After day of speculation, de la Torre keeps his job with Mexico

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If you checked in to social media this morning, you would have assumed Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre had been fired as Mexican national team coach. And when ESPN Deportes was briefly broadcasting Tomas Boy’s appointment as interim coach across their bottom third, you would have had confirmation. Yet throughout the day, there was a lively debate as to whether the initial reports were accurate, with some of the vast array of reporters beneath the Deportes umbrella issuing conflicting reports on Twitter – an editorial process implicitly erupting into the digital universe.

This evening, however, the Mexican Federation put all speculation to rest, confirming in a somewhat bizarre press conference that de le Torre is and will remain the coach.

The official word from the Federation’s website, which described the session the federation’s president and technical director held late Monday:

“This afternoon, after a meeting with Mexican soccer’s Sports Development Committee, the President of the Mexican Football Federation confirmed for the media the retention of Jose Manuel de la Torre as head coach of the Mexican national team.”

The man who led the session, president Justino Campeón, went on to describe meetings that were held between the national team director (Hector González Iñarritu), de la Torre, and de la Torre’s staff, conversations prompted by Mexico’s Gold Cup performance and the team’s inability to advance at the Confederations Cup.  Only after those meetings did the development committee some to the conclusion to retain de la Torre.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t some stern words for Mexico’s coach. Iñarritu acknowledged the team is currently in a “difficult state” and the summer’s “objectives were not achieved.” Campeón went on to note the decision does “not at all justify the situation we are in,” and there’s “no excuse” for the team’s state.

That’s not the most ringing endorsement. In fact, Campeón went on to acknowledge de la Torre’s failure when calling this “a second chance,” saying the coach’s integrity and professionalism had earned it. At the same time, Campeón declined to say whether de la Torre would be judged on the Sept. 6 qualifier against Honduras, instead noting he sees de la Torre’s job in terms of 10 games (the entire final round of qualifying) instead of one.

It was a surreal way to end a surreal day. At one point this morning, de la Torre was proclaimed fired by a major cable channel. By the end of the day, the president of the FMF was speaking to reporters, and not with the typical overcooked bravado we’re used to seeing in empty votes of confidence. This was not a vote of confidence at all; rather, it was a honest reflection of where Mexico stands.

The main problems is many Tri fans won’t agree. For each person you find that feels Chepo deserves more time or the time isn’t available to switch mid-stream, you’ll find at least one person that thinks de la Torre’s current failures are enough, be they in World Cup Qualifying, the Confederations Cup, or the Gold Cup.

Now Chepo gets the chance to prove one group wrong.

Salah returns to Egypt starting lineup

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A familiar name returned to the starting lineup for Egypt on Tuesday afternoon.

Egypt named star Mohamed Salah in its starting XI, after resting Salah in Egypt’s 1-0 defeat to Uguruay on June 15. Salah has been recovering from an injured shoulder that he suffered during the UEFA Champions League final in late May.

Salah makes his World Cup debut now against the host nation, Russia, at 2:00 p.m.

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Senegal hold off late charge, defeat Poland on controversial goal

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Two matches, two upsets.

For the second time on Tuesday, an underdog took down a favorite as Senegal defeated Poland, 2-1, with the game-winning goal decided in controversial fashion.

In the 60th minute, M’baye Niang was waved onto the field by the referee while the ball was still in play in the middle of the field, and Niang raced on to the end of a Gregorz Krychowiak backpass that stunned the Poland defense. Niang arrived at the pass a second quicker than goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, allowing the Senegal winger to score into an empty net.

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The VAR checked the goal but it was allowed, as it was a subjective decision of the referee to allow Niang back on the field following an injury, and not a clear and obvious error.

Senegal took the lead in the first half on the counter attack. With Poland slow in transition, Sadio Mane found Idrissa Gueye in space at the top of the box. After two touches, Gueye fired a strike to the far post in the 37th minute that took a wicked deflection off Poland defender Thiago Cionek and left Szczesny helpless.

Poland struggled all game against the pace and physicality of Senegal and the Lions of Teranga were very smart in controlling possession and switching the field, forcing the Poland squad to tire quickly.

Krychowiak did breathe some life into the game with a header goal off a free kick in the 86th minute, but despite some poor clock management from Senegal, its defense was able to hold off Poland’s last-ditch chance to tie the game, going level with Japan on three points at the top of Group H.

Report: Blatter to attend Portugal vs. Morocco as guest of Putin

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Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter is still in the middle of an eight-year ban from the organization he once ran.

But that doesn’t mean he’s going to miss out on some of the World Cup action, live in Russia.

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BBC journalist Richard Conway reported early Tuesday that Blatter is set to watch Portugal vs. Morocco in Moscow as a guest of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The 82-year-old would normally not be able to sit in the presidential box due to his FIFA ban, though he likely could attend matches with a regular ticket like the vast majority of soccer fans.

Just four years ago, Blatter was president during the 2014 World Cup, one that was marred by corruption scandals in addition to the corruption scandals surrounding the World Cup bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

His reign of power at FIFA finally came to an end on June 2, 2015, when he resigned following an embarrassing month for FIFA in which many of its members were arrested in a joint-raid between the Swiss authorities and the FBI.

Blatter was eventually handed an eight-year ban from FIFA’s ethics committee for an “unauthorized payment” of $2 million from Blatter to Michel Platini, the former France star and FIFA vice president who was also handed an eight-year suspension.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Fekir negotiations back on; Chelsea waiting on transfer targets; and more

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Could Liverpool get its star attacking midfield target after all?

That’s what seems to be the case, as the agent for Lyon and France midfielder Nabil Fekir told French TV channel LCI Monday evening that negotiations aren’t over between Liverpool and Lyon.

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“He didn’t sign because um… it is not over! This is not the end of the story,” Fekir’s agent, Jean-Pierre Bernes reportedly said.

It was just two weeks ago when Lyon president Jean-Michael Aulas stated that Fekir, Lyon’s captain, would remain with the club for the upcoming season, after negotiations with Liverpool fell through. According to the Liverpool Echo, the Reds wanted a second opinion on a previous knee injury, and had balked at the $70 million price tag.

But now it appears Liverpool and Aulas could still be in conversations to try and find a mutually accepted fee.

At the same time, stirring up transfer drama is in Bernes interest, as it could drive other teams into the race to sign Fekir and raise his transfer fee, meaning more money to him, Fekir (if he gets a cut) and Lyon. Watch this space for more to come during and after the World Cup.

Here’s some more transfer rumors from across the Premier League and Europe:

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