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Volume 6 No. 212

International Football

FIFA President Sepp Blatter is "unruffled by Brazil's stop-start preparations" for the 2014 World Cup, saying that "delays and hiccups are part and parcel of the run-up to the tournament," according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. Brazil's preparations have been "dogged by delays to stadiums and other infrastructure, and deadlines have been repeatedly missed." Blatter said that he was not concerned. Blatter: "I would never measure organizing countries against the punctuality of Swiss trains" (REUTERS, 3/19). The AP wrote Brazil has delivered "only two of six stadiums so far" for the Confederations Cup in June. The iconic Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro has an April 27 completion deadline. Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said that he plans to join Blatter in touring the 12 World Cup host cities during his visit for the Confederations Cup in late June. Rebelo said officials were monitoring "very, very carefully'' the situation in Sao Paulo where stadium construction funding had not been released by a bank (AP, 3/19).

The "prospect of the 2022 World Cup being switched to the winter has increased" after Premier League Chair Dave Richards and Britain's FIFA VP Jim Boyce both offered support for the move, according to Martyn Ziegler of the PA. The Premier League has always strongly opposed a change, but Richards admitted that "the tournament cannot be staged in the summer due to the heat." Boyce has now backed UEFA President Michel Platini's call for the tournament to be held during the winter. Richards said: "I think they will play (the World Cup) at a time that is proper for football, but they will have to speak to the leagues in Europe. They will have to agree proper times when we can start and finish" (PA, 3/19).

EPL AGAINST SWITCH: The BBC reported the Premier League said that "it is opposed" to holding the World Cup in the winter "despite comments from chairman Sir Dave Richards." A Premier League spokesperson said its "view remains unchanged" in spite of Richard's comments. The spokesperson said, "We are opposed to a winter World Cup for obvious practical reasons that would impact on all European domestic football" (BBC, 3/19).

TIME TO PREPARE: In London, Ashling O'Connor reported Richards called on FIFA to decide whether the Qatar World Cup "would be staged in the winter, so professional leagues had time to accommodate it within busy fixture lists." Richards said that the big European leagues would initially be "up in arms" over any proposal to switch the tournament to the winter months, but said he believed it would ultimately happen. He said, "For us [the Premier League], at this minute, the answer is no. But if you take the proper view that we may have to find a way where we have a winter period where we don’t play, I think common sense will prevail over time." The idea of moving the dates of the 2022 World Cup "is increasingly gaining traction." The debate "is stuck in a political stand-off." The Qatari organizers said that it is up to FIFA to make the decision, but FIFA "wants them to propose it amid suggestions that Australia and the United States, which bid against Qatar, could challenge the move in the courts." FIFA said that "the options could remain open" until the '19-22 schedule is set (LONDON TIMES, 3/19).

EPL Newcastle United has accused the FA of presiding over disciplinary procedures that are ''not fit for purpose" after learning that Wilgan Athletic forward Callum McManaman will not be punished for his "extremely dangerous" challenge on left back Massadio Haïdara, according to Tony Barrett of the LONDON TIMES. English football’s governing body "had been under pressure to take retrospective action" against McManaman for the lunge that led to Haïdara being carried off during the first half of Newcastle’s 2-1 defeat by Wigan in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday. However, after a meeting of the FA’s governance department, "it was decided that no further action would be take."  The decision "provoked fury" from Newcastle, who immediately released a statement from Managing Dir Derek Llambias which he "condemned the FA" for failing to punish McManaman and also expressed disappointment at the claim by Wigan Chair Dave Whelan that the tackle had been “fair” (LONDON TIMES, 3/20).