British Airways "will not be flying the England football team to the World Cup next year," according to the PA. The FA and British Airways "reached a stalemate in negotiations" after the national carrier put a £10M ($16M) price tag on the trip to Brazil. But British Airways said that the reason why it will not take the squad and coaching staff to South America was "because it does not have a spare aircraft available" (PA, 12/17). In London, Jack De Menezes reported British Airways admitted that they "couldn’t free up a plane during the busy summer period." A British Airways spokesperson said, "We have not refused to carry the England team. Regrettably, we could not reach agreement with the FA because we will not have a spare aircraft available for the length of time the FA wanted during the busy summer period next year" (INDEPENDENT, 12/17). Virgin Atlantic "has flown to the rescue with an offer" to fly the British team, according to the LONDON EVENING STANDARD. Richard Branson's carrier said "We would be proud to fly the England squad to the World Cup next year" (EVENING STANDARD, 12/17).
British PM David Cameron announced a new partnership between the FA, the Premier League and their Afghan counterparts. The partnership will help the growth and development of Afghan football and the benefits it brings to communities across Afghanistan. It will also include support for women's and youth football. At its heart will be a partnership between the FA, the EPL, Afghan Football Federation and the Afghan Premier League. Together they will work to build Afghan capacity in football administration, training and education for the national and grassroots game. Under the agreement the FA will provide an invitation for members of the Afghan national side to meet and train with England national teams and coaches at St. George's Park, a full assessment of grassroots football in Afghanistan, the production of a development plan to improve capacity and potential in areas including grassroots administration; schools and youth football; women and girls football and referee development and in partnership with the AFF, the Asian Football Confederation, UEFA and others, the delivery of training in support of this plan (FA).
FIFPro "has demanded a radical overhaul" of football’s transfer system and "is ready to take legal measures to get its way," according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. FIFPro President Phillipe Piat said, "The transfer system fails 99 percent of players around the world, it fails football as an industry and it fails the world’s most beloved game. FIFPro will not stand by and watch from the sidelines as players’ rights around the world are systemically disrespected and the football industry dismantles itself." The union said that "it would take its recommendations and complaints to the European Commission, the European Court of Justice and human rights courts if necessary." FIFPro complained that transfer regulations "impeded the freedom to move clubs for footballers." FIFPro said footballers "faced the threat of sanctions." FIFPro: "Exorbitant compensation for breaches of contract is imposed on players, unimaginable in any other industry" (REUTERS, 12/17). In London, Oliver Kay wrote that FIFPro is "expected to propose that a player be allowed to accept a contract with another club provided that their own club are compensated with a fee, which would be determined by a predefined system (LONDON TIMES, 12/18).
SPARKING A 'REVOLUTION': The London TELEGRAPH reported if successful, a challenge "would trigger a revolution in the way players are still bought and sold." Free transfers of players in many of the top leagues "remain rare events but Fifpro are determined to make it easier for players to move clubs in a similar way that other workers can move from one firm to another." The challenge "is likely to be fiercely opposed by the clubs." FIFPro claimed 28% of all the money from transfer fees "ends up in the pockets of agents and that many players are not paid on time, or even at all" (TELEGRAPH, 12/17). ESPN reported the union "believes a high number of footballers are not paid on time and that this has contributed to a rise in criminality in the game, amid a number of match-fixing allegations across Europe." FIFPro Division Europe President Bobby Barnes said, "Despite football enjoying record amounts of revenue, football’s regulatory and economic system fails miserably on numerous fronts and drives the professional game towards self-destruction" (ESPN, 12/17).
UEFA "has announced that the qualifying draw for Euro 2016 will take place in Nice on Feb. 23." For the first time in UEFA European Championship history, "24 countries will contest the finals" (WORLD FOOTBALL INSIDER, 12/16). ... Australian-born Croatia defender Josip Simunic "will miss the World Cup after being banned for 10 matches by FIFA for his pro-Nazi chants that marred his country's play-off victory over Iceland last month" (AFP, 12/18). ... Former AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso "was placed under investigation for match-fixing on Tuesday" and four others were arrested in an early morning police sweep. Cremona prosecutor Roberto Di Martino, who has been leading the Last Bet operation for three years, confirmed that Gattuso and retired Milan and Lazio player Cristian Brocchi "were allegedly part of a ring that fixed Serie A and other Italian matches" at the end of the '10-11 season (AP, 12/17). ... French website vente-privee.com has agreed a deal with France's top two football leagues "to sell heavily discounted tickets" between Dec. 16-26 for matches up until the end of the season. Special offers "will be available on some 90 fixtures from Ligue 1 and 2 between January and May" (SOCCEREX, 12/17).