FIFA President Sepp Blatter has denounced UEFA President Michel Platini’s plan "to stage the 2020 European Championship across the entire continent and called on UEFA to change the name of the tournament," according to Graeme Yorke of the London DAILY MAIL. UEFA revealed in January that Euro 2020 "will be held in 13 cities across the continent" with the semifinals and final being played in the same stadium. But Blatter is not "impressed with the plans." He said, "A tournament should be played in one country. That is how you create identity and euphoria. They have fragmented the 2020 tournament. So it is not a European Championship any more. It has to have a different name. I do not know what name. Such a Euro lacks heart and soul" (DAILY MAIL, 3/14).
TAKING A SHOT: The AP reported Blatter's comments "are seen as a dig" at Platini, who could be Blatter's rival for the FIFA presidency in '15. Blatter did not rule out running again in '15, although he said that "he is also ready to turn over the reins to someone else" (AP, 3/14). REUTERS' Karolos Grohmann reported UEFA said that "12 cities would be awarded a package of three group games plus one knockout-stage game," either from the round of 16 or quarterfinals. A special 13th package "would be awarded, consisting of the two semifinals and final with UEFA eager to split the costs for the bigger tournament and celebrate its 60th anniversary across Europe" (REUTERS, 3/14).
Brasileiro club Cruzeiro will train in the U.S. this year, becoming the third Brazilian team to "undertake an overseas trip designed to give them more exposure to international competition and promote their brand in new markets," according to Andrew Downie of REUTERS. The Belo Horizonte club said it would spend a week training in Orlando before "hopefully ending the trip with at least one friendly match against a U.S. club." Brasileiro champions Fluminense and promoted Atletico Paranaense said last month that they would "send teams" to the U.S. and Europe respectively. The teams can travel because the Brazilian season will pause for two weeks in June as the country hosts the Confederations Cup (REUTERS, 3/14).
The Qatar FA has "denied a report" that the Gulf state is planning to launch a summer football league paying Europe’s leading clubs £175M ($264M) each to compete, according to Paul Kelso of the London TELEGRAPH. A Qatar FA statement read, "With regard to the story published in today’s edition of The Times newspaper concerning a 'Dreams Football League’, the Qatar Football Association and other Qatari football entities can categorically confirm that we have no involvement in any such initiative and has heard nothing to suggest such a concept is genuine.” Sources close to the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid were "dismissive of the story." They pointed out that it would be "impossible for Doha to stage the tournament" at the reported start date of '15 as it has only one air-cooled stadium with a capacity of 12,000. They did acknowledge, however, that the story "could damage Doha’s relationship" with FIFA and UEFA, both of which said they had not been approached about the scheme (TELEGRAPH, 3/13).