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Volume 7 No. 129

International Football

In a FIFA election where "money could be key," Morocco tried to "heap doubt" on North American promises of multi-billion dollar 2026 World Cup profits on Monday, according to the AP. Moroccan "jibes at projections" from the U.S.-Canada-Mexico bid came when leaders of the rival campaigns met voters from five of FIFA's six continental groups. Of North American pledges of $14.3B revenue for FIFA, Morocco Football Federation President Fouzi Lekjaa said, "There is lots of uncertainty. That doesn't correspond either to historical facts or future extrapolation, it's an exercise that goes beyond that." Money "will not be the only factor." A FIFA-appointed panel assessing the two candidates already noted the "significantly higher" number than Morocco's projected income of $7.2B for football's governing body from a 48-team tournament. Morocco's "counterattack" is that $5B "pure profit" for FIFA would be a World Cup record (AP, 6/12).

AUSSIE SUPPORT: In Sydney, Dominic Bossi reported Football Federation Australia will "throw its support" behind the World Cup returning to North America. It is understood FFA's support of the tri-nation bid stems from its belief that it is a "superior option from a technical and logistical view," while close social and political ties between Australia and the U.S. will have "eased" the decision (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 6/12).

Football Federation Australia delayed the announcement of the A-League expansion shortlist "after some bids were asked to provide more financial details," according to Ray Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. FFA was expected to reduce the number of candidates from 15 to around six on Tuesday, but it is "now unlikely to go public" with the decision until later in the week or by early next week. An FFA spokesperson confirmed Deloitte, which was appointed as lead adviser in late April to assist with the process of A-League expansion for the '19-20 season, had "gone back to the contenders seeking further clarification." The spokesperson said, "It's going to take a few more days (before the shortlist is revealed)." Some applicants have reportedly been asked to "submit more details concerning financial modelling, money in the bank and what they might be prepared to pay" for a license. A decision on the two franchises to be included in a revamped 12-team A-League will be made in October, though there have been calls for FFA to "upgrade to a 14-team set-up if there are four quality bids" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 6/13).

A report found Brazil ranks 13th in terms of percentage of population interested in football.

Brazil's reputation as a football-mad country was "dented" by a report which found that "only" 60% of those interviewed said that they were "interested in the sport," according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. The UAE topped the list compiled by Nielsen Sports, which ranked 30 countries according to the percentage of the population "who described themselves as interested in football." The UAE, where the figure was 80%, was followed by Thailand (78%) and Chile, Portugal and Turkey (all 75%), while five-time world champion Brazil ranked "a modest 13th." The Brazilian figure dropped from 72% in '13, the year before the country hosted the World Cup. The report said that the figure for China increased from 27% in '13 to 32% in '17, in India from 30% to 45% and in the U.S. from 28% to 32%. The U.K., despite boasting the Premier League, "was a modest 17th in the rankings," with 51% (REUTERS, 6/12).

Football agents told FIFA "they do not want an income cap but would welcome more regulation as part of new transfer proposals." More than 120 agents met FIFA, UEFA and FA officials following FIFA's concerns about money "flowing out of the football industry." Association of Football Agents Chair Mike Miller said, "If everyone in football was capped, it would make sense" (BBC, 6/11).

FIFA Deputy Secretary General Zvonimir Boban "justified the world governing body’s modest punishments for racism and dismissed fears" among England players that there will be further incidents at the World Cup. The former AC Milan midfielder said that the fines given to Russia and other offending nations in recent seasons "had been small because countries should not be punished heavily" because of a “few idiots." Boban’s comments "drew a withering response" from anti-discrimination organization Kick It Out, which said that it was "laughable" to claim FIFA's efforts to combat racism "had been adequate" (LONDON TIMES, 6/12).

At least 20 people have been arrested by Spanish police over allegations of match-fixing in football, Spanish newspapers El Confidencial and El País reported on Tuesday. In February, 31 people were detained in Spain on charges of being part of an illegal Chinese betting syndicate (REUTERS, 6/12).

The Asian Football Confederation will open an office in Doha, Qatar, to assist with preparations for the 2022 World Cup. The AFC will provide administrative, organizational and technical support to the World Cup host (AFC).