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Volume 10 No. 24

International Football

A-League club owners are set to take Football Federation Australia's board to court "in an attempt to seek an injunction" against the organization's final attempt to "push through its preferred model for a new congress," according to Dominic Bossi of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The FFA board announced an extraordinary general meeting will be held on Nov. 1 where it "hopes to present, and gain approval for, a controversial 9-4-1-1 congress, despite not having the required support of clubs and the professional players." It is the "last roll of the dice" from the organization before it will be removed by FIFA, which confirmed it will put in place a "normalising committee" by Nov. 30 that will disband the FFA leadership should it fail to increase its membership to "become more inclusive and democratic." However, in a letter sent on Monday, A-League clubs accused the FFA board and Chair Steven Lowy of "gerrymandering" the process by attempting to circumvent FIFA's requirements for a new membership tier of FFA. Adelaide United Chair Greg Griffin said, "We wil be seeking injunctive relief against the FFA" (SMH, 10/11). In Sydney, Tom Smithies reported FFA called an EGM to "try to force through a new power structure." Clubs reportedly sent Lowy a letter on Sunday "demanding that he not call an EGM." The clubs already warned the state federations that they "would sue them if they called an EGM, and in the letter turned their fire on Lowy and his existing board." The clubs wrote, "It beggars belief that the board of FFA ... could contemplate using its powers under the constitution to call the EGM." With Professional Footballers Australia siding with the clubs, it means there is "complete gridlock at the top of the game, with FIFA now looking certain to have to step in" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 10/11).

The detective in charge of Sweden’s match-fixing investigation "believes criminal networks are using agents to put pressure on players to fix games," according to Martyn Ziegler of the LONDON TIMES. A former Premier League player is reportedly at the center of an investigation "into match-fixing in Sweden's top division." Fredrik Gardare, the detective chief inspector who is leading the Swedish police investigation into organized crime, said that "the money in football was attracting criminals." He said, "Football involves a lot of money and the fees paid to these agents have increased, and that has attracted individuals with whom police are already well familiar. The ones that do the match-fixing are separate networks but they have contact with each other. It’s reasonable to think that if you already have something on a player or a manager you can make use of that for match-fixing." The former Premier League player was voluntarily interviewed by Swedish police after an AIK vs. Gothenburg match "was called off in May following an attempt to make the AIK goalkeeper, Kenny Stamatopoulos, underperform." The investigation is "in its final phase," according to Gardare, and prosecutors are expected to announce a decision on any charges within the next four weeks (LONDON TIMES, 10/11).

Wales' World Cup "misery was compounded" on Wednesday after UEFA revealed the national side "had been pipped" by the Netherlands to a place in the top division of its new Nations League, according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. Wales had been "on course to challenge the likes of England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France for the inaugural title" in European football's third major int'l competition but lost out by "less than 600 coefficient points." The results of the past week's World Cup qualifiers "cemented each country's starting position in the Nations League" -- a biennial four-division tournament which replaces friendly matches from September. Joining England, Germany, Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands in League A will be Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, Poland, Iceland and Croatia. Teams play their group rivals home and away between September and November, with the winners advancing to a finals tournament that will take place in June '19 and will feature semifinals, a third-place playoff and the final itself "to determine the inaugural Nations League champion." A "streamlined qualification stage of the European Championship will be sandwiched between the Nations League" from March-Nov. '19 and will consist of 10 groups, with the top two teams progressing automatically to the finals (TELEGRAPH, 10/11).

Qatari officials hit back at the attempt by rival Middle Eastern countries to "take the 2022 World Cup away from them." Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE cut off ties from Qatar and blockaded the state, "accusing it of supporting terrorism and sowing discord in the region." Now they are "trying to put pressure on Qatar’s hosting the 2022 World Cup," demanding that if they give up the tournament they "would lift their sanctions." But Qatar insisted that there was "absolutely no prospect of that happening" (London INDEPENDENT, 10/11).

Hong Kong football supporters "again jeered China’s national anthem on Tuesday as tensions between sections of the city’s population and the mainland Chinese authorities continue to simmer." A group of fans at Hong Kong Stadium for the Asian Cup qualifying match against Malaysia booed during "The March of the Volunteers" in a "continuing show of defiance" that began in '14 (REUTERS, 10/10).

Scottish businesses from football to farming "voiced their fears about the impact of Brexit on staffing, profitability and growth." A Scottish Government report draws together the concerns of firms and "calls for their voices to be heard" as the U.K. negotiates leaving the European Union. The freedom of movement is "also a concern for the Scottish Professional Football League" (SCOTSMAN, 10/11).

Panama President Juan Carlos Valera declared Wednesday a public holiday in the country after the national team qualified for its first ever World Cup. Valera wrote on Twitter after the game, "The voice of the people has been heard; celebrate Panama's historic day. Tomorrow will be a national holiday" (ESPN.com, 10/11).

FIFA suspended Pakistan from int'l football because of "government interference." FIFA said that the Pakistan federation's "offices and its accounts remain in control of a court-appointed administrator." Rules imposed by FIFA and its members "prohibit outside influence on its independence" (AP, 10/11).

Five amateur referees have resigned from the Central Wales FA with six more "seriously considering" their resignation. Referees in mid-Wales said that it was "because of the level of abuse directed towards them during games." It also caused "a shortage in referees" at games at grassroots level (BBC, 10/11).