Eight of the 10 A-League clubs have just two games left to play in the regular season, "but the lack of clarity among the contenders has not prompted the Football Federation of Australia to alter the competition's format for future seasons," according to Dominic Bossi of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Brisbane Roar is the only club whose fate is already determined after it "clinched the premiership last week." Second-placed Central Coast Mariners is also locked in to play finals football "but can still finish as low as sixth depending on other results." A-League President Damien de Bohun said, “This year’s Hyundai A-League is coming to a thrilling climax, there’s no doubt about it. ... From a Hyundai A-League perspective, it is a great way to finish what has been another season of positive growth for the game, with crowds, TV ratings and membership all up on figures from last season for the third straight season" (SMH, 3/31).
Pubs in the U.K. "will be able to stay open beyond normal hours this summer" to show England's World Cup matches that have late kickoff times, according to the PA. The national extension of licensing hours "will initially only affect the team's opening game against Italy," which kicks off at 11pm on June 14. England's other group matches, against Uruguay and Costa Rica, kick off at 8pm and 5pm, respectively, but if the team reaches the knockout stages with 9pm kickoffs, the relaxation "could come into play again in the event of extra time." British Home Secretary Theresa May's announcement comes after PM David Cameron overruled Home Office Minister Norman Baker's initial rejection of calls for pubs to stay open late to show the match against Italy. In a statement, May said, "The relaxation of licensing hours will relate to the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises and the provision of late-night refreshment in licensed premises in England, at specified dates and times only" (PA, 3/31).
Israeli football authorities "have broken their silence over the hugely sensitive dispute with Palestine, insisting efforts are being stepped up to improve conditions for Palestinian players and officials in and out of the West Bank and Gaza," according to Andrew Warshaw of INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. Tensions between the two sides recently reached a peak when the Palestinian FA announced that "it would call for Israel's expulsion from FIFA" at this summer's FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo unless tangible measures are taken to ease travel restrictions in the occupied territories. Last week, "the Israeli FA attended the UEFA Congress in Kazakhstan." Israeli FA CEO Rotem Kemer said that "there was a danger of too many people playing politics." Kemer: "We don't think this is right. It has never been the policy of FIFA and UEFA to mix politics and sport. We are making our best efforts in order to help the Palestinian association. We are trying to make things easier for them." The Israeli security forces "have accused the Palestinians of using football to hide the movement of terrorists and equipment within the region." The Palestinians "have denied this and point to the inability to get footballers to training and matches which they say is a deliberate act of oppression" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 3/31).