AFC defuses Saudi-Iran tensions by switching dates and seeking security plan

AFC Champions League logo

January 25 – In another illustration of growing tensions in the region, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has decided to amend the schedule for the AFC Champions League involving matches between clubs from Saudi Arabia and Iran but has stopped short, pending further checks, of upholding a Saudi request to play fixtures on neutral ground because of safety concerns.

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Chinese buy into Euro 2016 with global sponsorship deal

Erio 2016 logo and cup

By David Owen
January 15 – The wave of Chinese investment in world football has reached Europe’s premier national team competition. Hisense, a white goods and electronics company based in the east-coast city of Qingdao has been unveiled as the 10th global partner of Euro 2016, to be played for the first time as a 24-team tournament in France in June and July.

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Kuwait blames Sheikh Ahmad for sports ban and files lawsuit

Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah

By Andrew Warshaw
January 13 – In a move that could have potential repercussions in the forthcoming FIFA presidential election, Kuwait’s government has announced it is suing a number of top sports executives, among them FIFA executive committee member Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, accusing them of causing the suspension of the Gulf state from global sporting competition.

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Saudi-Iranian AFC Champions League ties under threat as tensions rise

AFC Champions League logo

By Mark Baber
January 11 – Rising tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia following the execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, are spilling over into the political arena, with Saudi clubs keen for their fixtures against Iranian clubs in the Asian Champions League to be moved to neutral territory, whilst the Iran Football Federation (IFF) insists their country is safe to host matches and they are happy to play in Saudi Arabia.

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Gulf challenge: UAE league fades as focus turns to Qatar and U23 Asian Cup

U23 Asian Cup

By Samindra Kunti
January 5 – On a Saturday night in December jeeps and cabs briskly maneuvered and zigzagged their way through dense traffic on Hazza Bin Zayed Street, one of Abu Dhabi’s arteries. They were heading for the Al Wahda Mall, an architectural monstrosity in the UAE capital’s Al Nahyan neighborhood. Affluent expats and local Emirati sauntered into the complex to indulge in the luxuries offered by Western brands including Calvin Klein,

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China targets trillion $ sports growth as Wanda weaves its magic

Liu Peng

December 30 – China’s drive to boost its sports business and make it a key part of its economy was given renewed emphasis this week by the country’s sports minister, Liu Peng (pictured). At the same time the Dalian Wanda Group that has been growing in sports via European acquisition announced it had set up its sports headquarters in Guangzhou, the Capital of Guangdong province.

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