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FIFA Considering Ban on Domestic Fixtures Being Played Overseas

On February 27th, soccer’s worldwide governing body FIFA held a meeting to discuss the potential of banning domestic league fixtures from taking place in other countries.

For example, if Liverpool wished to play Manchester United in a league fixture in the United States of America as opposed to Anfield.

According to ESPN, Article 73 of the FIFA Statutes is what is being revisited. Article 73 states that domestic matches played outside of the league or club’s own country can only take place under ‘exceptional circumstances’ and under authorisation from ‘member associations, the respective confederation[s] and by FIFA’.

We have seen this happen sporadically in the past, especially in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League competitions. It’s usually a result of fans overstepping their boundaries and believing they’re bigger than the game itself.

This actually happened again very recently during Bayern Munich’s 6-0 away win at Hoffenheim on Saturday. In the second half, a group of travelling Bayern fans held up expletive signs directed at Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp.

Bayern players and coach Hansi Flick ran across the pitch and pleaded for the signs to be taken down. The fans weren’t exactly keen to accommodate their requests.

The game was temporarily stopped in the 77th minute before players eventually returned to the field. In their own protest against the actions of those fans, both sides refused to play for the remaining 13 minutes, instead kicking the ball amongst one another and conversing in the middle of the pitch.

After the final whistle, all players and coaching staff from both teams stood at Hopp’s side in front of the Hoffenheim fans and everyone applauded the German billionaire.

These kinds of incidents aren’t seen every day in the soccer world and we can be thankful for that. But when these incidents do happen, consequences are laid out for both fans and club alike.

Often, future fixtures are played in empty stadiums. A recent example of this was after the farcical scenes that took place in Bulgaria during their national team’s 6-0 loss to the English.

Bulgaria’s next home match against the Czech Republic was played in an empty stadium as punishment, as well as a measly 75,000 euro fine.

The full story on this can be found here:

https://www.rferl.org/a/bulgaria-soccer-racism-fined–empty-stadium/30242707.html

However, domestic games being played outside of the home country are rare if ever.

FIFA has decided to look into this following two attempts from Spanish top flight La Liga to host domestic league fixtures in the United States of America.

La Liga is partnered with Relevant Sports, a soccer events and media business based out of California. In an attempt to promote the game on the Western front, they have requested to have games played there in recent times.

Both attempts didn’t come to fruition and now FIFA is stepping in to ensure that there is no ‘third time lucky’.

From a business perspective, it makes sense as the game would attract a lot more attention, being a fixture played for league points. The best players would be there, giving their all. The stadium would be completely filled out and it would more than likely be a successful venture.

Imagine if it was an ‘El Clasico’ between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. Except instead of taking place at the Nou Camp or the Santiago Bernabeu, it was played at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

Soccer fans across the Americas would flock to see the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema play for league points.

The FIFA committee has recommended that this ban be implemented and now it may just be a matter of time before it’s a reality.

However, whether it’s on or off the field, soccer is a funny game and anything can happen. The decision is expected to be finalised on the 20th of March.

What are your thoughts on the potential ban of domestic fixtures being played overseas? Let us know on social media @Soccersceneau

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Caelum Ferrarese is a Senior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on micro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions at grassroots level.

Acun Medya Group secures Hull City takeover

EFL Championship side Hull City AFC has been purchased by Turkish production company Acun Medya Group, headed by Acun Ilicali.

EFL Championship side Hull City AFC has been purchased by Turkish production company Acun Medya Group, for a fee in the reported region of $37 million AUD.

Acun Ilicali, a 52-year-old businessman and owner of Acun Medya Group, was introduced to fans at the MKM Stadium prior to the club’s 2-0 win at home over Blackburn Rovers.

The takeover brings the controversial ownership of the Allam family to an end, much to the delight of fans after a roller coaster 11 years in charge.

Despite overseeing two promotions to the Premier League, an FA Cup Final and Hull’s first-ever foray into a European competition through the UEFA Europa League in 2014, the Allam family became increasingly unpopular with the fans.

The unpopularity of the Allam family is due to many different reasons, however it all started when the family proposed a name change to ‘Hull Tigers’ back in 2013. The move was ultimately blocked by authorities a year later, which frustrated the Allams and they then put the club up for sale, straining the relationship with fans and seeing a decline in attendances at home fixtures.

The new ownership will look to win back supporters and turn the negative tide.

Acun Medya Group Owner, Acun Ilicali:

“I am happy that I have fulfilled one of my biggest dreams. We are starting a beautiful journey with Hull City. We have many big dreams and goals to achieve together with our fans,” he said.

Outgoing Vice-Chairman Ehab Allam:

“During our tenure, we have worked hard to create a sustainable model and successful academy set-up, giving the club the foundations it needs for the future,” he said.

“There have been lots of ups and downs over the last 11 years or so, but we will take some very fond memories with us… We have taken a very business-led approach to running the club and I truly hope Acun can rebuild the relationship with the fanbase and also bring back the success on the pitch that fans crave and deserve.”

Hertha Berlin pushing hard for stadium upgrade

Top-flight German football club Hertha Berlin has reiterated its intention to develop a new stadium nearby to the Olympiastadion.

Top-flight German football club Hertha Berlin has reiterated its intention to develop a new stadium nearby to its current home, the Olympiastadion, releasing fresh renderings of its vision for such a project.

The club has been attempting to progress plans to develop a new home for several years and in February 2020 stated that the OlympiaPark would be the preferred location.

In November 2018, Hertha confirmed it was targeting an opening date in July 2025 for a new-look Olympiastadion, with preference to be building a completely new stadium rather than renovating the current one.

The current Olympiastadion has been home to Hertha Berlin for almost 60 years, and has a capacity of around 74,000. However, the club is seeking a more intimate stadium for its fans, as well as the inclusion of an athletics track.

Hertha’s former stadium commissioner, Klaus Teichert, withdrew an application for a decision to be made on the location for a new stadium, with Brandenburg also put forward as a potential location.

Hertha Berlin Chief Financial Officer, Ingo Schiller:

“We have entered into talks with the new government and are working hard to set the course for our new stadium in 2022,” he said.

“The stadium is the club’s most important project, especially in terms of the economic situation.”

There is a lot of political support necessary for the project to get approved, as the potential worksite currently includes residential apartments, a big reason for negotiations coming to a stall at times.

A resident spoke to local radio station rbb24:

“You talk about ir, but not with us. We are still not prepared to sell our apartments in Sportforumstraße or to negotiate about them,” they said.

“It is very unfortunate that our residents in Sportforumstraße are once again unsettled by this uncoordinated approach.”

Hertha Berlin and backers of the new stadium have been in negotiation with Berlin’s sports senator, Iris Spranger, with talks to continue over the next month.

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