FIFA denies Confederations Cup will be cancelled as protests intensify

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This morning FIFA have responded to various reports suggesting that the Confederations Cup currently going on in Brazil, will be abandoned after violent riots intensified over the last 24 hours across the South American country.

Soccer’s world governing body have said the tournament will not be abandoned after violent protests have continued to erupt over the past 24 hours.

Last night in Sao Paulo one protestor was killed after being hit by a car driven into a crowd. And CBN radio and Estado de Sao Paulo have been suggesting that the tournament could be cancelled as severe demonstrations  and unrest continue.

It was estimated that over 1 million protestors took to the streets on Thursday night, as people hit out at the government over corruption, rising prices and a lack of investment in services for the public.

Over 80 cities have now seen protests and some of the teams competing in the Confederations Cup have aired their unease at the violent anti-government demonstrations.

But when will the protests end?

It doesn’t seem like anytime soon. Police have clashed with the crowds but the number of protestors continues to grow and they certainly have the upper hand on the authorities. Originally the protests began after the government announced a price hike for bus and metro services in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Now it has become much more than that.

Several soccer players have come out in support of the protestors, with Brazilian internationals David Luiz and Lucas Leiva leading the way.

Although they both called for peaceful protests, the nature of the demonstrations against the Brazilian government are becoming more violent.

While Chelsea defender David Luiz had this to say, as Brazil booked their place in the semifinals of the tournament, and face Italy on Saturday afternoon in their final group game.

The people have the right to express their opinions and to protest when they are not happy with what is happening in their country. That’s the only way to call attention to what is wrong. I don’t live in Brazil, but I love my country. The Brazilians love their country and that’s why these protests are happening.

But when should FIFA step in and move the teams away from an unstable environment which is set to get worse before it gets better? That is a difficult conundrum to unravel.

World soccer’s governing body should not ignore the real issues that are affecting the people of Brazil. But it can’t help the situation tangibly.

One banner during Spain’s 10-0 demolition of Tahiti at the Maracana Stadium on Thursday read, “We want hospitals and schools in FIFA standards.”

Brazilians are upset that their government is spending over $16 billion on stadiums and infrastructure for a sporting event, yet other areas of the nation are being left woefully underfunded and neglected.

Like I said, FIFA can’t do much about it. But given the trouble and unrest and with stadium projects still being completed in plenty of cities, should the 2014 World Cup happen in Brazil next summer?

It has to.

Now the stadiums are being built and the money has been spent by the government, there is no turning back.

But maybe FIFA wishes there was, after the Confederations Cup regurgitated the huge number of social and political issues troubling the Brazilian people, government and their nation.

But for now, let the games continue.

Barcelona defends Messi over “unfair” suspension

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says Lionel Messi’s four-match international suspension for insulting a linesman was “unfair and totally disproportionate.”

[ MORE: Messi handed ban by FIFA ]

Barcelona released a statement Wednesday expressing “its surprise and indignation” with FIFA’s decision to sideline the playmaker for so long following the incident in Argentina’s win over Chile in World Cup qualifying last week.

The punishment was announced before Argentina lost at Bolivia 2-0 Tuesday, a result that left the two-time champions at risk of not qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Barcelona says it “wishes to reiterate its support for Leo Messi, an exemplary player in terms of conduct both on and off the field.”

Pending an appeal, Messi will only be available to play in Argentina’s final qualifier, on Oct. 10 against Ecuador.

World Cup hopes back on track: What next for USMNT?

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After a four-point haul over the past week in their two crucial 2018 World Cup qualifiers, the U.S. national team is back on track and heading in the right direction.

[ MORE: Latest USMNT news ]

Bruce Arena led the USMNT to a thumping 6-0 win over Honduras last Friday and then a gutsy 1-1 draw in Panama on Tuesday in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying, as the Hexagonal standings will now look a lot better to U.S. fans who saw their team sitting bottom of the pile for the past four months following defeats to Mexico and Costa Rica which cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job.

So, the “Road to Russia” is looking a little less daunting for the U.S. but there are still tough tests ahead in the months to come in World Cup qualifying as well as a Gold Cup campaign on home soil in July.

First let’s look at the standings in the Hex. Ah, that’s better but things are now very tight aside from Mexico running away with things.

With six games to go the U.S. currently occupies the play-off spot as the top three teams in the Hex standings will qualify automatically for the World Cup and the fourth-place team has to play against the fifth-place team from qualifying in the Asian Football Confederation region.


Mexico — 10 points (+4 GD)
Costa Rica — 7 points (+4)
Panama — 5 points (0)
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USA — 4 points (+1)
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Honduras — 4 points (-5)
Trinidad and Tobago — 3 points (-4)


And these are the USA’s six remaining qualifiers as they aim to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

June 8: vs. Trinidad and Tobago
June 11: at Mexico
September 1: vs. Costa Rica
September 5: at Honduras
October 6: vs. Panama
October 10: at Trinidad and Tobago

The first three games at crucial. If the U.S. manages to get seven points from those three matches, that’s magical. Even six points by beating T&T and Costa Rica on home soil would be superb. Yet, if the U.S. drops points to one or both of T&T and Costa Rica, that puts so much pressure on themselves to pick up wins on the road at Honduras and T&T in two of their final three qualifiers. That would not be an ideal scenario.

Still, heading into the past week the aim for the U.S. was to get back on track in qualifying and give themselves a chance of making the 2018 World Cup. They’ve done that. Now, the hard work begins.

Chelsea chase Alexis Sanchez; Man United want Dier

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The summer transfer rumors are heating up long before the heat of summer arrives…

[ MORE: Zlatan to stay at United?

On Wednesday it is being claimed by the Guardian that Alexis Sanchez has become Chelsea’s “No.1 target this summer” as the Arsenal and Chile forward has yet to sign a new deal with the Gunners.

Per the report, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has drafted up a shortlist of the players he wants to sign this summer and Sanchez is at the top of the Italian managers wishlist as he is also close to signing a new deal at Stamford Bridge.

Sanchez, 28, has a deal at Arsenal until the summer of 2018 but if the north London club fails to agree a new deal with him this summer (as well as Mesut Ozil and Arsene Wenger, but that’s another story…) then they’ll have to sell him on or risk losing him for nothing as a free agent next season.

The striker scored twice for Chile in their 2018 World Cup qualifying win over Venezuela on Tuesday and has been essential all season long to Arsenal, scoring 18 goals and adding nine assists after playing through the middle on his own for much of the campaign.

Would Arsenal really sell Sanchez to a PL rival? It wouldn’t be ideal but it’s not like they haven’t done that in the past. Think of Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy.

The thought of Sanchez on one wing with Diego Costa up top and Eden Hazard on the other wing at Chelsea should be enough to get Arsenal to offer their star man whatever cash he wants — the report states he wants $310,000 a week which would almost double his current $160,000 a week salary — when they sit down to discuss the new deal at the end of this season.


Elsewhere in north London, Tottenham Hotspur’s versatile defender Eric Dier has been linked with a $50 million move to Manchester United this summer.

According to Neil Ashton of the Sun, Dier, 23, is being lined up to replace Michael Carrick in the holding midfield role at United.

Now, Tottenham are notoriously tough to do business with and chairman Daniel Levy will not want to lose one of his top prospects and an England international to a direct rival in the Premier League.

That said, Dier has been used in multiple positions by Spurs this season and Mauricio Pochettino appears to prefer Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele as the holding midfielders and the emergence of Harry Winks has seen Dier’s importance questioned by some.

The fact that Dier can play in holding midfield or anywhere across the back line will also suit Moruinho who likes to have a smaller squad to work with and per the report the Portuguese boss has been a long-time admirer of Dier. His power to break up the play and also use he ball safely could work very well alongside Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera.

PHOTOS: Bizarre Cristiano Ronaldo statue unveiled

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Hang on, is that really meant to be Cristiano Ronaldo?

On Wednesday the Portugal and Real Madrid legend had Madeira Airport named after him just outside his hometown of Funchal and during the ceremony a bust of his head was put on show.

Except, it looked horrendous…

Take a look for yourself in the photos below. See.