FIFA Worried Over Russia’s Arrest Of Rights Activist

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino speaks during a press conference prior to the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino speaks during a press conference prior to the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup football tournament in Moscow. Photo: Alexander NEMENOV / AFP

 

FIFA said Wednesday they were “deeply concerned” about the detention in Russia of a rights campaigner that drew international condemnation ahead of the World Cup.

Oyub Titiyev was arrested in January on what campaigners believe are trumped up drug charges in the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya.

Titiyev headed the local Grozny office of the award-winning Russian rights organisation Memorial.

The predominantly Muslim republic has turned into a hornets nest of human rights abuses since strongman Ramzan Kadyrov’s rise to power in 2007.

Grozny was also selected as the base camp of World Cup qualifier Egypt.

“FIFA values the important work done by human rights defenders such as Mr. Titiyev,” the world football governing body said in a statement released to AFP.

“Even though we have no indication that the detention of Mr. Titiyev is linked to FIFA’s own operations or the 2018 FIFA World Cup, FIFA is deeply concerned about the situation of Mr. Titiyev.”

FIFA added that it was of “paramount importance that Mr. Titiyev is granted a fair trial in accordance with international standards.”

The statement was issued after Memorial publicised a letter about Titiyev and Egypt it had sent to FIFA boss Gianni Infantino last month.

It was co-signed by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International along with 11 other global rights groups.

“FIFA can make a difference and has a responsibility to do so,” said the letter.

“We call upon FIFA to engage with the Russian authorities on the human rights crisis in Chechnya, in particular on the attack against Titiyev and Memorial.”

FIFA said they had responded to the Memorial letter but did not indicate whether they had raised Chechnya and Titiyev’s case with any Russian officials.

The letter from Memorial said it was concerned “Kadyrov will seek to take advantage of the use of Grozny as a training camp location to boost his credibility and prestige.”

The decision by Egypt to be based in Grozny during the June 14 to July 15 football extravaganza was approved by FIFA a few weeks after Titiyev’s arrest.

Memorial is the last rights organisation to retain a visible presence in Chechnya while remaining critical of Kadyrov.

Its offices in Chechnya and the neighbouring Muslim republic of Ingushetia were also torched in the days following Titiyev’s arrest.

Memorial activists and others who worked in the region say these events are part of a decade-long battle waged by Kadyrov against rights groups.

Such organisations have significantly scaled down their presence in Chechnya since Titiyev’s predecessor Natalia Estemirova was kidnapped and murdered in 2009.

The United States placed Kadyrov on a blacklist of “gross violators of human rights in Russia” in December.

Kadyrov has brushed aside such criticism aside.

“As far as fundamental human rights are concerned, the situation in Chechnya is significantly better than the one in the US,” Russia’s RT news network quoted Kadyrov as saying last month.

AFP

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Blow for Argentina: Man United goalkeeper Sergio Romero out of World Cup

Sergio Romero out of the World Cup Argentina’s plans for the World Cup have been dealt a blow with the

Sergio Romero out of the World Cup

Argentina’s plans for the World Cup have been dealt a blow with the news that goalkeeper Sergio Romero will miss the tournament due to a knee injury.

The Manchester United second choice goalkeeper injured his right knee in training and has to undergo an operation so will therefore miss the World Cup.

Romero was expected to be Argentina’s first choice goalkeeper under Jorge Sampaoli in Russia 2018.

Argentina lose their first choice goalkeeper

The Manchester United custodian had hurt his knee during Argentina’s 6-1 loss to Spain in the last set of international friendlies.

Romero, who by all accounts was a very popular member of the Argentina squad, recovered and played for Manchester United in their final Premier League game of the season against Watford.

However, Romero picked up the injury in training on Tuesday and has been ruled out of the tournament by Argentina.

Leo Messi for Argentina

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – NOVEMBER 11: Lionel Messi of Argentina looks on during a match between Russia and Argentina International Friendly at Luzhniki Stadium on November 11, 2017 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)

Who will start in goal for Argentina at the World Cup?

In Romero’s place, Jorge Sampaoli called up Nahuel Guzmán, who had been on their original list of 35 but then ended up being left out the 23-man World Cup squad.

Guzman, a 32-year-old goalkeeper who plays for Tigres UANL in Mexico, has a chance of playing at the World Cup.

Also in the Argentina squad are Chelsea’s Willy Caballero and Franco Armani, the 31-year-old goalkeeper of River Plate.

Argentina get a little weaker…

Sergio Romero had played 94 times for Argentina and whilst so often second choice for his club, has been the number one national team goalkeeper for some time.

This feels like yet another blow for Sampaoli and Leo Messi, with Argentina’s supporting cast getting a little weaker so close to the tournament.

None of the reports in Argentina indicate how long Romero will be out for, from a Manchester United perspective.

Argentina confirm Sergio Romero injury on Twitter

Related: World Cup betting tips.

World Cup 2018: Group D preview & predictions.

New England captain Kane says “We can win the World Cup”

Captain Kane Tottenham striker Harry Kane was named as England’s captain for the upcoming World Cup on Tuesday morning. Gareth

Captain Kane

Tottenham striker Harry Kane was named as England’s captain for the upcoming World Cup on Tuesday morning.

Gareth Southgate chose Kane, who is not Tottenham’s captain, ahead of Jordan Henderson and Gary Cahill who do in fact captain their club sides.

Kane is yet to win a trophy in his professional career thus far and has just a league cup runners up medal to his name.

“I believe we can win it”

After being named England captain, Kane spoke to the BBC about the upcoming summer.

Kane said:

“It’s impossible not to dream about lifting the World Cup. It’s the biggest competition in the world,”

“I believe we can win it – anyone can. I cannot sit here and say we are not going to win it because we could do.

“It is my mindset and I want to win at everything I do. The players in the team want to as well. It is worth fighting for. I am sure we have all had dreams of lifting it and it is an opportunity for us.

“We are not favourites but you look at this season, no-one would have thought Liverpool getting to the Champions League final. You look at Manchester United back in the Sir Alex Ferguson days, they had a young team and dominated the Premier League for years to come.

“Being young is not an excuse – it could be a good thing. I believe we can and that is what we want to try and do. Anything else is not good enough.”

Kane will lead England out against Tunisia, Panama and Belgium in Group G but how far after that? Can England win their first World Cup since 1966?

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Barcelona break amazing FIFA World Cup record

Barcelona breaking international records too Barcelona had a fantastic season in La Liga and lost just one match throughout the

Barcelona breaking international records too

Barcelona had a fantastic season in La Liga and lost just one match throughout the 38 game campaign.

After winning the title, Barcelona have gone on to break another brilliant record.

The Catalan giants have become the first club ever to have at least one player in every group at the World Cup.

Group A

Suarez Chiellini

Luis Suarez of Uruguay and Giorgio Chiellini of Italy react after a clash during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Uruguay at Estadio das Dunas on June 24, 2014 in Natal, Brazil. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Barcelona will have one player representing them in Group A and that will be their star striker Luis Suarez.

The former Liverpool forward has a history of shocking the world. In 2010, Suarez denied Ghana a place in the semi finals of the World Cup when he saved a shot with his hands in the dying seconds of the match. In 2014, Suarez bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini (pictured above).

Group B

VALENCIA, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 26: Andres Iniesta of FC Barcelona competes for the ball with Geoffrey Kondogbia (L) and Martin Montoya of Valencia CF during the La Liga match between Valencia and Barcelona at Mestalla stadium on November 26, 2017 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Andres Iniesta may have played his last game for Barcelona but he won’t be the only man in Group B from La Blaugrana. Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets have all been named in the Spain squad alongside the man who scored the winning goal in 2010.

Group C

BARCELONA, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 09: Ousmane Dembele of Barcelona looks on after the La Liga match between Barcelona and Espanyol at Camp Nou on September 9, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

Ousmane Dembele and Samuel Umtiti have been named in France’s squad for this summer’s World Cup.

Dembele was named in the squad ahead of Alexandre Lacazette and Anthony Martial and therefore has a lot to prove.

Group D

Lionel Messi for Argentina

Lionel Messi of Argentina looks on during the Brazil Global Tour match between Brazil and Argentina at Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 9, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Barcelona have two players competing in Group D.

Ivan Rakitic will represent Croatia for the fifth time at an international tournament, his second World Cup.

Lionel Messi’s Argentina are also in Group D and the 30 year old knows that this could be his last chance to get his hands on the most desired trophy in football.

Group E

BARCELONA, SPAIN – JANUARY 08: New Barcelona signing Philippe Coutinho is unveiled at Camp Nou on January 8, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain. The Brazilian player signed from Liverpool, has agreed a deal with the Catalan club until 2023 season. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Barcelona have two players in the Brazil squad. Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho will both feature for the 5 time World Champions this summer in Russia.

Coutinho has finally settled into the Barcelona team and he is ready to light up the eyes of the nation once again.

Group F

Marc-Andre ter Stegen

BARCELONA, SPAIN – OCTOBER 18: Marc-Andre ter Stegen of FC Barcelona looks on during the UEFA Champions League group D match between FC Barcelona and Olympiakos Piraeus at Camp Nou on October 18, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Barca have just one player in Group F and that is their goalkeeper, Marc Andre Ter-Stegen. The German stopper may not be his country’s first choice in Russia but he certainly deserves to be especially considering Manuel Neuer hasn’t played for over 6 months.

Group G

BRUGGE, BELGIUM – NOVEMBER 14: Thomas Vermaelen of Belgium looks on during the international friendly match between Belgium and Japan held at Jan Breydel Stadium on November 14, 2017 in Brugge, Belgium. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

The only Barcelona player in group G is former Arsenal captain, Thomas Vermaelen.
The Belgian defender featured 20 times for Barca this season and played an important role in Barca’s unbeaten run as he took the place of the often injured Samuel Umtiti.

Group H

Yerry Mina

Yerry Mina of FC Barcelona plays the ball during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Getafe at Camp Nou on February 11, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

And the man who completes the list is Yerry Mina.

Barcelona signed the Colombian defender during the January transfer window and he makes sure that Barcelona have a player in every single group this summer.

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Super Eagles Urged To Win As Rivers Hold World Cup Seminar

  The Super Eagles have been charged to win the cup as they participate in the forthcoming FIFA World Cup

 

The Super Eagles have been charged to win the cup as they participate in the forthcoming FIFA World Cup which will be held in Russia.

This was made known on Tuesday when the River State Government in collaboration with the Sun Newspapers orgainsed the World Cup Seminar.

According to them, the aim of the event is to ensure that the Nigerian team is able to come back from Russia with the FIFA World Cup.

The Super Eagles were also challenged to return to the days of the 1994 World Cup when they were tagged as one of the world’s best and also ranked as no four by FIFA.

Present at the occasion were the President of the Nigerian Football  Federation, Amaju Pinnick, Governor of the State Nyesom Wike, Representative from the Minister of Sports, Mrs Esther Aluko, former Super Eagles Coach Adegboye Onigbinde, amongst others.

The event was held at Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital with the theme, “Ensuring Nigeria’s Success In 2018 FIFA World Cup”.

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Sampaoli on why Mauro Icardi was left out of Argentina’s World Cup squad

Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli has this evening discussed the reasoning behind Mauro Icardi’s omission from the Albiceleste’s World Cup squad.

Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli has this evening discussed the reasoning behind Mauro Icardi’s omission from the Albiceleste’s World Cup squad.

Russian showpiece

With the final fixtures from all of European football’s top leagues having been played out over the last couple of weekends, the attention of football fans the world over have now switched to international matters, with the World Cup set to begin in less than a month’s time.

As such, the management teams of all 32 countries travelling to Russia have begun whittling down the number of players whom they will depend on for international football’s biggest showpiece.

Missing out

The likes of England, Brazil, Germay and France named their finalised 23-man squad lists for next month over the last couple of days, with Spain and Belgium having followed suit this morning.

And the last of the countries viewed as genuine contenders to take the Jules Rimet trophy home in July this evening announced the panel of stars whom they will depend on in Russia.

Jorge Sampaoli’s Argentina squad, which is set to depend heavily on the firepower brought to the table by the Albiceleste’s rake of attacking talents, is showcased below, with the one glaring omission coming in the form of prolific Inter Milan hitman Mauro Icardi:

Prolific

Icardi, who notched 29 goals in Serie A this season on his way to joint-Capocannoniere honours with Lazio’s Ciro Immobile, is viewed by many as one of the finest centre-forward talents in world football, with his sensational return of 100 goals in 159 league outings for Inter Milan a testimony to this widespread opinion.

However, the 25-year-old’s behaviour off the pitch leaves a lot to be desired, with Icardi’s past misdemeanours having led to him being frozen out of international contention by numerous Argentina bosses over the last 6 years.

Explanation

Upon the announcement of the Albiceleste’s finalised World Cup panel earlier tonight, it was immediately assumed by many that a similar reasoning was no doubt behind Jorge Sampaoli’s decision to omit Icardi from his squad set to travel to Russia.

But, speaking in a press conference this evening, former Chile and Sevilla boss Sampaoli revealed that his squad selection was based more-so on choosing the players who best fit into the style of play of his side, rather than for their personalities:

‘We came to this list after long and meticulous analysis.’

‘The players I called up identify with our style of play as closely as possible. For example: I chose Ansaldi because he’s a full-back who can play on both sides.’

‘Icardi, Perotti, Papu Gomez and Lautaro Martinez won’t come to Russia with us, but they’re still good players, who could be in our attack.’

‘There’s also [Dario] Benedetto, for example, who helped us a lot in qualifying but is now injured.’

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Official: Argentina announce finalised World Cup squad – One glaring omission

The Argentine Football Association have this evening announced the country’s final 23-man squad set to travel to this summer’s World

The Argentine Football Association have this evening announced the country’s final 23-man squad set to travel to this summer’s World Cup.

Russian showpiece

With the final fixtures from all of European football’s top leagues having been played out over the last couple of weekends, the attention of football fans the world over have now switched to international matters, with the World Cup set to begin in Russia in less than a month’s time.

As such, the management teams of all 32 countries set to travel to Russia have begun whittling down the number of players whom they will depend on for international football’s biggest showpiece.

Missing out

The likes of England, Brazil, Germay and France named their finalised 23-man squad lists for next month over the last couple of days, with Spain and Belgium having followed suit this morning.

And the last of the countries viewed as genuine contenders to take the Jules Rimet trophy home in July have this evening announced the panel of stars whom they will depend on in Russia.

Jorge Sampaoli’s Argentina squad, which is set to depend heavily on the firepower brought to the table by the Albiceleste’s rake of attacking talents, is showcased below, with the one glaring omission coming in the form of prolific Inter Milan hitman Mauro Icardi:

Odds

Brazil are currently viewed as the favourites to emerge victorious in Russia by many outlets, ahead of Germany, Spain, France and Argentina.

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Russia Prepares For World Cup Drone Attack

  Russia will reportedly deploy jamming devices used in Syria and the war in Ukraine to defend World Cup stadiums

 

Russia will reportedly deploy jamming devices used in Syria and the war in Ukraine to defend World Cup stadiums against a drone attack.

The threat of terror has been a prime concern for organisers of the June 14 to July 15 football showpiece.

Russia has been hit by a string of suicide bombings since winning the right to host the world’s most-watched event in 2010.

Some have been blamed on militants from the North Caucasus with ties to the Islamic State group in Syria.

Russia’s military bases in the war-ravaged Middle East nation have also been targeted by deadly drone attacks this year.

The possibility of someone using the increasingly ubiquitous devices to drop a bomb on a stadium is one Russia’s defence ministry is not taking lightly.

Moscow’s RBK news site said army chief Valery Gerasimov issued orders in February to set up jamming stations outside the 12 stadiums that would make remotely operating a drone impossible.

A source in the Russian defence ministry told RBK that some of the units are still classified as top secret and only available to the FSB security service.

Others have reportedly been set up in Syria and spotted in east Ukraine by European monitors of the four-year conflict between Kiev forces and Russian-backed separatists.

“Drones are an effective way to deliver two or three kilogrammes (one or two pounds) of TNT, land them on a target and detonate them,” former anti-terror officer Alexei Filatov told RBK.

Russia has set up dozens of no-flight zones and other airspace restrictions for the coming months.

These cover not only the stadiums and 11 host cities but also training grounds and hotels that will be used by the 32 participating national teams.

The transportation ministry has identified 41 locations around which all types of flights — from drones to planes — are prohibited.

These stretch from anywhere between 500 meters (500 yards) and 10 kilometers (six miles).

But operating a drone will be illegal within around 100 kilometers of any of the 11 host cities.

Drone flights over Moscow are permanently banned.

Russian state media have been issuing regular reporters in recent months of state security services conducting raids that led to the capture of alleged terror masterminds.

President Vladimir Putin also took the unusual step in December of personally thanking US counterpart Donald Trump for providing intelligence that helped avert the bombing of a major cathedral in Saint Petersburg.

AFP

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Spain’s World Cup squad announced as three Chelsea stars miss out

Can Spain win the World Cup? Julen Lopetegui has named his 23 man squad that he will be taking to

Can Spain win the World Cup?

Julen Lopetegui has named his 23 man squad that he will be taking to Russia this summer with some surprise inclusions being named on the list.

Spain won the 2010 World Cup in dramatic fashion as Andres Iniesta scored a 116th minute winner against the Netherlands at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.

The Spanish national side then went on to win EURO 2012 two years later but have been below par ever since then.

Spain were knocked out in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and were beaten by Italy in the round of 16 at Euro 2016.

The Spain squad is filled to the brim with fantastic players but two Chelsea players will be upset that they have been left out.

The Spain squad

No Morata or Fabregas in Spain’s World Cup squad

Alvaro Morata and Cesc Fabregas both missed out on the Spain squad for this summer’s tournament despite playing key roles for both their club and country in the past.

Morata scored 3 goals at Euro 2016 and despite not winning over the Chelsea fans, he does have a pretty decent record in England as he has netted 15 goals in 47 matches.

Cesc Fabregas was the man who assisted Iniesta for “that” goal in the 2010 World Cup final but he has been left out of the squad.

Spain have some brilliant midfield players and Fabregas hasn’t played for the national side since June 2016.

Fabregas has represented his country on 110 occasions and was part of the most successful Spanish (and potentially European) side of all time from 2008-2012.

Unlucky Marcos Alonso

Marcos Alonso may be feel hard done by considering he was named in the PFA team of the year and won the Premier League title just last season.

As well as the FA Cup this past weekend. Alonso may have been a victim of the fact Spain’s midfield is so strong that they will not utilise wing backs in Russia.

Despite Arsenal’s relatively poor season, Nacho Monreal made the squad. He was fantastic for the Gunners throughout the campaign and even scored 6 goals.

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Radja Nainggolan left out of Roberto Martinez’s Belgium World Cup squad

Radja Nainggolan: Overlooked once again Radja Nainggolan is a firm fan’s favourite in Belgium. The Roma midfielder is renowned for

Radja Nainggolan: Overlooked once again

Radja Nainggolan is a firm fan’s favourite in Belgium. The Roma midfielder is renowned for his long range screamers and brilliant vision but once again, he will not be going to the World Cup.

The Belgian playmaker turned 30 earlier this month signalling the fact that this may have been his last chance to go to a World Cup.

Nainggolan has played over 200 games for Roma and is certainly one of their most important players, he even scored a brace against Liverpool in the Champions League semi final.

However, Roberto Martinez has left him out of his 23 man shortlist that he will be taking to Russia this summer.

Why isn’t Nainggolan in the squad?

Kristof Terreur was the journalist who broke the news to an English speaking audience and he explained on Twitter:

“Roberto Martínez considers Radja Nainggolan as a number 10, rather than a holding midfielder or a box-to-box. Belgium play in a 3-4-3 without a 10 and De Bruyne as a modern playmaker. Plus: manager not a fan of him smoking a fag from time to time.”

Nainggolan played just twice in Belgium’s record breaking World Cup qualification campaign. He was left out of Martinez’s squad for 7 out of the 10 qualification matches.

Belgium have a fantastic squad with brilliant midfield players. It is understandable that one would class Kevin De Bruyne as a better player than Nainggolan but to leave him out altogether is rather strange.

Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini is likely to be named in the squad ahead of the Serie A superstar which means that Nainggolan will not be able to add to his 30 caps this summer.

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