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Volume 6 No. 214

International Football

Club execs warned on Sunday that "lack of progress in key areas of preparation is threatening the success of the new Hong Kong Premier League," according to Chan Kin-wa of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. At a First Division meeting, member clubs "expressed disappointment that many changes necessary for the professional league, scheduled to be launched in September, had not been addressed." Sunray Cave Sun Hei representative Chung Chi-kwong said, "We all know about the poor quality of venues and their lack of support facilities, and it is clear there is going to be little improvement by the time September comes around. It's like building a big grand house but with nothing inside." BC Rangers Exec Dir Philip Lee Fai-lap queried that "the fee the clubs now have to pay for live television broadcasts of matches." Fai-lap said, "I want to know if there will be sponsors paying for it in the new Premier League, but I was disappointed to find out at the meeting that it is very unlikely" (SCMP, 2/24).

FIFA VP Prince Ali bin al Hussein "has added his voice to those who believe the issue of workers' rights in Qatar has become far more crucial than whether the 2022 World Cup is played in winter or summer," according to Andrew Warshaw of INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. Prince Ali said that Qatar "had to be given a fair chance to prove it can implement the measures it promises will be put in place in order to ease the plight of migrant workers." Prince Ali: "It is the crucial issue and has to be dealt with as soon as possible. If they set their minds to it they can do it." Without mentioning the specific and "high-publicized cases" of footballers Zahir Belounis and Abdeslam Ouaddou, who were victims of Qatar's notorious kafala employment system and were only allowed to leave the country following intense int'l pressure, the Jordanian prince said that "Qatar was more than capable of changing its ways." Prince Ali: "From what I've seen, they have the ability to change if they put their minds to it. We need to just encourage them and not judge them too fast" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 2/24).

A 34-year-old supporter of Brazilian side Santos "has been killed by rival football fans who reportedly kicked him and beat him with iron bars following a derby match." The victim, a member of a Santos fan group, was attacked by "two car-loads of Sao Paulo fans, while he was waiting at a bus stop on Sunday evening," and later died at a hospital. More than 30 people "were killed last year as a result of football violence in the country" (METRO, 2/24). ... Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino said that the prospect of a new stadium for Serie A side Roma "is still very much on the agenda." Although he confirmed that nothing had yet been done, the 58-year-old said that "the arrival in Italy of club President James Pallotta in the next few weeks would hopefully accelerate the process" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 2/24). ... Serie A side Lazio President Claudio Lotito has dismissed protests from fans to leave the club, "asserting that he has no intention to leave the Aquile." A group of 6,000 supporters organized "a demonstration on Sunday evening ahead of the club’s match with Sassuolo" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 2/24).