WADA chief John Fahey has agreed to test FIFA’s approach to out-of-competition drug testing until 2010. (Getty Images)

FIFA Says WADA To Test Its Anti-Doping Approach

World football’s governing body FIFA has announced the World Anti-Doping Agency has agreed to test FIFA’s approach to out-of-competition drug testing until 2010.

The announcement follows a meeting between the two world governing bodies this week and what appeared to be a growing rift between them over new provisions introduced this year to locate elite athletes for drugs testing.

FIFA has publicly rejected the ‘whereabouts rule’ which provides for random testing 365 days a year, arguing that footballers should only be tested when they are with their teams and not during their time off.

“The current FIFA Anti-Doping Regulations have been understood by WADA and will now be tested in practice, prior to reassessment for 2010,” FIFA said in a statement.

“For all sports federations, this year is a period of evolution in the fight against doping, and it will be the practical implementation which is important now that new rules are in place,” the statement added.

WADA chief John Fahey appears to have backed down on the issue after last month accusing FIFA and European governing body UEFA of ignoring reality by rejecting out-of-competition testing of individual footballers.

Fahey is set to have more problems on the horizon, with a panel of European experts likely to report the ‘whereabouts rule’ contains multiple contraventions of the bloc’s privacy laws.

A panel of 27 national experts met on Tuesday and Wednesday and will publish their legal opinion after Easter on the rule requiring athletes to give detailed schedules of their whereabouts for drug testing.

The rule has angered many individuals and sports organizations and has led to legal challenges.

EU Sports Commissioner Jan Figel has already asked WADA to suspend the rule, in force since January 1, while Brussels examines it. He has reportedly said the rule should “be potentially amended.”

U.S. Soccer: Plenty of Time for New Stadiums

The U.S. bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups says Los Angeles and San Francisco have plenty of time to build new stadiums or renovate current venues if they win the right to host either event.

U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said the final list of cities probably won’t be put in place until three to five years out from the tournament.

“We no doubt will end up considering venues, stadiums, that don’t exist today,” Gulati told journalists in a conference call.

“Not in the same way that some of the other countries bidding are, because they’re talking about building venues for the World Cup. But given the turnover with top NFL stadiums and top university stadiums that are likely to be built between now and 2018 and 2022, we think that eminently possible.”

A day earlier, he released a list of 70

The U.S. men’s soccer team took on Trinidad & Tobago in 2010 World Cup qualifying at LP Field in Nashville on April 1. (U.S. Soccer)

 stadiums that had been contacted.

South Africa needed to build or rebuild every stadium for next year’s tournament, and Brazil is contemplating a massive construction project before hosting the 2014 edition.

FIFA’s executive committee is to decide both hosts in December 2010.

Nine stadiums were used for the 1994 World Cup in the U.S., and Los Angeles and San Francisco are the areas most in need of upgraded facilities.

Gulati hopes there could be more venues in the next U.S. World Cup, especially since the tournament expanded from 24 teams to 32 for 1998.

“The range I think people are talking about is nine to 12,” Gulati said. “I think in a country like the United States, it’s possible that that could be a little bit more. That would ultimately be FIFA’s call.”

North Korea Seeks FIFA Probe Into Alleged Poisoning

North Korea has accused rival South Korea of making its players ill with “adulterated foodstuff” before last week’s World Cup qualifier, and it wants FIFA to investigate.

North Korea’s soccer association also claims in a statement that the alleged food poisoning is part of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s “moves for confrontation” with the North.

North Korea coach Kim Jong Hun raised the allegation after losing 1-0 to South Korea on April 1.

“It was beyond all doubt that the incident was a product of a deliberate act perpetrated by adulterated foodstuff, as they could not get up all of a sudden just before the match,” North Korea said in a statement, backing Kim’s complaints.

FIFA rejected Kim’s request for the match to be delayed and moved to a neutral site, claiming three of his players had food poisoning.

The Korea Football Association, South Korea’s national governing body, says a professional sports doctor examined the North Korean players and found no serious problem, while more detailed examinations, including blood tests, were refused.

“If an accident happens during training or transit, and it affects the match, the host country should take responsibility for the accident,” Yonhap news agency quotes Kim Joo-sung, head of the KFA’s international affairs department, as saying.

“But matters related to hotels or the food are the responsibility of the visiting team.”

The match was played amid cross-border tension since the conservative Lee took office last year with a pledge to get tough with the North.

South Korea’s win put the 2002 World Cup semifinalists atop Group B in Asian qualifying with 11 points, one point ahead of North Korea in the five-team group.

Artificial Pitches Go Down Ahead Of 2010

The 2010 World Cup is already leaving a lasting legacy in South Africa after an announcement that 27 artificial football pitches will be built in rural and township areas.

Earlier this week at the Local Organising Committee headquarters, next to the spectacular “calabash” Soccer City, the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund announced a donation of $8.95 million for the building of 27 artificial pitches.

The project will see three pitches per province with completion dates over the next three years.

Already nine sites have been identified for the pitches: in Gauteng, Orange Farm; Limpopo, Thohoyandou; in Mpumalanga, Siyabuswa; in North West, Moses Kotane Municipality; in Northern Cape, Upington; in the Free State, Phuthaditjaba; in the Western Cape, Grassy Park; in Eastern Cape, Cacadu; and KwaZulu-Natal, Ixopo.

Part of the successful bid for hosting the football showpiece included a legacy program which would ensure the benefits of the event will be felt well after the month-long extravaganza had ended.

“One of the worst legacies of sport under apartheid is the dearth of football facilities in disadvantaged areas and the complete lack of recognition and support by the apartheid government of the sport,” LOC CEO Danny Jordaan said.

He said the pitches would strengthen grassroots development and be the catalyst to build a new generation of footballers.

Coca-Cola World Cup Trophy To Go On SA Tour

The first Leg of “FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola” will visit every African nation in a four-month itinerary. The major football soft-drink sponsor will distribute free tickets to fans in every country for a chance to see the ultimate football prize.

The Coca Cola 2010 World Cup Trophy Tour map. (Coca Cola)

Coca-Cola and FIFA jointly announced details of the route spanning more than 50 countries over 70 days. The initial four-month long leg of the tour kicks off in Cairo, Egypt on Sept. 24 and draws to a close Dec. 3, in Cape Town, South Africa, just before the 2010 World Cup Finals draw.

The second leg of the trophy tour takes in additional countries across the globe from January to April 2010. Dates and cities have not yet been finalized.

“The FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola will give thousands of fans in Africa the extraordinary chance to get close to the real trophy for the first time ever,” said Emmanuel Seuge, group director, worldwide sports and entertainment marketing, The Coca-Cola Company.

“While South Africa is the host country for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the entire continent will celebrate and welcome the event. That is why it was important to us to ensure the tour visit every country in Africa.”

The 2010 trophy tour draws on the huge success of a similar tour held for the 2006 World Cup, which visited 31 cities in 29 countries and covered a total of 102,570km.

Written by
Anthony Stavrinos

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