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Volume 6 No. 216

International Football

The number of int'l footballers in Europe drops from 46% for Big Five clubs to 15% for fourth echelon leagues, according to a paper written by three CIES Football Observatory researchers. At the start of the current season, Man City had 24 int'l players, the highest figure in Europe. Man City is also the team employing the highest number of players with int'l caps in '12 at 19. These figures raise the issue of player hoarding and competitive balance in European football (Football Observatory).

THE STUDY: FOOTBALLPERSPECTIVES, which published the report, noted the profile of players in the first division of football "varies greatly from one country to another." The average age of a player is higher in the richest leagues and diminishes progressively going down the rankings. The squads of "the biggest champions have more experienced players." Conversely, young players "are less numerous" in the Big Five where only 16% of players are under 22 compared to 24% in the fourth economic level. The int'l recruitment of players was for many years" hampered by the quotas limiting the number of foreigners." The Bosman ruling decreed by the European Court of Justice in December '95 "changed the rules for clubs of European Community member countries or those having signed free movement of people agreements with the EU." Communitarian players were "effectively no longer bound by quotas." At the same time, numerous leagues "liberalised the presence of non-communitarian footballers." For the Big Five, the percentage of players imported from abroad increased from 19% to 43% between '95 and '12 (FOOTBALLPERSPECTIVES, 3/21).

FIFA has been "forced to clarify" that the World Cup will be staged in Qatar in '22 as planned after its president was quoted suggesting the vote could be re-run, according to Simon Rice of the London INDEPENDENT. The decision to stage the tournament in Qatar has been "heavily criticised" due to the heat that will affect the tournament if it is staged as planned in June and July. Almost as soon as the decision to hand Qatar the tournament was made, it was mooted that the tournament could be moved to the winter -- a change that would have "huge repercussions for all of football." Yet FIFA President Sepp Blatter was quoted suggesting that such change would "affect the basic conditions of the World Cup" and could lead to the voting process to to be revisited if one of the other '22 candidates objected. However, FIFA has disputed the content of the interview and said that Blatter was referring to a "hypothetical scenario" as the dates of the event will be decided by the tournament's organizing committee. A FIFA statement read: "Nothing has changed to what we have said previously. As it stands today, the 2022 FIFA World Cup is planned to be staged in Qatar in June/July 2022. Any potential change would have to be first requested by the competition organisers, ie. Qatar, and then presented to the Fifa Executive Committee for analysis" (INDEPENDENT, 3/21).

Russian Premier League club Terek Grozny has appealed a decision by the Russian FA to play its next league game against champions Zenit St. Petersburg at a neutral ground, according to R-SPORT. The sanction was applied Wednesday after Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-appointed strongman leader of Chechnya, "allegedly demanded explanations from referee Mikhail Vilkov following his team's 0-0 draw with Rubin Kazan on Sunday." Terek VP Khaidar Alkhanov said, "We've filed an appeal. It's unclear when they'll examine it, but we intend to ensure a home game at our stadium." Kadyrov's visit to the referee's room also earned the club a 100,000 ruble ($3,200) fine. In a separate incident during the game, the public address announcer was heard saying Vilkov was "bought" after he sent off a Terek player (R-SPORT, 3/21).

FANS GET IN FREE: In Moscow, Aleksandras Budrys wrote Kadyrov said that Terek Grozny fans intending to watch the team's next Russian Premier League match "will be able to do so for free." He said, “We’ve decided to do everything we can so that our fans don’t suffer from the decision by the disciplinary committee to stage the game at a neutral venue. Regardless of the number of people who want to see the game, everybody will get the opportunity to go there, get tickets and even have lunch for free." He said that all expenses "will be covered by a regional charity fund named after his father Akhmat," who was assassinated in '04 (MOSCOW NEWS, 3/21).

UEFA President Michel Platini is still considering whether to run for the post of FIFA president in '15. He said, “I don't know what I will do. I have been thinking about it for a long time now since almost everybody asks me about it" (SAPA, 3/21). ... FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said he will "not stand for a fifth term" when his current mandate ends in '15 as long as there is a candidate to replace him who he believes will continue his work to "globalise" football. Blatter: "I will not carry on as long as there is at least one candidate prepared to continue my work" (REUTERS, 3/21). ... Austrian betting organizations say they have "indications that two Dutch first-division matches" in the '10-'11 season were possibly fixed. The match between FC Eindhoven and FV Volendam (0-3) and between FC Volendam and Fortuna Sittard (2-1) show "enough signs of fixing to merit further investigation" (XINHUA, 3/21).