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Volume 6 No. 212

International Football

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar "could be moved to winter if medical reports show summer temperatures in Qatar would be dangerously high," according to Richard Conway of the BBC. FIFA has "always maintained that Qatar would have to make the request to move the tournament." However, FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke, speaking at the meeting of the Int'l FA Board in Edinburgh, Scotland, became the first senior FIFA official to "say the event could be moved if they receive strong medical advice that it needs to do so." Valcke: "Maybe the FIFA Exco [exec committee] will say based on medical reports or whatever: 'We really have to look at playing the World Cup not in summer but in winter'" (BBC, 3/2). In London, Andrew Warshaw reported tournament organizers have said that a decision on moving to a winter date would have to be made by '14 "in order to give national leagues time to reorganise their calendars." However, Valcke indicated that could be extended to '15. Valcke: "As long as we've not fixed the international calendar, all alternatives are open" (DAILY MAIL, 3/2).

SOUND BITES: REUTERS' Mike Collett reported Valcke "stepped into the seemingly never-ending debate" at a media briefing following the IFAB meeting. Valcke said, "FIFA has never said 'never,' we have just said 'we are waiting for Qatar to officially ask FIFA to look at the potential to move the World Cup from summer to winter' and that has not happened yet." He added, "The most important thing is to make sure work with all stakeholders and make sure there is full agreement with all parties, leagues, clubs and we would have to find eight weeks in the mid-season to play the World Cup." Valcke said FIFA's exec committee would "make a unilateral decision only if there were strong medical evidence in favor of a change" (REUTERS, 3/2).

REGIONAL HELP: Deutsche Welle's Mark Hallam reported UEFA President Michel Platini told Germany's Bild paper that the Qatar World Cup "should not take place in the summer." Platini also said "it should not just take place in Qatar, incorporating the region instead." Platini said if he were FIFA President he would let the event take place in Qatar "with great pleasure." Platini told Bild that "he approved the hosting of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with two provisos:" that the event would take place in winter and that it "wouldn't be solely in Qatar." Platini: "The neighboring emirates must be incorporated so that the World Cup takes place in the entire region" (DW, 3/2). ARABIAN BUSINESS' Neil King reported critics "have questioned whether Qatar has the necessary infrastructure to stage the event." Countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait "could be called upon to help stage the tournament by hosting matches and providing accommodation for the huge number of fans which are expected to arrive in the region" (ARABIAN BUSINESS, 3/3).

FIFA President Sepp Blatter revealed the organization is establishing a task force to deal with racism in football, according to Mike Collett of REUTERS. Blatter said that the task force would be headed by CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb. Football has been "blighted by a never-ending series of racist incidents from fans especially in eastern Europe, often met with derisory fines and punishments amounting to little more than a slap on the wrist." However, this week UEFA "finally took some stricter measures" by ordering Italian club Lazio to play its next two European home matches behind closed doors because of repeated racism from supporters and fined the club €40,000 ($52,000) (REUTERS, 3/1). The AP reported Blatter is calling for a “united front of the football community in our zero-tolerance policy against racism.” Blatter: “We have to work on it but we cannot do it alone. It is a big, big problem also of education and understanding, and [needs] a little bit also of solidarity" (AP, 3/2). In London, Andrew Warshaw wrote Webb wants to meet John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Luis Suarez after expressing "huge concern" about controversial recent incidents in the Premier League. Webb wants "first-hand insight into its resurgence in the English game." Webb met FA Chair David Bernstein in Edinburgh for more than an hour Friday. He said that black players had been "sorely let down by the authorities." Webb: "Football has been talking for a long time but we have not been sufficiently supporting the players" (DAILY MAIL, 3/2).


Q: What is the role and scope of this new taskforce?
Jeffrey Webb: There are two main elements as I see it. Firstly we'll be reviewing the current sanctions for anti-discrimination. The second is an education process, where I want to engage players, the broader football community and NGOs.

Q: Why do you think there has been a resurgence of racism in the game globally?
Webb: I don't know. Just because racism exists in society, it doesn't mean we have to tolerate it. As a football family we have to sit down, and look at ourselves in the mirror. Do people of colour really have the chance, or equal opportunity to coach or become involved in football administration? I want to have the chance to sit down with players, people who have been victimised, and listen to their experiences.

Q: What are the next steps for your taskforce?
Webb: The plan is for more concrete proposals to be discussed and formalised at the Executive Committee on 20 and 21 March. I would hope for the Taskforce to comprise representatives from FIFA's six Confederations, and also to involve some campaign groups, who have been fighting to eradicate discrimination for many, many years (FIFA).

FIFA has decided that competition organizers will be free to decide whether to use goal-line technology, meaning Premier League clubs are "likely to use it for domestic games from next season but will be forbidden from doing so during European matches," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. FIFA has committed to using goal-line technology in the Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup. The Premier League will "seek to use it from the beginning of next season," and the FA will install it at London's Wembley Stadium in time for the Community Shield in August. However, UEFA President Michel Platini "remains implacably opposed" to the use of goal-line technology. Even though Premier League clubs will have it installed, it is "unlikely to be switched on for Champions League and Europa League ties" (GUARDIAN, 3/2).

AFTER FURTHER REVIEW: REUTERS' Mike Collett reported the Int'l FA Board "approved the use of images on giant screens and on TV" of goal-line incidents and said that it was "up to the individual competition organisers to allow those images to be used in stadiums or not." Competition organizers "can now also determine whether to approve the use of goal-line technology in their own competitions," whether it be a domestic league or a cup competition, but "not all matches in any particular competition have to use it." Scottish FA CEO Stewart Regan said, "If goal-line technology exists in a stadium, there is no advantage to one side or the other and therefore if the technology exists and it has been switched on and agreed by the competition organisers then there is no reason why it can't be used." Wales FA CEO Jonathan Ford said, "The decision we made on goal-line technology is that there is no compulsion to use it, nor is there any prohibition" (REUTERS, 3/2). SKY SPORTS reported goal-line technology "looks set to be used in this year's Community Shield, with replays of decisions to be shown on television." FA General Secretary Alex Horne is "confident the traditional Wembley curtain-raiser will see the controversial system in operation," but stadium replays of incidents "may not be permitted," despite clearance from FIFA (SKY SPORTS, 3/1).

Scottish FA CEO Stewart Regan was adamant Saturday night that "there was no question" of himself or president Campbell Ogilvie being forced to quit over the governing body's handling of the Rangers EBT affair, according to Stewart Fisher of the HERALD SCOTLAND. Fresh criticism has been levelled at both men since Nimmo Smith's commission into Rangers fined the oldco £250,000 ($375,000) for "serious non-disclosure of contractual details, yet stopped short of stripping titles after concluding they gained no competitive advantage from the process." Regan sought to explain the process "whereby the potential docking of titles was aired in talks over the birth of the newco Ibrox club, and called for all parties to move on." Regan said, "My inbox over the past 12 months has been full of messages on the one hand saying that Rangers have been treated too harshly and on the other hand saying they hadn't been treated harshly enough. Now is a very good time for all parties to draw a line under all that has gone on in the last 12 months" (HERALD SCOTLAND, 3/3). In London, Ewan Murray wrote SPL Celtic Manager Neil Lennon has stressed the "guilt" of Rangers in relation to undisclosed payments between the years of '00 and '11. Lennon said: "They were found guilty. They were found guilty of £47M in non-disclosed payments, whether that gave them a competitive edge or not? The tribunal said it didn't but I've got my own views on that" (GUARDIAN, 3/1).

The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has suspended Peruvian int'l footballer Joel Melchor Sánchez Alegría. The player has been suspended for a period of two years after testing positive for Methylhexaneamine, a substance included on WADA’s 2012 prohibited list (FIFA). ... Brazilian security forces "seized control of two crime-ridden slums near Rio de Janeiro's international airport and seaport Sunday" in a new bid to drive out drug traffickers ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 summer Olympics (AFP, 3/4).