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Volume 10 No. 22

International Football

The prospect of a professional Caribbean Football League "took a significant step forward" last weekend, according to Paul Nicholson of INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. FIFA VP and CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb announced the confederation will be naming a new task force "to examine the feasibility and sustainability of the Caribbean Professional League initiative." The desire for a professional league in the region "has long been talked about but to date no concrete steps have been taken to establish a framework." The intervention of Webb and the confederation to kick-start a process will "undoubtedly turn talk into action." If CONCACAF is committed to bringing some of its support, resources and growing contacts to the project then the chances of a league coming to fruition "are greatly increased." The intervention by Webb, who is from the Cayman Islands, also "sends a message" to the Caribbean Football Union that "something needs to be done to progress the standard of top level football in a region that excels in other sports (like athletics and cricket) but has under-performed in football despite producing a number of world class players." Crucial to the establishment of a Caribbean league "will be support from local and league sponsors and there is much work to be done in that area." Digicel, at the Sport Summit in Grand Cayman at the end of last month, said that it "was prepared to support the proposal." But it is "unlikely that the league could be supported by Digicel cash alone" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 11/4).

Man City Manager Manuel Pellegrini has warned CSKA Moscow fans "against repeating their racist abuse of City midfielder Yaya Toure on Tuesday," according to Ben Smith of the BBC. The sides meet again in the Champions League two weeks after Toure was targeted during Man City's 2-1 win, "leading to UEFA punishing the Russian club." Pellegrini said, "The CSKA fans made a mistake. UEFA acted and gave them the punishment it deserved" (BBC, 10/4). REUTERS' Mike Collett reported Pellegrini said that "he would not offer Toure any special advice." Pellegrini: "I think Yaya is an experienced player. What happened in Russia maybe he can't forget but tomorrow is a special match for him, not because of that but because Manchester City can go to the next stage of the Champions League. I think he will only be thinking about football" (REUTERS, 11/4). In London, Jamie Jackson reported if Man City beats CSKA it is "all but certain of progressing to the knockout stages for the first time in the club's history." Man City's Pablo Zabaleta said, "It is time for this club to take a step forward. If we can qualify for the next round, it will be great for this club. Hopefully in the next few years we can be one of the top clubs in Europe" (GUARDIAN, 10/4).

MANAGER CLAIMS 'OVERREACTION': In London, Jamie Jackson wrote that CSKA Moscow Manager Leonid Slutsky said the claims of racial abuse by fans is an "overreaction" and "the situation has been exaggerated," though he made it clear "the club is against all racism." In a press conference, Slutsky said, "We have black players and we give them support. We did not hear any racist chants [so] it is difficult to comment." Slutsky did not offer an apology, but CSKA captain Sergei Ignashevich did, saying "We are sorry that such unpleasant indicent took place" (GUARDIAN, 11/4).

Man City's new foreign signings such as Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo "are being urged to watch children’s television programmes to help them learn English." Usually it is shows like "The Sopranos" or "Breaking Bad," which you hear Premier League footballers "rave about," but at the Etihad Stadium it is all about "Teletubbies," "Balamory," and "In The Night Garden" (London INDEPENDENT, 11/4). ... FIFA has released a list of the best-attended games so far during the ongoing U17 World Cup matches being held in the UAE. The semifinal matches "are to be held Tuesday, with the championship match scheduled for Friday." The games that have drawn the best attendances so far were the "Nigeria-Iraq and Argentina-Canada matches," which both drew crowds of 10,120. The other three matches to draw more than 9,000 took place between Mexico and Brazil (9,210), Canada and Iran (9,135), and Argentina and Austria (9,135) (LA AFICION, 11/3). ... The Spanish national football team will play a friendly in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea against Equatorial Guinea on Nov. 15 after "canceling a match against Angola on the same date." The team will travel to South Africa for a "friendly against the South African national team four days later" (MARCA, 11/4). ... The dispute over whether Kosovo should be given full int'l playing rights "shows little or no sign of being resolved." FIFA President Sepp Blatter recently hosted the latest in a series of talks with Football Federation of Kosovo President Fadil Vokrri and his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Karadzic. But Karadzic said that he still "totally opposes any kind of recognition for the breakaway Balkan state" which declared independence from Serbia in '08 (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 11/4). ... The Serbian government "must follow in Britain's footsteps" in preventing football hooliganism after yet another Belgrade derby was marred by fan violence (REUTERS, 11/4). ... Ghana's sports minister "requested an urgent meeting" with FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke on Monday over security plans for the World Cup playoff against Egypt in Cairo, "repeating his country's fears for the safety of travelling players" (AP, 11/4). ... The Brazilian government "wants to improve services" for the nearly 600,000 int'l visitors and 3 million local tourists expected at the 2014 World Cup (AP, 11/4).