Ronaldinho says he’s going to Beijing no matter what. (Getty Images)

FIFA Reminder to Clubs

FIFA issued a reminder to club teams to release players younger than 23 for the Olympics. European clubs have questioned releasing players for Beijing at the opening of their domestic seasons, but FIFA and IOC rules require teams to cooperate.

“The release of players younger than 23 has always been mandatory for all clubs. For Beijing 2008 the same principle shall apply,” said a FIFA statement.

Ronaldinho Going to Beijing

Brazilian football star Ronaldinho says he’s going to play in Beijing even though his club team, FC Barcelona, won’t release him. The Olympics coincide with the Champions League.

The Olympics is the only major football tournament Brazil has not won, and Ronaldinho, who has had conditioning and off-field issues the last two years, says he is focused on bringing gold back for Brazil.

“I feel very positive and I am not thinking about anything that is not good. I am imagining myself at the Games doing good, playing well and bringing back the gold medal. I have great confidence that I will go the Olympics in good shape and that is a great motivation to train. I have not played for a long time and I really do miss it. That is why I want to work hard and be ready and I am not thinking about if someone is going to stop me or try and block me from going to Beijing,” he said in a press conference.

Brazil also included Real Madrid player Robinho on its Olympic team.

Argentinean Lionel Messi and Brazilian Kaka are other stars who have expressed interest in playing for their national teams, but have club commitments blocking them.

Blatter in Touch with Three Alternates for 2010

FIFA President Sepp Blatter says he has spoken with three countries capable of hosting the 2010 World Cup with only a year’s notice should disaster befall South Africa.

On Tuesday, FIFA dropped the Port Elizabeth Stadium from the Confederations Cup due to construction delays. Blatter maintains he has no worries the venue will be ready in time, and his Plan B is only in case of catastrophe.

The Confederations Cup is a test tournament for the host country one year before the World Cup, and no venues constructed from scratch will be part of next June’s event.

South Africa has been plagued by construction delays, worker strikes and security issues.

During his recent visit to South Africa, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke was unperturbed by the issues facing the host.


FIFA boss Sepp Blatter says construction concerns aren’t the reason he’s exploring backup options for 2010. (Getty Images)

are happy with the progress made by South Africa so far. We are confident that South Africa will be ready to host a hugely successful event in 2010,” he said.

English FA Seeks Bid Leader

The search for a chief executive to lead England’s bid for the FIFA 2018 World Cup launches later this month.

The English FA plans to short list candidates in September or October before appointing a bid leader later this year.

UK headhunters Odgers Ray & Berndtson is conducting the global search to recruit the management team to spearhead the FA’s 2018 World Cup bid.

“The FA is looking for somebody who can build international relationships because the ultimate aim is to win 13 of the 24 votes of the FIFA executive committee who are obviously spread around the world,” says Simon Cummins, head

Though Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon says it’s unlikely Christiano Ronaldo will with his team this season, Sepp Blatter is supporting the move. (Getty Images)

of the sports practice.

Cummins is also busy in the Olympics business, recruiting for the rapidly expanding London 2012 organizing committee and searching for a chief executive for the British Olympic Association.

Cummins helped recruit Paul Deighton as CEO of LOCOG and Vancouver 2010 chief executive John Furlong. He also headhunted John Armitt for the post of chairman at London’s Olympic Delivery Authority.


Neophyte football body European Club Association will contest Sepp Blatter’s “6+5 rule.” All 103 members backed Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s opposition. “In ECA’s view, there is no necessity for a 6+5 rule, and the organization favors instead UEFA’s ‘home-grown’ approach,” the ECA said in a statement.

Sepp Blatter called football’s club team transfer rules “modern day slavery” while backing Christiano Ronaldo against Manchester United. Ronaldo wishes to play for Real Madrid, but Manchester has been unwilling to release its star player. UEFA supports Manchester, saying Ronaldo is obligated to honor his contract. The Professional Footballers Association and Manchester have taken issue with Blatter’s comments.”I really hope Sepp will retract what he has said and that we can get on with resolving this saga because I am sure Manchester United want it to be,” PFA chairman Chris Powell told Sky Sports News.

Panama filed a complaint with FIFA alleging its team was the target of racism during a 3-1 loss to El Salvador in a World Cup qualifier on June 22, according to Reuters. The letter sent to FIFA said the Panamanian goalkeeper was hit with a bottle during the match, bags of urine were thrown, insults were shouted and the police were indifferent.

Media Watch…

FIFA signed De La Rue to develop secure licensed merchandise for the 2010 World Cup.

Written by Eric Connelly and Mark Bisson.

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