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Volume 7 No. 144

International Football

Researchers launched a “breakthrough study” costing £660,000 ($862,000) into the "potential link" between head impacts and brain disease among former professional footballers in England, according to Jeremy Wilson of the London TELEGRAPH. Funded by the Drake Foundation, academics from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Queen Mary University and the Institute of Occupational Medicine "will study 300 former players between the ages of 50 and 85 over the next two years." The Professional Footballers’ Association, which "has been strongly criticised previously by campaigners for its perceived inaction on the issue," agreed to facilitate the project with its database of former players. Researchers will assess the playing history, work history and lifestyle of the players and also conduct an "extensive range of tests," ranging from face-to-face examinations and neurological clinical tests to the option of blood samples for biomarker measurements (TELEGRAPH, 7/17).

A number of Premier League clubs have been criticized for "failing to support women working in football" after an investigation revealed that "almost half of the top flight offer only statutory maternity leave to female employees," according to Matt Hughes of the LONDON TIMES. Nine of the 20 Premier League clubs pay the legal minimum maternity cover "rather than providing contractual maternity pay." One leading club has a policy of "offering a significant financial bonus" to female staff returning to work within six months of giving birth, but pay "only statutory maternity leave to those who do not comply with these conditions." As a result, one senior female exec "left the club and no longer works in football." Of the nine Premier League clubs offering only statutory maternity pay -- 90% of their pay for six weeks followed by £145.18 ($189.63) a week for 33 weeks -- three are "reviewing their policy with a view to copying the other 11 who provide an enhanced package." All of the big six clubs offer "better maternity provision," as do the Premier League and the FA (LONDON TIMES, 7/18).

The Scottish FA is "open to submitting a joint bid" with the Home Nations to host the 2030 World Cup, "but no discussions have taken place." Former SFA CEO Stewart Regan said that an England-led proposal is "definitely on the radar." A Downing Street spokesperson said that the U.K. government "would be supportive" of a bid involving the other Home Nations. The SFA said that it is "always open-minded to the prospect of hosting major tournaments" (BBC, 7/17).

The winner of this year's African Champions League "will be given direct entry into the group phase of the next edition of the competition" in a bid by the Confederation of African Football to "alleviate" fixture congestion. CAF General Secretary Amr Fahmy said that this decision is a "one-off" and applies only to the 2018 Champions League (BBC, 7/18).

League of Ireland Premier Division side Limerick players voted in favor of industrial action "following a ballot" on Tuesday and "notice will be served on the club in the coming days." Some wages due to date have reportedly been paid and it is believed a commitment to honor "other outstanding monies due" has been made. But "no guarantees as to future payment of wages have been given and the players have reached a decision to strike with an overwhelming majority" (RTÉ, 7/17).

The resumption of Nigeria's domestic league was postponed indefinitely amid a "leadership crisis currently rocking the country's football." Chris Giwa, founder of a rival faction in the Nigerian Football Federation, armed with a court ruling from '14, "is now claiming to control the governing body." Domestic football was "due to resume" on Wednesday (BBC, 7/17).

The Sierra Leone FA said that it will be submitting a draft of its new statutes for FIFA's approval in the coming days. The delay means that an extraordinary congress scheduled for July 27 and 28 has been postponed (BBC, 7/17).