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Volume 6 No. 234

International Football

Argentine FA President Claudio Tapia said that national team players "will end the media boycott that has been in place since November," according to Adriana Garcia of Lionel Messi announced following a post-match news conference last year that he and the rest of his Argentina teammates "would no longer speak to the press" while on int'l duty as a protest against "perceived media mistreatment." Tapia, who is "hoping to bring a new direction to the AFA since being elected as president on March 29," said during the unveiling of the new Superliga, "The players will speak." However, he did not say when they "will break their silence." Tapia added, "The players want to be close to the people but were mistreated at the time and they did not deserve it. In this new chapter of Argentine football, they are going to be important and the national team has to get close to the people and vice-versa. The national team is a priority for the AFA" (, 8/16). In Buenos Aires, Daniel Avellaneda reported Tapia closed his speech at the launch of the Superliga by saying, "Let's hope we have the football we deserve." In response to questions about avoiding "the issues that have plagued the AFA in recent years," Tapia said, "It has to go well, it has to go well." River Plate President Rodolfo D'Onofrio said, "We have a historic opportunity" (CLARÍN, 8/16). The launch of the Superliga, where the new logo was unveiled, was attended by a number of execs from first division clubs and broadcasters TNT Sports Latin America and Fox Sports Latin America (Tyler Everett, SBD Global).

The former FIFA director of legal affairs agreed to a "secret deal to pay American lawyers" up to £750 an hour to "defend" football’s governing body from the U.S. Department of Justice five months before officials were arrested, leaked documents revealed, according to Martyn Ziegler of the LONDON TIMES. Marco Villiger -- who has been promoted to FIFA deputy secretary general and is the only remaining senior exec from the "Sepp Blatter era" -- hired law firm Quinn Emanuel in Dec. '14, according to the documents. The FIFA corruption scandal, however, "blew up" in May '15 when officers raided the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich and made seven arrests. Former FIFA President Blatter said that he had been "unaware of the contract" with QE and that there may have been an "internal conspiracy" against him. Proof of the agreement with QE was first obtained by German newspaper Der Spiegel, and showed that Villiger was aware that FIFA "was a target" for the DOJ. The eight-page document states, "QE handles and will handle the following: to defend FIFA's interests against the DOJ." The hourly rate quoted for partners was 970 Swiss francs, although the firm promised a 10% discount (LONDON TIMES, 8/15).

Fans set an attendance record for the opening two weekends during the Scottish Professional Football League era. Almost a quarter of a million fans attended the 42 games. It is the "highest turnout in the top flight in its first five years." An extra 55,000 fans made their way through the turnstiles compared to last season, with 230,204 watching games in the league's four divisions. The "biggest attendance of the weekend" came at Ibrox, where 49,636 people watched Hibernian beat Rangers (Scotland DAILY RECORD, 8/15).

The introduction of the video assistant referee system has been criticized in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium after a "series of errors." But FIFA is "determined to push through the referral system" in time for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Former German national team goalkeeper Uli Stein wrote in German magazine Kicker, "From what I have seen so far of the trials it seems to me to end up somewhere between 'comical' and 'unworkable'" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 8/16).

Germany Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizère called for tough measures to "crack down" on fans who commit violent acts, including stadium bans, "after fireworks and fires disrupted a match" in Rostock, Germany, on Monday. De Maizière, who also serves as sports minister, said that "overall violence levels were rising in Germany." He added, "We are talking about significant criminal acts in some cases. The justice system must be hard-nosed in this regard" (REUTERS, 8/16).

After two years of suspension due to the overall security situation in the country, the Libyan Premier League kicked off on Tuesday with four matches "successfully completed, albeit without spectators officially attending." The Libyan Football Federation divided the League into four groups based on geographical area, "with the top team from each group qualifying for a final round" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 8/16).

The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee on Wednesday said that it opposes the Korea FA's plan to "amend articles related to the former's authority." The KSOC said that it will not accept the KFA's decision to "delete articles that will affect the relationship between the two organizations" (YONHAP, 8/16).