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Volume 10 No. 22

International Football

About 130 companies "are being investigated for selling World Cup tickets on the black market," with FIFA claiming that some are being offered with a 300% mark-up, according to the AFP. Match Services AG, the FIFA-sanctioned commercial outlet, "confirmed reports in Brazil's media that companies and operators were under investigation" for offering unauthorized deals. Match Services indicated that it "was aware of companies offering packages on the black market at vastly marked-up prices." The Estado de Sao Paulo daily quoted its legal counsel, Imran Patel, as saying, "We are seeing a huge black market with prices of up to 300 percent above face value." Tickets for next year's World Cup "are available solely via the FIFA website" (AFP, 12/16). 

WORLD CUP LEGACY: EUROSPORT reported Brazilian American football team Cuiaba Arsenal "hope to share in the spoils bequeathed to their city by a rival code." Paulo Cesar, a 32-year-old lawyer, "could not be happier." His team is to benefit from the World Cup when it switches homes from its "modest ground to Cuiaba's World Cup stadium, the Arena Pantanal." Founded in '06, the club has been Brazilian national champions twice, in '10 and '12. Six players "have gone on to play college football" in the U.S. and the club regularly attracts crowds of around 4,500 to its entirely amateur matches. Cesar, who plays on offense for the team, agreed that "there is an irony that one of the legacies of the World Cup will be to boost American Football in the city and the state of Mato Grosso" (EUROSPORT, 12/15).

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino said that UEFA wants "consistent sanctions against match-fixing across Europe" and has drafted an 11-point plan to "help make that happen," according to REUTERS' Tony Goodson. Infantino: "For UEFA, the fight against match-fixing is a top priority but it is important that all over Europe there is as uniform an approach as possible against it." The draft plan will be sent to all 54 European FAs "calling on them to agree consistent proposals" to put before the UEFA Congress in Astana, Kazakhstan in March for approval. Infantino: "It cannot be that in one country you have one sanction and another one in a different country for the same offense which goes straight into the soul of football. Sanctions must be very, very harsh" (REUTERS, 12/12). INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL reported UEFA wants football's lawmakers to scrap the so-called "triple punishment" rule that many in the game feel is too draconian. Under the current law, a player who denies an opponent a clear goal-scoring opportunity and concedes a penalty "is sent off and gets an automatic suspension." But the rule "has been hotly debated, with referees frequently applying different interpretations in different games for different players." Critics complain that a penalty "would suffice in cases where the foul is not of a violent nature" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 12/13).

Brazilian football club Sao Paulo "will launch the youth development program with Chinese side Shandong Luneng as part of a deal to promote their image in Asia," according to XINHUA. The four-year agreement "includes an exchange initiative allowing the Chinese Super League club's best youngsters to train in Brazil." Sao Paulo "will in turn explore commercial opportunities in China and gain access to a new player market." The program, to be led by former Sao Paulo first-team manager Sergio Baresi, "will begin early next year" (XINHUA, 12/13).

The Philippine Football Federation says FIFA has offered up to $1M in funding to "repair football projects damaged by Typhoon Haiyan," according to the AP. The federation said that FIFA pledged the money this week "after approving grants in meetings held on the sidelines of the World Cup draw in Brazil" (AP, 12/13). The AFP reported Haiyan pummeled nearly 200 towns and cities across the central Philippines on Nov. 8, killing at least 6,009 people and leaving 1,779 others missing, according to the official count, making it the country's deadliest typhoon on record. The Philippine Football Federation said that it was "drawing up a list of damaged football infrastructure and facilities in the region to assess where the money should go" (AFP, 12/13). In Manila, Olmin Leyba reported expected to benefit from the FIFA donation "are pitches in Leyte and other parts of the Visayas," the country's football hotbed. PFF President Mariano Araneta said, "We are deeply moved by this generous support of FIFA that shows their solidarity and sympathy with our nation. We are thankful to FIFA officials especially to president Sepp Blatter." PFF General Secretary Ed Gastanes "will be coordinating with the affected regional football associations to determine the extent of the damage and actual rebuilding efforts to be conducted." A detailed request will be forwarded to FIFA, through its development officer Domeka Garamendi, who "has been tasked to supervise the availment of the grant" (PHILIPPINE STAR, 12/14).

The Spanish national team has chosen Curitiba as its headquarters during the 2014 World Cup. La Roja will use facilities owned by Brasileiro club Atlético Paranaense. The facility includes "eight fields, a well-regarded medical center and a five-star hotel with a capacity of 180" (EFE, 12/14). ... Chennai-based Nethaji Football Club, one of the oldest teams in the city league, "has got a new owner for the season beginning next year." Rohit Ramesh bought the club from Founder T.R. Govindarajan. Ramesh will become the president and Vikram Murali the Secretary. Govindarajan said that "he was finding it difficult to run the club with limited resources." Govindarajan: "Sponsorship was hard to come by and we found it tough to assemble players. We did our best, but couldn't continue. I am now happy that the club is in the right hands" (THE HINDU, 12/14). ... The Asian Football Confederation "has placed an order with Zoll Medical Corporation" for a number of its automated external defibrillator Plus devices in a move designed to aid its players in the event of sudden cardiac arrest. The AFC intends to distribute the devices across its 47 member associations and their presence "will be compulsory at all matches" that are sanctioned by FIFA (SOCCEREX, 12/11).