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.

Liga MX wrap: Pachuca earns first win, Leon stays unbeaten

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All of Saturday’s action from around Mexico’s top flight…

Pachuca 3-1 Lobos BUAP

A strong first-half push from the hosts was all Pachuca needed on Saturday night to earn their first victory of the 2018 Clausura season. Angel Sagal brought the home side in front after just 10 minutes off of a near-post header, before Pachuca’s lead soon doubled 14 minutes later from the penalty spot when strike Franco Jara converted on the dead-ball attempt.

Just prior to halftime, Pachuca was out to a 3-0 advantage when 20-year-old outside back Erick Aguirre tallied his first goal for the club.

Last-place side Lobos got on the board three minutes into the second stanza via a finish from Heriberto Olvera, however, it wasn’t enough to provide anything more than a consolation for the visiting side.

Necaxa 1-3 Chivas Guadalajara

Mexican international Alan Pulido made it a dream start for the visitors from Guadalajara at the Estadio Victoria, however, that lead was cancelled out in first-half stoppage time after Carlos Gonzalez leveled the match up at 1-1.

The difference proved to be with 25 minutes left to play, when a goalkeeping error by Marcelo Barovero allowed Chivas to regain possession inside the Necaxa penalty area, before Ronaldo Cisneros tapped home the winner.

Then, a third goal came just prior to the end of regulation when Edwin Hernandez killed the game off for Matias Almeyda’s men, who also earned their first victory of the Clausura season.

Rest of Saturday’s Liga MX action

Cruz Azul 0-0 Club Leon
Queretaro 0-0 Tigres UANL
Monterrey 0-0 Club Tijuana

Sunday’s matches

UNAM vs. Club America — 1 p.m. ET
Santos Laguna vs. Morelia — 7 p.m. ET

The 2 Robbies: Alexis/Mkhitaryan transfer saga and more

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle recap all the key stories from the latest Premier League Saturday fixtures including Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Newcastle (0:20), Chelsea’s 4-0 victory at Brighton (10:15) and the latest on the Alexis Sanchez/Henrikh Mkhitaryan saga after wins for Arsenal and Manchester United (19:00). Plus, a closer look at the bottom of the table and thoughts go out to James McCarthy after his serious injury against West Brom (29:00).

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

Video: Stoke’s Imbula scores stunner on loan at Toulouse

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Stoke City supporters know the name Giannelli Imbula, and perhaps they’ll be clamoring for the Frenchman to return to the bet365 Stadium if he can score more goals like this.

[ MORE: PL Roundup — Top three all victorious; Gunners thrash Palace ]

The holding midfielder is currently on loan with Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse, and for the first time this season, Imbula opened his goalscoring account in some fashion.

Right on half-hour mark, Imbula unleashed a left-footed strike from nearly 40 yards out to give Toulouse the lead over Montpellier (below).

Imbula joined Stoke during the 2015/16 PL season, and has made 26 appearances for the Potters in his time with the club, prior to his loan to France.

Willian proves he’s Chelsea’s x-factor against Brighton

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There’s a considerable difference when watching a Chelsea team that plays with and without one of its Brazilian influences in the attacking part of the field.

Willian — who first debuted for the Blues back in 2013 — hasn’t always managed to be a regular starter for Chelsea, whether it was Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink or current manager Antonio Conte at the helm, though.

[ SOURCES: Jack Harrison expected to join Stoke City this winter ]

The 29-year-old plays with considerable flair, something that certainly isn’t uncommon amongst many players that have grown up in Brazil.

At times Willian’s overconfidence is a significant blessing, and at others it can be considered a curse, however, the former Corinthians player’s presence is something that Chelsea needs now more than ever.

That was on display on Saturday during the side’s 4-0 win at Brighton, a match in which Chelsea dominated from start to finish with Willian on the pitch. While the performance cannot solely be attributed to the attacking midfielder’s showing, it’s easy to argue that the Blues midfielder is becoming the club’s biggest x factor — one that can determine the outcome of a match.

Just look six minutes into the match, when the Blues put together one of the best team goals you’ll see in a match this year (or any year for that matter), which of course, was started and finished by none other than Willian.

What stands out about the play isn’t the brilliant slicing shot into the near post corner by the veteran playmaker, but instead the confidence that Willian exudes and brings to a Chelsea lineup that has plenty of talent to be considered one of the best teams in England and all of Europe.

After all, Conte’s group is just a season removed from winning the Premier League and still sits inside the top three in the world’s top league.

Then, there’s the Blues’ third goal against Brighton, which was set up by a smart, and instinctive, through ball played into the path of Eden Hazard by Willian (below).

Even though Hazard ends up with a ton of time on the ball to make his next decision, which was ultimately to cut inside on his preferred right foot, the run by Willian towards the end line dragged a defender away from the Belgian international — allowing the sequence to progress.

Arguing Willian’s importance isn’t a knock on Hazard — a world-class player in his own right — or Alvaro Morata, who has had the intolerable task of replacing a key player like Diego Costa.

Instead, it simply shows that Chelsea has a plethora of talent, and that some of the club’s attacking struggles throughout the 2017/18 season can be chalked up to Willian being left out of the starting XI on a regular basis.

[ MORE: Sergio Aguero continues to display brilliance for Man City ]

The Brazilian international has scored eight goals and added seven assists this season in all competitions for the Blues, despite only starting 19 matches.

The mind of manager Conte is an ever-changing one, so maybe Willian still doesn’t get the starting nod on an every week basis, but just by watching the team’s performance at the Amex Stadium it’s quite hard to argue against the player being on the field as much as possible.