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FIFA will only allow natural grass fields at 2023 Women’s WC

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FIFA will only allow natural grass fields at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

The stipulation is contained in requirements sent to bidding nations and follows controversy over the use of artificial turf at the 2015 tournament in Canada.

Some players launched a gender discrimination case -which was later withdrawn – over FIFA’s use of turf four years ago because men’s World Cup games have always been on grass. They claimed the artificial surface is less forgiving than grass and impacts the game because of concerns over injury. They also claimed balls travel and bounce differently on artificial turf. FIFA said it wanted the same surface in every stadium.

This year’s 24-team tournament in France will be played on grass in nine venues. FIFA has made it clear artificial surfaces won’t be acceptable in 2023, either. What is permitted is the hybrid system used at many leading stadiums where millions of synthetic grass fibers are woven in between and beneath the natural grass.

“The pitch shall feature a natural grass playing surface,” FIFA’s bidding requirements state. “Hybrid-grass systems are considered natural grass according to FIFA’s requirements and hybrid reinforcement should be considered for stadium pitches.”

FIFA also is asking bidders to ensure that each training ground has at least one grass field.

There is record interest in hosting the 2023 tournament, with nine countries having expressed their intent to bid.

The most intriguing bid is by South Korea, which wants to combine with North Korea. But FIFA now includes an evaluation on human rights and worker conditions when assessing Women’s World Cup bidders, just like the new requirements for prospective hosts of the men’s tournament. That could prove problematic for North Korea, which would also have to provide visas in a “non-discriminatory manner” while currently being one of the most closed countries in the world.

From Asia, there also is interest in hosting from Australia and Japan. There are three potential bidders from South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia. New Zealand and South Africa are also pursuing becoming candidates ahead of the April 16 deadline to register a bid. FIFA set an Oct. 4 deadline to submit bid books.

The 37-member FIFA Council will pick the host in March next year after inspectors produce bid evaluation reports.

The bidding document also states that the opening game and final must be played in venues with at least 55,000 seats. For other games up to the quarterfinals, 20,000 seats are required. The semifinals must be played in 35,000-capacity venues.

In the technical evaluation, five aspects of infrastructure will be given grades between zero and five: stadiums, team and referee facilities, accommodation, the international broadcast center site and other competition-related sites. There’s also a score on commercial matters, including revenue and costs projections.

“The scores received may have a bearing on whether or not the bid is eligible for consideration by, or presentation to, the FIFA Council,” the bidding documents state. “FIFA reserves the right to deem the bid ineligible on the basis that a bid does not achieve the minimum scores” of 2.0 for the overall mark, or stadiums, accommodation and facilities for teams and referees.

Transfer rumor roundup: Many circle around Real Madrid

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Given the major buys of Real Madrid this summer, it’s no surprise that clubs are trying to take advantage of La Liga’s giants need to sell talent.

While Gareth Bale‘s future is the target of many transfer reports, there are many other pieces destined to move away from the Bernabeu.

Real has been tempting Financial Fair Player this summer, backing up the armored cars to the banks of Chelsea (Eden Hazard), Eintracht Frankfurt (Luka Jovic), and Eder Militao (Porto) amongst others.

AS says that AC Milan is asking about Dani Ceballos, Mariano Díaz and Martin Ødegaard.

The 25-year-old Diaz cost Madrid more than $22 million to buy back from Lyon last summer after an 18-goal Ligue 1 season in his only season away from Real. He scored three times in limited minutes last season, and has said he wants to prove himself at Real despite a link to Fenerbahce.

Odegaard’s recruitment was an exhaustive journey that ultimately landed him at Real. Now 20 with 18 Norway caps, Odegaard has made just one senior appearance for Real since choosing the Madrid side after his time at Stromsgodset. He posted eight goals and 11 assists for Vitesse in the Eredivisie last season.

Ceballos turns 23 in August, and scored a career-high three goals this season. His best position is unclear, but the six-times capped Spanish international has a Champions League crown and a U-21 EURO Player of the Tournament award.

The trio could earn Real somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 million, though, and Ceballos has been linked with Spurs while Odegaard linked with another loan (Bayer Leverkusen, another step in his progression).

Real is said to be willing to give Spurs a good fee, $57 million, and Ceballos in exchange for Christian Eriksen. That would not help the FFP argument, but would make a certain amount of sense to Tottenham should they value Ceballos.

Eriksen posted eight goals and 12 assists in Premier League play, adding two and four in the Champions League. He won’t turn 28 until February.

USOC wrap: Saint Louis, New Mexico knock out MLS sides (video)

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USL sides delivered the drama on Wednesday night and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup got five more quarterfinalists to join Atlanta United and Minnesota United.

Still to come Thursday, LAFC and San Jose will decide the eighth slot and a date with Portland Timbers.

[ MORE: VAR will not review GKs on PKs in PL ]


DC United 1-2 New York City FC

Wayne Rooney‘s 32nd minute goal gave the hosts a lead which would only last six minutes, as Alexandru Mitrita and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi made it 2-1 before halftime on the way to an away win at Audi Field.

Portland Timbers 4-0 LA Galaxy

Three goals in nine first half minutes helped spring Portland to an easy win over disinterested LA. Guillermo Barros Schelotto didn’t bring the majority of his first choice stars to Oregon, and the Timbers routed their Western Conference opposition to the tune of a 19-7 edge in shots.

Saint Louis FC 1-0 FC Cincinnati

They won’t be forgetting this any time soon; Saint Louis got a stoppage time goal from Sam Fink against their old USL rivals to book a place in the USOC quarterfinals.

Orlando City 2-1 New England Revolution

What began with stars on the bench and a 0-0 score line through 90 minutes really escalated quickly in extra time. Benji Michel and Tesho Akindele gave Orlando a 2-0 lead through 15 minutes of extra time, but Carles Gil set up Justin Rennecks early in the second frame to up the drama. Ultimately, Nani‘s men had enough despite New England’s 22 shots.

FC Dallas 1-2 New Mexico United

FC Dallas took the lead through U-20 World Cup star Brandon Servania, but Kevaughn Frater scored again, and ex-Colorado Rapids draft pick Sam Hamilton added the match winner.

Copa America: Messi penalty saves Argentina point, Colombia wins

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The 2019 Copa America isn’t going much better for Argentina than the 2018 World Cup, with a slow defense and a lack of playmakers in the middle of the park keeping the Albiceleste from making a real difference in the tournament.

Argentina followed up its 2-0 defeat to Colombia with a 1-1 draw against Paraguay, Wednesday evening at the Estadio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte. Lionel Messi scored the lone goal for Argentina on a penalty kick after the referee had consulted with the video assistant referees on a potential handball on a shot from Messi that was deflected wide by a flailing arm.

[ MORE: VAR will not review GKs on PKs in PL ]

That means Argentina though still hasn’t scored a goal in open play after 180 minutes with the likes of Messi, Sergio Aguero and Giovanni Lo Celso on the field.

Paraguay looked dangerous throughout the night, with speedy wingers like Almiron and attacker Derlis Gonzalez making life oh so difficult for Nicolas Otamendi, who ended up having to take a yellow card in the second half after being beaten for pace and not wanting to give up a breakaway.

It was one of those attacks in transition which led to the first goal. Miguel Almiron picked up a pass in his own half and went on a bursting, marauding run down the left wing all the way to the byline. Almiron then crossed into the middle where Richard Sanchez arrived and sliced a strike home.

Argentina was given a lifeline early in the second half after an attack that nearly produced a goal. Sergio Aguero chipped a ball into the middle where Lautaro Martinez had a shot go off the crossbar. Messi corralled a rebound, turned and fired in the 50th minute but his show went wide.

A VAR check though showed that it was deflected off the arm of Paraguay defender Ivan Piris, leading to an Argentina penalty kick, one Messi blasted home to tie the game.

Two minutes later, Paraguay could have taken the lead as Otamendi lost Gonzalez and tackled him from behind, making it an easy decision for the referee. However, Gonzalez produced a poor penalty and it was easily saved by Argentina’s Franco Armani.

Argentina now heads into basically a must-win game against Qatar if it wants to advance.

Earlier, Colombia topped Qatar, 1-0, in a pretty evenly-played game. However, it was the world class passing of James Rodriguez that made the difference.

The Colombian’s delightful chip into the box found the head of big-bodied Duvan Zapata, who powered a header home in the 86th minute to give Colombia the win, and earn it a place in the knockout round.

PGMOL: No goalkeeper VAR review on Premier League penalties

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Thank you, PGMOL.

Professional Games Match Officials Limited will not, and we repeat not, use Video Assistant Referee to review goalkeeper positioning on penalty kicks in the Premier League.

We may bake a cake.

There’s a new FIFA law which states that at least one foot must be on the goal line during penalty kicks, which has caused delays, controversy, and frankly nothing positive during the Women’s World Cup amongst other summer events.

According to Sky Sports, PGMOL says VAR is “an ongoing process and will continue to be looked at during the season.”

The rule will be enforced by on-field officials.

Scotland’s World Cup hopes were dashed by a blown 3-goal lead against Argentina which included a VAR-awarded penalty. That kick was retaken after a Lee Alexander save because she left her line.

Nigeria suffered the same fate earlier in the tournament, and the U-20 World Cup has also experienced such fun.