Sepp Blatter says Qatar 2022 World Cup should be played in winter, here we go…

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It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Sepp Blatter.

And FIFA’s President never disappoints.

Blatter has today reiterated his appeal to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to the winter to avoid the searing summer heat. Temperatures in the tiny emirate state reach an average of 106 degrees in July and August.

But FIFA decided they wanted to have the World Cup there.

In the past Blatter raised massive concerns about whether or not a World Cup  should take place in the summer in the Middle Eastern country and those issues have come to the fore once more.

Speaking in Austria earlier today, Blatter aired his views. “If this World Cup is to become a party for the people, you can’t play football in the summer. You can cool down the stadiums but you can’t cool down the whole country.”

And Blatter also touched on if they can agree to change the league schedules in pretty much every country across the globe to accommodate a winter World Cup in Qatar. “There is still enough time. I will bring this up to the executive committee.”

You do that, Sepp.

In the original report on Qatar’s bid before they were given the World Cup in 2010, health concerns were raised about them hosting the tournament. But FIFA’s executive committee decided they would give the massive event to Qatar and fancy plans for outside air-conditioned stadiums were waved around triumphantly.

That was then, this is now.

Blatter has never publicly stated if he backed the bid. But with continued comments like this, you have to wonder whether Sepp and the committee are rethinking the decision to host the World Cup there altogether. Qatar has already been in the news this week, with its plans to buy 118 tanks to police the event already causing concern.

(MORE: Qatar set to purchase 118 tanks to prepare for 2022 World Cup)

And if the proposed air-conditioned stadiums don’t work out then there’s a huge problem. It is unsafe for anybody to watch the games and even though the venues may be okay, what about outside?

It has to be in the winter. FIFA knew that when they chose Qatar as the hosts. Surely? But expect this debate to rumble on for many months until a final decision is made.

Safe to say English Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and Bundesliga bosses will not be impressed. The huge upheaval of having to change around their whole season will irritate the purists.

But when all is said and done, who can argue with having a World Cup around Christmas time and then the EPL and other European leagues running throughout the summer months? That’s soccer heaven for most people.

I’m with Sepp on this one. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has to be in the winter. He should have nothing to discuss with FIFA’s executive committee…

Kane scores early and late, England narrowly top Tunisia

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England’s 2018 World Cup debut began brilliantly, then appeared headed for a disappointingly familiar outcome, but was ultimately saved by Harry Kane who scored both goals in the Three Lions’ 2-1 victory over Tunisia in Volgograd on Monday.

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England came sprinting out of the starting blocks — so quickly they nearly took flight — and taking an early lead through Harry Kane in the 11th minute (WATCH HERE). John Stones‘ header was spectacularly saved by Mouez Hassen, but Kane was in the right place at the right time and swept home the rebound for his first World Cup goal (on his World Cup debut).

The opening half-hour was all England, with the likes of Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling cutting through the Tunisian midfield and defense with very little resistance and creating a half-dozen golden scoring chances. Unfortunately for Gareth Southgate‘s side, they couldn’t capitalize, and they were made to pay for it.

Kyle Walker caught Fakhreddine Ben Youssef with a raised arm as an innocuous cross came into the box, prompting referee Wilmar Roldan to blow his whistle and point to the penalty spot immediately. Ferjani Sassi stepped up and converted, just out of reach of Jordan Pickford, who perhaps got a fingertip on the ball (WATCH HERE), to make it 1-1 and negate an otherwise dominant first-half performance by England. It would be Tunisia’s only shot on goal for the game.

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England’s best chance to re-establish a lead came during a six-yard-box scramble just seconds before halftime. Alli’s header hit the crossbar and Stones badly scuffed — nearly whiffed — on the follow-up. Kane was dragged to the ground during the rest of the commotion, to no interest of Roldan.

It took far longer than anyone back home in England would have liked, but Kane grabbed the winner in the 91st minute, heading home from acres of space at the back post. Jordan Henderson got the first crack at heading the corner kick, but it was blocked and bound high into the air. Somehow, some way, Kane was unmarked and snuck his redirect just inside the post.

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Up next for England is a meeting with Panama on Sunday, a day after Tunisia take on Belgium, who thrashed the Panamanians, 3-0, on Monday.

VIDEO: Tunisia equalizes on controversial penalty kick

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England centerback Kyle Walker put his arm up to halt the forward progress of Fakhreddine Ben Youssef. Unfortunately for Walker, Ben Youssef was in the box and Walker’s elbow caught Ben Youssef’s face.

Referee Wilmar Roldan quickly whistled for a penalty kick and despite the protests from a half-dozen of England players and a check from the VAR, the called stood. Ferjani Sassi’stepped up to the spot and found the lower-left corner, just barely beating Jordan Pickford to tie the game in the 35th minute.

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How will England respond?

VIDEO: Captain Kane puts England on the board early

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It may be the easiest goal-scoring opportunity Harry Kane‘s ever had in an international competition, and he finished it as easy as you’d like.

Kane side-footed home after Tunisia goalkeeper Mouez Hassen made a terrific save on John Stone’s header off a corner, but the save was directed right into a wide-open Kane who was standing ready inside the six yard box. The 11th minute goal will surely settle some of the Three Lions’ nerves as they open their World Cup bid in Russia.

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After slow start, Belgium takes care of business against feisty Panama

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All it took was one goal to bring Belgium to life.

Following a frustrating first 45 minutes, in which Belgium put a pair of shots into the side netting and forced saves from Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, Dries Mertens 47th minute goal opened the floodgates, as Belgium went on to defeat Panama, 3-0, Monday afternoon in Sochi.

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But Panama never made it easy for the Belgians. From the opening whistle the CONCACAF nation showed its incredible spirit, chasing down Belgium all across the field and making life incredibly difficult for Belgium attackers Romelu Lukaku, Mertens and Eden Hazard. Hazard was hacked down all over the field, and while he did earn fouls and a few yellow cards were issued to Panamanian players, it was enough to get in Hazard’s head.

Two minutes into the second half, everything changed. A wonderstrike from Mertens opened the game, and forced Panama to attack and try and tie the match, which gave Hazard, de Bruyne and Lukaku more space to operate.

In the heat and humidity of the Sochi summer, Panama’s veteran defense began to tire, allowing de Bruyne the space to deliver a terrific assist to Lukaku in the box, putting Belgium up 2-0 in the 69th minute.

 

Six minutes later, Lukaku was put through on the break, chipping over Penedo to confirm the victory.

With the win, Belgium moves to the top of Group G. Up next for Belgium is Tunisia on Saturday, while Panama takes on England on Sunday.