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Volume 6 No. 263

International Football

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin "revealed talks will begin on plans to curb financial excesses in football," which could lead to "a form of salary cap being introduced across the European game and strict limits placed on agents’ fees," according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. Čeferin said that "a ­series of meetings with key stakeholders would seek to introduce rules" to stop the world’s richest clubs from "signing all the best players." With Alexis Sánchez having ­"become the highest-paid footballer ever in England" on more than £600,000 ($839,000) a week at ManU, Čeferin confirmed the new measures to be discussed include a "luxury tax," with which clubs "would be fined for exceeding a specified wage bill." Also on the agenda "will be curbs on the number of players a team could own or sign on loan," a move that would prevent the likes of Chelsea from "hoarding young talent." Europe’s political leaders blocked former UEFA President Michel Platini from introducing "a more traditional salary cap almost a decade ago," but Čeferin was "confident a luxury tax could be implemented without their approval." He said, "I'm fed up of politicians saying, ‘Do something for competitive balance,' and then, when you speak to Brussels, they say, ‘Ah, but everything is forbidden by the EU law.' We have some sporting measures that we can establish without politicians" (TELEGRAPH, 1/22).

Morocco "launched its campaign to host the 2026 World Cup in Casablanca," according to the BBC. The North African nation, making its fifth bid to host the tournament, "faces competition from a joint bid" proposed by Canada, Mexico and the U.S. Bid Chair Moulay Hafid Elalamy said, "Morocco 2026 will showcase the best of football, at the heart of the world." The decision on who will host the event will be made on June 13, the eve of the 2018 World Cup in Moscow. Elalamy said, "A World Cup in Morocco will deliver commercial success and leave a long-lasting legacy and if we win the honor of hosting, we believe the winners will be football, the young people of our nation, Africa and the world." Morocco "has failed in four previous World Cup bids" -- in '94, '98, '06 and '10 (BBC, 1/23).

The dates for "the next stage in the battle for the control of football in Australia" have been set, with FIFA and Asian Football Confederation officials "arriving in a month’s time to try to end the impasse," according to Tom Smithies of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. In "the wake of the collapse" of Football Federation Australia Chair Steven Lowy’s proposed model for "the power structure at the top of the game," the FIFA/AFC delegation will hold a series of meetings with various stakeholders from Feb. 20-22. The joint delegation "is a second attempt by FIFA and the AFC to find a new model for Australia’s Congress," the voting body with the power to elect the directors of FFA. The talks next month are likely to center on a "far wider representation at Congress," with the National Premier Leagues clubs and other interest groups "seeking an audience with FIFA." So far, though, the demands of the A-League clubs and the players' association for extra votes "have been resisted by Lowy, under whose model the bulk of votes would remain with the states" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 1/22).

The video assistant referee system "has been accurate in 98.9% of decisions so far during its two-year worldwide trial," the Int'l FA Board said. An IFAB report said that VAR was used in 804 competitive matches in more than 20 competitions. It said that the technology "increased the accuracy of decisions that can be reviewed from 93% to 98.9%" (BBC, 1/22).

The IFAB said on Monday that a final decision on the use of VAR "would be made in March." VAR has been on trial in various competitions around the world, including Serie A, the Bundesliga and the Confederations Cup, since last year, "with mixed results" (REUTERS, 1/22).

The FA is allowing Peter Beardsley to study for his UEFA A license despite his suspension by Premier League side Newcastle United "after allegations of racism and bullying from several of the club’s academy players." Newcastle’s U23 manager spent three days in the FA’s course at St. George’s Park from Jan. 14-16 after "being placed on gardening leave the previous week" (LONDON TIMES, 1/23).

Scottish Premiership side Celtic midfielder Scott Brown revealed that dialogue has started with the Professional Footballers' Association and top-flight Scottish clubs "with regard to establish a statutory four-week break at the end of every season." The move will "inevitably draw clubs into conflict" with the Scottish FA, which this week confirmed friendlies against Peru and Mexico that are to be played at the end of May and the beginning of June, respectively (HERALD SCOTLAND, 1/23).