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Volume 10 No. 23

International Football

Real Madrid President Florentino Pérez has "reflected on Real Madrid’s difficulty in signing Neymar, his plans for Zinedine Zidane and when he will sign a new coach," according to FOOTBALL ESPAÑA. Real Madrid was "thought to have entered this summer’s bidding process for Santos’ Neymar, only to see him opt for Barcelona." Pérez: "Three years ago there was a possibility to sign him and we wanted to take it, but then his club would not release him and he renewed his contract. He seems a great player and we would have signed him had the conditions not been altered by the club. We had to negotiate with the club, the father, a fund that has 40% of his rights. He would have cost us more than €150M ($193M). I do not know how much he went to Barca for.” Pérez is set to stand for re-election as President at the start of next month. He said, "The other day I appeared in 12 of the Madrid sports newspapers. If there is no candidate, I will take office on Tuesday and will start with the issue of the coach. First I will talk to him, because even if people do not believe it, we have not spoken to anyone. I would like that [Zinedine] Zidane takes a lead. I would also like for him to be Madrid's coach someday. When the coach arrives, he and Zidane will see how we can make a qualitative leap." Pérez also addressed Cristiano Ronaldo. Pérez: "Cristiano has been exemplary and has no problems with anyone. He is the best in the world and I want him to be the best paid in the world" (FOOTBALL ESPAÑA, 5/28).

South African anti-apartheid campaigner Desmond Tutu has joined calls for UEFA to move the U21 European championship from Israel "because of the Jewish state's treatment of Palestinian sport," according to Mark Meadows of REUTERS. UEFA has resisted the requests, "but Tutu's letter, to Britain's Guardian newspaper, which was also signed by ex-Mali striker Frederic Kanoute and a number of prominent sympathisers of the Palestinian cause, is aimed at increasing the pressure." Last week UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino, speaking after the UEFA Congress in London, "refused to condemn Israel or accept that the competition, which runs from June 5-18, should be moved." Infantino: "We have no plans to move the tournament, which is being held legitimately in a UEFA member association." Palestinians complain that Israeli authorities "restrict the movement of their athletes between the Gaza Strip" and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israel limits the movement of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank citing security concerns, "but says it has eased travel for athletes" (REUTERS, 5/28). In London, David Feeney wrote the letter calls on UEFA "to reverse the choice of Israel as a venue." Signatories of the letter "include the actor Roger Lloyd Pack, film-maker Ken Loach, comic Alexei Sayle, Michael Mansfield QC and the Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn" (GUARDIAN, 5/27).

South African football side Thanda Royal Zulu could find itself "in hot water by going ahead with plans to approach the courts" to have the National First Division promotional playoffs postponed, according to Ramatsiyi Moholoa of SOWETAN LIVE. This was after the club's "arbitration case, where they wanted the two opening league games which they did not honour replayed, was dismissed." Prior to the arbitration case, the club withdrew and said it was going to interdict the playoffs from taking place. In "terms of the laws of the game, arbitration is final and binding." This could create problems for Thanda, "including a possible expulsion from the league as FIFA is clear that football matters cannot be resolved in the courts of law" (SOWETAN LIVE, 5/28).

La Liga side Rayo Vallecano are reportedly "after a judicial hearing with the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF)" or UEFA over their failed UEFA license application (FOOTBALL ESPAÑA, 5/28). ... Amadeo Salvo, "who will next week be elected as the new president" of La Liga Valencia, believes it's logical to wait until next Monday to meet with coach Ernesto Valverde about his future with the club. Salvo: "We will not advance anything this week and I believe it is better to wait until the end of the season to meet Monday and review the topic. I hope that Valverde stays with us" (EFE, 5/28). ... The Ireland FA has revealed details of its '13-14 season tickets, with its lowest prices ever. The season tickets will be on sale starting June 6, at a price of €49 ($63) for children younger than 16 anywhere in general admission. Season ticket prices for adults start at €124 ($160) and €299 ($385) for families -- two adults and two children (FAI). ... Kenya's national football team's players' allowances have been increased from $35-$118 "as motivation ahead of their remaining 2014 World Cup qualifiers." Kenya Federation CEO Sam Nyamweya said, "We have decided to increase their daily allowances. They were initially earning 3000 shillings ($35) per day. We want to motivate the players and achieve the goals we intend to reach" (XINHUA, 5/28). ... South Africa side Free State Stars "are going to China," where they will participate in an int'l football tournament in Shanghai as part of plans to build the club's profile. A total of six clubs "will take part in this five-day tournament organised by Shanghai Football Association to promote their city" (SOWETAN LIVE, 5/28). ... Championship League Watford Sporting Dir Gianluca Nani has insisted that the club's owner, the Pozzo family, will continue its relationship with the club. Nani claimed the Pozzo family will continue its stake in the London side. Nani: "We are here for the long-term" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 5/28).