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FIFA bans jailed soccer official Napout for life for bribery

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has banned former soccer official Juan Angel Napout for life, almost 21 months after he was convicted on racketeering and corruption charges in a Brooklyn court.

FIFA says its ethics committee judges found Napout guilty of bribery between 2012 and 2015, and fined him 1 million Swiss francs ($1.01 million). It is unclear how FIFA can enforce payment.

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Napout was a FIFA vice president, and leader of South American soccer body CONMEBOL, when he was arrested in Zurich in December 2015.

The U.S. Justice Department had requested a second wave of arrests at a luxury hotel in FIFA’s home city in a sweeping investigation of soccer corruption.

Napout, from Paraguay, was found guilty of taking bribes worth millions of dollars linked to commercial contracts for South American soccer competitions.

He was sentenced to nine years in prison in August 2018, nine months after a trial that lasted several weeks.

Iranian woman charged for attending games sets herself on fire, dies

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An Iranian woman who was set to be sent to prison for sneaking into a soccer game in Tehran has died after setting herself on fire.

Since 1981 women have not been able to attend stadiums to watch male sporting events in Iran. Recently many women have successfully disguised themselves as men to attend matches.

Last week the female fan, Sahar Khodayari, set herself on fire after her trial for trying to enter a stadium disguised as a man was postponed. She was initially charged in March and released from jail after three days and she had waited six months for her trial.

Reports suggest that after her trial was postponed she returned to the court house and overhead somebody saying she would got to jail for six months to two years.

Khodayari then set herself on fire and a week later she died in hospital from her injuries.

She is known around the world as “blue girl” in reference to Esteqlal, the team in Tehran she supports.

FIFA gave Iran a deadline of Aug. 31 to allow women into stadiums, as president Gianni Infantino previously visited Tehran.

World soccer’s governing body released this statement following Sahar’s death.

“We are aware of that tragedy and deeply regret it. FIFA convey our condolences to the family and friends of Sahar and reiterate our calls on the Iranian authorities to ensure the freedom and safety of any women engaged in this legitimate fight to end the stadium ban for women in Iran.”

FIFA unveils logo for 2022 World Cup in Qatar

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Qatar finally has a logo for the 2022 World Cup, and it reflects both the tournament’s compact infrastructure and winter schedule.

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Using the colors of the Qatari flag, the white emblem is set against a maroon background.

It is inspired by the contours of the World Cup trophy with the unbroken loop depicting a figure of eight — the number of stadiums built for the Middle East’s first World Cup in the tiny Persian Gulf nation.

FIFA says the design also draws “inspiration from a traditional woolen shawl,” a winter garment reflecting the World Cup being played in November and December 2022 to avoid the fierce summer heat in June and July when the tournament is usually played.

The reveal came at 2022 local time (8:22 p.m.) in Doha and the image was projected onto buildings in the Qatari capital, including the Al Zubarah Fort, and appeared at sites in Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

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Other countries in the region played no role in the launch.

The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been boycotting Qatar economically and diplomatically since 2017, and its severing of travel links could prove problematic for fan travel in 2022.

Among the international sites where the logo was displayed on Tuesday was the Arch of Peace in Milan and a train station in Paris.

Qatar won a FIFA vote in 2010 that has been dogged by controversy. A FIFA investigation found that some of Qatar’s conduct “may not have met the standards” required while concluding there was no “evidence of any improper activity by the bid team.”

Working conditions and rights for migrant laborers building the stadiums in Qatar were also criticized, forcing standards to be raised.

8 countries stay in FIFA race to host 2023 Women’s World Cup

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ZURICH (AP) — Eight countries have stayed in the bidding contest to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup, with Belgium and Bolivia dropping out.

FIFA says it has sent “the updated bidding and hosting documents” to the eight member federations. They must file detailed bid plans for the first 32-team tournament by Dec. 13.

The eight are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea.

The Korean bid could yet be a joint project with North Korea.

FIFA says all candidates will be inspected in January and February ahead of a FIFA Council vote expected in May.

USWNT stars named as finalists for top FIFA award

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Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Lucy Bronze have been named as the three finalists for the FIFA best female player of the year award.

USWNT duo Rapinoe and Morgan were influential in their 2019 World Cup victory, while Bronze was a stud for England this summer and won the UEFA women’s player of the year award last week.

Rapinoe, 34, is likely to win the award as the Reign FC star caused headlines on and off the pitch this summer.

Her clutch goals and leadership were crucial to Jill Ellis’ side winning the 2019 World Cup, but off the field her criticism of political leaders and strong opinions on the Equal Pay battle has led to widespread praise.

Morgan scored five goals in the USWNT’s opening game of the tournament against Thailand and the Orlando City striker scored the game-winner in the semifinal against England. Her hold-up play and selfless work up top was just as impressive as her goals throughout the World Cup, as she also grabbed three assists.

As for Bronze, she won the Silver Ball as the second best player at the World Cup this summer and her marauding displays from right back had Lionesses head coach Phil Neville calling her the best player on the planet on several occasions. The Lyon defender is certainly the best player on the planet not from the USA.