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Volume 10 No. 25

International Football

The Premier League has hailed a "significant win" in its "ongoing battle against piracy and Intellectual Property (IP) theft after the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) secured a successful conviction against a website that had been illegally streaming live games," according to SOCCEREX. The individual responsible received a "two-year custodial sentence for fraud, the first time a prison term has been handed down to someone illegally exploiting the Premier League’s rights." The EPL’s legal department worked with FACT from Jan. '12 to "secure the prosecution against the site, which had 10,000 plus subscribers each" paying £29.99 ($47.99) a month to access an "illegal stream of pay-television broadcaster Sky Sports' coverage of Premier League matches" (SOCCEREX, 11/8).

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has "cast doubt on the 2022 World Cup being moved to the winter after ruling out the prospect of the tournament being held in January or February of that year," according to the PA. Blatter said that a "clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics" -- which has yet to have a venue confirmed but typically gets under way inside the first two weeks of February -- would be "totally disrespectful to the Olympic family and organisation." Blatter also claimed "other considerations had to be taken into account, with the World Cup and the Olympics sharing many commercial and media partners" (PA, 11/9). The BBC reported Blatter said the tournament "would be held in November or December that year." FIFA "wants to move the competition over fears" Qatar's 40 degrees Celsius summer temperatures "will put players and fans at risk." Blatter: "It will be November-December. I don't know exactly the dates, but it could be from 10th to 10th whatever" (BBC, 11/9).

CO-HOSTING RULED OUT: REUTERS' Amena Bakr reported FIFA has "ruled out any possibility that Qatar could co-host the 2022 World Cup" with neighboring countries. Blatter said, "The decision of the FIFA is to play in one country and that will be in Qatar." Blatter denied that he had "suggested that co-hosting was a possibility, implying that it was a misunderstanding that arose during a news conference in Abu Dhabi on Friday." Blatter: "I was just touring a little bit here, I was in Iran and I was in United Arab Emirates and it came up, the question came up, 'Can we share the World Cup with Qatar?' I just took the questions, but I did not answer. I just want to tell you that when we took the decision for the World Cup 2002 when we played in two countries with difficulties, it was (South) Korea and Japan. We have decided to never go in two countries, even less so to three, if one country is able to do so (stage the tournament)" (REUTERS, 11/9).

BLATTER TO VISIT KABUL: PAJHWOK AGFHAN NEWS reported the Afghanistan Football Federation on Friday said that Blatter has "promised to visit Kabul in the near future." Blatter expressed his "intention to visit Kabul at a meeting with AFF President Karamuddin Karim in the UAE" (PAHJWOK AFGHAN NEWS, 11/8).

IRAN JERSEY GREEN-LIT: The TEHRAN TIMES reported Blatter said on Thursday that he will "support a plan to fight extinction of Iranian cheetah." Blatter promised to "support a national plan aimed at fighting extinction of Iranian cheetah in form of designing a logo to depict the image of the cheetah on national football team’s jersey" for the 2014 World Cup (TEHRAN TIMES, 11/9). INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL's Andrew Warshaw reported Blatter has "urged the Iranian authorities to end the ban on women attending men's matches, a policy that has been in force since the 1979 Islamic revolution" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 11/8).

Human rights activists have condemned the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and Spanish national team for "arranging their upcoming friendly in Equatorial Guinea," where the country's president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, has been "accused of torturing his political opponents and stealing money from the country’s coffers," according to Tom Conn of INSIDE SPANISH FOOTBALL. Following the announcement that Spain had agreed to play Saturday's friendly in Malabo and forego the "customary financial compensation as a means of strengthening relations with the former Spanish territory," Equatorial Guinea Minister of Youth & Sport Francisco Pascual Obama Asue issued a "statement of excitement and revelry." However, not everyone is "happy about the friendly, as human rights groups feel that by scheduling the friendly," Spain is essentially "endorsing the 'authoritarian regime' of Obiang" (INSIDE SPANISH FOOTBALL, 11/9). In London, David Smith reported human rights group EG Justice Dir Tutu Alicante criticized Spain for "overlooking democracy and human rights concerns." Alicante: "I cannot imagine England deciding to play a friendly against the Zimbabwean national team while [Zimbabwe President] Robert Mugabe is in power. Using huge sporting events like this one, or bringing Julio Iglesias to sing (which Obiang did last summer), or organizing multimillion-dollar beauty pageant competitions are the kinds of magnanimous distractions that dictators like to use to keep poor people happy" (GUARDIAN, 11/8).

CONTROVERSIAL FRIENDLY: In Madrid, Gómez & Blanco reported the upcoming friendly is "opening a controversy: should football be neutral before dictators?" The RFEF is "arguing that the motive is to support football in a country that is very athletically modest." Ecuatorial Guinea, however, "is not just any country." The country has "been under Obiang's dictatorship for 34 years and his family, which is one of the most corrupt regimes in the world, has crushed dissent and few people receive the billions of euros that come from the country's oil." UEFA President Michel Platini said after groups threatened to boycott the 2012 Euro in Ukraine, "We will never be politically involved in religious or racial politics. We are a non-political association, and our focus is developing football." The RFEF "decides which national teams La Roja plays against based primarily on sporting criterion." Spain "maintains a relationship with Equatorial Guinea, has an embassy there, and is the country's third-biggest commercial client, behind the U.S. and Italy" (EL PAIS, 11/8).

The Russian FA's decision to order Spartak Moscow to "play two games behind closed doors" will end up costing the team $1.4M. The ban was combined with a further $18,500 cash fine for "crowd trouble during a Russian Cup game at Shinnik Yaroslavl last week." The game was stopped for half an hour as "fans clashed with police and a Nazi flag was unfurled" (R-SPORT, 11/8). ... Thailand national football coach Victor Hermans has dismissed reports that the FA of Thailand "did not give the national team rewards for winning the Southeast Asian title." Thailand beat Australia in the final in Bangkok recently and "reports claimed each player" got 2,000 baht ($64) from the Dutch coach as bonus (BANGKOK POST, 11/10). ... Int'l players union FIFPro's Expert Group on Transfer Matters has instructed its legal department to draft a series of amendments "to be proposed to FIFA to change Article 17 of its regulations." Article 17 of the FIFA Rules and Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) deals "partly with the aim of guaranteeing the Respect of Contract." FIFPro's recommendations are "designed to harden this clause for players' rights." The Expert Group has decided that the "most pressing issues facing players is non-payment of wages and that there seems to be no progress in resolving disputes and that the football world shows little commitment to changing this" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 11/8).