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Old 10-27-2001, 06:04 AM   #1
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To: Soccer Australia

From: Michel Zen Ruffenen, general secretary, FIFA.

Dear "Aussie mates",

I regret there has been some confusion about our recommendation that only one player from each European club be selected for the forthcoming friendly between Australia and France. This has been misinterpreted as an example of FIFA protecting the interests of the wealthy clubs at the expense of the smaller national federations, which now supply many of their players. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Just last week, Manchester United agreed to postpone their annual promotional trip to Asia so that we could hold our World Cup in Japan and South Korea next year. They are even thinking of letting David Beckham play, as long as he is not required to sign autographs at their merchandise shop in Luxembourg.

This is just one example of the firm control we exercise over the game. Naturally, we are using all our influence to ensure the sport is well promoted in your country which, like all the other African nations, is very important to us.

Also, you need not fear that you will be punished for your decision to defy our recommendation and field a full-strength squad. We assure you that the slight changes to the eligibility criteria - some of which may affect your squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers - were made some time ago.

Under these new guidelines, any player to have kept down a mouthful of haggis for more than five seconds will be eligible for Scotland. It has come to our attention that Glasgow Rangers' Australian pair, Craig Moore and Tony Vidmar, qualified at a recent team dinner by a good three seconds each. Obviously, they can no longer be selected by Australia.

It has also been deemed necessary by our marketing department to rule any player with a celebrity wife or girlfriend should play for the country in which she is best known to maximise cross-promotional opportunities.

Coincidentally, I am informed that Harry Kewell's wife, Sheree Murphy, stars in the English soap opera Emmerdale. Of course, should she take a role in your very popular Neighbours or Home and Away before the next World Cup, Kewell would again by eligible for Australia. Until then, he's up front with Michael Owen.

We have also initiated a "family reunion" scheme under which any non-European player who has spent more than four weeks playing in Europe will be compelled to play for his great- grandfather's country of birth. Obviously, this will not affect any of the many fine players in your National Soccer League, so of your original squad of 22, we are pleased to grant full playing status to the Melbourne Knights' Steve Horvat.

Finally, due to a request from our international television broadcasters, we have been forced to introduce a minimum height requirement for national coaches in the remaining qualification games.

Sadly, your own Frank Farina fell some four centimetres short, so to speak. Even so, we are happy to recommend that your very popular Les Murray takes over the reigns for the remaining games.

Obviously, we are aware these necessary changes may cause some minor disruption to your World Cup campaign, so we are delighted to provide the following compensation. Henceforth, you may select any Australian playing with the following clubs, regardless of the above rules: Scunthorpe United, Huddersfield Town, Alloa Athletic, New York Cosmos, Wellington Hurricanes, Los Angeles Lakers and Leeds United (under-16s).

Further, we have ruled the very talented Ned Zelic exempt from all other regulations. You are free to select him for any match you wish.

You will have noted, too, we are being even-handed in dealings between our federations and European clubs. We are backing a decision by several clubs not to release players from Uruguay - your likely opponent in the cup qualifiers - for high-altitude training before their final South American group matches. Our experts deemed, given Europe is much higher on the globe than South America, these players would be already acclimatised.

Some more good news: we have agreed to your request to be placed in a stronger regional qualifying group for the next World Cup. This means you will avoid the embarrassment of one-sided matches against regional minnows and have the chance to qualify without facing another sudden-death showdown.

Australia will now be part of our new "wildcard group", along with Libya, Afghanistan (we understand your country is not eager to allow Afghans past customs, so we would expect both legs to be played in Kabul), Serbia, Northern Ireland, Israel, Iraq and Brazil.

We trust this has put your federation at ease and demonstrated our full commitment to the "world game".

Regards, Mickey Z.

PS. This is a joke, in case you still haven't worked that out!

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Old 10-27-2001, 06:13 AM   #2
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Join Date: January 7, 2001
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Throwing out a bit of bait for Donut to nibble on are we Memmsie . Looks like both sides will be at full strength Freddie - Ian Holmes 1, Arsene Wenger 0 .


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