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Volume 6 No. 195

International Football

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said that the governing body "has not contemplated an alternative stage" for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. Valcke: "The World Cup will be played in Brazil in 12 cities. There is no plan B." His comments came as the Confederations Cup "has been played against the backdrop of nationwide protests." Valcke also "rejected a suggestion" from Brazil Sports Minster Aldo Rebelo, sitting next to him at a news conference, that other countries "had expressed an interest in staging the World Cup if Brazil pulled out" (REUTERS, 6/24). In a separate piece, Homewood reported FIFA and the Brazilian government "dismissed suggestions on Monday that next year's World Cup will be staged at the cost of health and education as they hit back at criticism at the cost of the event." Rebelo said, "None of the money earmarked for health and education has been diverted to the building of World Cup stadiums." Valcke said, "FIFA is not making 4 billion reais ($1.7B) to run away in a big Mercedes Benz. We are using our money to develop football and we are one of the most transparent sporting organisations in the world" (REUTERS, 6/24).

FACE OF THE PROTEST: In N.Y., Gabriele Marcotti reported 10 minutes into Saturday's Confederations Cup match between Mexico and Japan, a shirtless young man "unfolded a large sheet of paper and held it a few inches from the noses of the closest journalists." It read, "More education. More transportation. More health care. Less FIFA stadiums." Security "gave him a good five minutes to make his case before gently escorting him not to a police van, but back to his seat." It encapsulated the nature of much of the protests "that have engulfed Brazil over the past week." They "are largely middle-class." Indigent people do not "buy tickets in the nicer parts of Confederations Cup stadiums." They "are peaceful." Especially in front of a phalanx of journalists, "they are met with gentle policing." Elsewhere, at times, "it has been a different issue." The handmade sign summed up just why "well over a million Brazilians have taken to the streets." The economy -- which was growing rapidly in Oct. '07, when the country secured the right to host the 2014 World Cup, and booming two years later, when Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Olympics -- "has now slowed down, while the bill for the massive spending on infrastructure and venues continues rise" (WSJ, 6/23).

SEEKING DIPLOMACY: BLOOMBERG's Goodman & Collitt wrote Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff will meet with protestors, mayors and governors "to discuss measures in response to a two-week-long street clamor for improved transport and public services and against corruption." Rousseff "will receive leaders of the Free Fare Movement" and state and city authorities (BLOOMBERG, 6/24).

Thailand avoided FIFA sanctions "after a lowly fourth-tier club withdrew its lawsuit" to stop FA Thailand "from going ahead with controversial electoral reforms," according to Sudipto Ganguly of REUTERS. FAT CEO and FIFA Exec Committee member Worawi Makudi "was forced to postpone the presidential elections indefinitely" due to the court injunction after fourth-tier Regional League side Pattaya FC filed a case. The argument centers on a FIFA-backed reform that "would slash the number of eligible voters from around 180 to 72" (REUTERS, 6/24). The BANGKOK POST reported FIFA said in a letter to the FAT last week that Pattaya "must withdraw its lawsuit by today or the country could face consequences." The FAT "must adopt its revised regulations" to be in line with FIFA statutes and then "hold an election for its president" by Sept. 30 (BANGKOK POST, 6/24).

FIFA officials "were disappointed at the empty seats that have greeted teams" at the U20 World Cup in Turkey. FIFA Organizing Committee Chair Jim Boyce said Monday that he was "unhappy with the turnout that has averaged only 4,828 spectators for the first 12 matches at the six sites" (XINHUA, 6/24). Vanishing spray to prevent players from encroaching free kicks is being used at the U20 World Cup. It is "the latest move to aid referees following the introduction of goalline technology at the Confederations Cup" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 6/24). ... Al Ahli fans stormed Cairo's military stadium last weekend "against the backdrop of demonstrations held by Islamists in favour of" President Mohammed Morsi and in "a possible foretaste of anti-Morsi demonstrations planned" for Sunday, the first anniversary of Morsi's inauguration, which aims to force new elections (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 6/24). ... Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia "has declared itself bankrupt and will try to merge with another club to carry on competing in a different guise next season" -- or end up in the amateur ranks. The 31-time national champions "have been struggling financially in recent years, along with many Bulgarian clubs" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 6/24).