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Volume 10 No. 25

International Football

The Premier League's guaranteed contribution of £12M ($19.5M) a year to grassroots football facilities in the U.K. over the next three years is "unlikely to be enough to quell criticism of its redistribution formula," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. The reason is because of the "huge hike in broadcasting income that will lead to a windfall" of £5.5B ($8.9B) over the same three-year period. In addition to the Premier League's £12M contribution, the FA will "contribute the same amount" and the government will invest £10M ($16.2M) per year through Sport England, which is "funded by Lottery and exchequer money." The Premier League has been criticized for "not diverting more of its broadcasting billions to grassroots facilities." The EPL, however, argues it has "maintained funding when others have not and must continue to invest the majority of its income in fostering a healthy product." Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore said, "Premier League clubs are committed to playing an active role as hubs of their communities, particularly in the area of sports participation, from the grassroots level through to their academies" (GUARDIAN, 10/21). The BBC reported the Premier League, U.K. government and FA have committed to spend £102M ($165.4M) on "improving grassroots football facilities." The Premier League and the FA Facilities Fund will "provide financial support in the three years" starting in January. U.K. Sports Minister Helen Grant said, "Sport has such a power to change lives, and this will make a positive contribution to many communities." The scheme "aims to develop improved pitches and more quality coaching." It will be managed by the Football Foundation on "behalf of the funding partners, and is designed to raise the standard of English-born footballers by improving the experience of playing the game at the lowest levels" (BBC, 10/21).

SCUDAMORE'S PERSONAL TRIUMPH: In London, Jim White wrote the "fund is something of a personal triumph for Scudamore, who has spent much of the past year persuading his member clubs to maintain their level of support for grassroots facilities," which began in '00 with the "launch of the original Football Foundation plan." The Premier League is insisting that "more of the money will be spent in the inner city constituencies where they largely ply their trade." Scudamore: "We’re adamant that a high percentage of the new facilities will be built in areas of deprivation." This is the "payback Scudamore believes the clubs could yield from their investment: it will help nurture the next generation of English professionals." Scudamore added, "We’ve already produced Wayne Rooney in this country. You can argue that in the past we produced decent players despite the lack of facilities. But I believe times have changed. There are more people in urban areas, it is an urban problem, large numbers of kids there are living without decent places to play" (TELEGRAPH, 10/21).

FIFA President Sepp Blatter "has indicated he could be replaced 'in the near furture'" by CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb, according to Richard Conway of the BBC. The comments to a football conference in the Caribbean "are another hint that Blatter does not want UEFA President Michel Platini to succeed him as head of football's world governing body." Blatter, 77, "has led the Zurich-based organisation since 1998." Speaking "off-the-cuff" before a speech to mark the opening of a CONCACAF sport summit, Blatter said that there may be a new FIFA president in "the near future" and the next president "could be Jeffrey Webb." Sources said that the comments "should not be taken as a decision by Blatter that he will not stand as a candidate in the next election, scheduled for May 2015, and that all options are still open to him" (BBC, 10/22). The AFP reported Webb "ruled out any bid to replace" Batter in '15. He said, "That is not my intention or my objectives at this time. My focus is currently on CONCACAF" (AFP, 10/22).

Not even death "can sever fans' links with their beloved football team, promises a campaign to boost organ donations in Brazil which has helped to cut waiting lists for cornea and heart transplants to all-time low," according to Andrew Downie of REUTERS. Some 57,000 fans of football club Sport "have signed up as donors in Pernambuco, the northeastern state where the team are based, since the 'Immortal Fans' campaign began 13 months ago." More than 30 top sides "actively encourage their fans to donate blood and several, including Corinthians, who last year beat Chelsea to win the Club World Cup," have put health messages or slogans on their strips. One club, Victoria, replaced its red-and-black hooped shirts earlier this year with white-and-black hoops "and only reverted to red when fans had donated a certain amount of blood." Sport's campaign "goes farthest and is certainly the most successful." Organ donations have increased 54% over the last year, "helping to clear the long-standing waiting list for cornea transplants in Pernambuco" (REUTERS, 10/22).

Organizers are calling on ManU fans "taking part in the singing section experiment at Old Trafford on Wednesday to get there early." A long-standing attempt "to generate a better atmosphere for United home games means 1,500 supporters will be located in the area normally reserved for the away contingent." An anticipated 6,000 following from Spain for Wednesday's Champions League encounter with Real Sociedad "has created the space for an initiative being spearheaded by various fans' groups and given official sanction by the club" (PA, 10/22). ... Following the worldwide extension of sanctions imposed on 16 El Salvador players earlier this month, FIFA confirmed the extension of sanctions imposed on three additional El Salvador players relating to match-manipulation investigations. The three players have received a six-month ban, a 12-month ban and a five-year ban from all football-related activities, respectively (FIFA).