The Premier League "has strengthened its links with its most important overseas market" by signing a cooperation agreement with the Asian Football Confederation, according to the PA. The agreement was signed by Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore and AFC President Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa. It will see the EPL continue to operate its Premier Skills coaching program in AFC countries, "while the two bodies set up joint marketing initiatives involving their member clubs." The AFC "will provide support" for the Premier League and its clubs in their promotion and marketing activity in Asia, while "partnership programmes between professional clubs will be encouraged" (PA, 3/14). Commercially, the EPL and AFC will create seminars and study visits that allow clubs in both regions to share knowledge and expertise. Of the 804 million homes to which the EPL is broadcast, 52.7% are in the AFC region and the average weekly audience in Asia is an estimated 25-30 million (EPL).
Ligue 1 Paris St. Germain has "moved to sack their two head chefs" after striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic criticized the "lack of variety in the club's cuisine," according to EUROSPORT. After Ibrahimovic "made a complaint about the 'repetitive' food at Camp des Loges," the club "sacked both head chefs and hired two new ones -- all in an attempt to placate the Swede." PSG has "installed a fresh pasta stand for the team in a further bid to keep the talismanic 32-year-old happy" (EUROSPORT, 3/16).
FIFA Security Chief Ralf Mutschke said that the biggest threat from match fixers at this year’s World Cup in Brazil "is likely to come during the final round of group games," according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG. Those matches, which begin June 23, will involve some teams with no chance of advancing. Criminals "may find some players who are more susceptible to bribes." Mutschke said that FIFA "isn’t taking any chances with a tournament it relies on for more than 90 percent of its income." Mutschke: “I do believe the World Cup is safe, but I have to do a lot of preventative work to make sure the World Cup will be safe in the future as well.” FIFA’s measures to combat match-fixing "include accessing information from bookmakers, educating referees and getting them to sign integrity declarations." It also "has an anticorruption hotline and is a partner in a system that tries to detect unusual betting patterns." In Brazil, analysts "will monitor game data to look for suspicious changes in player behavior" (BLOOMBERG, 3/14).
Scottish League 1 Rangers fans "stepped up their bid to force through boardroom change" on Saturday with a "protest during the 2-0 win over Dunfermline." The Union of Fans "urged fellow supporters to hold blue cards aloft if they wanted to support former Ibrox director Dave King’s attempt to force change." Around 30,000 "responded to the call" (Scotland DAILY RECORD, 3/16). ... Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy has "dismissed a recent report on 2022 FIFA World Cup projects by the International Trade Union Confederation" as "factually inaccurate" and a "deliberate attempt to discredit the Committee." In a statement on Saturday, the committee "strongly denied the allegations levelled in the report, saying none had died on World Cup projects in Qatar" (THE PENINSULA, 3/16). ... Romanian football club Dinamo Bucharest "has been put up for sale." Dinamo Owner Ionut Negoita is "currently negotiating the sale of a majority share" in the club (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 3/13).