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Volume 10 No. 22

Leagues and Governing Bodies

U.K. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said that FIFA President Sepp Blatter "may have deliberately scuppered England's bid" to host the 2018 World Cup, according to SKY SPORTS. Robertson believes the entire bidding process for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups was "strange and obscure." He said that the turning point against England's bid "came when Blatter addressed delegates just before the vote and reminded them of several less-than-complimentary stories about FIFA that had been pursued by the British media." Robertson said, "I didn't agree with the way the competition was run but there was a competition: Qatar won it, and congratulations to them. The ambition to take football to parts of the world that haven't staged major tournaments before is the right one" (SKY SPORTS, 10/2).

CONSUMMATE PLAYER: In N.Y., Borden & Montague wrote Blatter "is a president, the president of FIFA." To "use that label alone, though, is to sell short the dominating (if not domineering) stature with which Blatter rules." In nearly four decades with FIFA, however, Blatter "has never overseen an issue as hotly debated as the one in front of him now" -- whether to move the 2022 Qatar World Cup to winter. There are 209 members of FIFA, and Blatter "has worked for the organization in several positions for decades." Not surprisingly, opinions of him "run the gamut from savior to scoundrel." Some consider him "a visionary for what he has done to expand the reach of the game to less developed countries and regions shredded by strife." Others "describe him as an entrenched overlord who revels in FIFA’s lack of transparency." However, a trait mentioned by almost all who know Blatter "is his political savvy." His strategy "is not subtle." While FIFA’s financial power base "might be in Europe, Blatter is far from beloved there." Rather, he is "known for currying favor, and votes, in Africa and Asia, seeing the future of the game in its two most populous confederations." Optimists point out that those countries "have greater needs than the European powers, and so the attention is merited." Cynics note that FIFA rules "play into the hands of a smart politician." The 25-member exec committee "consists largely of representatives of FIFA’s six confederations, but Africa (four) and Asia (four) have more votes than Europe (seven)." That gives Botswana, Iran and Thailand "as much voice as, say, Germany, England and France" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/1).

WAITING FOR ZURICH: ESPN reported UEFA President Michel Platini said that there "will be no decision made" on switching the date of the 2022 World Cup made at FIFA’s exec meeting this week. FIFA’s exec committee was "expected to make a decision in principle during a meeting in Zurich" on Thursday and Friday. Platini "has now warned not to expect a final agreement to be made imminently." Platini: "There will be no decision. It is impossible. We must wait to see what proposal President Blatter will bring to the executive committee" (ESPN, 10/2).

The Australian Institute of Sport "announced its Sports Draft program -- a talent identification initiative that sounded like its origins lay in communist Russia," according to David Polkinghorne of the CANBERRA TIMES. Australia "has never won" an Olympic Gold Medal in boxing or judo. This is something the AIS "will target as part of Australia's Winning Edge program." Trials for boxing and judo "will be held in eight locations across Australia over the next two months and the best athletes will be offered training for 12 months." Testing "will not only focus on finding athletes whose bodies suit boxing or judo, but then psychological testing will see whether they have the drive required to succeed at the Olympic level." Senior physiologist David Martin said, "'We've been testing AFL [draft combines] for 15 years and we've been commissioned to do … the beep tests, and come up with the physical challenges. As we look at these guys we've thought, 'Wow, some of these guys could be good in a number of sports.'" Martin said that "the AIS has been working closely with the defence forces, who use psychological testing to find people suitable for their elite forces" (CANBERRA TIMES, 10/2).

The FA "has been accused of a 'dereliction of duty' after failing to question three non-league clubs about suspicious betting activity on a number of games," according to Dan Roan of the BBC. Billericay Town, AFC Hornchurch and Chelmsford "all came under scrutiny from the FA after bookmakers stopped taking bets on several matches involving the clubs in the Conference South last season." The FA "promised to act and told clubs to 'remind players and officials of their responsibilities under the rules.'" But the chairmen of all three Essex clubs said that "none of them have been questioned or even approached." The former head of the FA's compliance unit, Graham Bean, said the governing body's failure to contact the clubs was "disgraceful and a dereliction of duty." Billericay Town Chair Steve Kent "now wants the FA to conduct a thorough investigation." Kent: "I am calling for the authorities in this country to investigate the possibility of match-fixing at our level of football." Concerns "were raised at the FA and within the betting industry when irregular amounts of money were gambled on certain Conference South matches last season." For example, hundreds of thousands of pounds were "placed on Billericay's away match at Welling in November, the vast majority of it on Asian betting exchanges." Kent said, "It was a phenomenal amount of money. There was more money bet on our game than on the Barcelona game [that week]" (BBC, 10/2).

The Int'l Trade Union Confederation said that "Qatar's response to allegations of maltreatment of migrant workers in the 2022 World Cup host nation has been 'weak and disappointing,'" according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. The ITUC said on Friday that "4,000 lives would be at risk before a ball was kicked at the tournament." On Tuesday, the Brussels-based ITUC said that "Qatari authorities had promised 'simply' to increase the number of labour inspectors." ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said, "There are already labour inspectors and they have no impact. What is needed are laws that protect workers' rights to join a union, bargain collectively and refuse unsafe work, and only then can inspectors do their job" (REUTERS, 10/1).

The Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) has announced modifications to its relegation format. In case a team withdraws from the league due to financial reasons, the affected team would be the first club relegated and there would be only one more relegation spot. In case two teams withdraw due to finances, no additional team would be relegated due to performance. The '13-14 season tips off on Wednesday (BBL). ... Singapore’s Minister for Home Affairs has "issued detention orders on four people for their alleged roles" in a global football match-fixing syndicate. The detention orders mean the four "can continue to be detained for up to 12 months, provided the orders are approved by Singapore’s President" (REUTERS, 10/2). ... Nigeria Football Federation General Secretary Musa Amadu told lawmakers on Sunday that the federation "has been unable to move into its new headquarters because of a cash crisis'' (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 10/2). ... Endura Racing, which employed Jonathan Tiernan-Locke before Team Sky, "has claimed both rider and team pushed to have a biological passport early last year to dispel rumours about doping levelled against him." The 28-year-old "has been called upon" by the Int'l Cycling Union "to respond to allegations of potential discrepancies in his biological passport that revealed suspect blood values." But the rider's camp said that "they were confident that he would be cleared of any wrongdoing" (London INDEPENDENT, 10/1). ... The Badminton Association of Malaysia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Badminton Korea Association "to develop badminton as an industry." Under this MoU, there "will be joint training programmes for junior players and friendly matches, while coaches will also exchange ideas and knowledge in terms of sports science." It is "slated to last four years" (THE STAR, 10/2).