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Volume 10 No. 25

International Football

FIFA President Sepp Blatter admitted Monday that "mistakes were made over awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar," according to Giuseppe Muro of the London EVENING STANDARD. Blatter said that FIFA should have always realized that "the tournament would have to be moved to the winter." Asked whether FIFA's exec committee was aware, when making the decision in '10, it would be impossible for a summer World Cup in Qatar, Blatter said, "That may well be so and it may well be that we made a mistake at the time." The Premier League is "among a number of leagues across Europe" to have voiced its opposition to a winter World Cup because of the effects it would have on its fixture schedule. Blatter added, "You must consider political and geo-political realities. Who are we, the Europeans, to demand that this event has to cater to the needs of 800 million Europeans above all, when there are over seven billion people who populate this planet?" (EVENING STANDARD, 9/9).

EXPECTING A SWITCH: In London, Dunbar & Drayton wrote Blatter expects his exec committee to agree that the '22 tournament "should be switched from the searing heat of summer." Blatter "has previously suggested November as a possible start for the month-long tournament while recent speculation has focused on May." A January-February slot "is unlikely because of a clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics." Finding new dates could be led by the 27-member FIFA board in its duty to set the fixture schedule for int'l matches, "when clubs must release their players to national teams." The int'l calendar "is currently set through 2018," and the next round of discussions would look to the '19-22 cycle of seasons (DAILY MAIL, 9/9). Also in London, Owen Gibson reported The European Clubs Association, a coalition of 207 of the biggest clubs in Europe, "is meeting in Geneva on Tuesday to discuss the issue." ECA Senior VP Umberto Gandini believes it is "almost inevitable" it will have to accept the winter switch. If the ECA accepts the shift, it could leave the Premier League "increasingly isolated in its fervent opposition" (GUARDIAN, 9/9). In London, Matt Dickinson reported leading European leagues are "privately accepting the inevitability of the unprecedented switch." The switch to winter has yet to be ratified but looks certain when the Fifa executive committee meets next month in Zurich (LONDON TIMES, 9/10).

Professional Footballers Association Chair Clarke Carlisle "has criticised Rio and Anton Ferdinand in a strongly-worded attack on players who chose not to support last year's anti-racism T-shirt demonstration," according to the MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS. The brothers, ManU defender Rio and then-QPR player Anton, "were among several prominent black players who opted not to wear shirts issued by campaigning group 'Kick It Out' before a round of Premier League fixtures last October." Man City's Joleon Lescott and Reading striker Jason Roberts "were also high-profile figures in the boycott." Carlisle wrote in his new autobiography "You Don't Know Me, But... A Footballer's Life," that he was "bitterly disappointed" with the boycott and -- exempting Roberts -- "labelled players who took a stance against the T-shirt campaign without explaining their reasons 's***houses'" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 9/9).

FOLLOW UP QUESTION: In London, Jamie Jackson reported Kick It Out Chair George Ouseley has questioned why Rio and Anton Ferdinand, Lescott and other prominent black footballers "have not followed last year's refusal to wear anti-racism T-shirts with further protest." While Ouseley "was clear that he respected the players' decision" not to do so in light of Carlisle branding them "s***houses," Ouseley did say their action was not a "big deal" as it had not been followed up. He said, "When Clarke Carlisle says players talk the talk but they don't walk the walk, he's absolutely right because it's all right to say not enough is being done but, as he rightly says, when we have all these gigs challenging racism, where is the support? It's always the same footballers who have experienced racism who turn out and the others, however big or small they are in terms of their popularity or fame, are nowhere to be seen" (GUARDIAN, 9/9).

Professional Footballers' Association Deputy CEO Bobby Barnes insisted that PFA CEO Gordon Taylor "is not a hypocrite amid allegations that he has run up large gambling debts," according to the PA. Taylor "has received the full support of the players' union after reports emerged claiming he had amassed a personal debt" of more than £100,000 ($157,000) to a bookmaker. Barnes said, "I think it's been well known that Gordon is someone who likes a bet occasionally. I think what Gordon has been pointing out is that, particularly for a footballer where the perception might be that for one reason or another it was undesirable to place bets, it is safer for that player not to bet altogether." Barnes "could not comment on the six-figure sum Taylor is reported to have lost gambling on football." But he claimed the CEO is not "experiencing any financial difficulties" (PA, 9/9).

Some 30 hooded Ukrainians with knives "are reported to have set upon England fans in a Kiev coffee shop" ahead of Tuesday's World Cup qualifier. Three Britons "were taken to hospital following the incident" Sunday night (London INDEPENDENT, 9/9). ... FC Barcelona President Sandro Rosell "offered news on Sunday night regarding the permanence of Barcelona's road 'Senyera' uniform, at least while the current regime is in charge." Rosell said, "The shirt is very pretty. The rate of sales is impressive and it will be the team's third shirt starting next season and we will keep it for as long as we are on the board of directors. The away uniform will change but we will keep the 'Senyera' as our third shirt or for special games" (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 9/9). ... Serie A Juventus Dir General Giuseppe Marotta "has underlined how crucial new stadiums could be for the re-birth of Italian football." Top Serie A sides "are lagging behind their European rivals in terms of generating revenue, with council-owned arenas seen as a significant handicap." Marotta: "It's essential Italian football undergoes reform, beginning with stadium facilities, most of which are currently in disrepair" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 9/9). ... Arsenal CCO Tom Fox said that the Gunners "will get more satisfaction from winning trophies than big-spending Premier League rivals such as Chelsea and Manchester City due to the club's financial model." Fox said victory will be "sweeter" when the club's eight-year trophy drought ends as it "will not have been powered by the funds of a mega-wealthy owner" (London EVENING STANDARD, 9/9).