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Thursday Kickoff: FIFA presidency race tightens; Blatter leaves hospital; and more


The FIFA presidential election was narrowed to five candidates on Thursday.

The investigatory chamber of FIFA’s Ethics Committee carried out integrity checks on all candidates, and it was announced on Nov. 9 that Liberian football association chief Musa Bility was not eligible to run for the position.

Meanwhile, Prince Ali Al Hussein, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino and Tokyo Sexwale were all cleared and admitted to run.

“The Ad-hoc Electoral Committee did not admit the candidature of Musa Hassan Bility, in view of the content of the integrity check report relating to him,” a statement from FIFA reads. “For reasons of protection of personality rights, the Ad-hoc Electoral Committee – while it has explained its considerations in detail to Musa Hassan Bility – will not comment publicly on the specifics of its decision.”

Michel Platini was not named as one of the five candidates, but he could join the group should his ban from FIFA end before the election date of Feb. 26.

Here are some more news and notes:


Sepp Blatter’s stint at hospital was a short one.

Blatter, 79, was reportedly hospitalized in Switzerland last Thursday due to a stress-related issue. His spokesperson, Klaus Stoehlker, said he would likely leave Monday, but the outgoing FIFA president was released on Thursday instead.

“He had to stay a few days in hospital but now he is out, he is at home in (the canton of) Valais. He is very happy and he is relaxing a few days until the beginning of next week and then he will be back,” Stoehlker told Reuters TV. “He’s recovering very fast.”

Blatter is currently serving a 90-day suspension from FIFA.


Ilkay Gundogan may have signed a new contract with Borussia Dortmund over the summer, but one Italian team is reportedly keen on adding him this winter.

According to multiple outlets, including, Juventus is actively pursuing the signature of the 25-year-old German international during the upcoming winter transfer window.

Barcelona is also keeping tabs on the midfielder and wants to still add him, per According to Gazzetta dello Sport, BVB will reportedly not transfer their star player for anything less than $21.4-26.8 million (€20-25 million).

Meanwhile, the Italian side are also inquiring about the possibility of adding Ezequiel Lavezzi from Paris Saint-Germain. The 30-year-old winger’s contract will expire next summer.

After a successful 2014-15 campaign, Juventus has struggled to the start of this season. The club sits in seventh on the Serie A table after 12 games, and the dip in form can arguably be attributed to the midfield losses of Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo.


American businessmen Josh Harris and David Blitzer are looking to become majority shareholders of English Premier League side Crystal Palace. (REPORT)

French international Franck Ribery says he is close to returning for Bayern Munich. (REPORT)

English international Raheem Sterling has no regrets leaving Liverpool for Manchester City. (REPORT)

Hungarian goalkeeper Marton Fulop, 32, passed away on Thursday. (REPORT)


    • I think Lavezzi would be a solid fit in MLS. He hustles, and is pretty physical for a smaller player, plus he hasn’t played a lot for PSG relatively speaking, so he should have quite a bit of mileage left on those tires.


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