Friday Kickoff: FIFA to decide on Qatar in 2014; Ronaldo to return for Madrid in UCL; and more

Friday Kickoff: FIFA to decide on Qatar in 2014; Ronaldo to return for Madrid in UCL; and more

South American Soccer

Friday Kickoff: FIFA to decide on Qatar in 2014; Ronaldo to return for Madrid in UCL; and more

SeppBlatterFIFA1-CostadoSauipeBahia (AFP)

By DAN KARELL

FIFA has given itself 12 months to study the feasibility of moving the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from summer to the winter.

Following the final FIFA Executive Committee meeting of 2013, FIFA president Sepp Blatter told reporters what was discussed, including an updated timeline on a potential scheduling change for the Qatar World Cup. FIFA revealed that between next January and August, the world governing body will meet with their stakeholders, including the clubs who release players to the national team and FIFA’s business partners, before eventually making a presentation on their findings to the Executive Committee next December.

Blatter also urged Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to improve labor conditions in the country after numerous reports have come out about the poor conditions and life of documented and undocumented workers in Qatar.

In addition, Blatter told reporters that the Arena Corinthians, which suffered an accident that killed two workers, won’t be completed until mid-April at the earliest. The FIFA president expects the stadium to be finished by April 14 or 15. The Arena Corinthians is currently scheduled to host the opening match on June 12 and five other games during the World Cup.

“For the time being there is no Plan B,” Blatter told the AP.

Here are some more stories to start your Friday:

RONALDO TO RETURN ON TUESDAY

Cristiano Ronaldo will make his Real Madrid return ahead of schedule.

After it looked as though the Portuguese international would be held out Carlo Ancelotti until December 14, Ancelotti changed his mind and told reporters at a press conference on Friday that Ronaldo will suit up on Tuesday against FC Copenhagen in the UEFA Champions League. Ronaldo is ineligible for Madrid’s Copa Del Rey match on Saturday due to suspension.

“Ronaldo is fine, he is training, and he is going to play on Tuesday without any problems,” Ancelotti said.

The 28-year-old was forced off in Real Madrid’s 5-0 victory against Almeria with a hamstring injury and missed out on the last two matches. Even so, Ronaldo has been in the best form of his career, scoring 25 goals in all competitions. His 17 goals in La Liga are also the best in the league.

TOLUCA, CLUB LEON WIN FIRST LEG MATCHES AT HOME

Home field advantage has played tough so far in the Liga MX Liguilla, and it proved no different on Thursday evening.

Both Toluca and Club Leon took different paths to the final result but still pulled out wins in their first-leg matches against Club America and Santos Laguna, respectively.

Toluca overcame a 1-0 deficit at halftime to defeat the Clausura champions, 2-1, thanks to two strikes within six minutes in the second half from Isaac Brizuela and Edgar Benitez. Luis Gabriel Rey had originally put America in the lead in the 33rd minute but Toluca looked much more dangerous in front of goal, and America seemed to settle for the 2-1 defeat late in the game, knowing they could score even more when they return to Estadio Azteca for the second leg.

Meanwhile in Leon, the La Fiera scored three straight goals on their way to a 3-1 victory against Santos Laguna to tip the tide in their favor. Jose Juan Vasquez opened the scoring with a golazo from distance in the 35th minute and Carlos Peña scored a tap-in in the 43rd minute to double their advantage.

Leon substitute Franco Arizala scored his side’s third goal from a tight angle in the 70th minute but Santos gave themselves a chance heading into the second leg with Javier Orozco’s stoppage-time header.

ROBBEN, INIESTA, PIRLO LEAD WORLD XI MIDFIELDER SHORTLIST

World superstars Arjen Robben, Andres Iniesta, and Andrea Pirlo all headline the FIFPro World XI midfielders shortlist.

The trio are three of 15 midfielders shortlisted for the FIFA/FIFPro World XI award. Also included is Steven Gerrard, Yaya Toure, and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have three representatives each on the list.

The award will be announced on Jan. 13, 2014 in Zurich, Switzerland at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala.

QUICK KICKS

The FA, Premier League, and English Football League have asked clubs taking part in matches this weekend to hold a minute’s applause to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela. (REPORT)

A record $576 million has been set aside by FIFA to go to the nations taking part in the World Cup and all the clubs who are sending players to the tournament. The winners will receive $35 million. (REPORT)

Xabi Alonso will decide his future on whether he will extend his contract with Real Madrid or not very soon. (REPORT)

A decision regarding the introduction of goal-line technology in the top two leagues in Germany will come before the end of the season. (REPORT)

Schalke have swooped in to sign German international Sidney Sam next summer from Bayer Leverkusen for only €2.5 million. (REPORT)

Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata has played down rumors of a loan move to Arsenal, saying he’s happy at Madrid and has no desire to leave. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Think FIFA is smart to take their time on the Qatar scheduling change decision? Do you see the Arena Corinthians opening on time? Glad that Ronaldo is returning for Madrid’s UCL game?

Share your thoughts below.

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