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Volume 7 No. 149

International Football

A-League side Sydney FC "established ­another battle line" in its opposition to A-League hopeful Southern Expansion after announcing a memorandum of understanding to promote football in the Illawarra and South Coast regions of NSW, according to Ray Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. In "yet another clear message" that hardens its stance against Southern Expansion joining the national competition, Sydney FC Chair Scott Barlow "also gave unqualified support" for former National Soccer League club Wollongong Wolves to bid for "a stand-alone A-League licence in the years to come." The club said that the agreement would facilitate "the Wolves becoming a feeder club for the Sky Blues and further cements the long-running relationship." Barlow "did not let the opportunity slip to take a pointed dig at the expansion bid," declaring Sydney FC now "has existing agreements" with the St. George, Sutherland Shire and Wollongong regions to "further develop the game at the grassroots" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/27). In Sydney, Tom Smithies reported Southern Expansion CEO Chris Gardiner accused Sydney FC of "trying to kill off his consortium," and described Wolves as "angry and hurting" from the failure of its own bid to join the A-League. The exchanges "marked a fresh wave of efforts by all parties to shore up their positions" ahead of the choice of two new A-League teams by Football Federation Australia next month, with Sydney FC "adamant" the Southern Expansion bid would cannibalize its support. Asked about Southern Expansion's plans to play games and grow a membership base in the Illawarra, Wolves coach Luke Wilkshire was "scathing." Wilkshire said, "Everyone I’ve come across in this region believes we deserve a standalone (A-League) team, not a bit part of a bid. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that Southern Expansion are not welcome in Wollongong" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 11/27).

NO WORRIES: In Sydney, Vince Rugari reported when asked how Southern Expansion "could win hearts and minds in the Illawarra when the Wolves are so opposed" to it and the social media reaction to its announcements is "so overwhelmingly negative," Gardiner suggested there was a "well-organized" campaign against the bid -- although he "declined to say" who organized it. Gardiner said, "We're very comfortable that when we get the license, the momentum will swing and people will join our club and come to our games. We're not worried about a small rebel on social media who stick it up us every time we make an announcement" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 11/27).

SITTING IT OUT: Rugari also reported two of the new directors on the FFA board "are likely to recuse themselves" from the final vote on A-League expansion next month due to "potential conflicts of interest" with one of the bids. Remo Nogarotto and Joseph Carrozzi, who were elected to the FFA board at last week's AGM, are "carefully considering their positions" ahead of the Dec. 12 meeting when a decision on expansion "is likely to be made." Both Nogarotto and Carrozzi have assisted the combined Macarthur-South West Sydney bid "in some capacity through their professional lives," although neither has "held an official position nor a financial interest." But Nogarotto is a managing director of consulting firm Crosby Textor, which authored the consortium's bid document (SMH, 11/27).

The second leg of the Copa Libertadores final between Boca Juniors and River Plate will be played outside of Argentina on Dec. 8 or 9 at a venue "yet to be confirmed," CONMEBOL announced, according to the London GUARDIAN. Boca President Daniel Angelici "adopted a stubborn stance" in a meeting at CONMEBOL's HQ in Asunción, Paraguay, and delivered a letter "formally requesting" that River be disqualified from the competition and for the second leg "not to be played at all." He added that he would appeal the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport "if needed." River President Rodolfo D’Onofrio "was also in attendance," as was Paraguayan FA (APF) President Robert Harrison, "leading to speculation the match could be played in Asunción," but Brazil and Italy "have also offered to host the second leg." CONMEBOL President Alejandro Domínguez "hinted on Monday that the twice-postponed match may be moved to a neutral venue" when he said that the "equal" conditions that Boca demanded "could not be guaranteed." He said, "The conditions to play in Argentina are not right. Football is not about violence, it is decided with goals" (GUARDIAN, 11/27).

LEGAL ACTION: REUTERS' Hugh Bronstein reported Argentina President Mauricio Macri on Monday "called for Congress to pass a bill in special session that would crack down" on hooliganism. He wants a law that would "more severely punish the kind of violence" that took place in Buenos Aires on Saturday. The riot was "especially embarrassing to the country as it prepares to host a summit of the G20 bloc of nations on Friday." A "visibly angry" Macri went on TV to denounce criminal organizations, called "Barras Bravas," that are known for "dealing drugs, extorting rank-and-file fans and demanding protection money from small businesses located near stadiums" (REUTERS, 11/26).