FIFA Report -- Team GB Considered; World Cup Bidding Process Finalized

(ATR) FIFA will address the Team GB proposal and 2018, 2022 World Cup bidding at its executive committee meeting in Tokyo.

Bangkok, THAILAND: Iraqi defender Jassim Mohammed Gholam (R) executes a bicycle kick as Vietnamese player Le Cong Vinh looks on during the Asian Football Cup's quarter final at the Ratchamangla Stadium in Bangkok, 21 July 2007. Iraq is leading by 1-0 at the end of the first half of play against Vietnam. AFP PHOTO / Saeed KHAN (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bangkok, THAILAND: Iraqi defender Jassim Mohammed Gholam (R) executes a bicycle kick as Vietnamese player Le Cong Vinh looks on during the Asian Football Cup's quarter final at the Ratchamangla Stadium in Bangkok, 21 July 2007. Iraq is leading by 1-0 at the end of the first half of play against Vietnam. AFP PHOTO / Saeed KHAN (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

FIFA to Back Team GB Plan for London 2012 Olympics

FIFA looks set to back plans for a Great Britain football team to play at the London Games, despite opposition from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The "Team GB' plan is on the agenda for the last FIFA executive committee meeting in Tokyo this weekend and world football decision makers are expected to give it the green light, while not sanctioning the united British effort beyond 2012.

The Football Associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have expressed concern that a Great Britain football team will threaten their ability to compete in future autonomy in international tournaments.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter is understood to be happy for all the players to be English if the other home nations refused to allow their players to take part.

The one FIFA figure who might have opposed the move, Vice President Jack Warner from Trinidad and Tobago, now looks unlikely to do so, insisting: "I remain open on the matter."

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke has attempted to allay the concerns expressed by the home nations, telling them that they would not be affected.

By 2012, it will be 52 years since a British football team has participated in the Olympics.

Scotland -- its government and football association -- remains steadfastly opposed to a combined British team and former Scotland manager Craig Brown has told the BBC he will front a 'No To Team GB' petition within Scottish football.

In an interview being broadcast on BBC, Brown reaffirms his opposition to the idea, saying: "I don't trust FIFA."

Brown is referring to FIFA assurances that taking part in a combined team at the 2012 Games will not affect Scottish football independence.

In the BBC interview, the former Scotland manager says he believes FIFA is trying to streamline the game because of the number of national teams that emerged in the 1990s following the break-up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

The football governing bodies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all said they oppose a Great Britain team.

A petition, entitled "Save Scottish Football," has been launched by Brown and the Scottish National Party MSP Christine Grahame who is calling on her fellow MSPs to assess the knock-on social and economic impact north of the Border should a GB football team take part.

"The threat posed by the creation of a GB football team goes way beyond football and if FIFA carries out the action outlined by their president just last year then that would have a catastrophic social and economic impact in Scotland as well as killing off the football in Scotland as we know it," Grahame, convener of the Scottish Parliament health and sport committee, says.

"No one, bar a handful of politically-motivated zealots in London, wants a GB football team precisely because they recognize the huge threat this poses.

"Craig Brown's petition is a welcome contribution and will give Scots the chance to let their voices be heard by MSPs."

2018 and 2022 World Cup Bidding Process to Be Finalized

The FIFA executive committee is also expected to finalize the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups during the Tokyo meeting.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter wants the host cities of both tournaments to be decided together.

The World Cup bidding processes had been on the agenda at the last executive committee meeting in Zurich in October, but several members had asked for a decision to be delayed until the Tokyo meeting, to have time to consider the merits and disadvantages of the Blatter-favored plan.

"The committee gave a positive reaction to the general principle that we open the bidding for the two tournaments together," Blatter said at the time.

The race for the 2018 World Cup is expected to be fiercely contested by a lineup including: Australia, China, England, Russia, the United States, Japan, Mexico, a combined Netherlands-Belgium bid, Qatar and Spain.

With South Africa and Brazil hosting the 2010 and 2014 tournaments respectively, Blatter has suggested he favors a northern hemisphere host for 2018, with European countries likely to be favored.

A few months ago during the FIFA Congress in Sydney, Blatter suggested the 2022 World Cup would "perhaps be more preferable" for Australia to aim for.

Australian football decision-makers, with the support of the government, have given no indication they will take the advice of Blatter.

In fact, this month Australia put its money where its mouth is, the government pledging $30 million to cover bidding activity until 2011, when the decision on at least the 2018 host is expected to be made.

Australian sports minister Kate Ellis says her government is proud to be able to announce funding for "the bid for Australia to host the biggest single sporting event on the planet, the FIFA World Cup."

"We know that if successful, this bid would be a great win, not just for the football fraternity," Ellis says.

"In fact, not just even to the sporting world but to our economy, to our infrastructure development, to our tourism numbers and to job creation."

The FIFA executive committee convenes in Tokyo on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 19 to 20, 2008, for its fourth and final meeting of the year.

Among the agenda items, the FIFA executives will be given an update on preparations for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria.

In addition, the eligibility criteria for the men's Olympic Football Tournament will be analyzed.

A number of legal and sports political matters will also be tabled, such as those relating to member associations, including a review of all pending cases and reports on the FIFA transfer matching system, the regulations for the protection of minors and the '6+5' resolution adopted by the FIFA Congress.

FIFA and FIFPRO Set Minimum Player Contract Standards

A new set of guidelines aimed at establishing minimum standards for footballer player employment contracts is an important step in modernizing relations between football clubs and players, FIFA says.

FIFA informed its member associations of the new guidelines on Nov. 24, 2008.

"FIFA's 208 member associations are being encouraged to ensure observance of the minimum requirements for professional footballers' contracts, which cover the most important and basic rights and obligations of the players and clubs," FIFA says in a statement.

According to FIFA, the initiative marks an important step in the joint efforts being undertaken by FIFA and FIFPRO (International Federation of Professional Footballers' Associations) since 2001 to modernize relations between football clubs and players.

The seven-year collaboration between FIFA and FIFPRO, has resulted in the establishment of the Dispute Resolution Chamber in 2002, the signing of a partnership agreement in 2006 and ongoing consultation on all major issues in football.

"(It) reflects major progress in terms of dialogue between all the members of the international football pyramid," FIFA says.

Written by Anthony Stavrinos.