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Morocco announces bid for 2026 World Cup

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It appears the combined USA/Mexico/Canada World Cup 2026 bid will have some competition.

On deadline day, the Moroccan Football Federation announced its interest in also hosting the 2026 World Cup. FIFA announced in May that August 11 was the deadline for federations to “express their interest” in hosting the international tournament.

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In a short statement, the Moroccan FF said, “The Royal Moroccan Football Federation officially launched on Friday (August 11th, 2017) a bid to host the 2026 World Cup. The committee has put the file of its nomination to the committees competent in this file at FIFA in order to embrace global football.”

It was originally expected that only the U.S./Mexico/Canada bid would be in the running for the 2026 World Cup, but now it appears that the U.S. will have a little bit of competition, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

While the U.S. and Brazil are completely different countries and cultures, there was no competition to the Brazil World Cup bid and as a result, the local (and allegedly corrupt) organizing committee members fell behind quickly on stadium projects, forcing there to be last minute changes at the 2013 Confederations Cup when some of the stadiums weren’t ready in time.

The U.S. bid however is still the most likely to win the World Cup rights, with the relative ease it will take the U.S., Mexico and Canada to host a 48-team World Cup.

North America hasn’t hosted a World Cup since 1994, while South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010 to represent the African continent.

USA huge climbers in latest FIFA world rankings

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The U.S. national team were the biggest climbers in the top 35 of the latest FIFA world rankings.

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Released on Thursday the USMNT moved up nine places to 26th in the world as Bruce Arena’s positive impact, 2017 Gold Cup success, and a 14-game unbeaten run has seen the U.S. rise.

Brazil moved to top spot in the world, while Mexico remains the top ranked team in the CONCACAF region as they climbed to 14th place with Costa Rica in 21st and Jamaica big risers as they moved up 19 places to 57th following their run to the Gold Cup final.

Germany were replaced in top spot as Die Mannschaft slipped to second, with Argentina in third and Switzerland moved into their highest position since 1993 in fourth. Poland rose to its highest-ever position of fifth place in the rankings.

Portugal dropped two places into sixth, then came Chile in seventh and Colombia in eighth before Belgium and France rounded off the top 10.

Below is a look at the top 30 in the world.


  1. Brazil
  2. Germany
  3. Argentina
  4. Switzerland
  5. Poland
  6. Portugal
  7. Chile
  8. Colombia
  9. Belgium
  10. France
  11. Spain
  12. Italy
  13. England
  14. Mexico
  15. Peru
  16. Croatia
  17. Uruguay
  18. Wales
  19. Sweden
  20. Iceland
  21. Costa Rica
  22. Slovakia
  23. Northern Ireland
  24. Iran
  25. Egypt
  26. USA
  27. Ukraine
  28. Congo DR
  29. Republic of Ireland
  30. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Fan racism earns Serbian champion two-game stadium ban

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NYON, Switzerland (AP) Serbian soccer champion Partizan Belgrade must play its next two European home games in an empty stadium as punishment for fan racism and crowd unrest.

Partizan was charged by UEFA with various offenses including racist behavior, firework use, and pitch invasions following two Champions League qualifying games against Montenegro’s Buducnost and Greek team Olympiakos.

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Besides the two-game empty stadium ruling, UEFA also hit Partizan with one more game behind closed doors, suspended for three years, and a fine of 130,000 euros ($153,000).

Partizan beat Buducnost 2-0 on aggregate, but lost to Olympiakos 5-3 over two legs in the next round.

Its first game behind closed doors will be a Europa League playoff round meeting with Hungarian club Videoton on Aug. 17.

MLS to start using VAR this weekend. What can we expect?

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Ah, it’s been about a month or so since we’ve complained about Video Assistant Referees (VAR).

Time to start flexing your frowns once again, folks.

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VARs will come in to Major League Soccer for the round of games on Aug. 5-6, after the All-Star Game on Aug. 2 in Chicago which marks the traditional midway point of the season.

It will be used for all of the remaining MLS games, plus MLS Cup playoffs and MLS Cup itself.

Your first comment is probably something along the lines of: ‘why the heck is this happening halfway through a season?’

Yeah, I’m with you, especially as decisions in the opening half of the MLS season obviously weren’t scrutinized in the same way, leading to plenty of points either falling by the wayside or gained advantageously by teams. But we don’t live in an ideal world and here we are.

Still, it’s happening, so let’s see what we can expect from the biggest set of VAR tests. The video below from the folks at MLSsoccer.com — featuring Howard Webb who is now the Professional Referees Organization (PRO) manager of VAR operations — does a great job at explaining everything and here are the main takeaways to remember.

  • At each MLS game a VAR (fifth official) will be located in a booth and have access to all available broadcast replays
  • VARs can only help on decisions involving goals, direct red cards, penalty kick and mistaken identity
  • VARs will be able to talk with the referee via a communications system and suggest a review of an incident
  • The referee can then either re-watch the incident on a sideline monitor or apply the VARs decision to keep or overturn the decision
  • If there is a stoppage of play following the incident and then lay restarts, the incident cannot be checked and play must go on

MLS will have the eyes of the world on it to see exactly how this system works over an elongated period of time. We all saw the issues at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia which led to many pundits and fans calling for it to be shelved ahead of the 2018 World Cup next summer.

How well it works in MLS could have a huge bearing in how VAR is implemented in Russia next summer, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino insisting it will be used.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) will be reviewing all of the findings in MLS over the next four to five months before then deciding when to update the laws of the game.

MLS has always been available to be the guinea pig of the soccer world with the foam spray used by refs introduced in North America’s top-flight, plus goal-line technology and more. So far, so good.

There are plenty of VAR skeptics out there following the Confed Cup this summer, but maybe MLS can help ease some of that worry for soccer purists.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

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The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.