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.

Independiente and Flamengo meet for South American trophy

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SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: LA FC selects Urena, four others in MLS Expansion Draft ]

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund wins in Stoger’s managerial debut

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For the first time since late September, Borussia Dortmund has won a league match, while Leipzig’s slip up opens the door for Bayern Munich to extend its lead in Germany’s top flight.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, level on points with Man United ]

Here’s a brief look at all of Tuesday’s Bundesliga action.

Mainz 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

10 points separates Dortmund from league leaders Bayern Munich, who also have a match in hand, but for the moment, the bleeding his stopped. BVB picked up a crucial win on Tuesday to end its domestic woes upon manager Peter Stoger’s debut. The side’s drought stretched over an eight-match winless period. Second-half goals from Sokratis and Shinji Kagawa moved Dortmund into the top four, while Mainz remains 15th in the league table.

 

Wolfsburg 1-1 Red Bull Leipzig

Meanwhile, RB Leipzig’s form continues to slide downward after the second-place side dropped points in its fourth straight match across all competitions. The road side’s fortunes were dampened early on when Paul Verhaegh converted from the penalty spot, however, Marcel Halstenberg did manage to pull a goal back for Leipzig in the 52nd minute. Leipzig’s misfortunes carried on in stoppage time though when Dayot Upamecano was sent off after picking up his second yellow card of the day.


The rest of Tuesday’s scores

Hamburg 1-2 Frankfurt
Freiburg 1-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

Inter beats 3rd-division Pordenone 5-4 on penalties in Cup

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan scraped into the Italian Cup quarterfinals after the Serie A leader was taken to penalties by third-division Pordenone on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, moves level on points with Man United ]

Pordenone goalkeeper Simone Perilli pulled off several saves in regulation time to keep the game scoreless, and he almost proved to be the hero during the shootout, stopping two penalties.

But Inter prevailed 5-4, with Yuto Nagatomo tucking away the final spot kick.

Both sides hit the woodwork during the 120 minutes.

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti rang the changes, and only Milan Skriniar and Matias Vecino remained in the starting 11 from Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Juventus.

[ MORE: Burnley moves into top four after win over Stoke ]

However, he was forced by desperation to bring on Marcelo Brozovic at halftime as well as star forwards Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi.

Report: Cosmos coach Savarese to be named new Timbers manager

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In a time where NASL’s status moving forward is hanging in the balance, one of the league’s top managers is set to make the jump to Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: LA FC close to acquiring Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan ]

According to ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman, New York Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese is set to be named the next Portland Timbers manager.

Savarese will take over for the recently departed Caleb Porter, who stepped down from his head coaching role with the Timbers in November.

The former professional player spent five seasons in MLS during his career, including stints with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now the Red Bulls), as well as the New England Revolution and the San Jose Earthquakes.

The 46-year-old has managed the Cosmos from 2013 to present, and guided the NASL side to three Soccer Bowl titles in that span.