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Volume 6 No. 212

International Football

NBA Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban is "funding what researchers say is the first serious effort to map the physics of play-acting in professional sports," according to Rhys Blakely of the LONDON TIMES. The ultimate goal "is an automated system that will be able to tell whether a player really has been knocked off balance or if he is faking it." It is "a kind of Hawkeye for diving." He has tasked biomechanics scientist Peter Weyland "with taking the first steps." The research "is currently focused on basketball." Weyland believes that his work "will be equally applicable to football." A "wealth of data is being reaped, but observers have voiced doubts on whether it can ever be harnessed to build an automated system that is able to better a human observer in exposing dives." There are "too many variables," they argue, including "the precise postures of players, the exact point of contact between two colliding athletes, and whether a player is expecting an impact, and is braced for it, or not" (LONDON TIMES, 5/15).

Cities across Brazil "braced for demonstrations on Thursday, as disparate protest movements seek to criticize spending" on the upcoming World Cup and revive a call for better public services that swept the country last June, according to Eisenhammer, Fonseca & Doce of REUTERS. Thursday's protests "will gauge the ability of demonstrators to once again rally frustrated Brazilians and the competence of police to manage unrest that occasionally escalated over the past year into violence and vandalism." Though most demonstrations are expected to gain steam later in the day, "protestors in São Paulo, the country's biggest city, by early morning had blocked a major thoroughfare with burning tires and disrupted commutes elsewhere." Protests are planned in up to 50 cities throughout the day, "as demonstrators hope to rekindle momentum that led to millions of people hitting the streets last year during the Confederations Cup" (REUTERS, 5/15).

A new app, "which has undergone field-testing at Burnley, Leyton Orient and Sheffield Wednesday, allows football fans to use their smartphones to order and pay for refreshments from the comfort of their seats, cutting down considerably on queuing times," according to Mark Baber of INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. To use the app and "avoid the stress of queuing" fans can download the "my order app," which is available for free for iPhone, Android and Windows 8 phones. They then fill in the code for the stadium and are presented with the menu, pay online and are given a confirmation code on their phone "which they show staff to collect their items from an express collection point" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 5/15).

UEFA "wants players who hurt an opponent to stay off the field until the injured party is ready to return," according to the AP. Head of refereeing Pierluigi Collina said on Wednesday that "it was not fair for teams to gain a temporary one-player advantage by injuring an opponent." At a season-ending briefing, Collina said, "This is something that has gone on since (forever), I would say, but it's unfair." Laws of football can be changed at annual meetings of the Int'l FA Board, "which comprises FIFA delegates and the four British football federations." UEFA President Michel Platini joined Collina "to promote their five-referee system of match officiating used in UEFA competitions to rule on goal-line decisions and penalty box incidents." Platini said that most of his 54 European member countries now use five officials -- placing an extra assistant beside each goal -- "in top-tier leagues or selected high-profile matches" (AP, 5/15).

Community of Madrid President Ignacio González announced on Thursday that "given the position of the Madrid Government Delegation regarding installing a giant TV screen in Madrid's Puerta del Sol for the Champions League final," no TV screen will be installed. The final will feature Real Madrid and Atlético and take place in Lisbon on May 24. González said, "We will not install the screen that we were planning, as is logical." He called comparisons of fans of the Madrid teams to "very violent" fans of other football teams "unfortunate" and said that the government "only wanted to take advantage of the historic moment" (EP, 5/15). ... With the All India Football Federation "deciding on Wednesday to make an AFC 'A' license degree mandatory for any coach or technical director associated with an I-League team, the spotlight is back on the likes of Subhas Bhowmick, Subrata Bhattacharya and Sukhwinder Singh." None of the trio "holds an 'A' license degree." Unless they get an exemption certificate from the Asian Football Confederation, "their days of coaching Indian clubs may be over" (TIMES OF INDIA, 5/15).