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Volume 10 No. 22

International Football

London's Wembley Stadium has been suggested by the Football Association to UEFA as the venue for the Euro 2020 final, according to Martyn Ziegler of the London INDEPENDENT. UEFA President Michel Platini is considering changing the format of the tournament so that it would be "played in cities across Europe rather than just one or two countries." Reports indicate FA Chair David Bernstein met Platini last week and informed the Frenchman of the association's interest in Wembley holding the final of the Euro. If successful, it could also mean one or both Euro 2020 semifinals also being held in London since Platini's idea is that "one city should host the climax of the tournament." Wembley's chances are linked to Turkey's bid for Euro 2020 because if Istanbul wins the right to host the Olympics in that same year then UEFA "will not countenance Turkey hosting the Euros." If Istanbul does get the Games, Platini's "revolutionary new format" would be much more likely to take place. And UEFA's liking for Wembley -- it was a record-breaking venue in terms of finances for the Champions League final last year and will be so again in '13 -- would give London a "real chance of being selected for the final" (INDEPENDENT, 9/24).

La Liga Rayo Vallecano President Raúl Martín Presa called the lighting sabotage at the Vallecas stadium, which caused the postponement of Sunday's match between Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano, as "football terrorism," according to AS. Presa said, "Yesterday, we were the victims of sabotage, an attack, an act of football terrorism, which prevented ordinary people from going to watch a spectacle. I want to thank all Rayo supporters, who showed exemplary behavior, and I would like to express my sincere apologies for this distressing incident" (AS, 9/24). In Madrid, MARCA reported that Spanish Professional Football League (LFP) VP Javier Tebas made it clear Rayo Vallecano was not at fault for the incident. Tebas: "You cannot blame La Liga or Rayo for the results of an act of sabotage" (MARCA, 9/24).

RESHUFFLING THE SCHEDULE: Also in Madrid, AS reported that the match was rescheduled for Monday at 7:45pm. Fans who had tickets for Sunday's game were able to use them, and those who could not attend the game "will be able to return their tickets starting Tuesday" (AS, 9/24). MARCA's Alvaro Olmedo reported that the club tested the lights at 3pm local time and "everything went well." The match began at 7:45pm local time (MARCA, 9/24). REUTERS reported that several commentators said that the "farcical scene of a handful of workmen trying to fix severed cables on the roof of Rayo's ground as groups of officials waited below in the semi-darkness on Sunday made the Spanish league look like a 'banana republic."' With the league's image already damaged by the financial struggles of many if its clubs, half empty arenas and discontent over ticket prices and kickoff times, "the incident could hardly have come at a worse time" (REUTERS, 9/24).

Manchester United Soccer Schools in Abu Dhabi "begins its new season" at the Dome@Rawdat on Airport Road on Saturday. Open to boys and girls aged 7 to 16, the program "features 12.5 hours of on-field coaching by certified MUSS coaches" (GULF NEWS, 9/24). ... The Asian Football Confederation is investigating reports that a firecracker "was thrown during a champions league match in Iran between Saudi Arabian club Al Ahli and Sepahan." Reports said that "several objects were thrown toward an assistant referee during Wednesday's 0-0 draw in Tehran, including a firecracker." One of the objects exploded, which prompted referees to stop the match for several minutes (AP, 9/24).