FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said that "football should be China's priority in sports now," according to XINHUA. Valcke said, "You had best basketball players in NBA. You can have good team sports, then football should be your first target now." Despite a debacle in the semifinals to Bayern Munich "which cast a little shadow on Guangzhou Evergrande's African journey, the debut of a Chinese club at the world stage ignited the passion of millions of football fans." Valcke said that "with the improvement of the professional club, it is the right time and right mood for Chinese football to come back to the world's stage." Valcke: "If you think about the quality and value of Chinese national team, it's a long time that they haven't played at the highest level. China should come back into football." Though Marcello Lippi's side was defeated 3-0 by the reigning European champions, Valcke disagreed with the critics' "poor-performance" comment on Guangzhou and believed the Chinese club proved that it deserved to be there. Valcke: "They are the champions of Asia, which is not a continent of ten countries. There are a number of teams playing in Asian champions league. It's not a poor performance. But you were playing against one of the best teams in the world. It maybe look like a training game for Bayern, but it's not such an easy game" (XINHUA, 12/21).
FIFPro's "growing influence has them in bullish mood," and now they have "their sights set on reforming soccer's transfer market," according to Graham Ruthven of SPORTS ON EARTH. FIFPro plans "to mount a legal challenge against the sport's current transfer market, claiming that players are 'shackled' to their clubs under the existing system." The specifics of the proposed reformation "are unknown at this point, but a successful challenge would trigger a revolution in the way players are bought and sold between clubs." One potential result "could be an increase in the number of free transfers, something that would give players significantly more freedom." At the center of FIFPro's challenge "is the fundamental conviction that the current market is at odds with European Union policy." Do teams "really have a right to buy and sell players (essentially workers) in the first place?" The EU "recognizes that sport is a special case when it comes to comparisons with other industries but more can certainly be done to safeguard the rights of players." FIFPro President Philippe Piat said, "Football players are workers and only when they are able to enjoy the rights enshrined in law and enjoyed by all other workers will FIFPro be satisfied." Piat "has made clear that he sees the reformation of the transfer market as his priority because of the many problems soccer faces with the system" (SPORTS ON EARTH, 12/22).
EPL CEO Richard Scudamore "has called for a blanket ban on players betting on football markets to be introduced as the game’s integrity comes under scrutiny amid investigations into allegations of match-fixing around the world." Scudamore: "If a person is involved in football they shouldn’t be allowed to bet on football -- the time has come for that to happen. This debate went around about two years ago and we introduced through the FA rules that mean you cannot bet on any competition that you’re involved in" (LONDON TIMES, 12/22). ... Ethiopian police "have arrested five more people suspected of plotting suicide bombings during Ethiopia's World Cup qualifying match against Nigeria in October." The planned attack "failed when two Somali suicide bombers accidentally blew themselves up" a few kilometers from Addis Ababa Stadium, where football fans were gathering (REUTERS, 12/19). ... The FA of Malaysia's disciplinary committee "imposed a life ban on five players and three team officials, including a kitman from the Kuala Lumpur Premier League football squad for match fixing scandals this season" (THE STAR, 12/21).