Given their clubs' record in the competition, it is "easy to assume" Italian football does not like the Europa League very much, according to Ian Hawkey of THE NATIONAL. Lately, the Europa League has been given "good reasons not to like Italian football much, either." Serie A Lazio's trip to EPL Tottenham last week for a 0-0 draw was "disfigured by the very audible and repeated racist abuse from traveling fans of Lazio toward Spurs's black and mixed-race players." The same night, fans of Swedish side AIK were attacked "and some stabbed" while in Naples for their Europa League match against Napoli. The previous evening, "a similar incident" had left a small group of Swedes injured (THE NATIONAL, 9/25).
Players and coaches at the Bulgarian first division club Lokomotiv Plovdiv have been ordered to take lie detector tests after their surprise 1-0 defeat by the bottom club Botev Vratsa on Saturday sparked concerns about match fixing (REUTERS, 9/25). ... FIFA is being urged by Kosovan-born players "not to renege on a pledge to offer the Balkan state partial acceptance" into the int'l set-up. The Kosovan issue is not formally on the agenda of the two-day FIFA Exec Committee in Zurich starting Thursday, but the terms of allowing them some kind of status seem "highly likely to be discussed." Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in '08, but has yet to obtain United Nations admission, which is why it is not allowed to join UEFA (INSIDEWORLDFOOTBALL.biz, 9/26). ... Brazilian football fans have "called for a greater say" in the naming of the country's 2014 World Cup mascot. Brazil's World Cup Organizing Committee released a list of three names, which are being put to a public vote. But the names for the armadillo -- Amijibi, Fuleco and Zuzeco -- have been heavily criticized by the Brazilians, "who are unhappy at being left out of the selection process for the shortlist." An online petition calling for the scrapping of the names had already been signed by more than 26,000 people on Thursday night (XINHUA, 9/26).