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Volume 6 No. 213

International Football

EPL CEO Richard Scudamore "is in a bullish mood," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Even a "renewed bout of soul searching closer to home" about the effect of the Premier League's success on the England team, and the ongoing protests from fans concerned that English football has sold its soul to Mammon, "cannot sour Scudamore's mood of breezy optimism." Scudamore: "We have never had more interest abroad, of that there is no doubt. What it really says is that the world still likes what English football has to offer. The only reason we're successful internationally is because we are good locally." With int'l interest "has come globalisation of ownership." Recently, the Premier League "has faced renewed criticism from those who believe more thought should be given to the ultimate consequences of selling clubs to owners from around the world." Scudamore: "It's very difficult for us to sit here with 212 countries and take the moral maze route of which countries we should and shouldn't be dealing with." He argues the influx of overseas owners -- 11 of the 20 Premier League clubs are foreign-owned with six now U.S.-owned -- "has improved the level of professionalism." Scudamore: "The game has moved on. Manchester City are a perfect case in point. The people who own it and run it are extremely professional. It's the same with Liverpool, or the Glazers. Fans can have their view but I can only speak as I find."

SHARING THE WEALTH: The Premier League's success "has inflated a bubble that defiantly refuses to burst." Over time, "the huge TV bounty has bought him increased influence over the clubs." Every time a new multibillion pound TV deal is struck, "there is a concentrated and bruising bout of negotiation as the various parts of the game that the Premier League riches fund" -- from Kick It Out to Supporters Direct and from the Football League to the Football Foundation -- "nervously await news of their share of the pie." Scudamore: "We're going to break the £1.9 billion turnover this year coming, we're going to give away £290 million. It's a huge number." Away from the TV contracts, financial control regulations and dispersal of solidarity payments, Scudamore "is well aware that he is 'selling a show' and a key component of that show are the fans who pack the stadiums and provide the atmosphere." Scudamore: "My prime concern is fans. But there is a complexity to that, as to what fans you're talking about. Each of those fan groups have a different set of issues." Scudamore "reaches for the numbers." Scudamore: "The crowds are getting younger, we're on average three years younger than we were five years ago. Under-16 season tickets are up from 10% to 13%. BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) communities up from 4% in 2003 to 12%. Let's dispel the urban myths. We're getting younger, we're getting more diverse, the stadiums are getting fuller and the TV audiences are getting bigger" (GUARDIAN, 8/14).

WINTER WORLD CUP: In London, Chris Wheeler reported Scudamore "has called on FIFA" to move the 2022 World Cup from Qatar "rather than consider staging the event in winter." Scudamore said that would be "nigh on impossible" because it would "wreak havoc with the Premier League season and other league schedules around the globe." Scudamore said, "They’ve decided to hold the World Cup in the summer in Qatar -- that’s their decision. Our view is this: if that is deemed to be not possible for whatever reasons FIFA decide -- and it’s their decision not ours as to where they hold the World Cup -- then they need to move the location if it can’t be held in the summer. They can’t just on a whim decide to move it to the winter, that’s a very different issue" (DAILY MAIL, 8/15).

Brazilian officials said that a Rio hotel will cost on average $460 during next year's World Cup, double the price in Johannesburg and 50% more than in Berlin, "which hosted finals at the last two previous tournaments," according to the AFP. According to a report by the state tourism agency Embratur, in Johannesburg in '10, the average price of accommodation was $200 while in Berlin four years earlier it was $300. During the Confederations Cup in June, "a hotel room in the northeastern city of Salvador" cost $75 a night. But in July next year, "the price will jump" 583% to $509. In other World Cup host cities, increases in hotel rates of 200-350% "are also reported." Some 600,000 foreign tourists "are expected to flock to Brazil for the World Cup, 30 times more than during the Confederations Cup" (AFP, 8/15).

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said that Ukrainian Premier League club Metalist Kharkiv has appealed to CAS over its "one season ban from European competition," according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. CAS announced Metalist had made "an urgent request for provisional measures … to obtain the temporary stay of the UEFA decision excluding the Ukrainian club from UEFA competitions … and its reinstatement in such competitions." Metalist, due to face Bundesliga side Schalke 04 in the two-legged Champions League playoff round later this month, was "expelled by UEFA on Wednesday." Greek side PAOK Salonika, "the team Metalist eliminated in the third qualifying round," has replaced them as Schalke's opponents (REUTERS, 8/15).

Football Federation Australia and A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers "are investigating the series of flares that were lit during Wednesday night's pre-season match in Canberra, threatening to track down culprits and issue five-year bans" (CANBERRA TIMES, 8/16). ... Spanish Football League (LFP) President Javier Tebas has blasted the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) "for what he believes is a failure to take the current revelations of match-fixing seriously enough." In an attack on RFEF President Angel Maria Villar, Tebas said, "I believe they should be getting more involved in what is being done. It is not enough to let the public investigators act. The Federation, as much as the league, have the ability to take decisions with the information we have" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 8/15). ... The South African national football team's "tottering hopes of qualifying for next year's World Cup in Brazil have just got worse as a result of decisive, far-reaching decisions" taken by FIFA. FIFA revealed that the qualifying game between the Central African Republic and Ethiopia on Sept. 7 "has been switched" from CAR's home in Bangui to the neutral venue of Brazzaville in the Congo Republic (SOWETAN LIVE, 8/14). ... Spain and Chile "will play a friendly match in Geneva, Switzerland" on Sept. 10 (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 8/15). ...  La Liga Real Betis received 700 tickets to sell to its fans from Real Madrid, which will host Real Betis on Sunday at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid. The price of each ticket was €20 ($26), and "they sold out in two hours." For fans who bought tickets, "the travel agency that works with Real Betis chartered an AVE high-speed bus to go to and from Madrid on Sunday." This AVE is full and "the club is already selling tickets for a second train" (AS, 8/15).