Valcke, Rousseff expected to meet again soon

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff (Getty Images)

The first of what’s expected to become a series of crisis talks between FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke and Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is in the books. Valcke sought reassurances about delay-hit 2014 World Cup preparations from Rousseff on Monday morning in Brussels, where she is attending a European Union summit. “Both sides said they needed to communicate better,” government spokeswoman Lais Garcia said in a statement. Rousseff herself has yet to issue any public comments on the private meeting, but Valcke went ahead and expressed FIFA’s unhappiness with her country’s World Cup law, a piece of legislation that includes discounting some ticket prices. “We never compromise on the protection of our commercial partners,” Valcke told The Associated Press. “The FIFA World Cup is a partnership and as such we do respect Brazilian law, while the host country respects the commitment made.” Follow-up talks in Brazil are expected later in the week with the bill to be voted on later this year.

UEFA doles out Champions League rights in Greece
ERT and Nova will bring UEFA Champions League action to Greece for the next three seasons. The deals allow for ERT to continue broadcasting the best matchup each Champions League Wednesday night as well as highlights throughout that week. Pay TV operator Nova will get the remaining live matches along with co-exclusive coverage of the Champions League Final, a UEFA first. The agreement also includes coverage of all Europa League fixtures except the first pick of each matchweek. Both deals are platform-neutral and were brokered by TEAM Marketing AG, UEFA’s exclusive marketing agency.

New home field for Iraqi football squads

Iraq will play London 2012 Olympics and 2014 WC qualifiers in Qatar (QFA)

Qatar will host Iraq’s home football qualifiers for both the 2012 Olympics and 2014 World Cup. The announcement comes in the wake of FIFA’s decision last month to ban all home qualifiers due to the “general security situation in Iraq” as well as power outages during a Sept. 2 match against Jordan. Both the senior national and Olympic squads will “feel most welcomed in Qatar,” according to a statement from QFA secretary general Saoud bin Abdulaziz Al Mohannadi. Iraq is pitted alongside China, Singapore and Jordan in pool play for the third round of Asian qualifying for the 2014 football finals. The first “home” leg comes Nov. 11 against China, and Iraq will “host” Australia two weeks later in an Olympic qualifier.

Euro 2012 playoff draw takes shape
The stage is set for Euro 2012’s playoff draw. While the nine group winners and the best runners-up will qualify directly for next year’s finals, the eight remaining runners-up will be divided into two groups with four seeded and four unseeded teams each on Oct. 13 at the Sheraton Hotel in Krakow, Poland. UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino will do the
honours alongside Zbigniew Boniek, one of the ambassadors for the tournament. The first legs will be played on Nov. 11 or 12 with the return legs to follow Nov. 15.

Quake-struck Christchurch gets FIFA aid

OFC president David Chung alongside Christchurch mayor Bob Parker at Sunday’s opening ceremony. (OFC)

Christchurch, New Zealand has a new all-weather football turf thanks to FIFA’s latest GOAL Project, also one of the first major constructions completed following a series of devastating earthquakes throughout the past year. “I am honoured and delighted that, after these very challenging times, the Christchurch pitch is being inaugurated,” FIFA president Sepp Blatter said in a statement. “It is an outstanding centre, one that is ready to be used and of great value to both New Zealand’s national teams and the country’s youngsters, who need new pitches and infrastructures to play the game they love.” Oceania Football Confederation president David Chung and Christchurch mayor Bob Parker both attended Sunday’s opening of ASB Football Park, a state-of-the-art complex Chung called “a milestone for football in Christchurch” as well as for New Zealand as a whole.

INSIDER’s Matthew Grayson

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