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Thursday Kickoff: World Cup, Chapecoense, Arsenal and more


FIFA’s president hopes for radical changes to the World Cup format, while one of the world’s top clubs is looking to reach out to a team in need.

Gianni Infantino is continuing to push for his “preferred” World Cup featuring 48 teams and 16 groups. (REPORT)

Barcelona has invited Chapecoense to play at the Camp Nou in August 2017 as the Spanish club looks to help with “institutional and sporting reconstruction” of the Brazilian side. (REPORT)

Arsene Wenger insists that Arsenal will not sell Alexis Sanchez or Mesut Ozil before their contract expires at the end of the 2017-18 season. (REPORT)

Britain’s metropolitan police┬áhas launched an investigation into sex abuse claims regarding several London teams. (REPORT)

Atletico Madrid defender Filipe Luis will miss time due to a thigh injury. (REPORT)

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish says that head coach Alan Pardew is “totally safe” despite the club’s rocky start. (REPORT)


Atlanta United is reportedly set to acquire defender Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew. (READ)

U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper Ethan Horvath is reportedly nearing a move to Club Brugge. (READ)

SBI asks: Which recently-announced expansion candidate would be best for MLS? (READ)

MLS will reportedly increase the amount of Targeted Allocation Money available to each team. (READ)

Midfielder Pedro Morales is set to leave the Vancouver Whitecaps. (READ)

Liam Ridgewell’s lawyer said the defender should not have been administered a field sobriety test. (READ)

LAFC has announced a multi-year partnership with the Orange County Blues. (READ)

SBI takes a look at how Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders reached MLS Cup. (READ)


  1. Infantino is somewhat of a tool if he really thinks it helps soccer around the world. But that what UEFA wants.

    Currently there is great pressure on FIFA to reduce the amount of European teams to qualify for the WC and allow those slots to be used for other confederations either as an outright slot or a shared one.

    Rather than upset the house odds, they are floating, through Infantino, the idea of expanding the whole Cup and ADDING more slots for Europe. When FIFA adopted the ranking standards, the did not make it known that those formulas, developed by UEFA statisticians, also favored UEFA. The are the “house odds” for UEFA. They are promulgated on a ranking system that is slanted, a drawing system that is slanted and many other tweaks, that look marginal but add up to having one confederation with extremely higher odds of getting its better teams to the semi’s than any other confederation in FIFA.

    If FIFA truly wants to make thing more equal and get more teams and more nations to the WC, they can take these steps:

    Reduce the amount of Euro teams to no more than 9 (currently there can be as many as 14 of the 32.

    Eliminates the confederation multiplier in the FIFA ranking formulas.

    Change the reduction of prior points on a seasonal basis as opposed to a year or date certain. Currently the amount of points a nation can get from a good run at the WC are limited to 2 years, but because of the difference in seasons, Europe manages to pack in high point tournaments when those games are worth more (in points) as opposed to other parts of the world, that due to season constraints, hold these tournaments later, when the points are worth less. This results in UEFA teams gaming the FIFA ranking system.

    A student statistician found out that if Wales, who were than ranked in the 80’s, stopped playing friendlies altogether, it would help their rankings.(it did) They then calculated that by winning a certain percent of home games and tying like 60 percent of away games the European Championship qualifiers they could qualify (they did) they even got a seed and at the end of Euro ’16 were ranked in the top 20 in the FIFA rankings.In only less than 20 months by playing only high value (in FIFA ranking points) in qualifying games they could game the system and get in a position to get better results.

    There is a move afoot, resisted by UEFA to scrap the seeding system for the WC that is based on the UEFA/FIFA ranking system. The expansion of teams proposed by UEFA/FIFA is kind of a diversion to keep the status quo, By putting in time to defeat this proposal, they will not fix how the system actually works

    • 14 is the number UEFA will send because Russia is the host.

      CONMEBOL also has the same confederation multiplier and because of the Copa Centenario has “gamed the system” in earning tournament points twice by holding two Copas.

      UEFA has had 26 WC Finalists, Conmebol 14, everyone else 0. The only non Euro and SA team to finish 3rd was the US in 1930, and the only 4th place finish was host S.Korea in 2002.

      Everyone tries to win home games and draw road games in qualification not just Wales, its the strategy to advance.

      Yes, 14 team UEFA teams seems high but would you rather see Netherlands in the World Cup or Trinidad and Tobago, or Portugal or Congo? Teams 7-14 in UEFA are better than teams 5-10 in CAF, AFC, or CONCACAF.

      • Johnny R – i am not trying to debunk your entire point, but the statistic of 26 UEFA and 14 Conbembol finalists is skewed because of a few teams. I don’t think that there is any doubt that the prior to every world cup you could bet that one or more of the following 4 will be in the final: Argentina, Brazil, Italy or Germany. In various generations, you could count on Uruguay, France, Spain or the Netherlands in the semi-final. With the exception of the Netherlands, each of those 8 has won, and 6 have won on home field. It is tough to reduce the impact of lets say Asia or Africa who have each hosted once and at one time had to compete in a federation qualifier for one spot. I think the more relevant stat would be round of 16 qualifiers since the WC went 32 teams. I think the results would still favor UEFA and Conmebol, but substantially less so, and it could still be viewed as being skewed because of the number of teams from each of those federations..

        That being said, I would rather see Netherlands in the WC than T&T, but I can’t say the same for Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Poland – as examples.

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