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FIFA poised to offer Israel 6-month deal to kill off its six West Bank teams

The FIFA committee charged with resolving the increasingly intractable Israeli-Palestinian issue looks set to postpone a final ruling once again by giving Israel six months to discontinue playing matches in the occupied West Bank – or face possible sanctions. The highly respected Israeli newspaper Haaretz says it has seen a draft of the committee’s report to next month’s FIFA Congress recommending the six-month deadline before any final decision is made about suspending the six Israeli teams in question or even kicking Israel out of FIFA altogether. The Palestine Football Association has long maintained that the presence of the six Israeli clubs on its territory is in breach of FIFA statutes. Israel counters that this is inapplicable since the Palestinians do not have permanent borders.

Last week Israel reportedly stepped up its diplomatic efforts to foil a Palestinian initiative within FIFA by mandating its overseas embassies to try and gain international support in order to stave off a vote at the Congress in Bahrain. At the same time Israel Football Association chairman Ofer Eini apparently sent a letter to FIFA’s general secretary, Fatma Samoura, asking the Palestinians to remove the issue of the settlement teams from both the FIFA Council meeting, in Manama, Bahrain, on May 9, and the full Congress, which convenes in the same city 24 hours later. Whether that will work is questionable. Last October, the PFA called on FIFA to either expel the six clubs in settlements, or relocate them to within Israel’s internationally recognised borders.

However FIFA, under pressure from both sides, postponed making a decision. Then last month, Palestinian and Israeli football officials were involved in “heated” last-ditch talks as Tokyo Sexwale, FIFA’s main Middle East negotiator, finally presented his long awaited draft report on the dispute. Time is now pressing and PFA President Jibril Rajoub is clearly losing patience. Rajoub’s federation is set to deliver a motion to FIFA, a draft of which has been seen by Insideworldfootball,  that seeks “to recognise the PFA’s entitlement to all its rights”.  According to the proposal, the PFA insists that ever since the monitoring committee was set up in May 2015, “no substantial improvement has been achieved until now despite our efforts and those of … Tokyo Sexwale.” As a result the motion calls on the FIFA Council “to propose and/or adopt disciplinary measures …against the Israeli Football Association” though tellingly it does not actually call for Israel’s expulsion, interpreted by some as a diplomatic attempt not to scupper delicate ongoing negotiations in the build-up to the Bahrain summit.

St Petersburg stadium debuts as a work in progress

Saint Petersburg’s 69-000 all-seater Krestovsky Stadium has opened two months before the Confederations Cup, but concerns remain over the venue’s readiness.  This weekend Zenit Saint Petersburg welcomed Ural Yekaterinburg to their new purpose built World Cup stadium. Zenit won the match 2-0 with former Chelsea player Branislav Ivanovic and substitute Yohan Mollo scoring the goals. The stadium was only partly full with the top tier had not been closed to the public. It was an emotional baptism for the stadium with Yekaterinburg finishing the match with just eight players. The completion and opening of the stadium had been a long time in the making after a decade of scandals over bloated construction bills and missed deadlines. Building work began in 2007, but the arena was criticised for a budget overrun of 41 billion  rubles [£567 million].

Last August a new constructor, Metrostroy, was appointed to complete the stadium construction, but misgivings over the retractable playing field caused further delays. FIFA finally approved the venue in December. The first match was played on a poor field, with a cut-up turf. Zenit manager Mircea Lucescu acknowledged that the pitch had been “not very good” and affected his team’s play. Alexei Sorokin, head of the 2018 World Cup organising committee dispelled any fears over the state of the pitch.  “Of course there are many pitches of much better quality,” TASS agency quoted Sorokin as saying. “But the experts said the pitch here needs some time to firm up. The grass is too young so far, but in every new game here, its condition will become better and better.” The stadium will welcome the opening match and final of the Confederations Cup. Next year the venue will host a World Cup semi-final.

KPN upgrades Eredvisie deal to main sponsorship with focus on TV connections

The Dutch Eredvisie has signed telecommunications operator KPN in a four-year deal as the league’s main sponsor from the start of next season. No figure was announced for the deal which sees KPN expand a partnership with the league that was restarted in 2014. Prior to that KPN had sponsored the league from 1990 to 2002 when its was known as the PTT Competitie, then the KPN Telecompetitie and then KPN Eredivisie. The new deal will not include naming rights though the KPN logo will be incorporated into an Eredvisie logo that will be `appear in all league stadia as well as on TV broadcasts.

As part of its existing sponsorship, KPN already shows highlights of matches via its Goal Alert app. The broadcast exposure is a key element in the deal with live matches being shown on shown on the Fox Sports Eredivisie channels. “We now offer our clients all Eredivisie football via Fox Sports Eredivisie and the Goal Alert app, after the last three years as official partner,” said Frank van der Post, chief commercial officer at KPN. “We look forward to the partnership with Eredivisie being further developed. Football is in the hearts of many Dutch people. As a supporter of the national football league, we will make a positive contribution to the sport over the coming years.” While KPN has opted to expand its league sponsorship deal in Holland, its main rival Ziggo last week announced it was expanding its own deal with leading club Ajax. The cable operator is the club’s lead sponsor and will now also sponsor its eSports team.

Manchester City set to pip Manchester United to left-back

Manchester City look set to pip rivals Manchester United to the signing of highly-rated Monaco left-back Benjamin Mendy, according to the Daily Star.  Both Manchester sides are in the market for a new left-back at the end of the season, with City keen to strengthen in this area come the summer.  United, meanwhile, are looking to replace Luke Shaw at left-back, with Jose Mourinho prepared to allow the England international to leave at the end of the season. 


Mendy has been mooted with a possible Premier League switch in the past, with Liverpool and Arsenal also believed to be interested in the France international.  However, the 22-year-old will only consider a move away from Monaco for another team in the Champions League, which puts City in pole position to secure his services. 

25 April, 2017  tobi   Sport News |

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