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FIFA releases latest World Rankings

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FIFA’s latest world rankings have been released with the U.S. national team rising one place to 27th despite their embarrassing exit in 2018 World Cup qualifying.

[ MORE: Latest USMNT news ]

With points ranked on results over the past four-year cycle, the U.S. have actually moved up in the rankings. That will be scant consolation as the USMNT watch on next summer as the World Cup goes on in Russia.

The top six teams remain unchanged in the rankings with Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium and Poland the top six in descending order. France and Spain rose one and three places respectively to sit in seventh and eighth, while Chile (another team who failed to qualify for the World Cup) remain ninth and Peru move up two places into 10th.

In the CONCACAF region Mexico have dropped two places to 16th, while Costa Rica is down one place to 22nd and Panama (who qualified for its first ever World Cup) move up 11 places to 49th.

Below is the top 20 in full.


1. Germany
2. Brazil
3. Portugal
4. Argentina
5. Belgium
6. Poland
7. France
8. Spain
9. Chile
10. Peru
11. Switzerland
12. England
13. Colombia
14. Wales
15. Italy
16. Mexico
17. Uruguay
18. Croatia
19. Denmark
20. Netherlands

27. USA

Ecuador suspends 5 players for leaving training base

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QUITO, Ecuador (AP) Five players have been suspended indefinitely from Ecuador’s national soccer team for leaving the squad’s training base without permission a day before a key match this week against Argentina.

[ MORE: Much of the same to come based on Gulati’s reaction ]

The Ecuadoran federation declined to identify the players.

Argentina defeated Ecuador 3-1 on Tuesday, a result that guaranteed Argentina a place in next year’s World Cup. Ecuador had no chance to advance, but could have eliminated Argentina.

Federation president Carlos Villacis says “the players involved have been indefinitely suspended from any call-up.” He said only that they were involved in an act of “indiscipline” and did not give details.

FIFA rejects Ghana complaint over World Cup qualifying game

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA says it will not act on Ghana’s complaint about refereeing in a World Cup qualifying match last weekend.

[ MORE: Bruce Arena steps down as USMNT manager ]

The Ghana federation wanted its 0-0 draw in Uganda replayed, and also protested about South African referee Daniel Bennett and his assistants from Seychelles.

Ghana’s failure to win meant Egypt, which beat Republic of Congo 2-1 the next day, advanced to play in Russia.

FIFA says “no proceedings will be opened around the World Cup qualifier match Uganda vs. Ghana.”

Ghana believed two goals were disallowed for incorrect offside decisions. Replays suggested a stoppage-time goal should have counted.

[ MORE: Gulati’s reaction says much of the same can be expected for US Soccer ]

The request followed FIFA last month ordering a replay of a South Africa-Senegal qualifier played last year. Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey was later found guilty of fixing and banned for life.

European body upholds FIFA ban on 3rd party transfer deals

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BRUSSELS (AP) The European Commission will not investigate a complaint against the ban on third-party investors owning soccer players’ transfer rights.

In a letter to Malta-based investment fund Doyen, officials say “the Commission does not intend to carry out a more in-depth inquiry into your allegations.”

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Doyen and Belgian lower-division club Seraing argued that FIFA’s 2015 ban on third-party ownership (TPO) violated European competition laws.

The European Commission in Brussels rejects that view, and notes that TPO creates conflicts of interest between clubs, players, and investors.

FIFA and UEFA worked to impose the ban to stop players from moving between clubs solely for profit-taking and to protect the game’s integrity.

UEFA welcomes the ruling and says it is “both immoral and illegal” to trade players’ economic rights.

Swiss investigators open World Cup bribery case against Al-Khelaifi, Valcke

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Swiss prosecutors have opened an investigation against Paris Saint-Germain president and BeIN Media Group CEO Nasser Al-Khelafi on suspected bribery charges with regards to World Cup media rights, the office of Switzerland’s attorney general announced on Thursday.

The announcement claimed the investigation reaches into France, Greece, Italy and Spain, and that authorities have already searched properties to find key evidence.

Also named in the investigation are FIFA itself, and former FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke who was fired and banned from FIFA alongside Sepp Blatter in January of 2016. The announcement read:

“It is suspected that Jerome Valcke accepted undue advantages from a businessman in the sports rights sector in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the Fifa World Cups in 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 and from Nasser al-Khelaifi in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the Fifa World Cups in 2026 and 2030,”

Valcke has been publicly under investigation by Swiss authorities since March of last year, when they announced he was suspected of criminal mismanagement.

BeIN Media Group and BeIN Sports confirmed their French office was searched by the Swiss authorities, and that they cooperated with all requests. They were quick, however, to issue a sweeping denial of all allegations, saying, “BeIN Media Group refutes all allegations made by OAG [Attorney General of Switzerland]. The company will fully cooperate with the authorities and is confident as to the future developments of this investigation.”

FIFA released a short statement saying, in part, “FIFA has constituted itself as a damaged party in this investigation.”

Valcke did not respond to requests for a statement, and Paris Saint-Germain declined to comment, according to the Associated Press.