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Volume 10 No. 22

International Football

Concerns over Brazil's readiness to host next summer's World Cup "have been upgraded after the country's sports minister admitted he was worried about delays to the construction of new stadiums," according to Simon Rice of the London INDEPENDENT. Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo warned that the venues "will not be delivered on time if construction is not accelerated." It was recently revealed that only one of the six stadiums -- the venue for the opening match in Sao Paulo -- "is on schedule to be completed by the end of this year." That is the deadline given by FIFA for the venues to be completed. Rebelo: "This must be seen as a warning. We cannot keep on the same rhythm, or we will not deliver them on time. It is possible to intensify. We are able to meet the deadlines, but it should be noted that it will require us to speed up the construction." Throwing more money at the tournament "would be hugely unpopular, with this summer's Confederations Cup, seen as a test event for next year's tournament, overshadowed by protests about corruption and overspending" (INDEPENDENT, 8/14). The AP's Tales Azzoni reported FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke reiterated recently that it is crucial to have all 12 World Cup stadiums ready and said that organizers "would increase monitoring of work at the venues." Valcke plans to visit Brazil next Monday "to inspect work in Sao Paulo, Curitiba and Manaus." Four of the stadiums are less than 80% completed -- in Curitiba, Manaus, Natal and Porto Alegre. Rebelo said, "It's possible to intensify the work now by adding more engineers and more workers. We couldn't do that in the earlier stages but now we can" (AP, 8/14).

FIFA has asked authorities in Russia, host of the 2018 World Cup, for "clarification and more details" about a new anti-gay law, joining the IOC in seeking answers from Moscow, according to Graham Dunbar of the AP. Legislation prohibiting "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors" has provoked an int'l furor since President Vladimir Putin signed it off in June and sparked growing concern at the IOC leading to the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in February. The two most influential organizations in world sports "are both now asking Russia how the law would be enforced during their marquee events." FIFA said in a statement on Tuesday, "Russia has committed to provide all visitors and fans with a warm welcome and ensure their safety" during the monthlong tournament. The governing body added that "FIFA trusts that the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts will deliver on this promise" (AP, 8/13). BLOOMBERG's Tariq Panja wrote the World Cup is worth about $5B through sales of TV and marketing rights, "as well as income generated by the local hosts for the quadrennial event" (BLOOMBERG, 8/13).

Spanish national football team coach Vicente del Bosque has criticized "the financial disparities between the 'top two' in La Liga and the remaining 18 teams which boast Primera Division status." Del Bosque believes that "the economic differences no longer just affect club infrastructure, with Barcelona and Real Madrid receiving significantly more money than the rest of the league." Del Bosque: "The economic differences between the clubs are now so massive that they have moved on to the playing field" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 8/14). ... EPL Fulham Owner Shahid Khan has "ruled out rebranding the club as the Jaguars in the wake of Hull City having added Tigers to their name." Khan believes that "a club's name is sacrosanct and does not plan" to follow the lead of Hull City Owner Assem Allam, who "wants the club to be known as Hull City Tigers nationally and Hull Tigers internationally" (BELFAST TELEGRAPH, 8/14). ... The Spanish Football League (LFP) has confirmed that second division side Alcorcón "will be allowed to play in Segunda next term, just three days before the season kicks off." The club had "been threatened with relegation" to the third division following "financial irregularities" (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 8/14).