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Volume 10 No. 22

International Football

Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore wants world football to "follow his lead by banning investment funds from buying shares in players," a $3B-a-year market, according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG.  His opponents say that the plan "won’t work." The world’s richest football league was roiled in '06 when West Ham United signed Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, two Argentines whose transfer rights were "wholly owned by funds." The deal led to lawsuits, fines and a "controversy that still rages." Scudamore said, “A player in my view is not indentured slavery. The registration of that player has been bought for the benefit of that club, and then that club either works that player to the end of his useful life, like any other asset, or that player is transferred.” The former Thomson Corp. senior VP persuaded the Premier League to "outlaw the practice" in '08 and has lobbied FIFA to do likewise. FIFA said it is evaluating the “complex matter.” UEFA has said that if FIFA fails to take action it "will introduce its own ban." The investment-fund issue has "split the sport." While UEFA may ban it, and France and Poland have already done so, it is "accepted in southern Europe and South America." Eighteen-time Portuguese champion Sporting Lisbon has "sold stakes in all but four of its 28-member roster." Traffic Sports int'l business President Jochen Loesch said in Brazil, 90% of players in the country’s top league “are somehow linked to investors.” The company has invested more than $75M in the rights of about 60 players since it was established in '07 (BLOOMBERG, 3/6).

UAE FA Chair Yousuf Al Serkal called UEFA President Michel Platini's idea that Qatar share the 2022 World Cup hosting rights with its Middle East neighbors "crazy," according to Sudipto Ganguly of REUTERS. Platini has long called for the World Cup to be "shared by the tiny Arab state and that the tournament should be moved to the end of the year to avoid the soaring temperature in June and July." The Frenchman, tipped to succeed FIFA President Sepp Blatter, "reiterated his stance on Saturday." But Al Serkal, who is chasing the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation at its May elections, "found the suggestion humorous." Al Serkal said, "It is a crazy idea. First of all this cannot happen. The FIFA executive committee has already taken a decision and awarded the 2022 World Cup to the Qataris. We support Qatar to host the World Cup independently and we are not interested in any sharing." Al Serkal, also a Asian Football Confederation VP, said that he was "a fan of the introduction of goalline technology," another issue which Platini "staunchly opposes." He said, "I think it is a good idea. I had attended a FA board meeting in England and FIFA had explained the whole idea behind the technology and I am definitely a supporter" (REUTERS, 3/7).

FIFA has written to the Nigerian FA over reports that "lesbians had been banned from playing football" in the West African nation, according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. A FIFA spokesperson confirmed the letter, but emphasised that "it was a preliminary inquiry." Nigerian media reports have widely quoted Nigeria women's football league Chair Dilichukwu Onyedinma as saying that "lesbian players would not be allowed to compete." Onyedinma said, "Any player that we find is associated with it will be disqualified (REUTERS, 3/7). The BBC reported the situation "is made more complicated because homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria." Currently, a Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill that specifically outlaws same-sex unions "is awaiting a signature" from President Goodluck Jonathan to go in to law. If that occurs, "gatherings of homosexuals or any other support for gay clubs, organisations, unions -- whether in secret or in public -- will be banned, with same-sex couples facing up to 14 years in prison" (BBC, 3/7).

La Liga club Valencia was eliminated in the Champions League round of 16 by Paris St. Germain on Wednesday, but the club will still receive $16.6M ($21.6M) from UEFA. If the team had been able to make it into the quarterfinals it would have been guaranteed another €3.9M ($5M) (MARCA, 3/7). ... Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua "has raised its bonus rates to motivate its players" during the new season.  Under the revised scheme, the team, as a whole, will be rewarded with 1.5M yuan ($24,000) for each CSL victory, up from 1M yuan last season (CHINA DAILY, 3/7). ... League One side Tranmere Rover FC "will be wearing special shirts featuring the Prostate Cancer UK logo at Saturday’s home game against Oldham Athletic," which will then go to an online auction to raise money for the charity. Tranmere’s kit supplier, Fila, "has donated the extra set of shirts" (LIVERPOOL ECHO, 3/7). ... West Yorkshire Police "has lost its appeal case over the costs of policing matches" at League Championship Leeds United's Elland Road stadium. The decision means that "the force will have to repay" about £1M ($1.6M) to Leeds United for three years worth of policing fees (BBC, 3/7). ... UEFA said that ManU defender Rio Ferdinand "will not face disciplinary action after sarcastically clapping Cüneyt Çakir, the referee, at the end of the Champions League last-16 defeat by Real Madrid." Ferdinand "approached the official immediately after the full-time whistle and clapped his hands in his face to indicate his anger at the sending-off of Nani" (LONDON TIMES, 3/7).