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Volume 6 No. 214

International Football

Man City officials are "thought to have brought in espionage experts to investigate the security breach of their online performance analysis system," according to Steve Bates of the London DAILY MIRROR. Man City has made a "shocking ­discovery" that its worldwide scouting database could have been hacked by an employee of a rival Premier League club, which "will rock football to its core." Man City believes its online Scout7 performance analysis system -- ­holding detailed scouting reports of every player they have targeted at home and around the globe -- "has been infiltrated." Man City Sporting Dir and former Barcelona official Txiki Begiristain, who is coordinating the club’s summer transfer strategy, "is known to be highly disturbed by the breach and is being kept informed." So, too, is CEO Ferran Soriano. Although Man City was "unwilling to ­comment until their investigations are complete," a Premier League chief scout said, "The scouting industry as a whole is a fairly small one. That means of course that clubs do sometimes know which players are being checked out and by which clubs. Having someone else -- especially a rival -- access that information and see which players you are looking at, which players you may buy and which ones are being monitored over a defined period would be seen as catastrophic" (DAILY MIRROR, 6/15).

Rupert Murdoch's global broadcasting company "is exploring an ambitious plan to create a summer football competition featuring Europe's top clubs, including English Premier League sides," with matches to be played in cities from L.A. to Shanghai, according to Sweney & Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Leading clubs such as ManU and Chelsea "would be invited to participate," competing with the biggest clubs from Europe's other top leagues. The idea "would see a 16-team competition run for 10 years with a potential start date of 2015 in the close season when clubs traditionally play exhibition matches." Matches "would be aired on Sky and by Murdoch's other broadcasters worldwide." Murdoch's 21st Century Fox company "also owns broadcasters" in Italy, Germany, Asia and the U.S. One source described the plan as akin to the "Formula One-isation of football," with cities from Europe, Asia and the Americas "bidding to host tournament matches." Approaches have been made to a number of cities by execs from Murdoch subsidiary Fox Int'l "to explore partnerships to host the exhibition-style tournament matches." But the proposal "is at its early stages." A second source said, "One of the major issues is if it gets to the stage of trying to pull the empire together and paying what they think is a fair share." With more than half of the clubs in the EPL in the hands of overseas owners, and five of those now owned by Americans including ManU, Arsenal and Liverpool, "the desire to go global has increased." News Corp. and BSkyB "declined to comment" (GUARDIAN, 6/14).

DIFFICULT HISTORY: In London, Josie Ensor reported "the idea to start a European super league has previously been attempted with little success." Murdoch "has a history of trying to create new competitions in various sports." In the '90s, News Corp. "created its own rugby super league in Australia forcing the sport’s international governing body to partner to create the National Rugby League competition." In '11, Murdoch’s media group "made an unsuccessful attempt to take control of Formula One" (TELEGRAPH, 6/15).

Israeli technology company Stats, which began developing technologies for missile detection and tracking, is using the European U21 Championship to "set its sights on players and balls," according to Nacho Silván of MARCA. Stats Dir Hanoch Rahimi said, "The founder of the company worked with the military industry, because, in reality, the technology we use is similar to that which has been used to track missiles. We created a camera, we program it and we can track a ball or a missile. There are many different aspects, of course, but the idea is very similar. At the end of the day, you have to survive." Stats works with more than half the teams in the NBA, the NFL, the Champions League and the European U21 Championship. Just two suitcases of equipment are needed for a football match, "inside which are three small cameras that identify each player, detecting and processing every move" (MARCA, 6/14).

Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev said the costs for the 2018 World Cup will be more than $20B, "about double the amount Russia originally estimated it would spend" (AP, 6/13). ... La Liga side Villarreal has "reportedly filed a lawsuit" against Argentine club River Plate over a €9M ($12M) purchase of percentage shares in a number of River Plate players (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 6/16). ... Hong Kong’s football authority "announced a slew of measures to punish and prevent racist behaviour at games, after Philippine football chiefs complained to FIFA about racist abuse of its players and fans." The moves "could see home and away supporters being segregated and will impose bans on abusive fans" (AFP, 6/15). ... Canada's Quebec football federation "is ending its turban ban." The announcement "was made Saturday," a day after FIFA said that "wearing turbans on the field was acceptable" (AP, 6/15). ... The quantities that FC Barcelona invests in the sale of players "leaves a lot to be desired, especially the last two years." This past season, for example, "the club received nothing in this concept." Keita left with a free letter; "Afellay, Cuenca and Fontás  were released and Keirrison and Henrique finished their contracts." Last year, "the club earned something." Maxwell and Jeffren both left for €4M ($5.3M) and Cáceres for €3M ($4M), for a total of €11M ($14.7M) (AS, 6/16).

FOOTBALL EVENTS: Organizers of a preseason friendly between Arsenal and Vietnam's national team "are facing a battle to ensure the match goes ahead after the owners of the Hanoi stadium involved hiked up their fees" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 6/14). ... The Indian government "has pledged its support" for the country’s bid to host the FIFA U17 World Cup in '17. The backing of the government "means that the All India Football Federation can now proceed with its bid, safe in the knowledge that its tilt at the tournament will be supported by basic financial guarantees from the state" (SOCCEREX, 6/14). ... Major League Soccer side N.Y. Red Bulls "finally announced their long-rumored friendly against seven-time Ligue 1 winner, Olympique Lyonnais for July 16 at 8pm at Red Bull Arena" (N.Y. POST, 6/14).