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Optus secures FIFA Club World Cup rights

Optus Sport

Optus have become the new rights holders of the FIFA Club World Cup, during 2019 and 2020 which are hosted by Qatar in both years.

Optus, who already have major competitions English Premier League and UEFA Champions League exclusively, have added the FIFA Club World Cup to bolster their football coverage for their subscribers.

After claiming live and exclusive rights to the top tier of English women’s football, the Barclays FA Women’s Super League for the next three years in Australia, Optus have pounced on the FIFA Club World Cup as the competition is not far from starting.

Optus’ coverage won’t be the first time a FIFA tournament has been on their network, as they broadcasting the full 11 days pf the FIFA Women’s World Cup earlier this year in France.

Optus’ new venture of the FIFA Club World Cup is an international club football tournament that pits each winners of the six different continental confederations from last season, as well as the host nation’s (Qatar) league champions.

So for example, Liverpool will participate in this year’s tournament for winning the UEFA Champions League.

Ahead of Optus commencing their new area of coverage, Richard Bayliss the director of Optus Sport spoke about their commitment to providing Australian’s with the world’s leading teams in the top competitions on Optus Sport.

“We are extremely pleased to add this tournament to our football schedule and we’re confident our 700,000 plus Optus Sport active subscribers will enjoy the format,” Bayliss said.

“Broadcasting Liverpool’s sixth Champions League triumph was a massive moment for Optus Sport, and it will be a privilege for us to show the Reds’ attempt to overcome the best of South America, Asia, North America and Africa. Brazil’s Flamengo had a stunning Copa Libertadores win in November, so they too will enter the World Cup in ominous form.”

Coming into this year’s tournament, Real Madrid are the reigning FIFA Club World Cup champions and are the most successful club in this tournament’s history with four titles.

In their place are Liverpool this time as the last UEFA Champions League winners in 2019, and will appear in the FIFA Club World Cup for the second time, since losing the final in 2005.

As part of the coverage, Optus Sport will stream every match live and exclusive, as well as offering on-demand and mini-matches combined with various highlights packages throughout the tournament.

They’ll be a new live show called Scores on Sunday hosted by various presentations including Mel McLaughlin, Richard Bayliss and Niav Owens, while they’ll be plenty of analysis and opinion from some of Australia’s leading pundits such as Heather Garriock, Mark Schwarzer, John Aloisi and Alicia Ferguson on all that happens during the tournament.

2021 AFCON switches to winter due to heat

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has made the decision to move the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to the months of January and February, going against its plan to have the tournament during summer.

The AFCON has formerly seen winter months at its traditional time slot and is due to take place from January 9th to February 6th 2021. .

The African governing body, currently being presided over by FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura, cited extreme heat as the reason why they they made the decision to move the competition, however it also now prevents a clash with FIFA’s expanded Club World Cup in June 2021.

CAF’s announcement follows discussions with the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT), the host nation’s governing soccer body.

CAF Deputy General Secretary Anthony Baffoe confirmed the association’s decision.

“We have reviewed the period of the competition as requested by the Cameroonian party due to unfavourable climatic conditions during the period initially slated,” he said.

“After listening to the various arguments and viewpoints, and in particular from the Cameroonian meteorological authorities, the coaches and players; the representatives of the Afcon organising committee, which received the mandate from CAF Executive Committee to take the decision, has granted this request.”

English Premier League clubs are most likely to be affected with this news – the heavy scheduling around January time could mean that teams may miss key personnel for up to six games.

Some of the African stars that will depart across EPL sides:

  • Liverpool – Sadio Mane (Senegal), Mohamed Salah (Egypt) & Naby Keita (Guinea)
  • Manchester City – Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
  • Arsenal – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon) & Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)
  • Manchester United – Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)
  • Leicester City – Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)
  • Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast) & Jordan Ayew (Ghana)
  • Everton – Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)

The biennial African national team tournament was meant to be hosted by Cameroon in 2019 but was reassigned to Egypt because of building delays, which lead to the Ivory Coast now hosting the tournament in the summer of 2023.

Despite having more construction time last year, Cameroon will need to get everything right six months earlier.

The 2019 tournament was won by Algeria through a 1-0 victory over Senegal in the final.

British Clubs to Potentially be Fined for Betting Sponsorships

In a new report from The Times, the British government will begin cracking down on clubs who don betting agencies on their playing kits.

The tightening of these screws could have serious implications for many clubs in the professional footballing landscape in the UK. A substantial percentage of teams in the Premier League and Championship (England’s second tier) use gambling organisations as their main sponsors.

West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Everton FC, Norwich City FC and Watford are some of the high profile Premier League sides whose kits feature mainly betting or gambling agencies.

15 of the 24 teams in the Championship are in the same boat, including top teams such as Leeds United, Middlesborough, Stoke City, Swansea City and former Premier League champions Blackburn Rovers.

The further down the leagues you go, the more teams you’ll find who utilise gambling agencies as their major sponsors.

This news has surfaced following reports that the government will review the 2005 Gambling Act. It is expected that following the review, a domino effect will take place, which will impact some of these clubs.

The EFL, who looks after the Championship, League One and League Two, is itself sponsored by Sky Bet. They could suffer greatest from any reforms made by the government after their review.

In the first ever Premier League season back in 1992/1993, no team shared their shirts with gambling agencies as a form of sponsorship.

Sponsorships such as JVC’s with Arsenal, Carlsberg’s with Liverpool, Sharp’s with Manchester United and Newcastle Brown Ale’s with Newcastle United all stick vividly in the minds of Premier League fans to this day.

At the start of the 2010s, some clubs had cottoned on to the idea of attaining sponsorships with betting companies.

Soccer is one of the most popular sports to gamble on in the UK and many agencies generate significant amounts of revenue from games across numerous leagues, even the semi-professional ones.

The topic of gambling in sports is one that has generated much debate across the globe in the last few years.

In Australia especially, the discussion seems to circulate on an almost weekly basis.

On one hand, it is frowned upon when players, coaches or staff members get involved in bets for any matches. For example, in the AFL, Collingwood Magpies player Jaidyn Stephenson was banned for 10 games for gambling on AFL matches, including some he was playing in.

At the same time however, governing bodies continuously promote gambling with pre-game advertisements that display the odds and encourage people to gamble.

Some governing bodies even have sponsorships with betting agencies, whilst at the same time, trying to dissuade people from betting on matches.

On the other hand, many teams in the AFL are trying to escape the gambling industry and become independent without having to rely on gaming rooms and pokies.

This news came as a pleasant surprise for English soccer fans, with many rejoicing at the fact that something is being done after years of what they see as apathy.

What are your thoughts on the prospect of less teams being sponsored by betting agencies?

Are you glad something is being done by the British government? Will you be pleased by the potential return of less sponsors on teams shirts?

Are you against it? Or do you simply not mind, so long as you can watch your team play week in, week out?

Get involved in the discussion on Twitter @Soccersceneau. We’d love to hear your thoughts

Football Victoria’s Community Shield matches to raise funds for bushfire appeal

The 2020 NPL/NPLW Victoria season begins in February and March with the traditional FV Community Shield games.

In what is a curtain raiser to each NPL season, both of these matches will raise funds that will be donated to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

The men’s match will see 2019 NPL Victoria champions Bentleigh Greens SC play against the current holders of the Dockerty Cup, Hume City FC.

The women’s match will have 2019 Nike F.C. Cup winners Calder United FC face NPLW Victoria runners-up FC Bulleen Lions.

These matches will both be played at City Vista Reserve, the brand-new home of Caroline Springs George Cross FC in Melbourne’s north west.

Further details for the matches are listed below.

Saturday, February 8 

NPL Victoria | Kick-off 5:00pm

Bentleigh Greens SC vs. Hume City FC
Tickets available at the gate: Adults $10, Concession $5, Children 14-and-under free

Friday, March 13

NPLW Victoria | Kick-off 7:45pm

Calder United SC vs. FC Bulleen Lions
Free entry – donate to the appeal on the night.

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