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Volume 6 No. 197

International Football

Bayern Munich told its supporters that "they will subsidise" the £62 ($102) tickets at Arsenal by putting £74,350 ($122,300) toward the cost, according to Christenson & Bakowski of the London GUARDIAN. Bayern Munich said in a statement that it realized the match would make "a big dent in supporters' wallets" and wanted the gesture to be "a small thank you for the great support of followers" in '13, a year in which the club won the Bundesliga, German Cup, Super Cup, World Club Championship and Champions League. Bayern have made the 2,974 tickets available at £37 ($61) despite having had 18,000 supporters apply for the full-price tickets for the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie at the Emirates on Feb. 19. Arsenal's ticket prices "have been the subject of protests from both home and away supporters in recent seasons" (GUARDIAN, 1/9). REUTERS' Brian Homewood reported Bayern charges home fans between €15 ($20) for a standing place and €70 ($95) for the most expensive seats at home matches in the Bundesliga. Ticket prices for the home tie against Arsenal range from €35 to €100 ($48-$146). Tickets for away fans "are at the lower end of the price range" (REUTERS, 1/9). The DPA reported Bayern "has received 18,000 orders for the 2,974 tickets it will receive from Arsenal for the game." The club "will announce who will receive the tickets at the end of January" (DPA, 1/9).

BAYERN APPLAUDED: In London, Shergold & Barlow wrote the gesture is "just the latest example of how German football clubs lead the way in treatment of their fans." Season tickets and matchday prices "are considerably lower in the Bundesliga than the Premier League," with access to top-flight games costing as little as £10 ($14). Arsenal fans group “Black Scarf Movement” spokesperson Nordi Chaoui-Taylor said, ''We commend Bayern's gesture and once again this demonstrates that in Germany, the core support of clubs is truly recognized and taken care of. In this country it seems as if clubs are more focused on greed, looking to take their own fans for as much as they possibly can" (DAILY MAIL, 1/9).

The row at FIFA over the timing of the 2022 World Cup "intensified on Thursday" after UEFA President Michel Platini accused FIFA President Sepp Blatter and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke of "disrespecting their own executive committee," according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. Platini condemned Blatter and Valcke for their "repeated public pronouncements indicating the tournament in Qatar would be moved to November or December." Platini: "When the executive committee was held in early October, it was decided to launch a major consultation of all football and no decision would be taken before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It was agreed not to talk about this before then" (TELEGRAPH, 1/9).

HESITATION DAMAGING IMAGE: FOX SPORTS' Simon Hill opined FIFA "may well be distancing itself" from Valcke's comments, but "be in no doubt, this is a fait accomplis." So, accepting that "by this time next year, the football calendar has been reorganised completely," that broadcasters (particularly in the U.S.) have been "assuaged, and that legal challenges have been brushed aside, where does that leave the game, the governing body, and, most pertinently, football in this country?" Significantly "weakened on all fronts if you ask me." What FIFA has "never understood is the impact these inexplicable decisions have on countries where football is not the number one passion." If only they could "spend a few months here, getting to know the very different sporting landscape of a country like Australia." Perhaps then they would "understood the damage this does to the image of a game" we describe as "beautiful," but which has "shown itself to be very ugly indeed, in the way it has fragrantly disregarded its own protocol in the World Cup decision-making process" (FOX SPORTS, 1/9). The AP reported "rather than ending the ongoing confusion about exactly which month the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be held, attempts by FIFA to clarify the issue -- and they come regularly -- tend only to muddy the picture." One minute a "consultation process is being established to talk to leagues and federations; the next a FIFA executive is blurting out his beliefs, sending the media into chaos anew." It has become "widely accepted, except maybe in Qatar, that holding football's biggest tournament in the desert Gulf nation during the searing summer months poses a potential health risk." Even FIFA's inspection team "ahead of the vote highlighted possible dangers to fans and officials who travel around the tiny country away from air-conditioned stadiums" (AP, 1/10).

TEBAS CHIMES IN: In Madrid, Luis Martín reported Spanish Football League President Javier Tebas said of holding the World Cup during the winter, "I do not like stopping competition, in this case La Liga, but since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar, we knew this was going to happen, so we should look for solutions." In "regards to whether he was surprised by what Valcke said," Tebas said, "It is no surprise. We need everyone's effort, but it does not seem excessively serious to me, it is not overly dramatic" (EL PAIS, 1/8).

A youth football camp and coaches clinic supervised by recruiters from FC Barcelona "could be held in Ottawa," Canada in late February. The agreement on the establishment of the camp "could be finalized in the coming days." Sources said that the camp "is for children aged 6-14 years in the Ottawa region at 10 hours per week" (L'EXPRESS, 1/7). ... FIFA has globally banned another El Salvador player in relation to the El Salvador FA's match-fixing investigation that dates back to September, when 14 players were banned for life for match-fixing. Including the most recent sanctions, 21 El Salvador players have now been punished since the investigation started (El Salvador FA).