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Volume 6 No. 197

International Football

FIFA struck a deal which it hopes will lead to world players' union FIFPro "withdrawing a legal complaint against the transfer system" at the European Commission, according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. FIFPro, however, said that it was "premature to talk about dropping the complaint" which it lodged in '15 and argued that the transfer system was "anti-competitive and illegal." FIFA's stakeholders' committee said after a meeting on Thursday that it "reached an agreement which would make it easier for players" to leave their clubs "if they were not being paid on time." FIFA stakeholders' committee head Victor Montagliani, the president of CONCACAF, said, "It was an issue that was stewing for a long, long time and they couldn't come to an agreement, but because of our impetus they've reached one. We all like to get paid. ... It's an employment labor issue and to me that's very important" (REUTERS, 10/19).

ADAPTING TO THE TIMES: REUTERS reported FIFA is "considering an overhaul of the rules which govern players' eligibility for national teams," including a proposal which would allow them to "switch allegiance in certain circumstances." Montagliani said that there were "issues regarding the rules," which are aimed at preventing players from switching between national teams or representing countries "they have no connection with." He said, "There are so many issues that have popped up over the years because the world is changing, immigration is changing." At present, players who have played a competitive int'l for one team "cannot switch to another national side even when they hold dual nationality" (REUTERS, 10/19).

The FA board backed CEO Martin Glenn and Chair Greg Clarke to keep their jobs "despite the crisis that has flared up over the flawed investigation into the racist abuse" of Eniola Aluko, according to Hughes, Ziegler & Rudd of the LONDON TIMES. Glenn and Clarke "are facing increased pressure to quit" after calls from, among others, Labour’s shadow sports minister for them to go, while former England player Ian Wright called for "radical change." However, a meeting of the FA board held via conference call "agreed that the pair should remain in their posts, though they will be questioned" about the "sorry saga" at a scheduled directors’ meeting next month. Glenn "in particular is under pressure" after Aluko accused him at a parliamentary hearing of actions "bordering on blackmail" to make her state that the organization was "not institutionally racist" before she would be paid the second tranche of her £80,000 ($105,400) settlement. Several FA board members "are understood to have expressed the view that Clarke and Glenn should have demonstrated more humility and been more generous in the apologies" they offered to Aluko. There "is also some sympathy for a pair who have had to deal with an unprecedented number of crises during their time in office," including the child abuse scandal, safeguarding issues and the sacking of two England managers (LONDON TIMES, 10/19).

'NOT ENOUGH': The SUNDAY TIMES reported former FA board member Heather Rabbatts said that Dan Ashworth’s position as technical director of the FA is "untenable." Ashworth, Clarke and Glenn "are under scrutiny after three inquiries were needed" to establish that former England women's team Manager Mark Sampson "made discriminatory comments" toward Aluko and teammate Drew Spence. Ashworth was responsible for the appointment of Sampson "and is also set to lead the search for his permanent successor to lead the Lionesses." Rabbatts, who stood down from her position at the FA in June, "does not believe that should be allowed to happen" and said that Ashworth had allowed a "monoculture" to develop at the national training base at St. George's Park. She said, "He has been there since 2012, these issues have been raised -- a lack of diversity, a lack of black coaches, the issue of Mark Sampson and Eni, these have all happened. This is about professional judgement. It's not that he [Ashworth] hasn't tried, but that's not enough" (SUNDAY TIMES, 10/22). 

A CLOSER LOOK: In London, Jonathan Northcroft reported football initiation ceremonies and the brutal "blooding" of young players "are being investigated by the inquiry into sex abuse in the English game." One case, involving an alleged sexual assault at Stoke City in the '80s, is being scrutinized by the lawyer leading the review, Clive Sheldon QC. He "is keen to establish" whether offenses took place there and at other clubs -- "and how managers and officials reacted to any complaints." The case involved George Blackstock, a then 16-year-old apprentice, who claims to have been dragged "kicking and screaming" to the first-team dressing room where, he alleges, "Ralgex was smeared on a goalkeeping glove which Peter Fox, the Stoke keeper, inserted up his backside" (SUNDAY TIMES, 10/22).

The Danish women's national team "called off a strike over a wage dispute" with the Danish FA (DBU) that saw a World Cup qualifier against Sweden canceled, putting the team's '19 bid "at risk." The DBU and the players' union issued a joint statement Friday saying that the two parties had "reached a temporary agreement that ensures the staging of an important match," a qualifier against Croatia on Tuesday (RTÉ, 10/20).

A reform of administrative rules and a "fairer distribution of funds" is required if European football's main club competitions are to become "more competitive," European Professional Football Leagues President Lars-Christer Olsson said on Friday. Wrapping up the EPFL conference in Tel Aviv, Olsson added, "We would like to see 40-50 clubs vying for top honors in the Champions League, rather than the 10, or so, outfits currently in contention and we think that this is something that we can bring to the table" (REUTERS, 10/20).

Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter accepted an invitation from Russia President Vladimir Putin to attend the 2018 World Cup. Blatter's 17-year spell in charge of world football's governing body ended "amid a corruption scandal" in '15 (BBC, 10/20).