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28 Sport

SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2015

‘2022 World Cup stays on 32 teams’ n AFP, Zurich The 2022 World Cup will remain a 32 team competition with no change to the share between the regional confederations, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Saturday after talks between football chiefs. Europe and South America had feared an attempt to cut their places, but Blatter said: “there is no change.” The decision taken by FIFA’s executive committee means that Europe will still have 13 places at the Qatar tournament and Africa five. Asia and South America each get four places and a chance at a playoff. North and Central America get three places and a playoff chance while the Oceania winner enters a playoff. UEFA chief Michel Platini had said ahead of the meeting that remaining at 13 places was a “red line” for the European confederation. Prince Ali bin al Hussein, who challenged Blatter for the FIFA presidency, had proposed increasing the number of teams. But Blatter said that the World Cup should “not be touched.” The FIFA executive also “confirmed” that the same continent cannot hold the World Cup twice in a row, which definitively ruled out a Chinese bid for 2026. “In accordance with the FIFA Statutes ... member associations from the Asian Football Confederation would not be able to bid for 2026,” said a FIFA statement.l

FIFA President Sepp Blatter (C) is greeted by delegates after being re-elected following a vote to decide on the FIFA presidency in Zurich on Friday. Blatter won the FIFA presidency for a fifth time after his challenger Prince Ali bin al Hussein withdrew just before a scheduled second round AFP

Putin hails Blatter ‘professionalism’ n AFP, Moscow

Blatter slams US, Europe ‘hate’ campaign n AFP, Zurich

Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated FIFA boss Sepp Blatter on his re-election as head of football’s governing body, the Kremlin said Saturday, despite a high-profile corruption scandal rocking the game. “Putin expressed certainty that Blatter’s experience, professionalism and high level of authority will further allow him to spread the geographical reach and popularity of football,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, Russian news agencies reported. Putin - who is gearing up to host the next World Cup in 2018 - had lashed out at a US probe that saw top FIFA officials dramatically arrested ahead of the vote. l

FIFA leader Sepp Blatter said Saturday he was “shocked” at the way the US judiciary has targeted football’s world body and slammed what he called a “hate” campaign by Europe’s football leaders. In an interview with Swiss television, Blatter said he suspected the arrest of seven FIFA officials on Wednesday under a US anti-corruption warrant was an attempt to “interfere with the congress” at which he was elected Friday. Commenting on the fact that it came only two days before his election, he told RTS: “I am not certain, but it doesn’t smell good.” He also condemned comments on FIFA

made by US judiciary leaders including Attorney General Loretta Lynch.  “Of course I am shocked. I would never as FIFA president make comments about another organisation without being certain of what has happened.” Lynch said corruption in football was “rampant, systemic and deep-rooted, both abroad and here in the United States.” Blatter noted that the United States had lost the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, and England, another major critic, lost the 2018 World Cup to Russia. He said the United States was the “number one sponsor” of Jordan, where his challenger for the FIFA presidency Prince Ali bin al Hussein comes from.

Blatter also hit out at UEFA president Michel Platini, who had called for his resignation over the corruption scandals. “It is a hate that comes not just from a person at UEFA, it comes from the UEFA organisation that cannot understand that in 1998 I became president,” he added in the interview. Asked whether he would forgive Platini for the resignation calls, Blatter said “I forgive everyone but I do not forget.” Blatter won the FIFA presidency on Friday when his challenger Prince Ali withdrew after the first round of voting. The FIFA executive committee is to meet in Zurich on Saturday and Blatter was to speak at a press conference at about 0930 GMT.l

Khan calls out Mayweather after unanimous decision win

FIFA suspends Indonesia n AFP, Jakarta

n AFP, New York

FIFA on Saturday suspended Indonesia after the government in Jakarta sought to oust the country’s football association, the latest crisis to hit the sport in Indonesia. The decision means Indonesian sides will no longer be able to take part in world football, and comes less than two weeks before the country was due to begin qualifying matches for the 2018 World Cup. The national team will, however, still be able to participate in the football tournament at the Southeast Asian Games, which is just getting under way. The decision to suspend the association “resulted from the effective ‘take over’ of the activities of PSSI by the Indonesian authorities,” a FIFA spokesman said.l

Britain’s Amir Khan took a unanimous decision victory Friday over American Chris Algieri in a welterweight matchup, then called out unbeaten Floyd Mayweather for a world title showdown. Khan improved to 31-3 with his fifth victory in a row, which came by judges’ scores of 117-111, 117-111 and 115-113. Algieri fell to 20-2 with his second defeat in a row, the other coming last November at Macau at the hands of Filipino star Manny Pacquiao -- who lost to treble world champion Mayweather in boxing’s richest-ever megafight earlier this month.

“Amir Khan wants to fight Floyd Mayweather,” Khan screamed in the ring. “I want that next. I’m number one World Boxing Council (challenger). He’s the champion. So let’s make it happen.” That might be easier said than done. Khan thought he might fight Mayweather in May last year but the US star instead decided to fight Argentina’s Marcos Maidana. Khan kept Algieri at bay much of the night, the American landing a strong combination early in the eighth round but unable to connect often enough to claim victory. “He come to fight, wanted to win, had his home crowd, but I came here to win,” Khan said, adding he had to resort to “Plan B” to defeat the hometown hero.l


31 May, 2015