Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 6 No. 215

International Football

Football video games have typically been "based on the beautiful game," but a new proposal by FIFA sees the sport "imitating the gaming industry," according to Ali Khaled of THE NATIONAL. FIFA Transfer Market GM Mark Goddard revealed at the 7th Dubai Int'l Sports Conference that FIFA is "set to introduce Global Player Transfer (GPX), a new worldwide database that will look to facilitate transfers between clubs by listing the personal statistics of all of the world's registered professionals online." The news is of interest to "football geeks," who have spent countless hours "immersed in never-ending sessions" of the video/computer game Football Manager. Under FIFA's new proposal, football managers would, finally, "have a real life version of Football Manager." The idea is for clubs interested in a certain player to be able to "discreetly approach the potential selling club via the system and, crucially, not through a third party, to start the negotiating process." Goddard said that the greater transparency provided by the database, as well as FIFA's existing Transfer Matching System, would "ensure all clubs get the maximum, and identical, information." In theory, FIFA hopes that this would "eliminate bidding wars in which clubs give out false information, and should lead to many players being transferred for less." GPX would "be of particular help to out-of-contract players," who make up 70% of all global transfers annually (THE NATIONAL, 12/29).

David Beckham "is in talks with a Chinese Super League club," and a contract with Shanghai Shenhua "would earn Becks £250,000 ($404,000) a week and £20M ($32.3M) in merchandising deals," according to Katie Hind of THE PEOPLE. The move is being "personally masterminded by TV's pop idol mogul Simon Fuller, a close pal and business associate of the Beckhams." The deal would give Beckham, 37, and his wife, Victoria, "the chance to sell their brands in a nation of nearly one-and-a-half billion people." A source said, "He has cracked Europe and America, he now has the chance to become huge in China and the Far East. This is a huge decision for him. While David wants one final challenge in football, a move to China is about more than that. It will push Brand Beckham to a whole new level" (THE PEOPLE, 12/30).

India's oldest football club, I-League Mohun Bagan, has been kicked out of the league and banned two years after "refusing to take the field for the second half" of its crowd trouble-hit derby against East Bengal earlier this month, according to Amlan Chakraborty of REUTERS. Mohun Bagan was trailing its arch-rivals 1-0 on Dec. 9 in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata when one of its players was "hit by a stone hurled from the stands." The match resumed after a near 15-minute interruption, but Mohun Bagan "did not return to the field." An All India Football Federation statement said that Mohun Bagan "had been thrown out of the ongoing I-League competition," its matches had been "declared null and void," and it would "be disqualified from the next two editions of the league" (REUTERS, 12/29).

THE NEXT STEP: The PTI reported Mohun Bagan called AIFF’s suspension “opposed to football policy” and “hurtful.” The club said that it has "yet to decide in which forum it would contest the ruling." Mohun Bagan General Secretary Anjan Mitra said, "We have received a 17-page order and we’re discussing about our next step... in which forum we shall take the matter." Claiming that the decision was a step backward, Mitra said, “Indian football, fans and peace-loving people are deeply hurt by the judgement. It’s opposed to football policy and in no way can take Indian football forward.” Mitra also "stood by the club’s decision to pull out after the interval against East Bengal on Dec. 9 when Syed Rahim Nabi was injured following violence in the stands." Mitra: “Football is important, but life is more important to us. There was a huge risk factor had we continued playing. Those who question our move don't know the ground realities." Meanwhile, "hundreds of fans holding placards chanted slogans outside the club tent and blocked the Gostha Pal Sarani that connects Eden Gardens." A protester shouted, “We cannot forget this day. It’s a black day in the club’s history” (PTI, 12/29).

UEFA President Michel Platini "renewed his call" for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be moved to the winter to avoid the crushing heat of a Gulf summer and shared with neighboring countries, according to the AFP. He told the Dubai Int'l Sports Conference a winter tournament would be "good for everyone," including organizers, spectators and the media. Qatar has undergone a project to air-condition all of the stadiums for '22, but "there has been criticism of the cost and environmental impact, as well as the outdoor temperatures facing traveling fans." Platini warned that it could reach 55 degrees Celsius (AFP, 12/28).

ANOTHER STRONG OPINION: Meanwhile, the AP reported Platini "wants to end the third-party ownership of players' transfer rights," but his proposal is being "fiercely opposed by agents who contend it would be a disaster for smaller clubs who depend on outside financing to secure big names." The issue "came up repeatedly" at a two-day conference in Dubai, UAE, "with several agents complaining the issue was being mischaracterised in the press and that imposing a ban -- which is already in place in France and England -- would only serve to further widen the gap between big and small clubs." Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes said, "If we do this, we put an end to football for small clubs." Mendes' clients include Colombia striker Radamel Falcao and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo. Others like European Football Agents Association Chair Rob Jansen said that he opposed third parties owning the rights to a player "but felt Platini was going too far with his calls to scrap the system altogether." Jansen said, "If you have third party ownership as long as it's in control of the club, then the club has to decide what will happen. There is nothing wrong with that... When you take everything out, you destroy Portugal, Spain, Holland, Belgium. You destroy entire competitions" (AP, 12/29).