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Volume 6 No. 212

International Football

Turkish side Galatasary President Unal Aysal said that plans for a European superleague comprising the continent's top 20 clubs which would replace the Champions League within five years "are being actively discussed," according to Mike Collett of REUTERS. Aysal's comments were confirmed by Juventus President Andrea Agnelli, who told delegates that an academic discussion about the future of European club football "had started among top clubs." While Agnelli "was more considered in his responses," saying that the current format needed to be looked at and that the Europa League especially required revitalization, Aysal "was far more expansive." European Clubs Association Chair Karl-Heinz Rummenigge "dismissed the claims and said no such plan was on the agenda." The ECA has a five-year agreement with UEFA ensuring the future of the Champions League. Aysal, though, "did not mince his words when he spoke to reporters after appearing before delegates at the Conference." Aysal: "Changing things brings new energy and synergy to the system" (REUTERS, 10/10).

ECA RESPONDS: The AFP reported Aysal suggested that the clubs "would be prepared to turn their backs on European governing body UEFA if the organisation opposed their scheme." Aysal: "In the end, the clubs will always be right because the clubs are the actors and the actors have to decide their fate and their future and their destiny" (AFP, 10/10). SKY SPORTS' Graeme Bailey reported the ECA "has insisted it is backing the current UEFA Champions League format." The ECA issued a quick response to Aysal's comments, insisting that "they are more than happy with the current Champions League set-up." A statement read, "The European Club Association (ECA) has taken note of comments made today regarding the alleged creation of a European Super League in 2018. ECA underlines that such an idea was never discussed within the association and never figured on any meeting agenda. ECA is very happy with the current European club competitions" (SKY SPORTS, 10/11).

GoalControl has been named the official goal-line technology provider for the 2014 World Cup. The Germany-based company won a tender process in April, but with confirmation for the 2014 World Cup being subject to the system’s performance during the Confederations Cup in June. The announcement follows an evaluation process in which the relevant departments within FIFA examined the use of GoalControl-4D during the Confederations Cup. While there were no goal-line incidents in which the technology was required to determine whether a goal had been scored, the system met all necessary FIFA requirements and indicated every one of the 68 goals correctly. There was also a high level of satisfaction reported by match officials. FIFA also confirmed that goal-line technology will be used at the FIFA Club World Cup to be played in Morocco from Dec. 11-21 and that GoalControl will be the official goal-line technology provider for the event (FIFA). LA AFICION reported GoalControl uses 14 high-speed cameras located at "different points on the field." Confirmation of "a goal takes less than a second via a visual signal that also vibrates in the watches of referees" (LA AFICION, 10/10).

Allegations of rights abuses "have long been raised against companies based in Qatar," according to Bollier & Essa of AL JAZEERA. After being named host of the 2022 World Cup, the country "has faced increased scrutiny over dubious labor conditions." This week a delegation of the BWI, which is based in Geneva, "traveled to Qatar on a fact-finding trip to investigate working conditions in the small Gulf country." BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson said the mission "found disturbing evidence of wrong practices and gathered testimonies about the violations of internationally accepted labor standards." Yuson: "One worker in a slavelike situation is one too many. This is not acceptable." Qatar's National Human Rights Committee -- a branch of the government that helped facilitate the BWI's trip -- "took the delegation to a labor camp in Ras Laffan where conditions, said delegation members, appeared to be good." But afterward, Al Jazeera and some members of the delegation "visited a labor camp in Al Khor where conditions were spartan." Thin strings tied between beds "served as clotheslines, and cardboard boxes glued on the walls were used as toothbrush holders." One toilet "was allocated for 10 men," workers said, and some of the wash areas "were broken, without taps and plumbing." These conditions "violate compulsory standards set forth by Qatar's National Human Rights Committee, which prohibit bunk beds and stipulate that only up to four workers may share a room." Yet just across the road in another camp, "conditions seemed to mostly abide by Qatar's labor laws." A mobile-crane operator living there described the contrast between his conditions and those at the camp across the road as "the difference between earth and sky" (AL JAZEERA, 10/10).

La Liga side Atlético Madrid's "wage bonus structure for the current season will only come into play if the team finishes in the top four" of La Liga or "reaches the last 16 of the Champions League." Atlético CEO Miguel Ángel Gil "has thrashed out a deal with the first-team captain and vice-captains Gabi [Fernández], Tiago [Mendes] and Raúl García, although it has yet to be put down on paper or signed" (MARCA, 10/12). ... France's football team "considers FIFA's elaborate World Cup qualification system unfair." The French Football Federation is "considering presenting an appeal, as it considers itself penalized by having had to compete in a qualifying group phase of five teams, while other groups consist of six teams." France, like the rest of the teams in its group, played two fewer official games than other teams (EFE, 10/13). ... In a survey conducted by French newspaper Le Parisien, 82% of voters in a survey indicated that "they have a 'negative opinion' of the French national football team." For 86% of those who participated, "the players earn too much money," and for 84%, the "players are selfish" (EFE, 10/13). ... Gareth Bale’s agent has hit out at newspaper Marca for "reporting that the Real Madrid winger had a slipped disc in his back." The Madrid-based paper claimed on Saturday that Bale "had suffered a slipped disc that was picked up in his medical," but President Florentino Perez "urged for the deal to be done anyway." Agent Jonathan Barnett said, "I spoke to a reporter from Marca, I told him: ‘It’s complete rubbish,' and yet they still print it. Whatever they say is a lie. How stupid and irresponsible of Marca to have run such a stupid story” (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 10/13). ... FIFA warned Democratic Republic of Congo side TP Mazembe "of serious consequences if the club does not release three Zambian players 48 hours before the Zambia-Brazil friendly on Oct. 15" (XINHUA 10/11). ... The Perak FA has "lifted the suspension on their squad over match-fixing suspicions during their Malaysian Cup exit, but said police were continuing to investigate" (REUTERS, 10/12).