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Volume 6 No. 216

International Football

Against "a backdrop of nationwide demonstrations over the rising cost of living, corruption and expenditure on next year's World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics," marketing agency Pluri Consultants reported that "tickets in Brazil are the most expensive of the world's major leagues, when local wage levels are taken into account," according to James Young of the London INDEPENDENT. Since the country's new World Cup stadiums "have opened, the already steep prices have leapt into the stratosphere." While higher tariffs "are to be expected in plush new venues, the cheapest full-price ticket" for the recent Vasco da Gama vs. Corinthians mid-table fixture in Brasilia's Mane Garrincha stadium "was an eye-watering" 160 reais ($71.30) -- only 10 reais ($5) less than it will cost to watch a World Cup quarterfinal next year. Given that the average Brazilian worker earns approximately a fifth of what his U.K. counterpart might make, such a price "is roughly equivalent to an English fan paying" more than £200 ($323) for the cheapest ticket for a run-of-the-mill Premier League game. Nor "are expensive prices the result of demand." The average attendance at a Brasileiro game last year "was a paltry 13,000" -- comparable to Australia's A-League. While the image most foreign fans have of football in Brazil "is of heaving crowds and cacophonies of noise and colour, the reality is swathes of empty seats and a small, hardy band of fans." With "the arrival of new stadiums and the accompanying astronomical prices, poorer fans are being pushed out, their places taken by wealthier, iPad brandishing supporters." Ministry of Sport football secretary Antonio Nascimento Filho said, "If I took my family to the Maracana I'd have to spend 400 reais ($178). The less well-off are being excluded. It's ridiculous that a sport of the people, built by the people, is shutting out poorer Brazilians" (INDEPENDENT, 9/29).

Qatar has joined forces with the U.S. "to develop new food and water security solutions off the back of the technology and infrastructure developed for the 2022 World Cup," according to Paul Nicholson of INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee (Q22) and the Qatar National Food Security Programme "have combined to drive a project to develop their new technologies," and have joined with former U.S. President Bill Clinton for Qatar's Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action. The plan is "to use the cooling technologies being developed to cool stadia and training facilities for 2022 to close critical gaps facing farmers in dryland and water-stressed regions of the world." The "cooling applications and the training facilities that will house them, have the potential to be converted to cooled greenhouses that can be used for year-round food production in dryland or water-stressed regions" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 9/27).

The United Nations Int'l Labour Organisation has warned "Qatar is failing to fully implement an international convention banning the use of forced labour ahead of the 2022 football World Cup," according to Booth & Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. ILO senior labour migration adviser in the Arab states Azfar Khan said that "despite pledges to do otherwise Qatar did not properly inspect workplace conditions and there was 'no coherence' in the state's policies over the use of migrant labour." On Friday, int'l footballers' union FIFPro said it was "deeply alarmed by reports of the brutal exploitation of migrant workers by construction companies in Qatar who are involved in building the stadia that Fifpro members will be expected to play in." The umbrella organization for players' unions, which represents more than 50,000 footballers around the world, from Lionel Messi to Wayne Rooney, "called for independent workplace experts appointed by FIFA and the ILO to be given access to all sites and powers to make binding recommendations to ensure international labour standards are respected in Qatar." FIFPro Asia Division Chair Brendan Schwab said, "If these reports are true, then football must act. It is inexcusable for workers' lives to be sacrificed." The British law firm Leigh Day "is taking steps to bring legal actions in the London courts against any U.K. firms found to be working on construction projects where labour laws are being breached" (GUARDIAN, 9/27).

FIFA said that Ukraine and Peru "will play their next home qualifying matches" for the 2014 World Cup without spectators. FIFA said in a statement, "The bans were imposed over the actions of supporters during earlier qualifying matches" (BLOOMBERG, 9/27). ... Real Madrid player Isco will have to pay €2.6M ($3.5M) "to his former agents, sports management firm IMG." Newspaper El Confidencial reported that the Spanish youngster "allegedly broke his contract with the firm and then ignored their request for talks" (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 9/28).