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Volume 6 No. 212

International Football

The BBC's Price of Football Study found that more than 80% of ticket prices in the Premier League have been "either reduced or frozen" for the '17-18 season, according to the BBC. Average season ticket prices across English football's top flight "are at their lowest levels" since '13, having fallen for the second consecutive year following a record £8.3B ($11B) global TV rights deal signed last season. However, replica shirt prices have "continued to rise" in the Premier League this season, with the average adult shirt now costing more than £50 ($66) for the first time, while the average cost of a junior shirt has topped £40 ($53). Now in its seventh year, the BBC Sport study requested information from 232 clubs across England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Europe, "which is a wider remit than any previous years." Premier League away fans are "still guaranteed to pay no more" than £30 ($39.56) on their travels after a price cap was introduced last season. Supporters are "paying more for food and drink at Premier League grounds." More than half of clubs "increased the price of their pies, while the average cost of a cup of tea has also gone up." The "cheapest day out in men's football in England is at Liverpool," where a ticket, pie, tea and program could cost as little as £18.40 ($24.26). Arsenal has the "most expensive matchday ticket" at £95.50 ($125.93) -- but "this has been reduced from last season." The cheapest pie in the Premier League is at Chelsea, for £2.50 ($3.30) -- but that has to be "ordered through an app." The most expensive pie is at Tottenham, but the £4.30 ($5.67) price is set by Wembley, which is the club's home this season. The cost of replica football shirts "continues to rise," for both adult and junior ranges, by more than 2%. Man City, ManU and Tottenham all sell the "most expensive adult shirts" at £60 ($79). ManU sells the most expensive junior shirt at £50. Burnley offers the cheapest adult and junior shirts at £40 and £32 ($42), respectively (BBC, 11/16). 

League Championship: The BBC also reported the average cost of a single home matchday ticket to watch football in the League Championship has fallen for the '17-18 season. The Price of Football 2017 study showed the average cheapest adult matchday ticket price is down from £22.11 to £20.58 ($27.14) (BBC, 11/16).

League One: Average season ticket and single matchday ticket prices in League One "have been cut" for the '17-18 season. The cheapest season ticket, on average, costs £279.58 ($368.65) -- down from £283.56 last season. The average cost of the cheapest home adult matchday ticket is £19.19 ($25.30), compared to last year's £20.10 (BBC, 11/15).

League Two: The cost of watching football in League Two has "risen more than in any other English league" for the '17-18 season. The average cost in nine areas of pricing has gone up, "while only the cheapest matchday tickets and junior shirts have, on average, been reduced" (BBC, 11/15).

Women's Super League: The Women's Super League saw the "highest increases in prices across all ticket categories," but remains the cheapest league to watch live football in Britain in '17-18. The study found both tiers saw a 23% rise in the average cost of the cheapest season ticket -- but all season ticket prices still range from £25 ($33) to £70 ($92). Matchday tickets range from "as little as" £4 ($5.27) up to £10 ($13.19) for Women's Super League 1 and 2. In WSL2, the average cheapest season ticket is £39 ($51.43), up from £31.60 (BBC, 11/15).

Scottish Football: Average season ticket prices have "risen in three of the four divisions in Scottish football" for '17-18. The cheapest and "most expensive season ticket prices are, on average, up in every league except the Championship, where both have fallen." The lowest home and away matchday ticket averages have "also increased in the top three divisions, but both categories have decreased in League Two" (BBC, 11/15).

Irish Premiership: Season ticket prices in the Irish Premiership "have risen." The cheapest average season ticket has gone up from £140.91 to £148.33 ($195.59), while the most expensive has increased from £145.91 to £151.67 ($200). However, the Irish Premiership "remains the second cheapest league to watch men's football" in the U.K. (BBC, 11/15).

Welsh Premier League: Season ticket prices in the Welsh Premier League have risen for the '17-18 season, but it "remains the cheapest league in Britain to watch men's football." For the third consecutive year, WPL fans are "paying the least to watch their teams." However, the average cost of the cheapest season ticket in the league has "risen by more than 10%" (BBC, 11/15).

Young Adult Fans: The BBC's study found the majority of ticket prices have been frozen or have fallen -- "yet a poll of young adult football fans suggests the cost is still putting them off." The BBC asked 1,000 18-24-year-old fans living in Britain "how they engage with football," and 82% said that the costs of tickets was "an obstacle to them going to more matches." The annual study found 135 clubs out of 190 in England, Scotland and Wales offer reduced prices for teenagers and young adults. But 55% of the fans polled said that they had "stopped going completely or go to fewer games because it was too expensive" (BBC, 11/15).

China’s national football team Manager Marcello Lippi forced the Chinese FA to "publish an official denial" on Thursday after the Italian revealed in an interview that the country is set to bid for the 2030 World Cup, according to the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. Lippi "reflected on his disappointment at missing out on a spot" at the 2018 World Cup in Russia before revealing that plans were "already in place for the country to launch a bid to bring the quadrennial tournament to China for the first time" in '30. The news "came as a surprise" as Chinese officials have "so far resisted calls" to comment on whether the country will "look to host" the '30 edition of the tournament, as "many analysts have predicted." The CFA "moved quickly to quash talk" of an imminent bid for the '30 tournament. A CFA statement said, "We reiterate that the FA did not say which World Cup it will bid for. This kind of information is not officially confirmed and is the media's interpretations" (SCMP, 11/16).

China Central TV's recent acquisition of exclusive rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups is "more evidence of the game's growing popularity" in the country -- and "FIFA knows it," according to Sun Xiaochen of CHINA DAILY. FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said, "It's no secret that China has a key role in our strategy to develop football around the globe. It must play. How could we even dream of achieving this without focusing on 1.4 billion fans and fans-to-be of the beautiful game in China?" FIFA set a target of involving 60% of the world's population in football through '26, and developing the grassroots game in China "forms a key part of that strategy." Samoura added, "China is only starting to unseal its potential and its power to further increase the game's popularity. This is a beautiful blossoming process" (CHINA DAILY, 11/15).

Peru "declared a national holiday after its first World Cup qualification in 36 years," according to the BBC. The country took the final qualifying spot for next year's tournament by beating New Zealand 2-0 in a playoff in Lima on Wednesday. President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski tweeted his congratulations to the team.

Public sector workers were "given the day off and schools will not open" (BBC, 11/16).

RIPPLE EFFECT: The NEW ZEALAND HERALD reported Peru's joy at qualifying "resulted in seismic celebrations." The reactions after Jefferson Farfan's opening goal "were so forceful that several earthquake-detection apps were alerted to a potential natural disaster." The Spanish version of the Earthquake Network app reportedly "sent out an alert moments after Farfan's goal." However, "it was quickly discovered" that "the tremor was a result of the celebrations as Peru took the lead" (NZ HERALD, 11/16).

NO EXCUSES: In Auckland, Jason Pine reported New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson "expressed his frustration at aspects of his side's buildup" to its loss. Delayed "and diverted flights, tardy bus drivers, lost gate keys, early morning fireworks and military flyovers were just some of what New Zealand had to deal with" during the team's time in Lima. Hudson: "I'm always really honest and I probably shouldn't be at times, but I think it's been poor." He added, "It's been unbelievable. We didn't sleep at all last night with the fireworks. Today I thought I'd grab a quick hour's sleep by the pool and all of a sudden all these jet fighter planes are flying past and the pilots are taking selfies in the planes with their Peru shirts on. But never once in the two or three days here in Peru have we used that as an excuse" (NZ HERALD, 11/16).

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that "FIFA was wrong" to fine Mexico's football federation for fans chanting gay slurs at opposing goalkeepers at World Cup qualifying games. CAS said that although the chants are "insulting words," FIFA helped create a "wrong -- but legitimate -- understanding" that cases would not be punished (AP, 11/16).

Wales national women's football team Manager Jayne Ludlow said that the controversy surrounding Mark Sampson's dismissal as England women's manager has "detracted from the team's achievements and the women's game." Wales will play England in April in a 2019 World Cup qualifier (BBC, 11/16).

Qatar set a temporary minimum wage for migrant workers "worth around $200 a month," its labor minister said Thursday, a "benchmark reform following widespread criticism" of Doha's preparations for the 2022 World Cup. Issa al-Nuaimi said that the "temporary minimum wage of 750 riyals ($195) per month will immediately come into effect," while officials work on setting a permanent rate. He added that laborers will also receive free accommodation, food and healthcare plans covered by employers (AFP, 11/16).