2023 World Cup
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Australia, New Zealand to host 2023 Women’s World Cup

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Australia and New Zealand will host the 2023 Women’s World Cup, FIFA have confirmed after a vote.

The neighboring countries beat Colombia to host the 2023 World Cup, with the Australia-New Zealand bid beating the Colombian bid by 22-13 in the vote by the FIFA Council.

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FIFA rated the Australia-New Zealand bid as 4.1 out of 5 compared to 2.8 out of 5 for Colombia, so it was quite a surprise to see the voting was even that close.

The fact that Australasia will host the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be a huge boost for the region and it is the first time they will host a major global sporting event since the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Several youth World Cup tournaments have been held in both countries but this will be the first major FIFA tournament to be held in either country as the nations have bid before to host both the men’s and women’s World Cup.

After the success of the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France and the 2015 edition in Canada, there is huge momentum in the women’s game and the expanded 24-team tournament has been instrumental in that.

This tournament will be the first time that 32 teams will compete at the Women’s World Cup and it is exciting to think where the women’s game will be at in less than three years’ time when this tournament kicks off.

Games will take place in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Newcastle and Launceston in Australia, while Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin will host games in New Zealand.

FIFA urge ‘tolerance’ after Trump’s comments on U.S. Soccer anthem policy

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FIFA have urged ‘tolerance, respect and common sense’ after President Donald Trump slammed the US Soccer Federation (USSF) as USMNT and USWNT players will now be allowed to kneel for the national anthem.

US Soccer decided to repeal their anthem policy for the USMNT and USWNT

In 2017 the USSF decided to bring in the policy which forced players from both the USWNT and USMNT to stand for the anthem after Megan Rapinoe took a knee to join Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality and inequality in the Black community in the United States of America.

[ MORE: Reaction to new anthem policy ]

Trump responded by saying he “won’t be watching much anymore” and shared comments made by Republican Matt Gaetz who is trying to force through a bill which would make the players stand for the anthem and said he’d rather not have a US Soccer national team if players do not stand.

The Associated Press asked FIFA about Trump’s comments and here is the statement world soccer’s governing body released.

“FIFA strongly advocates for tolerance, mutual respect and common sense when such important matters are debated. FIFA has a zero-tolerance approach to incidents of all forms of discrimination in football, as outlined in the FIFA Statutes. We must all say no to racism and no to violence.”

US Soccer reversed its decision in a board meeting last week, as board members voted in favor of repealing the anthem policy, even though it is believed the voted wasn’t unanimous.

This is the statement US Soccer released on its new anthem policy as they apologized to players from both the USMNT and USWNT:

“The policy was put in place after Megan Rapinoe kneeled in solidarity with the peaceful protest inspired by Colin Kaepernick, who was protesting police brutality, and the systematic oppression of Black people and people of color in America. It has become clear that this policy was wrong and detracted from the important message of Black Lives Matter.

“We have not done enough to listen – especially to our players – to understand and acknowledge the very real and meaningful experiences of Black and other minority communities in our country. We apologize to our players – especially our Black players – staff, fans, and all who support eradicating racism, Sports are a powerful platform for good, and we have not used our platform as effectively as we should have. We can do more on these specific issues and we will.”

Qatar World Cup stadium workers struggle to secure salaries

Qatar World Cup stadium workers
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LONDON — Migrant workers building a World Cup stadium in Qatar have been struggling to secure pay they are owed, a human rights group and the Qatari government said Wednesday, highlighting ongoing labor issues in the country.

Amnesty International said around 100 workers on the Al Bayt Stadium have had problems securing months of salaries from design and construction subcontractor Qatar Meta Coats.

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“Although recent payments will provide some welcome relief for workers, Qatar’s World Cup organizers told us they had known about the salary delays since July 2019,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice. “This raises the question of why Qatar allowed workers to continue working for months without pay.

“For years we have been urging Qatar to reform the system, but clearly change has not come fast enough. It shouldn’t take an Amnesty investigation for workers to be paid what they are owed.”

The workers came from countries including Ghana, Kenya, Nepal and the Philippines, according to Amnesty.

Organizers of the 2022 World Cup said the case was “unacceptable” but said it came to light last year after audits and interviews with workers by their welfare department.

“Our efforts resulted in an initial payment of three months overdue salaries to workers,” the Doha-based organizing committee said. “We continued to exert every effort within our power to redress the issue.”

The government said it was made aware of Qatar Meta Coats’ owed salaries in September 2019, leading to the company being fined and operations suspended.

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“Financial insecurity between November 2019 and April 2020 meant that Qatar Meta Coats’ workforce received irregular salary payments during this period,” the government said. “In May 2020, the issue was partially resolved and all salary payments from February to May were paid in full by the company.

“There are a small number of outstanding salary payments preceding February, which will be resolved in the coming days.”

Amnesty said some workers complained in January to Qatar’s labor tribunals.

Qatar was awarded the Middle East’s first World Cup in a FIFA vote in December 2010. Pressure from rights groups on conditions for workers intensified as Qatar started to build the infrastructure it lacked to host a major international sports event.

“There are still issues to overcome, including those related to the attitudes and behaviors of a small minority,” the government said. “This will take time, but we remain firmly committed to the task.”

FIFA propose salary cap, transfer fee talks

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FIFA president Gianni Infantino has proposed talks with leagues across the globe about potentially implementing a salary cap and limits on transfer fees as the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The leader of soccer’s world-governing body released a lengthy video statement Saturday, in which he also asked league associations to work together to find the best solutions for the club and international calendar moving forward.

Last week he said FIFA wanted a ‘common sense’ approach to players who are supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and that players showing messages of support should be ‘applauded and not punished’ despite FIFA’s previously strict rules around players sharing political, religious or personal messages during games.

FIFA are working on a financial package which they hope to discuss with members and finalize in their next council meeting later this month but recent talks with associations across the globe have suggested a salary cap or transfer fees limit could work.

Here is what the FIFA chief had to say specifically when it comes to soccer adapting to the changing financial environment.

“On the financial and governance aspects, I also heard some interesting proposals on a wide range of topics,” Infantino said. “From salary caps to transfer-fee caps or other taxation mechanisms, to the possible obligation for governing bodies, competition organisers and clubs to build reserves or to contribute to a reserve fund which can be of assistance in hours of need such as now.

“I personally advocate for clearer and stricter financial regulations, imposing full transparency and good governance principles, and not only limiting this to the transfer system, but to the entire football ecosystem. FIFA is doing already a lot of work on this area, even if we face some strong vested interests who fight against our plea for a better global governance in our sport.

“Dear friends, we will need your full support and commitment to move to the next level of good governance in football globally. I think that these and other measures, projects and ideas should be discussed at all levels. I know that this is something that will spark intense debate, but debate is healthy, and we should speak about it all together – as we stand together during this difficult period.”

Quite how a salary cap or a limit on transfer fees would work remain to be seen but given the huge financial burden places on clubs during the coronavirus pandemic, it is a very plausible solution to help stop clubs from going out of business.

With governing bodies such as UEFA placing strict financial fair play rules on clubs to stop them from spending beyond their means, FIFA doing something similar would be possible.

Would clubs, leagues and associations sign up for these new rules? In the short-term, probably. Long-term, it would be tough. Nobody knows how long sports, and society, will be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and even if a vaccine is found and fans can return to stadiums and things go back to relative normality, the financial implications of the past four to five months is likely to be felt for years to come.

The salary cap system will not work for every league or even every region but as we’ve seen in Major League Soccer, it can bring stability and certain leagues need that across the globe.

Rule change allows five substitutions per team; VAR can be stopped

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Each team are now officially allowed to make five substitutions per the new laws of the game.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) confirmed the new rule, which was first suggested by FIFA to help players and clubs cope with any extra fatigue which will come from the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rule 3 is the ruling which relates to substitutions and the key part of this is that teams are only able to make subs at certain parts of the game so the flow of the game isn’t broken up.

Here’s a look at the temporary changes to Rule 3, which has now come into place:

  • A maximum of five substitutes are allowed per team, per game
  • To avoid disruption, each team will have a maximum of three opportunities to make subs during the game and also at half time
  • If both teams make a sub at the same time, this will count as one of the three opportunities for each team
  • Unused subs and opportunities are carried forward into extra time in cup competitions
  • Where competition rules allows it, teams will be allowed an extra sub in extra time. The sub can be made before extra time starts or at half time of extra time

With training and games interrupted and teams now close to returning across the globe and being asked to play games over a short period of time to complete the 2019-20 season, this rule change is more of a temporary measure.

FIFA have also ruled that VAR can be stopped midseason if leagues no longer have the resources to use it. The Premier League is not expected to stop using VAR midseason.

“In relation to competitions in which the video assistant referee system is implemented, these competitions are permitted to cease its use upon restart at the discretion of each individual competition organizer.”

As for the five sub rule, it is allowed to be used in competitions which were due to finish by December 31, 2020 and it is expected to be extended to cover the 2020-21 seasons too.

In La Liga, matchday squads will also increase from 18 to 23 so that managers have more options to choose from when it comes to substitutes, and there will be two water breaks per match.

Who will benefit from this? Other than the players who will have their workloads lessened, it is clear the big boys with deeper squads will benefit from this rule change.

If you have 25 international players and all of a sudden you get to use 16 of them per game, the overall quality of your play remains high. As for teams lower down in say the Premier League, some squads may be forced to giving plenty of young academy players minutes in the final nine weeks of the 2019-20 season.

I want to believe that teams will be able to use these substitutions correctly but the cynic in me says that this could lead to games being disrupted even more than they already are with players saying they have an injury and subs then being used outside of one of the substitution windows. There seems to be a loophole here.

It is a temporary fix, so that’s fine, but having five subs would not be good for the game, long term.