FIFA have attempted to offer clarification as the confusion over stadium capacities at the World Cup continues to grow.
Ever since Qatar kicked off the competition against Ecuador last weekend, fans and commentators have been observing vast swathes of empty seats in stadiums during the majority of World Cup matches.
Many have been quick to attribute this to a lack of interest in a World Cup hosted by Qatar, a feeling which was exacerbated by fans leaving in droves at half-time in that opening fixture.
To clear things up, FIFA have issued a statement claiming that attendance has been around 94% since the tournament began.
“Official figures show that the average overall match attendance stands at an impressive 94 per cent compared to stadium capacities for the event,” a FIFA statement said.
“The highest match attendance of the tournament was the game at Lusail Stadium on 24 November, with 88,103 there to see Brazil beat Serbia 2-0.”
FIFA also attempted to clarify official attendance figures released throughout the competition, which have suggested that the number of attendees has exceeded the capacity of the various stadiums built to host the tournament.
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“Earlier in the week, FIFA also clarified the official capacities and tournament requirements for each of the eight stadiums,” the statement said.
“While FIFA requests that venues hosting the final match, opening game and semi-finals can host a minimum of 80,000 and 60,000 spectators respectively, the magnificent Lusail Stadium can accommodate 88,966 spectators, while Al Bayt Stadium can host up to 68,895 fans.
“For all other matches, a minimum 40,000-seater capacity is required, with the demountable Stadium 974 being the most compact of all Qatar 2022 venues (44,089).
“The capacity figures for the tournament have been finalised after all operational arrangements were made – from the final seating map to temporary infrastructure to accommodate media, broadcasters, and guests.
“It was also explained that capacities for specific matches such as opening and final may vary slightly, and that figures for legacy mode are different and provided by the Host Country.”
Chelsea sign Noni Madueke from PSV Eindhoven
Chelsea have confirmed the signing of England Under-21 winger Noni Madueke from Eredivisie club PSV Eindhoven as a busy January transfer window continues.
Madueke was born in north London and started his football career in the academies at Crystal Palace and Tottenham, before joining PSV at the age of 16. It was reported at the time that he had turned down offers of professional contracts at both Spurs and Manchester United.
The player has signed a seven and a half year contract at Stamford Bridge until 2030, with the option of an extra 12 months until 2031.
Madueke was 17 when he made his first-team debut for PSV in January 2020 and had been an important first-team for the club since the start of the 2020/21 season.
He is already Chelsea’s fifth new arrival of the winter window, following Benoit Badiashile, David Datro Fofana, Joao Felix and Mykhailo Mudryk to Stamford Bridge. The Blues have now signed 12 new players since Todd Boehly’s takeover in May 2022.
Madueke is also the second player to swap PSV for the Premier League this month following Liverpool’s recent capture of Netherlands forward Cody Gakpo.
Madueke represents another example of Chelsea’s long-term plan dubbed ‘Vision 2030’, which has seen the club actively target young players it is hoped will develop into future stars.
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USMNT announces 24-player roster for January camp
The U.S. men’s national team has named the 24-player roster for the upcoming January training camp, with 13 figures seeking their first full international cap.
The training camp will kick off on January 21, before the USMNT faces Serbia on January 25 at Banc of California Stadium and Colombia on January 28 at Dignity Health Sports Park.
As previously announced, assistant coach Anthony Hudson is set to lead the camp as fellow World Cup assistant B.J. Callaghan and Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team head coach Mikey Varas serve as assistant coaches.
“We are thrilled with the group of players we’ve been able to put together for this camp. The annual January Camp gives us a chance to look at some real high potential young players as well as some dual nationals we have been following,” Hudson said.
“The focus has been on identifying positions within our team that need more depth. We are also leaning on some of our veteran players for their experience on the field as well as to socialize the younger players into the incredible culture we have built within the squad. We know from history that many players who get their first national team opportunity in this window go on to make a World Cup roster, so we want them to make the most of it.”
Notable dual-nationality figures on the roster include FC Cincinnati’s Brandon Vazquez and Club America’s Alejandro Zendejas. The Liga MX player recently made headlines for representing the Mexican national team before completing FIFA’s one time switch.
The January camp is not during an official FIFA sanctioned window, giving teams the opportunity to not loan a certain player.
Here’s the complete roster…
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