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Saudi Arabia to co-host 2030 World Cup with Italy

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Saudi Arabia is considering a joint bid for the 2030 World Cup with Italy, which is based over 2,000 miles away from the Gulf country, according to a report.

The bidding process for that edition of the biggest football tournament in the world is in its very early stages, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirming in March that the United Kingdom and Ireland want to ‘bring football home’ in the summer of 2030.

By that year, the World Cup will have expanded to 48 teams and 80 matches, meaning the tournament being held in more than one country is deemed as a more encouraging option for FIFA.

According to The Athletic, Saudi Arabia are teaming up with the US-based Boston Consultancy Group to explore a joint bid with several options, though Italy is the most likely candidate despite the huge distance between the nations.

The report says the Saudis have also been advised on a potential three-way hosting with Morocco and Egypt as part of a ‘MENA’ (Middle East and North Africa) bid, but the two other countries would need major infrastructure funding to host the World Cup.

Saudi Arabia’s influence on the sporting world has been growing in the past few years, after it watched neighbours Qatar win the hosting rights for next year’s World Cup. Critics have, however, repeatedly accused the Saudis of ‘sportswashing’ – spending huge money on hosting sporting events in a bid to boost the country’s reputation despite its poor record on human right.

Saudi Arabia has spent at least $1.5bn on high-profile international sporting events, according to report from human rights organisation Grant Liberty.

That includes hosting Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight boxing world title rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr in December 2019 as well as a European Tour golf tournament featuring many of the game’s biggest names – the Saudi International – and the Dakar Rally.

The Saudis also hosted a Formula One grand prix this year for the first time, while the country’s sovereign wealth fund – the Public Investment Fund – made a failed £300million takeover bid for Newcastle United last year.

The Premier League failed to approve the bid due to concerns over the links between the fund and the Saudi state, which had the deal gone through would effectively have meant that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the owner of the club.

The buying consortium insisted that the PIF was separate from the state and, as revealed by Sportsmail, Bin Salman was so enraged that he warned the Prime Minister on June 27 last year that Anglo-Saudi relations would be damaged unless the buyout was approved.

Bin Salman approved and probably ordered the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, according to a US intelligence report earlier this year.

Saudi Arabia and Italy have also joined forces in the sporting community in recent years, with the Gulf state hosting the last two Italian Super Cup finals – and will do so again this year.

Italy, who won this month’s Euro 2020 final by beating England in the final, also have the experience of hosting four major tournaments and while none of them have been in the last 30 years, they did host some of this summer’s European Championship matches.

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EPL: He left Man Utd before they kick him out – Henry, Evra react to Carrick’s resignation

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Former Premier League stars, Thierry Henry and Patrice Evra have reacted to Michael Carrick’s resignation as Manchester United first-team coach.

Carrick resigned after helping Man United beat Arsenal 3-2 in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Thursday night.

The game marked the conclusion of his spell as Man United caretaker manager following the appointment of Ralf Rangnick as the club’s interim manager.

But Henry was shocked by Carrick’s resignation, while Evra believes the former England midfielder left the club before he was forced out by Rangnick.

Henry told Prime Video: “I’m also shocked and surprised but you need to know when you bring in someone new, then he might bring people with him.

“I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, but when you employ someone who might want to work with people he’s used to working with, so I can understand that side of the argument.”

On his part, Evra added: “I agree with Thierry [Henry] where he leaves the club before they kick me out.

“Because if they don’t even speak with the new manager, it’s a strong sign we don’t want you here anymore. I respect his decision, he gets to spend time with his family.”

Carrick had been with Man United since his arrival from Tottenham Hotspur as a player back in 2006.

He played 464 games, winning five Premier League titles, the Champions League, one FA Cup among other pieces of silverware with Man United.

Following his retirement in 2018, Carrick joined the first team coaching staff at Old Trafford originally under Jose Mourinho.

He was kept on when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed as interim, then permanent manager of Manchester United.

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EPL: Highest goal scorers in Premier League so far [Top 24]

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Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah remains the top scorer in the Premier League after Week 14 games.

Salah is ahead of Leicester City’s striker, Jamie Vardy, on the Premier League goal chart.

The Egyptian has so far scored eleven Premier League goals for Liverpool this season.

The former Chelsea and AS Roma forward has four goals ahead of Vardy.

Premier League top scorers after match-day 14:

13 goals: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool).

9 goals: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City).

8 goals: Diogo Jota (Liverpool).

7 goals: Sadio Mane (Liverpool).

6 goals: Michail Antonio (West Ham), Emmanuel Dennis (Watford), Raphinha (Leeds United) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United).

5 goals: Joshua King (Watford), Maxwel Cornet (Burnley), Ismaila Sarr (Watford), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Son Heung-Min (Tottenham), Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal), Bernardo Silva (Man City), Callum Wilson (Newcastle United), Neal Maupay (Brighton) and Teemu Pukki (Norwich City).

4 goals: Reece James (Chelsea), Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Mason Greenwood (Manchester United), Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace), and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

Meanwhile, the Premier League match-day 15 will commence on Saturday.

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Lewandowski sends classy and big message to Messi after beating him to win 2021 Ballon d’Or

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Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich has congratulated Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi for beating him to win the 2021 Ballon d’Or award at the gala night on Monday night, November 29.

It was indeed an heartbreak for the Polish striker and many football fans in the world to see Lionel Messi winning the award which is now his seventh in his glorious football career.

Last season, Robert Lewandowski was in stunning form for Bayern Munich in all competitions and the striker even scored 41 League goals in just 29 appearances which was incredible.

Robert Lewandowski’s reaction to 2021 Ballon d’Or

“To start, I would like to congratulate Lionel Messi, Ballon d’Or Winner “I want to thank every single journalist who voted for me, and believed that my achievements were important in 2021.

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