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Volume 6 No. 214

International Football

Galatasaray striker Didier Drogba "is at the centre of claims that he isn't eligible to play in the Champions League," according to Mike Anstead of the London DAILY MAIL. The former Chelsea striker "made his return in the competition" in Galatasaray's 1-1 draw against Bundesliga club Schalke Wednesday night. It was the first time he has "played in the tournament since helping the Blues to victory in the final against Bayern Munich" in May. Drogba "is now facing claims that he should not have been allowed on the pitch to face the Germans" (DAILY MAIL, 2/21). The BBC's Stephen Fottrell reported Schalke has "lodged a protest" with UEFA over Drogba's participation. The club said on its official Twitter account: "There are doubts about the validity of the permission to play Drogba in the Champions League. Schalke 04 reserves its rights and is looking into this." UEFA confirmed it had received "a protest concerning Drogba's eligibility." UEFA said that "its disciplinary panel would investigate the matter but had not yet set a date" (BBC, 2/21).

Bundesliga club Bayern Munich and the city of Munich "launched a joint bid on Thursday to host Euro 2020" matches at the club's Allianz Arena, according to Karolos Grohmann of REUTERS. Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said, "We have shown by hosting the 2012 Champions League final that we are in a position to be [a] good and nice host. The stadium is known around Europe." UEFA said last month that Euro 2020 "will be held in 13 cities across the continent" and the semifinals and final "will be played in the same stadium." One city per country "will be picked for the matches, with the capital Berlin also considered a possible candidate for games during Euro 2020." Munich "has hosted several other major events in the past" including the 1972 Summer Olympics, matches -- including the final -- for the 1974 World Cup and the 2006 World Cup (REUTERS, 2/21).

A leading fans’ group "has warned violent attacks against British football fans could put many off travelling to Europe to support their clubs," according to Rawlinson & Penketh of the London INDEPENDENT. The fears "were expressed after football supporters were hurt in a violent, apparently anti-Semitic attack in France" Wednesday night. Supporters of Tottenham Hotspur "were assaulted in Lyon by '50 masked men,' whom witnesses said were giving Nazi salutes." Football Supporters Federation Chair Malcolm Clarke said he believed that "the threat of more violence would cause some fans to stay home." He said: "Any trip abroad, even the cheapest costs quite a lot of money, so there is certainly a danger. People are not going to pay out large sums of money if they think they are going to be at risk of violence" (INDEPENDENT, 2/21).

Italian police "have taken into custody a suspected football match fixer alleged to be part of an international crime ring centred on Singapore that has already resulted in 50 arrests worldwide," according to Sanderson & Segreti of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The seizure of Admir Suljic at Milan’s Malpensa airport from a flight from Singapore after a tip-off from INTERPOL "is the latest twist in an international police probe, spanning 13 European countries and carried out over almost two years." The investigations "have exposed Singapore as the centre of a match-fixing business with deals reaching into football clubs across the world." Italian state police said that Suljic "had been on the run since December 2011 and had spent a lengthy period in Singapore in close contact with several members of the match-fixing group" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 2/21).

BRIDGING THE GAP: The AP reported INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald Noble said that "the man is wanted in Italy because he is allegedly working for Singaporean businessman Tan Seet Eng, known as Dan Tan, for whom Italian authorities have issued an arrest warrant." Noble said the arrest is "important because the world believes that law enforcement can’t do anything to take down this criminal organization, the world believes that (Tan) and his associates can’t be touched, that they are above the law." Tan "is accused of heading a crime syndicate that made millions of dollars betting on rigged Italian football matches." Italian officials "have been unable to take Tan into custody as the arrest warrant could not be served as he’s in Asia" (AP, 2/21). The STRAITS TIMES' Wang Meng Meng reported Tan "is now helping Singaporean authorities with investigations." The Singapore Police Force "did not reveal further information" (STRAITS TIMES, 2/21). The STRAITS TIMES' Wang also reported a team of four senior officers from the Singapore Police Force and Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau "will be heading to the INTERPOL Headquarters in Lyon, France, within the next two weeks." They "will join the INTERPOL Global Anti-Match-fixing Taskforce to assist in match-fixing investigations" (STRAITS TIMES, 2/21).

FEARFUL FOOTBALLERS: REUTERS reported the regional head of world player union FIFPro said that "fearful footballers in Asia need better protection, education and a trusting environment before they can aid whistleblowing against match-fixing." Officials met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Wednesday for a two-day conference on the issue. FIFPro Asian Chair Brendan Schwab said, "We have got players in Asia that are fearful of even forming a players' association or reporting contractual breaches, so that level of fear needs to be addressed." Schwab said that the fearless criminals "allegedly orchestrating the match-fixing posed a great concern for possible player confessions." He said, "You are dealing with organized crime who will take whatever measures are necessary to implement their plan" (REUTERS, 2/21).

A young Bolivian fan was killed during a Copa Libertadores match in Oruro, Bolivia between Brazilian club Corinthians and Bolivian side San Jose. The San Jose fan was killed by a flare launched by Corinthians supporters (FOLHA DE S. PAULO, 2/21). ... La Liga club Espanyol "is studying" the possibility of making a trip to Indonesia after this season. The club would play friendlies against local teams (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 2/21).