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Volume 6 No. 197

International Football

The FA "has closed the disciplinary loophole that saw Chelsea's Fernando Torres escape action despite being caught on video scratching a rival player," according to the PA. Starting Nov. 22, the FA "will be able to charge players even if match officials have seen part of the incident." The new rules will now cover "acts of violent conduct that occur secondarily to a challenge for the ball," and off-the-ball incidents where one or more match officials did see the players coming together, "but the match officials' view was such that none of them had the opportunity to make a decision on an act of misconduct that took place within that coming together." FA Dir of Governance Darren Bailey said, "This enables the FA to consider acts of violent conduct, like an elbow or a stamp, which have occurred after a challenge for the ball or coming together of players" (PA, 11/7).

EPL Everton Manager Roberto Martinez "has backed calls to stop managers making decisions on players with concussion," according to the BBC. Martinez said, "If there is a strong view from the medical side that a concussed player should come off we should look into it and make a rule. I don't think it should be a manager's decision whether you take a player off or not." FIFPro medical advisor Vincent Gouttebarge said that his organization "condemns that the health and safety of players are left to coaches, trainers or even to players themselves" (BBC, 11/7).

RUGBY: In Sydney, Bret Harris reported the Int'l Rugby Board's annual Medical Commission Conference "will take place in Dublin in just over a week's time, with experts considering key areas of player welfare, including concussion strategy." Robert Cantu, a renowned neurosurgeon and sports concussion expert, "has been critical of the IRB's stance on some concussion-related issues." Cantu rejected the IRB's assertion that there was "no scientific link" between concussion and CTE. He said, "That's head-in-the-sand stuff if you believe that" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/8).

Iranian President Hassaan Rouhani said that "Iran is fully prepared to host major international football tournaments," according to Shervin Gilani of the TEHRAN TIMES. In a meeting with FIFA President Sepp Blatter in Tehran on Wednesday, "Rouhani discussed the future of Iranian football and its ability to host the Asian Cup" in '19. Rouhani said, "Today, football is not only a sport, but the shining players are countries' peace ambassadors to football fields." Blatter elaborated, "There is also a change in Iran, and that's why I'm also honored to meet President Rouhani and to speak with him about the future of the country and the future of football because Iran is a big country and has big football" (TEHRAN TIMES, 11/6). The AFP reported "Blatter has given his support to Iran's bid to host the 2019 Asian Cup." Iran "won consecutive Asian Cups" in '68, '72 and '76, hosting the '68 and '76 tournaments. A total of eight countries submitted bids to host the '19 finals, "with Bahrain, China, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates joining Iran." The next tournament in '15 "will be held in Australia, with Iran currently on course to qualify" (AFP, 11/7).

The results of a poll of Spanish citizens regarding the sports world shows that "Real Madrid has the leading fan base, while Barcelona is leader in shirt sales," according to the EFE. A study carried out by the Association for the Investigation of Communication Media (AIMC) tallied "more than 10,000 interviews about the Spanish population's exposure to media, lifestyle and attitude toward society." The results "show that football remains the most important sport to Spaniards and 68% of Spaniards identify themselves as fans of one club." Real Madrid leads the way with 23.8% of the votes, followed by Barcelona (18.2%), Atlético Madrid (3.7%), Valencia (3.1%) and Athletic Bilbao (2.7%). Of all La Liga clubs, Barcelona "sold the most player merchandise" (EFE, 11/7).

The Caribbean Football Trust Ltd. said on Wednesday that a professional Caribbean football league, dubbed Major League Football, is expected to launch in Sept. '15 "with the aim of developing young players and growing the game in the region." The CFTL said that "the league would feature 20 teams" competing for $3M in prize money, with that figure set to rise to $5M after the first three years (REUTERS, 11/7). ... A new report by the Association of European Professional Football Leagues has proved that "Scotland's top division has the ninth-highest attendances in Europe over the past five seasons." Crowds in what is now called the Premiership "have dipped by over eight per cent in that period to an average of 10,021 now compared with 15,537" in '08 (Scotland DAILY RECORD, 11/7). ... Bom Senso, "the Brazilian player movement attempting to bring fundamental changes to the country's football calendar," has criticized the Brazilian Football Confederation's (CBF) lack of interest to date. The group "has protested against the number of games players are forced to play during the year as well as having to dispute matches on designated FIFA dates," when int'l games take place (XINHUA, 11/7).