Racism complaint

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) have submitted a formal complaint to FIFA over allegations that Filipino supporters and players were subjected to racist abuse during last week’s friendly in Hong Kong.

The Azkals won the match, 1-0, but home fans pelted the players and their supporters with water bottles and other missiles after the match.

The complaint was filed after reports of “physical and racist abuse against Philippine players and supporters,” PFF General Secretary Ed Gastanes said in a statement.

The complaint contains statements from Filipino fans who said they were called “slaves” and that Hong Kong fans threw bottles at them and booed the Philippine national anthem.

The Hong Kong Football Association last week condemned inappropriate behavior and said it was investigating the incidents.

The Filipino fans, who were mostly women and children, numbered several hundred in a crowd of 4,500.

Some in the southern Chinese city still hold a grudge against the Philippines since a Manila hostage-taking incident in 2010, in which eight Hong Kong tourists were killed in a botched police rescue. The Hong Kong government has maintained a travel warning for the Philippines since the incident.

Filipinos are also looked down upon in Hong Kong because more than 100,000 of them work as domestic helpers, many of them on low pay.

Tur ban

The Canadian Soccer Association has banned Quebec teams from participating in or hosting interprovincial matches and national competitions, after it refused to let turban-wearing children play.

The national body also said the suspension prevents Quebec clubs from competing in or hosting international matches and forbids them from having national or international referees officiate their games.

Quebec’s federation would also be blocked from participating in or benefiting from international clinics, CSA meetings and its disciplinary hearings.

“It is with regret that the Canadian Soccer Association recognizes that the Quebec Soccer Federation suspension will, in the short term, affect a number of players and clubs,” the organization said in the release.

“The association remains committed to resolving this issue for the long-term growth and development of the sport of soccer in Canada.”

So far the Quebec federation has refused to bow to pressure and said it would maintain its controversial ban on the Sikh religious headwear.

It has said it is concerned about safety and points out that the rules of the world governing body, FIFA, don’t specifically allow turbans.

Critics of the Quebec decision point out that FIFA’s rules don’t explicitly ban turbans, either.

One outraged team in Quebec has even gone so far as to have its whole team wear turbans to games, to register their protest to the ban.

Ihab Leheta, the coach of the under-14 team, says while there are no Sikh players on their team, the players wanted to show their outrage.

“On Friday, the day before our game on Saturday, the boys were discussing injustice and racism and I asked them, ‘If we had a Sikh boy on our team, what would we do?’ And they said, ‘Well if he couldn’t play, we wouldn’t play’,” Leheta told CTV’s Canada AM.

Fallout

Michael Laudrup says he intends to stay at Swansea City, despite the club severing ties with his agent Bayram Tutumlu.

Doubts over Laudrup’s future arose over the rift with Tutumlu, amid claims that the agent was trying to negotiate the sale of Swansea defender Ashely Williams.

Chairman Huw Jenkins is believed to have told Tutumlu that he has no intention of allowing Williams to leave.

Laudrup said in a statement: “If the club do not want to work with him, or Bayram does not want to work with them, it’s their problem not mine.

“The only thing I care about is to have the best players possible at Swansea who are within range of the economy of the club.

“I have 100% confidence in Bayram, but if the club don’t want to work with him or he doesn’t want to work with them, they have to live with that.

“It will not change my relationship with Bayram one centimetre.

“The only thing I am interested in is having the best players at Swansea within the budget that is possible.

“That’s what I have been fighting for every day, last year when I arrived and this year as well. That will always be the most important thing for me wherever I end up in the future.”

Strike action

Players from Nigeria’s Confederations Cup squad have gone on strike, refusing to leave their hotel in Namibia and missing a flight to Brazil.

 ”They are declining to leave,” Namibia Football Association general secretary Barry Rukoro told Reuters. “They were supposed to go at 11 a.m. this morning but they say they are owed money by their association and want it sorted before they will leave the hotel.

“Their officials all departed on an earlier flight this morning but the players and the technical staff are still here. So far there is no indication they are leaving.”

Sources said the Nigerian players were angry over unpaid bonus money promised to them after they beat Kenya in a World Cup qualifier last week.

You’ve heard about playing for the shirt, well, this isn’t it.

Nigeria are due to play their first game in the competition against Tahiti in Belo Horizonte on Monday.

Broken Hearts

Hearts will listen to offers for their entire first-team squad in an effort to keep the Scottish Premier League club afloat.

The Edinburgh club said it was making the move on account of other revenue “drying up”. Which sounds rather ominous.

Hearts have accumulated debts of £25m – £10m of which is owed to their parent company, UBIG, which is claiming insolvency.

And the club owes £15m to Ukio Bankas, which has been declared bankrupt.

In a statement, the club said: “It is now crucial to the football club that we find a solution to bring in enough finance to allow us to trade into the new season when normal trading can resume with the benefit of SPL and game-related income streams.

“The payments to HMRC and players/staff salaries are the most important issues in our focus these days where very limited time remains available to the club.

“However, given that the revenues for season tickets has dried up and no other realistic income is available quickly enough, the club will consider offers for the players of the current squad, including the most promising talent in order for the most necessary and important payments to be made.”

Season tickets are 20 per cent down on forecasts, with fans, understandably in the circumstances, concerned about paying to see a club that may not even exist next month.

Managing director David Southern insists the financially-stricken club will only consider serious offers for their players.

He said: “If there is any club prepared to make realistic offers – and I must stress that they would have to be realistic, we wouldn’t sell any player for next to nothing – then we would sell.”

Although, even he must acknowledge that by putting the entire playing staff up for sale as a result of a massive cash shortfall, does rather make this a buyers market.

Match fixing latest

A club in Sweden has taken the unusual step of reporting itself to police over suspicions of match-fixing.

Bookmakers stopped taking money on 4th division side Syrianska Kerburan’s home league game against Kvarnshedens IK after large bets were placed on the away side. Syrianska lost the tie 5-1.

The club said they took the “unanimous decision” to report the situation to police to ensure a thorough investigation takes place and to clear their name.

“All people – players, coaches, the club board and employees – who had any involvement in the club’s representative team activities shall now be considered subject to police investigation,” the statement said.

Ready or not?

Three days before the start of the Confederations Cup and exactly a year before the World Cup kick-off, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke has again insisted that Brazil will be ready for the big day.

Valcke said that 12 months is enough time to finish work at airport terminals and the 12 stadiums that will play host to the event.

“That is going to happen,” Valcke said. ”There is no Plan B. There is no solution other than having those 12 stadiums,” Valcke added.

However, an in-depth report in today’s Guardian presents a bleak portrait of a country riven by corruption and a football culture undermined by violence and inequality.

To give you a flavour of the piece, here are a couple of quotes.

“I can’t afford a ticket. I’m poor. I live among the poor. I don’t know anyone who is going to a World Cup game,” said Santa Cruz’s most famous fan, Bacalhau, who has worn nothing but his team’s colours for 38 years and had all his teeth extracted and replaced with tri-coloured dentures.

“I’m not really interested in the national team,” complains another fan, Jesus Tricolor, who has been coming to games for 12 years dressed as the Messiah. “At the top level it is too corrupt so I have given up on them. Now football is all about money. The World Cup contributes nothing to society. It’s just for the elite.”

It’s sobering reading and as far removed from the image most people have when they think of Brazilian football.

Goal of the day

The most remarkable aspect of Rafael Sóbis long range strike for Fluminense against Portuguesa, was that he managed to generate so much power with such a short run up.

Quote of the day

“All the news about my renewal with Real Madrid are false.”

Cristiano Ronaldo denies reports that he negotiating a new contract with Real Madrid.

Countdown continues

A clock designed by the late architect Oscar Niemeyer to mark the one-year countdown to next year’s FIFA World Cup has been unveiled on Rio’s Copacabana beach.

The device, made by Hublot, the official timekeeper for the 2014 finals, will count down the days until the tournament kicks off in 12 months time.

“We are going to stage an excellent World Cup, we are confident,” said Pele at the unveiling.

Joining Pele, a three-time winner of the FIFA World Cup, at the ceremony were Brazil Sports Minister Also Rebelo and with his fingers crossed, Jerome Valcke, the secretary general of world football’s governing body FIFA.

If the country’s preparations for the World Cup are anything to go by, we can expect the clock to tell the right time at least twice a day.

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