Friday Kickoff: Blatter calls Qatar World Cup a mistake; Messi agrees to restructured Barca deal; and more

Friday Kickoff: Blatter calls Qatar World Cup a mistake; Messi agrees to restructured Barca deal; and more

Mexican Soccer

Friday Kickoff: Blatter calls Qatar World Cup a mistake; Messi agrees to restructured Barca deal; and more

SeppBlatterFIFA8 (Reuters)

By DAN KARELL

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has seemingly joined the public opposition against the 2022 World Cup taking place in Qatar, going as far to call it “a mistake.”

In an interview with Swiss TV channel RTS, Blatter admitted that Qatar shouldn’t have been voted to host the 2022 World Cup based on recommendations from the technical report, which raised concerns about players playing in extreme heat during the summer.

“Of course, it was a mistake. You know, one makes a lot of mistakes in life,” Blatter told RTS. “The technical report indicated clearly that it was too hot in summer, but despite that the executive committee decided with quite a big majority that the tournament would be in Qatar.”

Blatter decried political pressure from governmental leaders who were set to gain from Qatar receiving the World Cup to many nations voting for Qatar in the FIFA elections. Blatter referenced a meeting that former French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy had with the Emir of Qatar and FIFA Vice-President Michel Platini just prior to the vote.

The 78-year-old Blatter’s comments could be seen as a political ploy, coming just a year before FIFA will have presidential elections. Blatter recently said that he was willing to continue as president, despite promising in the 2011 elections that he would stand down in 2015.

Here are some more stories to start off your Friday:

MESSI AGREES TO RESTRUCTURED CONTRACT

With the 2013-2014 season winding down, Lionel Messi has reportedly once again become one of soccer’s biggest earners.

Barcelona announced on Friday morning that they’ve agreed with Messi and his representatives on a reworking of his current contract, which runs through 2018. According to reports in Spain, the new deal includes a release clause of 250 million euros ($343 million) and an improved yearly salary of 20 million euros (after taxes), up from 13 million euros. There will also reportedly be another 5 million euros available in performance-based incentives.

“FC Barcelona has reached an agreement to adjust the terms in the contract binding Leo Messi to the club as a professional first team player,” a statement from Barcelona read. “The revised and updated contract will be signed over the next few days.”

The reports state that the main talking points between the two sides in negotiations centered around Messi’s image rights, though it’s unknown exactly how that will be split up in this new contract. Barcelona began discussions with Messi’s representatives recently after finishing matters with Neymar and his controversial transfer to the Catalan club.

PACHUCA TAKE HUGE ADVANTAGE BACK HOME IN LIGA MX FINAL

After 90 minutes of the Liga MX Clausura final, Pachuca has grabbed control of the two-legged tie by the scruff of the neck.

With Club Leon gunning for a second consecutive Liga MX title, Pachuca stunned La Fiera at Estadio Leon with a 3-2 victory, taking three away goals back to Estadio Hidalgo for the second leg on Sunday. Enner Valencia led the way for Los Tuzos, extending his Clausura leading goal-tally to 18, while 41-year-old Oscar “El Conejo” Perez made a few tremendous saves in goal for Pachuca.

Mexican national team midfielder Carlos Peña gave the home crowd a reason to cheer with the opening goal in the 34th minute, but Valencia responded for Pachuca three minutes before halftime to tie up the score. Valencia scored again in the 61st minute via a header and 18-year-old forward Hirving Lozano scored in the 69th minute to put Pachuca up by two.

An own-goal by Pachuca cut the deficit to one in the 77th minute but Perez pulled off a couple of acrobatic saves to keep Pachuca in front.

QUICK KICKS

Manchester United are reportedly facing losses of $84 million this season after finishing in seventh place in the Premier League and not qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. (REPORT)

Celta Vigo boss Luis Enrique confirmed that he would be stepping down following the season, with strong rumors that he’ll be taking over at Barcelona ahead of next season. (REPORT)

No Brazilian clubs have qualified for the Copa Libertadores semifinals, with the final four consisting of Bolivia’s Bolivar, Argentina’s San Lorenzo, Uruguay’s Defensor Sporting, and Paraguay’s Nacional. (REPORT)

CSKA Moscow have retained the Russian Premier League title after beating city rivals Lokomotiv Moscow on the final day of the season. (REPORT)

Italian national team manager Cesare Prandelli admitted that he seriously considered recalling Francesco Totti into Italy’s World Cup preliminary squad before deciding to ultimately go with younger players. (REPORT)

Robin Van Persie will captain the Netherlands in their first pre-World Cup friendly on Saturday, with manager Louis Van Gaal telling a Dutch TV station that Van Persie must get fit. Van Persie missed two months late this season with a knee injury. (REPORT)

Tigres UANL star forward Alan Pulido is linked with a move to Olympiakos following the World Cup. (REPORT)

Former Mexican national team manager Javier Aguirre will be out of a job this summer, with Espanyol and Aguirre agreeing to a mutual termination of his contract. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you think Blatter’s comments are too little too late? What do you think of Messi’s latest deal? Impressed with Pachuca’s road form?

Share your thoughts below.

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