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Volume 6 No. 197

International Football

A whole country "welcomed its World Cup heroes," according to BILD. After a "night full of partying at the Sheraton hotel in Rio de Janeiro, the celebration moved to the 'fan mile' at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin." Several hundred thousand people "attended the fan mile and lined the streets along the bus route to celebrate the World Cup-winning team" (BILD, 7/15). REUTERS' Chambers & Nilsson reported "about a million jubilant Germans welcomed their triumphant" national football team home to Berlin on Tuesday, "many waving flags and banners saying 'We are all World Champions!' as they basked in the nation's fourth World Cup victory." Many fans "lined the streets in the city center along the team's route." German head coach Joachim Löw said, "Without you we wouldn't be here. We are all world champions." Many of the fans were holding red posters with the words "Thanks Boys." A black open-roofed bus "drove the players, who jumped, screamed, waved and held up" the World Cup trophy (REUTERS, 7/15). The SYDNEY MORNING HERALD reported the flag-waving crowd "erupted in applause after screens showed the flight bringing the triumphant players to the German capital from Rio de Janeiro touch down" shortly after 8:00am GMT. Crowds "began massing in central Berlin before dawn and thousands more supporters gathered on a viewing platform under warm summer sunshine at Tegel airport to meet the plane," a Lufthansa jet rebranded for the occasion "Fanhansa" on one side and "Victors' Plane" on the other. Captain Philipp Lahm "was the first player to emerge, clutching the golden FIFA trophy in one hand and lifting it in the direction of supporters" (SMH, 7/15).

PUT THE STAMP ON: The AFP reported officials said on Monday that Germany "will this week issue a World Cup victory postage stamp, five million of which were printed before the final was even held." Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said, "This year I dared to hope very early on that our team would take the title." The 60-cent stamp, marked "Germany Football World Champion 2014," will go on sale Thursday "after the first commemorative copies are presented to the coach, players and team staff." Graphic designer Lutz Menze said that "the image shows footballers running, but not their faces in order to honour the whole team, not an individual" (AFP, 7/15).

Brazilian sports business consulting firm Pluri Consultoria published a list of the players who "improved their market value the most during the World Cup," according to Héctor González Villalba of LA AFICION. Pluri's list showed that Costa Rica striker Joel Campbell improved his market value the most, increasing it from €5.2M ($7M) to €8.9M ($12M), a 70.2% jump. Ecuador striker Enner Valencia saw his value rise 69%, from €4.2M ($5.7M) to €7.1M ($9.6M). Rounding out the top five were Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas, whose market value increased from €4.3M ($5.8M) to €7.1M (65.1%), Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa, whose value increased 64.9%, from €3.7M ($5M) to €6.1M ($8.3M) and Argentine defender Marcos Rojo, whose value increased 64.6%, rising from €5.7M ($7.7M) to €9.4M ($12.8M) (LA AFICION, 7/15).

FIFA President Sepp Blatter "threw an unexpected seed of doubt into Russia's preparations for the 2018 World Cup on Monday when he said that FIFA will discuss the possibility of reducing the number of stadiums to be used there in four years time," according to Mike Collett of REUTERS. Two days after Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko gave media detailed background about Russia's plans for their World Cup which involves 12 stadiums in 11 cities, Blatter implied that "they could be re-examined." Blatter said, "It's a footballing country but we will have meetings there in September to see if 12 is the right number and even if they could be reduced to 10." His comments "came as a complete surprise" to Russian Organizing Committee CEO Alexei Sorokin, who said, "This is the first I have heard about it, we know nothing about this" (REUTERS, 7/15). In London, FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke, charged with the task of delivering first a World Cup in South Africa and then one in Brazil, "must now turn east for the third World Cup in a row targeted at a developing economy." The logistics "are challenging." The "endless cycle of new stadiums, new roads, new railways, new infrastructure might give the hosts a (much-disputed) Keynesian rationale for spending money on a World Cup." Not to mention "the opportunity for more people to make a cut." But "it also means more to potentially go wrong." Dealings with Putin’s Russia "are likely to be straightforward in comparison to Brazil" -- for "obvious reasons there are unlikely to be mass street protests." In a "revealing aside last year that says much about Fifa’s priorities," Valcke said, “I will say something which is crazy, but less democracy is sometimes better for organizing a World Cup.” But while there will be less civil unrest, and fewer concerns that the '18 hosts will not build their stadiums on time, "the bigger job might be selling the concept of a Russian World Cup to fans and sponsors" (GUARDIAN, 7/15).

World players' union FIFPro has accused FIFA of "failing to protect players during the World Cup over its treatment of concussion and said football is in the dark ages regarding the issue." It warned of the "potential for lawsuits worth hundreds of millions of dollars for those injured," following the final in which Germany's Christoph Kramer was "allowed to play on after a blow to the head, before being replaced." FIFPro claimed the problem will become a "tidal wave that will engulf" the Champions League and the "domestic leagues of Europe in the new season" (London GUARDIAN, 7/14). ... FIFA extended Nigeria's deadline due to the "industrial action embarked on by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria." FIFA said that the suspension "will be lifted as soon as the court action is withdrawn and the properly elected NFF executive committee, the NFF General Assembly and the NFF administration are able to work without government’s interference" (NIGERIAN TRIBUNE, 7/15). ... Swiss hospitality company Match Services CEO Ray Whelan "surrendered to a local Rio de Janeiro court on Monday" amid an investigation "into the illegal resale of VIP World Cup tickets." The court said that Whelan "gave himself up to the Rio de Janeiro-state Justice Tribunal in downtown Rio" (REUTERS, 7/15). ... The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) announced that it will "hold a summit this Friday, with 'vanishing spray' on the agenda." The spray was "successfully used by officials at this summer's World Cup." Upon the request of both Serie A and Serie B, "leading figures within Italian football will discuss the possibility of allowing the spray to be used in domestic matches" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 7/15).