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Volume 6 No. 217

International Football

Serie A side Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis has "threatened to uproot the club and move to England" if his plans to purchase and redevelop the Stadio San Paolo are not approved, according to Ben Gladwell of ESPN. The San Paolo is currently owned by the Napoli city council and rented to Napoli. The last major renovation work was carried out ahead of the 1990 World Cup. Since then, "there has been a severe lack of investment, and the arena is showing increasing signs of age." De Laurentiis "wants to buy the property and redevelop it from top to bottom, but his plans have yet to receive approval from the council." If they do not approve, he "has threatened to take all of the club's assets away and start afresh -- in England." De Laurentiis: "I'm sick of it. I'm a simple person who talks and tries to understand, but if on the other side, there are people who don't listen, then I will take that on board and leave. If I do leave Napoli, then you can play in the third division and keep your mayor. Maybe he can even play for you, together with his councillors." Napoli Mayor Luigi De Magistris said that an agreement "is just awaiting two signatures -- his and that of the Napoli president." De Magistris: "We need to stop talking about the future of the Stadio San Paolo and just sign the paperwork" (ESPN, 4/1).

Seeing a "Champions League match in Spain has become a luxury that is only possible for the deepest pockets," according to LIBERTAD DIGITAL. Fans who wanted to see the first leg of the Barcelona-Atlético quarterfinal matchup at Camp Nou had to pay €93 ($128) for the cheapest seats, with the most expensive tickets costing €245 ($337). Prices for the second leg of the match, which will be held at Atlético's Vicente Calderón stadium, will range from €60-€170 ($83-$234). The tickets for the Real Madrid-Borussia Dortmund match at Real's Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday cost from €70-€240 ($96-$330). These "contrast with the prices outside Spain, especially in Germany." In fact, tickets for "the second leg of the same match, which will take place in Germany," will cost from €36-€90 ($50-$124) (LIBERTAD DIGITAL, 4/1).

More than one quarter of professional footballers who took part in a survey conducted by world players' union FIFPro said that "they suffered from depression or anxiety," according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. The problem "was even worse among retired players." Thirty-nine percent said that "they were affected." A FIFPro statement said, "Symptoms relating to depression and anxiety are highly prevalent among professional footballers." FIFPro Chief Medical Officer Vincent Gouttebarge, who conducted the research, said, "Contrary to popular belief, the life of a professional footballer has some dark sides." Thirty-two percent of 121 former players interviewed reported "adverse alcohol behavior" and 12% said that "they were smoking." Gouttebarge: "Once the players stop with intensive physical activities they lose their structured life, their social support by trainers and teammates diminishes, they need to find their place in ‘regular' society, and find another occupation" (REUTERS, 4/2). In London, Liam Prenderville reported that of the 180 pro footballers surveyed in total, 19% "reported high levels of alcohol consumption," with 7% "admitting to smoking." Of former players surveyed, "a staggering" 42% "reported general nutrition problems" (DAILY MIRROR, 4/2).

Mexico's Senate approved the minutes of reforms to the Sports Law "the same day it received them," according to Mercado & Brito of LA AFICION. The new reforms will "sanction with prison and exemplary fines those fans who commit acts of violence at football stadiums." The Senate approved the reforms with 80 "yes" votes and five abstentions -- meaning "sentences of up to four-and-a-half years in jail and fines" of up to 6,000 pesos ($458). Specific fines and prison sentences were established "for violations including entering the field of play and throwing objects onto the field." Several senators "emphasized that the sport cannot be hijacked by violence" (LA AFICION, 4/1).

Australia "might have been given the toughest task of any nation at the World Cup," but that "hasn’t stopped fans buying the second-highest number of tournament match tickets from any foreign country," according to Sebastian Hassett of THE AGE. FIFA announced on Wednesday that Socceroos fans had snapped up 40,681 tickets to World Cup matches, only behind the U.S., which has sold 154,412. Australia "is even ahead of ahead of England," who sits third on the foreign list, selling a total of 38,043 tickets. Virtually "nobody is giving Australia a shot of qualifying for the second stage" after being drawn against Chile, the Netherlands and defending champions Spain, and that the Socceroos’ opening match on June 13 is in the isolated city of Cuiaba." Nonetheless, fans "have jumped at the chance to make a South American pilgrimage." FIFA Marketing Dir Theirry Weil said, "The interest in the 2014 FIFA World Cup is amazing. Teams will have a strong fan base in Brazil, as people are coming from all over the world for the tournament which will make history for sure” (THE AGE, 4/2).

CONCACAF fined Liga MX side Toluca $5,000 on Tuesday for taping a Major League Soccer side San Jose Earthquakes training session "before their second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals." The Earthquakes filed a complaint "alleging that Toluca filmed San Jose's training on March 18 at Estadio Nemesio Díez, the day before the match." CONCACAF ruled that Toluca broke the "FIFA Disciplinary Code for unsporting behavior and Fair Play" (ESPN, 4/1). ... Indian Premier League side Rajasthan Royals has backed out but Kolkata Knight Riders and GMR, the promoters of Delhi Daredevils IPL team, "have taken a plunge into the theatre of football." Both KKR and GM "have placed bids" for the Indian Super League which is scheduled to start in September. The bids "closed on March 27." While KKR is interested in developing a football team in Kolkata, its "second city choice apparently is Delhi." GMR "is looking to have a football team in the capital" (MUMBAI MIRROR, 4/2). ... Former Russia head coach Valery Gazzaev "has hit out at the lack of Russian football fans passing through the turnstiles to watch domestic Premier League games." To increase crowd levels at top flight football in Russia, Gazzaev believes that "the playing standard needs to be upgraded." Gazzaev: "The performances of the national team and Russian clubs playing in Europe needs to improve. This is fundamental and without it there won't be supporters, success, or financial security" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 4/2).