FIFA rejected U.S. senators' call to ban Russia from the 2014 World Cup "in response to the Kremlin's position on Ukraine," according to the VOICE OF RUSSIA. Senators Dan Coats and Mark Kirk sent a letter to FIFA requesting it "strip Russia from its right to host the World Cup in 2018" and ban it from this year's event. In a response letter, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke told the U.S. lawmakers FIFA rules and regulations do not apply to "entities outside the pyramidal structure of the game of football." He added that "individual teams could not be banned from a competition because of actions by their parent states" (VOICE OF RUSSIA, 4/3). REUTERS' Patricia Zengerle wrote Coats said on Wednesday that FIFA "was wrong when it refused to kick Russia out of this year's World Cup and bar it from hosting the tournament in 2018 over its occupation of Crimea." Coats said, "FIFA suggests that outrageous misbehavior by member states does not matter because such decisions are irrelevant to soccer." Coats noted that Yugoslavia was banned from int'l competition in '92 and '94 "because of its behavior during the Balkan wars, a matter unconnected to the playing field." Coats: "I continue to call upon FIFA leadership to impose the same punishment on Russia" (REUTERS, 4/3).
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke has again raised concerns over Brazil's World Cup preparations, saying "we are not ready" and that the stadium for the opening game is one of two venues that worry him most, according to the AP. Valcke said that the stadiums in Sao Paulo, where the opening game will be played June 12, and Porto Alegre in the south were "where we have more work to do than in the other 10." Asked to describe Brazil's status, Valcke said, "If you want me to summarize ... we are not ready" (AP, 4/2). The BBC reported Valcke insisted there is "no way" that fixtures will be postponed. Porto Alegre Mayor Jose Fortunati said that "the city may drop out if additional funding was not found to build facilities for media, sponsors and fans." But Valcke, who visited Brazil last week, insisted that "finance was available." Valcke: "Maybe there will be things which will not be totally ready at the beginning of the World Cup, but the most important thing for the 32 teams is the training camp and fields" (BBC, 4/2). REUTERS' Alonso Soto reported Brazil's unfinished Arena Pantanal stadium in Cuiaba "has held its first match since an October blaze raised fears it would not be ready in time to host World Cup games this summer." The match between Mixto and Santos in the Brazilian Cup on Wednesday "was open to only 20,000 fans, about half of the stadium's planned capacity." Local media said some 23,000 seats "still needed to be installed before the stadium's official opening game on April 26" (REUTERS, 4/3).
The Uruguayan FA (AUF) has a new exec board led by board President Wilmar Valdez, according to Silvia Pérez of EL PAIS. Going into a meeting on Wednesday, Oscar Curutchet was expected to be elected, but dropped himself from consideration. Valdez is joined on the AUF's new exec board by VP Jorge Barrera, Secretary General Alejandro Balbi, Economic Secretary Ignacio Alonso and National Team Secretary Roberto Pastoriza. The previous AUF board "stepped down amid controversy this week, which dates back to a fight last Wednesday during a Copa Libertadores match" (EL PAIS, 4/3).
NEW CODE APPROVED: EL PAIS reported at Wednesday's General Commission meeting, a new FIFA Disciplinary Code was approved. The "approval was required for the government to return security forces to football stadiums." The new code "aims to hold clubs responsible for the behavior of their fans" and will take effect starting next season (EL PAIS, 4/2).
CONMEBOL SANCTIONS: The EP reported CONMEBOL sanctioned the AUF on Wednesday, "temporarily and indefinitely suspending the AUF from participating in CONMEBOL, a measure that will not affect Uruguay's participation in the World Cup." CONMEBOL's sanctions "mean that the AUF cannot participate and vote in the South American congress or present proposals or candidates to be named president, VP or representative." CONMEBOL's decision "arrives as Uruguayan football faces a difficult moment due to violence in the sport" (EP, 4/3).