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Volume 6 No. 193

International Football

Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin's players and officials "took a knee" to show their support for "an open-minded world" before their 2-0 loss against Schalke on Saturday, according to the BBC. The club said in a tweet, "Hertha BSC stands for tolerance and responsibility."

Hertha's Sebastian Langkamp said, "We are living in the 21st century, not the 18th century, but there are some people who haven't developed their ideologies accordingly. If we can give them a bit of help in doing so, then that's good" (BBC, 10/14). FOX NEWS reported Hertha's coaching staff "also took the knee along with their players." The club’s announcer told fans in attendance, "Berlin is colorful. Hertha BSC stands for diversity and against violence. For this reason, we are joining forces with the protest of our fellow American athletes to take a stand against discrimination. For a tolerant Berlin, both now and forevermore" (FOX NEWS, 10/14).

A Sardinian villa valued at €7M ($8.3M) was allegedly what Paris St. Germain Chair Nasser al-Khelaifi used to bribe a top FIFA official, according to the AP. Italian police said on Friday that they "seized the luxury property" they claim Khelaifi made available to former FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke. Details of the alleged corruption were revealed one day after Swiss federal prosecutors "oversaw evidence-gathering raids in four European countries for a widening investigation" of FIFA and the '18-22 World Cup bidding contests won by Russia and Qatar. Criminal proceedings have been opened against al-Khelaifi and Valcke "for suspected bribery and forgery linked to awarding broadcast rights for the next four World Cups." Al-Khelaifi is CEO of the Qatar-owned beIN Media Group, which has World Cup rights across the Middle East through '30, including the '22 tournament in Qatar. Italy's finance police said in a statement that the villa in Porto Cervo was owned by an int'l real estate company and eight people were questioned. A police video showed a sequestration order on the villa's gate. Investigators believe the property was for the use of Valcke (AP, 10/13). L’ÉQUIPE reported Valcke said, "I have received nothing from Nasser." Suspected of receiving "undue advantages," the Frenchman was released after questioning in Switzerland and has "refuted all accusations" (L’ÉQUIPE, 10/13). L’ÉQUIPE also reported al-Khelaifi "wants to explain himself to the Swiss magistrates as soon as possible." His lawyers are expected to request an appointment with the officials this week. By the end of the month, al-Khelaifi "could be heard by the Swiss authorities." In his defense, a beIN Media Group spokesperson said that "the financials (of the beIN Media contract) were as advantageous as possible for FIFA." The company added, without providing numbers, that the amount beIN paid for the 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights in Middle East and North Africa was "higher than previous deals." The spokesperson also said that to obtain these rights "there was no competition," and therefore no tender launched (L’ÉQUIPE, 10/15).

ManU Manager José Mourinho said that he "does not believe he will finish his career at the Premier League club." He "has never spent more than four years in one spell at any of his seven clubs." Mourinho also said he thought that Paris St. Germain was a "fantastic" club (BBC, 10/15).

Former England Manager Sam Allardyce "has ruled himself out of contention to be Scotland's next boss." The 62-year-old "took charge of just one game as England manager" after taking over in July '16. Scotland is "looking for a new manager" after Gordon Strachan left his position last week (BBC, 10/15).

FIFA extended the int'l window
by a day to allow New Zealand and Peru more time "for the logistics of playing their long-haul World Cup playoff in November." Oceania champion New Zealand will host Peru at Wellington Regional Stadium on Nov. 11 in the first leg, with the second leg to be played in Lima on Nov. 15, New Zealand Football confirmed. NZF CEO Andy Martin said in a statement, "With what is at stake -- a place in the FIFA World Cup -- we are pleased that FIFA have extended the window by a day and ensured that both teams will have a chance to travel, recover from their jet-lag" (REUTERS, 10/15).