FIFA on 2022 World Cup: No decision before 2014 tournament

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On Friday morning FIFA President Sepp Blatter has revealed that a special committee has been organized to try and tackle the scheduling options available for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

What took you so long?

With fans, officials, players and managers up in arms about playing in the intense heat of the Qatari summertime, many are clambering for a switch to a Winter World Cup. So FIFA has to decide to consult medial experts, media, influential European leagues and sponsors, to come to a compromise.

We need to carry out very deep consultations and investigations and show some diplomacy and wisdom,” Blatter said following a two-day meeting in Zurich. “World Cup 2022 will be played in Qatar. There you have it. About the heat, you’re entirely right, and I indeed say that we should have spoken about heat before, and in the bid documents it clearly said that it was hot in Qatar.”

Recently Qatar has also come under intense scrutiny about abusing labor laws and putting the lives of migrant workers in harm as they rush to build the new stadiums.

“As to the working conditions,” Blatter said. “Throughout the world, this is not Fifa’s remit. We cannot assume the duty of supervising security in building sites. As to what has happened now, of course we’re not indifferent to that. It does concern us and for this reason a trip to Qatar is now planned.”

Earlier Friday, FIFA Vice President Jeffrey Webb said, “I don’t think there should be a decision today. We definitely have not been presented with an analysis. We don’t know where the stakeholders are, so I think it would be irresponsible for us to take a decision today.”

Leader of the Asian Football Confederation, Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa, will lead the investigation.

It seems as though almost every day more pressure is mounting against the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Today is no different, as Premier League managers have lined up in opposition of the event. Many fear a switch to the Winter would throw up plenty of logistical issues for soccer leagues across the globe, especially Europe.

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Moyes believes changing to Winter World Cup in 2022 is the only option.

Manchester United manager David Moyes is the latest leading figure to call for the World Cup to be switched. Moyes believes there’s no way it can take place in the summer, and changes will need to be made to the English domestic competitions.

“I think there would be no choice that it would have to move,” Moyes said. “Maybe you’ll need to get rid of FA Cup replays and limit the League Cup, maybe something along those lines.”

Moyes also believes English soccer would be affected for a long time around the much-maligned World Cup.

“I think things would need to be altered in the year before and the year after, certainly,” Moyes said. “I’m sure the Premier League and others are already starting work on that and thinking about it. It does look as though it is going to have to be changed. If it was played in January it could be the equivalent to having a winter break. That would obviously extend things. I’m sure the people in power will try to make the right decisions.”

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had his say on FIFA ExCo. looking into the possibilities of a Winter World Cup.

“To me it looks reasonable to play in the winter,” Wenger said. “Because the only thing that matters is the safety of the supporters who go there and attend the games. The players can cope with the heat because they are prepared. They will be in great condition.”

But should there be a new vote on the host for the 2022 World Cup given all of the unrest so far? Wenger doesn’t think so/

“No, unless there are some irregularities proven,” Wenger said. “But if nothing irregular has happened, why should you re-vote? You have to respect the vote and adapt the situation.”

Spanish police dismantle match-fixing scheme in 3rd, 4th tiers

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MADRID (AP) Spanish police have dismantled a match-fixing scheme involving players and clubs in the country’s lower divisions.

Authorities said more than 20 people have been detained as part of the police operation launched on Monday, including players, although no names were immediately disclosed.

The matches under suspicion were in the third and fourth divisions this season and last season.

The match-fixing scheme reportedly involved Chinese betting sites.

The Spanish league said the operation was based on information collected by its analysts about suspicious activities.

UCL preview: Chelsea host Barcelona; Bayern vs. Besiktas

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  • Chelsea vs. Barcelona, at Stamford Bridge
  • Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas, at Allianz Arena
  • Champions League round of 16 resumes on Tuesday

[ UCL: Spurs fight back to draw Juventus | Liverpool thrash Porto in leg 1 ]

Chelsea, mired in some of their worst form since the disastrous 2015-16 season, welcome a Barcelona side enjoying one of the best six-month runs of results in the famed club’s entire history. The Blues have won just four of their last 12 games across all competitions, while the Blaugrana have lost once in 38 games.

On the plus side, Chelsea enter Tuesday’s colossal clash as winners of their last two games — back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018 — having outscored the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Hull City by a combined 7-0. Star striker Alvaro Morata returned to action against Hull after five weeks out with a back injury, thus Antonio Conte has something of a selection dilemma on his hands with the Spaniard perhaps only partially fit, and Olivier Giroud racking up a goal and three assists in the last two games, his first starts for the club.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have conceded just two goals in their last nine games (all competitions) and even managed to overturn their lone defeat, to Espanyol, and advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals (and eventually final). Despite losing Neymar in the summer, Barca mostly cruised through their Champions League group, only dropping points in draws away to Juventus and Olympiacos. Lionel Messi has, strangely, never scored a goal in his eight career appearances against Chelsea, a record which has been spoken about at length in the build-up to Tuesday — similarly to the goal-less record which plagued him against Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, whom he finally bested back in September.

[ MORE: Man City win big away to Basel | Real Madrid 3-1 PSG ]

In the other round-of-16 first-leg matchup on Tuesday, five-time (soon-to-be six) defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich host surprise winners of Group G, Besiktas, ahead of the likes of Monaco, RB Leipzig and Porto.

Since taking over on an interim basis (through the end of the season), Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes has won 21 of 22 games of which he’s been in charge, including four of six games during the group stage en route to finish second behind Paris Saint-Germain, while also racing out to a 19-point lead back home in Germany.

Aguero involved in clash with Wigan fan after FA Cupset

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) Sergio Aguero was involved in a confrontation with a Wigan fan as ugly scenes marred the end of the third-division side’s shock FA Cup win over Manchester City on Monday.

[ MORE: Wigan shock Man City, the world and themselves ]

Fans spilled on to the pitch at DW Stadium as the host celebrated its 1-0 fifth-round win against the runaway English Premier League leader.

Supporters from both clubs were involved in disturbances, while television pictures appeared to show a home supporter and striker Aguero involved in a physical exchange.

Aguero appeared to hit the supporter after the fan said something to the player, and Aguero had to be held back by his City teammates.

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Advertising hoardings were also ripped out and thrown as a pitch invasion by Wigan fans got out of hand while the defeated City players were being escorted off the pitch.

Footage also appeared to show objects, including an advertising board, being thrown at police officers by fans in the City end.

Wigan shock themselves: “Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet”

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Wigan Athletic didn’t just shock Manchester City with their FA Cup fifth-round slaying of the runaway Premier League leaders; nor did they merely shock the rest of the footballing world; they also shocked themselves into disbelief, according to defender Dan Burn.

[ MORE: Goodbye, quadruple! Wigan bounce 10-man City from FA Cup ]

Speaking following Monday’s triumph over Pep Guardiola‘s quadruple-chasing side at the DW Stadium, Burn admitted he himself didn’t know what to make of the night that would undoubtedly highlight and change his own professional career — quotes from the BBC:

“Not sure how it feels, hasn’t sunk in yet. It was a really tough game. The belief was always there. We’ve got Will Grigg, who does what he keeps doing.

“We pride ourselves on our clean sheets. We had a couple bad results before, so we wanted to prove ourselves, so a clean sheet against the best team in England is great.

“Once we scored, the fans really got behind us, just knew we needed to hang on. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life.”

[ MORE: Money from Wembley replay “will support Rochdale for 2 or 3 years” ]

Manager Paul Cook was able to articulate his happiness and pride only slightly better — “It feels great” — but offered the highest of praises to his players, whom “had to ride [their] luck at times” during the game, and gave everything they had to the cause, because that’s the only way you beat a team like Man City:

“It feels great. It’s such a severe test. They’re such a strong side and move the ball so well. We had to ride our luck at times and the sending off is always a big incident.

“Our lads deserve credit for their work and some of the blocks they made were outstanding, and to beat Man City you have to do that.”