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Volume 10 No. 22

International Football

Barcelona has vowed to take its "fight to the Court of Arbitration for Sport" after FIFA on Wednesday rejected the club's appeal against "a one-year transfer embargo," according to Mark Cue of the LONDON TIMES. Barça will be "barred from making any signings until the January 2016 transfer window but can continue to sign players until the present window closes" on Sept. 2. The club has vowed to continue to "defend" its interests. FIFA said that Barcelona will be "prevented from registering any players at both national and international level for two complete and consecutive transfer periods, starting with the next registration period [January 2015]." Barcelona was found guilty of breaching FIFA's rules on "the transfer of players aged under 18 in April" (LONDON TIMES, 8/20). In London, Simon Rice reported the sanctions "will be a massive blow for the Spanish club as they look to compete" against domestic rivals Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid and on the European stage. Despite having made an "outlay in the region" of £115M ($191M) this summer following its failure to "land a single trophy last term, the Catalan club may be keen to do more business in the final few days of the current transfer window" before the ban comes into action (INDEPENDENT, 8/20).

BARCELONA REACTS: The BBC reported Barcelona said in a statement that the punishment was an "affront to the spirit" of "world renowned" youth academy La Masia, which is "regarded as being the foundation of the club's success in recent years." Players are instilled with a philosophy of "how the game should be played and many of the first team, such as Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, have graduated from the academy." The club has also been ordered to pay a fine of £305,000 ($506,500) and been told by FIFA "to regularise" the situation of all minor players concerned (BBC, 8/20). In Barcelona, Francesc Perearnau wrote Barcelona "received FIFA's ruling with surprise and indignation" just 24 hours after presenting its appeal. It "appears that FIFA's decision was practically written and the decision made before the club even deployed its arguments on Tuesday" (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 8/20). Messi said, "I am what I am thanks to Barcelona. ... I arrived as a boy and grew here. I adopted the values of La Masía. ... When I arrived, everything surprised me. It was very different than what I had seen in Rosario (Argentina). ... Being able to come here was great" (MARCA, 8/20). Barcelona's Javier Mascherano said, "Personally, the club, from what I experienced in these four years, has taken very good care of the kids at La Masia. This is what I could see" (EFE, 8/20).

Relations between FIFA and its next World Cup host, Russia, "are under strain," according to the AP. Attempts by the Russian football authorities to integrate three clubs from Crimea this season -- without consent from Ukraine -- "have escalated tensions between the two countries' football federations, which are both members of FIFA and UEFA." Though the game's world and European governing bodies "have reason to at least warn the Russian Football Union of disciplinary action, neither has taken that step." FIFA's diplomacy with Russia "seems restrained compared with its typically strict enforcement of rules that prohibit government interference in how football federations manage their affairs." The football problem "has lingered beyond the Brazil-hosted World Cup and into the new season with Russia on the clock as upcoming host." Top Russian clubs "have even raised concern UEFA could be forced to suspend them from the Champions League and Europa League." UEFA "has publicly expressed hope that the Russian and Ukrainian federations will find a compromise" (AP, 8/20).

UEFA said that it is "investigating alleged racist comments made by Carlo Tavecchio during his successful campaign" to become the head of Italian football, according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG. The speech in July drew criticism after Tavecchio, who was the amateur league president, "referred to a fictional player eating bananas." UEFA said in a statement that Italian Football Federation (FIGC) President Tavecchio has been informed of the decision "to open a disciplinary investigation on alleged racist comments made by him during his FIGC presidential election campaign." Tavecchio said that Italian clubs at times fail to select "players based on professionalism" as is the case in other countries. Using a fictional player’s name and one of the Rome-based football teams as a hypothetical example, Tavecchio added, "Opti Poba is here, he was eating bananas before and now he will play a starter for Lazio and that’s all right." Tavecchio apologized after being confronted about his language, saying that "he did not mean to be offensive" (BLOOMBERG, 8/20). REUTERS' Brian Homewood wrote UEFA said a report would be handed to its ethics and disciplinary panel "to render a decision about this matter." UEFA said, "Further details concerning these proceedings will be announced in due course." Coincidentally, Rome "will host an anti-discrimination conference organised by UEFA and the FARE group in September." The World Players' Union FIFPro "has already questioned Tavecchio's suitability to lead Italian football and called on him to attend the conference and issue an unreserved apology" (REUTERS, 8/20).

Bayern Munich has "upped the ante in rather dramatic, and undeniably brilliant, fashion," with the Bundesliga club holding a "huge event" on Tuesday to unveil its new team bus. The club "even hired a magician" to unveil its new mode of transportation (EUROSPORT, 8/20). ... Non-league side Hull United Player-Chair Jamie Waltham "is offering to pay supporters" £2 ($3) to attend the side's first home match of the season. Waltham: "We want to offer people an incentive to come" (BBC, 8/20). ... Scottish Championship side Rangers' 8-1 defeat of Clyde was watched by its "lowest home attendance for 29 years at Ibrox." Only 11,190 fans "turned up for the Petrofac Training Cup tie on Monday." Rangers Manager Ally McCoist scored the last time the attendance was lower, at the tail end of the club's "dismal" '84-85 campaign, in front of only 9,954 fans (HERALD SCOTLAND, 8/20).