Maracana Workers Threaten Strike

Renovation of the Maracana is stopped as workers threaten to strike unless they receive higher salaries and better benefits by next week.
The Maracana as seen Monday. (Getty)
Still, the state government for Rio de Janeiro insists the $450 million facelift to Brazil 2014’s showcase stadium remains on target to host three matches during the 2013 Confederations Cup, including the June 30 final.
“This is a normal conflict between an employer and its employees,” Rio`s home secretary Regis Fichtner was quoted in an Associated Press report.
“I think common sense will prevail and that there will be no delay to the working schedule.”
Union director Wagner Antunes Siqueira countered: “This is a warning for the construction consortium. We are going to wait for negotiations on Friday. If there is no agreement, we will hold an assembly to vote on an indefinite strike.”
Work on the Maracana was originally scheduled for completion in December.
Talks Underway for New Russian League
Russia will move forward with a regional football league despite FIFA opposition, state news agency RIA Novosti reports.
“We think it is realistic to hold the championship from the autumn of 2014 to the spring of 2015,” Alexei Miller, the head of Russia’s state gas firm Gazprom was quoted Monday.
Miller reportedly met with representatives of 14 Russian top-flight clubs and one Ukrainian side to discuss plans after FIFA president Sepp Blatter said last month the league would be “impossible” to launch.
Axel Witsel joined Zenit in September. (Getty)
“Of course the approval of UEFA is required, and we will definitely do that,” he told RIA Novosti.
Also this week, St. Petersburg club Zenit said it’s being charged inflated player prices on the transfer market because of stereotypes about rich Russians.
“I am faced with foreign clubs inflating the value of players when they hold talks with Russian clubs,” Zenit sports director Dietmar Beiersdorfer was quoted on the club’s website.
Zenit recently broke the Russian transfer record with $53.5 million plays for Hulk and Axel Witsel.
Match-Fixing Updates from China, Thailand
Shanghai Shenhua are stripped of their 2003 Chinese Super League title and fined $160,000 as part of the latest round of match-fixing sanctions dished out by the Chinese Football Association.
According to a Xinhua report, 33 officials and players were banned for life by the CFA following its three-year investigation into CSL corruption.
Shenhua’s sanctions stem from fixing the result of a match against Shanxi Guoli en route to the 2003 league title.
Also this week, the Thai Football Association launched an investigation into allegations of match-fixing around November’s FA Cup final.
Japanese official Yoshida Toshimitsu told the Asian Football Confederation he was offered a bribe for favoring one side over the other during Buriram United’s 2-1 win over Army United, according to a Bangkok Post report.
“I’ll discuss the incident with FIFA and AFC officials as well as with Interpol when I travel to Malaysia on Thursday for a seminar about the problem of match-fixing,” TFA president and FIFA Executive Committee member Worawi Makudi was quoted as saying.

Football Factions in Indonesia to Meet

Indonesia’s rival football factions will meet next month in Jakarta for a joint congress to end their two-year power struggle, the sports minister says.
“Hopefully, if everything goes well, the Indonesian Soccer Rescue Committee will merge with the Indonesian Soccer Association,” Roy Suryo was quoted Tuesday in a Reuters report.
“I have received a letter from the world soccer ruling body FIFA on Feb. 13, which set a new deadline of March 20,” he added.
As a result of the infighting, Indonesia has been operating with two domestic leagues and two national teams for the past two years.
By INSIDER’s Matthew Grayson

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