Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 10 No. 23

International Football

Iran "has barred national football team captain Javad Nekounam's lucrative transfer to a club in neighbouring UAE because of a dispute over a name," according to the AFP. Nekounam finalized a deal with newly promoted club Sharjah. Iran Football Federation President Ali Kafashian said that the move -- reportedly worth more than $2M -- "has been blocked by Iranian authorities." Kafashian said, "We had to stop him from joining the Emirati league." He added Nekounam would be compensated with an unspecified amount which "we will ask the president (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) to allocate." He did not elaborate why Nekounam had been "denied permission" to join Sharjah, but Iranian media said the decision was taken to stop the veteran int'l from playing in the UAE's newly renamed "Arabian Gulf League," a rebranding which has stirred tensions. Historically sensitive toward territorial issues, Iran insists on calling the body of water the "Persian Gulf." The Arab countries of the oil-rich region meanwhile insist on the term "Arabian Gulf" or simply "the Gulf" (AFP, 7/21).

Two men were killed in a fight between fans of Argentine first division side Boca Juniors just before Boca Juniors was scheduled to take on San Lorenzo on Sunday in Buenos Aires, according to the BBC. The violence was started by "members of rival factions of Boca Juniors supporters." The two men killed were 35 and 44 years old, respectively. A San Lorenzo spokesperson said the club suspended the game before it started. San Lorenzo President Matías Lammens: "Knowing what had happened, it was dangerous to expose the people. We thought it was best to suspend the game" (BBC, 7/22). REUTERS' Luis Ampuero reported Boca Juniors President Daniel Angelici accused the Argentine government of "turning a blind eye to the growing problem of soccer hooligans after two were killed in a Wild West style shootout." Angelici: "The state knows each one of them. They have their names, surnames and know where they live. The state has the biggest responsibility. ... These are delinquents who must be eradicated. If (the government) is going to ask football directors to deal with them it's because no one wants to do anything about it." There was "only one arrest of a man with a gun." The apparent impunity of football hooligans has become "as big a topic of discussions among regular fans and the general public as the game itself in Argentina." Incidents tend to "be about power struggles within the barras bravas of the clubs rather than fighting between hooligan fans of rival teams" (REUTERS, 7/22).

Libya's int'l women's football team, already under threat from religious extremists, "has been banned from taking part in a major tournament next week by the country's sporting authorities," according to Chris Stephen of the London GUARDIAN. Libya's FA told the team that it could not fly to Germany on Saturday, "citing concerns that it takes place within the holy month of Ramadan." Midfielder Hadhoum el-Alabed said, "The federation said you cannot play in Germany because of the need for fasting. We want to go but they say you cannot go." Libya had been due to play teams from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Tunisia and Germany in Discover Football, "a tournament funded by the German government." El-Alabed, who played in Liverpool while earning a Phd in sports science, said that "the ban had shattered hopes that the fall of Gaddafi would bring social change." Threats from Islamist radicals have already forced the team to train in secret, "constantly switching venues and deploying armed guards." Popular Libyan TV preacher Salim Jabar has demanded that "the women's team disband, saying it was against the strictures of Islam." Jabar: "This team consists of tall, good-looking young girls, and that's the last thing this country needs" (GUARDIAN, 7/19).

Brazilian authorities "have backed down from a threat to ban shirtless and standing fans" at Rio de Janeiro's revamped Maracanã stadium "after the latest public outcry." Rio de Janeiro state government's sports ministry said in a statement: "Fans will be able to take flags with masts up of up to 10 metres, take off their shirts and watch the game standing up" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 7/22). ... The African Champions League resumed with only two of the four matches scheduled for the opening weekend of the eight-team group stage able to be played "because of violence in Egypt and Cameroon's football ban" (AP, 7/22). ... FIFA lifted the suspension of the Cameroonian FA given that the conditions previously have been met (FIFA). ... EPL Liverpool has, in partnership with the Special Olympics organization, sent a group of community coaches to Jakarta to deliver a range of football-related programs designed to provide positive change for local children and adults. Liverpool has teamed with the Premier Skills’ Gocekz Project in Jakarta "to continue providing support long after the squad has returned to England" from its Asian tour (SOCCEREX, 7/22). ... FC Barcelona has announced an agreement with the promoter of the club's friendly against Polish club Lechia Gdansk, which was scheduled for last Saturday but delayed when Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova stepped down Friday due to illness. The game will now be played on July 30 at 8:45pm local time (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 7/22). ... Yair Clavijo, an 18-year-old footballer, died of cardiac arrest on Sunday at the end of a game between Peruvian clubs Sporting Cristal and Real Garcilosa. The game was played in Cuzco, Peru at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters above sea level (EP, 7/22).