Getty Images

Putin asks FIFA for support on World Cup legacy

Leave a comment

MOSCOW (AP) Russian President Vladimir Putin says he wants FIFA to help ensure last year’s World Cup has an effective legacy.

At a meeting with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Putin says “ahead of us we now have a different task, to use everything that was done for the World Cup, to use it effectively, and on this issue we are also counting on your support.”

Many Russian clubs have already seen a boost in attendance in the season following the World Cup. With new arenas, teams in the host cities of Volgograd and Nizhny Novgorod have more than doubled their average home attendance, though Sochi and Kaliningrad are lagging behind.

Putin awarded Infantino a medal earlier this month for his help with staging the World Cup.

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

Russia says it thwarted drone attacks at World Cup

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MOSCOW (AP) Russia says it thwarted attempted drone attacks at this year’s World Cup.

Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service, says his officers “took measures to detect and foil attempts by terrorists to use drones during the preparation and hosting of various major political and sports events, most of all during the soccer World Cup.”

Bortnikov gave no further details in comments reported by the Tass state news agency.

Russia used thousands of police and cutting-edge surveillance technology to guard the World Cup. However, four Pussy Riot protesters managed to run onto the field during the final.

In April, Russia said “extremists” and nationalist soccer hooligans had planned to attack World Cup events in the city of Samara but were foiled.

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

USMNT at 23 in latest FIFA Rankings; Belgium top, England into Top Five

Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The United States men’s national team slipped a spot to 23 in the latest FIFA Rankings.

Sandwiched between Tunisia and Austria, the USMNT remains three points below their average spot of 20.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 10 ]

The spot is four higher than the less celebrated but more trusted ELO Ratings, which has the U.S. at 27 (five spots higher than it was a year ago after the World Cup qualifying failure in Couva).

Belgium moves out of its tie with France for the top spot in the FIFA Rankings, while Brazil is third and England moves into the Top Five.

The biggest riser in the Top 50 is Russia (up five spots to 41). Northern Ireland and Democratic Republic of Congo each dropped six spots to Nos. 34 and 46, respectively.

Mexico drops a spot to 16th, while Canada rises three to 76.

Tadic misses penalty as Serbia draws Romania, Russia tops Turkey

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dusan Tadic‘s awful penalty was the only real highlight of an otherwise drab 0-0 draw between Serbia and Romania at Arena Nationala in Bucuresti.

Serbia was awarded the spot-kick after Gabriel Tamas was sent off for a high boot in the box right to the face of Mijat Gacinovic. Tadic stepped up to take the penalty and after a slow, awkward run-up, he blasted his penalty well over the top-left corner, not even close to hitting the target.

Many after the match criticized Serbia for not having in-form Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic take the penalty instead of Tadic. Mitrovic scored a penalty just three days ago in a 2-0 win over Montenegro. There were just six total shots on target throughout the entire match split three and three between the two teams. Serbia dominated the majority of play, holding 70% of possession and winning the corner count 11-3.

Elsewhere, Denis Cheryshev continued his hot streak for Russia as they stole a 2-0 win over Turkey in Sochi. Cheryshev has scored six goals in his last nine international appearances dating back to the World Cup. Cheryshev didn’t start the match, but came on with 19 minutes to go and Russia already a goal up on a Roman Neustädter 20th minute strike.

Turkey, featuring a lineup that included Everton striker Cenk Tosun and Roma youngster Cengiz Ünder, held 60% possession and out-passed a Russia team that only completed 67% of its passes. Still, they struggled up front as 30-year-old Fenerbahce CB Neustadter partnered well alongside Georgi Dzhikiya. Neither defender was part of the Russian World Cup squad this past summer.

Also in Nations League play, Faroe Islands drew 1-1 with Kosovo, while Malta and Azerbaijan also finished level at 1-1 in Baku.

Two Russian soccer players investigated for attacking official

Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images
1 Comment

MOSCOW (AP) Russian police are investigating two soccer players accused of beating an official at a Moscow cafe.

Officials say that Zenit St. Petersburg striker Alexander Kokorin and Krasnodar midfielder Pavel Mamayev are accused of beating a department head from the Russian Ministry for Industry and Trade who rebuked them for behaving improperly.

[ PL ROUNDTABLE: The story so far ]

A video taken by a surveillance camera and broadcast by Russian TV stations on Tuesday showed the two players hitting the man with a chair over his head and slapping him in the face. A probe is under way, and the players could face up to two years in prison if found guilty.

The Russian Premier League strongly condemned the “hooliganism.” Krasnodar said it may terminate Mamayev’s contract, while Zenit said it would take disciplinary measures against Kokorin.