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Volume 10 No. 25

International Football

Italy's second-tier football league, Serie B, "will introduce a player salary cap next season in a bid to save cash-strapped clubs from extinction," according to REUTERS. In a statement, Serie B said, "It was unanimously decided that contracts starting from July 1 must be standardised with a fixed and variable element each not exceeding €150,000 ($192,900) gross." Serie B sides "have long suffered from low crowds, dilapidated stadiums, reduced television income and a lack of transfer income with the top flight Serie A teams often preferring to look abroad for new recruits" (REUTERS, 3/26). The AP reported under the system approved Tuesday, "contracts signed by players starting July 1 will have a maximum value" of €300,000 ($385,000) per season before taxes -- divided into a maximum of €150,000 for the fixed part of the contract and a maximum of €150,000 in bonuses. Serie B President Andrea Abodi said the new rules represent "further steps forward toward financial sustainability of our clubs.'' Clubs that violate the cap "will receive penalties on their shared income, such as TV revenues" (AP, 3/26).

UEFA has defended its Financial Fair Play rules after a claim by one of Europe’s leading football lawyers that the governing body "would be unlikely to win a legal challenge," according to the London EVENING STANDARD. Jean-Louis Dupont -- part of the legal team that won the landmark Bosman ruling in the '90s and who led the case that forced FIFA and UEFA to compensate clubs for players on int'l duty -- "claims FFP will breach European competition law." The European Commission has agreed to the new laws, but Dupont said that the European Court of Justice "may take a different view." Dupont said, “Some of Europe’s biggest clubs are, unsurprisingly, the loudest supporters of rules that entrench their dominance. The time is right for a strong reminder from the EU’s anti-trust authorities that football, like any other multi-billion euro industry, must comply with the law." Dupont argues that the best way UEFA could improve the financial balance is by imposing a “luxury tax” on high-spending clubs such as Man City and Paris St. Germain (EVENING STANDARD, 3/27).

Japan's football chiefs plan to lodge a formal complaint with FIFA after "lasers were shone in players' faces during the team's 2-1 loss to Jordan" Tuesday, according to the AFP. Japan FA President Kuniya Daini said that goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and midfielder Yasuhito Endo "had the lights -- which can cause eye damage -- directed at them." Kuniya: "We will make a complaint." Endo insisted that the lasers "had not distracted him, but said players had been coping with them throughout the game." Endo: "We had the laser beams from the first half, but I didn't care. I knew I had the beam when I tried to hit a penalty shot. It didn't affect my play" (AFP, 3/27). In another piece, the AFP reported Jordan "denied accusations" Wednesday that lasers were shone in Japanese players' faces, adding that the claims "seek to justify their loss." Jordan FA VP Salah Sabra said, "Personally, I am surprised at these accusations. We did not hear or notice anything about laser. The Japanese players themselves did not complain during or after the match yesterday" (AFP, 3/27).

The Russian FA, also know as the Russian Football Union, "is urging Premier League clubs to refrain from soliciting agents in an attempt to help poorly funded sides avoid unnecessary outlays," according to R-SPORT. When players switch clubs in Russia, their agents "often receive payments from both their clients and the teams in a controversial practice known as double representation." The Russian FA said on its website, "The RFU recommends a termination of agreements between clubs and football agents if there is no significant, reasonably justified or extraordinary reason to continue them. The RFU considers the use of football agents by Russian football clubs economically unjustified and bereft of any commercial aim." Double representation "is also thought to encourage corruption, with officials quietly taking a certain percentage of the agent's artificially high fee" (R-SPORT, 3/27).