World Cup draw cock-ups: dropouts, dropped balls and dresses

Dividing teams into groups for a football tournament should be easy but nothing is ever simple when Fifa is in charge By Richard Foster for The Agony and the Ecstasy of the Guardian Sport Network Gary Lineker has faced accusations of hypocrisy after condemning Fifa as a “revolting organisation” and then agreeing to co-host its World Cup draw in Moscow on Friday. Lineker is not the first person to have found participating in the ceremony an awkward experience. The practice of inviting celebrities began at the 1990 World Cup, when Luciano Pavarotti and Sophia Loren were among the famous faces onstage in Rome. Four years later, Franz Beckenbauer was joined in Las Vegas by Evander Holyfield and Robin Williams, who played the whole thing for laughs, pulling on a glove like an overly enthusiastic doctor and instructing Sepp Blatter to “turn your head to the side and cough”. Continue reading...

Concussion protocols at 2014 World Cup failed Fifa standards, study finds

Almost two-thirds of head collision incidents at the tournament were not followed by players being assessed on the sidelines by medical professionals Head collisions experienced by footballers during the 2014 World Cup were not tackled according to Fifa’s own standards, research has revealed. A team of doctors from Canada have found that after almost two-thirds of the head collision events that occurred during the tournament, the players involved did not receive an assessment on the sidelines by healthcare personnel. Continue reading...

Latest Russia allegations raise big questions for Fifa – and football | Sean Ingle

Fifa must deprive Russia from staging next year’s World Cup if possible doping offences by the country’s 2014 World Cup squad are found to be true Of course there were denials. There are always denials. It is part of the dance, the fast‑paced barynya, when it comes to Russia and doping allegations. No sooner had the Mail on Sunday revealed that the country’s entire 23-man squad for the 2014 World Cup was under investigation by Fifa for possible doping offences, than its deputy prime minister, and chairman of 2018 World Cup Russia, Vatily Mutko, put up the shutters. “There have never been and will never be any problems with doping in our football,” he said. “They have written some sort of nonsense.” He was similarly dismissive about allegations about doping in Russian athletics in 2013. So it goes. This, of course, is the same Mutko that a World Anti-Doping Continue reading "Latest Russia allegations raise big questions for Fifa – and football | Sean Ingle"

Uruguay continue their impressive run

Uruguay extended their unbeaten run to four matches with a 2-1 win over Ecuador despite missing a few key players. Uruguay took the lead when Coates scored from a corner 12 minutes into proceedings. Felipe Caicedo equalised shortly before half time but Uruguay didn’t waste time getting the lead back.They scored in the first-half stoppage […]

‘Open wound’ of 2014 World Cup drives Italy’s Conte

Lyon (AFP) – Italy’s Antonio Conte says the ‘open wound’ of their 2014 World Cup failure should inspire the Azzurri to success at Euro 2016 after their impressive 2-0 win over Belgium. Goals in either half from Emanuele Giaccherini and Graziano Pelle saw Italy floor much-fancied Belgium at the Stade de Lyon on Monday. Italy threw down a marker to show they plan to be a force to be reckoned with at these European championships finals. But Conte said the Azzurri’s failure at the 2014 World Cup, where an opening win over England, then defeats to Uruguay and Costa Rica sent them home after the group stages, must inspire Italy at Euro 2016. Italy’s head coach, who will leave to take over Chelsea after the finals, said their opening Group E win alone is not enough to make them favourites for the title in France. But he hopes the victory
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