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Volume 6 No. 194

International Football

Barcelona VP Javier Faus "has called for the expansion of the Champions League as well as the reduction of national top flights by up to four clubs," according to Tim Hanlon of REUTERS. UEFA has considered increasing the size of the Champions League proper to 64 clubs from 32 clubs following demands from Europe's top sides, "who see clear financial rewards of facing each other on a more regular basis." While Atletico Madrid is "bucking the trend" as it leads La Liga, the growing distance between the rich and the poor in football has "been particularly stark in Spain and there has been a lack of competition for Barca and Real Madrid." Faus: "We want to see the Champions League expanded and at the same time national leagues should be reduced from 20 clubs. We are not in favour of national leagues being eliminated as they are at the center of fans' hearts and I can't imagine that ever happening" (REUTERS, 2/3).

British pubs "will be able to stay open to screen England World Cup matches without seeking a special licence" following an intervention by PM David Cameron, according to Patrick Wintour of the London GUARDIAN. Cameron intervened after the Liberal Democrat Minister Norman Baker revealed over the weekend that "he had refused brewers' requests for later licences." Cameron "has now ordered Baker to hold a nationwide consultation on the issue." One of the England matches -- there may only be three -- "will be screened very late at night due to the time differences with Brazil." Under the proposal, pubs nationwide "would be able to stay open until 1am without needing to apply for a special licence from their local council" (GUARDIAN, 2/3). The BBC reported the pub industry "had put in an application on behalf of all pubs to allow them to stay open" from 11pm to 1am on the opening weekend of the event. It also "asked for an extra two hours on the closing weekend," July 11-12, when the final will be played, saying that the move "could benefit the economy" by up to £20M ($33M) (BBC, 2/3).

Corinthians President Mario Gobbi said that "fans attacked Peruvian striker Paolo Guerrero after invading the team's training centre in Sao Paulo in protest at the Brazilian team's recent struggles," according to the AP. Gobbi said that "the protest turned violent and fans grabbed the striker by the neck." He said that "other club employees were also attacked during Saturday's confrontation after about 100 fans broke in." Nobody "was seriously injured" (AP, 2/2).

Bayern Munich "calls on the German Football League (DFL) to rethink its marketing of int’l TV rights," according to the SID. Bayern Munich Exec Board member Jörg Wacker said, "The Bundesliga has a problem with broadcast range in several important international markets. The range needs to be improved. There are many people who want to see us but cannot. That has to change." The DFL "should focus less on revenue when it agrees to deals with int'l TV stations and more on the technical range of the stations." Wacker also announced that Bayern "will, in addition to N.Y., open a second int'l office in China's Guangdong province" (SID, 2/2).

A leading lawmaker in Russia "has called on the ban on selling beer at sporting events to be lifted ahead of the country hosting the football World Cup in 2018, echoing a similar earlier appeal by President Vladimir Putin," according to RIA NOVOSTI. Igor Rudensky, who heads the Committee on Economic Policy, Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the State Duma, said that "allowing the sale of beer in stadiums would be in tune with widely accepted international practice." The ban "could potentially be lifted as early as this year." Rudensky said that "while the prohibition of beer could be reconsidered, spirits should remain banned and that fans needed to develop a more responsible drinking culture." Under the proposal made by Rudensky, "the sale of beer would be restricted to stadium eateries" (RIA NOVOSTI, 1/31).

A Belgian trial "implicating players and coaches and a Chinese betting syndicate in a huge match-fixing scandal opened in Brussels on Monday in the absence of the alleged ringleader." China's Zheyun Ye, who stands accused by Belgian prosecutors of "buying several matches in the Belgian championship" between '04-06, was absent having evaded arrest for several years (AFP, 2/3). ... Romanian side CFR Cluj Owner Arpad Paszkany "has confirmed plans to find a new investor for the Romanian club which currently plays in Liga 1, the top tier of the country's professional football league." Paszkany "has invested heavily into the club over the past 13 years." He "is now looking for new investment" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 2/3).