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Volume 10 No. 24

International Football

Employment-related complaints by two int'l players, one of whom is barred from leaving Qatar, "threaten to overshadow the 2022 World Cup organizing committee’s release of a charter of worker’s rights designed to fend off criticism of labor conditions in the Gulf state," according to James M. Dorsey of MIDDLE EAST ONLINE. In separate interviews French-Algerian player Zahir Belounis, who is locked into a salary dispute with Al Jaish SC, the club owned by the Qatari military, and Moroccan int'l Abdessalam Ouadoo, who left Qatar last November to join AS Nancy-Lorraine, "complained about failure to honor their contracts and pay their salaries as well as ill treatment." The Qatar Stars League, the country’s premier league, "did not respond to requests for comment." Belounis "is locked into a court battle with Al Jaish to get payment of almost two years of unpaid salary." He "has been barred from leaving the country in a bid to force him to settle for a fraction of what is owed to him." Quadoo, who is owed five months’ salary, "denounced the alleged refusal of Qataris to honor contracts." He said, "The Qataris showed me no respect and I can never forgive them for that." Int'l players union FIFPro Africa division Secretary General Stephane Burckhalter, whose group reportedly is investigating Belounis’ case, said about Ouadoo’s experience: "Nothing can justify this. These practices are shocking, unacceptable and outrageous." The complaints of Belounis and Ouadoo "could not have come at a worse moment for Qatar." They coincided with the unveiling by Qatar’s 2022 Supreme Committee Workers’ Charter that "would be binding on World Cup-related projects." The charter, a set of lofty principles, affirms the right of those working on projects "to be treated in a manner that ensures at all times their well-being, health, safety and security" (MIDDLE EAST ONLINE, 4/30).

The South African FA on Tuesday "called for an independent probe into claims that it was involved in match-fixing schemes before the 2010 FIFA World Cup," according to XINHUA. A SAFA delegation led by Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation said that the government "should expedite the establishment of an independent judicial commission of inquiry to investigate match-fixing allegations involving the national team Bafana Bafana." SAFA National Exec Committee member Poobalan Govindasamy said, "We urge the government to set up an independent judicial commission of inquiry into these rumors as soon as possible." South Africa reached an agreement with FIFA last month "that an independent inquiry should be set up to deal with match-fixing allegations." SAFA's national exec committee subsequently "endorsed this agreement" (XINHUA, 5/1).

NEXT GENERATION: XINHUA also reported SAFA on Monday "unveiled a development program with the aim of reviving the country's national teams." The program, "made possible through funding provided by the 2010 FIFA World Cup Legacy Trust," will enable SAFA to conduct tournaments among U13 and U15 Boys and Girls Leagues in all the association's 311 Local Football Associations. The tournaments "will kick off in May this year." In the process, 1,000 boys and 1,000 girls who show potential "will be identified and put through high performance tests conducted by high performance universities" (XINHUA, 4/29).

EPL Liverpool and kit manufacturer Warrior revealed the Reds' new home kit for the '13-14 season. The new home strip is based on the iconic shirt of the '83-84 season, which was worn during the club's fourth European Cup win in Rome (Liverpool). ... A fan club of Chilean football club Independiente has agreed to reward the club's players with a leg of ham for every goal scored. Independiente has struggled to produce goals this season, and "now it has added motivation." The club's directors have a deal with grocery store Alimentos Vaes, which provides each player who scores a goal with a leg of Red Label ham. The team joins Serie A club Palermo, which has also rewarded goal scorers with hams (OLÉ, 5/1). ... Furious Bulgarian football fans designed a symbolic tomb in the center of the field at CSKA Sofia football club's stadium Tuesday night. The removed grass was accompanied by a cross with the name, "Titan," the company that owns the club. The grass also featured the words, "Titan=embarrassment." The club's workers repaired the field Wednesday morning. CSKA Sofia, "one of the most popular clubs in Sofia, has suffered a crisis since a few years ago, with constant coaching changes" (EMOL, 5/1). ... Former FIFA Exec Committee member Vernon Manilal Fernando "plans to appeal his eight-year ban from football" (AP, 5/1).