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FIFA unveils schedules Confederations Cup, World Cup

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On the eve of the Preliminary Draw in Saint Petersburg, the Organising Committee for the FIFA World Cup today unveiled the match schedules for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Russia, as the hosts, have been named as the A1 seeds for both competitions. Kick-off times will be confirmed at a later stage, fifa.com reports.

Chaired by Michel Platini, the organising committee also formally approved the procedures for the Preliminary Draw and the qualifiers in each of the six confederations, which have been developed and submitted by the respective confederations. The preliminary competition will span 32 months featuring 851 matches (between March 2015 and November 2017) until it is known who will join the Russian hosts in the 32-team line-up for the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup.

The fact that no fewer than 17 million fans watched the 820 matches of the 2014 qualifiers live in the stadiums highlights in an impressive manner how tremendous the outreach of the preliminary competition for the FIFA World Cup is.

The Handshake for Peace, a gesture of friendship and solidarity, will feature at all matches during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and final competition as part of the pre- and post-match protocol.

The Local Organising Committee, led by chairman VitalyMutko and CEO Alexey Sorokin, provided the organising committee with a comprehensive update on the status of the preparations for the two major football competitions to be staged in 2017 and 2018. The organising committee expressed its satisfaction with the progress made to date and thanked the LOC for the warm welcome and great preparations for the first official 2018 FIFA World Cup event, the Preliminary Draw.

To facilitate fans’ travel to and experience of the host country during the events, Russia has launched a comprehensive tourism portal (welcome2018.com).

The FIFA Confederations Cup, also known as the festival of champions, will be staged from 17 June to July 2, 2017, with eight teams competing for the trophy: Russia (hosts), Germany (reigning world champions), Asian Cup winners Australia, and Copa América champions Chile have already qualified. They will be joined by the CONCACAF representative, which will be decided for the first time by a play-off match between the Gold Cup champions of 2013 (USA) and 2015 (Jamaica or Mexico), as well as the winners of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2016, UEFA EURO 2016 and the OFC Nations Cup 2016. The draw will be staged in Kazan in November 2016”.

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Four arrests made as West Ham fans clash with police after Man Utd defeat

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Four people have been arrested after disorder in the West Ham section of Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.

The Hammers suffered a 1-0 defeat against Manchester United after a late Marcus Rashford goal.

Footage later surfaced showing disorder in the away end with West Ham investigating the reports of trouble.

And Greater Manchester Police confirmed to Sky Sports News that four arrests have been made, including a 33-year-old on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker.

A 21-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of drunk and disorderly behaviour, possession of cocaine and common assault.

A 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of throwing missiles and a 23-year-old man arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.

Greater Manchester Police added: “Two other men were detained and will be summonsed at a later date for football-related offences.”

West Ham felt hard done by after their narrow defeat, with some question marks over whether Rashford’s winner should have been ruled out for offside.

Speaking after the game, Hammers manager David Moyes said of the goal: ” I’ve not seen it again, by all accounts everyone seems to think it’s fine so we have to trust VAR that they’re getting decisions right.”

Discussing the game, he added: “I just see it as them having a strong squad. I didn’t think them bringing them on made it that much different,” he said.

“We defended well enough but we completely switched off, we didn’t do things you learn as a young player when trying to see games out.

“We had a good defensive organisation but we lacked what we’ve had in recent weeks, our attacking play wasn’t at the level. There was a lot of good things about it but the result is the key thing.

“I’m not coming to these games to roll over and lose, I’m really disappointed with the result but really pleased with how the players have performed.

“For long parts today I was pleased with them, defensively rather than our attacking play. We’ve moved up a level or two over the last year, I’m enjoying it but that result today was hard to take.”

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Pep Guardiola to be offered Holland job when he decides to leave Man City

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Pep Guardiola will be offered the chance to take Total Football back home when he decides to leave Manchester City – by becoming manager of Holland.

The KNVB (Dutch FA) have drawn up plans to convince the City boss that he should realise his dream of becoming an international coach with the Oranje once his Etihad reign comes to an end.

Guardiola, 51, has a contract with City that expires in the summer of 2023.

And the Premier League champions are hoping the Catalan can be persuaded to extend his stay in Manchester even further.

The Dutch sounded out Guardiola about his future plans before he signed a new two-year extension with City last August.

They were told that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss had unfinished business with the Blues.

But a future link-up was not discounted.

Guardiola is represented by his brother, Pere, who recently joined forces with influential Dutch agency SEG.

He has made no secret that he harbours an ambition to manage a top international nation.

And the prospect of taking charge of the country of his mentor Johan Cruyff would be tantalising given it was Holland’s brilliant team of the 1970s that introduced Total Football to the world.

Cruyff brought Guardiola through from Barcelona’s youth team to play as a deep-lying midfielder in the team that won the club’s first Champions League in 1992.

The late Dutchman’s influence on the City boss is so profound that Guardiola once said: “I knew nothing about football before knowing Cruyff.”

His coaching beliefs have been shaped by the Total Football philosophy that had Cruyff at its heart when Holland reached the 1974 World Cup final before losing to West Germany.

The KNVB turned to 70-year-old Louis van Gaal for a third time after sacking Frank de Boer in the summer following a disappointing Euros.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang provides update after return to Arsenal for heart tests

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has confirmed he’s “absolutely fine” after returning to London for health checks.

The Arsenal forward was away at AFCON with Gabon when he experienced some heart issues.

A scan revealed possible issues after Aubameyang tested positive for Covid 19 in the lead up to the tournament.

The Gunners recalled the 32-year-old, who is currently not being selected by Mikel Arteta following a disciplinary breach.

Aubameyang has taken to social media to share that he is “completely healthy” following further tests.

He said on Instagram : “Hi guys, I came back to London to do some additional checks, and I’m very happy to say that my heart is absolutely fine and I’m completely healthy!! Really appreciate all the messages over the last few days and I’m already back at it”

Gabon boss Patrice Neveu revealed that Arsenal were keen to get their player back once news of his possible issues broke.

He said, as quoted by Sky Sports : “What I know is that they’ve been Covid free for the last 72 hours. We couldn’t arrange an MRI for them, and as a result they couldn’t train.

“It was really annoying for them to stay in their rooms. We made the decision yesterday with the President and under pressure from the clubs too, because they’re worried so that [Aubameyang] should go back to Arsenal and Mario [Lemina] back to Nice.”

Despite Mikel Arteta’s recent shunning of the forward, Neveu did admit that it was the club’s right to recall their player.

Aubameyang is currently out of the first team picture as his future remains up in the air.

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