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Volume 10 No. 22

International Football

Burundi FA President Lydia Nsekera became the first female candidate elected to FIFA's board in the governing body's 109-year history. Nsekera, 46, will serve a four-year term on the committee after winning the vote at the FIFA congress in Mauritius Friday. Moya Dodd and Sonia Bien-Aime will each join FIFA's top table as co-opted members for one year. Nsekera is the 25th member of the FIFA exec committee composed of 24 members through Friday (FIFA). REUTERS' Mike Collett reported Nsekera's appointment to FIFA's exec committee "was not without its critics." Dodd, a former Australian int'l player and Asian Football Confederation VP, "had been widely regarded as a far stronger candidate with better credentials for the job." One senior FIFA delegate said, "The whole system was flawed from the beginning and I am very disappointed with this decision. It was a ridiculous way to go about things because it obviously gave Lydia a head start. Why didn't we go for an elected position a year ago? I am not sure it was based on credentials, more on image and perception. Everyone is pandering to the African vote." Another senior administrator said, "Frankly Moya Dodd, who is a practicing lawyer, would have been a far better choice, especially with the continuing reform process FIFA has implemented, but Nsekera was personally chosen by President (Sepp) Blatter last year and the status quo has been maintained for obvious reasons" (REUTERS, 5/31). In London, James Riach reported Blatter "blundered his way through the appointment of a woman" to FIFA's exec committee for the first time. Blatter: "Say something ladies, you are always speaking at home, now you can speak here" (GUARDIAN, 5/31).

NEW REFORMS: The AP's Gerald Imray reported FIFA "put in place tougher measures on racism, introduced integrity checks on senior officials and gave a woman a full four-year term on its ruling board" on Friday. Still, some insist FIFA "is not doing enough." Blatter, however, "was gratified by the steps following the scandals of the last few years." Blatter: "I am happy to say that FIFA has weathered the storm. We have emerged from troubled waters." However, the head of the reform panel advising FIFA said that there is "still much to do." Swiss professor Mark Pieth said that FIFA "must make public the salaries and bonuses of its big earners and set age and term limits for senior officials." Also, independent observers "have not yet been allowed" onto FIFA's decision-making exec committee (AP, 5/31). In London, James Olley reported FIFA "passed a new resolution promising tougher sanction on teams found guilty of racist incidents." First-time offenders "will receive a warning or a fine while multiple offences could lead to a points deduction, games behind closed doors or even relegation or expulsion from competitions." A 99% majority approved the "resolution on the fight against racism and discrimination" (EVENING STANDARD, 5/31). The London GUARDIAN reported FIFA also "passed measures dictating that players or officials found guilty of racist abuse in any game should be banned for five matches." The sanction "had previously only applied" to FIFA internationals. Additionally, the FIFA resolution provides for the presence of "a specialised official to be in the stadium to identify potential acts of racism or discrimination" (GUARDIAN, 5/31).

BLATTER ON PALESTINE: REUTERS' Brian Homewood reported Blatter told the Palestine FA that he would "personally intervene to try to end their long-running sporting problems with Israel." Blatter said that he would "go to the region in July to speak to politicians and sporting authorities to find a solution to Israeli travel restrictions on Palestinian players and visitors to the West Bank." Palestinians are angry that Israel's security forces "frequently prevent athletes from travelling freely between the two areas." Israel cites security concerns, but said that it "has eased travel for athletes between the Palestinian territories." Blatter: "Football should not be a victim of such situations" (REUTERS, 5/31).

Spanish Footballers Association (AFE) President Luis Manuel Rubiales discussed match-fixing and his thoughts on how common the practice has been within the Spanish Football League (LFP), according to Sergio Fernández of MARCA. On the subject of players who have claimed they have witnessed match-fixing, Rubiales said, "Since '10, the AFE has made players aware that this is a crime, made them aware of this fact, and also that betting in competitions in which they take part is a crime." After the attempt to increase awareness did not eliminate the problem of match-fixing, Rubiales decided to open a line of communication that players could use anonymously. Rubiales: "And so we decided to set up a telephone number available to all our members, in which their anonymity was guaranteed. We didn't receive any phone calls, either. And so, this third year we have started to work intensely with La Liga, and also for the first time, with the police" (MARCA, 6/1).

FA Football Development Dir Trevor Brooking claimed Friday night that “English football is being held back by some clubs’ reluctance to pay full-time coaches more than" £15,000 ($22,800) a year at the U16 level. Brooking "has identified a problem in the 12-to-16 age group, where he says that low salaries have resulted in a shortage of top-class coaches and a culture of making results the priority ahead of player development" (LONDON TIMES, 6/1). ... During Argentine second division football club Independiente Rivadavia's practice on Friday in Mendoza, Argentina, 100 people entered the club's Bautista Gargantini stadium and attacked players and club personnel. Rivadavia forward Diego Caballero suffered a leg injury as the group damaged 15 cars and threw molotov cocktails. Caballero was treated with stitches in his right leg and his teammates Franco Sbuttoni and Josué Ayala also suffered injuries (LOS ANDES, 5/31). ... Italian daily La Stampa claimed that "an Australian businessman has offered to buy Genoa football club" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 6/2). ... South African Premier Soccer League Chippa United coach Mark Harrison "is raging about the format of the post-season" PSL playoffs and says "the diktat that the results of their matches are provisional is 'nothing sort of a joke.'" Thanda has "launched a legal bid to halt the play-offs, and on Wednesday the high court instructed the league to announce before each play-off game that 'the results of the fixtures are provisional, pending a finalisation of the review appeal by Thanda Royal Zulu'" (SOWETAN LIVE, 5/31). ... FIFA's top corruption buster "has hinted for the first time that 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar have no corruption case to answer and says a statement of intent of some kind should be made by his department by September or October" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 5/31).