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Volume 6 No. 194

International Football

UEFA "is considering a radical overhaul of international football that would see national teams playing a new Nations League competition," according to Gibson & Lyttleton of the London GUARDIAN. The plan would see UEFA "using existing dates for friendlies in the international calendar to launch a new league involving all 54 member nations." UEFA sources said that the idea is designed to "improve the attractiveness of international football from 2018 onwards." The exec committee will examine the idea in more detail before deciding whether to adopt it. The concept "would see all Uefa's members divided into a series of perhaps nine divisions based on their recent results, with promotion and relegation following each round of matches." Norwegian FA President Yngve Hallen, who sits on UEFA's national committee for int'l tournaments, said, "It is true that a series of games is one of the models being discussed" (GUARDIAN, 10/10).

The Asian Football Confederation has warned the Iraq government "to stay out of football matters after they withdrew the national team from the Gulf Cup in frustration at being stripped of hosting rights," according to Patrick Johnston of REUTERS. Iraqi PM Nouri Al Maliki used his weekly televised speech on Wednesday to describe the snub as "prejudiced against the rights of the Iraqi people." The withdrawal of the team for the tournament, which is due to be held at the end of '14 or in early '15, "comes after Bahrain stepped in to host this year's edition after Iraq were originally selected." The AFC said in a statement on Thursday, "Both FIFA and AFC do not tolerate any interference in football matters by the government or any other bodies and AFC would like to ask them to stay away in the interest of Iraqi football" (REUTERS, 10/10).

FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke said that he is "confident Brazil’s security can protect the tournament amid increasing concerns over violent protests in the country," according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG. Valcke "gave his backing to Brazil’s police" just three days after they used rubber bullets, tear gas and percussion grenades in the country’s two largest cities -- Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo -- after "planned demonstrations by striking teachers turned violent." Mass demonstrations "have continued since June when a record number of people took to the streets to complain" about issues ranging from a "lack of decent health and education provision to political corruption and public spending on sporting events." Valcke: "What has happened at the Confederations Cup and the way the authorities reacted was definitely very good and gave a lot of confidence to all the teams, commercial partners and all of us on the capacity to be able to control the situation" (BLOOMBERG, 10/10).

Liga MX President Decio de María "revealed that Liga MX has the fourth-best average football stadium attendance in the world." De María said, "With 22,566 per game, Liga MX trails only the German Bundesliga, England's Premier League and Spain's La Liga." Liga MX "also has a market value" of €464.3M ($628.4M) (LA AFICION, 10/9). ... FIFA received requests for 5.4 million World Cup tickets as the deadline approached for the first phase of applications on Wednesday night. The top 10 nations for requests were Brazil, U.S., Argentina, Germany, Chile, England, Japan, Colombia, Australia and Mexico (FIFA). ... Serie A side AC Milan CEO Adriano Galliani said that the club will go to "every possible tribunal" in its fight against the decision to "order the club to play one match behind closed doors" following "insulting" chants by the team's fans (GAZZETTA DELLO SPORT, 10/9). ... Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti currently "has as many as 17 members of training staff at the club." Ancelotti has "brought in a number of coaching members including regular assistant Paul Clement, goalkeeper coach Villiam Vecchi and chief physio Giovanni Mauri." Zinedine Zidane "has also been added at this level" as another assistant (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 10/10). ... Malaysia's FA "held a one-day workshop with the stakeholders of Malaysian football at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM)" in Shah Alam, Malaysia on Thursday. FAM Privatization Committee Chair Datuk Afandi Hamzah said that "more than 150 participants had contributed" (THE STAR, 10/10). ... Spain's Interior Ministry has announced fines of $4,100 apiece for four Real Madrid fans who "displayed Nazi symbols" during a La Liga match Sept. 28 against Atlético Madrid (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 10/10).