Top Stories

Tuesday Kickoff: World Cup stadiums still behind schedule; FIFA calls for tougher racism sanctions; and more

ArenaAmazoniaBrazil2 (Getty)


Despite a number of extensions from FIFA over the last 12 months for the completion of Brazil’s 12 World Cup stadiums, at least two are still behind schedule and likely won’t be finished by FIFA’s current deadline of the end of the year.

Stadiums in Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon, and Cuiaba, in Southwestern Brazil, are targeting finish dates in January. In Manaus, they’re fighting through the tropical rail season that sends bucketfuls of rain all day and night, which has delayed construction even more. FIFA mandates a minimum of eight stadiums in every World Cup hosting nation, but Brazil pushed for 12, a move that could backfire in spectacular fashion.

While the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro was finished in time, FIFA still don’t have an exact count of seats available for the World Cup, leaving fans in the dark over whether they actually have tickets or not. Worse, in Cuiaba, the local organizers don’t have enough hotels to handle the expected fans that will come visit the city.

Last summer during the Confederations Cup, the Brazilian public took to the streets, protesting the use of public money to build stadiums as opposed to social services, better hospitals, and better schools, among other things.

Here are some more stories to get your Tuesday started:


Following reports of alleged racist abuse from Real Betis fans towards their own players last Sunday, FIFA President Sepp Blatter says it’s time for tougher sanctions.

Last-placed Betis were rolled over by city rivals Sevilla, 4-0, on Sunday, with Brazilian defender Paulao sent off three minutes before halftime. The reports state that Paulao, who has dark skin, was racially abused by the visiting Betis support at the ground. Upon hearing the reports, Blatter took to Twitter to call for new racism sanctions.

“Sickened to learn of ‘fans’ racially abusing a Real Betis player,” Blatter tweeted on Tuesday. “I condemn their actions, which were seen on TV/online by millions. FIFA’s members approved a resolution at Congress in May to tackle discrimination. It’s time for tougher sanctions. I will say (it) again: It’s nonsense to fight racism with fines. This has to be tackled by all competition organizers.”

Currently, UEFA and each domestic league have their own racism protocols depending on where the match is played. In May, FIFA signed a resolution outlying the appropriate responses to those found guilty of committing racist abuse, either from the stands or on the pitch.

The resolution states: “For a first or a minor offense, the sanctions of a warning, a fine and/or the playing of a match behind closed doors shall be applied. For reoffenders or for serious incidents, sanctions such as point deductions, expulsion from a competition or relegation should be applied. Furthermore, any person (player, official, match official, etc.) who commits such an offense shall be suspended for at least five matches combined with a stadium ban.”


Laurent Blanc has only been the Paris Saint-Germain manager for four months, but according to reports in France, the club have seen enough to offer him a new contract.

According to a report in Le Parisien, Blanc is set to be offered a new two-year contract with a club option for another year on the condition that they win Ligue 1 in 2015. The report states that his salary could be around €6 million per season.

Since replacing Carlo Ancelotti this past summer, the former France National Team boss Blanc has led PSG to first-place in Ligue 1 with 34 points from 14 games and no losses so far to start the season in all competitions. PSG are currently in first place in their Champions League group as well.

The report cited the strong relationship between club President Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Blanc as another reason for the contract offer.


With Manchester City’s goalkeeping situation still up in the air, manager Manuel Pellegrini has identified his goalkeeper of choice that he’d like the club to sign next summer.

According to a report in Spanish publication Diario AS, Pelligrini would like to sign Real Madrid captain and current backup goalkeeper Iker Casillas next summer after the World Cup. The Man City boss was head coach of Casillas at Madrid for one season, and would like to bring him to the City of Manchester Stadium if the Spanish international decides he’d like to leave the only club he’s known.

Casillas, who so far has only played for Madrid this season in UEFA Champions League matches, could move away from the club as soon as January if he isn’t receiving regular playing time. However, if he does leave in January, it wouldn’t be to Man City, as Pelligrini has reiterated that Hart won’t be leaving the club on loan.


Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed the reports from Monday that Cristiano Ronaldo won’t suit up for the Spanish club in their Champions League match against Galatasaray due to a minor knock. (REPORT)

Everton left back Leighton Baines is set for a six-week spell on the sidelines after breaking his big toe in the Merseyside derby. (REPORT)

Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho says that he “wouldn’t have changed my choice (to join Liverpool) for anything in the world,” and admits that he’s settled in England very well. (REPORT)

Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany is still at least a week away from returning to the field, according to Pellegrini. (REPORT)

For the first time since the opening weeks of the season, AS Roma are not in first place as they finished in a frustrating scoreless draw against Cagliari at home. (REPORT)


What do you think of these reports? Do you see the World Cup stadium delays dragging into next year? Do you see FIFA coming out with tougher sanctions? Do you believe that Man City should sign Casillas next summer?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I can imagine construction would be difficult during “tropical rail season “. Railings falling from the sky day and night. At least they will have plenty of railings around for when they construct the stairs.

    Good lord – does anyone proofread any more?

    • Bradley has a steep hill to climb. Before he started in a game this season, Roma was 10-0-0. In his 2 starts, Roma tied (as well as in the most recent game when he did not start). It is hard to make a strong case based on that. I suspect he will not get a lot of starts unless/until one of the favored 3 midfielders gets a serious injury and Bradley makes a case for his inclusion with outstanding performances.

      • True, but those looking at the midfield will not see that.

        It does not bode well for Roma that their attack fizzles when their 37 year-old star is unable to play. Over the course of a full season, that may be the factor that will determine Roma’s success of failure.

  2. Am I the only one that laughs at FIFA’s “tough stance” on racism? It’s a joke, really. Given how long they have been talking about kicking racism out of soccer, shouldn’t there be some discernible progress at this point?

    To me, the answer is easy and the players have the power. If a team has repeatedly had instances of racism within their supporter group, players that are against racism shouldn’t sign a contract with that team.

    Finally, I will write what I always write in my comments on racism in football – COME PLAY IN MLS! Granted, some level of racism exits everywhere, but the kind of antics and taunts that are almost considered tolerable in other countries would not be allowed to continue here, in the way they are allowed to continue in other countries.

      • It is a fact that racism is virtually absent from American sporting events (maybe not NASCAR) compared to most other countries. It is true that there may be real racist undercurrents throughout some American sports (exploitation of black college athletes, names of certain football teams, etc.) but you don’t go to American sporting events and hear people chant like monkeys, throw bananas, and unapologetically give Nazi salutes. In contrast, you see these behaviors all over Europe, and not just in countries like Russia.

        I would also describe the various MLS fanbases as particularly tolerant/progressive for an American sports crowd. I have no doubt that if someone unfurled a racist sign or started a racist chant at an MLS match, the fans would self-police and throw him out before stadium security could. What would you get in Italy? 500 fans screaming hate speech.

      • Just out of interest Joe why do you think that Nascar fans would be possible rascists? or was it a joke.

        (note: I think nascar is terrible sport.)

      • Figured that why decided to ask instead of getting all grumpy and defensive of the midwest.

        We may be flat but people don’t see to mind that about surf boards.


      • You have to be kidding me Karl.

        Agreed Joe, come and play in MLS. I will 110% guarentee that doesn’t happen…and if I am wrong, 1000% chance it doesn’t happen twice.

  3. Maybe I am crazy, but I wonder if Blatter isn’t, relatively speaking, one of the better leaders of FIFA. Yes, there is an insane level of endemic corruption. But that preceded him. He actually has kept one eye on building up the commercial profile and competitive integrity of the game whereas Platini is always willing to sacrifice those things for short-term gains (Qatar vote; winter world cup; 40-team world cup).

    My two cents are that Blatter is pushing for a winter world cup in 2022 to make the whole thing untenable. Clubs revolt; Qatar becomes unworkable; move the World Cup somewhere else (England, Germany, France, or the USA would be the only nations capable of hosting on such short notice and, as runner up, you figure USA would get the nod).

    • There is no way that Qatar gets stripped of hosting. FIFA would be sued into bankruptcy.

      Apparently, I’m the only one who doesn’t get the racism rules. For first-time “offenders,” there is a fine or a closed-door match penalty. “Re-offenders” get harsher penalties.

      I’m not clear who the offenders are meant to be. To my mind, the offenders are the Betis fans, but they’re not the ones penalized — not really. So, which team gets the penalty here? Betis, since it’s their supporters who were guilty? Or Sevilla, because it was their stadium? Certainly, it’s hard to see why Betis should be penalized by something done by fans at an away game — unless you really think hitting their home team will control the behavior of the fans. That’s a dubious proposition. Sevilla is the team that should have taken action at the time, but they can’t prevent that behavior any more than Betis could have.

      The penalty should fall on the guilty fans. Their ticket — which is a license — should carry terms that would subject fans to fines, not just bans (which are hard to enforce).

      • Exactly.

        I can’t image it in Seattle, but if it happened, it would be solved. Immediately. A fine to the company ? Oh no, a rich owner lost money, racists will cease to exist now…and quit making jerks of themselves at a soccer game.

      • I don’t think anyone is suing FIFA into bankruptcy. I imagine that the contract has some sort of binding arbitration or mediation provisions and, even, if it doesn’t, my guess is that the choice of law provisions require Swiss or American law to govern the whole thing.

        FIFA will counterclaim Qatar lied about being able to meet the conditions of the bid (being capable of hosting a summer world cup). I wonder whether FIFA and Qatar have even signed an actual contract yet regarding the hosting of the tournament. The fact that the date is still up in the air suggests no. Moreover, the fact that so many things are still up in the air regarding Brazil suggests FIFA has considerable leeway to alter the terms of hosting agreements all the way through the tournament.

        FIFA has much, much greater liability potentially from its commercial partners for hosting a winter World Cup during the NFL season in the US. Fox and Telemundo paid the highest combined total for World Cup rights in the world. Now, those rights have probably been devalued by half or more.

        Besides, even if Qatar wins every single legal argument, they cannot prove any damages whatsoever. All FIFA has to do is show that pretty much every major sporting event on which countries spend billions of dollars loses money for the government. And Qatar was on track to spend even more and earn even less than the rest. FIFA could argue that, even with what Qatar has already spent, they are saving them billions (if FIFA were to make the move quickly enough).

  4. Wow, for once I agree with every word that comes out of Sepp Blatter’s mouth (or in this case, off his keyboard). At least there’s ONE thing in soccer he wants to toughen up on. Now, about corruption…

      • I disagreed with Blatter when he paid several other folks out the back door to vote for Qatar to get what he wanted while he looked good to the US….

      • Blatter is the most powerful man in sports. He doesn’t need to “look good” to anybody. If anything, it’s the other way around.

    • I will take the other side, it is the last Tuesday of the month so FIFA condems racism.
      …..see you next month.


Leave a Comment