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FIFA to give 2018 World Cup champion $38M from $400M fund

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KOLKATA, India (AP) The 2018 World Cup champion will get $38 million from a prize fund FIFA has increased by 12 percent to $400 million.

FIFA said Friday that each of the 32 competing national federations in Russia will get at least $8 million, the same as in 2014 when the overall prize fund was $358 million.

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Three years ago, World Cup champion Germany received $35 million and runner-up Argentina got $25 million. Next year, the runner-up will also get a $3 million increase to $28 million.

Following a meeting of the FIFA Council, the governing body said the third- and fourth-place teams will each get a $2 million increase to $24 million and $22 million, respectively. The quarterfinalists will each get $16 million, also a $2 million increase, and teams eliminated in the last 16 get a $3 million increase to $12 million.

The prize fund comes from World Cup revenues that FIFA has projected to exceed $5 billion despite stalled sales of sponsorships amid Swiss and American corruption investigations.

“Today the doors are open, the revenues come in and the revenues will exceed the budget certainly,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said.

Teams will also get $1.5 million from FIFA toward the costs of preparing for the tournament. That amount was the same in 2014.

FIFA also moved to unblock a $100 million fund from 2014 World Cup tournament revenues for host Brazil which has been frozen in fallout from corruption investigations.

FIFA promised the money in 2014 for “women’s and grassroots football, healthcare and social programs for underprivileged communities” in Brazil.

The fund was agreed to with Brazilian soccer leaders Jose Maria Marin and Marco Polo del Nero, who have both been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice in a sprawling bribery and racketeering case. Marin’s trial begins in Brooklyn federal court next month, and Del Nero has remained in Brazil to evade arrest while still president of the national soccer body.

Infantino said Friday a new entity would run the fund, and projects should start to benefit the country by early next year.

Also, FIFA has ended a years-long attempt to bring soccer peace between the Israeli and Palestinian federations.

The talks, begun by Infantino predecessor Sepp Blatter, tried to resolve the issue of teams from Israeli settlements on disputed land playing in Israeli competitions in apparent breach of FIFA statutes.

“We see there where our limits unfortunately are,” Infantino said, noting disputes in the region date back “10,000 years.”

“Football is not going to solve them either, I am afraid,” Infantino said.

Council members decided that “interference by FIFA in the (soccer) status quo in these territories … could have an aggravating effect on the current circumstances.”

In other decisions Friday:

– FIFA has made world champions of dozens of European and South American clubs. The council agreed to recognize winners of the Intercontinental Cup, played for from 1960-2004 between the European Cup and Copa Libertadores champions. However, in some years a runner-up represented its continent after the champion declined an invitation.

The Intercontinental Cup was formally replaced in 2005 by the Club World Cup for all continental champions. That competition’s future is under review beyond the 2018 edition in Abu Dhabi.

– FIFA said that a review of its club, youth and women’s competitions would report to the next council meeting, on March 15-16 in Bogota, Colombia.

Infantino hinted that an expanded Club World Cup is one option to replace the Confederations Cup, which is next due to be played in 2021.

“We would have to look at abolishing some competitions in order to add another one,” Infantino said.

– Olympic team rosters could be larger at the 2020 Tokyo Games. Infantino said a squad of 18 players was too small for several games in a tournament running less than three weeks.

Puel insists Chelsea hasn’t inquired about goalkeeper Schmeichel

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Chelsea could very be in the market for a goalkeeper over the summer, but Leicester City’s manager insists that their number one isn’t being targeted by the Blues; or at least not yet.

[ MORE: Klopp discusses Christian Pulisic, Liverpool’s spending ]

With the Blues likely set to lose Belgium international Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid, new manager Maurizio Sarri would have to look elsewhere to solidify the team’s goalkeeping situation.

One player that has drawn significant interest after a strong World Cup performance for Denmark is Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel, who played a big role in the Foxes’ 2015/16 Premier League title.

Although Schmeichel would be a viable replacement for Courtois at Stamford Bridge, Leicester boss Claude Puel says Chelsea hasn’t expressed its interest to this point.

“No, there is no problem with this,” the Frenchman told Sky Sports. “There is a lot of speculation at this moment, it is normal.

“I think he [Ward] can bring more competition to the squad and more possibilities. It is a good thing to have competition between players in the squad to develop desire.

“It gives good focus and concentration.”

The Foxes recently brought in young Liverpool keeper Danny Ward, which raised further questions about the future of Schmeichel at Leicester.

FC Dallas, Houston play to 1-1 after scoring early goals

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HOUSTON (AP) FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo each scored early goals in a 1-1 draw Saturday night.

Matt Hedges put Dallas (11-3-6) ahead 47 seconds into the game with his first goal of the season, converting a header off a cross from Santiago Mosquera.

Houston (7-6-6) tied it in the eight on Mauro Manotas’ 10th goal of the season. He scored on a header off Romell Quioto’s cross.

Houston goalkeeper Joe Willis stuffed Roland Lamah‘s penalty kick at the 61st minute to keep the score knotted. Ten minutes later, Lamah missed an open look and sent a short shot high that ricocheted off the top of the post.

In stoppage time, Houston’s Alberth Elis missed high and wide to the right just outside the box.

Houston is unbeaten in four games.

MLS 3 Things: Resurgent Zardes, Toronto up, New England down

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A busy Saturday in Major League Soccer sees three interesting results bolstering the story lines of the final few months of the season.

[ MORE: Unstoppable Josef | Zlatan, too ]

1) Imagine a world with the reigning champs as your reward for finishing first.

With 14 matches to play, Toronto FC has Jozy Altidore back in the fold and has pulled to within eight points of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot after a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday.

Sebastian Giovinco looks like Sebastian Giovinco in scoring another outstanding goal, just his fifth of the season, while Jonathan Osorio also scored in the win.

Before you watch Seba’s goal, picture you’ve won the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Now picture TFC as your semifinal reward.

2) New England is well and truly slumping

Brad Friedel‘s Revs are slipping after losing a third-straight league match, and New England has gained a solitary point since the calendar turned to July following a 2-0 loss at Red Bull Arena.

Fourth through ninth in the East are separated by nine points, and New England is very much in that mix now. Friedel is certainly at the most trying time of his tenure.

Second half goals from Bradley Wright-Phillips and Daniel Royer did the trick for RBNY, who have claimed 15 of the last 18 points available to them (The lone blemish is the Hudson River Derby).

The Red Bulls are now 8-1-1 at home this season, while New England is 1-4-4 away from Foxboro.

3) Gyasi Zardes’ return to form is surprising and wonderful

Columbus has its second win since May 19, and will be feeling much better about itself following a 3-2 comeback win over Orlando City which included a pair of equalizers.

One of those came in the 88th minute, as Gyasi Zardes completed his brace by converting a penalty won by new arrival Patrick Mullins.

The Crew won late via a rare Wil Trapp goal — the USMNT midfielder has just two in 161 matches — but let’s focus on Zardes.

Zardes’ 13th goal of the season continues an amazing turnaround under striker whisperer Gregg Berhalter. It’s Zardes’ second double-digit season, and his first since 2014. He is firmly in frame for another USMNT look, this time as a center forward, but first there’s plenty to like about the big man.

Surging Galaxy ride Ibrahimovic magic to 3-1 win (video)

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a man on fire, and the LA Galaxy are rounding into form.

The Galaxy overcame an early deficit in Chester to clobber the Philadelphia Union 3-1 on Saturday behind a goal and an assist from their world-class striker.

[ MORE: Neymar on diving ]

Romain Alessandrini had two assists, while Michael Ciani and Ola Kamara also scored for LA. CJ Sapong scored for Philly, assisted by Borek Dockal.

Unbeaten-in-seven LA moves into fourth in the West with the win, while Philadelphia remains three points back of sixth in the East.

Ibrahimovic has now scored in six of his last seven matches, and has 12 goals and two assists in 21 matches overall.

Let’s start with the assist, which we must’ve seen two dozen times when the big Swede was with Paris Saint-Germain.

Ibrahimovic takes a difficult pass out of the air with absurd touch, then waits for the right time to send an impeccable through ball into the path of Kamara.

As for the goal, you almost feel for Mark McKenzie.

The Union’s Homegrown defender has to choose between Alessandrini darting into his box and allowing Ibrahimovic a lick of space.

He gives it, understandably, then rushes to close down Ibrahimovic.

It wasn’t fast enough. Boom.