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Volume 10 No. 26

International Football

Senior officials said that Australia's domestic A-League "could eventually expand into Asia with Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia showing interest," according to the AFP. The league currently has 10 teams and while a move to expand is not imminent, "it could reportedly stage games in Asia" as soon as the '14-15 season. A-League President Damien de Bohun said, "There's no reason why you can't look seriously at games and even certainly clubs being based in different parts of Asia. Perth Glory played a game in Malaysia ... a pre-season match, they had 27,000 people there" (AFP, 10/8). In Sydney, Michael Lynch wrote "the Football Federation of Australia seeks to turn the challenge of hosting the Asian Cup in January 2015 into an opportunity." Because of the narrow window in which the A-League needs to be contained -- the sport's governing body is "keen to keep the season kickoff in early October," when the rival football codes have finished, and its finals in May, before the Australian Football League and National Rugby League hit their straps -- A-League officials "are not keen on the idea of suspending the competition while the Asian Cup takes place." But the FFA would like "clear air" for the Socceroos and the cream of Asian football in the host cities -- Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and Newcastle -- "in which matches will be played, hence the idea of shifting A-League matches overseas." Singapore and Malaysia "are the most likely countries to host new teams" if the FFA looks to extend the A-League footprint. De Bohun: "We have a precedent with Wellington, who play in our league out of New Zealand. Forget being in a different country, they are in a different confederation. It's something we will explore" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 10/9).

RATINGS RISE: REUTERS' Ian Ransom wrote while the A-League, which also features one team from New Zealand, saw crowds, memberships and broadcast ratings rise in its most successful season last year, "it is still in a precarious position in its home market, where Australian Rules football and rugby league dominate." De Bohun said that "the A-League would not look to expand the number of teams over the life of its current four-year broadcasting agreement, but would consider bringing in Asian-based clubs when it found itself on a firmer footing." De Bohun: "We're part of Asia. I think Australia's starting to understand that in a footballing context. We have a global game, a game that doesn't just have to be played in Australia" (REUTERS, 10/8).

FIFA investigators will meet with every country that bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups "as part of a probe into possible violations of FIFA's code of ethics," according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG. Former U.S. Attorney for N.Y. Michael Garcia is leading the inquiry, "but Cornel Borbely will take over areas involving Russian and American bids for the events to avoid a conflict of interest for Garcia," according to an emailed statement from his law firm, Kirkland & Ellis LLP. The investigatory panel said in the statement, "Our role, in this or any other matter, is to investigate potential violations of the FIFA Code of Ethics. We will consider any allegations and evidence indicative of such violations, and we urge anyone with potentially relevant information to contact us now." The panal said the probe into the award of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the '22 event to Qatar will "extend at least several months" into '14 (BLOOMBERG, 10/8). The AP reported Garcia's U.S.-based law firm on Tuesday "stressed the limited mandate of his work." A statement from Kirkland & Ellis said, "It is not our role to determine the venue or timing of the World Cup." Garcia is expected in England this week to speak with members of The FA's 2018 bid team, "the first of a series of visits to the 11 countries involved in nine separate bids" (AP, 10/8). INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL's Andrew Warshaw wrote Garcia has broken his silence over his much-publicized upcoming tour of 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding countries by warning that "anyone who breaks an obligation to co-operate with the investigation could face sanctions." A statement said, "We will consider any allegations and evidence indicative of such violations, and we urge anyone with potentially relevant information to contact us now. We emphasize that the FIFA Code of Ethics provides anonymity protections in appropriate circumstances. As in every case, we will use all investigative tools available to us under the FIFA Code of Ethics. These tools include the authority to impose disciplinary measures against anyone who breaches an obligation to cooperate with the investigation" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 10/8).

Ghana wants a "neutral venue" for its 2014 World Cup qualifier on Nov. 19 against Egypt, "saying it is too dangerous to play the game in Cairo," according to the AP. In a letter to FIFA, the Ghana Football Association said that "the match should be moved to a 'safe and secure' venue." The letter said, "Our request is premised on the alarming and fast deteriorating security situation in Egypt." At least "51 people were killed in riots in Cairo last weekend linked to the ousting of the elected state president, Mohammed Morsi" (AP, 10/8).

ESPANYOL SUSPENDS FRIENDLY: EL PERIODICO reported La Liga side Espanyol has suspended a friendly scheduled to be played this weekend against Saudi club Al Ittihad in Libya. The match was "originally scheduled for August, but Espanyol backed out due to security concerns." The recent decision was made after José Riera, a Spanish ambassador in Libya, advised the team not to "come to Libya and take unnecessary risks." The agreement "for a game between the teams is still in effect and Espanyol is hoping to find an appropriate date in the next few weeks" (EL PERIODICO, 10/8).

Italy's football authorities have ordered Serie A side AC Milan to play its next game behind closed doors and fined the club €50,000 ($67,900) "following abusive chants by supporters against southern club Napoli" (REUTERS, 10/8). ... Fans of Greece Super League football club AEK Athens "showed their support by buying more season tickets than any other club in the Greek game" -- including European contenders Olympiakos Pirea and PAOK. AEK dropped outside the top flight for the first time ever this summer -- "relegated to the third division in order to liquidate the club's professional football branch and work off a massive debt." AEK announced on Monday that it "had sold 12,855 season tickets" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 10/8).