La Liga President Javier Tebas "has emerged as a contender" to be the EPL's next CEO, according to Martyn Ziegler of the LONDON TIMES. Tebas, who has run La Liga since '13, "is understood to have been identified as a potential successor" to Richard Scudamore. Although Tebas has "limited English, that is not believed to be regarded as an insurmountable issue" given his "successful spell" in charge of the Spanish top flight. Tebas "has gained a reputation for revolutionary ideas" and secured a deal with promoters in the U.S. to play La Liga matches there. Tebas was offered the job to run Serie A a year ago "but stayed at La Liga after the clubs increased his pay" to around £1M ($1.31M) a year, still "well short" of the £2.6M earned by Scudamore in the '17-18 season (LONDON TIMES, 2/20).
Football Federation Australia is "pushing on" with its bid for the 2023 Women's World Cup despite FIFA's intention to return to a "behind-closed-doors decision" to award hosting rights, according to Vince Rugari of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. It comes as former FFA exec and whistleblower Bonita Mersiades challenged the governing body to show some "dignity" and withdraw from the race altogether in response to the "long-awaited release of FIFA's bidding timeline." More than 200 member associations voted on the 2026 World Cup -- which will be jointly hosted by the U.S., Canada and Mexico -- and their choices were made public. But the location for the next Women's World Cup will be "settled in private" by the 37-strong FIFA Council, headed by President Gianni Infantino, who will "come to a decision" in March '20. Mersiades said, "If FFA is genuine about its commitment to reform of FIFA into a democratic, transparent and accountable world governing body, they will say, 'Enough is enough' and withdraw from the race" (SMH, 2/20).
JAPAN TO BID: KYODO reported the Japan FA announced Wednesday it will "go forward with a long-planned bid" to host the 2023 Women's World Cup. JFA CEO Kozo Tashima said that in registering its candidacy, the JFA is "following through on a resolution" made by its board of directors in '13. Tashima: "We hope (the bid) can be realized in cooperation with the related ministries and agencies." Prospective bidders have until March 15 to register their interest (KYODO, 2/20).
The deadline for EPL side Cardiff City to pay the first installment of the £15M ($19.6M) transfer fee for Emiliano Sala was extended until Feb. 27, according to the BBC. The Bluebirds were due to make the first payment to Ligue 1 side Nantes on Wednesday, but the clubs have reportedly agreed to "a delay of one week." Nantes wrote to Cardiff on Feb. 5 with a request for the first of three installments to be paid. Cardiff said that it was withholding payment while seeking "clarification" on details of the accident and wants to "wait until crash investigations are complete." Cardiff is also querying "anomalies" in contract details, but said that it will be "honourable" with Nantes over the transfer fee if it is contractually obliged to pay. French side Bordeaux is due 50% of the fee "because of a sell-on clause" when it sold Sala to Nantes in '15. If next week's deadline is not met, then the dispute "could be referred" to FIFA (BBC, 2/20).
TROUBLE IN NANTES: OUEST-FRANCE reported Nantes’ HQ was raided by French court of audit officials on Tuesday. An investigation was opened against club President Waldemar Kita for alleged tax evasion. French audit officials confirmed the investigation, which is part of a coordinated effort with nine other countries involving 12 million files from Football Leaks (OUEST-FRANCE, 2/20).
Scottish referees "reacted furiously" to proposals to introduce officials from Wales and Northern Ireland for top-flight games. A statement released by the trade union for the refs "slammed" the Scottish FA for its failure to adequately protect officials who have been subject to "intense criticism" this season (HERALD SCOTLAND, 2/20).
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he wants FIFA to "help ensure" last year's World Cup has an "effective legacy." At a meeting with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Putin said that "ahead of us we now have a different task, to use everything that was done for the World Cup, to use it effectively, and on this issue we are also counting on your support" (AP, 2/20).