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Volume 6 No. 212

International Football

FIFA has announced that its exec committee will convene in October to "discuss the issue of playing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in the winter," according to the PA. FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Wednesday "confronted the issue of playing in the searing June heat of Qatar by stating he believed it could not take place in the summer." A FIFA spokesperson said, "As mentioned by the FIFA president yesterday, he will bring forward the matter of playing the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar in winter to the FIFA executive committee on the occasion of their next meeting scheduled for October 3-4" (PA, 7/18).

PREMIER LEAGUE UPSET: The PA also reported the Premier League on Thursday "blasted proposals to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to the winter as neither workable nor desirable." The Premier League has long opposed any such move because it will "cause major disruption to three domestic seasons -- the 2021-22 campaign and the ones either side -- as well as impacting on broadcasting contracts" (PA, 7/18). In a separate story, the PA reported a Premier League spokesperson said, "The Premier League position remains unchanged. The prospect of a winter World Cup is neither workable nor desirable for European domestic football" (PA, 7/18).

BLATTER QUESTIONS BRAZIL: The AP reported Blatter said that Brazil "might have been the wrong choice as host of the 2014 World Cup if the tournament is affected by similar social protests as at last month's Confederation's Cup." Blatter: "If this happens again we have to question whether we made the wrong decision awarding the hosting rights." FIFA spoke with the Brazilian government after the Confederations Cup, and Blatter said that he will "discuss the issue again with Brazil President Dilma Rousseff in September." Blatter said, "To me, these protests were like alarm bells for the government, the senate, the parliament. They should work on it so that this is not going to happen again" (AP, 7/17). ESPN's Tim Vickery opined Rousseff had "negotiating room -- more resources for public transport, health and education, and proposals for a reform process aimed at stiffer punishments for corrupt politicians." But on the 2014 World Cup, "she had little to offer." The mistakes "have been made and the money has been spent." It has been obvious for some time that "the 2014 World Cup was going to cost Brazilian society more than it should, and give back less." The "bungling of the 2014 World Cup is a domestic story, one of twisted priorities and poor and arrogant administration." The fact that Brazil was awarded the World Cup unopposed "opened up the door to a host of local defects." There was a "lack of debate, society blatantly misled with the claim that all money spent on stadiums would be private, leaving public resources for infra-structure projects" (ESPN, 7/18).

BRAZIL RESPONDS: EMOL reported Brazil rejected the claims made by Blatter, who said that "it could have been an error choosing Brazil as the 2014 World Cup host." Brazil's Sports Ministry said in a statement that Brazil "is a democratic country that respects its citizens' freedom of expression. The success of the Confederation's Cup verifies the choice of Brazil as the host of the World Cup" (EMOL, 7/18).

BRAZIL CONGRESS INVESTIGATES: ESPN reported Brazilian Congress is to investigate the amount being spent on the 2014 World Cup "following the protests which marred the recent Confederations Cup." Protests and rioting "took place throughout the tournament against the spending on stadiums ahead of next year's competition." Brazil's government is projecting that $13.3B will "be spent on stadiums, airport renovations and other projects for the World Cup and 2016 Olympics," with an estimated $3.5B on venues. Brazilian Senator Alvaro Dias said, "In the wake of the protests, Congress must change its attitude and open this investigation demanded by the people. No doubt there will be major revelations" (ESPN, 7/18).

The North Korean women's football team arrived in Seoul, South Korea for a regional tournament on Thursday, and while "some see the visit as a sign of easing tensions few are putting any faith in sports diplomacy," according to Ju-min Park of REUTERS. South Korea is scheduled to face its "bitter rivals from the North" in the four-nation Women's East Asian Cup at Seoul's World Cup stadium on Sunday. China and Japan are the other two nations competing. While most other aspects of cross-border cooperation "have been frozen," sport "seems to be one area in which the North has found some common ground with its neighbour." Institute of the Humanities for Unification from Konkuk University Professor Jeon Young-sun said that "some significance could be attached to the visit of the women's team but the relationship had to improve before progress could be made." Jeon: "It (the visit) can be considered meaningful but in the middle of a lull in South-North Korea relations, politics are likely to impact sports, not the other way." Seoul's North Korean defectors' club head Kwak Moon-wan said that there "was little hope that sport could be used as a vehicle to close the ideological gap." Kwak, who fled the North and settled in Seoul in '03 said, "It would be very significant if North Korea were to let South Koreans play on its soil and let them fly their flag and play their national anthem. But until that happens, sports can't be used for diplomacy between here and there" (REUTERS, 7/17).

Turkish sides Fenerbahçe and Besiktas will be included in the draws for the Champions and Europa League on Friday after the Court of Arbitration for Sport "temporarily lifted UEFA bans for their involvement in a match-fixing scandal," according to Ece Toksabay of REUTERS. The clubs "were banned last month after a protracted UEFA inquiry following the scandal" in '11. European football's governing body "banned Fenerbahçe for two years and Besiktas one." In a statement on Thursday, the Switzerland-based court said the decisions taken by UEFA "have been stayed and will not be enforced until CAS issues its final decision in each matter." That clears the way for both to be included in Friday's draw for the third qualifying rounds of their competitions, and also, if they qualify, "to be included in the draws for the final playoff rounds" on Aug. 9. However, even if both teams come through those preliminary rounds, "they may still be banned from the group stages." CAS said that "the final decision on Fenerbahçe will be issued" before Aug. 28 and a final decision on Besiktas on Aug. 30. The draws for the group stages of the two competitions take place in Monaco on Aug. 29 (Champions League) and Aug. 30 (Europa League) (REUTERS, 7/18).

The Italian football federation "has opened an investigation after Atalanta midfielder Giulio Migliaccio was involved in an incident in which a tank crushed two cars." Migliaccio "was onboard a tank driven by Atalanta fans" at the supporters' annual preseason festival that "drove over two cars decorated in the colours of rival teams Brescia and Roma." The midfielder said that "he was unwittingly part of the stunt" (AP, 7/18). ... Iran’s Persepolis football team is going to sign cooperation agreements with Brazilian clubs Palmiras and Sao Paulo (TEHRAN TIMES, 7/17). ... The Sports Authority of Thailand has asked the FA of Thailand "to explain why it did not organise its presidential election by July 16." Worawi Makudi's term as FAT president ended on June 16 and according to the FAT charter, "it must hold an election for a new president within 30 days of the incumbent's term expiring" (BANGKOK POST, 7/18).