Most people who follow FIFA’s machinations expected France to be torn out of Pot Four (the European pot) ahead of Friday’s World Cup 2014 draw. That’s what the world’s governing body did for 2006, when they pulled the lowest-ranked team (Serbia and Montenegro) away from the eight other non-seeded European teams, allocating the team so it wouldn’t get grouped with two other UEFA squads. With nine unseeded European teams replicating that problem this year, FIFA’s decided to slightly change course, a move that could be seen as a sign of progress.
Instead of relying purely on FIFA rankings to drop one of UEFA’s teams our of Pot Four, Friday’s draw will start with a team drawn at random from the European pot. That team will then be placed with the seven-team group made up by the African and South American qualifiers. If that UEFA team happens to be drawn with one of the European seeds, they’ll instead be bumped int a group with a non-European seed, thus ensuring only two UEFA entrants are together once Pot Four is drawn.
The difference between 2006 and 2014 isn’t big, but it’s a notable one for those questioning the importance of the FIFA World Rankings. Those world rankings were responsible for teams like Switzerland, Colombia, Belgium and Uruguay being seeded at the expense of teams like Italy, the Netherlands, and Portugal, calling into question the viability of the system. Today, however, rather than persisting with use of that system and using it to sift one team out of Pot Four, FIFA has decided to draw at random.
The extent you see this as progress probably depends on how strongly you feel about the FIFA rankings. Or perhaps you hate the FIFA rankings but don’t see this as important. Even though I’m bringing up the possible importance of this change, I tend to fall into the “not important” camp. It’s possible today’s “change” says nothing about how FIFA’s rankings will be used going forward.
But if you’re looking for any reason to wonder if FIFA’s second guessing their own ranking system, Tuesday was a good day. It’s at least a change, one that implies some more thought’s going into the process. If we start to see the same second-guessing next time around, perhaps we’ll be spared from a team like Switzerland in Pot One.
Manchester United wants Ivan Perisic, and both the player and his current club are all about it.
Perisic, 28, is ready to leave Inter Milan, and the Serie A mainstays are happy to accept $46 million for his services according to Sky Sports.
[ MORE: No China for Costa ]
Primarily a left winger, Perisic moved to Inter from Wolfsburg at the start of the 2015-16 season. He scored 10 goals and added nine assists in Serie A play this season, and has kept up his production pace since moving from the Bundesliga to Italy.
United needs stars and depth for its Champions League campaign, and Perisic would buttress an attack with Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan amongst others. He was a difference maker for Croatia at EURO 2016, and can do the same at Old Trafford.
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) Celtic completed a trophy treble in Scottish soccer and finished the domestic season undefeated after beating Aberdeen 2-1 in the Scottish Cup final thanks to an injury-time goal on Saturday.
Midfielder Tom Rogic scored from an acute angle in the second minute of stoppage time at Hampden Park to ensure Celtic added the cup to the Scottish Premiership and the Scottish League Cup.
[ MORE: No China for Costa ]
Brendan Rodgers became the third manager, after Jock Stein (1967, 1969) and Martin O’Neill (2001), to lead Celtic to a treble of domestic titles.
Celtic hasn’t lost any of its 47 games across in the league and both cups, and is the first team to go through the whole of a Scottish domestic season unbeaten.
Blues striker Diego Costa offered some insight into his future following Chelsea’s FA Cup Final loss to Arsenal on Saturday.
The combustible striker was subject to a head-turning bid from the Chinese Super League this winter, but is only looking at two European locations for his future.
Those are his current club, Chelsea, as well as former home at Atletico Madrid.
[ JPW: Poignant FA Cup Final reflects English mood ]
The 28-year-old Costa has kept his scoring pace level since arriving in the Premier League. He scored 64 goals in 134 matches for Atleti, and has notched 58 goals for Chelsea in 120 appearances.
Costa reportedly said, “No, no, no” when asked about China, as well as the following:
Sometimes, a match recap needs just a couple keywords instead of paragraphs.
For example: Messi, Barcelona, Cup Final, the best.
The greatest player on Earth was at it again on Saturday, scoring a deft goal before assisting a Paco Alcacer offering as Barcelona won another Copa del Rey with a 3-1 win over Alaves on Saturday.
[ MORE: Pulisic, BVB win German Cup ]
It’s a third-straight Copa del Rey for the Blaugranas, their 29th crown in the tournament’s history. Barca has also lost 10 Copa finals, the last in 2014 against Real Madrid.
Here’s the goal:
And the pass: