Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 7 No. 149

International Football

Amid "widespread concern that the financial gap between Europe’s elite clubs and the rest is still growing," UEFA is being asked by the continent’s domestic leagues to "alter the way it distributes the huge revenue from its competitions," according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. European Leagues, their umbrella organization, reportedly said that it wants "the unlucky 600 to get a larger slice of the cake." Fearing the system is "becoming financially unsustainable," it has also asked that UEFA end payments which are based on a club’s previous record in European competition -- "something it says creates a snowball effect." UEFA’s club competitions are expected to rake in €3.25B ($3.7B) this season "but the manner in which that money is distributed has become increasingly contentious." According to UEFA and European Leagues figures, the 32 Champions League teams will share €2.04B ($2.3B) of that amount, with Europa League participants receiving €510M ($579.4M). Only 7.3% of the total (€237.5M/$269.8M) will be distributed in so-called “solidarity payments” and split between the remaining 600 clubs (REUTERS, 12/17).

Kick It Out, the anti-racism group that battles discrimination in English football, "has seen almost two-thirds of its staff leave" since '16 amid "astonishing claims" of "bullying" at the organization, according to Matt Lawton of the London DAILY MAIL. Former staff members "described a culture of intimidation" at the company's London offices, with one senior ex-employee revealing that 10 of the 17-strong workforce "have quit." One ex-staff member said, "In some cases, staff felt it was starting to affect their mental health." Concerns about management style were expressed in exit interviews and at "senior management team level," although it is understood the term "bullying" was not specifically used by staffers in the interviews. A former staff member said, "But those concerns were ignored. The reason for losing so many staff needed to be investigated but nothing was done." Kick It Out said in a statement, "In the three years from the beginning of 2016, 10 people have left Kick It Out -- three in 2016, four in 2017 and three in 2018. None of those who opted for an exit interview raised any issues about bullying -- though of course we take all such matters extremely seriously -- and the information provided by these former members of staff is being reviewed by the trustees of the charity, along with the organisation's HR (human resources) policies" (DAILY MAIL, 12/17).

UEFA "launched an investigation into the conduct of a section of Chelsea's supporters" as it seeks to determine whether they were "guilty of an antisemitic chant" during last week's Europa League match against Vidi in Hungary, according to Dominic Fifield of the London GUARDIAN. The governing body confirmed that it commissioned an ethics and disciplinary inspector to look into "the alleged racist incidents," having scrutinized reports submitted last week by its officials, including the Macedonian referee and his assistants (GUARDIAN, 12/18). Fifield also reported Chelsea Chair Bruce Buck published an open letter to the club’s supporters condemning the actions of a "mindless" minority at recent games and vowing not to rest "until we have eliminated all forms of discrimination from our club." He said, "These actions are unacceptable and unwelcome both in our club and in football. A deeply unpleasant but vocal minority which refuses to join us in the 21st century has shamed the great majority of our decent, well-behaved fans. We have been carrying out our own investigations into these events while co-operating fully with authorities. We have already suspended four individuals pending investigations and will continue to take the strongest possible action against anybody found to have been using discriminatory words or gestures" (GUARDIAN, 12/18).

UNDER INVESTIGATION: In London, Matt Law reported Chelsea, along with the Metropolitan Police, is also investigating allegations of racist abuse being shouted at Man City’s Raheem Sterling after four men were identified and suspended by the club (TELEGRAPH, 12/18).

TALKING IT OUT: In London, Sami Mokbel reported Premier League execs "want urgent talks with prominent black players as they step up their fight against racism." EPL bosses "are seeking dialogue with a number of the Premier League's leading black stars to discuss what they believe can be done to combat racism." The league "will also seek talks with black former players as well as other leading anti-racism figureheads and bodies" (DAILY MAIL, 12/17).

'HISTORIC ALLEGATIONS': In London, Mike Keegan reported police are "investigating historic allegations that a young Chelsea footballer was the subject of a racially-aggravated assault." Detectives from the Metropolitan Police "launched a probe following a recent complaint." A Met spokesperson said, "Police received an allegation of non-recent racially-aggravated assault in September 2018. Enquiries are ongoing. There have been no arrests. We do not confirm who we have spoken to as part of an investigation" (DAILY MAIL, 12/17).

Representatives from 15 Chinese football clubs "completed a four-day fact-finding trip" to Spain on Monday, with the aim of "learning more about La Liga and its organization." Chinese Super League VP Yan Peixue said that the goal of the trip was to "ensure that the knowledge acquired in Spain can be implemented across Asia's football landscape." Yan: "La Liga is a long-established competition, and its history is unmatched, but we can learn a lot from its business organization, including the creation of a business environment between clubs" (XINHUA, 12/18).

Qatar "will not take a decision on whether to expand its 2022 World Cup to 48 teams from 32 until it has seen the details of a feasibility study from FIFA," an official from the country’s World Cup organizing committee said on Monday. Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy Assistant Secretary General Nasser Al Khater said, "FIFA is undergoing a feasibility study and is now in the consultation process and we don't have any details to know what the feasibility study has" (REUTERS, 12/17).

The FA announced replays will be scrapped from the fifth round of this season's FA Cup, "one season earlier than originally planned." The FA said that the move "would help ease fixture congestion" with six Premier League teams participating in the knockout stages of European competitions and a midweek round of EPL fixtures scheduled in late February and March (REUTERS, 12/18).

Olympique Lyonnais and Norway striker Ada Hegerberg said that football federations "must do better in giving the same opportunities and treatment to female players as they do to their male counterparts." Hegerberg became the inaugural winner of the female Ballon d’Or award earlier this month but is not currently involved in int'l football "due to a dispute with her home federation about how women’s football is treated in Norway." She said, "The male players are treated as our colleagues (at Lyon). It's that simple. Isn't that the way it should be everywhere?" (REUTERS, 12/17).