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Volume 6 No. 212

International Football

The FA "has voted to introduce a minimum ban of five matches for any player found to have racially abused an opponent," in the wake of the furore over the John Terry and Luis Suárez incidents, according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. The proposal, accepted at the FA's annual general meeting at Wembley on Thursday, "threatens to leave the governing body out of step" with UEFA if it pursues its own plans for a 10-match minimum ban. However, serious transgressions can attract "significantly higher" suspensions than the new five-match entry level. A second offence by the same individual "will attract a minimum 10-game ban" (GUARDIAN, 5/16). The BBC's Richard Conway reported clubs may also be charged if "two or more of their employees are sanctioned for discriminatory abuse in any 12-month period." Charges "will be brought in the event of discrimination on the field of play relating to ethnic origin, colour, race, religion or belief, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, ability and disability" (BBC, 5/16).

FACING EMBARRASSMENT: The PA's Martyn Ziegler reported there is "potential embarrassment for the FA" given that it is hosting UEFA's Congress in London next week. UEFA "will submit a resolution recommending that all member associations follow its lead on 10 matches." European anti-racism body FARE Exec Dir Piara Powar and a member of FIFA's new anti-racism task force said, "As someone working across borders to promote anti-discrimination, I think it's a shame it can't be the 10 games UEFA say they will implement in their own competitions and that they are recommending all national associations will adopt" (PA, 5/16). INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL's Andrew Warshaw wrote FIFA's anti-racism and discrimination task force Chair Jeffrey Webb "has issued his own scathing indictment of the Italian authorities for only fining Roma over last weekend's racist abuse by their fans towards three Milan players." In a statement, Webb said, "As stated by FIFA President Joseph Blatter, the decision of the Italian Football Federation's Disciplinary Committee to impose only a €50,000 ($65,000) fine on Roma for the racist actions of its supporters during a match at AC Milan on Sunday, without further investigation, is completely unacceptable" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 5/16).

FIFA President Sepp Blatter believes it is "not rational" to play the 2022 World Cup in the summer heat of Qatar, where temperatures can hit 50C (122F), according to the BBC. Air-conditioned stadia "have been planned, but the Swiss has expressed concerns about the implications for people outside the venues." Blatter said, "The World Cup is more than just stadiums, it's an array of social and cultural activities. What do we do? It's not rational and reasonable to play in June-July." The "idea to move the competition away from its traditional time has previously been backed by" UEFA President Michel Platini and world footballers' union FIFPro (BBC, 5/16). The AP reported Blatter "has repeatedly refused to say if he backed Qatar." Blatter said, "Whether it's the right choice, that's up to the executive committee. The problem is knowing whether it can be played in June-July in Qatar." Without directly criticising the decision, Blatter said that "voters were influenced by the pressure to take the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time." He said, "There were interventions at different levels so that it would go to an Arab country. Geopolitics did its work" (AP, 5/15). WORLD FOOTBALL INSIDER wrote Qatar 2022 organizers Thursday "reiterated a previous statement on the summer/winter debate that has swirled around the nation’s World Cup plans since it won hosting rights." A statement said, "Concerning the timing of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, we have always reiterated that we bid on the parameters that we would host in the summer of 2022. Various figures from the world of football have raised preferences for hosting in the winter. We are ready to host the World Cup in summer or winter. Our planning isn’t affected either way, as we are committed to the cooling technologies for legacy reasons" (WORLD FOOTBALL INSIDER, 5/16).

ASEAN: INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL's Mark Baber reported Malaysian FA Deputy President and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Football Federation member Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said that a group of ASEAN sports ministers "have tabled a plan to launch a joint bid to host the World Cup in 2034." Tengku Abdullah said that "he had been asked to head up a committee to oversee the bid process and that ASEAN sports ministers would be meeting on June 19 to discuss the bid" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 5/16).

The Premier League "has been accused of heavy-handedness with Football League clubs in the tortuous negotiations" about how much of its forthcoming TV billions it will share with the rest of football, according to David Conn of the London GUARDIAN. In a "stormy" Football League meeting at Walsall on Wednesday, some clubs accused EPL CEO Richard Scudamore of "unjust interference with the Football League's freedom to run itself." The row "broke out over the Football League's proposals to close the financial gap in the Championship." With the Premier League's '13-16 TV deals expected to reap £5.5B ($8.4M), clubs relegated to the Championship will be paid substantially increased parachute payments to £59M ($90M) over four years. Because parachute payments are due to go up by around 45% from the last deal, the Football League "proposed two ways in which the financial gap with clubs in the championship might be eased" (GUARDIAN, 5/15).

STANDING ROOM ONLY: In London, Charles Sale wrote before the two main proposals could be debated, FL Chair Greg Clarke "read out an email he had received from the all-powerful Scudamore" at 9:30am -- just two hours "before the start of the club summit."  Scudamore, who had knowledge of the two plans, made it clear in his message that if the talks advanced, the increased PL solidarity payment offers -- worth £2.3M ($3.5M) per season to Championship clubs, £360,000 ($551,052) in League One and £240,000 ($367,000) in League Two last time -- "would immediately be off the table." The news of Scudamore’s intervention "caused pandemonium," with Crystal Palace Chair Steve Parish saying he was "appalled" by such bullying behaviour (DAILY MAIL, 5/15).

UEFA President Michel Platini has assured that he does not make the decision to exclude a team from UEFA, "but it does not bother him that fans and teams center their anger on him," according to AS. Platini: "I am not the one that decides, but everyone attacks me. In all fashions, yes my destiny is to be the target of others. We will see if the institutions legitimize the morality of our business. We have a letter from the European Commission, so we will see" (AS, 5/16). ... The "economic problems that affect a good portion of the Spanish teams could result in a rare situation: that three matchdays from the end of the championship, the current 14th-place team could end up playing in Europe next season." UEFA has not granted licenses for European competition to eight Spanish teams, "which could result in this strange situation" (EL CONFIDENCIAL, 5/16).