Thursday Kickoff: Platini won't run against Blatter; Rooney named England captain; and more

Thursday Kickoff: Platini won't run against Blatter; Rooney named England captain; and more

South American Soccer

Thursday Kickoff: Platini won't run against Blatter; Rooney named England captain; and more

MichelPlatiniUEFAPresidentFIFAWorldCup2014 (Getty) By DAN KARELL

There’s very little that stands in Sepp Blatter’s way to retaining his title as FIFA president. With Blatter ready to run again for his fifth term, UEFA president Michael Platini has decided not to campaign against Blatter in the upcoming FIFA presidential elections in January 2015, leaving Blatter likely to end up as the sole candidate in the election.

“This is the decision I have made. It is about what I want to do with UEFA,” Platini reportedly said. In the run up to his last election, Blatter claimed that his current term would be his last, but over the last 12 months, the Swiss-born politician has spoken about his desire to continue as FIFA president, to no one’s surprise.

Five of the six FIFA confederations have already pledged their support to Blatter, the lone confederation, UEFA, so far opposed. Blatter’s only expected competition for the election is Frenchman and former FIFA executive Jérôme Champagne, though he isn’t expected to pose a serious threat to Blatter’s re-election hopes.

Here’s some more stories to kick off your Thursday:

ROONEY HEADLINES ENGLAND SQUAD FOR UPCOMING MATCHES

The baton has been passed.

Following the international retirement of Frank Lampard, the captain’s armband for the England National Team has been awarded to Wayne Rooney, who is now captain for both club and country.

Rooney headlines a 22-man squad for a home friendly match against Norway and a UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland in Basel.

“To be named as England captain is a dream come true for me personally and of course my family,” Rooney said in a press release. “It is something that I will take massive pride in doing. As a kid I always loved watching a big England game on the television. Back then I had a burning ambition to play for my country. To be appointed captain is beyond my wildest dreams. I would obviously like to thank Roy and the coaching staff for having the belief and confidence in me to do the job.”

Hodgson has included a handful of youngsters in his squad, including Arsenal’s 19-year-old summer signing Calum Chambers, who earns his first senior call-up. Everton’s John Stones, Tottenham’s Danny Rose and Andros Townsend, and first call-ups have been extended to Newcastle’s Jack Colback and Aston Villa’s Fabian Delph as well.

BAYERN CLOSE TO SECOND SIGNING OF WEEK

The early season injury to Javi Martinez has forced Bayern Munich to become active late in the transfer market, and the German giants are closing in on their second signing of the week.

A day after completing the €26 million (plus €4 in add-ons) signing of former AS Roma defender Mehdi Benatia, Bayern confirmed that they have “agreed in principle” with Real Madrid to sign 32-year-old midfielder Xabi Alonso. Reports in Spain state that the transfer fee will be €10 million.

“We believe it is necessary [to sign Alonso] for our team, to meet the requirements of our fans and the club as a whole,” Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer said to Bayern’s website. “It was a purely sporting decision to help us immediately and raise our quality. Alonso’s constitution means he is capable of playing at the very highest level for at least another two years. We’re optimistic, and our squad will be in very, very good shape.”

Alonso announced his retirement from international soccer on Wednesday. He’s played twice for Real Madrid so far this season, in both legs of the Spanish Super Cup.

WENGER REJECTS SUGGESTION THAT HE NEEDS MORE STRIKERS

Don’t expect to see many new recruits to the Emirates Stadium in the final days of the summer transfer window.

Despite confirming that first-team forward Olivier Giroud would be out through the end of 2014 due to a fractured tibia, manager Arsene Wenger has ruled out bringing in any new forwards this summer, instead preferring to rely on new signing Alexis Sanchez and their plethora of other forward/winger hybrids to play the center forward position.

“You will ask me straight away who we will buy?” Wenger told reporters following the game. “At the moment, no one. We will look around but we want quality, and we have quality: we have [Yaya] Sanogo, [Lukas] Podolksi, [Joel] Campbell, Theo Walcott is coming back soon, and to find players better than we have will be very difficult now.”

Arsenal struggled in the first half against Everton last Saturday with Sanchez playing through the middle before Giroud entered the match, which completely changed the complexion of the game.

QUICK KICKS

Chelsea forward Diego Costa has suffered an injury in training, according to multiple reports in England. (REPORT)

Juventus CEO Giuseppe Marotta, who is already in Monaco for the UEFA Champions League draw, is set upon negotiating a deal with AS Monaco to bring Radamel Falcao to Italy on loan. (REPORT)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned to PSG training on Thursday for the first time since injuring an abdominal muscle on Aug. 16, and Ibrahimovic is optimistic to return to the field on Sunday against Saint-Etienne. (REPORT)

Boca Juniors head coach Carlos Bianchi has denied any suggestions that he will resign, after Boca lost their second consecutive 3-0 decision, this time to Estudiantes de la Plata. (REPORT) Wilfried Zaha is set to return to Crystal Palace on a season-long loan. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you see Blatter now having a clear path to be re-elected? Disappointed that Platini won’t run against Blatter? Do you like the England call-ups?

Share your thoughts below.

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