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Volume 6 No. 215

International Football

More than half of Premier League clubs have hiked season-ticket prices -- "despite cashing in on the latest TV deal" worth £5.5B ($9.4B) over three years, according to Alex Miller of the London DAILY MAIL. The Football Supporters’ Federation is planning a march in protest and Chair Malcolm Clarke said, "Nine out of 10 fans already think they are paying too much for tickets and these figures only back that point of view. Clubs are swimming in cash and the last media deal was worth £5 billion. The huge increase would have been enough for clubs to let every fan in for free and they would have been no worse off." The biggest price hikes have been made by Burnley and Queens Park Rangers, both promoted last season -- Burnley has "raised the price of its cheapest season ticket prices by a whopping" 47%. Substantial rises "have also been announced at Stoke and Hull." Only two clubs "have lowered prices this season." Football for some fans in the North East "has come down in price after Mike Ashley announced marginal price cuts at Newcastle" and Sunderland kept its prices down, too. Arsenal has instigated 3% price rises in line with inflation, taking its most expensive season-ticket prices above the £2,000 ($3,400) mark, "the highest in the league" (DAILY MAIL, 7/19).

How ticket costs have gone up
Club Top season
ticket price
QPR £949 ($1,600) +38
Burnley £685 ($1,170)
Hull £572 ($9800 +27
Norwich £646 ($1,100)
Crystal Palace £720 ($1,200) +11
Man City
£860 ($1,470)
Southampton £853 ($1,460)
Arsenal £2,013 ($3,440) +3
Everton £719 ($1,230) +3
Aston Villa £615 ($1,050) +3
Stoke City £609 ($1,040) +2
Liverpool £869 ($1,490) +2
Leicester £730 ($1,250) +2
Tottenham £1,895 ($3,240) 0
Chelsea £1,250 ($2,140) 0
ManU £950 ($1,620) 0
West Ham £910 ($1,550) 0
Sunderland £525 ($900) 0
Swansea £499 ($850) 0
West Brom £459 ($780) 0
Newcastle £710 ($1,220) -1
 Average £902 ($1,540) +6.6

Qatar's government has approved "some measures to improve the treatment of foreign workers" following int'l criticism over the past year, as the Gulf state "gears up to host the 2022 World Cup," according to Amena Bakr of REUTERS. Qatar Minister of Labor & Social Affairs Abdullah Saleh Mubarak al-Khulaifi announced the steps on Sunday. They include a "requirement that companies set up bank accounts for workers and pay wages electronically and a ban on mid-day outdoor work in the summer heat." The government, however, is "still working on plans to replace a contentious sponsorship law in the Arab country of 2.2 million people." Al-Khulaifi said, "We know there is much more to do, but we are making definite progress." Qatar has the "highest proportion of migrant workers per population in the world." The OPEC member's population jumped 9% in the first quarter as companies "hired thousands of laborers to work on World Cup-related infrastructure projects." The government has also agreed to launch an "electronic complaint system and is building accommodation to accommodate up to 150,000 workers" (REUTERS, 7/20). RUSSIA TODAY reported the Qatar government plans to replace the sponsorship law "known as Kafala system." The current law "chains" foreign workers to a single employer, who "therefore can treat its staff any way they want, without facing any consequences or punishment." Thus, for example, foreign workers "need their employer's permission to change jobs." It is "not clear" from the announcement "when Qatar adopted the labor reforms and when they will be implemented" (RT, 7/20).

At least seven foreign players for Ukrainian football sides Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist Kharkiv "have refused to return to the country as tensions mount after the Malaysia Airlines crash," according to the AFP. Six players for champions Donetsk and an Argentine with Metalist Kharkiv are "too worried for their safety." The ITAR-TASS news agency reported the six Donetsk players "refused to fly back to Ukraine after their side were beaten 4-1 by Lyon in a friendly Saturday in the French town of Annecy." Meanwhile, R-Sport reported Argentine Metalist Kharkiv midfielder Sebastian Blanco "refused to return to Ukraine from a training camp in Austria" (AFP, 7/20). In London, Aaron Flanagan wrote French network Canal+ reported the players "are refusing to return to the Ukraine because of political turmoil." The five Donetsk players named are Douglas Costa, Fred, Dentinho and Alex Teixiera of Brazil and Argentine Facundo Ferreyra (DAILY MIRROR, 7/20).

Brazil's new coach "will be unveiled at a news conference on Tuesday after Luiz Felipe Scolari's resignation." Former Manager Dunga, who managed the team from '06-11, "could return." Other contenders include Corinthians coach Tite, Sao Paulo Manager Muricy Ramalho and Vanderlei Luxemburgo, "the national manager from 1998 to 2000" (BBC, 7/19). ... A former Barcelona director of security "has been ordered to appear in court as a suspect in connection with claims" that he used €400,000 of the club’s money to spy on political rivals. Prosecutors alleged Xavier Martorell used private detective agency Método 3 "to follow the movements" of two councillors from the Catalan Democratic Union party in '10 (LONDON TIMES, 7/20). ... The All India Football Federation is planning to introduce a U15 league to "help develop a pool of talent in time" for the FIFA U17 World Cup, which India will host. The U15 league is "one part of the scouting process, with the existing Coca Cola Cup expected to serve as the other major platform to spot talent" (THE HINDU, 7/20). ... FIFA has lifted the suspension that was imposed on the Nigeria Football Federation on July 9 on account of interference. FIFA announced that court proceedings and an order preventing the NFF's president, its exec committee members and the NFF Congress from running Nigerian football have been withdrawn (FIFA).