Among the many ways to describe Chuck Blazer, influential may be the most boring. It may also most accurate.
A larger-than-life figure whose whose life atop the New York City skyline has become part legend, hyperbole, and fact, the FIFA executive committee member has come to symbolize so much of what the world’s governing body means to the soccer fans. His lifestyle is lavish, there’s speculation that’s fueled through nefarious means, yet he was crucial in a CONCACAF cleanup that ousted corrupt former president Jack Warner. While there may be an irony to that blown whistle, it’s one that may have pushed FIFA as well as North/Central American soccer in a slightly better direction.
After 16 years on FIFA’s executive committee, Blazer has announced he will not seek re-election. Set to leave his office in May, Blazer said via statement that “It is time for new faces with new energy to take over the responsibility of FIFA’s leadership.” The 67-year-old will leave having served five terms.
Between now and then you will surely read more informed retrospectives than I can provide. To me, Blazer is a man with a tremendous beard who exemplifies the strange and unknown world of FIFA’s closed door culture. Rabid speculation depicts those corridors as lined with money-filled paper bags that a fortunate few can pluck at their whim. Blazer is one of the few to detail that world, one we still know so little about.
Regardless, Blazer’s probably right. It is time for new people to take over these leadership positions. No matter what you think of the general paranoia that surrounds these governing bodies’ actions, the days of unscrutinized governance appear to be ending. Like FIFA president Sepp Blatter, Blazer is moving on. For all involved, it’s the right time.
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld a two-year ban for CSKA Moscow midfielder Roman Eremenko for a positive test for cocaine.
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CAS says the ban imposed by UEFA was “appropriate” and dismissed the Finland international’s appeal.
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The ban will expire on Oct. 5, 2018, when Eremenko will be 31.
Eremenko tested positive after playing in a Champions League game for CSKA Moscow against Bayer Leverkusen last September. The 2-2 result was not affected despite Eremenko scoring CSKA’s second goal.
Born in Moscow, Eremenko grew up in Finland and has represented its national team 73 times.
NEW YORK (AP) Howard Webb says he would have given Dutch midfielder Nigel De Jong a red card in the 2010 World Cup final if a video assistant referee had been in place.
The retired English referee showed De Jong a yellow card in the 28th minute for his karate kick into the chest of Spain’s Xabi Alonso. Hired in March to oversee video technology for professional soccer in the U.S. and Canada, Webb held a media seminar Friday ahead of its Aug. 5 launch in Major League Soccer.
Webb says: “Yes, it was a clear red card. It was a clear and obvious error on my part not to send the player off, and VAR would have been able to recommend a review to me, and I would have been able to make the right call.”
Now 46, Webb was a Premier League referee from 2003-14. He worked the Champions League and World Cup finals in 2010, became director of referees at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, and started in March as manager of video assistant referee operations for the Professional Referee Organization.
The game in 100 words (or less): Friday night’s effort at Orlando City Stadium wasn’t the prettiest for either side but Atlanta United will gladly take three points from the fixture as the Central Florida venue proved to be a fortress once more. The Lions were far superior in their attacking threats throughout the match, testing USMNT and Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan on multiple occasions. However, it was Hector Villalba that proved to be the difference when he blasted a long-distance effort to beat Joe Bendik in the 86th minute. Atlanta extends its unbeaten streak to four matches with Friday’s decision, keeping Tata Martino’s side in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, while Orlando City moves into fifth.
Three moments that mattered
36′ — Guzan stands tall, denies Rivas — Carlos Rivas thought he scorched this one (and he did…), but Brad Guzan acted like it was nothing as he held his ground to make the stop.
39′ — Spector gets ripped off by Guzan — The U.S. goalkeeper is at it again… What a save!
86′ — Villalba unleashes stunner to propel Atlanta — Sometimes it just takes one good hit as a striker.
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Man of the match: Brad Guzan
Goalscorers: Hector Villalba (86′)
Fresh off of completing a record deal to help bolster the club’s back line this summer, Manchester City is back at it with the Premier League season looming.
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The Citizens are reportedly on the brink of signing Monaco left back Benjamin Mendy to yet another world-record fee — which will total over $67 million.
Confirmation of the deal has yet to be announced by either team, but L’Equipe is reporting that the Citizens are hot on the 23-year-old’s trail in adding to their pricy back four.
Manager Pep Guardiola and Man City have not been shy readjusting their defensive unit over the past year, adding expensive first-team choices John Stones and Kyle Walker.