Soccerex Kicks Off In South Africa
The leading business convention for the global football industry, Soccerex, has kicked off in South Africa.
Originally Soccerex, which is expected to attract around 4,000 delegates from nearly 100 countries, was hosted in Dubai. But since last year, Gauteng, South Africa became its new home.
Soccerex organizers say a record number of FIFA delegates – more than 50 – will be attending the event this year, with a number of senior FIFA executives featuring in the conference program.
Themes being discussed include: Mobile communications in Africa and beyond; the International Football Club Summit (IFCS) Media Workshop and leaving a legacy after 2010.
In addition, the FIFA media tour of foreign journalists will be stopping at Soccerex.
“This introduces probably the most hectic week in South African football,” 2010 World Cup Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan told the Soccerex press conference in Sandton, Johannesburg, this week.
Packed into the next week is Soccerex 2008 as well as the final draw for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009.
Soccerex showcases the business side of world football and has proved to be a popular global event on the football calendar.
Jordaan says Soccerex provides a benchmark for the global football community and an opportunity once a year to “review the challenges facing football worldwide.”
Ban on Ethiopia Remains
Ethiopia remains suspended from world football after talks collapsed at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.
Two rival groups are vying for control of the Ethiopian national federation resulting in its suspension by FIFA in July.
The country was later kicked out of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.
FIFA says representatives of a faction led by Ahmed Yassin cannot accept that Ashebir Woldegiorgis was rightfully elected to lead the national federation during elections in January.
FIFA says it “regrets that no solution could be found.”
The ban means national teams, officials and referees from Ethiopia cannot take part in international football.
PFA Unhappy with Home Drugs Tests
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has voiced its opposition to new doping control measures which could see the top players tested in their own homes.
The new code of the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) sets out that a pool of 30 elite players may be forced to undergo up to five tests a year on top of those carried out after matches.
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor says the union opposes some of the new regulations.
“We feel that to invade the privacy of a player’s home would be a step too far,” he told PA Sport.
“If we complain about anything to do with drug testing, people think we might have something to hide, but football’s record is extremely good and there has been a virtual absence of any performance-enhancing drugs over decades.”
The move is designed to bring sports such as football into line with Olympic sports, where athletes must provide details of their location for an hour each day, including holidays.
Taylor says football is a major spectator sport and it is willing to cooperate, but should not be treated in the same way as individual sports that do have a problem with drugs, such as athletics, cycling and weightlifting.
“For most of the year, the whereabouts of players is always known – either at their training ground or matches,” he said.
But the Football Association insists details of the new drug-testing policy have not been finalized.
The introduction of a national testing pool in each country is a requirement of the WADA code, but an FA spokesman says discussions must still take place between the FA and UK Sport on the size, composition and testing requirements for the pool that applies to English football.
The spokesman says the FA will be guided by both FIFA
and the PFA.
Blatter Lobbying Leaders over ‘6+5 Rule’
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has been meeting world leaders and their representatives, attempting to persuade them to force through a reform close to his heart – the ‘6+5 Rule.’
The measure effectively ensures clubs field a minimum number of local players, but in its present form is illegal under European law.
FIFA Director of Communications Hans Klaus says Blatter has had meetings with the offices of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez-Zapatero, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Klaus says FIFA has found “a lot of support” for the issue, including assurances that the long hoped-for “specificity of sport” clause might be inserted into a new European treaty, allowing legal passage of the ‘6+5 Rule.’
But among the hurdles for FIFA is the lack of unity within its own football family, with European football governing body UEFA taking a different approach to introducing the rule, determining local players on ‘homegrown’ criteria rather than nationality.
The alternative proposal of UEFA President Michel Platini is under consideration with the six-month Sarkozy presidency of the European Union.
At a meeting in Biarritz next month, the idea of a financial clearing house for all European football clubs, to be located at the Nyon headquarters of UEFA, will also be discussed.
The motion faces stiff opposition from the European Professional Football leagues, but Klaus strongly denies it has led to a chilling of the previously warm relationship between Blatter and Platini.
The idea has strong support from Sarkozy and his sports minister, Bernard Laporte, meaning UEFA will likely realize its football regulator ambitions.
…Scotland has rejected an assurance from FIFA chief executive Jerome Valcke that a united British football entry at the London 2012 Olympics will not threaten the future of the Scotland national side.
Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy claims he was assured by the top official that Team GB could participate in the 2012 London Olympics without damaging the future of the home nations.
But Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond insists the idea is still a non-starter.
“To jeopardize the entire future of Scottish international football on the basis of an undertaking from one official, at one point in time, I think is daft. And all for participation in an under-23 tournament of a few players,” he says.
The Scottish Football Association has also maintained its hostility to the idea of a united British team.
…Officials from rugby league, rugby union and the AFL have all offered football priority access to their venues in a move aimed at helping the Australian bid to stage the 2018 World Cup.
The World Cup finals are traditionally held from June to July, which would be right in the middle of the NRL and AFL seasons.
One of the major hurdles affecting the staging of the event – access to multi-purpose venues used for the two popular winter sports – has now been removed.
The friendly gesture from the rival codes relates to match scheduling throughout the ten venues needed to host the showpiece.
ANZ Stadium in Sydney, the Sydney Football Stadium and Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Queensland are certain to host matches, while the home grounds of rugby league sides Newcastle Knights and the Gold Coast Titans are also being considered.
Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley has resisted commenting on specifics of the bid and meetings with other codes but says the FFA is happy with the progress of the bid and is working hard to have as much in place as possible when FIFA unveils the bidding process next month.
Written by Anthony Stavrinos
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