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Volume 6 No. 212

International Football

Spanish Football League (LFP) President Javier Tebas and Spanish Superior Sports Council (CSD) President Miguel Cardenal on Thursday presented the "LFP World Challenge," a new project debuting in "collaboration with Spanish businesses with the goal of spreading the values of football and business internationally," according to Juan Jiménez of AS. Tebas: "The objective is to generate confidence and value in the Spanish brand and football can play a part in this. La Liga puts Spain's brand on a global level. For example, El Clásico [Real Madrid-Barcelona] has 400 million spectators. All our clubs are going to unite with this global experience, so that Spain's brand can keep growing." The tournament will "take place over three years with the first phase, called the 'Time of Challenge,' taking place this summer."  During the '15-16 season, a "Challenger Select Series" will see more games, with "non-Spanish teams invited to play." Tebas said of the tournament's first destinations, "We will travel to Houston, New York, Mexico City, [fellow Mexican cities] Monterrey and Guadalajara, as well as Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Malaysia and Turkey. ... There is no financial value if we do not go out around the world" (AS, 1/9). In Madrid, José Maria Rodríguez of MARCA reported together with each game, a business event called "The Spanish Experience" will be held to help "Spanish businesses expand outside Spain" (MARCA, 1/9). WORLD SOCCER reported La Liga plans to "showcase players" such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to the rest of the world. Cardenal explained how the games were a "chance for Spanish clubs -- many of whom would now be bankrupt if the government collected the back taxes owed to them -- to do something positive for the currently troubled Spanish economy" (WORLD SOCCER, 1/10).

FIFA is "concerned for the lives of players approached by match-fixers, warning that they could pay the 'ultimate price,'" according to the BBC. FIFA claimed that "governments should be wary of the presence of criminal organisations in fixing" and the "staggering" sums of money involved. FIFA Head of Security Chris Eaton said, "We are very concerned about the safety of players [and] officials. There is anecdotal evidence that some players have been killed. Match-fixing is all about stealing money. It destroys the lives and careers of many people. Governments should be interested because the amount of money is truly staggering." FIFA will "open a hotline for whistleblowers in February and offer a temporary amnesty for players who admit to fixing and give evidence" (BBC, 1/10). The EFE reported FIFA Security Dir Ralf Mutschke said, "We have to recognize that organized crime organizations will try to manipulate World Cup matches. The World Cup has the highest volume of bets and guarantees the biggest winnings." Mutschke added that FIFA has "measures in place to combat organized crime at the 12 stadiums that will host matches." To avoid match-fixing, FIFA "is in contact with betting houses and is monitoring social networks" (EFE, 1/12).