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We are here to develop football: Kaka, Figo



We are here to develop football

LAHORE: Football superstars Ricardo Kaka and Luis Figo have termed their first ever visit Pakistan as remarkable saying they were here to promote world’s largest playing game football.
Both the superstars arrived in Lahore on Thursday night to officially kick off the World Soccer  Stars series 2019 to be played in April. They first landed on Thursday at the Jinnah International Airport in  Karachi on a day-long visit via a chartered plane from the UAE and then proceeded to northeastern  Lahore city after a brief stay.
They met football-crazy fans on late Thursday evening at Packages Mall and assured them of promoting football in Pakistan. Two matches will be played between the two teams comprising former and current international stars and local footballers in Karachi and Lahore in April. Kaka and Figo will lead their respective teams. Kaka and Figo were attired in white sports shirts and caps and they were flashing victory signs as they were welcomed by the local officials and football fans at the airport.
Both the football legends were accorded warm welcome by the lively Lahorites. “We are here for football development. This country has a huge potential waiting to emerge into the international scene,”  Figo said. “I advise the youngsters, who want to pursue football as a career, to work hard to achieve your target. You must take advantage of this event,” he added.
When asked to comment on the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) decision to increase the number of teams from 32 to 48 for the next world cup, Figo said, “More teams mean more opportunities for football playing nations to participate in the World Cup. It will also generate more money for the development of the sport. But In terms of quality, I don’t know it is better or not, but let’s try first.”
Replying to the same question, Kaka said, “We have to try. It will work or not, we will see. More teams mean more money. I think it is a good opportunity for more countries to be part of the event.” The  Real Madrid stars are scheduled to train the young footballers, in addition to playing the two-match series, during their five-day stay in Karachi and Lahore.
The two legends have been brought by a UK-based player and event management company  that had also arranged the visit of Brazilian star Ronaldinho, his 2002 World Cup winning teammate,  Roberto Carlos, former French midfielder Robert Pires, France’s Nicolas Anelka, Portugal’s Luis  Boa Morte, Holland’s George Boateng, England’s David James and former Manchester  United player Ryan Giggs in 2017.


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UEFA probe Ronaldo for ‘improper conduct’ over ‘cojones’ goal celebration



UEFA probe Ronaldo for 'improper conduct' over 'cojones' goal celebration

MILAN: UEFA on Monday opened an investigation into Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal celebration after scoring a hat-trick in Juventus’ Champions League comeback win against Atletico Madrid last week.

European football’s governing body said Ronaldo was facing charges of “improper conduct” after he mimicked Diego Simeone’s crotch-grabbing ‘cojones’ gesture in last Tuesday’s 3-0 win that sent Juventus through 3-2 on aggregate.

After scoring the decisive penalty four minutes from time, Ronaldo turned towards the Atletico fans and replicated Simeone’s gesture after the Spaniards’ 2-0 first leg win by grasping his genitals and thrusting out his groin.

A decision will be taken by UEFA on March 21.

Juventus take on Dutch club Ajax in the Champions League quarter-finals over two legs, on April 10 in Amsterdam and April 16 in Turin.

Coach Massimiliano Allegri has said he is confident Ronaldo will not be fined or suspended.

“I think everyone celebrated their own way on the field and in the stands. I saw nothing strange, just a celebration. There won’t be a ban,” said Allegri.

Simeone was fined 20,000 euros ($22,000) by UEFA for his gesture.

“He will have seen how I did it at the Wanda Metropolitano and, like me, was trying to show his character,” said the Argentinian coach.

Five-time Champions League winner Ronaldo is the record goal scorer in the European competition with 124 goals in 160 matches.





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FIFA supports plan to increase number of teams for 2022 World Cup



FIFA supports plan to increase number

MOSCOW: FIFA moved a step closer on Friday to expanding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams and hopes to confirm the plans in June if a suitable co-host can be found.

An internal feasibility study supporting the expansion, which is being strongly pushed by president Gianni Infantino, was given full backing by the FIFA council in Miami.

A final decision will now be taken in Paris on June 6 after FIFA and Qatar jointly submit the names of potential co-host nations to the governing body’s Congress.

Infantino, who also confirmed a new Club World Cup with 24 teams will begin in 2021 to replace the Confederations Cup, told a press conference: “You have in front of you a happy FIFA president. I am always happy but especially today because we have taken some important decisions. We came to conclusion, yes it’s feasible to move from 32 to 48 teams at the World Cup provided certain conditions are met. We have the duty to look into it, 90 percent are in favour of an increase but it’s not as easy as that. We have to analyse matters carefully and we are working closely with Qatar.”

The move away from the traditional 32 teams which will see 80 matches instead of 64 — the notion was originally slated to come into effect for the 2026 tournament in North America — means one or more other countries will be asked to help Qatar stage the shortened 28-day event which is scheduled to kick off in November 2022.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and United Arab Emirates are all potential options yet rancorous diplomatic disputes has led to the tiny Gulf state being politically isolated from many of its former allies.

Europe boycott

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will need to end their diplomatic blockade of Qatar launched in 2017 if they want to be involved, FIFA’s feasibility study said.

“We know the situation in the Gulf region,” added Infantino. “We are in the lucky position of being in football, and that means you can only care about football. I was pleased with the reaction of the Qataris. We don’t want to regret not analysing the decision.”

Analysts expressed scepticism, however, that regional acrimony can be overcome to enable Infantino’s hoped-for expansion.

“The Gulf Crisis is not going to solved by playing football,” said James Dorsey, a researcher at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

“FIFA recognises that it is out of the question to share (matches) with (the) Qataris’ detractors, the Emiratis and Saudi Arabia. If you pull in Kuwait and Oman, it could aggravate the situation.”

The Qatari organising committee for the 2022 World Cup meanwhile gave a lukewarm response to Friday’s decision, saying organisers would continue planning for a 32-team event.

“We will work with FIFA to determine whether or not a viable operating model does exist and importantly, whether it is in the best interests for football and for the tournament, and for Qatar as the host nation,” a spokesman for Qatar 2022 said.

“Until we reach that conclusion, we will continue to work toward hosting a 32-team World Cup…”

FIFA, meanwhile, have been told that the leading European clubs will boycott a Club World Cup expanded to 24 teams in 2021 which was also given the go-ahead at the meeting in Florida.

A 17-page report distributed to the 37 members of FIFA’s ruling body calls for the new tournament to take place between June 17 and July 4 2021, replacing the Confederations Cup international tournament.

Infantino called the decision to move ahead with the plans an “important milestone for world football” and expects no problems moving forward.

“We should enjoy what is coming,” he said.

But the European Club Association (ECA) said leading European clubs would boycott the event.

An ECA spokesman said: “ECA clubs will not participate in the Club World Cup in 2021 and will assess participation in the Club World Cup in 2024.”

UEFA also confirmed Europe had voted against the new tournament at Friday’s meeting.

There was also confirmation from FIFA that the video assistant referee system (VAR) will be used at the women’s World Cup this summer.

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Three ex Greek football chiefs sentenced



ATHENS: Three former Greek football federation presidents received five year suspended prison sentences on Thursday for their part in a 13 million euros ($14.65 million) health fund scandal.
Two other men who had served on the federation’s board when the funds destined for free amateur player health checks were misused were also found guilty.
Former federation presidents Vasilis Gagatsis, Sophocles Pilavios, and Giorgos Girtzikis, as well as former board members Giorgos Sindoris and Giannis Oikonomidis, said they would appeal the verdict.
The scandal involved a health fund which was set up in 2005 but was never implemented despite the convicted men running the scheme until 2013 with a loss of around 13 million euros for the federation.


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