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Volume 6 No. 213

International Football

Attendance for the "three fixtures of the holiday period" for the Premier League averaged more than 95% of stadium capacity for the matches Dec. 26, 28-29 and Jan. 1. Of a "total of 1,147,696 available seats in stadia, just 30,802 seats were unfilled," according to Paul Nicholson of INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. Of the "so-called big clubs" Arsenal, ManU and Man City, all "filled over 99% of their capacity." Chelsea, Liverpool, Fulham, Newcastle, Norwich and Tottenham Hotspur also filled more than 98% of capacity at their stadiums. Of the three rounds of fixtures, Boxing Day was the "most difficult day on which to buy a ticket for a Premier League match." For most Premier League clubs, "there was no room at the Inn over the Christmas period" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 1/2).

Attendance At Premier League Matches During Holiday Period
12/28 AND 12/29
Cardiff 28,000 27,929 27,247 0
Man City 47,726 47,351 47,107 0
Norwich City     27,260 26,811 26,851 0
Newcastle 52,387 51,665 52,161 0
Hull City
25,586 24,829 23,925 0
Tottenham 36,310 35,545 36,072 0
Chelsea 42,055 41,111 41,614 0
Everton 40,158 39,193 39,092 0
West Ham 35,303 34,077 34,946 0
Aston Villa 42,788 37,752 37,028 0
60,335 0 0 60,004
Crystal Palace 26,309 0 0 25,189
25,700 0 0 25,335
45,522 0 0 44,627
ManU 75,957 0 0 75,265
32,689 0 0 31,271
Stoke City 28,383 0 0 25,832
Sunderland 49,000 0
Swansea 20,632 0 0 20,498
West Bromwich   
28,003 0 0 26,430

Sporting glory drew Cameroonian striker Salomon Bengondo to Indonesia -- "but his story ended in poverty, illness and an untimely death, in a country failing to pay its footballers," according to Sam Reeves of the AFP. Int'l players' union FIFPro said that the withholding of wages by Indonesian clubs has reached "catastrophic proportions." Bengondo died last month at the age of 32, "unable to afford hospital treatment for a mystery illness." His brother and Indonesian football officials said that his former club, Persipro Probolinggo, "still owed him large sums of money." FIFPro VP Brendan Schwab warned the issue of Indonesian clubs failing to pay players had reached "literally catastrophic proportions." Schwab said, "We can't think of a country in the world of football where the problems of the players are more pronounced or more serious than Indonesia." It "is not just foreign players going unpaid." The Indonesian professional footballers’ association (APPI) said that "14 clubs in the country’s two top-tier divisions still owe salaries" from the '12-13 season. Indonesian FA PSSI Chair Djohar Arifin Husin said that "clubs were suffering funding problems as competition for sponsorship was tough" and since '11 professional teams have been banned from getting local government funding, a vital source of revenue in the past. Despite the distractions, Djohar insisted that the PSSI "is trying to resolve the issue of players going unpaid," and said that all clubs "had been given a deadline of January 15 to pay outstanding salaries or face being banned from competitions" (AFP, 12/31).

One of six Brazilian World Cup stadiums that had to be completed before the end of '13 "was symbolically delivered on New Year’s Eve," although it will not be fully ready until the end of the month. Organizers in the northeastern city of Natal "turned on the lights at the Arena das Dunas stadium for the first time on Tuesday to symbolize the venue’s completion." Brazil "starts the year without six of the 12 World Cup stadiums ready even though FIFA had set the end of 2013 as the final deadline" (AP, 1/2). ... Man City "will fly to Abu Dhabi to play a friendly and enjoy a week of warm-weather training following the Premier League fixture at Newcastle" on Jan. 12, provided there is no replay after Saturday's FA Cup third-round tie with Blackburn Rovers. While the break is yet to be confirmed, if Manager Manuel Pellegrini's squad does travel to the emirate, it will play against Al Ain on Jan. 14 "to open the Arabian Gulf League champions' new stadium, the Hazza bin Zayed" (London GUARDIAN, 1/2).