Ben Buckley believes the Australia bid is on the right course (All photos Getty Images)

(WFI) Australia World Cup bid chief Ben Buckley voices his satisfaction with the World Football Insider Bid Power Index that ranks his country second in the race to land the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

Australia is just two points behind England in the first edition of the WFI Bid Power Index, published yesterday, that shows the relative strengths and weaknesses of the 10 bids. Across 10 categories, England scores 64 out of 100 possible points with Australia on 62.

The WFI analysis reveals that Australia is the country to watch in the lead-up to the FIFA vote on the 2018 and 2022 hosts in December.

“We are very pleased with the high ranking and we will continue to work with all our stakeholders to continue to promote our bid credentials with the football community,” Buckley said.

“There is plenty of work to do but we are confident that our bid is right on track and we will be extremely competitive in the race for the FIFA World Cup for 2018 and 2022.”

Ranked third in the WFI Bid Power Index are Russia and Qatar, tied on 61, with the US following on 60.

The WFI Bid Power Index is the only regularly published review of World Cup bids that is based on expert analysis and first-hand contact with the bid nations, including interviews with bid leaders and information and figures from each of the bid launches.

Man Utd tops Forbes listing
Manchester United are the most valuable team in world sport, according to the latest Forbes Fab 40 listing.

Its second ranking of the world’s top sports brands reveals that the English Premier League champions are valued at $270 million.

The club edges baseball’s New York Yankees, who are the most valuable team brand in North America, worth $266 million. The analysis said the Yankees account for roughly one-third of all Major league Baseball licensed merchandise sales.

Forbes Fab 40 said that while Spain’s La Liga giants Real Madrid generate $60 million more in revenue, the Manchester United brand is $25 million more valuable thanks to the club’s worldwide marketing efforts. More than half of the team’s fans are believed to hail from Asia.

CAS lifts Chelsea transfer ban
Chelsea have been cleared of any wrongdoing regarding the transfer of
Gael Kakuta from French club Lens and had FIFA sanctions on the club
lifted in a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

FIFA had claimed London club induced Kakuta to breach his contract with
Lens and, in September, slapped the club with a transfer ban from
signing any new players until 2011.

But the CAS removed the sanctions Thursday after agreeing with the two
clubs and Kakuta that the contract between the player and RC Lens was
not valid.

“We are pleased to have come to an amicable resolution of the matter
and that it has been ratified by CAS and recognised by FIFA,” Chelsea
chairman Bruce Buck said in a statement.

“It was always our intention to work together with Lens to reach

Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay is pleased with CAS ruling

this
end, and both clubs have strengthened their relationship as a result of
resolving this case to everyone’s satisfaction.

“In an act of good faith and with a view to the possibility of future
collaboration with Lens, and without recognising any liability, Chelsea
has agreed to pay compensation costs for the training given to the
player while at Lens, as mandated by FIFA in its original ruling.”

Chelsea FC chief executive Ron Gourlay added: “Naturally, we are
pleased Chelsea has been cleared of any wrongdoing and that the matter
is now closed.”

FIFA aid for Haiti
FIFA has donated an additional $3 million to support the Haitian football family following the earthquake that devastated the country on Jan. 12. World football’s governing body had provided $250,000 in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.

The Special Projects Fund approved by FIFA’s finance committee followed a detailed report on the Haiti disaster by FIFA vice president and CONCACAF president Jack Warner, who recently visited the country.

This fund will help in the reconstruction of the football association’s headquarters, technical centres and regional youth facilities and support the association’s leagues and youth competitions by providing basic football equipment.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said: “Just like everyone else, I was deeply moved by the reports coming from Haiti. We will continue to evaluate the situation very closely with the Haitian Football Association and will do everything in our power to assist them in their hour of need.”

$1 million pay-day for Saudi clubs
Saudi Arabian Football Federation is offering a $1 million bonus if any of its four clubs win the 2010 Asian Champions League.
The announcement was made by Prince Nawaf Bin Faisal, vice-president of the Saudi FA, according to the Asian Football Confederation website.

Al Ittihad, won the trophy in 2004 and 2005 and were beaten 2-1 by Korea’s Pohang Steelers in last year’s final, will be vying for the continent’s top club prize alongside Al Shabab, newly crowned Saudi champions Al Hilal and Al Ahli.

The football federation is also offering cash awards to incentivize teams in the domestic league – $35,000 to the top scorer in the Saudi league and $135,000 to the team with the best Fair Play record. The ACL group stage kicks off on Feb. 23.

AFC Extraordinary Congress
The Asian Football Confederation will hold an Extraordinary Congress on June 8 in Johannesburg, South Africa to consider, among other matters, the proposals for amendments to the AFC Statutes.

The Congress comes three days before the start of the 2010 World Cup finals.

The AFC said the agenda for the meeting together with the proposals for amendments or alterations to its statutes would be mailed to its 46 member associations at least a month before the congress.

Egypt now 10th in the world
Egypt climb 14 places to claim 10th spot in FIFA’s latest world rankings after they successfully defended their title at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Angola. It is Egypt’s highest-ever position in the rankings.

Finalists Ghana and semi-finalists Nigeria also benefited from strong performances in Angola, moving up to 27th and 15th positions respectively.

Spain remain top of the FIFA list ahead of Brazil and the Netherlands.

Written by Mark Bisson ([email protected])

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