Nine teams face probes
Nine clubs remain at risk of punishment for over-spending under UEFA’s financial fairplay rules, the European governing body announced on Friday. Although the identity of the teams was not revealed, big-spending Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are widely believed to be among those facing possible sanctions. UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) Investigatory Chamber said that 76 out of the 237 clubs that entered European competitions, and were subject to the new break-even requirements, requested to submit additional information. “From that group, the examination as regards 67 clubs has come to an end and continues only in relation to the nine remaining clubs,” a UEFA statement said. UEFA is expected to impose heavy fines, and a wage cap on the squads to appear in next season’s Champions League. However, they are not expected to include a tournament ban.
Hopfner Bayern president
Karl Hopfner was voted in as Bayern Munich president on Friday, succeeding Uli Hoeness, who could be welcomed back by the German giants once he has served a prison sentence for fraud. The 61-year-old Hopfner received the backing of 1,593 club members at an extraordinary general meeting, but Hoeness spiced up the occasion by insisting that he has no plans to retire once he is a free man. “I made a huge mistake and I will accept that. When I return, I am not going to retire,” said the 62-year-old Hoeness, who is still waiting to start serving his three-and-a-half-year jail term. Hoeness, who was convicted of cheating the state out of 28.5 million euros (US$39.5 million) in unpaid taxes, received a standing ovation from the club members. “I am leaving with a clear conscience with no worries for the club,” he added. Hopfner has spent more than 30 years at Bayern filling positions such as vice-president and serving on the executive committee.
Pope warns on money
Pope Francis on Friday warned money “risks contaminating” soccer and called for a return to “sporting dignity” at a Vatican meeting with players from Italian Cup finalists Fiorentina and Napoli. “Football is a big business now because of advertising, television, et cetera, but the economic factor must not prevail over the sporting one because it risks contaminating everything,” he told them. “As a boy I used to go to the stadium a lot, I have happy memories. Joyful moments, on Sundays, with my family. I hope football and sports in general regains that sense of a celebration,” he said. He also said footballers had “a great responsibility” because young people looked up to them, telling them: “Your behavior has a resonance, for better or worse.”
Cash boosts Beckham dream
David Beckham’s dream stadium project for his new Major League Soccer team in Miami took another step on Friday toward becoming reality. The Florida state legislature approved a bill that allows professional sports teams to receive up to US$2 million in annual subsidies to build or renovate stadiums or infrastructure. Florida Governor Rick Scott must now enact the law. Former England and Manchester United star Beckham reportedly traveled to the state capital, Tallahassee, to push the measure. Beckham wants to build a stadium for 25,000 fans at a cost of US$250 million in the port of Miami, but has faced resistance from a coalition of business groups.