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Football World Cup: FIFA eyes big crowds!

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LOS ANGELES: The 2026 World Cup hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico promises to take the tournament to a new level, delivering more teams, bigger crowds and bumper profits.

FIFA had already decided to expand the 2026 tournament to 48 teams and by backing the joint bid it has also committed to holding the first tournament hosted by three countries.

Here is an overview of the bid: – Stadium facilities – Arguably the greatest strength of the North American bid is the vast array of already-built stadiums available to organizers, ranging from iconic World Cup venues such as Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium to state-of-the-art large-capacity arenas.

A total of 23 venues – three in Mexico, three in Canada, 17 in the United States — have made the final shortlist that will be considered for the tournament.

The average stadium capacity for the tournament is 55,000, with the largest the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, best known as the home of the Dallas Cowboys NFL team. The stadium, which has a retractable roof, has a capacity of 92,467.

The smallest is the 45,000-capacity BMO Field in Toronto, the football-specific home of MLS Cup champions Toronto FC.

Relevant pieces published earlier:

i)  World Cup fever is finally taking hold in Russia, where wild enthusiasm in provincial centers such as chilly Kazan is filtering through to Moscow ahead of Thursday’s opening match in the capital. While curious locals have clamored to see the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar, it has proved a slow build-up to the June 14-July 15 showpiece, which is being held in Russia for the first time. The tournament opener featuring Russia and Saudi Arabia at the imposing 80,000-capacity Luzhniki stadium has so far failed to capture the imagination of Muscovites, although they have warmly welcomed foreign fans. Groups of South American supporters with drums and whistles took to the streets around Red Square this week, posing for pictures with shoppers. In response, a small knot of local fans gathered, waving flags and good-naturedly chanting “Russia, Russia”. But it has been outside the capital where enthusiasm for the beautiful game has really taken hold. Australia was pleasantly surprised Monday when a crowd of 3,200 turned up to see Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk put the Socceroos through their paces in Kazan, a two-hour flight east of Moscow. A public holiday gave fans the opportunity to show their support at Australia’s state-of-the-art training complex in the capital of the semi-autonomous Republic of Tatarstan.

ii) Less than 24 hours after the Spanish football team’s coach Julen Lopetegui proclaimed that he would take over as Real Madrid coach for the forthcoming season he was shown the door by country’s football federation. The sacking of Julen Lopetegui just two days before the start of Spain’s World Cup campaign leaves new coach Fernando Hierro precious little time to regroup a stunned squad that 24 hours ago were considered among the favorites for the tournament. Spain faces European champions Portugal in Sochi on Friday in what was already a highly-anticipated clash even before the amazing events that saw Lopetegui surprisingly named Real Madrid manager on Tuesday and then relieved of his duties as Spain boss less than a day later. Lopetegui was meant to take charge at the Santiago Bernabeu after the tournament. However, the firing of the former Madrid and Barcelona goalkeeper is just the latest reminder of the fine balance any manager of La Roja must strike in the omnipresent rivalry between Spain’s two biggest clubs. For the first time in a major tournament since 2006, Real’s six-strong contingent outnumber Barca players in the Spain squad with only Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets selected, along with Andres Iniesta who only last month brought his glorious 16-year career at the Camp Nou to an end. With at least six of the expected starting XI for the Portugal game to come from Madrid and Barca, Hierro, himself a former Real captain, must ensure club loyalties don’t further undermine Spain’s chances with divisions already appearing between the players and the federation. According to Spanish press reports, the players’ wish for Lopetegui to stay, including the likes of Pique and Busquets, couldn’t change Federation chief Luis Rubiales’ mind so furious was he with the fact Lopetegui hadn’t informed his employers of negotiations with Madrid until minutes before the appointment was made public. 

iii) Germany landed here today to attempt to successfully defend their World Cup title and hoping to leave the political controversy surrounding Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan behind them. The intent is clear – Germany wants to become the first team for 56 years to retain the World Cup. “We want to write history,” says Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos. The Germans took off from Frankfurt in pouring rain hoping captain Manuel Neuer will stay fit after eight months on the sidelines with a foot fracture. Their buildup was dogged by the controversy surrounding Ozil and Gundogan after the midfielders, who have Turkish roots, were booed in pre-World Cup friendlies for meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Premier League stars met Erdogan in London last month with Gundogan handing him a signed Manchester City shirt with the message “to my president”. German fans took a dim view of the perceived divided loyalty by booing the pair in a friendly defeat to Austria. Gundogan has said the meeting was not politically motivated, while Ozil has refused to talk about it during the World Cup. (Published on 13th June 2018) 

iv)  Former World Cup winners Spain and debutants Panama arrived in Russia on Thursday for the 21st edition of the global football spectacle. The pair and Saudi Arabia complete a trio of teams to have made it to Russia one week before next Thursday’s kickoff in Moscow. Spain won the World Cup in 2010 and are one of the tournament’s favorites. They remain unbeaten in 19 matches under coach Julen Lopetegui, who took over the reins following the 2016 Euros. Spain was seen off personally by King Filipe VI and will play their final warm-up against Tunisia on Saturday by their base camp in the southern city of Krasnodar. The Spaniards launch their campaign with one of the more anticipated group stage matches – a June 15 clash against Iberian rivals Portugal in the 2014 Winter Olympics host city Sochi. The winner will be in pole position to come out on top in a Group B that also includes Morocco and Iran. Panama snuck past the United States and Honduras to clinch their first World Cup appearance on a dramatic last day of qualifiers in the CONCACAF region. Panama will have to score more upsets to progress in a Group G that includes Belgium and England as well a highly touted Tunisia side now ranked 14 by FIFA.

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Maradona makes Mexico debut with 4-1 win

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Maradona offers to coach Argentina for free

CULIACAN (Mexico): Diego Maradona won big in his Mexican coaching debut Monday, as the Argentine legend’s new club, Dorados, routed fellow second-division side Cafetaleros 4-1.
Maradona has raised eyebrows with his decision to coach the struggling team from Culiacan, Sinaloa, in the heart of Mexican drug cartel country.
But he was all smiles as Ecuadoran forward Vinicio Angulo – wearing Maradona’s old number 10 – scored a hat trick to give the new coach the win.
“We played a great match,” he told a packed press conference afterward.
“Some people said Maradona’s useless. There were a lot of stupid people going on television to fill up the time. I hope they’ll come to the pitch now and look at my record and see what we’re actually doing, see that I know how to do this,” he added.
Still, it was hardly a monumental win: Dorados were 13th in their league heading into the match, and Cafetaleros 15th.
With their newly earned three points, Maradona’s team doubled their previous total and leaped to 10th place. Maradona vowed it was just the beginning.
“This was nothing, this was just one match,” he said, sporting a gold-and-white Dorados cap. “We’re still going to be playing in a lot of finals. Let’s not think we’ve achieved anything with this match. This is just the start of a beautiful dream.”
Maradona, 57, lived the finest hours of his playing career in Mexico, leading Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title. His coaching career has been less stellar, and he has publicly struggled with drug addiction, alcoholism, and obesity along the way.
He got a hero’s welcome when he arrived in Culiacan last week. But he failed to fill Dorados’s 20,000-seat stadium for his debut.
Attendance did more than double from the club’s recent matches, however: there were 10,133 fans in attendance, up from just over 4,000 on average at the previous two home appearances.

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Ronaldo, Salah and Modric nominated for FIFA best player award

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LONDON: Lionel Messi was left off the shortlist for the FIFA’s men’s player of the year award for the first time in over a decade on Monday as his old rival Cristiano Ronaldo was named alongside Luka Modric and Mohamed Salah.
Messi has dominated the award along with Ronaldo over the past decade, but the Barcelona star has been omitted from the top three for the first time since 2006.
A five-time winner of the award, Messi has also finished second in the voting for each of Ronaldo’s five previous wins in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Ronaldo ended a nine-year stay at Real Madrid on a high with a fourth Champions League in five years before joining Italian giants Juventus in July.
Yet, that might not even be enough for the Portuguese to edge ahead in his battle for supremacy with Messi by adding his sixth crown when the winners are announced on 24th September.
Ronaldo’s former Real Madrid team-mate Luka Modric is best-placed to become the first new name to win the award for 10 years after a superb season for club and country.
As well as his influential displays in Real’s Champions League triumph, the Croatia midfielder won the Golden Ball for the best player at the tournament as Croatia reached their first World Cup final, finishing as runners-up to France.
“I really hope Modric will win because I think what he did in the World Cup was really special,” said legendary former Manchester United and Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel in his role as a FIFA ambassador on Monday.
“He’s this quiet guy we know from Real Madrid, but when we saw him in the World Cup he became a majestic leader. He was wearing the captain’s armband, leading from the front, the first guy to put a tackle in, and we saw a side of Luka Modric I hadn’t seen before.”
Salah’s 44 goals in an incredible debut season for Liverpool saw him edge out Messi and French World Cup stars Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann for a place in the top three.
The Egyptian led Liverpool to the Champions League final before cruelly suffering an injury early on in Kiev against Madrid that also limited his participation at the World Cup.
France may not have any runners for the best player award but two Frenchmen lead the finalists for the best coach as World Cup-winning manager Didier Deschamps and former Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane are joined by Croatia’s Zlatko Dalic.
Deschamps became just the third man to win the World Cup as a player and coach with victory over Dalic’s Croatia in Russia, while Zidane led Real to a third consecutive Champions League win in May before stepping down.
The best goalkeeper prize is to be contested by Tottenham and France’s Hugo Lloris, Denmark’s Kasper Schmeichel, son of Peter, and Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois, whose World Cup heroics earned him a move to Real Madrid.
Ronaldo and Messi both feature among the 10 nominees for the Puskas Award for best goal of the year, along with Gareth Bale’s sensational overhead kick in the Champions League final.
Lyon’s Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg and German midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan are joined by Brazilian five-time winner Marta in the running for the best women’s player after winning the Champions League with the French giants.
Reynold Pedros of Lyon, Japan boss Asako Takakura and Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman are in the running for best women’s coach.

 

 

 

 

 

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FIFA takes charge of Uruguay FA

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MONTEVIDEO: Football’s world governing body FIFA has taken control of the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) after the organization was plunged into chaos following the sudden resignation of president Wilmar Valdez last month.
A letter from FIFA reported in local media said the body had set up a “regularisation committee” aimed at restoring order to the AUF.
The FIFA committee would be responsible for managing the affairs of the FA through to February 28, 2019, and would revise the organization’s statues and arrange new elections.
Uruguayan football has been in crisis since July 30, when president Valdez, who had favorite to win a new term in a vote the following day, abruptly resigned.
Valdez stepped down after the emergence of mysterious audio recordings just before his re-election bid.
Although the exact content of the recordings is unknown, media said they contained comments about sports administrators, a member of the government, sports journalists and supporters.
One of Valdez’s campaign rivals said the recordings were “slightly compromising Wilmar’s image.”
Valdez, however, has denied the recordings were responsible for his resignation.
“This decision has been motivated solely by family and personal reasons that have nothing to do with the context of the current election,” he said. “I want to stress that I was under no undue pressure, threats or extortion in making this decision.”

 

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