Getty Images

FIFA boosts China’s hopes of hosting 2030 World Cup

2 Comments

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) China’s hopes of hosting the 2030 World Cup got a boost from FIFA.

The governing body of soccer proposes giving its ruling council the power to decide that a continent could skip just one World Cup before hosting again.

In a legal text published Wednesday ahead of next week’s FIFA Congress in Bahrain, the governing body said the flexibility in hosting would be allowed “if circumstances so require.” That could let China bid to host the 2030 World Cup only eight years after Qatar.

Other proposed changes to FIFA’s legal rules include concentrating more decision-making powers in the FIFA Bureau – President Gianni Infantino and the six presidents of the continental confederations – without needing to be ratified by the 37-member FIFA Council.

Infantino could also get more authority to create and appoint working groups to “prepare the topics” for council meetings.

One such future debate could be opening up a 2030 World Cup hosting contest in which South America should start as favorite. The centenary World Cup is expected to bring a co-hosting bid that includes Uruguay, the original tournament host in 1930.

Still, Chinese firms have targeted FIFA, including property and cinema giant Dalian Wanda Group, which last year signed a top-tier sponsorship through 2030.

“As a partner of FIFA, Wanda will be better placed to play a role in the bidding process to host major football events such as the World Cup,” Wanda said in March 2016.

FIFA imposed the two-tournament block last October, barring European members from 2026 World Cup bidding because Russia is hosting in 2018. That favored the North American co-hosting bid by the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Now, FIFA wants to formalize an amendment to its statutes when members meet on May 11 in Manama.

“In principle … the event shall not be awarded to members of the confederations that hosted the two previous editions,” the proposed text says, though adding: “If circumstances so require, the Council may decide otherwise in accordance with the applicable regulations.”

A further tweak of FIFA rules next week could see a change in lineup for the three-person panel which decides the salary of Infantino and other top FIFA officials, plus payments to council members.

FIFA proposes replacing an independent financial expert on the panel with the chair of its governance committee, currently Portuguese lawyer Miguel Maduro.

Ranking new Premier League kits for 2020-21

Premier League kit rankings
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Premier League kit rankings are absolutely one of our favorite things to do each summer.

New kits have been dropped by plenty of Premier League clubs ahead of the new 2020-21 season, with fresh looks galore.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]ย 

Some teams have kept it simple, while others have gone for something very different.

With big name kit suppliers arriving on new deals at clubs, there will be some very different looks for next season and beyond.

Check out our 2020-21 Premier League kit rankings from the shirts released, so far.


1 – Sheffield United: Absolutely stunning design. Simple and striking at the same time. Love it.

2 – Southampton: Classy retro kits to celebrate their 135th anniversary, as Saints return to their original look.

Southampton

3 – Aston Villa: Clean, sharp look and you can’t go wrong with claret and blue. Love the larger badge too.

 

4 – Arsenal: Loving the retro vibes and yet another fine Arsenal kit.

 

5 – Brighton: Gone for an all blue number with white pinstripes. This is very good and a big chance from the bigger blue and white stripes. Retro, again.

6 – Tottenham Hotspur: Very sleek look and Spurs have kit it simple. Like the away kit, a lot.

7 – Manchester United: Nice little design throughout the kit which adds something extra.

8 – Liverpool: New Nike kits for the first time in history. The teal trim looks smart. Kept it simple and safe.

9 – Wolves: Another team which has gone for the retro look and it works.

10 – West Brom: The barcode stripes are slightly jarring but the colors, badge and design are good.

11 – Man City: A little too much going on with the home and away kits.

12 – West Ham: The Hammers are celebrating their 125th anniversary in style. Very nice. Classic look with a massive badge. Maybe a bit too plain?

13 – Chelsea: The new sponsor logo and the size of it has been ridiculed and it does ruin the very snazzy looking kits.

14 – Similar look for Leicester and this is a nice design. Big fan of the sleeves.

15 – Everton: Hummel are underrated and this has a nice retro look to it.

16 – Newcastle United: Does what it says on the tin. Black and white stripes, and that’s it.

Alexis Sanchez close to permanent Inter move; Ceballos update

Alexis Sanchez
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Alexis Sanchez is close to a permanent move to Inter Milan and there’s an interesting update on Dani Ceballos heading to Arsenal on a permanent basis.

[ MORE: Bundesliga plan for fans’ return ]

Starting in Milan, several reports claim that Alexis Sanchez is finally leaving Manchester United and will sign for Inter permanently on a free transfer. Other reports claim that Inter are paying a $17.6 million transfer fee for Sanchez, who still has two years left on his current Man United contract of $730,000 per week.

Sanchez’s departure will allow Man United to wrap up the $140 million signing of Jadon Sancho, with Sanchez’s huge salary finally off their wage bill as they’ve been paying a big chunk of his wages since last summer when he joined Inter on a season-long loan.

As for the details of the permanent deal, our partners in the UK at Sky Sports have some more details.

“The Chile international would receive a payout from United for cancelling his contract, which still has two years to run. The details of the payout are unknown but the value of the remaining two years in wages is around ยฃ55m. Sanchez is set to sign a three-year contract with Inter worth ยฃ6.3m a year. A deal should be finalised this week and would mean Sanchez is eligible to play for Inter in this season’s Europa League competition.”ย 

Alexis Sanchez, 31, has been in good form for Inter Milan since the restart (three goals and seven assists says as much) as he finally seems to have shaken off injuries. In 18 months at Man United the Chilean star struggled to make an impact after joining in January 2018 as part of a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan as he left Arsenal after a lengthy contract saga.

Ceballos to Arsenal
Getty Images

As for another player who could be joining his loan club permanently, there is an intriguing update from Real Madrid and Spain midfielder Dani Ceballos.

Ceballos, 23, starred on loan at Arsenal and helped Mikel Arteta’s side win the FA Cup as he put in a man of the match performance in a new deeper role in central midfield.

The Spaniard has been instrumental so far during Arteta’s rebuild of the Gunners and although the Arsenal boss is keen for the club to work out a deal to extend the loan of Ceballos, or even try and sign him permanently, it appears the silky midfielder may not be so keen on staying in London.

Speaking to Spanish outlet El Partidazo de COPE, here’s what Ceballos said about his future as he will chat with Real after their Champions League Round of 16 clash with Man City later this week.

“I haven’t spoken to Real Madrid yet, but anyone who wears that shirt is happy,” Ceballos said. “Madrid are better than any club in the world. We’ll see about my future. I’m not thinking about whether or not I can play for Real Madrid, Arsenal or another club. Now it’s time to disconnect. I have to be calm and think clearly with my family about the coming year.”

Ceballos has also stated his love for his boyhood club, Real Betis, as he could end up back in Spain but not at Real Madrid.

Arsenal and Arteta want Ceballos to remain at the Emirates, badly, and they must do all they can to bring him back to north London for the 2020-21 season. His partnership with Granit Xhaka in the two deeper central midfield roles was a big surprise as they added stability, vision and composure to the engine room.

Bundesliga agree on plan for fans to return when government allows

Bundesliga fans
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Bundesliga has agreed on a plan for fans to return to stadiums, but only if the government gives them the green light later this month.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]ย 

In a meeting of clubs from the top two tiers of German soccer on Tuesday, clubs voted in favor of allowing some fans back into stadiums when the 2020-21 season starts on Sept. 18, with German Cup games scheduled for the week before that.

Germany has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic particularly well but there are concerns about a second wave after a rise in infections in recent weeks.

The parameters for how Bundesliga fans would be able to return to each stadium, and the protocol for pulling it off safely, is generally as follows:

  • No visiting fans until the end of 2020
  • No alcohol sold in stadiums until at least Oct. 31
  • No standing in stadiums until at least Oct. 31
  • Contact info and ID data to be collected for all fans inside the stadium

Now it is all about the meeting next week between the health ministers of each region of Germany, as they will have the final say on whether or not some fans can return to stadiums.

The Bundesliga was the first of Europe’s top five leagues to return to play, as they restarted the season in May amid the coronavirus pandemic. The protocols the Bundesliga put into place set the framework for leagues in England, Spain and Italy to resume action later in the summer.

Speaking in a news conference German Football League (DFL) CEO Christian Seifert had the following to say on the matter via Yahoo.

“If and when fans will return to the stadiums is not a decision for the DFL but for the political leaders,” Seifert said. “The DFL does not expect or demand anything but we are preparing to take this small step (with fans in stadiums) when the time comes. Priority is not full stadiums but the health situation. We should not take unnecessary risks but we should also not capitulate and just expect it to go away.”

“No one at the DFL will demand a specific number of fans. That would be irresponsible. Professional football can only come back in steps. There is no magic switch for politicians to give the green light for full stadiums. That will happen in steps. We will have to reclaim normality in small steps.”

The soccer and sporting world will have all eyes on Germany to see if this plan is approved and how things go from mid-September onwards.

Report: Chelsea in Reguilon talks; 10 players up for sale

Reguilon to Chelsea
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chelsea are said to be in talks to sign Real Madrid left back Sergio Reguilon who had a fine season on loan at Sevilla in La Liga.

[ PHOTOS: New Man United kit ]

Frank Lampard is keen to improve his left back options with both Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmeri deemed surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea have been linked with a move for Ben Chilwell but Leicester City want over $100 million for the England international, while Reguilon would cost close to $23.4 million.

Reguilon, 23, is a product of Real Madrid’s academy and with the Spanish champions eager to cut costs and raise funds for new players this summer, he is available for a permanent move as Everton have already put in a bid for him.

Numerous reports state that Chelsea are in talks over a deal for Reguilon and given that Real Madrid have Marcelo and Ferland Mendy at left back, they are set in that position. Reguilon, who was voted the best left back in La Liga last season, would be the cheaper option compared to Chilwell and there’s no doubt Chelsea need to upgrade their defensive unit.

As for outgoings to help them fund new deals, our partners in the UK at Sky Sports say that Chelsea are looking to sell up to 10 players this summer and have made several players available for permanent transfers away from Stamford Bridge.

Per the report, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Jorginho, Antonio Rudiger, Alonso, Emerson, Victor Moses, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Michy Batshuayi are all up for sale, while other reports state N’Golo Kante could also move on.

This would be some overhaul for Lampard but given that Chelsea have spent over $100 million on bringing in forwards Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, plus a $93 million move for Kai Havertz is in the works, they need some outgoings to fuel their spending.

It is no surprise that six of the aforementioned players are defenders as the Blues conceded the highest number of goals in the top half of the Premier League table in 2019-20 and that negated their fine attacking displays.

A new goalkeeper, left back and two center backs must be their priority this summer as Lampard is on the right track, especially in attack, but new defensive additions will be key to turning Chelsea into title contenders instead of being top four hopefuls.