In this photo taken during a government organized media tour, laborers work at the Al-Wakra Stadium that is under construction for the 2022 World Cup, in Doha, Qatar, Monday, May 4, 2015. Qatar’s top labor official told The Associated Press Monday that Qatar’s inability to ensure decent housing for its bulging migrant labor population was “a mistake” the government is working to fix as it prepares to host the 2022 World Cup, vowing his country would improve conditions for its vast foreign labor force. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
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Qatari official says World Cup drunks will be treated “very gently”

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One of the biggest unanswered questions still hanging over the 2022 World Cup — at least for fans traveling to Qatar for the tournament — has to do with the rules and regulations placed upon their consumption of alcohol.

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On Monday, Hassan Al Thawadi, the head of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup committee, attempted to ease those fears when he said that not only will the consumption of alcohol be permitted during the tournament in six years’ time, but that in the event of public drunkenness, the visitors in question will be dealt with quickly and “very gently” — quotes from the Guardian:

“I know in South Africa there where specific courts established during the World Cup for this kind of thing, and that is something we were discussing with FIFA.”

“In relation to drunk fans it will be as it is anywhere else, anyone who is rowdy, anyone who breaches the law, will be very gently – depending on how they react – taken care of in a manner to make sure that people are not disrupting the public order. Everyone will be able to have fun and be exposed to Qatari culture.”

“We welcome everyone in the world. We’ve hosted many people, from many places and [drinking] was never an issue. This will be a fun World Cup. It will be one of the best cups out there.”

FIFA candidate Prince Ali claims voting pledge from Liberia

Jordan's Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, flanked by school-age soccer players in uniforms, speaks before about 300 guests during an event at a Roman amphitheater in Amman, Jordan, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. The prince is running for FIFA president, saying Wednesday he will fight "deep-seated corruption and political deal-making" and make soccer's scandal-scarred governing body more transparent. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
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AMMAN, Jordan (AP) FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali of Jordan says the Liberia soccer federation has pledged its vote to him.

Liberia follows Egypt as the second African voter claimed by Prince Ali since the Confederation of African Football’s leadership endorsed Asian confederation president Sheikh Salman of Bahrain on Friday.

The CAF executive committee urged the 54 African voters among FIFA’s 209-strong membership to back the sheikh in the Feb. 26 election.

Prince Ali’s campaign team on Saturday published a three-page letter of endorsement signed by Liberia federation president Musa Bility.

Bility writes that Prince Ali “represents real change” while other candidates are “not even prepared to criticize” the FIFA system.

Bility was himself an applicant in the presidential contest, then failed an integrity test judged by FIFA’s election monitoring committee.

African confederation backs Shiekh Salman, not Sexwale, for FIFA presidency

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - MAY 02:  Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain poses after he was elected as the 11th President of the Asian Football Confederation during the 2013 AFC Congress at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on May 2, 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images)
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The African confederation (CAF) announced today in a statement following a meeting in Kigali, Rwanda that they would be unanimously backing Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa for the FIFA presidency.

The AFC has unrivaled power in the vote for the FIFA presidency, and with 54 votes, decided to push all their support into one bloc. The choice to back Salman comes at somewhat of a surprise, given that Tokyo Sexwale was a favorite in the region as he is a South African native, and the CAF has long campaigned for one of its own to be put into office.

Sheikh Salman is the current head of the Asian confederation (AFC), serving in that position since he was voted into office in May of 2013. The AFC signed a cooperative agreement with the CAF just last month

“I am humbled by the support of CAF’s Executive Committee and tremendously encouraged by the unanimous decision to support my bid for the office of FIFA president,” Sheikh Salman said in a statement following the announcement. “I am deeply honored to have earned the trust of many of our African friends at this crucial stage of the campaigning effort.  The two endorsements only mean that there is a strong groundswell in favor of my candidacy. What they don’t mean, is that I can sit back and relax. This campaign will be decided on the day of the vote, not before. Naturally, I am confident that I now have a reasonably strong position to work from with such support.”

In a twist, just hours after the announcement by the CAF, fellow presidential candidate Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein revealed on Twitter that he had the backing of the Egyptian Football Federation, which is a member of the CAF. The original tweet came from an account created to support his presidential bid, but it was retweeted by Prince Ali’s personal verified account.

No word has been announced on whether the CAF had accepted Egypt’s apparent rogue nature. The initial statement by the CAF announcing support for Sheikh Salman read, “While respecting the principle of democracy, the sovereignty, and latitude of each member association to vote for the candidate of its choice, the Executive Committee urges all the 54 member associations of the Confédération Africaine de Football to reserve their votes for Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa during the 26 February 2016 elections for the presidency of FIFA in Zurich.”

The CAF is headquartered just outside Cairo, Egypt.

Madrid clubs have transfer bans pushed back pending appeals

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 04:  Real Madrid CF president Florentino Perez gives a speech as he comunicates the dismissal of Rafael benitez and announces Zinedine Zidane as new Real Madrid head coach at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on January 4, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid each separately announced Friday that their transfer bans had been temporarily lifted pending the outcome of their appeal.

Each club had received a transfer registration ban handed down by FIFA for improper signing and treatment of youth players, but with both teams on appeal, they are at the moment eligible to sign players this upcoming summer. Before the announcement, neither team was allowed to register new players during the summer transfer window plus the January 2017 window.

The clubs are following the same path that Barcelona did back in 2014. The club received a similar ban for a similar violation, but upon appeal the club was able to delay the punishment long enough to sign six players, including Luis Suarez, in the summer of 2014.

However, not all is set in stone. If their appeals are rejected before the summer transfer window opens, the punishment will hold firm for that window. The Press Association is reporting that the appeal will be heard before the summer.

Report on 2006 World Cup bribery allegations due March 4

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BERLIN (AP) The findings of an investigation commissioned by the German football federation (DFB) into bribery allegations concerning the awarding of the 2006 World Cup will be published on March 4.

The DFB said in a statement Thursday that law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which it tasked with a “comprehensive investigation of all allegations” will present its report to its 45-member committee and then at a press conference the same day. The findings will also be made available online.

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The federation said it would not comment on media reports beforehand but will “carry out an assessment as soon as the report is complete” and that “the DFB leadership will comment on the short to medium-term consequences of the events.”

Allegations that Germany’s World Cup organizing committee may have bought votes to secure the awarding of the 2006 tournament were first made by German weekly Der Spiegel on Oct. 16.

Der Spiegel alleged that German bidders used a slush fund to buy four Asian votes, an allegation subsequently repeated by former DFB president Theo Zwanziger.

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DFB officials said a 6.7 million euro payment was made to FIFA in return for a much larger financial grant to the 2006 World Cup organizing committee. The money was paid on the DFB’s behalf by former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus and later repaid by the federation.

The circumstances behind the payment remain murky, however, and prompted a tax evasion probe by German authorities. Zwanziger, his successor Wolfgang Niersbach – who resigned as DFB president on Nov. 9 – and another high-ranking DFB official are under investigation.

Jan Bessling of Freshfields told The Associated Press that the firm would not confirm nor deny any reported details until it had completed its investigations.