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Volume 6 No. 214

International Football

Indian football fans may "soon have the opportunity to watch David Beckham’s nimble footwork live," according to Williams & Mehta of DNA. If "all goes according to plan," Beckham will join int'l stars such as Thierry Henry and Michael Owen to "showcase their skills in a tournament on the lines of the Indian Premier League." The All India Football Federation and commercial partner IMG-Reliance "are in talks with these players to be part of a franchise-based league, which is scheduled to kick off early next year." AIFF sources said that the players "could be ambassadors of different franchises and might play in some exhibition matches during their tour of India." An AIFF official said, "This plan is in the pipeline, but we will have to wait and see if these players will take part in the league." Beckham and Henry "have contracts with IMG" (DNA, 6/6).

Israeli Premier League Beitar Jerusalem's future is "shrouded in doubt as the new season edges ever closer," according to Allon Sinai of the JERUSALEM POST. Just last week, representatives of Owner Arkadi Gaydamak announced that "they had reached an agreement with Eli Tabib to purchase the club" after months of negotiations and misinformation. Tamarlan Majidof, who resides in Chechnya, but has Israeli citizenship, "is believed to be the front man for a mysterious group of financiers." A statement by Gaydamak said, "There is a group of very rich Russian businessmen who want to invest in Beitar. Majidof will head the group which will invest at least $5 million in the club. It would be irresponsible of me to transfer the club to Eli Tabib. Majidof will purchase at least a 50 percent stake and will add more investors that will turn Beitar into a strong team.” Meanwhile, Tabib announced on Tuesday that "he had signed a deal with an organization of Beitar fans that will allow him to seize full control of the club." The supporters transferred the cash-stricken club NIS 2.1M ($580,000) they had collected from thousands of fans last summer. In return, they "were given seats on the club’s directorate as well as an option to purchase full control of the franchise" (JERUSALEM POST, 6/6).

Brasileiro club Flamengo said it is “the most loved club in the world,” and the club "is counting on that affection to help rescue it from the taxman," according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG. Flamengo may be the "most popular in Brazil," but it is "also the most indebted." Flamengo President Eduardo Bandeira de Mello said that the club owes creditors R750M ($351M), two-thirds of which is in unpaid taxes. Prominent fans including former head of the central bank Carlos Langoni and top execs from Brazilian companies "have joined the club’s board to fix its finances by cutting debt and are now raising money through sponsorships and membership fees." Bandeira de Mello said, "We knew the numbers were going to be bad but nobody knew exactly how bad they were going to be." Consultant for several Brazilian teams Amir Somoggi said, "In Brazilian football there’s no accountability. Right now we’ve had 10 or 20 years of bad management. Maybe we need to wait 10 or 20 years for the situation to change." Under an agreement with Brazil’s federal revenue office, almost 60% of Flamengo’s income "will be used to pay off the tax debt for the next three years," before, Bandeira de Mello said, a more manageable schedule is established and the club "will be able to breathe again" (BLOOMBERG, 6/6).

Professional football leagues "face huge upheaval to accommodate movable dates for World Cup finals under proposals to restructure the calendar," according to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES. As political pressure grows on European governing bodies to yield to a winter World Cup in Qatar in '22, the "idea that the rescheduling need not be a one-off is gaining impetus." UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino said that leagues "should accommodate finals at different times of year depending on the climate in the host country." Infantino said, "Whenever you play the World Cup should be the best period for it. I had the same reflections on South Africa in 2010. It was a pity that it was winter. Four years earlier in Germany, it was nice sunshine. South Africa is a beautiful country, but at 5 o’clock it’s night and it’s zero degrees. It’s not a celebration of football." Infantino’s comments "will be interpreted as fuel to a campaign" to move the 2022 World Cup finals to January or February to "avoid Qatar’s searing summer heat" (LONDON TIMES, 6/7).

The Jordanian FA will be asking FIFA to explain why no one from Football Federation Australia "was available to help them sort out arrival issues at Melbourne Airport on Wednesday," according to Greg Stutchbury of REUTERS. Coach Adnan Hamad "was detained at Melbourne Airport by immigration authorities for more than four hours" when the team arrived from New Zealand to prepare for its World Cup qualifier with the Socceroos on Tuesday. JFA General Secretary Khalil Al Salem said that the team "needed intervention from the Jordanian embassy to help with the coach's entry into Australia." JFA said that both countries "had signed an agreement before World Cup qualifiers to appoint a local representative to meet visiting teams at the airport to help with any such logistical delays" (REUTERS, 6/5).

WAITING FOR A RIDE: In Sydney, Michael Lynch reported FFA officials "are bemused by claims" from Jordan that no Australian representatives were there to meet them at the Melbourne airport. FFA sources said that "far from ignoring the plight of the Iraqi-born coach, they secured the intervention of Sports Minister Kate Lundy to expedite his immigration clearance." One insider said that the organization's staffers "were in the arrivals area waiting for the team and officials to clear customs and were not allowed into the customs area." Security and buses "were waiting for the Jordanians to take them to their hotel" (THE AGE, 6/6).

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) "has charged 33 people with alleged involvement in match-fixing following further investigation into two Bari matches" (SKY SPORTS, 6/6). ... The Football League "is set to restrict the use of overseas loans after Championship Watford brought in 10 players from Udinese last season." The Football League "is expected to limit match-day squads to five loanees, with four from any one club" -- in line with quotas for domestic loans (BBC, 6/6).