China

Getty Images

China confirmed as 2021 Club World Cup host

2 Comments

FIFA selected China as host of the inaugural edition of the expanded Club World Cup in 2021 but delayed a decision on how the 24 slots for the tournament will be distributed.

A proposal on how many teams would qualify from the six confederations was shared with FIFA Council members for approval at a meeting in Shanghai on Thursday, including Europe having eight participants.

But a vote on the participation model was pulled because Oceania’s only way of qualification would be its Champions League winner first defeating the domestic champion of host nation China in a playoff.

Oceania is pushing for a guaranteed place in the group stage in China in June 2021, as FIFA’s task force on the revamped Club World Cup originally proposed in March. That is according to people with knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity with The Associated Press to discuss the contents of a private meeting.

FIFA only said the qualification process “will be finalized in a consultation process between FIFA and the six confederations.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the governing body will make “zero” out of the new event because all the profits will be reinvested back into club football.

“I hope China will help FIFA to organize it in financial terms,” Infantino said after the meeting in Shanghai. “It will be the club football event which will generate the highest revenue per match.”

Infantino said FIFA along with the Chinese soccer federation and government will push ahead with planning on the tournament.

Staging the Club World Cup in China will be a test of human rights policies that FIFA now subjects host nations to.

The Chinese government has been accused of cracking down on human rights and pro-democracy activism. President Xi Jinping’s government has also faced criticism over its treatment of Muslims in China’s northwest, where the U.S. government, activists and researchers say as many as 1 million people have been detained.

“I think that we need to reflect on our role,” Infantino said. “Countries all over the world are going through difficult times. It is not the mission of FIFA to solve the problems of the world. The mission is to organize football in all of the countries. … We do that by bringing football to the people, not by criticizing.”

A previous FIFA plan seen by the AP in March proposed the Club World Cup running from June 17 through July 4 in 2021, taking the slot originally set aside for the Confederations Cup competition that is no longer due to be contested.

For some players from Africa and the CONCACAF region it could be a busy summer, with their regional national competitions proposed to start on July 9.

The revamped Club World Cup is due to be staged every four years, replacing the current annual format that features the six champions of continental competitions and the host nation’s domestic title winner. The final two editions of the seven-team annual Club World Cup are being staged in Qatar this December and in December 2020.

Based on FIFA’s proposed qualification procedures seen by the AP ahead of the Shanghai meeting, teams could qualify for the overhauled Club World Cup in 2021 without having to win a regional competition – even at the expense of some champions.

Caps on the number of representatives from a single country in the new format raises the prospect of even winners of continental competitions missing out.

EUROPE

With eight slots, Europe will be the best represented continent at the Club World Cup even after rejecting four additional places, helping FIFA drive ticket sales and broadcast revenue.

All the Champions League and Europa League winners from 2018 to 2021 are set to qualify – although that could be dependent on UEFA determining the maximum number of slots per country. Clubs from England and Spain have dominated those competitions in recent years.

Should a team enjoy multiple wins across the competitions, the free slot is due to go to the most recent Champions League runner-up.

Real Madrid won the Champions League in 2018 when Atletico Madrid triumphed in the Europa League. English clubs swept last season’s trophies, with Liverpool victorious in the Champions League and Chelsea in the second-tier competition.

SOUTH AMERICA

While South America will get six slots, only the process for distributing four of them has been settled. They will go to the 2019 and 2020 winners of CONEMBOL’s two competitions: The Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana.

The document shows no plan for determining the route to securing the remaining two berths or the limits on national representation.

ASIA

The three Asian places will to go the winners of the 2019 and 2020 Asian Champions League and the runners-up will have a playoff for the third entry into the Club World Cup group stage.

Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal will play Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan in this season’s final next month.

If the title is defended in 2020, the runners-up from both years will complete Asia’s FIFA lineup.

But Asia only wants a maximum of two teams from one country. So, if the winners and runners-up in 2019 and 2020 are all from the same country, the two losing Asian Champions League semifinalists in 2020 would contest a playoff for a route into the global tournament.

NORTH AND CENTRAL AMERICA

The 2021 CONCACAF Champions League finalists will qualify but a process for deciding the third slot was left hanging in the FIFA Council document.

Mexican teams have won all 11 titles since the regional competition was rebooted as the Champions League. Only three of the finals have not been an all-Mexican lineup.

But a cap of two teams per country from this region will exist at the Club World Cup.

AFRICA

The simplest qualification will be from Africa, with the places going to the 2021 Champions League finalists and the winner of a playoff between the two semifinalists.

The plan is complicated by a cap on two teams per country.

OCEANIA

Oceania is the only one of FIFA’s six confederations not guaranteed a place at the Club World Cup. To make one of the eight groups of three, the Oceania Champions League winner would have to face a playoff against the Chinese champions under FIFA plans that are now on hold.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Italy tops China 2-0 to advance to Women’s World Cup quarterfinals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

China proved dangerous in spurts but disorganization at the back allowed Italy to feast and take home a 2-0 win, advancing to the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup. Goals from Valentina Giacinti and substitute Aurora Galli did the business as Italy picked up its first-ever knockout stage win.

The Italians were predictable in the match, coming into the game as the team called for the most offside infractions as they look to break opposition back lines. They roared of the gates with that same strategy and pressed for an early opener.

Italy had the ball in the back of the net just 10 minutes in via Valentina Giacinti on the break but it was correctly flagged for offside, the fourth goal ruled out for offside this tournament for Italy who likes to test the fortitude of the opposition back line. Minutes later a horrible Chinese turnover by Han Peng at the back led to a shot by Giacinti but she just missed the top-right corner with the goalkeeper out of position.

They would find the opener in the 15th minute in a scrum in front of the goal mouth, with the Chinese goalkeeper coming out to clatter Elisa Bartoli, and the ball fell to Giacinti who finished strong. The Chinese again were scattered defensively, unable to stop the cutting delivery from Barbara Bonansea that set up the chance.

The opener seemed to ignite China’s attack and they began to push forward for an equalizer. In the 28th minute Wang Yan produced an absolutely stunning long-distance shot with the outside of her right boot, curling a fabulous strike destined to finish under the crossbar and forcing Italian goalkeeper Laura Giuliani to acrobatically leap for an equally impressive save.

Italy nearly caught China out of sorts again, but Cristiana Girelli fired just wide and was fractionally offside anyways. Moments later they broke again as Valetina Bergamaschi remained onside and got through, forcing Peng Shimeng to produce a stunning save diving to her right. Italy was then dealt a blow late in the first half as Girelli was forced off by the 90-degree heat, replaced by Aurora Galli. China struck the post soon after with a set-piece header, but the offside flag went up.

After the break, Italy doubled the lead in the 50th minute off another sloppy turnover by China at the back as Galli the substitute fired a speculative low effort from outside the penalty area that found the bottom corner and beat a surprised Shimeng.

That would do it for Italy as they sat back and allowed China to work in the attacking third, but Italy’s stout defensive shape kept the Asian side at bay. They pressed forward on the counter and provided an entertaining second half, but the scoreline was never in doubt as Italy progressed to the quarterfinals while China failed to reach that stage for the first time ever.

Watch Live: 2019 Women’s World Cup – Day 11

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The first double headers of the 2019 Women’s World Cup has arrived, as Groups A and B come to a close on Monday.

Hosts France are already through to the last 16 of the tournament but they face Nigeria who are aiming to finish in second place as they have three points from their first two games, and so do Norway who face South Korea in the other Group A finale.

[ MORE: Women’s World Cup news

Germany are already through from Group B and a win against South Africa, who sit bottom of the standings, will see them top the group. The real drama will be in the game between Spain and China as both teams have three points heading into their final group game.

You can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App. All you have to do is click on the links below.

[ LIVE: Watch every single 2019 Women’s World Cup game ]

Here is your full schedule for Monday, June 17 at the Women’s World Cup.


2019 Women’s World Cup schedule

Group B: China v. Spain – 12 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE
Group B: South Africa v. Germany – 12 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

Group A: Nigeria v. France – 3 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE
Group A: South Korea v. Norway – 3 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

Women’s World Cup: Australia’s comeback, China back on track

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
1 Comment

A roundup of Thursday’s action at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France…

[MORE: Women’s World Cup news ]

Australia 3-2 BrazilFULL RECAP

Australia’s 3-2 comeback victory over Brazil is an early contender for game of the tournament — for some very good reasons, as well others not so great.

First, the good:

  • By scoring the game’s opening goal — a penalty kick in the 27th minute (WATCH HERE) — Marta made history by becoming the first player (man or woman) to score a goal at five different World Cups, beginning all the way back in 2003. It was the 111th goal of her international career.
  • Cristiane made it 2-0 by scoring her fourth goal of the tournament just 11 minutes later (WATCH HERE). Brazil looked to have turned the clock back, while Australia were yet to even show up.
  • The Matildas sprang to life just before halftime, when Caitlin Foord pulled a goal back to make it 2-1.

  • Chloe Logarzo made it 2-2 by applying the deftest of finishes from the tightest of angles in the 58th minute.

Then, it all went a bit haywire. The Laws of the Game surrounding active and passive players in offside positions are horrifically murky and left up to the interpretation of the referee, which means the video-review decision made on Australia’s 58th-minute winner (WATCH HERE) was correct, by the book, but so horribly wrong in the spirit of the game.

After two games played, Brazil and Australia sit first and third, respectively, in Group C with three points each. To the surprise of many, it’s Italy who could go top of the group and secure at least a third-place spot in the knockout rounds with a victory over Jamaica on Friday (12 p.m. ET).


South Africa 0-1 China

China picked up its first points of the tournament, following an opening defeat to Germany, to move level with Spain in the race for second place in Group B.

Li Ying scored the game’s only goal in the 40th minute, a superb sliding finish to redirect Zhang Rui’s curling diagonal ball into the box.

China and Spain will meet in the final game of group play on Monday (12 p.m. ET), with a (likely) guaranteed place in the knockout rounds on the line.


Friday’s Women’s World Cup schedule

Japan v. Scotland — 9 a.m. ET
Jamaica v. Italy — 12 p.m. ET
England v. Argentina — 3 p.m. ET

Women’s World Cup: Spain’s controversial comeback, Germany wins

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The first full day of Women’s World Cup action brought plenty of fireworks, some controversy, and great goals as well Group A and B begin to take shape. Here’s a recap of the action on the day as three European sides emerged victorious over Asian and African opponents in France.

Germany 1-0 China

China put up a fight, but wastefulness in the final third was their undoing as 19-year-old Giulia Gwinn scored a 66th minute winner to see Germany secure all three points. Germany struggled to put shots on target, ripping off 18 shots and only able to put five on target, but defensively they remained strong. China was plucky, but they failed to finish off opportunities, only able to put four shots together throughout the match.

Gwinn arrived at the key moment for Germany, delivering a scorching strike to win the match and becoming the first German teenager in 20 years to score a Women’s World Cup goal.

China had opportunities, the best of which came just before halftime when Yang Li struck the post before Germany goalkeeper Almuth Schult arrived to snuff out any danger. The loss is a disappointment for China who may have felt they were up to the task, but the performance is still positive overall headed into games against Spain and South Africa where they will feel confident after challenging Germany closely. Germany is unbeaten in 13 matches, the longest current streak of any Women’s World Cup participant.

Spain 3-1 South Africa

Spain looked shaky in the first half seeing South Africa go in front 25 minutes in via Thembi Kgatlana, but the European side was the recipient of a pair of controversial VAR decisions to propel them in front after halftime. The first came with 20 minutes to go as a Spain cross caught Janine Van Wyk in the arm as she turned away, with a penalty given after a VAR check. Jennifer Hermoso dispatched the spot-kick to draw the two sides level.

The second and far more controversial decision happened with just seven minutes remaining as a VAR check determined that Nothando Vilakazi followed through a clear dangerously, slamming her spikes into the groin of Lucia Garcia. That resulted in both a penalty and a sending-off, and Hermoso was there again to deposit the chance for her second of the day and a Spain lead.

With Spain in front and South Africa down a player, Garcia scored a third and put the game away, sneaking behind the defense and latching onto a long-ball to give Spain a 3-1 lead.

Norway 3-0 Nigeria

For at least one match, Norway didn’t miss Ada Hegerberg as an end-to-end saw the European side clinical with goals from Guro Reiten and Lisa-Marie Utland before halftime, with an own-goal from Osinachi Ohale capping off the wild first 45 minutes. Both sides had big chances, but Norway was the one to capitalize as Nigeria couldn’t find a way through, with Norwegian defender Maren Mjelde on hand to snuff out a big early Nigerian chance on the break and the back line again holding firm just before the break in a wild scrum.

There was a lengthy delay soon after the start of the second half as Nigerian defender Faith Ikidi was stretchered off after a collision with her goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi. Nigeria settled in a bit through the second half but failed to find a breakthrough and Norway cruised to victory.