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Volume 6 No. 212

International Football

Italian Football Federation (FIGC) President Carlo Tavecchio resigned on Monday, "a week after the national team failed to qualify for the World Cup finals for the first time in 60 years," according to Rossi, Binnie & Scherer of REUTERS. Tavecchio, 74, had been "under pressure to step down after a goalless draw at home to Sweden meant Italy missed out on the World Cup" for the first time since '58. Coach Gian Piero Ventura was sacked last Wednesday. An "angry" Tavecchio said that he resigned because he "lost political support within the FIGC, not because of the team's results on the field." He said, "I didn’t think for an instant. I resigned and I resigned as a political act to the Council, certainly not for sporting reasons. I asked the members of the Federal Council to resign as well and nobody did, they left me on my own." Often referring to himself in the third person, he said that he had been the "victim of persecution by the media." He said, "The only thing missing was Tavecchio on the cross." He also said that Italy's elimination had "affected him personally as an ordinary fan." Tavecchio: "Carlo Tavecchio was very upset, but not as the head of the soccer federation, but as Carlo Tavecchio." He added that it had not been his decision to appoint Ventura, a "journeyman coach" who had never coached AC Milan, Inter Milan or Juventus "nor won a major title at club level." He said, "Now, everyone knows that I wasn't the one who chose Ventura. (But) Tavecchio pays because of Ventura" (REUTERS, 11/20).

TAKING CHARGE: FOOTBALL ITALIA reported Italian Olympic Committee President Giovanni Malago said that he "has a mandate to take interim charge of the FIGC." Tavecchio insisted that he "would continue for another 90 days," although Malago "asserted the rules stated otherwise." Malago: "There is a willingness to take charge the Federcalcio, as the rules state. For me, it's the only solution. The facts are clear and objective. If there had been a Federal Council that was compact and strong, there could be other solutions" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 11/20).

Tuesday "marks five years until the 2022 World Cup kicks off in Lusail Stadium, on the outskirts of Doha," according to Martyn Ziegler of the LONDON TIMES. For most World Cup organizers, venues, costs and construction work "cause the biggest headaches." In Qatar, "the migraines run deeper." The 2022 World Cup has become a "central issue in the geopolitical struggle that has divided the Gulf region." The blockade imposed on Qatar in June by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE was "initially over allegations that it was supporting terrorism." Since then, however, Dubai's head of general security "suggested that the blockade would be lifted if Qatar surrendered the World Cup." There have also been "anonymous, funded campaigns on social media attacking Qatar's suitability as host." Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy Secretary General Hassan al-Thawadi paused when asked if the blockade is "partly connected to Qatar's hosting of the tournament." He said, "I honestly don't know. At times, certain actions seem to indicate that that's the case." It is the "latest challenge" for Qatar after "several controversies, not least that the entire football calendar will be rescheduled to accommodate a winter tournament." There is also the "crucial issue of migrant workers' rights, a stain on the Gulf region for years that Qatar has been forced to address after being named host." There have been "positive signs," such as the Int'l Labour Organisation this month dropping a complaint and the Int'l Trade Union Confederation welcoming "the breakthrough from the government of Qatar to end the kafala system of modern slavery." Al-Thawadi: "Of course there are issues. The ILO decision is very welcome as it's recognition of the progress Qatar has made and the commitments it has made, but there is no doubt in my mind that there is more to be done" (LONDON TIMES, 11/20).

'SEPARATE POLITICS': REUTERS' Hadeel Al Sayegh reported Qatar is "urging the four countries imposing a diplomatic and trade boycott against it to allow their nationals to attend the World Cup" in '22, according to al-Thawadi. He said, "We separate politics from sports. We hope that the blockading nations see reason in this matter and allow for their people to be able to participate in this once in a lifetime opportunity" (REUTERS, 11/20).

Kick It Out said that football "needs to use its popularity to further push out discrimination from the sport." The organization outlined initiatives to help push out prejudice and hatred in its "Football in pursuit of equality, inclusion and cohesion" report. Kick It Out Chair Herman Ouseley said, "There is an apparent willingness and mood among the various football bodies to move the equality, inclusion and cohesion agenda forward with real vigor and meaningfulness because of the potential value and benefits for the game" (SKY SPORTS, 11/20).

Premier League side West Ham United supporters are "being urged to stop calling 999 to complain after their team loses." The club suffered a 2-0 defeat by Watford on Sunday, leaving West Ham without an EPL win in five games and "in the relegation zone" (BBC, 11/20).

Spanish Footballers' Association (AFE) President Luis Rubiales confirmed his resignation from the role to run for president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). David Aganzo will replace Rubiales as president of the AFE. Rubiales had served as president of the players' association since March '10 (EFE, 11/20).