MLS commissioner Don Garber says Qatar World Cup could be a “monumental disaster”

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Add Don Garber to the list of dignitaries on record against a Qatar World Cup. Speaking to a conference on Wednesday, the Major League Soccer commissioner said the 2022 event could be a “monumental disaster” for soccer worldwide, with the potential of moving the tournament from summer adding to the myriad problems surrounding the planned championship.

Speaking on the opening panel of the 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports, MLS’s top-ranking executive said reports that former FIFA executive committee member Jack Warner took $1.2 million in bribes could add momentum to the case against Qatar.

“That now is going to get a lot more legs,” Garber said of investigations into the potential bribes (as relayed by the Sports Business Journal). “If more comes out, who knows what happens. It’s very disappointing. It’s an unpleasant aspect of the global football business.”

Garber also talked about the potential to move the event to November 2021 or January 2022, saying, “broadcast partners [in the U.S.] might have a problem with it going up against (NFL) football.”

None of which is news, but Garber’s willingness to go strongly on record is. Whereas the anguish with Qatar having been awarded the World Cup could have waned since the 2010 vote, practical considerations concerning weather and scheduling have seen more big names takes stances against the tournament. Don Garber is just the latest in a series of prominent officials who have expressed issues with the tournament.

“It affects all of us for many, many years,” Garber said, calling the uncertain surrounding the tournament “a very difficult situation for our sport.”

Curiously, few have latched on to the most-obvious reason for moving the tournament: Thousands of people are dying to build the facilities that will be used eight years from now. Television contracts and the global soccer calendar? They don’t mean much in the bigger picture. The 2022 World Cup has already led to the loss of a too many lives, and we’re only three years into this process.

Realistically, it’s going to take a political, not humanitarian solution to get the tournament moved from Qatar, and while a number of big names have joined Garber is criticizing the event, many make the same mistake the commissioner did on Wednesday. While his views of Qatar’s problems each have merit, he also compromised his objectivity by hinting the U.S. could gain from a potential move:

“We certainly would be happy to host it here and have a lot of big stadiums that could turn it around and host on very short notice … But we’re going to be on the sidelines on this and hope that FIFA can resolve this in a way that’s good for the sport.”

The major problem with the skepticism of Qatar is that it has mostly come from English and American media, and while the reasons for their incredulity deserve consideration, many around the globe see the two World Cup bid losers as motivated by sour grapes. Add that to many’s tendency to tune out the unwarranted moralizing that characterizes the English media, and  the loudest, strongest complaints about Qatar get ignored.

But just because the messenger has issues doesn’t mean the message is faulty. Qatar is a huge problem, one that’s morphed into a litmus test issue for soccer executives.

Today in Dana Point, Calif., Garber came down in strong opposition to the event. He passed the test.

Salah beats De Bruyne to win PFA Player of the Year award

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LONDON (AP) Mohamed Salah has been voted Player of the Year by his fellow professionals in English football in recognition of an incredible scoring return to the Premier League with Liverpool.

[ MORE: Man United reach FA Cup final | Chelsea join them ]

The Egypt forward collected the Professional Footballers’ Association award at a ceremony in London on Sunday, two days before Liverpool’s Champions League semifinal first leg against Roma.

It is a reunion with the Italian club he left in the offseason for 42 million euros (then $47 million). The hefty fee appeared to be a gamble for Liverpool but now represents a real bargain.

The former Chelsea player has scored 41 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool – enabling him to beat Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne in second place to the PFA award.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane was third.

[ MORE: Man City thrash Swansea in pursuit of points record ]

“It’s a big honor,” Salah said. “I’ve worked hard and I’m very happy to win it.”

Salah is preparing to lead Egypt into its first World Cup in 28 years and he is the first player from the North African nation to win English football’s top individual prize.

“Hopefully I’m not the last one,” he said. “I’m very proud to win and I’ve worked very hard.”

Salah’s impact has been more remarkable given his underwhelming 2014-15 season at Chelsea before being offloaded by then-manager Jose Mourinho. He went on loan to Fiorentina in early 2015 and Roma in 2016, and then on a permanent basis to Roma in August 2016.

Scoring 15 goals and setting up 11 more for Roma convinced Liverpool to bring Salah back to a second spell in England.

[ MORE: Liverpool draw West Brom in final tune-up before UCL semis ]

His goal at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday was his 31st in the league this season, tying the scoring record in a 38-game campaign held by Cristiano Ronaldo, Alan Shearer and Luis Suarez.

Suarez was the last Liverpool player to be crowned player of the year by the PFA in 2014 before moving to Barcelona.

It’s a sign of his remarkable impact that Salah secured the award with third-place Liverpool and that none of Manchester City’s newly crowned champions won the accolade.

But City winger Leroy Sane was voted PFA Young Player of the Year.

The PFA women’s player award went to Chelsea forward Fran Kirby, while Lauren Hemp of Bristol City secured the young player prize.

CONCACAF cancels women’s U-17 tournament due to violence

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) CONCACAF has canceled the rest of its 2018 Women’s Under-17 Championship following violence in Managua, Nicaragua, where the tournament began Thursday.

The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football made the announcement Sunday. The tournament was to have determined the region’s qualifiers for the Under-17 World Cup in Uruguay, which starts Nov. 13.

More than two dozen people have been killed since Wednesday according to the independent Nicaraguan Human Rights Center, though the government had acknowledged only nine dead. Dozens of shops in Managua were looted during protests and disturbances sparked by government social security reforms.

The U.S. opened Friday with a 4-0 win over Costa Rica and had been scheduled to play Bermuda on Sunday and Canada on Tuesday.

The 2 Robbies: “Wenger was the Guardiola of his day”

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle discuss the shock news of Arsene Wenger announcing he will stand down at the end of the season and celebrate the living legend’s career, while also exploring who will take this massive job, then finish up talking about the FA Cup semifinal results.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Juventus 0-1 Napoli: Serie A title race back on… again

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This season’s scudetto race has been very much on, all but over, back on, a mere formality and now, following Sunday’s clash between first- and second-place Juventus and Napoli, on again… all inside the last four or five weeks of this roller-coaster Serie A season.

[ MORE: Man United reach FA Cup final | Chelsea join them ]

Some will say that Juventus have regressed as the majority of their stars are now on the wrong side of 30, while others will say that a young and always-improving Napoli side has closed the gap all on their own and pulled themselves onto level footing with the six-time defending champions. The all-knowing among us will say it’s all of the above.

[ MORE: Barcelona hammer Sevilla to lift 4th straight Copa del Rey ]

For 89 minutes, Saturday’s clash at the Allianz Stadium appeared to be the final nail in Napoli’s coffin, as Maurizio Sarri’s side found themselves hopelessly blunted and unable to break through Juve’s ultra-defensive foundation (4 shots, o on target for Juve over 90 minutes). Kalidou Koulibaly’s thunderous header from Jose Callejon’s corner kick changed all of that, and drew Gli Azzurri to within a single point of Juve with four games left to play.

It’s the first time Juve have lost in league play since Nov. 19 (17 wins in 20 games) and their first league defeat at home since Oct. 14 (10 wins in 11 games, outscoring opponents by a combined 28-3). Napoli are now unbeaten in their last 30 league games away from home (24 wins), dating back to the last time they visited Juventus, Oct. 29, 2016.

Still on Juve’s remaining schedule: trips to take on fifth-place Inter Milan and third-place Roma. As for Napoli, they’ll take on eighth-, ninth- and 10th-place Sampdoria, Fiorentina and Torino, respectively, as well as 16th-place Crotone.

(Ever so slight) Advantage, Napoli?