By JUSTIN FERGUSON
Former CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer will not be under the microscope of investigation for the rest of the year as FIFA has decided to hold off on its probe into allegations of financial corruption by the former American soccer official.
FIFA investigators have delayed their investigation for a year, citing “circumstances which made it advisable to provisionally suspend” the case. On Friday, FIFA Chief of Investigation Robert Torres was informed that Blazer would not be participating in any soccer-related activities for the rest of 2013.
In May, Blazer was suspended from all soccer-related activities for 90 days after a scathing report on corruption inside CONCACAF was released, accusing the American of embezzling millions of dollars while working as the federation’s general secretary. Blazer stepped down from his position on FIFA’s Executive Committee earlier this year, with current U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati taking his place.
Here are some more stories from this Soccer Saturday:
FABREGAS TO DECIDE ON MAN UNITED MOVE
After seeing two of their transfer bids get rejected by Barcelona during this transfer window, Manchester United have received a glimmer of hope in their efforts to sign midfielder Cesc Fabregas.
New Barcelona manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino told reporters on Friday that he is hopeful that the 26-year-old midfielder will stay at the club, but part of the decision on a move to Manchester United is up to Fabregas.
“I would prefer him to stay with us and I dare say he will, but it’s his decision,” Martino said after his side’s 8-0 friendly win over Brazilian side Santos. “He is one of the best players in the squad. I think he will stay. But there’s a part that he has to decide.”
Barcelona have been adamant in recent weeks that Fabregas would not leave the club, but Martino’s comments on Friday have given some hope to the defending English Premier League champions, who are reportedly willing to break their transfer record with a third bid for the Spanish midfielder.
The former Arsenal captain was rumored to be unhappy with Barcelona at the end of last season. Fabregas came off the bench to score twice and record an assist during Friday’s blowout win over Santos, the former home of new star signing Neymar.
ARSENAL DRAW WITH NAPOLI, MONACO SMASH SPURS
The EPL’s famous North London clubs took the field in separate, highly-anticipated friendlies on Saturday, and when all was said and done, the Gunners emerged as the happier of the two rivals.
Arsenal battled back from a two-goal halftime deficit and drew 2-2 with Serie A club Napoli in their Emirates Cup opener. Lorenzo Insigne and Goran Pandev put Rafa Benitez’s squad out in front, but the Gunners roared back with second-half goals from Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny.
The fans at Emirates Stadium booed the hosts as they left the field at the halftime whistle, but they rained down applause in the 72nd minute when Giroud’s bicycle kick goal gave Arsenal hope. Koscielny equalized with a header in the 86th minute, giving the Gunners a hope of reclaiming the preseason title in Sunday’s match against Galatasaray.
Meanwhile, in France, big money AS Monaco smashed Tottenham Hotspur by a score of 5-2. New signing Radamel Falcao registered two goals for Monaco, who were recently promoted to Ligue 1. Tottenham, who were missing star winger Gareth Bale, got two second-half goals from Harry Kane and Andros Townsend.
QPR, READING AND WIGAN OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON WITH WINS
The three clubs who were relegated from the English Premier League last season opened their campaigns in the country’s second division with victories on Saturday.
Defending FA Cup champions Wigan Athletic were the biggest winners of the Championship’s first Saturday of the season, thrashing 10-man Barnsley 4-0. Ben Watson, the hero of the Latics’ title victory over Manchester City, opened the scoring in the 35th minute and was joined in the second half by new signings Grant Holt and Leon Barnett.
Queens Park Rangers, largely considered the biggest disappointment of the last EPL season, scored twice in three minutes on Saturday in a 2-1 comeback victory over Sheffield Wednesday. Nedum Onuoha and Andrew Johnson both found the back of the net just before halftime for the hosts, who successfully held off Sheffield Wednesday despite some close calls involving defender Joey Barton.
Reading also came from behind in their Saturday victory, a 2-1 home win over Ipswich Town. Adam Le Fondre equalized in first half stoppage time for the hosts, and Danny Guthrie unleashed a fantastic 25-yard goal in the 75th minute to secure the three points for Reading. American Danny Williams played the final 23 minutes for Reading in his club debut.
Luis Suarez received applause from fans at Anfield when he came on as a substitute in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Olympiakos, which was captain Steven Gerrard’s testimonial match. (REPORT)
Barcelona kicked off their two-day “Peace Tour” in the Middle East on Saturday with a visit to Tel Aviv, Israel. (REPORT)
Joaquim Boadas, president of Spanish second division club Girona, claims that fellow Spanish side Xerez offered to let Girona win a match earlier this year for €120,000 ($159,000). (REPORT)
Third-tier Scottish side Forfar Athletic stunned former domestic powerhouse Rangers on Saturday with a 2-1 victory in the Scottish League Cup. (REPORT)
Fiorentina have confirmed the signing of Palermo midfielder Josip Ilicic. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Surprised to see FIFA delay the investigation? What are your thoughts on Blazer being away from all soccer activities for the rest of the year? Do Manchester United have a shot at Fabregas after Martino’s comments?
Share your thoughts below.