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Volume 6 No. 214

International Football

Japan said Monday that "it has protested at the display of a banner criticizing Tokyo" when its football team played South Korea in the final match of the East Asian Cup in Seoul, according to the TAIPEI TIMES. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the display was "extremely regrettable." Suga said the Japanese government "will respond appropriately based on FIFA rules when the facts are revealed." The Japan FA "has submitted a letter of protest to the East Asian Football Federation." South Korean fans displayed a giant banner reading: "There is no future for people who have forgotten their past" -- a reference to Japan's reluctance to acknowledge its colonial and militaristic history, including in Korea (TAIPEI TIMES, 7/30). KYODO reported Japan Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura said, "It calls into question the nature of the people in the country. It's regrettable that a political message was aired at a sporting event" (KYODO, 7/30). YONHAP reported "South Korea has no plan to address the controversy." A day after the match, an official with the Korea FA said that "the national football governing body doesn't plan to discuss the banner." The official said, "Japanese officials expressed some concerns about it during the game. But we didn't receive any official complaint afterward" (YONHAP, 7/29).

BANNER CONTROVERSY: In Bangkok, Tor Chittinand wrote Liverpool "fans caused controversy during the Reds' friendly against Thailand" on Sunday night. Fans carried an anti-ManU banner at Rajamangala National Stadium, where the "English club ended their Asia tour with a 3-0 win." Fans carried a banner ridiculing ManU at the stadium, "which was seen during the live telecast." The sign read: "Alex Ferguson. Out working. Go to the hell. 20 = kong [cheat]. Munich 58." "Munich 58" was apparently a reference to the '58 air accident in Munich, in which several United players were killed. It was heavily criticized on popular Thai websites, and former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore called the fans "idiots." Collymore tweeted, "As for disrespectful banners, idiots whoever they support. Glorifying death is never clever, just plain stupid." In a separate tweet, Collymore wrote, "Munich, Hillsborough, Shankly etc. If you make banners or sing songs about them, you're a wanker" (BANGKOK POST, 7/30).

English Football League sides Preston North End, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Derby County, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley and Notts County "are marking a very special milestone," according to Mike Collett of REUTERS. They will be kicking off the 125th anniversary season of the EFL, the oldest in the world, "and the model on which virtually every other domestic league competition has been based on ever since." On March 2, 1888 Aston Villa Chair William McGregor wrote to 12 of the top clubs, suggesting a league format, and on September 8, 1888 the Football League began "with clubs from the north and midlands." Eleven of the 12 founder members "are still in existence:" Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, which won the first title, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers. The 12th, the original Accrington club, lasted from 1876 until 1896, "but the town is still represented in the League today by Accrington Stanley in the fourth tier (League Two)." Ranked by attendances, the Championship, which is now England's second tier, "is the fifth biggest division in Europe after the Bundesliga, the Premier League, Spain's La Liga and Italy's Serie A." In all, 114 seasons of league football have been completed with 11 lost to the two World Wars, "and one intriguing fact is that of the 11 original surviving founders seven have spent the majority of their time in the top flight" (REUTERS, 7/30).

Anti-discrimination body Kick It Out Dir Roisin Wood said that football "clubs should consider employing a minority candidate when it comes to choosing between two with similar qualifications," according to Saj Chowdhury of the BBC. Wood said that football in Britain would benefit from "diversification." Wood: "It's about positive action." Wood added that the FA was one football organization that was making an effort to change the perception of "old boys' club" at administration level, with National Game & Women's Football Dir Kelly Simmons and FA Non Exec Dir Heather Rabatts "both handed senior positions in the past two years." However, Wood said the change in football was not happening "fast enough" (BBC, 7/30).

Saudi Arabia newspaper al-Eqtisadia reported Saudi Prince Abdullah bin Musaad "is targeting a stake in" League Championship Leeds United and another football team in the English Premier League he didn’t identify. Bin Musaad said that he is "very close to buying a club and he will make an announcement on a deal in coming few days" (BLOOMBERG, 7/30). ... Thai FA (FAT) President Worawi Makudi's bid to retain control of Thai football "received a boost on Tuesday, with the country's sports authority (SAT) blocking attempts by upset members to force presidential elections." Worawi's term as FAT president ended on June 16, but he "cancelled the vote scheduled for that day after failing to implement controversial FIFA-backed reforms" (REUTERS, 7/30). ... Serie A "has pointed out Roma’s crowd ban due to racist chanting will not be in the derby against Lazio." Serie A released a statement to clarify the terms of the ban, "so the Curva Sud will be closed for the opening home game against Hellas Verona in Week 2" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 7/29). ... The Argentine FA has changed its schedule for first division games this weekend, moving the Gimnasia-River Plate game, which was scheduled to start at 9:30pm local time on Sunday, to an earlier start time of 6:10pm. Rosario Central will now play Quilmes at 9:30pm. The FA also changed the time of Sunday's game between Olimpo and San Lorenzo, which will now start at 4pm instead of 6:10pm (CLARIN, 7/29).