FIFA President Sepp Blatter will try to get 75 percent of member countries to vote for his gentleman’s agreement, even if it means a controversy with the EU. (ATR)  

EU Tells Blatter to “Think Twice”

The European Union warns FIFA President Sepp Blatter not to pursue a so-called gentleman’s agreement restricting player movement based on nationality.

“EU laws are superior to any such gentleman’s agreements. I would advise FIFA to think carefully and maybe to think twice about such a move,” an unnamed official at the EU executive told Reuters.

In 1995, the European Court of Justice heard a similar case and ruled that players have the right to free movement among countries for work. The EU says Blatter is setting FIFA on a crash course for another costly law suit.

Euro 2008 No Longer in Jeopardy for Spain

The Spanish government backed down on its threat to make the Royal Spanish Football Federation hold elections before the Beijing Games. FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Spain would be pulled from the Euro 2008 Championships if the national government insisted on interfering.

Albania and Madagascar remain under a FIFA ban for government interference in football governance. Before the 2002 World Cup, Greece narrowly missed being excluded for government interference.

RFEF plans to hold its election on Nov. 26.

CSF Seeks Hold on Altitude Ban

The Confederation of South American Football have asked Sepp Blatter to delay implementing a ban on stadiums at high altitudes until after the 2010 World Cup qualifiers are over.

Hernando Siles stadium in La Paz, Bolivia stands at nearly 12,000 feet above sea level. (Getty Images)  

“It’s the first time that we have endured such a difficult situation. For this reason we’re calling on your understanding and ask you to make a gesture at this critical moment,” the CSF said in a letter to FIFA.

Bolivia has said it will appeal the measure to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but the process will likely take too long to save home matches for several South American nations.

South African Broadcast Center Upgraded

Nearly $16 million has been allotted an upgrade to Johannesburg’s Nasrec Expo Center for renovations ahead of hosting the International Broadcast Center for the 2010 World Cup.

“The IBC will be the pulse and the nerve centre for all TV operations during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Through a sophisticated network, it will be linking the venues in South Africa to the rest of our football family all over the globe,” said Sepp Blatter.

“This way it will also create a legacy, far beyond the event in terms of telecommunication infrastructure for the country.”

Construction will begin in May, primarily focused on renovating halls of the Expo Center.

FIFA Briefs…

South Africa has already exceeded Germany’s commercial rights revenue from the 2006 World Cup by nearly $500 million. FIFA 2010 South Africa World Cup chief executive Danny Jordaan said South Africa has taken in $3.1 billion, proving, he says, that the 2010 World Cup is commercially viable.

The English Football Association will set up a company to run London’s 2018 World Cup bid patterned after the governance of the 2012 Olympic bid. A chairman and chief executive will lead the bid – a team may be named within six months, according to British media reports. The association will also discuss financing for Wembley Stadium, which is falling far short on expected revenue.

Swiss president Pascal Couchepin visited Sepp Blatter at FIFA headquarters in Zurich. The two discussed football, and how to increase the social impact of football. “Football on every level, not just in major competitions such as the Euro, allows players to develop their individual skills, tactical ability and personal confidence while building up a sense of team spirit,” was the message according to FIFA’s website.

Indian IT company Satyam says it will transform the way fans watch football as part of its deal with FIFA for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. Technological developments will include 3D CGI replays showing how plays could have unfolded and new analytical statistics graphics.

Progress has been made on The Gambia Stadium in Banjul, according to African media. In preparation for FIFA’s May 6 to 8 inspection, workers have made improvements to the field and restroom facilities.

French coach Patrice Neveu signed a two-year contract with the Democratic Republic of Congo as they attempt to make the 2010 World Cup. “For me it’s a great honor to be able to lead Congo. The objectives are great, but the potential is evident,” Neveu tells Reuters.

Written by Eric Connelly

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