World football chiefs ran up a £10.5M ($16M) bill "for a two-day meeting on the paradise island of Mauritius," according to David Pilditch of the London EXPRESS. The cost included more than £2M ($3M) "on luxury accommodation alone." A lavish opening ceremony came to £714,000 ($1.1M), while FIFA also spent £100,000 ($153,000) "on a sumptuous banquet." FIFA President Sepp Blatter "hailed the organisation’s 63rd annual congress a great success" after pushing through new measures to combat racism and match-fixing last weekend. However, behind the scenes the great FIFA "gravy train continues to hurtle out of control." One delegate said, "The whole circus was extraordinarily extravagant. Some important changes were made, but all the big decisions had already been taken and the delegates went through the motions of voting them through." One senior official at a foreign football association told how delegates "were each given a tablet computer" worth more than £300 ($460) as a gift. The source said that even the most junior delegates were also handed £300 a day spending money, "even though all their expenses were paid." In total, 1,200 people attended, including FIFA staff, observers, police and consultants (EXPRESS, 6/3).
SOUTH AFRICA BIDS: In Johannesburg, Mark Gleeson reported South Africa returned from the FIFA congress in Mauritius last weekend "having bid for five different future world championships." It is "a complete change in strategy" from the South African FA, whose only previous bid for a finals event was the 2010 World Cup, and had "missed many opportunities over the past two decades" (SOWETAN LIVE, 6/3).
FA Chair David Bernstein believes the FA "desperately need to increase the pool of real quality players" available to England Manager Roy Hodgson, according to Henry Winter of the London TELEGRAPH. Bernstein: "The number of English players in the Premier League and the Football League is a really important matter. We have this number of around 30 percent and in Germany it is more than 50 percent and that 20 percent is a lot of players." He added, "All the work we are doing, such as in youth development, is aimed at doing that over the next few years and it’s great to see some very good players coming through now such as Jack Wilshere. We need many more" (TELEGRAPH, 6/3).
La Liga side Málaga will meet with UEFA on Tuesday at the central headquarters of the Sports Arbitration Court (TAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland to defend its next participation in the Europa League. Málaga has athletically met the terms of qualification for the competition with a sixth-place finish in La Liga. Málaga VP Moayad Shatat, Dir General Vicente Cosado, Deputy Dir General Manuel Novo, legal counselor Joaquín Jofre and team lawyer Juan de Dios Crespo will complete the club's representation (AS, 6/3). ... Swiss club Aarau's promotion celebrations "turned sour when a fan set off a pyrotechnic device inside a nightclub, sparking a brawl which involved pepper spray and caused the venue to be evacuated and shut" (REUTERS, 6/3). ... Newly promoted Ligue 1 club Nantes has "been banned from signing new players for the next two transfer windows," and Guinea forward Ismael Bangoura has been suspended for four months over a transfer dispute. The two parties were also ordered to pay €4.5M ($5.83M) between them to UAE club Al Nasr after the Court of Arbitration for Sport said in a statement that "it had upheld a FIFA ruling" (REUTERS, 6/3). ... The FA has decided against charging Premier League club West Ham United or League Championship club Millwall "after investigating allegations of discriminatory abuse during two separate matches involving the clubs" (PA, 6/3). ... The German Football Association (DFB) announced that "Berlin and Munich have put forward bids to be considered for a possible tilt at host city status for UEFA Euro 2020." The DFB "will now examine the two cities' claims and will decide on whether to back a single candidate at a board meeting" on Aug. 30 (SOCCEREX, 6/3).