Evening Ticker: FIFA votes down age and term limits; Manaus pitch remains a concern; and more

Evening Ticker: FIFA votes down age and term limits; Manaus pitch remains a concern; and more

World Cup 2014

Evening Ticker: FIFA votes down age and term limits; Manaus pitch remains a concern; and more

SeppBlatterBrazilWorldCupPressConference1 (AP)By TIM FONTENAULT

FIFA’s 209 member countries voted Wednesday to turn down proposals that would have introduced age and term limits for officials in the sport.

Limits on age and terms are deemed essential by FIFA’s anit-corruption advisers to cleansing the scandal-ridden organization. The proposals were separate from each other, with the term limit seeming more likely to win.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter plans to seek a fifth term next May, when he will be 79 years old.

Here are some more stories from the day in soccer:

MANAUS PITCH REMAINS A CONCERN AHEAD OF ENGLAND-ITALY MATCH

Before the World Cup stadium in Manaus becomes the world’s most expensive bird toilet, there are four matches that need to be played there.

The first one is Saturday, when Group D giants England and Italy clash in their opening match. Problem is, the pitch does not look ready for a World Cup match.

“Frankly, Manaus is in bad shape,” said Carlos Botella, the head groundsman for the Royal Verd company, which is responsible for the turf at Manaus and six other World Cup stadiums.

Bad shape is an understatement, considering the streaks of dead grass all over the field. The stadium currently looks more like one that was closed for 50 years or was cheaply thrown together than one that is brand new and cost about $270 million to build.

The company has installed an emergency plan to try and prepare it for Saturday, “but I don’t think it’ll be in good condition,” Botella said.

England manager Roy Hodgson spoke out against Manaus as a World Cup location last summer because of the humidity. Manaus in the heart of the rainforest along the Amazon River.

“The maintenance has been complicated in Manaus,” Botella said. “There’re no roads, all the machinery and materials had to be brought by ship,” he said. “There’s no fertilizer, no seeds. Everything has been complicated.”

BLATTER IN FAVOR OF CHALLENGES

The Interplanetary Cup was not the only new concept the leader of the football world discussed on Wednesday.

At a meeting of FIFA’s Congress on Wednesday, Blatter suggested that managers should be able to challenge decisions made by referees, as they do in the National Football League and now Major League Baseball.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup will be the first to use goal-line technology, which had a successful debut in the Barclays Premier League this season. However, goal decisions are not the only thing Blatter wants to see corrected. He suggests that managers should get two challenges per match.

Blatter has previously said that goal-line technology would be the only camera review of play that he would support, making this announcement all the more surprising.

“I am hearing that comment tonight for the first time. … It would be a complete departure from what we have said so far,” said Stewart Regan, the Scotland Football Association chief executive who is an IFAB member. “There is a bit of thinking that needs to be done.”

LUKAKU BACK IN TRAINING

Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku is back in training ahead of the team’s World Cup opener next Tuesday against Algeria.

The 21-year-old striker, who scored 16 goals in 33 matches for Everton this season, suffered a right ankle sprain in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Tunisia.

Lukaku jogged with his teammates before doing balance exercises that focused on his ankles. He would have had the chance to test his ankle in a closed-door friendly against the United States on Thursday, but Belgium coach Marc Wilmots called the scrimmage off, citing traffic-related concerns in Sao Paolo.

What your thoughts on all this news? Should FIFA officials have term limits? Will we be distracted by the pitch at Manaus on Saturday? Do you support challenges? Do you think Mars can hang with Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar for 90 minutes?

Share your thoughts below.

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