EPL West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka "has been charged" by the FA over his alleged “quenelle” gesture, according to Roger Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The FA said the allegation was Anelka “made a gesture which was abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper,” and that the gesture "may have had a racial context." The player, who has said the gesture "was for a friend and not meant to cause offence," has until the end of Thursday to respond to the charge, which "could result in a lengthy ban from the game" (FT, 1/21). The BBC reported the "minimum suspension for the offence is five games," but the FA, who appointed an expert to help with its investigation, "can increase that if they see fit." In a statement, West Brom said, "The player is now considering his options. Under FA rules, Anelka remains available for first-team selection until the disciplinary process has reached its conclusion. Following this, the club will conclude its own internal enquiry." Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out also issued a statement, "expressing frustration over the length of time it has taken the FA to act" (BBC, 1/21). The London GUARDIAN reported a three-man independent regulatory commission "will now be appointed to deal with the case – either to decide on the sanction if Anelka admits the charge or to hold a disciplinary hearing if he denies it." West Brom Official Supporters Club Secretary Alan Cleverley said, "If Nicolas Anelka is found guilty of a racial offence, then he deserves everything he gets. You can't go on doing that. It sounds as if he did it on purpose because he knew the match was being shown live in France. So if the book gets thrown at him, I've got no sympathy whatsoever for him" (GUARDIAN, 1/21).
CIES Football Observatory has revealed its sixth annual demographic study on 31 top division leagues of UEFA member associations. The study shows that European football is still confronted with processes that do not necessarily augur well for its future. The cloud of economic stakes that hangs over sporting logics is flagrant in many clubs and countries. In general, the number of transfers carried out by teams during the current season is at an all-time high. This is difficult to understand given the actual climate with its numerous financial difficulties. The increasing speculation surrounding players’ transfers is also visible through the progressive drop in the number of club-trained players, which has attained its lowest level since '09. Conversely, the percentage of expatriate players has risen for the second consecutive year to its highest total ever. Key figures include:
- The relative presence of footballers playing for the club where they were trained reached a record low of 21.2%.
- The EPL has the second highest percentage of expatriate footballers (60.4%), just after Cyprus. Expatriates also represent a majority of squads in Italy, Turkey, Portugal and Belgium. The greatest proportion was measured at Inter Milan (89%).
- While Brazil remains the most represented foreign origin, the number of Brazilians decreased by 67 since '09, from 538 to 471. France is the nation with the second-highest number of expatriates in top division European leagues: from 247 to 306 during the last five seasons.
- Italy and England top the table for the largest squads (26.8 players per club on average). Serie A also gathers the most seasoned footballers (27.3 years) and the lowest percentage of club-trained players (8.4%).
- Barcelona has the most stable squad among European top division teams. Players in the Catalan club have been on the first team squad for an average of 5.5 years. The average stay is longer than five years in only one other club: ManU (CIES Football Observatory).
Officials said that the venue that will stage the opening World Cup game in Brazil in June "is almost complete," even though "work has not restarted on the collapsed roof that killed two workers in November." Former Corinthians President Andres Sanchez said, "The stadium is 97 percent ready. We have some things pending because of the accident but we've got the all-clear and by the end of the month they will remove the damaged piece. We will hand the stadium over by April 15" (REUTERS, 1/21). ... Serbian former Levski Sofia head coach Slavisa Jokanovic "has threatened to sue the Bulgarian club for unpaid wages." Jokanovic "gave an extensive interview for Bulgarian TV Channel 3," in which he revealed that Levski "owes him" about €100,000 ($136,000) in severance payments. The sum "should have been paid" before Jan. 15, but so far "he has not received anything" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 1/21). ... Daily shootouts and recent police slayings of two alleged drug traffickers "are rattling two of Rio de Janeiro's most prominent slums, communities that until recently showcased attempts to pacify historically violent shantytowns." Just five months before Rio welcomes visitors for the football World Cup, and two years before it hosts the Olympics, the communities of Pavão-Pavãozinho and Cantagalo "are bracing for what residents and richer neighbors fear is the return of a decades-old turf war between armed drug gangs and police" (REUTERS, 1/21). ... Brazilian team Portuguesa said that it "contacted prosecutors" after claiming the country’s football ruling body "offered the club a financial inducement to drop legal proceedings against demotion to the second tier" (BLOOMBERG, 1/21). ... Chelsea "launched its football school in Jakarta on Saturday, expecting it can give Indonesian children an opportunity to play the Chelsea way" (JAKARTA GLOBE, 1/20).