Mounting pressure vs. Qatar 2022 World Cup, as England heads nations asking for switch

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Huge opposition is building against the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

On Friday evening the new head of the English Football Association, Greg Dyke, asked FIFA to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to the winter or another country altogether.

The tiny desert nation has been under intense scrutiny ever since it was awarded the mammoth event and now several nations around the world are condemning FIFA’s decisions to take the tournament to Qatar.

FIFA itself deemed Qatar as “high risk” when completing an inspection of the nation’s bid in 2010, with searing summer temperatures in the Persian Gulf often hitting 50 C (120 F).

Dyke hit out at the decision to host the even in Qatar and discussed the FA’s stance.

“The FA’s position will be you can’t play it in summer in Qatar,” said Dyke. “FIFA therefore has two choices … you either move it in time or to another location. Someone should have worked that out in 2010 when it was awarded. It’s genuinely becoming accepted that you can’t play it in Qatar in the summer.”

(MORE: Qatar to purchase 118 tanks to prepare for 2022 World Cup)

And to echo Dyke’s comments, the Bundesliga’s chief executive Christian Seifert said that a winter tournament could disrupt European football for three years, slamming FIFA for ignoring “leagues who are effectively the core and the heart of football.” Recently head of FIFA Sepp Blatter has said the notion of a winter World Cup will be discussed by the governing bodies leading heads. But what is their to discuss?

The evidence is stacked up against holding a World Cup in Qatar.So, what are the options at his point?

Well, luckily, we are nine years away from the event taking place. So time’s on our side. But a decision needs to be made, one way or another, by FIFA’s executives very soon. Switching to winter time in Qatar would make the most sense, but many would argue that taking the tournament away from the tiny Arab nation would be the best move. England and the United States of America have been mooted as potential back up host nations.

(MORE: Sepp Blatter says 2022 World Cup should be played in winter, here we go…)

Air-conditioned outside stadiums were promised in Qatar, so far the technology is still lagging behind for that. The Qatari government has bought 118 tanks and other military equipment to deal with possible terrorist attacks and fan violence. But will fans really be able to function in that type of heat?

Time for Dyke to step in again: “I don’t know how many people have been to Qatar in June – I have,” Dyke said. “The one thing I can tell you is you can’t play a football tournament in Qatar in June. Also, it would be impossible for the fans. Just go out there, wander around in that sort of heat.”

And we have to take another tragic factor on board, as Christian “Chucho” Benítez recently died following a practice game in Qatar. The 27-year-old Ecuadorian forward had just switched to El Jaish from Club America and was use to playing in the extreme heat of Mexico, but he suffered a heart attack and many other issues after playing for the first-time in the relentless Qatari summer heat. As yet, the exact cause of his death hasn’t been linked to the conditions in the Middle Eastern nation, but surely it had to play some factor.

(MORE: Tragedy strikes as Ecuador star Christian Benítez, 27, dies in Qatar)

With problems mounting up for Qatar and leading European giants totally opposed to playing the World Cup there at all, where do we go from here?

FIFA has a lot of work to do before the 2022 showpiece tournament. If it remains in Qatar, it simply must be in the winter time. That won’t win FIFA many friends with the top European leagues, but it won’t put fans or players in danger.

But holding a World Cup in 120 degree heat during the Qatari summer, will.

Mourinho: Mkhitaryan “disappeared” during games, got dropped

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It would appear that Henrikh Mkhitaryan has become the new Luke Shaw, who not so long ago became the new Juan Mata, who had become the new Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Pepe, who all previously become the new Kaka and Mesut Ozil — players previously perceived to be undroppable, only to fall out of favor and be dropped from Mourinho’s side.

[ MORE: Carrick back in training after operation to fix irregular heartbeat ]

Similarly to many of the aforementioned stars of Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid sides of the not-so-distant past, Mourinho recently singled out Mkhitaryan for not working hard enough for the team and failing to meet expectations with his performances.

Mkhitaryan last featured in Man United’s 1-0 loss to Chelsea on Nov. 5, prior to the most recent international break. He played just 62 minutes, to follow an UEFA Champions League appearance of just 45 minutes against Benfica. Mkhitaryan was then absent from the substitute’s bench for a victory over Newcastle United and a defeat to Basel.

[ MORE: Pochettino sees Sanchez as one of world’s best defenders already ]

In Mourinho’s mind, Mkhitaryan hasn’t merited a place in the team — quotes from the Guardian:

“I was not happy with his last performances. I’m not speaking about one or two, I’m speaking about three, four or five. He started the season very well and after that, step by step, he was disappearing. His performance levels in terms of goalscoring and assists, pressing, recovering the ball high up the pitch, bringing the team with him as a no. 10, were decreasing.

“That was enough [to drop him] because the others worked to have a chance. Everybody works to have a chance. It’s as simple as that.”

“I don’t know if Mkhitaryan will start but, for sure, he will be back in the group. For him to be back to the group, it means that somebody is going to leave the group.”

Davinson delights Pochettino, who predicts “massive” strides

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It’s still very early days for Davinson Sanchez as a Tottenham Hotspur player, but the early returns are extremely positive as the Colombian center back has featured in 14 of the club’s 17 games in the Premier League and UEFA Champions League this season.

[ MORE: Spurs beat Dortmund again to win group with Real Madrid ]

What’s more encouraging than Sanchez’s initial performances? The 21-year-old’s “massive” room for improvement and the expectation he’ll one day soon be one of the world’s best defenders, according to manager Mauricio Pochettino.

After signing for Spurs in August, Sanchez went straight into Pochettino’s starting lineup, slotted in between stalwarts Toby Aldeweireld and Jan Vertonghen, who together last season led the defense with the PL’s best record (26 goals conceded in 38 games), as part of a back-three. Sanchez has taken to Tottenham like a duck to water, in Pochettino’s estimation — quotes from ESPN FC:

“You saw against against Dortmund how many times he was with [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang one-versus-one. How many central defenders can play one-versus-one and escape and go, be tight and press? If you run, I run because I am so confident when running. I think not many center backs in the world can do this.

“Or against Swansea against Tammy Abraham: how many times he was one vs. one and the ball was behind him, he was on the halfway line and running was not a problem? And against Cristiano Ronaldo, too?”

“We expect more from him, but I am so happy with him. He is doing well, very well. He’s only 21 years old, but he shows more maturity [than that], and he’s so aggressive when he’s marking, his concentration [is good] and then with the ball he’s good, but I think he can improve.

“There is massive scope to improve potentially, it’s massive for him. In only a few months, he’s showing he’s doing a fantastic job for us. [He can improve in] every single aspect, tactic, physical condition, technique.

“We need with him one and a half months or two months preseason every day, and then I’m sure he’s going to show a different level. I think he’s one of the best today, but has potential to improve a lot more.

“Because he’s so clever, and he’s very humble, and he’s very open to learn, he’s a player when you tell something his reaction is to be open, and be critical with himself, and that is a massive skill from a player, when he’s so open to improve, and then the conditions he has are amazing to be one of the best center halves in the world.”

To state the completely obvious, Pochettino was wise to utilize Aldeweireld and Vertonghen as training wheels for Sanchez, if you will, upon his arrival. His athleticism and pace make him 1) the ideal complement to a pair of players who read the game so well; and, 2) perfectly positioned to operate as the last-man, emergency defender on the rare occasion either Belgian is breached.

[ MORE: Liverpool host Chelsea in massive top-four clash ]

For the first time all season, Sanchez started out wide in Alderweireld’s absence (hamstring) against Arsenal last weekend, and for the first time since his arrival, he appeared a flawed — which is to say, human — defender. To his credit, Sanchez gave a quality account of himself on the whole, and finished the game much stronger than he’d started.

No one was more aware of this than Pochettino, though, as he slid Eric Dier into Aldeweireld’s spot for Tuesday’s Champions League triumph over Borusia Dortmund, again deploying Sanchez in the middle. With Aldeweireld expected to miss a couple more weeks at minimum, the Tottenham teamsheet should routinely read Vertonghen-Sanchez-Dier from left to right until he returns.

Lille appoint four interim managers to replace Bielsa

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LILLE, France (AP) A four-man coaching team will take provisional charge of French soccer club Lille in the wake of Marcelo Bielsa’s dismissal.

Lille says Fernando Da Cruz, Joao Sacramento, Benoit Delaval and Franck Mantaux will be in charge of the team until further notice.

Lille announced earlier this week that Bielsa had been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club” following a 3-0 loss at Amiens.

The northern side is in 19th place and next travels Saturday to Montpellier, which has the best defense in the league.

Bielsa joined Lille this season but failed to make the club competitive. After finishing a disappointing 11th last season, Lille hired the coach – affectionately known as El Loco Bielsa (Crazy Bielsa) – with the aim of returning to the Champions League.

Irregular heartbeat the cause of Carrick’s recent absence

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Manchester United captain Michael Carrick hasn’t played for his club since Sept. 20, a confounding period of more than two months now, and the reason for the 36-year-old midfielder’s absence has finally come to light: an irregular heartbeat.

[ MORE: Mourinho slams critics (again), gives injury updates ]

The condition, which Carrick announced himself on Friday, was first detected after Man United’s League Cup victory over Burton Albion. He has since undergone a cardiac ablation, a procedure to scar or destroy tissue in your heart that’s allowing incorrect electrical signals to cause an abnormal heart rhythm, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Carrick was named the new United captain this summer following the departure of Wayne Rooney. As told in the above statement, he is working toward full fitness and once again being available for selection in Jose Mourinho’s side.

Hooray for modern technology and medicine, which allow otherwise baffling medical conditions to be diagnosed, treated and recovered from in a matter of weeks or months.