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Volume 6 No. 232

International Football

Chinese football authorities "are set to impose strict new regulations on the country’s clubs," using the threat of losing their professional licenses "as a spur" to establish a more comprehensive youth development program, according to Michael Church of REUTERS. According to Titan Sports, the Chinese FA will introduce rules in '19 that "force clubs in the top two tiers of the domestic league to create youth teams" ranging from the U13 bracket up to the U19 level. The teams would play in competitions organized by the CFA. Titan Sports claimed that "a failure to comply would see clubs forfeit their registration to play professionally." The CFA is yet to respond to a request for a comment on the matter. The move "marks the latest CFA directive to enhance the future prospects of the national team," which has "struggled to make" an int'l impact in the last decade-and-a-half (REUTERS, 12/14).

Senior execs at 21st Century Fox are alleged to have "agreed for millions of dollars in bribes to be paid" to South American football officials to secure major broadcast deals, U.S. prosecution documents unmasked by sworn testimony revealed, according to Laughland & Swaine of the London GUARDIAN. The documents form part of the "sprawling" U.S. investigation into corruption in world football, and for the first time reveal the execs' alleged role in the scheme. The three men were named in a previously unreported court filing, which alleged they took part in a "bribery-for-broadcasting-rights scheme" that is detailed by the U.S. justice department in separate documents that "shield the identities of certain organizations and individuals." U.S. prosecutors said that the multi-million dollar payments "helped an offshore partnership involving Fox -- T&T Sports Marketing Limited -- obtain the lucrative rights" to televise the Copa Libertadores. Neither Fox nor any of the identified execs have been charged by U.S. authorities. Fox Sports said in a statement that it "did not participate in any wrongdoing," but declined to answer a series of detailed questions. The company and the three execs have been accused of involvement in bribery via an ongoing civil case brought against Fox and others by rival broadcaster Gol TV. The company claims to have "unfairly lost out on media rights due to the alleged kickbacks" (GUARDIAN, 12/14).

The FA of Wales will "not take action" against CEO Jonathan Ford for comments that ruled out an English candidate to replace Chris Coleman as manager of the national team. The FAW said that it reviewed the situation and "accepted Ford's apology after he clarified the comments made in an interview earlier this month" (REUTERS, 12/14).

Russia President Vladimir Putin said that he was "confident that Russia would have everything ready to host" the 2018 World Cup as it has a "vast experience in holding major sports events." He said, "I am sure that everything will be up to standard and on time" (REUTERS, 12/14).

The Asian Football Confederation said that Lao Toyota "will not be eligible to participate in the 2018 AFC Cup because of the Laos club’s previous involvement in match-fixing." The AFC said that the club was involved in match-fixing during the '15 and '16 AFC Cup seasons (REUTERS, 12/14).

The French Professional Football League (LFP) administrative council validated the use of video-assistant referee technology in Ligue 1 for the ’18-19 season. Subject to approval by the Int’l FA Board, which is currently testing the system in several federations and leagues, the LFP will deploy VAR in all Ligue 1 matches next season, with the assistance of a provider that remains to be chosen. Since the start of the ’16-17 season, a VAR test phase has been in place as well as training for referees (LFP).