Gdansk’s 42,000-seater PGE Arena (WFI)

(WFI) INSIDER’s Mark Bisson rounds up the global football business news and previews the week ahead.

Bridgepoint buys Blatter’s Infront
European private equity firm Bridgepoint has reached an agreement to acquire Infront Sports & Media AG, the Swiss sports marketing company run by FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s son Philippe. The deal for the agency that sells media rights for seven national FAs including the German Football Federation and clubs such as AC Milan and Schalke O4, is worth an estimated €600m ($848m). Bridgepoint beat off competition from other bidders, including Paris Saint-Germain’s new owners Qatar Investment Authority. Infront represents more than 120 sports rights holders who deliver 2,300 event days each year. In 2010, Infront generated revenues of more than $848m. Infront president Philippe Blatter said: “Bridgepoint is the strong new strategic investor we have been looking for. The company is fully committed to actively contribute to Infront’s ambitious expansion plans and to support our solid international team
– Bridgepoint shares our long-term vision. We are convinced that the new and strengthened ownership structure will not only form an even stronger basis for the future success of Infront, but will be of great benefit to our valued partners and clients.

He added: “With Bridgepoint as our shareholder, we are in a position to tackle many additional opportunities now presented by the market while remaining highly focused on the continued delivery of high quality services to our clients and partners in all areas of our existing business.”

Euro 2012 qualification for Germany
Germany are the first team to book their place at the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine after an 6-2 thumping of Austria. Reigning European champions Spain, Italy and the Netherlands could qualify for UEFA’s flagship tournament on Tuesday night.

Official opening for Gdansk’s Euro 2012 stadium
A friendly between Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland and Germany will officially open Gdansk’s 42,000 PGE Arena on Tuesday.

Reigning African Nations Cup champs crash out
Egypt, the African Cup of Nations holders, will not participate in next year’s African showpiece in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea after a shock 2-1 loss to Sierra Leone. So far qualified for the 16-team tournament are Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Botswana and Senegal, who will line up alongside the co-host nations. The qualification matches finish in October.

Beach Soccer WC latest
Brazil and Russia netted five goals apiece against Mexico and Tahiti on Sunday to advance to the last eight of the FIFA

Northern Ireland legend Pat Jennings during his Arsenal playing days (Getty)

Beach Soccer World Cup in Ravenna, Italy 2011. Ukraine’s Roman Panchev scored the joint-fastest goal in the tournament’s history when he netted after just two seconds in the east European side’s 4-2 demolition of Japan. Today’s matches are: Iran-Senegal; Portugal-Oman; Italy-Switzerland; and El Salvador-Argentina.

Europa League reprieve for Celtic
Celtic have been given a lifeline in the Europa League after UEFA’s decision to boot out Swiss side Sion. Despite beating Celtic 3-1 on aggregate, the governing body’s disciplinary panel decided to reinstate the the Scottish club after two protests were lodged. Sion had broken the transfer embargo and fielded a number of ineligible players in the Europea League fixtures last month.

Qatar bidding for Olympics after 2022 World Cup win
The IOC confirmed on Friday that Doha is one of the six cities bidding to stage the 2020 Olympics. Qatar’s Olympic Committee has proposed to stage the games outside of the usual July-August Olympics window. If the Gulf state is successful in its 2020 bid (the host city announcement is due in September 2013), it would hold the Olympics Sept. 10 to Oct. 20 that year – 20 months before the country is scheduled to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup.

FIFA meeting
FIFA’s Committee for Club Football, chaired by UEFA president Michel Platini, meets on Wednesday. Italy’s Serie A strike action and preparations for the Club World Cup in Japan in December are expected to be among topics for discussion.

Award for Pat Jennings
Former Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings has receiveed UEFA’s new commemorative cap and medal for players capped more than 100 times for their country. The new UEFA award will celebrate the 109 European players who have so far reached the milestone. The first presentations were made at Friday’s international matches, with Pat Jennings – who played for both Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal in an outstanding career – among the recipients. He was given the award prior to Northern Ireland’s euro 2012 qualifier against Serbia at Windsor Park. “When I was a player I always looked forward to getting selected for the international team. Playing for Northern Ireland for over 22 years provided me with memories I will never forget,” he told Further presentations will be made on Tuesday and in October. Among those set to received awards are Denmark’s Peter Schmeichel, England’s Peter Shilton and David Beckham, French greats Thierry Henry, Marcel Desailly and Zinédine Zidane and German legends Lothar Matthäus and Jürgen Klinsmann.

Sheau named gen sec of Chinese Taipei FA
The Chinese Taipei Football Association has appointed Wang Sheau-Shiun as its new general secretary. He started the job on Sept. 1. Sheau’s appointment follows the retirement of his predecessor Der Chia-Lin.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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