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Volume 10 No. 22

International Football

Portugal's Helena Costa will "be the highest-profile female manager of a European men's team" after being named head coach of Ligue 2 side Clermont Foot, according to the BBC. Costa is a former scout for Scottish Premiership side Celtic. She has coached the Iran women's team since '12. Costa, 36, "has also coached Benfica's male youth teams and the Qatar women's side." She "will join Clermont officially at the end of the season." Clermont Foot said in a statement, "It should help the club enter a new era" (BBC, 5/7). CNN reported Costa will succeed Regis Brouard who is "leaving at the end of the season when his contract expires." Costa is the first female coach in French professional football. Nelly Viennot previously served as an assistant referee in France. In Italy, Caroina Morace "took charge" of Serie C1 side Viterese for two matches in '99 (CNN, 5/7). FRANCE24 reported Clermont "will be the biggest men's club ever coached by a woman." Clermont President Claude Michy said, "Football people are surprised, but here are many women leaders in business or politics. In Germany, the Chancellor is a woman. It's important to be provocative" (FRANCE24, 5/7). Celtic added in a statement, "We would like to congratulate Helena sincerely on taking up this new role. She did an excellent job for us and we know she will give her new position the same high level of commitment and dedication which she gave to Celtic" (London INDEPENDENT, 5/7). In London, Gary Jacob wrote Costa "has studied under José Mourinho, the Chelsea manager, and Laszlo Boloni, the former coach of Romania." She said "it was a compliment" to have been dubbed “Mourinho in a skirt” in Portugal. Costa: “It was just a joke that stuck. I did internships with Boloni in France and Mourinho when he was at Chelsea” (LONDON TIMES, 5/8).

PLAYERS OFFER SUPPORT: In London, Julien Pretot reported Clermont is 14th in Ligue 2 with two matches to go. Forward Remy Dugimont told L'Equipe, "It's a big surprise ... It comes from nowhere. We'll have to learn to know her. We hope it is going to be fine but I don't think there is problem" (EVENING STANDARD, 5/7). In London, David Kent reported Dugimont "does not believe Costa's relative lack of experience in the men's game will be a problem, nor does he see issues arising with respect." Dugimont: ''I'm not macho. She has worked in the profession and all the boys know how it works." Dugimont's view "is shared" by teammate Anthony Lippini. Lippini: ''I spoke with the physio and we spoke about the first time a woman entered the army ... A very macho environment. Now there are many women in the army and it may be the same in football. I cannot wait for next season to discover. I'm really curious" (DAILY MAIL, 5/7).

Russia's Parliament is preparing a piece of legislation introducing a salary cap for the Russian Premier League. The initiative follows a similar proposal for the second-tier National Football League, first floated a few weeks ago. The State Duma, the lower chamber of Russia's Parliament, plans to adopt the legislation before the end of its spring session, so that it could be applied at the start of the '14-15 season, which begins in August. Dmitry Svishchev, the first deputy head of the Duma's Committee on Sports & Youth, said on the air of the Russian TV network Mir 24 that consultations on the new law are currently in progress, but Premier League clubs are reluctant.

ALL ABOUT EXECUTION: Experts say that the idea of introducing a salary cap could have a positive impact on the finances of the Russian league, if handled properly. Professional Union of Footballers & Coaches President Vladimir Leonchenko told SBD Global, "The main issue is that players' salaries are currently guaranteed only by sponsor contracts or regional budgets, but not by the club's revenues. As a result, there is a risk that salaries won't be paid, and we've recently seen cases of that kind in the lower tiers of the Russian league." He continued, "As for a salary cap, it should apply to what a club can spend on all players' salaries rather than to individual players' salaries. A club needs to be able to differentiate players' salaries based on their performance. Just setting up a salary cap as they proposed in the National Football League, isn't going to work. In any case, the constant increases of the clubs' budgets need to be restricted."
Vladimir Kozlov is a writer in Moscow.

When the Argentine FA approved of the organization of a "new structure in the top division," national government officials "did not believe the new system would receive backing from club directors," according to Argüelles & Lanzillotta of CLARIN. Money was "one of the primary concerns for club directors." AFA President Julio Grondona "quickly deactivated this possible source of conflict." A government source said, "The Government will not increase the budget above what is currently allocated to Fútbol Para Todos." Argentina currently distributes a total of 825M Argentine pesos ($103M) per year to Argentine first division clubs. The source added, "To implement this new system, clubs will need at least 400-500 million Argentine pesos ($50M-62M) more per year" (CLARIN, 5/7).

'BARRAS' MAKE DEMANDS: In Buenos Aires, Argüelles reported in a separate piece 400 Argentine fans "came together outside AFA headquarters to ask that, among other things, Argentina refuse to send information to Brazil regarding Argentine fans' criminal histories." Those in the crowd, formed by members of fan association "Hinchadas Unidas Argentinas" ("United Argentine Fans,") also "demanded that visiting fans be allowed to return to football stadiums" and said that they "will travel to the World Cup with non-violent objectives" (CLARIN, 5/6).

Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo made a series of "provocative comments" on the English as he sought to defend his country’s "serious" security problems ahead of the World Cup, according to Tony Bonnici of the LONDON TIMES. Playing down the negative headlines, Rebelo said the outbreaks of violence were not as bad as those faced in Iraq or Afghanistan where "hundreds of young soldiers" had died. There were riots in Copacabana Beach district in Rio de Janeiro last month and fears for football fans’ safety "were sparked only last week by the fatal shooting of man during a clash with police close to the England team hotel in the city." Rebelo said, "We all have our tragedies and challenges, serious problems relating to security. I don’t think the English will confront greater threats in Manaus than in the Iraqi provinces or Afghanistan, where they recently lost hundreds of young soldiers." Turning on England coach Roy Hodgson’s admission that his team had wanted to avoid Manaus as a venue, not least for its energy-sapping Amazon heat, Rebelo "got in another dig." He said, “The English got used to hot temperatures during the colonial era -- and the Iraq war.” Noting the northeastern coastal city of Recife hosts a British cemetery, a relic of a "sea-faring colonial power’s historic tropical adventures," he said, "I don’t think its population will rise because of the World Cup" (LONDON TIMES, 5/7).

COPS THREATEN STRIKE: The AP reported Brazil's Federal Police are "threatening a nationwide strike" during the upcoming World Cup if the government does not "increase their pay and improve working conditions." Officers protested outside a Rio venue where national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was announcing his roster for the Cup. Federal Police Union President Andre Vaz de Mello said, "If we don't see a government response to change things, we will stop working during the World Cup" (AP, 5/7).

The Spanish Football League (LFP) handed La Liga side Villarreal a fine of €12,000 ($16,000) "after one of the club's supporters threw a banana at Barcelona's Dani Alves in a recent game at El Madrigal." Villarreal banned the fan, "who was later also arrested by police, but the Spanish League had been slow to respond to calls to punish the club" (ESPN, 5/7). ... Confederation of African Football President Issa Hayatou and FIFA President Sepp Blatter "commissioned the first of three CAF Football Centres of Excellence in Cameroon" which the African football head said represented a massive leap for the continent's football developmental strides. Hayatou said, "The whole of African can be proud of this center and is a great leap for this continent. We have put the center at the disposal of the five African representatives for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil." Center of Excellence Mbankomo "has three football fields (two synthetic turf and natural grass), spaces for basketball, handball, volleyball, an Olympic swimming pool, a gymnasium equipped with fitness equipment at the cutting edge of technology, a conference room with 110 seats, four meeting rooms with quality sound equipment seating up-to 30 persons each for technical preparation of players, seminars and workshops, a restaurant with seating capacity of 104 seats, a terrace bar and luxurious rooms" (ALL AFRICA, 5/6).