Football Notes: UEFA Announces Euro 2016 Qualifying Draw Will Take Place In Nice
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).