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Volume 7 No. 149

International Football

A-League expansion bid Southern Expansion "acted on a last-ditch push from Football Federation Australia" to "join forces with the other remaining A-League bid in Sydney ahead of a possible boardroom decision on Wednesday," according to Vince Rugari of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. FFA last week encouraged Southern Expansion to "consider linking up with Macarthur-South West Sydney, an already merged entity" made up from two separate groups from the region that had been bidding separately. Southern, which is bankrolled by Hong Kong-listed conglomerate the JiaYuan Group, was "resistant" to FFA's idea to begin with "but explored it anyway" and was "promptly knocked back." Macarthur-South West Sydney co-Chair Gino Marra confirmed he received a call on Friday from Southern CEO Chris Gardiner, who asked if his group would "be interested in joining forces, but politely rejected his approach." FFA CEO David Gallop "declined to comment." The amalgamation would have "vastly increased the financial power behind the Macarthur-South West bid, which is already backed by billionaire property developer Lang Walker." If successful, the expansion club "would have abandoned the Southern region altogether" and played its games at Campbelltown Stadium (SMH, 12/9).

The second leg of the Copa Libertadores final between Boca Juniors and River Plate at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu stadium on Sunday drew a number of big names from the int'l football world, according to MARCA. Lionel Messi traveled from Barcelona to "watch the game in a private box for 12 family members and friends." Atlético Madrid Manager Diego Simeone, the former River coach, was also in attendance along with club CEO Miguel Ángel Gil Marín and players Ángel Correa and Antoine Griezmann. Other attendees included FIFA President Gianni Infantino, CONMEBOL President Alejandro Domínguez, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) President Luis Rubiales and Real Madrid President Florentino Pérez (MARCA, 12/9).

Afghanistan’s Attorney General suspended the head of the Afghan Football Federation after a "probe into allegations of sexual abuse" of members of the national women’s football team. Jamshid Rasouli, a spokesperson for the attorney general, said that the officials were suspended "following a recommendation from the team set up to investigate the incident" (REUTERS, 12/9).

The Premier League is bringing digital learning programs and football-themed student engagement activities to elementary schools in the U.S. Premier League Primary Stars USA will be made available to more than 100 schools across five cities starting in January. The initiative is based on Premier League Primary Stars, which was launched in the U.K. in '17 (Premier League).