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Sepp Blatter infers President Sarzoky influenced Qatar World Cup vote

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Sepp Blatter, the former president of FIFA, has opened up on the role of President Sarkozy and Michel Platini in awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Qatar was controversially awarded the hosting rights to the World Cup back in 2010, seeing off rival bids from the United States – who were expected to win – South Korea, Japan and Australia.

There were widespread allegations of vote-buying and corruption, but an independent investigation commissioned by FIFA found no evidence of wrongdoing.

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Nevertheless, Blatter was charged with fraud after making a £1.7m payment to Platini, which the pair disclosed as being a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’. Both were cleared in a Swiss court, though Blatter remains banned from all football activities.

Now, in his first interview since being acquitted, Blatter has opened up on the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar, the roles of ex-UEFA chief Platini and then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the immediate buying of fighter jets by Qatar from France and why he considers the decision made in 2010 to be “a mistake”.

“A week before the 2010 FIFA Congress, Michel Platini called me to say that our plan would not work. He was invited to the palace of President Sarkozy who had just had lunch with the Crown Prince of Qatar,” Blatter told Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

“Sarkozy told Platini: ‘Look what you and your UEFA colleagues can do for Qatar when the World Cup is awarded’.

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“‘Sepp, what would you do if your president asked you for something?’ I then told him that the question didn’t occur to me because we don’t have a president in Switzerland. It turned out exactly like this: thanks to Platini’s four votes, the World Cup went to Qatar rather than to the United States. That’s the truth.

“Of course it was also about money. Six months later, Qatar bought fighter jets from the French for 14.6 billion dollars.”

“The choice of Qatar was a mistake,” Blatter added. “At the time, we actually agreed in the executive committee that Russia should get the 2018 World Cup and the USA that of 2022. It would have been a gesture of peace if the two long-standing political opponents had hosted the World Cup one after the other.

“It’s too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that.”

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EPL

Chelsea sign Noni Madueke from PSV Eindhoven

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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.

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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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Listen now to Son of Chelsea, part of the 90min podcast network, as Daniel Childs reacts to Chelsea’s potential clear-out of unwanted players, a new contract for Levi Colwill, more info on Mykhailo Mudryk’s transfer and midfield January plans. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!



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FIFA

Juventus hit with huge Serie A points deduction

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Juventus have been hit with a 15-point deduction in Serie A that will immediately be applied to the league table, leaving the club closer to the relegation than the Champions League places.

The sanctions have been confirmed by the FIGC and relate to the capital gains investigation that had already seen mass resignations from the Juve board at the end of 2022.

Former Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici has also been banned from football for two and a half years, with ex-president Andrea Agnelli and Maurizio Arrivabene each banned for two years.

Federico Cherubini is banned for 16 months, while Pavel Nedved and six others have been hit with eight-month bans.

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Sampdoria, Pro Vercelli, Genoa, Parma, Pisa, Empoli, Novara and Pescara and their respective directors have all been acquitted over any involvement.

Juventus had struggled by their standards in the first half of the season, but after 18 games sat third. Napoli are well clear at the top, but at least qualifying for the Champions League again was not expected to be a problem for Massimiliano Allegri’s team.

Now, however, losing 15 points would push Juve into the bottom half of the table as it stands. They have finished fourth in Serie A in each of the last two seasons but no lower since 2010/11.

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USMNT announces 24-player roster for January camp

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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.

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“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. 

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Here’s the complete roster…

GOALKEEPERS (3):

DEFENDERS (8): 

MIDFIELDERS (6): 

FORWARDS (7): 



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