Friday Kickoff: FIFA to decide on Qatar in 2014; Ronaldo to return for Madrid in UCL; and more

SeppBlatterFIFA1-CostadoSauipeBahia (AFP)

By DAN KARELL

FIFA has given itself 12 months to study the feasibility of moving the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from summer to the winter.

Following the final FIFA Executive Committee meeting of 2013, FIFA president Sepp Blatter told reporters what was discussed, including an updated timeline on a potential scheduling change for the Qatar World Cup. FIFA revealed that between next January and August, the world governing body will meet with their stakeholders, including the clubs who release players to the national team and FIFA’s business partners, before eventually making a presentation on their findings to the Executive Committee next December.

Blatter also urged Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to improve labor conditions in the country after numerous reports have come out about the poor conditions and life of documented and undocumented workers in Qatar.

In addition, Blatter told reporters that the Arena Corinthians, which suffered an accident that killed two workers, won’t be completed until mid-April at the earliest. The FIFA president expects the stadium to be finished by April 14 or 15. The Arena Corinthians is currently scheduled to host the opening match on June 12 and five other games during the World Cup.

“For the time being there is no Plan B,” Blatter told the AP.

Here are some more stories to start your Friday:

RONALDO TO RETURN ON TUESDAY

Cristiano Ronaldo will make his Real Madrid return ahead of schedule.

After it looked as though the Portuguese international would be held out Carlo Ancelotti until December 14, Ancelotti changed his mind and told reporters at a press conference on Friday that Ronaldo will suit up on Tuesday against FC Copenhagen in the UEFA Champions League. Ronaldo is ineligible for Madrid’s Copa Del Rey match on Saturday due to suspension.

“Ronaldo is fine, he is training, and he is going to play on Tuesday without any problems,” Ancelotti said.

The 28-year-old was forced off in Real Madrid’s 5-0 victory against Almeria with a hamstring injury and missed out on the last two matches. Even so, Ronaldo has been in the best form of his career, scoring 25 goals in all competitions. His 17 goals in La Liga are also the best in the league.

TOLUCA, CLUB LEON WIN FIRST LEG MATCHES AT HOME

Home field advantage has played tough so far in the Liga MX Liguilla, and it proved no different on Thursday evening.

Both Toluca and Club Leon took different paths to the final result but still pulled out wins in their first-leg matches against Club America and Santos Laguna, respectively.

Toluca overcame a 1-0 deficit at halftime to defeat the Clausura champions, 2-1, thanks to two strikes within six minutes in the second half from Isaac Brizuela and Edgar Benitez. Luis Gabriel Rey had originally put America in the lead in the 33rd minute but Toluca looked much more dangerous in front of goal, and America seemed to settle for the 2-1 defeat late in the game, knowing they could score even more when they return to Estadio Azteca for the second leg.

Meanwhile in Leon, the La Fiera scored three straight goals on their way to a 3-1 victory against Santos Laguna to tip the tide in their favor. Jose Juan Vasquez opened the scoring with a golazo from distance in the 35th minute and Carlos Peña scored a tap-in in the 43rd minute to double their advantage.

Leon substitute Franco Arizala scored his side’s third goal from a tight angle in the 70th minute but Santos gave themselves a chance heading into the second leg with Javier Orozco’s stoppage-time header.

ROBBEN, INIESTA, PIRLO LEAD WORLD XI MIDFIELDER SHORTLIST

World superstars Arjen Robben, Andres Iniesta, and Andrea Pirlo all headline the FIFPro World XI midfielders shortlist.

The trio are three of 15 midfielders shortlisted for the FIFA/FIFPro World XI award. Also included is Steven Gerrard, Yaya Toure, and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have three representatives each on the list.

The award will be announced on Jan. 13, 2014 in Zurich, Switzerland at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala.

QUICK KICKS

The FA, Premier League, and English Football League have asked clubs taking part in matches this weekend to hold a minute’s applause to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela. (REPORT)

A record $576 million has been set aside by FIFA to go to the nations taking part in the World Cup and all the clubs who are sending players to the tournament. The winners will receive $35 million. (REPORT)

Xabi Alonso will decide his future on whether he will extend his contract with Real Madrid or not very soon. (REPORT)

A decision regarding the introduction of goal-line technology in the top two leagues in Germany will come before the end of the season. (REPORT)

Schalke have swooped in to sign German international Sidney Sam next summer from Bayer Leverkusen for only €2.5 million. (REPORT)

Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata has played down rumors of a loan move to Arsenal, saying he’s happy at Madrid and has no desire to leave. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Think FIFA is smart to take their time on the Qatar scheduling change decision? Do you see the Arena Corinthians opening on time? Glad that Ronaldo is returning for Madrid’s UCL game?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in European Soccer, Featured, FIFA, South American Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Friday Kickoff: FIFA to decide on Qatar in 2014; Ronaldo to return for Madrid in UCL; and more

  1. Brett says:

    FIFA has to be the most incompetent athletic governing body in the world. Why could they not do feasibility studies DURING THE BIDDING PROCESS?! And as sad as it is for the workers’ families, it’s pathetic that the logistics falls apart on events awarded 8 years in advance? If a gre more stadia collapse they’ll have to move it here, I reckon.

  2. Patrick says:

    FIFA doing a study on something they already want to, and will make happen is laughable.

    • Jacknut says:

      You have it all wrong: The point of this study is to run out the clock. By this time next year, they will be able to say “Due to heavy logisitical challenges of changing the World Cup schedule, it will be impossible to move either the dates or the location of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”

      This is the equivalent of kicking the ball into the corner and then standing over it.

  3. wood chip zip says:

    feasibility study = how much more many is Qatar willing to pay to host? Lots of people will lose money if WC is moved to the winter

  4. WeatherManNX01 says:

    Not to be a pain in the butt, but I think there’s a typo in the lead paragraph.

    It should read, “FIFA have given themselves 12 months to accept more bribes before moving the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from summer to winter.”

  5. Travis says:

    FIFA had decided before they even awarded the WC that it was going to be moved to winter. There is no way they are so dumb that they thought it could work in summer

  6. ABC123 says:

    It’s all a huge bluff to find an alternative and scapegoat someone for rigging bids.

    Europe will never allow an entire season to be wiped out. It would domino into obscene amounts of money lost in club and country competitions. Sorry, not happening.

    Money talks–and UEFA has far more at stake than FIFA.

  7. Kevin_H says:

    Hey, SBI, Will you be providing Live Commentary for the draw today? That would be fantastic.

  8. Bird says:

    Bedoya just scored a goal vs Marseille. Timmy Chandler is playing well right now too for Nurnberg. Verbeek is helping that team.