The Australian Football League has virtually ruled out extending the '14 season to 24 games, with league CEO Andrew Demetriou admitting that "the lack of hope of reaching finals for close to one third of the clubs in the competition would prove one key negative to a longer season," according to Caroline Wilson of THE AGE. That sentiment was echoed by AFL Players Association CEO Matt Finnis, who said that "the worrying unequal nature of the competition would only be 'exacerbated by a longer season.'" The AFL on Thursday "will briefly outline a number of 2014 fixture alternatives at a meeting of all 18 club chiefs," with the league reportedly committed to two byes for its players next year and the prospect of a NAB Cup preseason grand final increasingly unlikely (THE AGE, 5/15).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
Footballers found guilty of racial abuse will be served a minimum five-match ban that could extend beyond 10 in “aggravated” circumstances under FA plans to be approved on Thursday, according to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES. The FA will "vote on its revised anti-discrimination policy at its annual meeting amid growing pressure to clamp down on racism in the English game." Outgoing FA Chair David Bernstein is "keen to set a clear benchmark for sanctions but does not want to be held ransom to the proposal" by UEFA for a 10-game minimum ban. UEFA is "expected to ask its 53 member associations to ratify the measure at its congress in London next week against a backdrop of rising frustration at persistent racism in some parts of European football." Bernstein said that "he was determined to push through tougher sanctions" but would not mirror UEFA's minimum 10-match ban. Bernstein: "Ours is a very detailed and thought-out proposal. It is not likely to be exactly in line with UEFA's. Ours will have a minimum, but it will have a clear acceleration from that minimum for more serious incidents. If an insult has been repeated or there are aggravating factors. We may well go beyond the 10” (LONDON TIMES, 5/14). The AP reported the FA leadership has been "under pressure to introduce tougher and clearer sanctions." In the past two years Liverpool striker Luis Suárez and Chelsea captain John Terry "have been banned for racial abuse." Suárez was suspended for eight games, while Terry received half that punishment. English football anti-racism group Kick It Out Chair Herman Ouseley is calling for stronger deterrents. Ouseley: "If UEFA are prepared to go with 10 -- let's go with 10 [in England]. We will look stupid if UEFA go with 10 and we go with five" (GUARDIAN, 5/13).
BLATTER CRITICIZES FINE: In London, Owen Gibson reported FIFA President Sepp Blatter "has condemned the Italian football authorities for only levying" a fine of €50,000 ($64,845) over "racist abuse" aimed at AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli and midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng by Roma fans, "undermining his drive for stronger sanctions." Blatter said that it was "surprising" and "not understandable" that within 24 hours of the incident at San Siro, which caused the referee to stop play for several minutes while order was restored, "the Italian football federation had levied the paltry fine and closed the book." Blatter: "What is surprising and is not understandable for me, is that the disciplinary committee of the Italian Football Federation has taken a decision, not even 24 hours after the event, by just imposing a fine. They have not made any investigation of what happened" (GUARDIAN, 5/14).
DROGBA RESPONDS: EUROSPORT reported Turkish club Galatasaray striker Didier Drogba "hit back at a Fenerbahce fan who waved a banana" toward him and his teammate Emmanuel Eboue during the weekend's league encounter. A Fenerbahce fan was stabbed to death and more than 100 fans were detained following Turkey's most popular derby. Drogba highlighted "that both Fenerbahce goals were scored by Cameroon striker Pierre Webo." Drogba said on Galatasaray's Facebook page, "You called me monkey but you got mad when I became champion with Galatasaray and the saddest thing is you called me monkey and forgot that you jumped when my 'monkey' brother scored twice yesterday. ... And you call yourself a true fan? Check all the Galatasaray fans' comments and learn from them" (EUROSPORT, 5/14). EL MUNDO reported that Drogba also said, "You call me monkey but you cried when Chelsea eliminated Fenerbahce in 2008, you called me monkey but you jumped in front of your TV when I won the Champions League" (EL MUNDO, 5/14).
The Australian Federal Parliament will be asked on Wednesday to move a bill by the Greens "aimed at drastically reducing the promotion of gambling during sports broadcasts," according to Greg Baum of THE AGE. The Greens "will also present a 20,000-signature petition demanding such action." The bill "will seek to ban gambling ads before 9pm, ban the spruiking of live odds during sports broadcasts and other sports programs, and ban so-called 'cash for comment,' with commentators and guests paid to insinuate gambling information into their work." Greens Sen. Richard Di Natale said, "It is now virtually impossible to watch major sports without being subjected to multiple exhortations to bet on the outcome, either during the advertising breaks or, increasingly, by commentators during the event itself." Adding to the potential for harm was a blurring of the lines between commentary and advertising, Di Natale said, ''The recent inclusion of a prominent bookmaker as part of the rugby league coverage has caused concern for many" (THE AGE, 5/15).
Bundesliga referees "will receive distinctively more money starting with the '13-14 season," according to the SID. Germany's elite FIFA refeeres will receive a fixed salary of €60,000 ($78,000) instead of €40,000 ($52,000) starting with the new season. The "salary of Germany's top referees will increase even more" and reach €75,000 ($97,000) by '16-17. At a meeting between the German Football Federation (DFB) and the German Football League (DFL) at which the salary increases were decided on, DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach said, "Our referees have an extremely high responsibility and perform extraordinarily. It is our duty, and together with the DFL our desire, to react to the increased requirements at the elite level and provide the German referees with the best possible conditions." German FIFA referees and Bundesliga referees with more than five years experience will receive €50,000 ($65,000) instead of currently €30,000 ($39,000). All other Bundesliga referees will receive €40,000 starting with the '13-14 season, previously €20,000 ($26,000), which will increase to €55,000 ($71,000) by '16-17 (SID, 5/13).
Racing's rulers "have denied suggestions they are losing control following a series of damaging claims about drug use, race fixing and criminal involvement in the industry," according to Michael Lynch of THE AGE. But they accept that racing's image "is taking a hit -- unfairly, they insist -- as a series of revelations that strike to the core of the sector's integrity continue to issue from media, insiders and police." Racing authorities said on Tuesday that "they wanted to take tougher, swifter action to weed out cheats and any criminal element infiltrating the industry, but their hands were tied unless information uncovered by police in a criminal investigation can be given to racing authorities." Racing Victoria Integrity Operations Manager Dayle Brown said, "We need the co-operation of the enforcement bodies so we can act, but we have been stymied from getting access to this information" (THE AGE, 5/15).
The Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) "wants to increase its cooperation with professional football clubs based on the example of FC Bayern Munich Basketball." BBL CEO Jan Pommer said, "Football is the market leader. The ones that cooperate with football can only profit from it. There is no alternative for growth" (SID, 5/13). ... The Chennai Police "have issued a show-cause to the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association seeking its explanation on the measures taken to manage the crowd in the event of the three stands in the M.A. Chidambaram stadium being closed to public on Tuesday" (THE HINDU, 5/14). ... The Bengal "chit-fund scam, which hit Kolkata's I-League clubs hard finacially, has now robbed the Indian football team of a chance of improving its FIFA rankings by playing friendlies against Pakistan and Bangladesh in London." But sources in the All India Football Federation said that "the cash crunch owing to the chit-fund scam in West Bengal forced the organisers to put off the tournament" (IANS, 5/14).