Mohamed Salah will be fit to play in World Cup, says Egyptian FA

Mohamed Salah will be fit to play in World Cup after sustaining a shoulder injury, tells the Egyptian FA

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah will be fit to feature in the Football world cup group stages, according to the Egyptian Football Association.

The forward looked unlikely to play any its participation in the summer tournament after sustaining a shoulder trauma in the first half of Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat against Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday night before leaving the field in tears.

The EFA president, Hani Abu Reda, the national squad coach-and-four Hector Cuper and physician Mohamed Abou El-Ela met Salah on Wednesday in Valencia, where the 25 -year-old is undergoing treatment and rehabilitation.

A post on the federation’s Facebook page read:” The delegation of the national squad was briefed on the recovery programme for the player, who is strolling well and aims to join the squad in the World Cup, as well as the determination of the great player to catch up with his team-mates. For his part, Mohamed Abou El-Ela said that the period of is a lack of Salah due to injury will not outstrip three weeks .”

Egypt’s opening World Cup match takes place on 15 June against Uruguay, with their second against the hosts Russia going four weeks later. Should Salah not return in time for either of those games, he could still was contained in Egypt’s final group match against Saudi Arabia on 25 June.

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Brazil confirm Dani Alves will miss World Cup due to knee injury

The Brazilian Football Confederation has confirmed in a statement his knee injury builds it impossible to call Dani Alves for the period of preparation, friendlies and, consequently, the World Cup.

Brazil’s right-back Dani Alves will miss the Football world cup. The Brazilian Football Confederation has confirmed in a statement his knee trauma builds it” impossible to bellow Dani Alves for the period of preparation, friendlies and, consequently, the World Cup .”

The 35 -year-old was injured on Tuesday in the French Cup final while playing for the wins, Paris Saint-Germain.

The injury will sideline him for at least three weeks. Brazil’s first game in Russia will be on 17 June against Switzerland. Alves played in the previous two World Cups and has 107 appearances for the team since his 2006 debut.

Neymar, meanwhile, has admitted he still has anxieties over missing the Football world cup due to the violate right foot he suffered in March.

In an interview published on Friday, the Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain striker said therapy has worked” but there is always that fear of it[ the trauma] coming back “.

” I need to lose that fear as quickly as possible to arrive at the Football world cup at my best ,” Neymar said in an interview on Zico’s YouTube channel.” In the beginning we are hesitant about making the complete motion .”

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Fifa refers to integrity rules after Trump’s threat over US World Cup bid

Donald Trumps veiled threat against nations that may oppose the US bid to co-host the 2026 World Cup has prompted Fifa to refer to its guidelines

Donald Trumps veiled threat against nations that may oppose the US bid to co-host the 2026 World Cup has prompted Fifa to refer to guidelines that warn against political influence over bids. Morocco is the the only other rival to the US, which has launched a joint bid with Canada and Mexico.

The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup, Trump tweeted. It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they dont support us (including at the United Nations)?

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup. It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they dont support us (including at the United Nations)?

April 26, 2018

Fifa will choose the hosts at a meeting in Moscow on 13 June. As a general rule, we cannot comment on specific statements in connection with the bidding process, said Fifa in a statement. We can only refer to the Fifa regulations for the selection of the venue for the final competition of the 2026 Fifa World Cup, and in particular to the bid rules of conduct incorporated therein.

The bid rules contain an explicit warning against activities by bidding country governments which may adversely affect the integrity of the Bidding Process and create an undue influence on the Bidding Process.

Mexicos president, Enrique Pena Nieto, responded positively to Trumps tweet. We can have differences but football unites us. Together we support the candidacy of Mexico, Canada and USA as the headquarters of the World Cup 2026, he wrote on Twitter.

The North American bid committee said it was pleased to have Trumps support. From the beginning, we have received strong support from the Canadian, Mexican, and United States governments. We are grateful for that support and together our three countries are ready to welcome players and fans from around the world to an extraordinary Fifa World Cup in 2026.

The Moroccan bid team declined to comment on Trumps tweet.

The North American bid boasts large stadiums and excellent infrastructure but is no certainty to win the June vote. The Morocco bid is expected to receive strong backing from Fifas African and Middle East members.

France plans to back Morocco, the countrys football federation president told local media recently, while Russia, which will host the 2018 tournament this summer has said it will also vote for the north African nations bid.

The United States previously hosted the World Cup in 1994. Fifa member countries receive one vote each, no matter their size.

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World Cup stunning moments: West Germany 1-0 Austria in 1982 | Rob Smyth

Rob Smyth: Algeria fans wailed fix as West Germany and Austria played out a mutually suitable scoreline in 1982 s Disgrace of Gijn

You have to pity the youth of today. They were born to banter, they think it’s normal behaviour to tell complete strangers on the internet what they have had for their tea. And worst of all, they have never experienced proper World Cup villainy. There was Luis Suarez’s handball in 2010, yes, but that was a fleeting moment from an individual rather than an extended body of work shared between a whole squad. The World Cup– which is about great narratives as much as great football- is so much richer when a squad leaves the rest of the football world raging with impotent frustration.

That has not occurred since 1990, when Argentina detected umpteen different ways to prod the football world in the chest, most notably when they defiled Italy’s dreamings on an operatic night in Naples. Four years earlier there were Uruguay, as close to a collect of sociopaths as has been ensure at the Football world cup. The Scottish FA chief Ernie Walker called them” the scum of world football “.

Then we have West Germany 1982, who have two entirely different and equally notorious crimes on their rap sheet. In the semi-final against France, the goalkeeper Harald Schumacher assaulted Patrick Battiston with an appalling and unpunished challenge. If that was shockingly violent, the absence of aggression is the root cause of criticism earlier in the tournament. West Germany’s 1-0 win over Austria- in which both sides determined for a outcome that put them through and removed the tournament’s darlings Algeria- became known as Nichtangriffspakt von Gijon( the non-aggression pact of Gijon ).

It is not just those two incidents that scratched people up the wrong way, or ensured that some of us would remember this particular German side with such guilty fondness. It was the way they did it. At periods it seemed they were trying to surpass the most extreme German stereotype. They were imbued, individually and collectively, with the most magnificently preposterous arrogance in the history of the entire known world. They did not so much have a squad of 22 players as a squad of 22 directors in addition to the official coach, Jupp Derwall.( The day before the Football world cup final, for example, Derwall said in an ITV interview that the injured Karl-Heinz Rummenigge would only be fit enough for the bench in the big match. The next interview was with Rummennigge, who breezily confirmed that he would start. He started .) The entire squad was almost too German to function.

That arrogance manifested itself most deliciously in a masterclass of misplaced hubris before their first group game against Algeria. West Germany were the European champs and had qualified with eight wins out of eight( including two over Austria ), scoring 33 goals in the process. African sides, by contrast, were not taken at all severely, despite Pele’s assertion in 1977 that an African side would win the World Cup before the year 2000.

In 1978, Tunisia’s forgotten trailblazers became the first African side to win a Football world cup match, beating Mexico 3-1. They also depicted 0-0 with West Germany in the final game; a 1-0 win would have been able to put them through instead of the Germans. By 1982, the Germans had forgotten about that.” We will dedicate our seventh objective to our spouses, and the eighth to our puppies ,” said one player before the Algeria game. Another reportedly said he would play the match while chewing on a cigar. Derwall declined to show videos of Algeria to his players because he thought they were laugh at him, and said he would get the next train home if West Germany lost. Algeria won a thrilling game 2-1, one of the great World Cup shocks.

Austrian forward Walter Schachner( second from right) is stopped by German defender Hans-Peter Briegel( right) while goalkeeper Harald Schumacher( below left) gatherings.

Algeria lost their next game 2-0 to Austria, with West Germany walloping Chile. Then, in the final group game, Algeria cavorted into a 3-0 half-time lead in their final game against the eliminated Chileans, including a gorgeous first objective. At that stage Algeria were guaranteed to become the first African side to reach the second round of a Football world cup, unless there was an absurd result( 4-3, 5-4 and so on) in the West Germany/ Austria game that would be played a day later. In the second half, however, Chile opposed back to lose 3-2. Although Algeria had won again, they were now in jeopardy.

They would still reach the last 12 of the tournament if Austria avoided defeat, or if West Germany won by three goals or more. An already complex situation was exacerbated by the hatred between West Germany and Austria. At the previous World Cup, Austria had pulled off one of their most well known victories- the Miracle of Cordoba- against West Germany, even though the match was basically a dead rubber.” My players always find a special motive against Germany ,” said the Austria director, Georg Schmidt, ahead of the match in Gijon four years later.

West Germany, on two points, were out unless they won, and started the match accordingly. In the 11 th minute their clumsy striker Horst Hrubesch, whose set the hee haw in Gijon, unwittingly bundled a Pierre Littbarski cross into the net. The tale goes that video games simply stopped at that point, with both sides proclaiming and determining for a rating that would set them through ahead of Algeria. The video of the game is thus a surprise. You expect side-to-side stuff, players standing around picking spots and scratching backsides , not dedicating 10% never mind 110; the greatest sham on turf. That only really happens in the final quarter of an hour, when the game properly livens down, and even then it is no more brazen than subsequent examples of two teams resolving for a specific score.

The 10 minutes after Hrubesch’s goal would even be described as exhilarating in some cultures, with Wolfgang Dremmler forcing a fine save from Friedich Koncilia( the second and final shot on target in the match) and Paul Breitner missing two good chances. The game slows down towards half-time, principally because the hitherto dominant Germany start to play on the counterattack, There is still enough intensity. Just before half-time Manny Kaltz hares round the pitch chasing the ball like a particularly dumb dog; in the same assault, Dremmler slides two-footed through both the ball and Herbert Prohaska. A free-kick in 1982, and even that disputed by the Germans; maybe a red card in 2013.

At half-time, one of the German players makes a beeline for an Austrian( it’s hard to tell who they are on the video ), sets an arm round his shoulder and engages him in discourse. It seems meaningful in the context of what we now know, and the google translation of this page indicates a declaration at 1-0 was discussed by some players during the interval. Yet many of the players still say now that was not the case.

It certainly seems safe to conclude there was no formal arrangement. The video suggests “were not receiving” single point at which both sides switch off, more that the whole thing develops through osmosis and that the teams operate( or rather don’t) with the developing mood of the game. At the start of second half there is still plenty of purposeful if unaccomplished attacking, interspersed by some periods of unpressurised happen. Both teams only become defensively active when the other traverses the halfway line. There is a significant part of maintaining up appearances, of course, but it is not just that. In the 51 st minute, for example, Josef Degeorgi waves his hands angrily at Karlheinz Forster, accusing him of diving.

It’s as if the crowd are wise to what is going on nearly before the players. The first audible unrest results after 52 minutes, when Rummenigge plays a long pass back to the halfway line, and again three minutes later when Austria’s Hans Krankl, on the right wing, wafts a 40 -yard pass with the outside of the foot back to the sweeper.

Yet at that stage those were isolated incidents. Hrubesch would have had a clear shooting opportunity in the 57 th minute had he not hopelessly miscontrolled Felix Magath’s expert chip. As late as the 77 th minute, when the game was losing what edge it had, Bernd Krauss transgressed into the box and forced a desperate clearance from Hans-Peter Briegel. A aim then would have put West Germany out.

Pierre Littbarski, the youngest and most innocent player on the pitching, went on a series of intrepid solo runs in the second half. Austria’s Walter Schachner was sufficiently piqued by a free-kick against him to be booked for dissent with 12 minutes remaining. Get yellow-carded in this match was quite the achievement, akin to not get lucky at a Bacchanalian debauchery. Reinhold Hintermaier was also booked in the first half for a rugged foul on Littbarski.

The second half was, we should stress, barely an end-to-end classic. Opta have a detailed repository of every World Cup game since 1966, and there are some belting statistics for those 45 minutes. There were only three shootings , none on target. West Germany attained merely eight tackles, around one every six minutes. Both sides had an overall pass-completion ratio in excess of 90%, a level usually reserved for people like Xavi and Paul Scholes- and, more tellingly, Jamie Carragher, the king of the no-risk pass. Austria had a 99% success rate with passes in their own half; West Germany’s was 98%.

The last 10 minutes are terrible, like watching Spain 2012 play against themselves, and hard to defend. The outcome dedicated a whole new meaning to winning ugly. Yet even though there is periods of video games that could have been soundtracked by Brian Eno, there isn’t the constant nation of inertia we expected.

Horst Hrubesch celebrates scoring with Pierre Littbarski.

Then again, current realities rarely lives up to the spook tale. At the time, almost everybody was disgusted. The Austrian TV commentator Robert Seeger told spectators to turn their televisions off and said nothing for the last part of the game. The German commentator Eberhard Stanjek told:” What’s happening here is disgraceful and has nothing to do with football. You can say what you want, but not every objective justifies every means .”

The thousands of Algerian fans in the crowd were appalled, with fund shouting” It’s a fix !” Some waved fund through the fencings or burned it, an suffering image of Espana 82; others, in full why-I-oughta mode, took a running jump in a failed attempt to get over the fencings and on to the field. Neutral Spanish supporters were similarly unimpressed. One German fan in the stadium burned his country’s flag.

As the match reached its conclusion, ITV’s Hugh Johns conveyed his abhorrence.” A few seconds on Bob Valentine’s watch between us and going-home period. And what a relief that’s going to be. Breitner for Briegel for Stielike, names that run off my tongue at the moment and leave a nasty, nasty taste. Stielike … quality players who should all be in the book of referee Bob Valentine for bringing video games into disrepute. This is one of the most disgraceful international matches I’ve ever seen .”

The outrage was even greater after video games. The Algerian FA protested straight away, describing him as a” sinister plot “. West Germany were savaged by their own press, with one headline wailing “SHAME ON YOU!”. One Spanish newspaper called it” the Anschluss “. A Dutch newspaper described it as” football porn”, unwittingly obliterating the received wisdom that the Dutch were world leaders in bongo.

The former German international Willi Schulz said all 22 players were “gangsters”. There was certainly an omerta after video games, with nobody accepting culpability or even recognise what had happened, apart from the Austrian manager Schmidt.” It was ,” he said,” a shameful prove “. His opposite number Derwall summoned the righteous outrage of which only the guilty are capable.” This was a grave and serious insult ,” he said.” We will answer any charges .”

In the eyes of those involved, the end justified the meanness.” We wanted to progress , not play football “, Derwall said afterwards, while the substitute Lothar Matthaus added:” We have gone through. That’s all that counts .” Austria were similarly unrepentant.” We made the next round .,” says Krankl.” And I don’t give a damn about the Germans .” The commentator Seeger says some of the Austrian players tried to get him sacked.

When a group of West German fans went to the team hotel to forcibly enunciate their interpretation of video games, the players bombarded them with water bombs from the balcony.

That was nothing on the reaction of Hans Tschak, the head of the Austrian delegation, a man who constructed Alf Garnett seem enlightened.” Naturally today’s game was played tactically ,” he told.” But if 10,000′ sons of the desert’ here in the stadium want to trigger a scandal because of this it just goes to show that they have too few schools. Some sheikh comes out of an oasis, be able to get a sniff of World Cup air after 300 years and thinks he’s entitled to open his gob .”

Others realised the world has six other continents. The problem was not just with the cynicism shown by Germany and Austria; it was compounded by its unapologetic nature and the identity of the victims. Algeria had the charm of underdogs, played lovely football, and emerged from a developing football continent. West Germany and Austria had not only killed Bambi; they had sent a video of the murdering around the world and cackled maniacally at the end of that video.

Algeria’s appeal was rejected after a three-and-a-half hour session, in which the Fifa organising committee is considered that a result” could not be altered by any outside body” because, er, it merely couldn’t. Thereafter Fifa ensured final group games would be played simultaneously, a lesson they should have heeded after Argentina’s controversial 6-0 win over Peru in 1978. When objective difference was replaced by head-to-head scores, the chance to theoretically fix games reappeared with inevitable conspiratorial consequences.

You wonder what might happen now, in this era of faux outrage and social-media bullying. Fifa would probably bow to public pressure. Back then, Algeria made their objection and, when it was rejected, got to get with “peoples lives”.” We weren’t angry, “were in” cool ,” says Chaabane Merzekane, the sensational right-back, in this excellent piece by Paul Doyle.” To insure two big powers devaluing themselves in order to eliminate us was a tribute to Algeria. They progressed with infamy, we went out with our heads held high .”

” Our performances forced Fifa to induce that change, and that was even better than a victory ,” added Lakhdar Belloumi.” It meant that Algeria left an indelible mark on football history .”

Algeria, Austria and West Germany- like all the other countries- went to that World Cup hoping to do something that would be talked for ever. As with Lupe Velez’s death, their wish arrived true.

The biggest sufferers were arguably the West Germans. The country fell out of love with their international team for a while. In the book Tor !, Uli Hesse says the coach Derwall” unknowingly taught the country that there are things more important than winning “.

It is surely remembered more as a German crime, almost as if Austria had a gun to their head. On one viewing of the game- and we’d plainly like to watch the entire match a few more hours to be sure- there is a powerful debate that Austria are the principal perpetrators: they showed significantly less attacking intent and also had a greater safety net than the Germans, who were only one goal from shame for the last 80 minutes.

Austria ignored the chance of immortality, too; imagine if, having lulled West Germany into a false sense of security, they scored a late equaliser. The Gijon grift would have been 100 times more famous than the Miracle of Cordoba.

Similar if slightly less prolonged examples of such cynicism, with neither team trying to rating, have been evident in many big games since. Ireland and Holland did it at Italia 90, a risky tactic in the circumstances, while Manchester United won a championship in this manner in 2011, when they played 174 pass in their own half in the last 10 minutes( plus trauma time) of a match at Blackburn.

In 1995 Mark Bosnich did unto Jurgen Klinsmann as Schumacher did unto Battiston; the fact he did not receive anywhere near as much criticism as Schumacher was only partially because Eric Cantona was being slaughtered for the perceived crime of kung-fu kicking a gobby cockney on the same night.

It seems that, when it comes to cartoon villainy, it’s not just what you do but the style you do it. And nobody did it better than the 1982 West Germans.

With thanks to Cris Freddi, whose World Cup history is definitive, and Paul Doyle .

Rob Smyth and Scott Murray are writers of And Gazza Misses The Final , a collect of minute-by-minute reports of classic World Cup games. West Germany v Austria might be in the second volume .

What the Guardian said: Algerians protest after phoney war

By Stephen Bierley, 25 June 1982

According to West Germany’s director, Jupp Derwall, games between his country and Austria are traditionally contested with all the ferocity of an England v Scotland match. Yesterday’s final Group Two match in Gijon was about as passionate as a testimonial, but neither side was complaining. At the end of a suspiciously tamed encounter both progressed to the second phase, thereby squeezing Algeria into third spot and out of the Cup.

The Algerian FA president, Hadg Sekkal, described the teams’ performance as” a sinister plot” and immediately registered a protest to Fifa. Even the Austrian manager, Georg Schmidt, seemed disconcerted and admitted to” a shameful reveal .” But Derwall was having none of it, calling the Algerians’ talk of an arrangement a” tomb, serious insult “.

Hermann Neuberger, a Fifa vice-president, said he did not expect any action to be taken against either squad.” There are no Fifa rules which say teams cannot play as they please. Fifa cannot sanction a squad if they did not fight properly ,” told Neuberger, who is also president of the West German Soccer Federation.

So the rumours of West Germany’s death were, after all, greatly overstated. Their opening Group Two defeat by Algeria has registered 10 on the Richter scale of Cup shocks. The world has run daft.

In the El Molinon Stadium sanity returned or at least what passes for sanity in these lumbering opening stages of the competition. The Germans needed to win; Austria to avoid a heavy defeat. Nods and winkings were duly exchanged as the two teams strolled out.

Any semblance of tensions lasted precisely 11 minutes. At that point Friedl Koncilia was beaten for the first time in 191 minutes. Littbarski, flirting with offside, took full advantage of a linesman’s stiff arm and Horst Hrubesch bent to head home. In fact, he missed, but the ball struck his knee and went in anyway. Objective of contest.

After that it was ” when you are Wolfgang” -” no, after you, Bruno .” This was European cooperation taken to ridiculous restrictions. Walter Schacher occasionally get the impression that Austria were in any way interested in crossing the half-way line but for the majority of the second half students of World Cup football had little to mull on, unless it was that the Germans were setting an all-comers’ record for back-passes.

The Algerians were not pleased. There is a growing feeling among the so-called Third World countries that Europe, Fifa and indeed referees are out to stitch them up. They may be right. Certainly there was no doubting the intentions of Austria and the West Germans. The result was the thing and to hell with entertainment.

A crowd of 40,000 responded accordingly whistles of mockery ringing around the stadium. Off came Rumenigge, off arrived Hrubesch. On and on went the match until mercifully Bob Valentine, the Scottish referee, blew for time.

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How absurd to boycott World Cup when Russia is so bound up in our economy | Barney Ronay

Politicians were quick to jump on the World Cup and turn it into a political football in the week when 23 Russian diplomats were expelled from the UK

As Anglo-Russian relations grow ever more fraught it seems a good moment to consider just how upset Russia will really be, how deep its pit of anguish, if Prince William and other members of the British royal family refuse to attend the World Cup.

There are some clues here. By an odd coincidence, the day after the World Cup final at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium is also the exact 100 -year anniversary of the Russian government-sanctioned assassination of the country’s own royal family.

It was on the night of 16 July 1918 that tsar Nicholas II, the tsarina and their five children were taken by drunken gangster-soldiers of the Bolshevik army to the basement of the house in which the latter are imprisoned and beaten, shoot and stabbed to death, their bodies dismembered and burnt in a field.

The twist, of course, is that these murdered royals are also Prince William’s direct relations on two sides. Welcome to Russia, your highness.

No nation has a monopoly on acts of brutality, which history indicates are fairly evenly shared around. The point is simply that, all things considered, Russia ranks fairly low on the listing of obviously royalist nations; that it seems unlikely Russia is already tearfully cancelling its industrial-scale union jack bunting orders, burning its Wills-and-Kate cardboard mask reserves, inconsolable at the loss of the chance to witness, first hand, Meghan’s sassy summer style. But then, it was inevitable the World Cup would be among the first objects gathered up in a hurry by British politicians keen to give a sense of leverage, of something that can still be done.

There have been some bizarre notes in this. Stephen Kinnock MP has suggested in parliament that Theresa May should ask Fifa to delaying the World Cup until next year . Just picture, for a few moments of light relief, the collecting howling of helpless, belly cramping laughter in the vestibules of Fifa house as Mrs May’s urgent fax is torn from the machine. Gianni? Are you still there? Those noises. Are you in pain, Gianni?

It is hard to imagine a more comically naive suggestion, or a greater misunderstanding of British influence in the sporting world. But then the Kinnock Postponement is at least familiar territory, shot through with the same delusional loss of scale that has often marked English football’s interaction with the wider world.

Gareth Southgate is an encouragingly capable England manager but he still approaches each squad announcement, each meaningless double-header, with the funereal ego importance of a man persuaded English success or failing is in some way the defining note of all human endeavour, sighing and wincing and pronouncing names like “Danny Welbeck” and “Jake Livermore” with a note of husky fortitude, as though reading details from the suicide note of a much-loved head of state.

Southgate had the good sense the coming week to gloss over the next stage in all this, the idea the English FA might boycott Russia 2018 wholly. This possibility has been raised by the prime minister. And there is a lobby out there that maintains to attend the World Cup would be to offer an endorsement to a dubious regime- unlike, tell, going to Brazil four years ago( and good luck with all that in Qatar ).

At which point the necessity to take a stand, to resist what would be not only a terrible idea but also a deliberate act of misdirection. Let’s be grown up about this. England abandoning the World Cup would have no effect whatsoever on Russia’s foreign policy. It would instead be a route of managing domestic expectation, of giving any suggestions of action, and of getting out of doing more politically difficult things.

Sporting boycotts have had an effect but the world has changed. We are inextricably linked in so many ways. How absurd to boycott the World Cup when Russian fund and influence is still utterly bound up in our economy, legal system and politics; when Russian wealth, legitimate and occasionally questionable, is hungrily consumed by the great sluicing global laundry that is the London property market.

Whereas if the government really wants to take action, and indeed to involve football, a far better place to start would be applying some moral due diligence to the wealth pumped into ownership of our football clubs, indulging but not limited to Chelsea and Arsenal, to investigate the propriety of how some of these transformative lucks were amassed and administered and spent on our monarch soil.

Should happen: won’t happen. Either way, to pull out now would penalise Russia, a nation that does care about prestige and seats at the table, but it would also punish athletic in this country, the individuals who compete and support and feel inspired by the spectacle.

Prince William, the president of the Football Association, probably shouldn’t run. Some fans will stay away, which is a shame in itself. But in the end messing with the World Cup only stimulates sense if we’re going to do this properly , not as a sop or a display, or a note in a wider game that disregards the basic human contact, the intangible involvement of international sport.

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Fates and Diego Maradona hand England a World Cup group of hope | Barney Ronay

Tunisia and Panama devote Gareth Southgates humen a winnable start in the World Cup before they face Belgiums galaxy of Premier League stars

Welcome, is again, to the world. The balls have been cracked, the teams grouped off, the dates and venues parcelled out. After a glossy, agreeably fast-paced draw rite on the lighted stage of the Kremlin, Russia 2018 is run, the 21 st Fifa World Cup officially a lockdown.

The draw itself was a grand affair, with luminaries from Diego Maradona to Gordon Banks ranged behind their glitter punch bowls. From the opening moments there was a familiar hurry-up of intrigue as Group B threw up Portugal against Spain in Sochi, an authentically mouthwatering World Cup prospect.

As for England, well, the balls were kind. Maradona refused to produce an easy headline, pulling out Croatia when it might have been England to face Argentina in Group D. Diego also spared England a group-stage meeting with Germany, putting Mexico in with the holders.

Finally England were placed in Group G, with Belgium an intriguing opponent given the powerful Belgian presence in the Premier League , not to mention the recent transformation in footballing power between the two nations. Bring us your golden generation. And yes. We have been here before.

Q& A

The World Cup 2018 draw

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Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
Group D : Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia Japan

Photograph: Alexander Zemlianichenko/ AP

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As Panama and Tunisia joined England in Group G, the Fifa host Gary Lineker didn’t miss the chance to make a droll statement about Diego” always being good with his hands”, which stimulated sense if you have England v Argentina 1986 on memory speed-dial, but might have voiced a little odd elsewhere.

But Lineker was right. The balls were operating hot for Gareth Southgate. And England will expect to beat Tunisia and Panama, their first two opponents. Not that this has been much of a convenience in the past, as Iceland, Costa Rica and the USA will witness. But Southgate could not have hoped for much more , not least as the final fixture will be the Belgium game, a moment of kindness from the hands of Carles Puyol that might leave both teams already qualified or in the position- whispering it- to attempt a slight moment of 1982 -style Anschluss .

First England will fulfill Tunisia in Volgograd, previously Stalingrad, and a place not usually associated with the tourist road unless you happen to be a military historian. These days Volgograd is an industrial city, still shadowed in its artefacts and monuments by its bloody 20 th-century history. England will travel 900 miles to get there from their St Petersburg base. It should at the very least be pleasantly warm.

England travel

This is a match England will have good hopes of winning. Tunisia are ranked 27 th in the world, 12 spots below England. They do not have any obvious starring players- although Wahbi Khazri might have a point to prove- and have lost to Senegal, Burkina Faso and Cameroon this year and drawn at home to Libya. The veteran Nabil Maaloul was reappointed as manager in April. It could be tight, never a good thing with England, who tend to respond to tournament pressure with all the resilience of a succumbing sea anemone left to cook in the summer sun.

From there England travel 560 miles to Nizhny, home city of Maxim Gorky. Here, in a few moments of classic World Cup culture weirdness, they will play Panama, a nation of 4. 4 million people, with an economy built around canal tolls and international tax evasion.

These are grizzled World Cup first-timers, with five players on more than a hundred caps and two in the squad with 43 international aims. Panama will have nothing to lose and a shrewd coach in Hernan Dario” the Baton” Gomez, veteran of three World Cups. The anxiety is England could find themselves with another Costa Rica on their hands, a well-drilled emerging power with seven months to prepare the defensive masterplan. In reality they really should win this one. And so on to Belgium in Kaliningrad, another round trip of more than 1,000 miles. This is the jewel of England’s group, a game against a team who should on paper- and were they not called Belgium- is just one of the favourites to win the tournament. It is also a session of the most familial of footballing enemies.

The Premier League has been good to Belgium, just as it was good to Iceland in the buildup to their breakthrough tournament, proving the perfect road into elite-tier club football for products of a hugely successful development structure. As it stands Belgium have 21 recent call-ups who have played or currently play in England. In Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku they have three of the best attacking players in the league. Indeed, in every department except perhaps full-back Belgium have a stronger Premier League XI than England. It promises to be a fascinating occasion, by the end of which both teams will have travelled 4,000 miles of the working group stage.

There is, of course, an entire world of footballing intrigue beyond Group G. Russia versus Saudi Arabia is a wild-looking World Cup opener, albeit for reasons that have almost nothing to do with football. These two nations are in effect at war in Syria right now, or war at one remove. Both will also play Egypt, currently striking a enter into negotiations with Russia to house planes bombing Saudi forces-out on the ground. Uruguay, the fourth team of the working group, might be best just looking the other way and biding out of all this.

Brazil have a fairly easy run in Group E, but could then face Germany in the second round if one or the other contrives not to win their group. The Group of Death- more a group of mild peril- is Group D. Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria is a powerful lineup, with farther tournament joy for Iceland in getting to face Lionel Messi.

As for England, hopes will remain energetically stifled. Past group evidence suggests England tend to raise their game against superior foes and may benefit from that 28 June date against a genuinely classy Belgium team. On the other hand Italy and Uruguay knocked England out of the last World Cup in the space of six days.

There is no real tendency to follow here , no pattern of accomplishment. England either turn out with a serviceable squad and muddle their route to a grudging knockout exit. Or, as at the last two tournaments, they arrive in a state of make-do and fall apart against the first decent team that intersects their route. Concerned as ever with deflating the national mood, Southgate even described travelling to the draw as” a learning experience “. With a hospitable group ahead of them England will be happiest travelling in hope, if not much expectation.

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Who can win ?

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Outer space: the Russia World Cup stadium with a novel seating extension

Architects working on the Ekaterinburg Arena have come up with a unique answer to the tricky question of how to fulfill World Cup minimum capacity of 35,000 spectators

World Cup stadia come in all shapes and sizes but next year’s tournament in Russia will violate new ground with fans at one venue seated outside.

Architects working on the Ekaterinburg Arena have come up with a unique answer to the tricky topic: how do you seat the Fifa-sanctioned minimum of 35,000 spectators when the stadium has a capability of many thousands less? Simply build a stand outside.

FIFA World Cup (@ FIFAWorldCup)

The Ekaterinburg Arena is beginning to look

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South Africa v Senegal World Cup qualifier to be replayed after referee ban

Fifa has ordered a World Cup qualifier between South Africa and Senegal be replayed after the referee awarded a penalty for a nonexistent handball

Fifa has ordered the World Cup qualifier between South Africa and Senegal be replayed after the referee awarded a penalty for a nonexistent handball and was banned for life for match manipulation.

The game, which South Africa won 2-1 in November last year, will be replayed this November on a date still to be decided. It says it made the decision to order a replay after the court of arbitration for athletic upheld a life forbid for the referee in question, Joseph Lamptey of Ghana.

Fifa observed Lamptey guilty of breaching the rule relating to” unlawfully influencing match results “.

He devoted a penalty for a nonexistent handball against the Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly during the game in Polokwane, South Africa. Replays showed the ball struck Koulibaly’s knee and dropped to the ground.

South Africa scored the penalty and went on to win the qualifier for their only victory so far in the final round of qualifiers in Africa. A different result could have a big impact on the South Africa-Senegal group. Senegal trail the joint-leaders Burkina Faso and Cape Verde by a point.

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World Cup qualifying: 10 talking points from this weeks action

Its time for Gareth Southgate to fell Joe Hart, Aaron Hughes exemplifies Northern Irelands ambition and Ben Woodburn has once again proved himself for Wales

1) Time for Southgate to be ruthless and drop Hart

Before video games against Malta and Slovakia Gareth Southgate indicated no other goalkeeper had” staked a strong enough claim” to take over from Joe Hart. It seems a strange statement given the fine form and obvious talent of Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford. It is an oddity of the goalkeeping position that, while mistakes are always highlighted, it generally takes a run of howlers to lose your place. Sustained middling form, or the mild uncertainty that Hart has emanated for more than a year doesn’t seem to be enough. Southgate missed a chance in the current violate to demonstrate a little ruthlessness and address this. In the event Hart failed to get a hand on the first shooting on target across the two games, Stanislav Lobotka’s goal at Wembley poked past a starfish-pose-by-numbers England keeper. Tournament games come down to fine details, just as a goalie at the top of his powers can disguise many failings.” Showing faith in your human” is one thing. Right now Hart looks like the last outpost of the undroppable celebrity player culture that blighted successive England squads. Barney Ronay

* Match report: England 2 Slovakia 1
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2) Veteran Hughes embodies Northern Ireland’s determination

In the case of Northern Ireland statistics do tell an accurate tale of their remarkable achievement in finishing second in Group C and, in all likelihood, procuring a place in the World Cup play-offs. A record five consecutive wins, over 10 hours without confessing a aim, seven clean sheets in eight qualifiers- the finest defensive return in Europe- and beating the Czech Republic for the first time at Windsor Park on Monday with merely 28% possession; 72% possession countings for nothing when you do not difficulty Michael McGovern once in the Northern Ireland goal. It again underlines Michael O’Neill’s outstanding organisation that the defensive record may proceed with an injury-hit back-line against the Czechs and San Marino. The is a lack of Gareth McAuley and Craig Cathcart heightened responsibility on the 37 -year-old Aaron Hughes in the double-header. A veteran who received his first international call-up almost 20 years ago excelled. His central defensive partner Jonny Evans reflected:” He was my human of the match against the Czechs but he’s not get my champagne. He dragged me through the game. I was feeling it in the last half hour and here’s this guy who’s 37 operating past me to push out and clear the box. He inspired me to get through video games. He’s a great role model .” Andy Hunter

* Match report: Northern Ireland 2-0 Czech Republic
* Evans says Manchester City interest spurred him on to improve

3) Woodburn again presents he is the real deal for Wales

Well, “hes been gone” and did it again. Ben Woodburn, the 17 -year-old Liverpool prodigy, scored the winning objective on his international debut on Saturday. In Moldova on Tuesday he provided a jet-heeled assist to give Wales a crucial breakthrough. The accuracy of his control while operating Vitalie Bordian ragged down the left flank was an indication of the player’s pedigree, as was his cross that zipped along the six-yard line. Hal Robson-Kanu foresaw the ball, adjusted his body and threw his head at it, leaving the goalkeeper with no chance. Up until that phase, Moldova had defended deep and defended well, but fortune favours the brave and Chris Coleman went for it. In the first half his Wales team were stodgy. But in the second they came out with clear instructions to press higher. Fifteen minutes later and Woodburn came on. Ultimately with just over 20 minutes remaining Coleman paired Sam Vokes with Robson-Kanu and the pressure became relentless. It was a deserved outcome even if it took a moment of individual class to unlock it. Second place is now Wales’ to lose. Paul MacInnes

* Match report: Moldova 0-2 Wales

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4) Ireland must hope Hogan can have a striking impact

In a route the Republic of Ireland’s defeat by Serbia was more deflating for their fans than the abomination in Georgia had been three days previously. Because against Serbia Ireland played close to the best that they can play but still were not good enough. They have scored two objectives in four home matches and Martin O’Neill told afterwards that he wished he could call on someone such as a young Robbie Keane. If such a player were to appear again, it would have little to do with the developmental efforts of O’Neill’s employers. As it happens, O’Neill’s striking options may be enhanced in time for next month’s showdown with Wales: the Aston Villa forward Scott Hogan, having proclaimed for the country of his forefathers at the age of 25, could be parachuted straight into the Ireland team. A short-term fix to a deep-rooted problem? Paul Doyle

* Match report: Republic of Ireland 0 Serbia 1

5) Syria’s incredible run may not be over yet

Sometimes football’s impact renders terms unnecessary and that was certainly the case when a Syrian television commentator broke down in tears after witnessing his country secure an Asian play-off place with an unlikely late equaliser in Iran. The Syria team’s story is a complex one and perhaps not your standard feelgood affair; you may query whether they represent a regime or a nation but it certainly does no harm to admires the sporting accomplishment of a squad that has been forced to play its home games in Malaysia and was given scant hope at the outset.


The giant striker Omar Al Somah, scorer of that equaliser, had only this month returned from self-imposed international exile; he plays his football in Saudi Arabia and so does the gifted forward Omar Khribin, who is one of his continent’s most exciting players and can seriously trouble Australia in next month’s two-legged tie-in. More than anything, Syria are a proper team- tough, technically adept and wonderfully coached by Ayman Hakeem. The natural tendency is to suppose they have reached their limit but nobody who watched a few cases of their qualifiers will be in much doubt that they have a chance of beating Australia. The prospect of an intercontinental play-off against the US after that would be quite another matter; for now it is enough to savour what they have done so far. Nick Ames

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6) Is David Silva Spain’s greatest ever player?

David Silva scored the pick of Spain’s eight goals against Liechtenstein on Tuesday night, curling a left-footed free-kick beyond the reach of Peter Jehle as Spain recorded their highest ever victory away from home. The Manchester City midfielder, who is not a regular penalty taker for our own countries, has scored 33 objectives for our own countries* and sits fourth in the top goalscorer records for Spain’s national squad behind three strikers: Fernando Torres( 38 ), Raul( 44) and David Villa( 59 ), an astounding return for a footballer renowned more for his creative nous than goalscoring prowess. Although there are no records available for the number of assistances Silva has provided on the international stage, it is almost certainly even more mind-boggling considering Spain’s pre-eminence between 2006 and 2012 and the fact that he has notched up 66 in 223 Premier League appearances since joining Manchester City in the summer of 2010. Aged 31, he could yet overtake Torres and perhaps even Raul in the scoring charts and, devoted his country’s successes during his pomp, is arguably a contender for the commendation of Spain’s greatest player of any epoch.*( spotter’s badge @giveittosilva) Barry Glendenning

7) Time for out-of-date Hampden to find its roaring again

A fascinating subplot to Scotland’s crucial meeting with Slovakia next month relates to match venue. Hampden Park, once a venue afforded iconic status as Scotland conquered all before them, is now widely regarded as a relic the country can easily do without. The Scottish FA is known to be considering the abandonment of Hampden after it is used as a Euro 2020 venue. Three sides of the stadium are out of date, access is poor and acoustics similarly. The visit of Malta on Monday, while barely a marquee occasion, was against a horrendously flat backdrop. Such a scenario has become common. Conservatives will vehemently object to a Hampden exit. Players, too, might want to retain the appeal of their own nationals stadium rather than stimulating routine visits to Celtic Park, Ibrox, Tynecastle or Easter Road. The significance of the Slovakia tie entails a gripping atmosphere is to be hoped for. In its absence, a wider debate will ensue. Ewan Murray

* Match report: Scotland 2 Malta 0
* Strachan not astonished reversal of fortune

8) Salah takes Egypt to the verge of World Cup return

It has been a long, hard road back to football relevance for Egypt but they are tantalisingly close to a first World Cup appearance since 1990 and the identity of their inspiration is little astonish. Mohamed Salah has made a vibrant start to the season with Liverpool but, like the rest of his team-mates, was subdued during the course of its 1-0 defeat in Uganda last Thursday; that needed to be put right when the sides met again in Alexandria and he duly scored the win, his 30 th international aim in just 55 caps, six minutes in. But for the visiting goalkeeper Denis Onyango, Salah would have scored a couple more; “the worlds biggest” painting is that a home victory over Republic of the Congo next month, coupled with anything bar a Uganda win over Ghana, will volume them a place in Russia with a game to spare.

That is one of several tempting scenarios in a thrilling situate of African qualifiers that should, in many cases, go to the wire. Salah’s club-mate, Sadio Mane, appeared to have set Senegal in the driving seat of a wide-open Group D with a late aim in Burkina Faso, but the Stallions hit back to draw and are the best bet for a new African presence at next year’s tournament. Ivory Coast could hardly have expected the 2-1 home defeat to Gabon, three days after beating the same opponents 3-0 away, that has abruptly tightened up Group C. If Salah and Egypt keep their heads, they should at last banish such concerns to the past. NA

Mohamed Salah scored his 30 th objective in 55 caps for Egypt as they beat Uganda in Alexandria. Photo: Khaled Elfiqi/ EPA

9) Chile slowing up and in danger of crashing out

Chile’s hopes of a World Cup place hang by a thread and , not for the first time, the suppose occurs that a wonderful generation of players is collectively slowing up. If a 3-0 home defeat to Paraguay, perhaps not aided by the insulting deadline-day lunacy around Alexis Sanchez, was problematic then losing to an already-eliminated Bolivia on Tuesday night may have been a fatal jolt. They can describe comfort from the fact that Argentina and a dazzlingly in-form Peru play one another next, which entails a play-off place should not be impossible; the wider point is that a lot of the old energy is lack and that should be no astonish. Chile have played 51 full internationals since their elimination by Brazil at the 2014 World Cup; the Peruvians, to give one example, have played 40 in that time and perhaps a phenomenally successful core of footballers that have been together for a decade are starting to burn out. Sanchez is 28 and Arturo Vidal 30; there are plenty older than them and only two of the squad that vied this month were under 25. Under previous managers Marcelo Bielsa and Jorge Sampaoli they played at a ferocious tempo and that cannot be sustained eternally. There were a few signs of wear at the Confederations Cup, a tournament they should still have won, and with a younger generation slow in coming through you fear Chile is a possibility reaching the end of their natural cycle. NA

10) Iceland demonstrate they are no flash in the pan

Iceland stimulated plenty of friends following their qualification for France 2016 and their unlikely subsequent foray into the quarter-finals of the same tournament, but their progress- or absence of it- afterwards was always going to be interesting. Despite the deviation of co-manager Lars Lagerback after their adventures in France, the squad he left behind has maintained its excellent progress and sits joint top of what is arguably the toughest European qualification group for next year’s World Cup, behind Croatia on aim difference. With Turkey and Ukraine inhaling down the necks of both countries, Group I remains tight as a drum and Iceland may not qualify. Nevertheless, the fact that they are in an excellent position to win the group with two matches to go proves that a squad who would, as recently as four years ago, been considered cannon fodder are a genuine force to be reckoned with and should be treated as such for some time to come. BG

* Football, fire and ice: the inside story of Iceland’s remarkable rise

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Morocco to challenge North American joint bid to host 2026 World Cup

Morocco announced a last-minute challenge to the joint proposal of the United States, Mexico and Canada for the right to host the 2026 World Cup

Morocco has announced it will bid to host the 2026 World Cup, positioning itself as a last-minute challenger to the joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada.

The Moroccan football federation unveiled the bid on Friday with a brief two-sentence statement, corroborating it had submitted a formal application to the relevant Fifa committees. The announcement came hours before Fifas deadline for countries to confirm their intention to bid, and denies the North American bid an unopposed victory at the eleventh hour.

The US-Mexico-Canada bid, first reported by the Guardian and formally announced at an April news conference in New York City, remains the overwhelming favorite to win hosting rights for the 2026 tournament. A successful joint bid would mark the first time the Football world cup has been hosted by multiple countries since the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan.

Under the proposal, the US will host 60 games including every match from the quarter-finals onwards with Mexico and Canada dividing the remaining 20 fixtures equally. The United States previously hosted the Football world cup in 1994, and that 24 -team, 52 -match tournament still holds the attendance record( with nearly 3.6 million spectators ), despite a subsequent expansion of the format to 32 squads and 64 matches.

Mexico hosted the tournament in 1970 and 1986, while Canada hosted the womens World Cup in 2015.

In May, Fifa announced a four-stage bidding process for the 2026 tournament with a final decision in May 2020. It later confirmed that the previous two World Cup hosts, Europe and Asia, will not be eligible to host the tournament.

That left North Americas Concacaf( which last hosted in 1994 ), Africas CAF( which last hosted in 2010 ), South Americas Conmebol( Brazil in 2014) and Oceanias OFC( never ).

The CAF offered its backing to the Moroccan bid last month, and Morocco could spring an upset if it can broker an adequate voting confederation. Europe has 55 members in the Congress, Africa 54, Asia 46, Concacaf 35, Oceania 11 and South America 10.

Fifa will now inspect the two finalists bids and report to the governing bodys member associations by March. The final referendum will take place at the Fifa congress in June.

Weve always been prepared for the fact that other countries could also decide to bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a statement on Friday. Competition is good, and overall it shows the value and importance of the World Cup.

Over the next eight months weve got a lot of work to do.

The North American bid is bolstered by a fleet of gleaming new NFL stadia built over the past two decades that are suitable for international matches, which puts it in step with the cost-conscious, infrastructure-ready leanings of the day.

But Morocco, which would become only the second African nation to host a World Cup after South Africa in 2010, has six soccer stadiums with 45,000 seats or more already in use, meaning it would not require as much new construction as previous host nations.

The North African country with long coastlines along the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea previously bid for the Football world cup in 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010.

Two years ago, the Daily Telegraph reported that Morocco had, in fact, won the vote to host the 2010 competitor even though Fifa awarded the tournament to South Africa. Morocco also came close in its campaign for the 1998 tournament, losing to France in the final round by a margin of 12 to seven.

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