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Volume 6 No. 192

International Football

Man City met with Lionel Messi's representatives to "discuss the possibility" of bringing the Argentine int'l to the Premier League, according to Duncan Castles of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. Their meeting -- held in a Barcelona restaurant last week -- "comes amidst the former World Player of the Year's growing dissatisfaction" with the state of Barça's squad following the sale of teammate and friend Neymar. Messi and Barcelona agreed to a new contract last month. However, the deal was announced before it had been signed, and more than six weeks since Barça's press release, "it has yet to be formalised." Man City's interest in Messi is a "long standing one," with the club's Abu Dhabi ownership and its ex-Barcelona management "making it clear to the Argentine that he has an open invitation to work with Pep Guardiola in England." The club wants to bring in a forward before the current transfer window closes and is understood to be "prepared to use Messi's release clause to sign him this month if the possibility presents itself." With less than two weeks remaining in the current window and Messi known for his "hesitancy over committing to such decisions," a "more realistic and economic option" than paying the buyout this summer would be to prepare the groundwork on a pre-contract agreement that would take Messi to Man City on a free transfer ahead of the '18-19 campaign. According to Barcelona sources, Messi "is seriously considering leaving. He is open to a move, but knowing the player it will take him a while to decide" (DAILY RECORD, 8/21). 90MIN's Jude Summerfield reported Man City is "willing to pay" Messi's €300M ($354.4M) release clause. Messi would reportedly "demand a starting spot" under Manager Guardiola. The "chance of joining another European heavyweight could be appealing to Messi," who became "one of the best players in the world" under Guardiola during the manager's time at Barcelona (90MIN, 8/20).

Fears that Brighton & Hove Albion fans would "suffer homophobic abuse" in the Premier League have been realized "after it emerged two rival supporters had been arrested and several others ejected from the club’s first away game of the season," according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. Two Leicester City fans were held on suspicion of "homophobic-related offences" following Leicester City's 2-0 win over Brighton at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, with Leicestershire Police confirming they were "reviewing evidence to see if others were involved." Leicester City also admitted a "number of home supporters had been ejected from the game by stewards," who the club said had undertaken "specialist training" this summer to identify such abuse. Brighton fans "found themselves a regular target of homophobic abuse" prior to the club's promotion to the Premier League, seemingly motivated by the city’s status as the U.K.’s unofficial "gay capital." One supporter said that Saturday's match was "like something out of the 1970s" (TELEGRAPH, 8/21). The BBC reported supporters of both clubs "condemned homophobic abuse." Brighton Supporters Club Vice Chair Liz Costa added that such chanting was "disgusting" and the club should be fined and anyone responsible banned from the stadium. Leicester City supporter group Foxes Pride Chair Graeme Smith said that abuse was "offensive" and "unacceptable." Costa said that about 50 Leicester City fans took part in the "disgusting" chanting throughout most of the match. She said, "The club needs fining, this has nothing to do with football" (BBC, 8/21). The PA reported Kick It Out Professional Players Engagement Manager Paul Mortimer said that education was "needed to prevent supporters using homophobic language." He said, "How much of a problem it is we’ll see as the season goes on but it’s definitely there and it’s something that football as a whole has to work together to quell. People need to recognize the impact that it has on fans. It’s about education more than anything -- making people aware of the impact that this has on their own fans (PA, 8/21).

A change in Scottish law intended to curb sectarian football violence is a "waste of time," according to lawyers. The Law Society of Scotland claimed that the 287 Scottish fans charged with "offensive behaviour" last year could have been dealt with under existing legislation. Labour is piloting a bill through Holyrood that would repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act, which came in after an Old Firm derby in '11 -- the so-called "shame game." A survey of 12,000 fans by Supporters Direct Scotland found that 74% of those who responded felt that the act "should be repealed" (LONDON TIMES, 8/21).

The English Football League Cup third-round draw will take place in Beijing, China, on Thursday at 4:15am BST. The seven Premier League sides playing in Europe this season, including EFL Cup holder ManU, will be "among the 32 clubs in the draw." The 16 fixtures will be played in the week commencing Sept. 18 (BBC, 8/21).

An interim court injunction has "temporarily stopped" Sierra Leone FA President Isha Johansen and three other exec committee members from running the country's football affairs "until their legitimacy to govern has been proved." The Sierra Leone High Court granted the injunction at the request of some SLFA members on the grounds that the mandate of Johansen, her two VPs -- Brima Mazola Kamara and Alie Kargbo -- and ex-officio member Alie Badara Tarawallie expired on Aug. 3 (BBC, 8/20).