COVID-19: FIFA Urges Players, Clubs To Reach Wage Agreement

FIFA President Gianni Infantino addresses the media during a press conference following the FIFA Council Meetings in Miami, Florida, on March 15, 2019. Infantino on Friday confirmed plans to launch an expanded 24-team Club World Cup in 2021 following a meeting in Miami. The new tournament, which has drawn threats of a boycott from leading European clubs, is to be staged in June-July 2021 instead of the Confederations Cup. RHONA WISE / AFP.
FILE PHOTO: FIFA President Gianni Infantino addresses the media during a press conference following the FIFA Council Meetings in Miami, Florida, on March 15, 2019.  RHONA WISE / AFP.

 

FIFA on Monday urged clubs and players to reach agreement on wage reductions to protect clubs suffering financial damage due to the coronavirus crisis, sources said.

The call from world football’s governing body comes as Premier League clubs are locked in talks with players and their representatives about taking pay cuts after government ministers called on players to “play their part”.

Italian top-flight football clubs on Monday agreed to cut the salaries of players, coaches and staff. Clubs in other countries, including Barcelona, have also cut player wages.

FIFA is also recommending that players’ contracts be extended until the end of the interrupted football seasons and that the transfer window does not open until that time.

The source said the health crisis had had “a major impact” on clubs’ revenues and that, like other sectors of the economy, football had to find “fair and equitable solutions” to protect jobs.

Therefore FIFA “strongly encourages clubs and players to work together” to find agreements on a range of issues, including salaries.

It is common practice for European player contracts to run until June 30.

Players whose contracts expire this summer include Manchester City’s David Silva, Willian at Chelsea, or Paris Saint-Germain’s Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani. At the moment, they will be free to leave on July 1 even if the season has not been completed.

Given that the European seasons are suspended and there is no fixed date to resume at the current time, the source said FIFA proposes that contracts should be extended “until such time that the season does actually end”.

A statement FIFA has prepared and which has been seen by AFP said: “With the current suspension of play in most countries, it is now obvious that the current season will not end when people thought it would. Therefore, it is proposed that contracts be extended until such time that the season does actually end.”

“A similar principle applies for contracts scheduled to begin when the new season starts,” it said. “Meaning the entry into force of such contracts is delayed until the season actually does start.”

In Italy, where all football has been suspended since March 9, clubs in Serie A agreed on Monday that player salaries will be reduced by a third of their gross annual earnings if the season should be cancelled, and a sixth if it resumes.

‘Positive impact’

Individual agreements must still be signed between the clubs and players, who will waive between two and four months’ salary.

The decision was reached unanimously by Serie A clubs, with the exception of Juventus, which had already reached an agreement with its own players, said Lega Serie A.

Juventus said the salary cuts accepted by its players and coach Maurizio Sarri over the period from March to June would have “a positive impact of 90 million euros on the 2019/2020 financial year”.

In Spain, where Barcelona players, like their English counterparts, had been criticised for not agreeing a pay cut, six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi announced last week that the squad had agreed to a 70 percent pay reduction as the club faces a loss of revenue.

“We clearly won’t manage to earn what we had been expecting to,” Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said.

Atletico Madrid’s players quickly followed in agreeing a similar pay cut.

In France, both the broadcasters who show Ligue 1 matches have refused to pay the latest instalments called for in their contracts. Several clubs, including Lyon and Marseille, have placed their squads on partial unemployment.

 

AFP

Super Eagles Retain Spot On FIFA Ranking

A file photo of Super Eagles of Nigeria during a training session.

 

 

The Super Eagles have retained their 31st position in the latest FIFA ranking.

According to the index released on Thursday by the football governing body, Nigeria are third in Africa behind the Teranga Lions of Senegal and Tunisia.

The West and North African countries are 20th and 27th respectively on the world stage.

Algeria and Morocco who also sit 35 and 43, trail the Eagles as fourth and fifth to complete Africa’s first five teams.

Meanwhile, Belgium maintained their position as the best globally while World Cup winners France and Brazil are second and third.

England are in the fourth position just as Uruguay sit fifth.

Nigeria will face Sierra Leone at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Delta State on March 23.

Both teams are meeting in a 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier match with the return leg to be played in Sierra Leone the following week.

$7.35bn Spent On Players Transfer In 2019, Says FIFA

FIFA Bans Ex-Zambian Football Chief Bwalya Over Bribery Allegations
File

 

Football clubs worldwide splashed out a record $7.35 billion (6.63 million euros) on transfers in the men’s game in 2019, FIFA revealed in a report released on Wednesday.

The amount represents a 5.8 per cent increase in 2018, with English clubs accounting for the largest total outlay at just over $1.5 billion — a drop of 22.1 per cent on previous figures.

However, 80 per cent of all spending on transfer fees came from 100 clubs combined, according to the global transfer market report.

Portuguese clubs achieved the highest net balance with $384 million while those in England produced the largest negative net balance of $549.9 million.

A total of 18,042 international transfers were made — another record. They involved 15,463 players of 178 different nationalities.

There was also a 16.3 per cent increase in spending on women’s football, with the total figure rising to $652,000 from $560,000. The number of transfers climbed from 696 to 833.

“It is remarkable to see a new record number of transfers in the men’s market,” said FIFA’s chief legal and compliance officer, Emilio Garcia Silvero.

“We observe as well, increasing all-round figures in the women’s market, which is a sign of the positive overall development of women’s football over the last year which we trust will continue in 2020.”

AFP

FIFA Files Court Claims To Retrieve $2m From Platini

Platini Wishes FIFA Ethics Panel Would 'Disappear'
FIFA ex-Vice Presidents Michel Platini/ AFP

 

FIFA on Monday said it had filed court claims in Switzerland to force Michel Platini to return two million Swiss francs ($2 million, 1.84 million euros) he received during Sepp Blatter’s reign at world football’s governing body.

FIFA banned Platini, its then vice president, in 2015 over the payment he received, sparking years of bitter recriminations from the Frenchman and a falling out with his former ally Blatter.

In a document seen by AFP last week, FIFA said it would take legal action by the end of the year “to recover the money illegally paid” by Blatter to Platini.

The organisation confirmed Monday it had launched such proceedings.

“This follows the unanimous resolution recently adopted by the FIFA Governance Committee in which it emphasised that FIFA was duty-bound to try to recover the funds illicitly paid by one former official to another,” FIFA said in a statement.

“Even the Swiss Federal Supreme Court has confirmed that this 2 million Swiss franc gift was to be viewed as an ‘undue payment’.”

It added: “If and when successfully recovered, these funds (together with interest) will be fully channelled back into football development, which is where the money should have gone in the first place.”

Blatter authorised the payment in 2011. The Swiss authorities started investigating in 2015 while FIFA’s ethics investigators branded the payment “disloyal” and banned Platini for six years.

The Frenchman subsequently appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which reduced his suspension to four years while ruling it “was unconvinced as to the legitimacy of the payment, which was only recognised by Mr. Platini and Mr. Blatter.”

AFP

FIFA To Take Legal Action In Recovery Of $2m From Platini

Platini Wishes FIFA Ethics Panel Would 'Disappear'
French former football player and former UEFA head Michel Platini attends the French L1 football match between Nancy (ASNL) and Saint-Etienne (ASSE) at Marcel Picot stadium in Tomblaine, eastern France. JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN. AFP

 

FIFA is to take legal action by the end of the year to force Michel Platini to return two million Swiss francs ($2 million) he received “illegally” during Sepp Blatter’s reign at world football’s governing body, according to a document seen Wednesday.

FIFA banned Platini, its then vice president, in 2015 over the payment. It said in the document seen by AFP it would take action “to recover the money illegally paid by the former President of FIFA to the former Vice President of FIFA.”

The document explained that FIFA also planned to target Blatter and that, under Swiss law, FIFA has until December 31 to file a claim in court.

FIFA said it planned to sue Blatter at the same time and would be seeking “interest at the appropriate rate” and “disciplinary fines and costs… both ordered but not paid.”

Blatter authorised the payment in 2011. The Swiss authorities started investigating in 2015.

FIFA’s ethics investigators branded the payment “disloyal” and banned Platini for six years.

The Frenchman appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which reduced his suspension to four years but said that it “was not convinced by the legitimacy of the payment, which was only recognised by Mr. Platini and Mr. Blatter.”

Platini has always maintained the money was a legitimate payment and he did nothing wrong.

FIFA said in the document that the “undue payment…had no basis in law, and that fact has been established in various courts and tribunals up to the level of the Swiss Supreme Court.”

AFP

Blatter Ready To Testify In France Over 2022 World Cup

Former FIFA then President Joseph Blatter (L) speaking at the start of the FIFA Ballon d’Or awards ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich on January 7, 2013. AFP

 

Sepp Blatter, the former president of FIFA, told AFP on Wednesday that he had opposed awarding the 2020 World Cup to Qatar, but that he has a “clear conscience.”

Blatter said he is willing to testify to French prosecutors about the 2010 vote in favour of Qatar.

“If they ask me formally then I think I will go to France because I have a clear conscience,” said the 83-year-old who already testified in Switzerland in April, 2017, at the request of the French authorities.

Qatar beat Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States to win the vote. However, the result has been consistently questioned.

A three-year-old French investigation, was recently entrusted to a Paris investigative magistrate charged with looking specifically for “active and passive corruption”.

Six months ago, Michael Platini, who was vice-president of FIFA and UEFA president at the time, was questioned about his decision to vote in favour of Qatar.

The investigators are particularly interested in a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on November 23, 2010, just over a week before the vote, between French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Qatari prince Tamim ben Hamad al-Thani –- who became Emir in 2013 –- and Platini who subsequently voted for Qatar.

“When Platini said that he would have voted for Qatar anyway, especially for the development of football, it is not true,” said Blatter.

“We had a consensus within the Executive Committee of FIFA, which planned to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to the United States.

“Everything went well until eight days before the election when there was this famous dinner at the Elysee.

“Platini phoned me immediately after. He told me: ‘Sepp, it’s not going to work, we will have a problem for the election.’ President Sarkozy had asked him, suggested, to vote for Qatar,” said Blatter, who reported this telephone conversation to the Swiss judge in April 2017.

“I said to Platini ‘Did he force you?’ He said ‘Not at all, but when a head of state asks you to do something, you do it so I will follow and I will take my friends with me’.”

“His friends were the Cypriot Marios Lefkaritis, the Belgian Michel D’Hooghe who would have voted for Qatar anyway, his son having already had a post in Qatar, and the Spaniard Angel Maria Villar. So it made four voices that tipped the vote.”

Blatter, who was ousted from office in 2015, is serving a six-year ban from  FIFA activities because of a separate payment of 2 million Swiss francs (1.84 million euros) to Platini.

AFP

Infantino Proposed As IOC Member

Qatar Must Host Best World Cup Ever, Infantino Warns
FIFA President Gianni Infantino gives a press conference following an executive meeting of the world football governing body at its headquarters in Zurich. MICHAEL BUHOLZER / AFP

 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has been proposed as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) but World Athletics head Sebastian Coe will have to wait, IOC chief Thomas Bach announced on Thursday.

Bach said Infantino will be officially put forward as a candidate to be a member in January, when he will have to face a vote from the over 100 current members of the IOC.

Bach added Coe has not been proposed for the next session after worries over “the risk of conflict of interest”, adding the “door is still open” for the World Athletics head at the IOC session before next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Infantino’s predecessor Sepp Blatter, who departed from the organisation amid a corruption scandal that swept FIFA, was an IOC member but since succeeding him in 2015 Infantino has never been a member.

Bach also announced 30 athletes are candidates for four seats on the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission, which will be decided during the Tokyo Games.

Among the contenders are high jump world champion Mutaz Essa Barshim, Olympic gold-winning swimmer Federica Pellegrini, double Olympic triathlon gold winner Alistair Brownlee and Spanish basketball player Paul Gasol.

AFP

Super Eagles Move Four Places Up In Latest FIFA Ranking

A file photos of Super Eagles of Nigeria during a training session.

 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have moved four places up in the monthly The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) rankings released by the world football governing body.

The three-time African champions now occupy the 31st position in the world and third in Africa.

Senegal retained their spot as the best playing nation in the continent and 20th in the world, they are closely trailed by Tunisia who moved two spots to the 27th position.

Algeria also improved in the latest ranking moving three places to the 35th position in the world.

Morocco, despite dropping a spot to the 43rd position completes the continents top five playing nations.

Wenger Ends Bayern Rumours After Being Named FIFA’s Development Chief

Arsenal’s former coach Arsene Wenger has been named FIFA’s world football development director, the Zurich-based body said on November 13, 2019.
Ozan KOSE / AFP

 

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger returned to football on Wednesday after being named FIFA’s chief of global football development, ending any chance of a move to managerless Bayern Munich.

FIFA said the former Arsenal and Monaco coach would be responsible for the growth of the game “for both men and women around the world”, and would also be the “leading authority on technical matters”, including potential changes to the sport’s laws.

It added that Wenger, 70, would also be tasked with coach education and aiding a programme designed to help former players enter management.

“I very much look forward to taking on this extremely important challenge,” Wenger said in a statement.

“Not only because I have always been interested in analysing football from a broader perspective but also because FIFA’s mission as world football’s governing body is truly global.”

Rumours of Wenger making a shock return to coaching had intensified over the weekend after Wenger denied claims by Bayern Munich that they had turned down his offer to take over at the German champions after the sacking of Niko Kovac.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge then said there had been a “misunderstanding” and that the Bundesliga giants would speak to Wenger “in the near future”.

However it is the new FIFA role that brings the Frenchman back to the game for the first time since 2018, when he left Arsenal after 22 years in charge.

Wenger made the Gunners one of the strongest sides in Europe, winning three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups and taking his team to the 2006 Champions League final.

His also won the French league in 1987 with Monaco, adding the French Cup four years later before departing for Japan in 1995.

“I am delighted to welcome him to the team. Since I arrived at FIFA, we have placed football at the centre of our mission, striving to learn from those who know the sport inside out,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

“Arsene is someone who, with his strategic vision, competence and hard work, has dedicated his life to football.”

Bringing in famous faces has been a key part of Infantino’s tenure at the head of FIFA. Wenger arrives following the departures of technical chief Marco van Basten last year and former deputy secretary general Zvonimir Boban, who became AC Milan’s “chief football officer” in June.

FIFA Name Arsene Wenger Global Football Development Chief

Arsenal’s former coach Arsene Wenger has been named FIFA’s world football development director, the Zurich-based body said on November 13, 2019.
Ozan KOSE / AFP

 

Veteran coach Arsene Wenger has been named FIFA’s chief of global football development, the governing body announced on Wednesday.

FIFA said the former Arsenal and Monaco coach would be responsible for the growth of the game “for both men and women around the world”, and would also be the “leading authority on technical matters”, including potential changes to the sport’s laws.

It added that Wenger, 70, would also be tasked with coach education and aiding a programme designed to help former players enter management.

READ ALSO: Super Eagles Beat Squirrels Of Benin 2-1

“I very much look forward to taking on this extremely important challenge,” Wenger said in a statement.

“Not only because I have always been interested in analysing football from a broader perspective but also because FIFA’s mission as world football’s governing body is truly global.”

The new role brings Wenger back to the game for the first time since 2018, when he left Arsenal after 22 years in charge.

Wenger made the Gunners one of the strongest sides in Europe, winning three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups and taking his team to the 2006 Champions League final.

On Saturday Wenger denied claims by Bayern Munich that they had turned down his offer to take over at the German champions after the sacking of Niko Kovac.

FIFA Doesn’t Care About Racism In Football, Says Toure

FIFA Bans Ex-Zambian Football Chief Bwalya Over Bribery Allegations
File

Yaya Toure says FIFA is not doing enough to stamp out racism and that England should have walked off the pitch in the face of monkey chants during their Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria.

The 36-year-old former Barcelona and Manchester City midfielder made the comments to AFP after Qingdao Huanghai clinched promotion to the Chinese Super League at the weekend.

England’s 6-0 victory in Sofia earlier this month was marred by racist chants and Nazi salutes from a section of Bulgarian fans.

The game was halted twice during the first half but England players opted to complete the match instead of walking off the pitch.

“This is a shame, why are you playing for England?” Toure, who has been outspoken on football’s racism problem, said of the decision.

“They are always talking, ‘Blah, blah, blah’, and what? Nothing changes.”

Turning his real fire on football’s decision-makers, the four-time African player of the year said: “People from FIFA don’t care anyway because we’ve been talking about this, but it’s still continuing.

“I don’t want to say that I’m not concerned, I’m concerned,” said the former Ivory Coast international.

Raheem Sterling, the England and Manchester City forward, has been widely praised for playing a prominent role in calling out the racists at home and abroad.

But Toure, his former team-mate at City, said that was “not good enough”.

Toure, whose trophy haul includes three Premier League titles with City and a UEFA Champions League with Barcelona, believes it is time the players took more decisive action.

“They have to be serious about it, players need to make serious moves about it otherwise they (the racists) will continue to do that,” he said.

“They have to get the players out of the field.”

FIFA did not immediately reply to an AFP request for comment.

 ‘They respect nobody’ 

Toure was speaking after he played a pivotal role for Qingdao in a 2-0 win on Saturday at Shanghai Shenxin, attended by just a few hundred spectators.

Victory ensured promotion to the top-tier Chinese Super League for the team that Toure joined in July, but he is unlikely to make the move up with them next year.

“I think I’ll finish in December or January, then go, have another challenge,” he said, vowing to play on until he is 40.

“People are thinking that I’m done, but I’m not done yet,” he said.

Toure has enjoyed his spell in Chinese football and stressed that he has never experienced any form of discrimination in the country.

“It’s been a nice experience because I’ve seen people with a different mentality from Europe — the way to play football, the way they feel and their behaviour on the field,” he said.

“When I play in the stadiums, nobody boos me because I’m black, it’s a different culture, they respect.

“In Europe, they respect nobody.”

AFP

‘I Am Very Proud Of You’, Buhari Congratulates Golden Eaglets

President Muhammadu Buhari at a meeting with APC governors at the State House in Abuja on September 13, 2019.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria for a fantastic beginning in the group opening match of FIFA World Cup Brazil 2019.

Nigeria Under-17 football team opened Brazil 2019 with a 4-2 win over Hungary, signaling their readiness to win the FIFA Championship for an unprecedented sixth time.

In a message to the team after the spectacular performance on Saturday night, President Buhari praised the boys for the determination to excel which they displayed throughout the match despite the brilliant performance of their opponents.

“It was a wonderful display that I am very proud of. You showed that there is nothing that cannot be achieved with determination and perseverance.

“I have followed your journey leading to your arrival in Brazil for the competition. I have equally noted your determination and confidence throughout your preparations.

“I have no doubt in my mind that you are determined to win the competition for an unparalleled sixth time,” the president said in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

Read Also: Nigeria Beat Hungary 4-2 In FIFA U17 World Cup

Speaking further, he assured them of his continuing personal support and that of Nigerians for the entire period of the tournament.

The President also urged the team to continue demonstrating the resilient spirit of the Nigerian, and bring the cup home, adding that he will personally be monitoring their progress in the tournament.

President Buhari equally congratulated the handlers of the team, urging them to be sensitive to the needs of the youngsters in their burning desire to bring victory and honour to their fatherland.