IOC casts doubt on push for biennial World Cup

The International Olympic Committee has questioned the merits of a World Cup every two years, and has called for a wider consultation with stakeholders.

In his role as FIFA’s chief of global football development, former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is heading the push for a World Cup every two years.

While FIFA says there is support for the plan among fans, albeit a small sample size, the proposal has met with widespread criticism from many figures in the game.

World Cup Qualification UEFA

Elanga subjected to alleged racist abuse, Swedish FA says

13/10/2021 AT 15:06

The member associations are set to vote on the proposals in December, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino travelling the globe to press for support.

The IOC has now entered the debate, saying the proposal would have a negative impact on other sports – and suggested a men’s World Cup every two years would harm the push for equality in sport.

“A number of international federations of other sports, national football federations, clubs, players, player associations and coaches have expressed strong reservations and concerns regarding the plans to generate more revenue for FIFA,” the IOC’s executive board said in a statement.

“The IOC shares these concerns and supports the calls of stakeholders of football, international sports federations and major event organisers for a wider consultation, including with athletes’ representatives, which has obviously not taken place.”

World Cup Qualification UEFA

FIFA analysing England-Hungary report after arrests include ‘racially aggravated’ offence

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World Cup Qualification UEFA

Southgate explains Grealish sub as Lineker surprised by decision

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Elanga subjected to alleged racist abuse, Swedish FA says

Manchester United defender Anthony Elanga was subjected to alleged racist abuse by an opponent while on international duty, the Swedish FA has said.

Elanga joined up with the Sweden Under-21 side for a clash with Italy in European Under-21 Championship qualification action on Tuesday.

The game ended 1-1, after which Sweden issued a statement alleging racist abuse.

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“In connection with the Under-21 national team’s European Championship qualifier against Italy in Monza on Tuesday, Anthony Elanga has stated after the match that he has been subjected to a racist comment from an opponent in the Italian Under-21 national team,” read the statement from the Swedish FA.

Sweden Under-21s coach Claes Eriksson said: “We have told our version of what happened and have submitted an oral report to both the referees and the match delegates.

“We are now waiting for feedback through the match report and the referee report. Once they have arrived, we decide how to proceed. Safety manager Martin Fredman is also informed of what has happened.

“No one should have to be exposed to racism, it is completely unacceptable. We all stand behind and support Anthony in this.”

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FIFA analysing England-Hungary report after arrests include ‘racially aggravated' offence

FIFA will analyse the match report between England and Hungary at Wembley before deciding on the appropriate action after several away fans were arrested on Tuesday night.

England’s 1-1 draw with Hungary was marred by the travelling support’s clashes with police, which came after one fan was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence following comments made towards a steward.

The Metropolitan Police said another two spectators were arrested on suspicion of affray and assault on an emergency worker inside the stadium, while further arrests followed outside the stadium – one for affray, one for drunk and disorderly behaviour, and one on suspicion of voyeurism.

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The English FA will conduct its own investigation and also reported the incident to FIFA, with football’s world governing body confirming it will look at the match report, as well as that of the Albania-Poland game which was temporarily suspended after bottles were aimed at the visiting players celebrating what proved to be the winner in Tirana.

“FIFA is currently analysing reports of last night’s FIFA World Cup qualifier matches in order to determine the most appropriate action,” a FIFA statement read.

Bottles were thrown after Poland scored what proved to be the winning goal in Albania

Image credit: Getty Images

“FIFA strongly condemns the incidents at England v. Hungary and Albania v. Poland and would like to state that its position remains firm and resolute in rejecting any form of violence as well as any form of discrimination or abuse.

“FIFA has a very clear zero-tolerance stance against such abhorrent behaviour in football.”

ITV’s footage at Wembley showed Hungarian supporters throwing punches at police, who retreated down the stairwell.

Hungary fans also jeered England players for taking the knee, with a banner opposing the gesture also visible in the away section.

The incident comes after Hungary were handed a two-game home stadium ban, with one of those matches suspended, after supporters racially abused Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham in the reverse fixture last month.

Hungary were also fined £158,000, having already been ordered to play their next three UEFA matches – one suspended – behind closed doors following discriminatory behaviour at Euro 2020.

When asked about Tuesday’s clashes, Hungary boss Marco Rossi said: “Just like I said before, I don’t want to comment on this situation.

“This is not my task and everything that I do say can be interpreted in a different way, so I prefer to make no comment.”

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World Cup Qualification UEFA

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Southgate explains Grealish sub as Lineker surprised by decision

Gareth Southgate admits his second-half substitutes did not have the desired effect after the England manager was criticised for taking Jack Grealish off in the 1-1 draw with Hungary.

England moved a step closer to automatically qualifying for next year’s World Cup, but were held to a draw at Wembley on Tuesday night when John Stones cancelled out Roland Sallai’s penalty.

Starting with a 4-3-3 and both Mason Mount and Phil Foden ahead of Declan Rice in midfield, Southgate opted to switch the system after the break, but after bringing Grealish off for Bukayo Saka and replacing Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling for Tammy Abraham and Jordan Henderson, England were unable to find a late winner.

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The decision to haul off Grealish in the 62nd minute in particular surprised supporters and pundits alike, with Gary Lineker calling the Manchester City forward “comfortably the best player on the pitch” and Ian Wright adding on ITV: “Jack Grealish, disappointing to see him go off because he was the one player who did have the spark.”

Explaining his decisions, Southgate said: “We wanted to try to get a spark. We’d struggled to create many clear chances and hoped freshness at that stage may have been able to produce that.

“We changed the system because we were a little open in counter-attacks and we had to solidify from that to start with. We hadn’t been opening them up with 4-3-3, and so with two 10s and wing-backs we wanted to try to pose them a different problem. But we didn’t create any more chances than we had been.”

Phil Foden of England during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between England and Hungary

Image credit: Getty Images

England controlled possession against Hungary, who scored with their only shot on target, and Southgate said he will have to think about the balance of the team after the experiment did not quite come off.

He added: “It was a disappointing performance. Full credit to Hungary, I thought they caused us a tactical problem. We weren’t fluid and I didn’t think we played at the level we needed to play.

“It’s difficult to pinpoint. We’ll go away and think of the balance of the team a little bit, but individually, we can do better as well and we made lots of simple mistakes with the ball.

“I think we have to accept that we dipped below our usual levels. That was a surprise, but it was a night where individually and collectively, we didn’t hit the heights we have been… We didn’t quite do enough to win the game.

“We didn’t create as much as we would have hoped, but we have to give Hungary credit to that. We lost a little bit of positional discipline at times so there’s a lot for us to reflect on and work on.”

England host Albania then travel to San Marino next month, knowing four points will be enough to finish top of Group I and reach Qatar.

World Cup Qualification UEFA

Hungary fans clash with police inside Wembley during England match

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World Cup Qualification UEFA

England held by Hungary in match marred by crowd trouble

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Kane insists ‘noise’ has not affected him, performances suggest otherwise – The Warm-Up

WEDNESDAY’S TOP STORIES

Kane is not in good form

The Warm-Up can’t work out whether Harry Kane sounded defiant or desperate after being hooked with 15 minutes to go of England’s disappointing 1-1 draw against Hungary on Tuesday night.

World Cup Qualification UEFA

Opinion: Kane must not let Spurs form affect his England performances

9 HOURS AGO

With the clock ticking and the Three Lions needing a goal, Gareth Southgate withdrew Kane. The England boss, it appears, felt he could not rely on his, well, usually reliable marksman to make the breakthrough.

His travails this season were brought up in a post-match interview. Kane, though, insists he is in good shape.

“I’m in a good place. Obviously I know there’s been a lot of talk about me,” began Kane.

He then went on to outline – defiantly or perhaps desperately – the fact that he has scored goals this season. Nine of them.

At the end of the day I’ve still got nine goals this season and I’m working as hard as I can for the team.

Sounds impressive enough nine goals. However, a little scrutiny of the calibre of opposition does Kane no favours. For Spurs he has scored three against NŠ Mura, two against Paços de Ferreira – in the group stage of the Europa Conference League and in qualifying for UEFA’s tertiary competition respectively – and one against Wolves in the League Cup. Zip in the Premier League, by the way. For England he has scored one each against Hungary, Poland and Andorra. Exalted these teams are not.

He continued again defiantly or perhaps desperately:

When the chances come, I’m confident I’ll put them away. At the end of the day, I’m my own biggest critic. I put the most pressure on myself to deliver and perform and play well. Obviously, [there has been] a lot of noise about me but every time I step on the field I give 110%.

He would, in the fairest analysis of his situation, add:

“[The] performances for club and country maybe just haven’t been there the last few weeks but as I said there is no need to panic. I’m confident in myself.”

He is struggling. And the above quotes are hardly a surgical self-analysis of where things have gone wrong. His struggles at domestic level have now clearly infiltrated his international form too. Something needs to change. However, if Kane’s career has been marked by one characteristic, it is remarkable resilience. Empirical evidence would suggest he will emerge from this slump.

Denmark qualify for World Cup with perfect record

Denmark’s record in qualifying for the World Cup reads:

Played 8
Won 8
Goals scored 27
Goals conceded 0 (!)
Points 24
Their latest win – a 1-0 success against Austria – saw them become the third team, after Qatar and Germany, to qualify for the World Cup. They top a Group F that also contains Scotland, Israel, Austria, Faroe Islands and Moldova. It is hardly a group of death but that is some record.

However, to have emerged from the trauma of seeing Christian Eriksen collapse on the pitch during their first Euro 2020 group game against Finland to reach the semi-final of that competition and then qualify for the World Cup with a perfect record is remarkable.

Kasper Hjulmand has constructed a side built around attacking verve – see Mikkel Damsgaard and Andreas Skov Olsen – that is underpinned by defensive solidity – see Simon Kjaer, Andreas Christensen and Kasper Schmeichel. Put simply, Denmark are a very good team.

Here is what captain and Ballon d’Or nominee Simon Kjaer said after the win:

“We built up a crew and a mentality that is incredibly healthy and we have been eager to improve all the time,” he told Kanal 5 after the match.

We share the best with each other and adding that to the quality we have, we can go a long way. We have come a long way already but we have only become hungrier.

One week preparation time for the World Cup

The World Cup in Qatar is problematic for a number of reasons.

The impacts it has had on the European calendar is at the lower end of said problematic reasons.

However, if a World Cup is going to sit slap bang in the middle of the European season, though, it may as well be done right. And releasing European players ONE WEEK before the start of the tournament is not right.

A document seen by L’Équipe that was sent out to its member associations by UEFA stated that players would only be available from November 14. The tournament runs from November 21 to December 18. Thus, there will potentially be domestic fixtures the weekend before the start of the World Cup.

If a World Cup is going to be plonked in the middle of the calendar then governing bodies should probably commit to it fully. The situation is far from ideal for a litany of reasons, but players and coaches should at least be afforded the requisite preparation time for a tournament that currently comes around once every four years.

This is a shambles.

IN THE CHANNELS

Literally in every channel. All over the pitch.

Spain U21s produced this all-pitch masterclass in their 3-0 success against Northern Ireland on Tuesday night.

RETRO CORNER

There are differing degrees of retro-ness in today’s retro corner as Barcelona have tweeted out the top 10 goals in the club’s history.

COMING UP

Chelsea – fresh from a late win against Leicester in WSL last weekend – take on Juventus in the Champions League. They drew their first match against Wolfsburg 3-3, and, of course, made the final of last year’s competition.

Andi Thomas will be here to take you through that and more tomorrow.

World Cup Qualification UEFA

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Opinion: Kane must not let Spurs form affect his England performances

There can’t be anyone left in English football unaware of Harry Kane’s underwhelming performances this season. Indeed, the 28-year-old has been the subject of much discussion for months – first it was his apparent desire to leave Tottenham Hotspur for Manchester City then it was his subsequent poor run of form.

For all that Kane has struggled to get going for Spurs, though, England has always been his comfort zone. The 28-year-old had only scored in the Europa Conference League at club level when he scored in three successive games against Hungary, Andorra and Poland in the September international break.

This is why the sight of Kane being hooked with England still level against Hungary with 15 minutes to go was so symbolic. The national team captain could have no complaints after producing so little in the 75 minutes he was on the pitch, but that Southgate thought his side would stand a better chance of winning the match with Kane substituted off was nonetheless notable.

World Cup Qualification UEFA

Who should be England’s centre forward depth option behind Kane?

YESTERDAY AT 07:30

Whether it’s for club or country, it’s clear something isn’t quite right with Kane. Outside observers can sometimes read too much into body language, but the 28-year-old has frequently looked disinterested, certainly detached, this season and he has now allowed this to creep into his international form too.

Of course, Gareth Southgate has plenty of attacking options to choose from. Tammy Abraham has revived his career since making the summer switch to Roma and looks to have climbed the England pecking order as a result – the 24-year-old was the one who replaced Kane against Hungary.

Ollie Watkins has also earned his place in the national team set-up with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Danny Ings also good options. This is before Mason Greenwood, arguably England’s best young attacker, and Ivan Toney, still uncapped, but catching the eye for Brentford, are even mentioned.

None of these options have the skill set of Kane, though. At the peak of his powers, the 28-year-old is the most accomplished all-round centre forward in the European game. He is much more than just a penalty box finisher. He is a final third conductor and Southgate recognises this, explaining why Kane plays almost every minute of every England game.

England have good centre forwards besides Kane, but they don’t have another one-man attacking hub. This is why it’s so important that the Tottenham striker rediscovers his best form before the 2022 World Cup. If Kane is still in this depression by the time England head to Qatar, Southgate will have to rethink his team’s attacking structure.

“I can’t talk about the club but I think he feels settled in our environment,” Southgate insisted before Tuesday’s match at Wembley, addressing a question on Kane’s recent form. One wonders if the England boss still believes Kane is “settled” for the national team after watching him toil against Hungary.

In isolation, Kane’s poor performance against Hungary is far from a reason to panic. Remarkably, this was the first time the 28-year-old has failed to find the back of the net in a qualifying fixture for a major tournament since September 2017 (against Slovakia), bringing to an end an incredible scoring run of finding the net in 15 consecutive such matches.

However, the sample size isn’t so small when also taking into account Kane’s less-than-impressive form for Tottenham this season. It’s clear the centre forward feels he has been left in no man’s land with regards to his club career, stuck between the past and what he hopes will be the future with another team, but he mustn’t allow that to affect his performances for England. His country needs him.

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Round-Up: Dykes strikes late as Scotland scrape past Faroe Islands

Scotland escaped a tougher-than-anticipated trip to the Faroe Islands with a nervy 1-0 victory thanks to Lyndon Dykes’ late winner.

Steve Clarke’s side had appeared set for a frustrating night against a side they had swept aside by a four-goal margin in the reverse fixture.

The hosts first squandered a string of first-half chances as Scotland struggled and the Faroe Islanders seemed likely to cling on for a point.

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Yet up Dykes popped in the dying embers of the contest to continue his fine international goalscoring form and keep Scotland on track for a play-off place in World Cup qualifying Group F.

Also in good goalscoring touch was Finland‘s Teemu Pukki, who went past the legendary Jari Litmanen as his nation’s all-time leading scorer during their win over Kazakhstan.

Pukki powered the Finns to a 2-0 away win at the Astana Arena in Nur-Sultan to overhaul arguably his country’s finest ever player.

Switzerland were the Vilnius villains as they put Lithuania to the sword with Breel Embolo twice on target in a 4-0 victory.

Group C’s other game on the night saw Northern Ireland‘s remote hopes of qualifying for Qatar 2022 ended by Bulgaria as a Todor Nedelev double secured a home victory.

There were mixed fortunes for the Caucasus nations as Azerbaijan were beaten by Serbia but Georgia felled Kosovo on the road.

Sweden moved clear of Spain at the top of Group B with Alexander Isak again on the scoresheet against a Greece side reduced to ten just before the full-time whistle.

The similar yellow and blue hues of Ukraine and Bosnia-Herzegovina could not be separated in Kyiv while one goal decided encounters between Denmark and Austria (1-0), Israel and Moldova (2-1), and Albania and Poland (0-1), which was paused during the second half after members of the crowd threw bottles on to the pitch.

In beating the Austrians, Denmark followed their southerly neighbours Germany in securing qualification for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Finally, Andorra completed the double over their fellow landlocked stragglers San Marino to secure the penultimate place in Group I.

Midfielder Marc Pujol scored his fourth goal in a more than 20-year international career to help his side to victory.

It marked the first occasion that the Pyrenean minnows have scored thrice in a game as Andorra secured a record win.

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Hungary fans clash with police inside Wembley during England match

There were clashes between police and Hungary fans at the World Cup qualifier inside Wembley Stadium.

There was an increased police presence in and around Wembley following the fan trouble that marred the Euro 2020 final between Italy and England in July, but trouble flared inside 10 minutes at Wembley

Away fans were seen clashing with first stewards and then police. Reports suggested that police were using their batons in an attempt to force fans back into their allotted area within the stadium before appearing to retreat to the concourse moments later.

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Police would confirm that trouble flared after they had tried to arrest a fan for a racially aggravated public order offence.

“Shortly after the start of tonight’s match at Wembley, officers entered the stand to arrest a spectator for a racially aggravated public order offence following comments made towards a steward,” said the Metropolitan Police in a statement.

“As the officers made the arrest, minor disorder broke out involving other spectators. Order was quickly restored and there have been no further incidents at this stage.”

The incident dominated the first 10 minutes of the match, and the FA said it had opened an investigation.

“We are aware of an incident in the away section during tonight’s Fifa 2022 World Cup Qualifier at Wembley Stadium. We will be investigating and will report the incident to FIFA.”

The incident follows Hungary being ordered to play two games behind closed doors by FIFA after England players suffered racist abuse in the reverse game.

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England v Hungary – Follow LIVE

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England held by Hungary in match marred by crowd trouble

England were held to a 1-1 draw by Hungary in a disappointing display at Wembley.

The early part of the match was marred by crowd trouble with Hungary fans clashing with police. Footage shown by broadcaster ITV appeared to show travelling Hungarian fans punching police, who used their batons in an attempt to force fans back into their allotted area within the stadium before appearing to retreat to the concourse moments later.

Police would confirm that trouble flared after they had tried to arrest a fan for a racially aggravated public order offence.

World Cup Qualification UEFA

Hungary fans clash with police inside Wembley during England match

2 HOURS AGO

Hungary took the lead after 24 minutes when Luke Shaw tried to flashily half-volley a clearance and only succeeded with catching Loic Nego with a high boot giving Roland Sallai the chance from the penalty spot and he sent Jordan Pickford the wrong way.

The lead was deserved as the Magyars were the better side early on but England came back into the game towards the end of the half, increasingly threatening through set pieces, and John Stones guided home Phil Foden’s free kick eight minutes before the break.

The second half saw little improvement from the home side with Raheem Sterling missing the best chance after Harry Kane, in one of his few purposeful moments, set him free on goal, but the Manchester City forward shot straight at grounded goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi when it looked like he could go round or dink the ball over him.

England now lie three points clear of second-place Poland in Group I.

TALKING POINT – JUDE NOT FODEN RICE’S BEST PARTNER

It was worth the gamble but without the acres of room Andorra afforded Phil Foden to play in, he could not dominate the game spraying passes around the field. Gareth Southgate is right to look for creativity in this part of the field but the man to provide this, as he has shown ample times for his club and in brief glimpses for England, is Jude Bellingham.

Having been brought up playing in a deeper midfield role, he intuitively would give Declan Rice more support in this area when games, such as this one, were proving difficult.

Southgate has not wanted to overload Bellingham or Mason Greenwood, who himself could be in line for a key role if Harry Kane does not recover his form, but in the games prior to the World Cup next year the Borussia Dortmund midfielder will surely be given playing time.

Foden’s best role is likely to be in front of two midfielders and behind Harry Kane, but of course England have a number of players who will also put their hands up to play in this position.

MAN OF THE MATCH – JACK GREALISH (ENGLAND)

Up until he was brought off just after the hour mark, Jack Grealish was probably the best player on the pitch. It was by no means a classic performance, but with Harry Kane, Raheem Sterlling and Mason Mount looking a shadow of their summer presences, and Foden not impressive, the Manchester City talisman was very unlucky to be taken off.

He was the only dynamic presence in the England front four and it was his activity, frequently getting on the ball and giving team-mates options, which got the home side back into the game towards the end of the first half. Indeed he was brought down for the free kick from which England scored.

PLAYER RATINGS

England: Pickford 6; Walker 5, Stones 7, Mings 7, Shaw 6; Rice 6, Foden 6; Sterling 5, Mount 5, Grealish 7*; Kane 5.

Subs: Saka 5, Abraham 5, Henderson 6, Watkins 6.

Hungary: Gulacsi 7; Kecskes 6, Szalai 6, Lang 6; Nego 7, A Nagy 6, Schafer 6, Z Nagy 6; Schon 6, Szoboszlai 7; Sallai 6.

Subs: Holdender 5, Vecsei 6, Hahn 6, Nikolic 6, Bolla 6.

KEY MOMENTS

23′ Shaw gets a yellow card for a high boot on Nego. Is it a penalty? It was right on the edge. We are checking now – it is a penalty!

24′ GOAL FOR HUNGARY! Sallai sends Pickford the wrong way. You can’t say this was totally against the run of play either.

37′ GOAL FOR ENGLAND! Foden’s free kick is flicked on inadvertently at the near post and Stones arrives at the back to send England level with his left foot from close range.

KEY STAT

World Cup Qualification UEFA

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