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Volume 6 No. 214

International Football

Brazilian prosecutors are "suing FIFA for reimbursement of public funds spent on temporary structures in stadiums that will host next year’s World Cup," according to the AP. Prosecutors’ offices in five Brazilian states said in statements posted on their web pages that "they're seeking reimbursement" totaling $106M. They "contend that the money was spent on temporary structures in or near stadiums during June’s Confederations Cup." The prosecutors said that because the structures "didn’t serve the public interest, the Brazilian taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to pay for them." They added that the temporary structures were "set up exclusively for the benefit of FIFA’s sponsors, broadcasting services and guests." FIFA said in a statement on Wednesday that the payment for the "complementary structures" is "contractually the responsibility of stadium owners and not FIFA" (AP, 10/23). BLOOMBERG's Tariq Panja said that federal prosecutors in Brazil have "sought an injunction to block the use of public funds to pay for temporary infrastructure at stadiums that will host games" at the World Cup. The measure could save almost $546M in "public money." The federal prosecutor's office said that "structures such as tents and cabling, along with communication equipment for broadcasters, offer no long term benefit to society and should be paid for by FIFA" and local organizers of the event (BLOOMBERG, 10/24).

The German Football Federation (DFB) told UEFA that it "will submit a bid to host" Euro 2024, according to Karolos Grohmann of REUTERS. DFB President Wolfgang Niersbach said, "Eighteen years after the unique 2006 World Cup the time is right for another summer fairytale in Germany. The last time the DFB hosted the Euro was 1988. We think we have good chances because as organizers of past tournaments we always left an excellent impression on FIFA and UEFA." Germany "has also bid for one of the packages to host matches for Euro 2020, putting Munich forward as a candidate city" (REUTERS, 10/24).

World football players' union FIFPro has criticized UEFA "for failing to enforce its own guidelines on racism following the abuse hurled" at Man City's Yaya Touré in Moscow, according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. FIFPro said that UEFA's match officials "failed to act" after Touré "was racially abused" during the Champions League clash at CSKA Moscow on Wednesday. FIFPro's Europe Division President Bobby Barnes said, "We're very disappointed that a clear agreed protocol which is designed to deal with these situations was not implemented" (REUTERS, 10/24). In London, Cue & Barrett wrote UEFA has charged CSKA Moscow over the "racist behaviour of their fans" after Touré "complained of monkey chants being aimed against him." The Russian club "face a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday." UEFA said in a statement, "Proceedings have been opened against CSKA Moscow for racist behaviour of their fans." Touré "was subjected to apparent monkey taunts during the game" and complained to Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan. However, CSKA issued a statement in which it said that it was "surprised and disappointed" by Touré and City's allegations. CSKA: "Having carefully studied the video of the game, we found no racist insults from fans of CSKA. In many occasions, especially during attacks on our goal, fans booed and whistled to put pressure on rival players, but regardless of their race. In particular, this happened with Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko. Why the Ivorian midfielder took it as all being directed at him is not clear" (LONDON TIMES, 10/24).

CLAIMS CHALLENGED: Also in London, Rumsby & Ogden wrote Touré's version of events has "been challenged by one of the Russian champions' black players" -- and his own Ivory Coast teammate -- Seydou Doumbia. It was the testimony of Doumbia which "threatened to escalate tensions." The striker declared that "he had heard no racist chanting and even insisting CSKA supporters would never engage in such abuse" (TELEGRAPH, 10/24). In London, Charles Reynolds wrote CSKA said it had never been sanctioned for racist abuse in all its years in European competition and will "continue to fight against racism" (INDEPENDENT, 10/24). The London GUARDIAN reported so far this season, UEFA "has imposed full stadium bans on three clubs -- Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia, Legia Warsaw of Poland and Honved of Hungary" -- for racist behavior by their supporters while five other clubs have had partial stadium closures imposed (GUARDIAN, 10/24).

BOYCOTT WARNING: In London, Stuart James wrote Touré has warned Russia that "players will boycott the 2018 World Cup finals if the country fails to adopt stringent measures to stamp out racism." The Ivorian's comments increase the pressure on FIFA, as well as UEFA, "to bring Russia into line and impose tougher sanctions on clubs that fail to combat racism." For Russia, the Touré incident once again highlights the problem of racist behavior at football matches in the country "and raises further questions about its suitability to host the World Cup finals" (GUARDIAN, 10/24). The BBC reported Kick It Out Chair Lord Ouseley said that the referee for Man City's Champions League match against CSKA Moscow "should not officiate again after failing to deal with racist abuse." Ouseley said that Hategan had "failed to do his duty" (BBC, 10/24).

HEAT ON UEFA: In Manchester, Stuart Brennan wrote UEFA is "full of smart ideas about tackling this blight on the face of the beautiful game." But until they take some real action by "closing stadiums, hitting clubs with serious punishments and encouraging players to take drastic action themselves, nothing will change" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 10/24). In London, Tony Evans opined "the timing, though, may be fortuitous." This, after all, is UEFA's "Football Against Racism in Europe Action Week." UEFA "is good at superficial gestures." Last night "showed action week for the joke it is." The UEFA Congress adopted an 11-point anti-racism resolution in May "and has made smug videos to illustrate how hard it is working," but no one fears UEFA sanctions because time and time again "racist incidents have been ignored and downplayed." How UEFA deals with the Touré incident "will tell us just how much it cares about stopping racism" (LONDON TIMES, 10/24).

French football magazine So Foot "ranked the atmosphere at home games of Argentine first division side Boca Juniors as the best in the world," according to CLARIN. Boca's top ranking "was based on a So Foot editor's personal experience at Boca Juniors games, where he saw fans' fervor and the atmosphere at La Bombonera stadium, and was convinced Boca Juniors fans were the best in the world." So Foot said, "La Bombonera, just mentioning it brings to mind crazy images, encouraging fans, stands full of people and the mystique of the yellow and blue." Next on the list was Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, followed by Scottish Premiership Celtic, Moroccan side Raja Casablanca and Seri A Napoli rounding out the top five. So Foot ranked Turkish side Galatasaray No. 6, La Liga side Athletic Bilbao No. 7, Serbian club Red Star Belgrade No. 8, J.League side Urawa Reds No. 9 and Ligue 1 side St. Etienne No. 10 (CLARIN, 10/23).

Charity Sporting Chance has revealed that footballers are "resorting to payday loans to fund their gambling habits," according to Ashley Clements of the London DAILY MAIL. Sporting Chance CEO Colin Bland said that players are "so desperate to bet they are taking out short-term loans before turning to the charity for help." Sporting Chance, which "helps sportsmen and women deal with addiction, has dealt with one footballer" who has lost an estimated £7M ($11.3M) in three years of gambling. Bland: "We've had sportsmen who have got caught in the scenario of taking out payday loans to place those bets. We've had several of those over the last couple of years. The vicious circle continues." EPL side Stoke City's Matthew Etherington admitted he "would have turned to payday lenders when he was gambling but because they were not an option he instead went to loan sharks." Etherington, who has reportedly lost £1.5M ($2.4M) in "gambling on greyhounds, horse racing and poker," said, "I don’t think the payday loans were about when I was gambling otherwise I would probably be one of (the players using payday loans) myself" (DAILY MAIL, 10/24).

French football player Zahir Belounis, who said that he is trapped in Qatar, "may be heading home by next week," according to Robert Tuttle of BLOOMBERG. The 33-year-old midfielder, who first came to the country in '07 to play for the Doha-based Military Sports Association, said that "his team denied him an exit visa after he filed a case in local court in February this year for unpaid wages." This week, he said that "he was offered an exit visa if he signs a document that retroactively terminates him on Feb. 1." While Belounis said he has not decided if he will sign, he said that "agreeing to the terms will probably prevent him from collecting his final two years of salary under the five-year contract he signed with the Military Sports Association" in '10. Belounis: "I don't have choice. If I want my exit, I have to sign this retroactive termination contract." Qatar "has faced scrutiny over its treatment of foreign workers since winning the right to host the 2022 World Cup three years ago" (BLOOMBERG, 10/24).

CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb has said that the organization "is studying the prospect of a professional league spanning the Caribbean nations, adding such a competition could become reality in three to four years" (SOCCEREX, 10/24). ... Organizers of the singing section at ManU's Champions League win over Real Sociedad "hope to get clearance to continue the experiment for the game with Shakhtar Donetsk" on Dec. 10. The experiment, "aimed at generating greater noise within Old Trafford, was well received" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 10/24). ... Scottish Premiership Kilmarnock fans and business groups "have agreed to work together in a bid to mirror recent moves by Hearts and Dunfermline supporters to take control of their clubs." Representatives from seven bodies "will form a working group to explore community ownership with the help of Supporters Direct Scotland." Killie fans "have staged protests against the stewardship of chairman Michael Johnston, which have included partial boycotts of home games and red card displays" (Scotland DAILY RECORD, 10/24). ... The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) is "considering changing the location and opponents of two friendlies that Spain has scheduled for Nov. 15 and 19." The game currently scheduled for Nov. 15 is against Russia in Dubai, with the game on the 19th scheduled to be played against Gabon in Libreville, Gabon. Gabon has not "met the payment conditions in the contract, and the games, which are connected contractually, are both in serious danger." In case the negotiations "fall through, the RFEF will seek new opponents and locations for the games, which Spain will use to prepare for the 2014 World Cup" (AS, 10/24). ... The Argentine FA has confirmed that the Argentine national team will be based in Belo Horizonte during the 2014 World Cup, where the players and coaches will use Brasileiro side Atletico Mineiro's facilities for World Cup preparation and practice (CLARIN, 10/23).