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Volume 6 No. 212

International Football

Russian billionaire and Chelsea Owner Roman Abramovich "is stopping his funding for Russian football," according to the BBC. Abramovich's spokesperson at the investment firm Millhouse said his National Football Academy in Russia had "fulfilled its objectives." There are "no reports of any dispute." Reports said that the NFA "funded some 130 new pitches" and spent up to $200M. The NFA, set up in '04, "also paid for youth coaching programmes in Russia." Abramovich "began funding Russian football shortly after buying Chelsea" (BBC, 8/28). The AFP reported the representative "emphasised that the foundation's activities were being wound down, not completely halted." Abramovich established the foundation with a 1B ruble ($30M) annual budget. According to the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, the foundation paid around $7M a year to Dutch Manager Guus Hiddink, who "led the Russian squad to bronze medals" in the 2008 Euro (AFP, 8/28).

Bulgaria's Socialist-led government "has thrown its weight behind a possible bid by Sofia to be one of the cities hosting Euro 2020 matches," according to Angel Krisimirov of REUTERS. The government, led by non-partisan Plamen Oresharski, announced last week that "it had held preliminary talks with the Bulgarian Football Union to discuss whether the capital could host such event." Sports Minister Mariana Georgieva said, "The state categorically supports the BFU for the bid to host the Euro 2020 (match). The prime minister is personally involved in this case." Bulgarian authorities, who considered a joint bid for Euro 2020 with neighboring Romania before UEFA's format change, "are yet to decide whether they'll build a new stadium." The Vasil Levski national stadium, located in the center of Sofia, "has 43,230 seats but needs to be renovated to meet UEFA criteria" (REUTERS, 8/28).

Argentine fourth division side Laferrere player Héctor Sanabria died Tuesday after "collapsing during the first half of a game against General Lamadrid," according to Luis Ampuero of REUTERS. Sanabria "was taken to the hospital and the match was called off." Laferrere coach Eduardo Cáceres said, "He had no history of heart trouble. We did all the exams and medical controls. You see these things happen from a distance but never think they can happen to you" (REUTERS, 8/28).

GETTING MEDICAL COVERAGE: Fellow Laferrere player Pablo Nieva said that players in the Argentine fourth division "do not receive the medical attention they need." Nieva: "In the [fourth division] they do not even give you a cardiogram. We do not have medical coverage, they do not even check you. I don't know if this would happen to you or not if you had the checkups, but maybe something would have stood out. It would be logical to have tests for each team before the next games" (CLARIN, 8/28).

UEFA President Michel Platini's decision on whether to run for the FIFA presidency in '15 "will be made without considering the plans of incumbent Sepp Blatter.'' Platini: "I don't know (what Blatter is going to decide). At first, he said that he would quit in 2015. Now, he has been saying that he will talk next year in Brazil." He added, "I will make my decision on my own, without taking Sepp into consideration" (REUTERS, 8/28). ... The top sports court "rejected an appeal" by Turkish club Fenerbahce against a two-year ban from European competition for match-fixing. The Istanbul team "will appeal the decision to Switzerland’s supreme court." The ruling "prevents Fenerbahce playing in this season’s Europa League" (BLOOMBERG, 8/28). ... UEFA has threatened Kazakhstan side Shakhter Karagandy with disciplinary proceedings if it continues its prematch ritual of slaughtering sheep. Shakhter will not slaughter a sheep before Wednesday’s second leg at Celtic and UEFA has made it clear that disciplinary proceedings will be launched if it happens again (London EVENING STANDARD, 8/28). … FIFA has confirmed it has received an official complaint from the FA of Malawi after Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi called Malawi's Belgian national team coach Tom Saintfiet "a white dude who should go back to Belgium" in a radio interview. FAM General Secretary Suzgo Nyirenda said, "We feel the racist remarks by Mr. Keshi are not acceptable ... We thought it was a personal attack on our coach and we had to defend him regardless of skin" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 8/28). ... EPL Everton "has launched an extensive fan consultation process to help decide the new look of their iconic crest." The process invites fans "to complete an online questionnaire, upload their own version of the crest and even apply to join one of a series of focus groups" by Sept. 15. The final design "will be decided by a vote" (NBC SPORTS, 8/27).

UNFRIENDLY BORDER: A Switzerland-based player "was refused a visa by Russia to play for St. Gallen in a Europa League game on Thursday." St. Gallen midfielder Kristian Nushi, who moved to Switzerland 11 years ago but still holds a Kosovan passport, "will therefore miss the playoff second leg at Spartak Moscow." Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in '08 and "has been recognised by at least 100 countries including 23 of the European Union's 28 members, but not by Russia" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 8/28). ... Ecuadorean Interior Minister José Serrano announced on Tuesday that "police will be withdrawn from inside football stadiums because of fans' recent violent attacks on officers." Serrano added that "police officers will maintain their presence outside stadiums." The announcement comes after a Quito police officer was "injured after being attacked by fans during a Liga de Quito home game."  The officer "was pushed into a 4m-deep pit last weekend" (AP, 8/27). ... Guatemalan first division footballer Fredy Thompson said that he "presented a series of petitions to the Guatemalan FA asking for measures to be taken against fan violence." Professional footballers from various Guatemalan clubs "protested Monday against violence in stadiums, including recent violence toward players." Wearing shirts that said, "No more violence," 90 players participated in the protest, "which also demanded better labor conditions." The demonstration took place in front of the GFA's headquarters (AP, 8/26). ... A pair of Liga MX games scheduled for this weekend in Mexico City have been rescheduled due to a "lack of sufficient security to safeguard the events." Cruz Azul's match against Querétaro, which was scheduled for Saturday, will be played on Monday. Pumas' game against América, which was scheduled for Sunday, has also been postponed, but "has not yet been rescheduled" (LA AFICION, 8/27).