Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 6 No. 217

International Football

Barcelona's Lionel Messi was ranked as the most-skilled footballer in the world during the '12-13 season, according to Bloomberg Sports' first "Power Football 50" list unveiled Wednesday. The rankings provide a scientifically-based analysis that evaluates players on skills relevant to their respective positions and encompased the top five leagues in Europe. Messi received a score of 91.25 while Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo was second with a score of 91.16. Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery was third (89.27) followed by Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus (89.10) and Juventus' Andrea Pirlo (88.62). This season, the strength of the Bundesliga became a popular topic, and the league's quality was well represented in the study as five Bundesliga players made it into the top 20. The rankings for defensive players were compiled using more than 100 types of actions, leading to roughly 1,000 to 1,500 data points for each match. Defensively, this means a left back is rated by calculations that reveal how efficiently he tackles, intercepts passes, and crosses the ball. Meanwhile, his fullback partner is analyzed on a different scale, with formulas that further focus on the player’s aerial ability and clearance rate. For attacking players, the emphasis is on a player’s efficiency in shooting, scoring, and passing. The numbers not only reflect how active an attacking player is, but also the location of a player’s shot, how his shots are assisted, and his ability to perform in adverse situations (starter/substitute, home/away, strength of opposing defense). For a complete list of the top 50, click here. For a complete explanation of the methodology behind the study, click here (BSports).

Lionel Messi
FC Barcelona
Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid
Franck Ribery
Bayern Munich
Marco Reus
Borussia Dortmund
Andrea Pirlo
Robin van Persie
Manchester United
Giorgio Chiellini
Marek Hamsik
Gareth Bale
Tottenham Hotspur
Santiago Cazorla

The Football League board "is to explore what steps need to be taken in order to hold trials of safe-standing areas within grounds," according to Robin Scott-Elliot of the London INDEPENDENT. Pressure "is growing on the League after a majority of its member clubs backed a motion in support of the issue at their annual general meeting in Portugal." There "remains a degree of reluctance among the League's board to push the issue" -- long term it would require the government to agree a change in the law. However, the support of clubs from across the League's three divisions following overwhelming support by Championship clubs "gives impetus to the campaign at least to push the authorities to allow trials of rail seats, the system widely used in the German Bundesliga for a number of years." One CEO said there is an expectation the League will "start lobbying in the right places." He also added that Football League Chair Greg Clarke had told him "we will make enquiries." The CEO said, "It's got the will of the people" (INDEPENDENT, 6/11).

Days from the start of the 2013 Confederations Cup, 145,000 of the 795,697 tickets that went on sale are still available for the tournament that begins Saturday in Brazil, according to LA AFICION. The game with the fewest tickets available is the match between Spain and Uruguay on June 16, with just 165 of 40,200 tickets still on sale. The Nigeria-Tahiti matchup in Belo Horizonte on June 17 has the most tickets available, as 35,500 of 47,723 tickets remain available. FIFA indicated that "for Brazil's games against Japan, Mexico and Italy, and for the final on June 30, tickets will only be sold online starting Tuesday." For the rest of the games, tickets will be available on FIFA's website and at the six sites of tournament games: Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Recife and Fortaleza (LA AFICION, 6/11).

The All Nepal FA said that Nepal's national football league, "the Martyrs' Memorial A Division League has been attracting almost a hundred footballers from Africa who are trying to put their mark in Asian football, especially India and South East Asia," according to XINHUA. Every year in the league seasons -- that last for a little more than three months starting in January -- hoards of African football players travel to Nepal, "seeking a contract in the 14 top clubs of the country." Some of them make it to Nepal with a contract in hand, "while some go through a hard-fought competition that sees them rub shoulders with their fellow African men and local players to secure a deal with a club." League champion Three Star Club football player and Nigerian Adewumi Femi Joshua said, "It's not about the money. My brother had told me that Nepali players were skilled and were very good. He said that if I played for sometime in Nepal, my dribbling skills would improve." ANFA CEO Indra Man Tuladhar said that African players "are easier to hire than Nepali players." Tuladhar: "To sign a Nepali player in the league requires a lot of money because we have to sign them for the whole season, but for an African player, the clubs usually give them a three-month contract" (XINHUA, 6/8).

A football fan was killed and another badly injured during fighting between hooligan "barrabravas" and riot police before an Argentine first division match in Buenos Aires on Monday, according to Ampuero & Gowar of REUTERS. Argentine First Division side Estudiantes' game with title challengers Lanus was "abandoned at halftime after news of the death reached officials at the Ciudad de La Plata stadium in the capital of Buenos Aires province." Estudiantes President Enrique Lombardi said, "The police reported a (Lanus) supporter had died and in the face of this situation it was necessary to suspend the match. It was a unanimous decision by both clubs... It was for humanitarian reasons." It was the "second match abandoned in three days after Saturday's game at Velez Sarsfield was marred by trouble from fans of visiting side All Boys." Estudiantes coach Mauricio Pellegrino said, "This violence doesn't come from football, it's a social problem. Football reflects the violence in society" (REUTERS, 6/11). In London, Charles Reynolds wrote "the dark shadow of violence, that has plagued Argentine football for so long, descended once again." The man killed was 42-year-old Daniel Jerez, who "died from a gunshot wound [from a rubber bullet fired at point-blank range] after being taken to the local Gonnet hospital." Argentina Minister for Justice & Security Ricardo Casal "has ordered the suspension and arrest of three police officers in connection with the fatal incident" (DAILY MAIL, 6/11).

CASAL RESPONDS: CLARIN reported Casal announced Monday that "visiting fans will not be allowed at football games and the police will no longer use rubber bullets at sporting events." Casal: "This is over. In Buenos Aires there will not be any more visitors at any games until the Argentine FA and the APREVIDE (Prevention of Violence in Sports Agency) guarantee us that there will be no more violence at football stadiums" (CLARIN, 6/11).

UEFA "will open disciplinary proceedings against Turkish teams Besiktas and Fenerbahce after allegations of match-fixing," according to Christopher Elser of BLOOMBERG. UEFA said in a statement on its website Tuesday a case was opened against Besiktas and two club officials “in relation to match-fixing activities alleged to have taken place around the 2011 Turkish Cup final.” It "didn’t identify the two officials." The case will be heard by the Control and Disciplinary Body on June 21 (BLOOMBERG, 6/10). REUTERS' Brian Homewood reported the indictment named eight clubs, including Fenerbahce, Besiktas and Trabzonspor and 14 players "among the defendants." It "referred to around a dozen matches including Fenerbahce's 4-3 victory over Sivasspor which clinched the league championship on the final day" of the '11 season (REUTERS, 6/10). The AP reported Fenerbahce "faces a second expulsion from the Champions League within three seasons." Fenerbahce President Aziz Yildirim was "convicted last July in a criminal trial that resulted in 93 people charged in a case sparked by the Istanbul club's league-winning run" in '11. Fenerbahce officials "deny wrongdoing and have appealed to a higher court" (AP, 6/10).

Jordanian FA President Prince Ali said that he "will not put his name forward for Asian Football Confederation president when the post becomes vacant again in 2015" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 6/11). ... Italy's Confederations Cup campaign has not "got off to the best start after a portion of their food supplies were seized by customs officers on arrival in Brazil." The collection of Parma Ham, Bresaola and Parmesan cheese has been detained because the Azzurri did not have the necessary permits to import the goods (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 6/11). ... A Singapore court "jailed a Lebanese referee for six months on Tuesday for accepting sexual favours to fix a football game, a day after two fellow countrymen were jailed for the same offence amid an international investigation into football corruption" (REUTERS, 6/11).