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Volume 6 No. 213

International Football

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said that the stadium that will host the opening match of the 2014 World Cup "will not be ready" until April 14 or 15, less than two months before the tournament kicks off, according to Andrew Downie of REUTERS. The Arena Corinthians was damaged last week when a construction crane fell on it. The announcement "came a day after the Brazilian government said the stadium would be ready in February." Blatter "did not give details but appealed to higher powers in the hope the stadium will be completed." Blatter: "We believe it is a question of trust and that it will be done. For the time being there is no Plan B and what FIFA can do now is ask God, Allah, whoever, that no more accidents shall arise in connection with the World Cup. That is all we can do and we hope the reconstruction can start as soon as possible" (REUTERS, 12/5). The BBC reported Brazil has admitted all its stadiums still under construction for the World Cup "will not be ready" by FIFA's original Dec. 31 deadline. Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said the six venues -- in Sao Paulo, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Cuiaba, Manaus and Natal -- "would be finished in January." Earlier this week, FIFA admitted that "three stadiums would not be be ready in time." But now, Brazil's sports minister has "admitted that all six will not be finished by the end of December." Rebelo "compared the World Cup preparations to organising a wedding." Rebelo: "In every wedding that I attended the bride was late. I've never seen a bride arrive on time -- but never saw a marriage that didn't go ahead" (BBC, 12/5). The PA reported Blatter announced that for World Cup games in hot conditions, match officials and the official FIFA doctor in the stadium "will decide whether to stop games for water breaks" (PA, 12/5).

BRAZILIAN APPEAL: The BBC reported FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke has "appealed to Brazilians to support next summer's World Cup," saying it would be the "wrong time" to protest. Valcke: "It is a right to demonstrate. For them, it's the best time. For me, it's the wrong time. A time where they have a national team who won the Confederations Cup -- a team that is the potential winner of the World Cup 2014. So there should be support from all Brazil for the organization of the World Cup." Valcke added, "We are not asking [them] to support FIFA, we are asking [them] to support the World Cup. Many of the protesters say the event is a waste of money at a time when there is a squeeze on living costs in Brazil." Some believe the public investment in the World Cup -- almost £8B ($13B) -- should "have been spent on schools, hospitals and transport." Brazil's three-time World Cup winner Pele "supported Valcke's call for calm next year." Pele: "I think the people should be very quiet and pay attention because this is a great moment for the country. It makes good publicity, investment, tourism. I think we have to be careful because it's a big opportunity" (BBC, 12/5).

U20 HOST SELECTED: The AFP reported South Korea was selected as the host of the 2017 U20 World Cup on Thursday. In a vote during FIFA's Exec Committee meeting in Brazil, South Korea "edged out" Azerbaijan for the right to host the world's premier youth football tournament (YONHAP, 12/5).

The "phantom goal" of Bayer Leverkusen striker Stefan Kießling forced Bundesliga officials to reconsider goal-line technology and "could accelerate its introduction," according to the SID. The 36 clubs of the Bundesliga and 2nd Bundesliga "will make a fundamental decision on the issue during the current season." Should the clubs reach an agreement in favor of goal-line technology at their next meeting in March, it "could be introduced with the start of the next season -- one year earlier than the German Football League (DFL) originally planned." The league association "would have the choice between four licensed technologies as well as two yet to be licensed systems" (SID, 12/5).

UEFA President Michel Platini has "called for football to emulate rugby by implementing a sin-bin system for yellow-card offences," according to Graeme Yorke of the London DAILY MAIL. Players who accumulate a number of cautions -- typically five -- are handed a ban "at present," but Platini said in an interview with Spanish newspaper AS that the system only "benefits teams who were not the victims of the earlier offences." The former France int'l "believes a more instantaneous sanction is required, which would benefit the team against whom the offence has been committed" (DAILY MAIL, 12/5). In Madrid, Relaño & Maroto reported Platini said, "I would change the system of warnings, of the cards. I would make it like rugby, punishing the offender with 10 or 15 minutes out of the game. That way, the benefit goes to the team he is playing against, in the same match, instead of a sanction by cards, which is carried out against a third team, the next on the calendar. This is an idea, now it has to mature and we will see if it is really something good for the game." Platini also "weighed in on goalkeepers who commit penalties being punished with red cards." Platini: "It seems excessive. The penalty itself is already punishment enough." Additionally, Platini said that he would prefer a "golden goal" overtime system to penalty kicks, saying, "I believe that a golden goal would be better, but this did not please the majority. Some years ago, 12, all the national federations voted on this, and it did not succeed" (AS, 12/5).

BLATTER REACTS: REUTERS reported FIFA President Sepp Blatter "poured cold water on Platini's idea later on Thursday." Blatter said, "I cannot see why we should change something in match control when we have already established all the regulations" (REUTERS, 12/5).

The FA "has opened a full investigation" into claims League Championship Nottingham Forest midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah "was subjected to racist abuse" by a section of Millwall's home support on Tuesday (PA, 12/5). ... When more than 12,000 school children "were allowed to occupy the stands" behind both goals normally used by Serie A Juventus' "infamous Ultras, who had been banned for abusive chanting, the Italian giants must have hoped they were sending out the right message." How "unfortunate, then, that the replacement kids themselves hurled insults" toward visiting Udinese goalkeeper Zeljko Brkic, leading to the club receiving a token fine of €5,000 ($6,800) (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 12/5). ... The All Indonesia FA "will offer homeschooling" to national team players who want to continue their educations (JAKARTA GLOBE, 12/4). ... Mexico's Brazilian Embassy Representative Maria Cristina said that it is "expected that between 50,000 and 60,000 Mexican football fans will be able to travel to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, which will demand extra effort from the government, from documentation to potential legal issues." Cristina said that "a lot will depend on where the Mexican National Team chooses to make its headquarters, but added it will be important to inform Mexicans about the laws and regulations to observe in Brazil" (LA AFICION, 12/5).