By DAN KARELL
Many around the globe think otherwise, but Hassan al-Thawadi asserts that Qatar is the “right place” to host the 2022 World Cup.
The World Cup in question has been dominating the headlines recently as FIFA’s very own president Sepp Blatter admitted that awarding Qatar the tournament in the summer may have been a mistake. However, al-Thawadi, the secretary general of the local organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup, insists that the World Cup isn’t going anywhere else.
“[Qatar] is the right place, the Middle East is the right place,” al-Thawadi told BBC Sport. “We are representing the Middle East, it is a Middle Eastern World Cup, so it is the right place. The Middle East deserves to host a major tournament.”
Many have called for the World Cup to be awarded to another country instead of moving it to winter, which seems to be the goal of FIFA itself.
Here are some more stories to get your Friday started:
TOTTI TO SIGN EXTENSION THROUGH THE AGE OF 40
Don’t worry, AS Roma fans. The heart and soul of the club isn’t ready to retire just yet.
Still going strong at age 36, reports in Italy suggest that Totti has agreed verbally one final contract with Roma, one that will take his playing career through the age of 40 in 2016. The Gazzetta Dello Sport in Italy reports that he’ll be earning around €3.2 million ($4.25 million) per season.
The contract will reportedly be finalized next week, as the club are waiting for president James Palotta to arrive in the Italian capital from his home base in Boston, Massachusetts. When the contract ends, the reports indicate that Totti will become a club ambassador, or feature in a similar role for the backroom staff.
Last season, Totti improved his numbers from the year before, leading the team with 12 assists and scoring 12 goals as well in the domestic league. Already in two Serie A matches this season, the former Italy international has two assists.
BALE SET TO MAKE REAL MADRID DEBUT
Though he’s admitted he’s not at full fitness just yet, Gareth Bale is set to be thrown into the fire by Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti on Saturday against Villarreal.
Ancelotti didn’t reveal whether Bale would or wouldn’t start, but the Italian boss did say that the Wales international would play on the right side of the field, allowing him to cut in with his powerful left foot.
“Bale will travel to Villarreal and will play,” Ancelotti said to The Guardian. “I’m not sure if he will start or come off from the bench.”
After the long-running transfer saga finally ended just before the end of the summer transfer window, Bale received his first bit of playing time on Tuesday for Wales, coming off the bench and playing 32 minutes in his side’s 3-0 loss in Cardiff.
CASILLAS TO PLAY IN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Despite the departure of Jose Mourinho from Real Madrid, club and Spain captain Iker Casillas still doesn’t have his old place between the pipes.
In addition to his comments on Bale, Ancelotti spoke on Casillas and confirmed that even though Diego Lopez has earned the No. 1. role at the moment, Casillas will start the first UEFA Champions League match of the season next Tuesday at Galatasaray.
The 32-year-old goalkeeper has been forced to watch matches from the bench early on this season and hasn’t played a minute of competitive action, only taking part in Real Madrid’s preseason friendly matches in the U.S. and across Europe.
A number of reports in Spain have pointed out that by playing Casillas in a Champions League match, his potential departure from the club this season will be severely diminished because he’d be ineligible to play in the Champions League for another club.
Liverpool have done the August double in terms of Premier League monthly awards. Manager Brendan Rodgers earned the Manager of the Month and Daniel Sturridge was EPL Player of the Month. (REPORT)
FIFA has rejected a complaint from the Republic of Congo’s FA about a player on Niger that the Congo believed was ineligible to play. (REPORT)
Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor looks to be on the outside looking in at Spurs, and when he returns from a personal bereavement, he’ll be set to train with the U21 squad until Andre Villas-Boas decides he’s ready to return to the first team. (REPORT)
Police in the Czech Republic have charged 12 people suspected of match-fixing and illegal betting on soccer matches domestically. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Do you see Qatar holding onto the World Cup? Do you believe Totti can play at a high level through the age of 40? Do you see Bale starting this weekend?
Share your thoughts below.