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Volume 6 No. 214

International Football

FIFA President Sepp Blatter expects his exec committee "to decide soon that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be moved from the searing heat of summer," according to Graham Dunbar of the AP. Blatter said on Sunday that an Oct. 3-4 meeting in Zurich "should approve the change, and begin consultation on the best time for Qatar to host the tournament." Blatter: "I would be very much surprised, more than surprised, if the ExCo will not accept the principle you cannot play in summer in Qatar. What will be following, this would be then decided later." Blatter said that "consultations would involve leagues, clubs, national associations and players, through their international union FIFPro but he set no timetable." Blatter "has previously suggested November as a possible start for the monthlong tournament while recent speculation has focused on May." A January-February slot "is unlikely because of a clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics" (AP, 8/25). The BBC reported FIFA VP Jeffrey Webb said that "player welfare is his main priority ahead of the Qatar World Cup in 2022." Webb: "The real concern from my perspective will definitely be the conditions for the players." Webb, one of eight FIFA VPs, said that "player welfare must come first." He said, "The World Cup is about the players and it's about showing them the necessary respect" (BBC, 8/25).

The Italian Serie A "returns this week but the customary enthusiasm for a new season is tinged with another bout of soul-searching in Italy," according to Glenn Moore of the London INDEPENDENT. Not only "is the game still bedevilled with racist outbreaks on the terraces, and the continuing legacy of match-fixing scandals, there is a sense that Serie A is falling behind." Italian football "once dominated Europe," but Inter Milan’s Champions League success in '10 "now looks a blip." The leading clubs in La Liga and the Premier League "overtook their Serie A counterparts some years ago in terms of transfer muscle, but now the Bundesliga has moved ahead together with the lavishly-funded Ligue 1 clubs Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain." The latter "was evident in the transfer market this summer with Edison Cavani becoming the 10th Serie A player to join PSG in the last two years." Monaco blew away all opposition, including Italian, with its €60M ($80M) purchase of Radamel Falcao. To Inter Milan Owner Massimo Moratti "the solution is external investment." The petro-baron, who estimates he has sunk €1.5B ($2B) into the club in the last two decades, "has been courting Indonesian tycoon Erick Thohir." If he sells, and a similar deal involving Chinese purchasers last season fell through, Inter would follow U.S.-owned Roma "in moving into foreign control." Moratti said that "there is no alternative." Moratti: "Today we find ourselves incapable of generating worldwide interest . We need to create a solid foreign market." Only Juventus has "spent big." Moratti mentioned Serie A’s "rundown stadia," which come as a shock to English visitors, but Juventus is an exception. La Vecchia Signora has a new ground which, unlike most Italian clubs, it owns. That "helps generate income though its sub-50,000 capacity, for the biggest club in Italy, is telling" (INDEPENDENT, 8/24).

Two officials "have been given life bans" by UEFA for an attempt to fix the result of a Europa League match last month. Armenian referee Andranik Arsenyan and assistant Hovhannes Avagyan, who officiated in the match between FC Inter Turku and Vikingur, "were suspended for life" by the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body (REUTERS, 8/23). ... Two African Champions League matches "will go ahead in Egypt at the weekend despite the civil unrest that has claimed more than 1,000 lives since last month’s military overthrow of the civilian government." Holders Al Ahli will play AC Leopards of the Congo on Saturday at El Gouna, a Red Sea resort some 350km from "strife-torn" Cairo, followed the next day by Zamalek hosting South Africa’s Orlando Pirates. Both games "will be played behind closed doors" at the insistence of Egyptian authorities, scared unruly crowds "could lead to more unrest" (REUTERS, 8/25). ... The Iranian Football Federation announced that "the training camp which was supposed to be held in Portugal has been cancelled due to lack of funds." Iran "was scheduled to face Gabon in its training camp" in Lisbon on Sept. 12 as well as a friendly against Sporting Lisbon (TEHRAN TIMES, 8/25).