M ($4.3M) payment to "purchase the contracts and registrations of the club's players," according to the PA. Administrators Duff & Phelps have broken down all the "asset realisations" the majority of which relate to their sale of the Ibrox club to Sevco Scotland Ltd. Green's consortium paid for the club's employees to transfer to his company under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations, which protects employees' terms and conditions of employment when a business is transferred from one owner to another. The document, issued to the old company's creditors, shows Green paid £1.5M ($2.3M) for "heritable properties," which include Ibrox Stadium and Murray Park training ground. The club's member share of the Scottish Premier League and its membership of the Scottish Football Association were each sold for £1 ($1.55) (PA, 7/11). The London TELEGRAPH noted the report also outlines the six offers received for the Rangers between April 4, when "best and final offers" were required, and the acceptance of Sevco's bid on May 12. The report further claimed that a £6M ($9.3M) verbal offer was received following the failure of Duff & Phelps to secure a Company Voluntary Arrangement but that was rejected because of a "binding, contractual agreement" with Sevco (TELEGRAPH, 7/11).
A NEW PLAN: The BBC's Brian McLauchlin reported "proposals from Scottish football's three governing bodies include a new top-tier division of 16 teams by '15." The top flight would grow from 12 to 14 for the '14-15 season and "could be extended by a further two clubs a year later." The only proposed change for the upcoming season would be the "introduction of a promotion/relegation play-off between the top two divisions" (BBC, 7/11). The LONDON TIMES' Ronnie Esplin writes the three bodies said in a statement: "The proposals are based on five principles previously outlined by the
SFA as key to streamlining governance, ensuring greater financial
distribution and, above all, providing better entertainment, enhanced
competition and value for money for supporters." At a league meeting on Thursday, Green's new Rangers will discover "whether they will be playing in the Irn-Bru first division or third division next season." About half the SFL clubs "who have made their views known are looking for Ally McCoist’s side to go into the third division" (LONDON TIMES, 7/12).
Afghanistan is launching its first professional football championship with the "ambitious goal of bringing peace to the war-torn country" and with teams chosen through a reality TV show, according to Mushtaq Mojaddidi of the AFP. Afghans tend to be "football crazy" and "more passionate about European competitions," especially Spain's La Liga. Afghanistan Football Federation President Keramuddin Karim said, "To establish peace and stabilise a country, one must not only focus on training soldiers." Thousands of "young Afghans have already applied" to be a part of the tournament. Thirty players will be selected out of hundreds for each reality TV show and put through a series of physical, mental and football tests. The tournament, to be played in September and October, will involve pool and knockout stages with matches broadcast on Afghanistan's two main channels. The debut event already signed a sponsor, phone company Roshan. The eight teams will choose their members on the "Maidan e Sabz" (Green field) program. AFF member Sayed Ali Reza Aghazada said that players would receive pay but "did not offer any further details" (AFP, 7/11).
English Championship football club Nottingham Forest confirmed that "the Al-Hasawi family are the club's new owner," according to the PA. The Kuwait-based businessmen Fawaz, Abdulaziz and Omar Al-Hasawi "have agreed to take control" of the two-time European Cup winners after reaching terms to buy the late Nigel Doughty's controlling stake. In a statement issued on the club's website, the Al-Hasawis said: "It is an honour and privilege for the Al-Hasawi family to assume control of this great club steeped in history and with the outstanding legacy left by its previous owner Nigel Doughty." The family will be in attendance for a press conference at the City Ground on Saturday (PA, 7/10). In London, Neil Moxley reported that Doughty "was owed around £75M" ($116M) in loans after the venture capitalist "chased his dream of leading Forest back to the top table of English football." However, it is believed that "the in-coming owners have re-paid just a fraction" of that amount of Doughty's estate to gain control of the club (DAILY MAIL, 7/10).
Sunday's rivalry game between Rio de Janeiro football clubs Flamengo and Fluminense "helped soften the financial problems" that Flamengo is facing, according to Lucas Tieppo of UOL.com.br. The income generated by the game was enough for Flamengo to rid itself of a R$13M ($6.4M) debt with ticketing company BWA. For the first time in "about two-and-a-half years," Flamengo will be able to pocket the income of their next game. The loan had been taken on by the previous administrations, and current club President Patricia Amorim began payment in early '10. The form of payment was via the "confiscation" of income from the team's games. Practically "everything that was collected" was going straight to the company, who continues as a partner of the club in the marketing of tickets. Members of the current management team have "criticized the way in which the debt was acquired" by the previous administration. The current administration was forced to give the game's income as a guarantee of payment to BWA and therefore "received nothing in more than 160 games" since they took over. The club still will not be able to "receive the full income" from their next match against Bahia due to an agreement with the Regional Employment Court, which states that 20% of the ticket income "is intended for the payment" of labor debts (UOL.com.br, 7/11).
The Real Madrid Foundation will open an official football academy in Cameroon this week. The project called "Madrid Rumbo al Sure" aims to provide educational and sports material for children in several countries across the world, and "Cameroon is next on the list." More than 100 children from Madrid will travel to Cameroon "to learn about a dozen collaboration initiatives in the country" and take part in volunteer work on the academy (INSIDESPANISHFOOTBALL.com, 7/11).
HOT TICKETS: In Madrid, Rubén Jiménez reported tickets to see Real Madrid train at UCLA on Aug. 4 are "selling for the price of Champions League finals" tickets. VIP tickets, which allow you to meet the players after their practice, are selling for $382. Normal tickets sell for $85. This year, Real Madrid plays four games in the U.S.: The L.A. Galaxy on Aug. 2, Santos Laguna in Las Vegas Aug. 5, AC Milan in N.Y. on Aug. 8 and Celtic in Philadelphia on Aug. 11 (MARCA, 7/11).
PAY TO PLAY: RT reported that Soviet football veteran and Russian Football Union employee Anzor Kavazashvili said Russian footballers refused to come out to the pitch during Euro 2012 until they were promised “crazy” bonuses for representing their country. Kavazashvili said, "Ahead of the first match against the Czech Republic, our players have put a condition that they wouldn’t play unless they were paid a certain sum. In the end, we agreed that at the group stages they’d receive €800,000 (each) for victory and €400,000 for a draw." He added, “This is crazy money, equal to the annual budget of a good sports school or even several of them. It's just awful" (RT, 7/11).
WORLD CUP: COPA2014.gov.br reported that halfway through '12, construction work "related to the 2014 World Cup" has helped host city Belo Horizonte experience a "significant drive in its economy." More than 14,000 jobs have been created with the number on the rise (COPA2014.gov.br, 7/9).