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Volume 6 No. 215

International Football

Spanish private detective agency Método 3 spied on Barcelona players under former club Manager Pep Guardiola, according to Antonio Fernández of EL CONFIDENCIAL. The soon to be Bayern Munich coach "was interested in knowing what his football stars were during in their free time." He wanted his players "to focus on football," so they could perform to the best of their abilities when on the pitch. Investigators would call the house phone of some of Barcelona star players to see "if they were indeed at home and not spending the night at the bars." A person who worked at the club during Guardiola's time said, "He was obsessed with the players keeping their private life in order." Amongst the players followed by detectives were Ronaldinho, Deco and Eto'o. But the player most-watched was defender Gerard Piqué, who was followed during various time periods including in both '08 and '10. The attention given to the player "increased after he started a romance" with singer Shakira (EL CONFIDENCIAL, 2/25).

Cairos technologies AG, the parent company of Impire AG, has become the third FIFA licensed goal-line technology provider, after meeting all the test requirements. Cairos’ system was tested by the independent Swiss institute EMPA, and conducted its on pitch tests between Dec. 18-20, firstly at Karlsruhe’s Wildparkstadion, and then at the club grounds of the regional side ATSV Mutschelbach, in Germany (FIFA). The AP reported Cairos, a German system using magnetic field technology, "joins Hawk-Eye and GoalRef as officially approved projects." Last week, FIFA "invited bidders to compete for the World Cup and 2013 Confederations Cup contract." FIFA said that "it aims to choose the winner in April." A fourth system "has also completed testing and could join the race" (AP, 2/25). REUTERS' Brian Homewood reported the Cairos system "uses magnetic fields set up around the goals to determine whether or not the ball has crossed the line in situations where it is not clear to the naked eye" (REUTERS, 2/25).

An Italy-based sheikh "has been given until March 14 whether to invest" a reported $66M in Serie A club AS Roma, according to ISPORTCONNECT. The club confirmed last week that a preliminary agreement had been reached with Sheikh Adnan Adel Aref al Qaddumi al Shtewi and his company, NEEP Roma Holding SpA, to enter the club "directly or indirectly." Roma is currently owned by Italian-American company DiBenedetto AS Roma LLC, headed by James Pallotta, who "is expected to continue as president even if Al Qaddumi purchases a significant percentage of the club's shares." Al Qaddumi said, "I've always been a big Roma fan and always intended to invest in Italy. I love this country, and I feel 100% Italian and want to stay here" (ISPORTCONNECT, 2/25). BLOOMBERG's Alex Duff reported AS Roma SpA's stock rose 9.7% after the football team said that "U.S. investors, who own a controlling stake reached a preliminary agreement." The shares closed at €53.8 ($70.8) Friday, "their highest since Sept. 26" (BLOOMBERG, 2/22).

Scottish football "is on the brink of its greatest shake-up in decades," but Scottish Premier League Celtic CEO Peter Lawwell "is hardly getting overexcited," according to Mure Dickie of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Lawwell said that "plans to reorganise the current four leagues into three, with the top two breaking midseason into three separate play-off groups, will offer only a partial solution to the problems of the national game." He said, "We think it’s a positive and that it will help the game, but it will not transform the game." The main benefit "will be to help boost excitement and attendances by creating more meaningful games, as teams at the top battle for the championship and places in European competition, while those lower down fight over relegation and promotion." Though past talk of joining the EPL "has led nowhere," Lawwell "sees hints of willingness among European football regulators toward leagues that cross national borders." He said, "There is polarization within the game, and that will lead to change" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 2/24).