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Volume 6 No. 214

International Football

Brazilian "anger against the cost of staging the World Cup could undermine the argument that host countries benefit from sporting mega-events as they become too big for most countries to handle," according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. Analysts said that UEFA's idea of splitting Euro 2020 into mini-tournaments hosted in 13 different countries "could be one of the alternatives which organizers could follow in the future." Although the Brazilian protesters "have a multitude of grievances, one of their main complaints has been the contrast between shiny new stadiums and shambolic state of public services including health, education and transport." They are also angry that Brazil "has broken a promise not to spend public money on stadiums." Meanwhile, at least five host cities "will miss out on promised bus lanes, metro lines or tram services and cities are now likely to declare public holidays on match days to reduce traffic, a move which critics says reeks of typical improvisation." Coventry University Sports Marketing Professor Simon Chadwick said, "What is happening right now in Brazil should be a watershed for FIFA and the World Cup. It should respond by working more strategically to ensure that future World Cups are not just two-week showcases, but have a longer-term legacy for host nations. It some ways, it's an acid test for FIFA and its ability as an organization to adapt, respond and learn." While Brazil, which will also stage the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, struggles to cope with the World Cup, other countries "appear to be losing the appetite to stage major sporting events." Switzerland, one of the world's most prosperous countries, "backed down from bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics after residents of the proposed host cantons voted against it in a referendum." The 2020 Olympic Games "drew only five formal bids, from Istanbul, Madrid, Tokyo, Baku and Doha" (REUTERS, 6/26).

CHANGING VIEWS: One senior UEFA official said, "There are things that cannot be done any more in the 21st century. You cannot ask for scant resources to be used just for entertainment. It's unacceptable. [FIFA President Sepp] Blatter says Euro 2020 will have no spirit, but it's absurd in this day and age to ask for huge capital investment for a tournament that lasts three weeks and leaves no legacy. It's a luxury that we simply can't afford. The sacrifices are simply too great." (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 6/26).

Bulgarian football club Botev Plovdiv "will replace debt-ridden CSKA Sofia in this year's Europa League." CSKA "had withdrawn from the tournament due to serious financial problems" (REUTERS, 6/26). ... Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua Owner Zhu Jun "is not confirming" media reports that the club has been bought by a real estate enterprise. Multiple reports on Tuesday said that Shanghai Greenland Group "purchased a majority share in Shenhua" (CHINA DAILY, 6/26).