2014 World Cup Draw: Full schedule for all group games

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The World Cup draw threw together some giants of world soccer as a incredible tournament awaits in Brazil next summer.

U.S. national team will face Germany, Portugal and Ghana in Group G as Jurgen Klinsmann’s men were handed a hugely difficult task.

(MORE: 2014 World Cup Draw: USA in Group of Death with Germany, Portugal, Ghana)

Elsewhere the other top groups see Group B stacked, with Spain and Holland squaring off in the opening game as the 2010 finalists will lock horns once again. England and Italy were pitted together in Group D, along with Uruguay, while France got off relatively easily as they face Honduras, Ecuador and Switzerland.

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Below is the World Cup group stage draw in full with group games lists, with the dates, times (in U.S. EST) and host venue for each game.

Group A:Brazil, Croatia Mexico, Cameroon

Fixture schedule

12 June 16:00 Sao Paulo Brazil v      Croatia
13 June 12:00 Natal Mexico v      Cameroon
17 June 15:00 Fortaleza Brazil v      Mexico
18 June 18:00 Manaus Cameroon v      Croatia
23 June 16:00 Brasilia Cameroon v      Brazil
23 June 16:00 Recife Croatia v      Mexico

Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Australia, Chile

Fixture schedule

13 June 15:00  Salvador Spain v        Netherlands
13 June 18:00 Cuiaba Australia v        Chile
18 June 15:00 Rio De Janeiro Spain v        Chile
18 June 12:00 Porto Alegre Australia v        Netherlands
23 June 12:00 Curitiba Netherlands v        Chile
23 June 12:00 Sao Paulo Australia v        Spain

Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan

Fixture schedule

14 June  12:00 Belo Horizonte Colombia v        Greece
14 June 21:00 Recife Ivory Coast v        Japan
19 June 12:00 Brasilia Colombia v        Ivory Coast
19 June 18:00 Natal Japan v        Greece
24 June 16:00 Cuiaba Japan v        Colombia
24 June 16:00 Fortaleza Greece v        Ivory Coast

Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

Fixture schedule

14 June 15:00 Fortaleza Uruguay v       Costa Rica
14 June 18:00 Manaus England v       Italy
19 June 15:00 Sao Paulo Uruguay v       England
20 June 12:00 Recife Italy v       Costa Rica
24 June 12:00 Natal Italy v       Uruguay
24 June 12:00 Belo Horizonte Costa Rica v       England

Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

Fixture schedule

15 June  12:00 Brasilia Switzerland v        Ecuador
15 June  15:00 Porto Alegre France v        Honduras
20 June  15:00 Salvador Switzerland v        France
20 June  18:00 Curitiba Honduras v        Ecuador
25 June  16:00 Manaus Honduras v        Switzerland
25 June  16:00 Rio De Janeiro Ecuador v        France

Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

Fixture schedule

15 June 18:00 Rio De Janeiro Argentina v         Bosnia
16 June 15:00 Curitiba Iran v         Nigeria
21 June 12:00 Belo Horizonte Argentina v         Iran
21 June 18:00 Cuiaba Nigeria v         Bosnia
25 June 12:00 Porto Alegre Nigeria v         Argentina
25 June 12:00 Salvador Bosnia v         Iran

Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, United States

Fixture schedule

16 June 12:00 Salvador Germany v          Portugal
16 June 18:00 Natal Ghana v          USA
21 June 15:00 Fortaleza Germany v          Ghana
22 June 18:00 Manaus USA v          Portugal
26 June 12:00 Recife USA v          Germany
26 June 12:00 Brasilia Portugal v          Ghana

Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, Korea Republic

Fixture schedule

17 June 12:00 Belo Horizonte Belgium v         Algeria
17 June 18:00 Cuiaba Russia v         Korea
22 June 12:00 Rio De Janeiro Belgium v         Russia
22 June 15:00 Porto Alegre Korea v         Algeria
26 June 16:00 Sao Paulo Korea v         Belgium
26 June 16:00 Curitiba Algeria v         Russia

Chinese clubs to pay 100% tax on foreign transfers

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The days of Chinese Super League sides spending eye-popping figures on a handful of international superstars — either that, or those figures are about to double — for now, at least.

[ MORE: Oscar given 8-game ban for petulant display in China ]

China’s Football Association announced Thursday that, effective immediately, any foreign player signed for a fee exceeding $6.63 million would be subject to a 100-percent tax on top of the fee paid to acquire the player. The tax will remain in effect until the end of China’s ongoing transfer window, July 14. The tax will also apply to Chinese players signed for a fee exceeding $3 million.

It’s Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to prevent big spending by CSL clubs, which has in every instance been detrimental to the development of young Chinese players making their way through the academy system. The taxed money will then be reinvested in “youth training, construction of public sporting facilities and scientific progress in football development,” according to a statement by the CFA.

Just last week, China was eliminated from contention to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The only time China has ever qualified for the World Cup was in 2002.

Young Englishman Oxford goes abroad, to Gladbach, on loan

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MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) Borussia Moenchengladbach has signed English central defender Reece Oxford on loan for the season from Premier League club West Ham.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says “Oxford has gone through all the England youth teams and is one of the biggest defensive talents in Britain.”

The 18-year-old Oxford, who spent the second half of last season on loan at second-division club Reading, is Gladbach’s fifth arrival of the off-season.

Qatar stadium safety concerns again raised by death investigation

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An investigation into why a British man fell to his death on a building site for the 2022 Qatar soccer World Cup has raised concerns about stadium roof safety.

World Cup organizers on Thursday released partial findings of an assessment of the accident at the Khalifa International Stadium, but said the full report cannot be released while local authorities continue their own investigation. It is one of two work-related deaths detailed in Qatar’s latest welfare report on preparations for the 2022 soccer tournament, which currently involves 12,367 workers on eight construction sites.

The 40-year-old British man fell 39 meters in January after one end of the roof catwalk he was installing dropped and a safety rope snapped.

“During the course of the investigation, the team had raised concerns with the method of installation of the raised catwalk system,” the welfare report from Qatar’s World Cup organizers stated. “This required further investigation regarding the method itself and the supervision skills of the specialist contractor staff.”

It has led to “corrective and preventative actions” being implemented by the contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, along with safety checks across all stadium sites, the report said.

“These included a review of all working-at-height activities across all SC projects, an enhanced process when reviewing specialist activities within construction sites, and a detailed review of all roof and gantry designs,” the Supreme Committee overseeing stadium projects added.

The British man is the only European working on Qatar stadiums to have died in a country relying on a low-paid migrant workforce from south Asia to prepare for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Six non-work related deaths have been announced by organizers, with most suffering from heart or breathing problems.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the supreme committee’s secretary general, said medical staff are trying to raise awareness of the “importance of healthy lifestyles” by evaluating diets and identifying health issues, including hypertension and diabetes. Cooling helmets have also been developed in an attempt to make it safer for workers on outdoor sites during the searing summer heat.

World Cup preparations have been dogged by concerns about the welfare of workers since the natural gas-rich Gulf nation won the FIFA vote in 2010. Mounting international pressure led to Qatar raising living standards and worker rights. Inspections led to three contractors being blacklisted and 14 entities “demobilized” from projects for failing to tackle welfare issues, the World Cup report reveals.

“There is still work to be done to ensure our workers’ welfare standards continue to have a tangible impact on the ground and we are comprehensive in our attempts to tackle the myriad of issues facing migrant workers across the SC program,” Khalid Al-Kubaisi, who oversees worker welfare at the Supreme Committee, said in a statement.

The report has been released as Qatar is gripped by a diplomatic crisis that has seen it isolated in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar earlier this month and blocked air, sea and land traffic over its support for Islamist groups and ties with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and says the allegations are politically motivated.

Official (finally): Salah completes move from Roma to Liverpool

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It was the summer’s first transfer rumor-turned-real-story-turned-never-ending-saga that seemed to refuse to cross the finish line, but it’s finally come to pass: Mohamed Salah is a Liverpool player.

Salah’s move from Roma to Liverpool took so long to complete that the club’s poor social-media manager probably never wants to read the words “Announce Salah” for the rest of his/her life.

The deal will cost Liverpool something in the neighborhood of $50 million — a new Liverpool club record — and completes the utterly terrifying attacking quartet Jurgen Klopp can’t wait to unleash on the Premier League come August — Salah on one side, Sadio Mane opposite, Philippe Coutinho in the middle, and Roberto Firmino at striker. Salah, by the way, will take over Firmino’s no. 11 shirt, with the Brazilian switching to no. 9.