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Volume 6 No. 196

International Football

David Beckham "is weighing up two offers that could see him become the owner of an emerging Major League Soccer club," according to Ben Smith of the BBC. Franchises in Miami and N.Y. have approached the 37-year-old, "who asked for the option to own an MLS club when he joined L.A. Galaxy in '07." Both clubs hope to become MLS members before '16, and both want Beckham to play a major role. Beckham says he "intends to play on for at least one more season with a number of clubs in the running," including Paris St. Germain and AS Monaco. A number of investment groups in the Middle East have expressed an interest in backing Beckham's potential ownership of an MLS franchise, as the likes of Qatar and Abu Dhabi explore the possibility of extending their global reach in football to the U.S. And "all parties can see the prospect of harnessing the marketing phenomenon that is Beckham" (BBC, 12/5).

Man City spent more on agent fees that any other Premier League club, according to figures released by the league detailing payments to agents between Oct. 1, 2011-Sept. 30, 2012. During this period £77.003,130 ($124M) was spent by the 20 Premier League clubs on agents. Defending champion Man City spent £10.537,982 ($17M) on agents over the period. Man City is followed by Liverpool (£8.600,444 ($14M)) and Queens Park Rangers (£6,818,688 ($11M)). The club that spent the least amount on agents is Southampton (£646,106 ($1M)). The amounts shown include payments made by clubs on behalf of players. There were 806 transactions during the specified period, although not all of these will have attracted an agent's fee (EPL).

Rank Club £ Spent on Agents
Manchester City
Liverpool £8.600,444
Tottenham Hotspur £6.595,905
Chelsea £6.490,382
West Ham United £4.436,992
Newcastle United
Everton £3.092,891
Aston Villa
Fulham £2.581,208
Reading £2.167,833
Wigan Athletic
Stoke City
West Bromwich Albion
Norwich City
Swansea City
Southampton £646,106

FIFA will use goal-line technology "for the first time in Japan this week," according to Alastair Himmer of REUTERS. The technology will be employed in Thursday's Club World Cup opener between J-League club Sanfrecce Hiroshima and ASB Premiership club Auckland City as football's governing body "finally answers calls for it to join the 21st century." The widely used in cricket and tennis system Hawk-Eye and GoalRef, which "uses a microchip in the ball and low magnetic waves around the goal," will be used at venues in Toyota and Yokohama. Hawk-Eye Managing Dir Steve Carter said, "The important thing is for the technologies to perform as well as possible and there are no mistakes." Hawk-Eye and GoalRef are "front-runners for next year's Confederations Cup in Brazil," although FIFA has kept the door open for other competing companies" (REUTERS, 12/5).

The PA reported FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke hailed "a kind of revolution" as the football world prepared for the introduction of goal-line technology. FIFA was "staunchly against the use of any form of technology for many years, but the winds changed in the wake of the 2010 World Cup, where England was denied a clear goal against Germany when Frank Lampard's shot crossed the line." Valcke said, "It's a big day. Tomorrow will be the first time that goal-line technology will be officially used in a game. The tests are done; and the instillation tests were successful (PA, 12/5). The AP reported that before each match, officials "will test the system is working in both goals." The referee will "continue to have full autonomy in making any final decision during the match, using goal-line technology as an additional aid" (AP, 12/5).

A source close to UEFA President Michel Platini said that UEFA has "no plans to expand the Champions League from 32 to 64 teams," according to Mihir Bose of the London EVENING STANDARD. The Frenchman "shocked football last week when, in an interview, he suggested there could be a restructuring of Europe’s tournaments." The newspaper, Ouest France, said it asked Platini if there was a plan to scrap the Europa League in favor of a bigger Champions League and quoted his reply as: "There is an ongoing debate to determine what form the European competitions will have between 2015 and 2018. We’re discussing it, and we will make a decision in 2014. Nothing is decided yet." However, a source near to Platini said Wednesday: "The interview was given six weeks ago to a French newspaper, and that is not what the president said. We have no plans to have a 64-team Champions League or scrap the Europa League" (EVENING STANDARD, 12/5).

DECISION UPCOMING: The AFP reported Platini and his exec council "will make a decision" on Thursday "whether to push ahead with the concept of changing tradition and hosting Euro 2020 across a number of European cities." Platini, who captained France to the '84 title when he set a still standing record of nine goals, said: "If there is a majority, a decision could be made very quickly." If the council gives its approval, a final decision "will be made in early '13 at further exec committee meeting" (AFP, 12/5).