Sorokin, Mutko and Blatter at the signing ceremony on Sunday (Russia 2018)

(WFI) FIFA boss Sepp Blatter on Sunday joined Russia World Cup organisers in Saint-Petersburg to sign the Declaration of Appointment, officialising the status of Russia as the 2018 tournament host country. The Swiss first met Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Saturday evening. “We share the same vision as FIFA that football plays a big role in society,” said Putin. “We are hopeful that the FIFA World Cup will be very positive for our country. We will build not only stadiums but also a large transportation network.”

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko and Alexei Sorokin, the designated chairman and CEO of the future Local Organising Committee, were present at the signing ceremony along with Sergei Fursenko and Nikita Simonyan, president and first vice-president of the Russian Football Union.

Blatter said: “Russia will do an excellent job of organising the World Cup. We share the vision and mission that football is more than just a game. Russia boasts a great football tradition, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup will act as a catalyst for social advancement, opening up new territories for the game and winning over new hearts and minds.” Mutko said: “We are delighted by the trust that FIFA puts into our capabilities and into the bold promise we have given with our bid. I can assure FIFA and the football world that we are fully committed to deliver and to excel beyond all requirements.” Later on Sunday, Blatter and a FIFA delegation attended the final of the CIS and Baltic Cup. FK Inter Baku of Azerbaijan beat Shakhter Soligorsk of Belarus 6-5 in a penalty shootout to lift the trophy. Blatter was accompanied on his three-day stay in Saint-Petersburg by FIFA Ex-Co members Angel Maria Villar-Llona and Senes Erzik.

Stadium battle intensifies
West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur will not now learn on Friday if they have been successful in their bids to take control of the London Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games. The Olympic Park Legacy Company was scheduled to meet to choose its preferred bidder, a decision that must be ratified by London mayor Boris Johnson and the government. But later on Monday it said it was postponing the decision to seek clarification from both football clubs about their plans. The Hammers would retain the athletics track, but Spurs plan to rip it out and rebuild the stadium for football. Spurs’ proposals were yesterday attacked by London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe, who was part of the bid team that pledged an athletics stadium legacy to the IOC in 2005. “It’s serious we deliver what we said we were going to unless we’re prepared to trash our reputation,” Coe told BBC Radio Five, in his strongest comments to date on the battle for the Olympic Stadium. “It’d be very difficult for us to be taken seriously in the corridors of world sport and arguably beyond.”

Euro 2012 presentation in European Parliament
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister and infrastructure minister Borys Kolesnikov will make a presentation on Euro 2012 to the European Parliament in Brussels tomorrow. Siim Kallas, European Commission vice president in charge of transport, is scheduled to meet with Kolesnikov to discuss the development of transport and infrastructure, Interfax reports. Last week, the Ukrainian government’s lead official on the Euro 2012 project was forced to deny allegations that he was linked to companies awarded multimillion-dollar contracts for the massive upgrade of Kiev’s Olympic Stadium.

UEFA sets Ex-Co Agenda
Euro 2012 preparations in Poland-Ukraine and the workload for the UEFA Congress are among items up for discussion at the executive committee meeting of European football’s governing body next week. With 500 days until UEFA’s quadrennial tournament, president Michel Platini and his colleagues will been to hear a positive progress report from Euro 2012 operations director Martin Kallen.

Also on the agenda for the UEFA Ex-Co are:
– Appointment of the host of the final tournament of the UEFA Under-21 European Championship 2013
– Appointment of the host of the 2011 UEFA Futsal Cup finals
– New membership to the UEFA Referee Convention
– Update on UEFA Grassroots Day 2011

The meeting takes place at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland Jan. 27 to 28. The UEFA Congress will be held in Paris on March 22.

Bin Hammam praises Asian Cup teams
AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam has expressed satisfaction with the
standard of football at the Asian Cup in Qatar. Three of the favourites
have made the semi-finals, with Japan taking on South Korea tomorrow and
Australia playing Uzbekistan. The final is on Saturday. “At least 10
teams are a very good standard. Uzbekistan was not a surprise but they
have produced a very good standard and we have Japan, Korea Republic and
Australia,

Bin Hammam claims the Asian Cup is a good showcase for Qatar’s ability to host the 2022 World Cup (AP)

some of the best teams in Asia and they represented us at
the World Cup,” Bin Hammam was quoted on AFC.com. Bin Hammam also
complimented the teams from Qatar, Iran, Iraq, Jordan and Syria. He
praised the host country’s organisation of the tournament, insisting it
showcased Qatar’s abilities to deliver a spectacular 2022 World Cup.
“It’s been an extremely well organised event by Qatar. Although it is 12
years between now and 2022, it was a very good rehearsal for that
competition.”

100 up for United’s Park
Manchester United’s Park Ji-Sung will earn his 100th cap when he plays
for Korea against Japan in tomorrow’s Asian Cup semi-final. Only seven
other South Koreans have been capped more than 100 times.

UEFA seeks solutions on discrimination in
football

UEFA has taken its first steps to combat institutional discrimination in
football. Officials from European football’s governing body joined
representatives from the Dutch and English FAs and the Football Against
Racism in Europe (FARE) network to discuss the issue at a summit in
Amsterdam. UEFA vice-president Şenes Erzik told UEFA.com. “It is the
first time that UEFA or any other football governing body has set out a
problem that so far has been unnoticed. It takes some courage or bravery
to do things that never have been done before. Exclusion in parts of
our sport is an important issue – especially in the administrative and
management sectors.” One of the issues discussed was the low level of
women’s coaches in the professional and amateur game in Europe, as well
as the low number of women in senior administrative positions at men’s
professional clubs, as well in football governance. UEFA said another
concern was that although 32.7% of all players at the highest levels are
‘expatriate migrant’ players from Europe, Africa and South America,
less than 1% of senior administrators at professional clubs and
executive committee members at national and regional federations are
from minorities.

Indonesia chief seeks re-election

Indonesian FA (PSSI) chairman Nurdin Halid will seek a third term in office at the organisation’s national congress on March 19, it has been announced. Speculation in the Indonesian media had suggested that Halid, who previously ran the PSSI from his prison cell after serving a 17-month jail sentence for corruption, would seek to delay the election until the end of the year to enhance his chances of re-election. But a PSSI congress in Bali this weekend decreed that he would stand in March, as previously planned.

Halid’s role is incompatible with FIFA’s ethics code, which precludes those with criminal records from holding office, and he has become a hate figure among Indonesian fans furious at the state of football in their country. This weekend’s Indonesian Super League game between Persib and Arema was marred by crowd violence, with stone-hurling fans holding up proceedings for an hour and chanting in support of the Indonesian Premier League, the breakaway division that promises to clean up the country’s football.

Cano combines FIFA roles for OFC and CONMEBOL
The Oceania Football Confederation has appointed new FIFA development manager. Cristina Cano takes over from Serge Dumortier, who had held the role for two years. Cano of Paraguay is also the development manager for CONMEBOL, the South American football confederation, and will combine the jobs, based out of FIFA headquarters in Zurich. “The part that will be the most interesting for me is to work with two confederations that are completely different, not only culturally but in terms of football especially,” Cano told the OFC’s website. Her work will include managing and implementing FIFA’s Goal Programme which promotes the independence and professionalisation of member associations through the improvement of their facilities. Dumortier is moving to a new FIFA department in charge of security at tournaments and events run by world football’s governing body.

Women’s World Cup warm-up
The USA, Canada, China and Sweden are involved in a Four Nations tournament in Beijing, which is serving as a warm-up for this summer’s Women’s World Cup in Germany. After the first round of games over the weekend, China plays the U.S. and Canada faces Sweden on Tuesday.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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