Infantino says expanded World Cup to feature two more African teams, Wolfgang Biersbach banned from football for a year in relation to the 2006 World Cup bids, and Portuguese club give official role to fan battling cancer…
1. Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore has announced that talks are ongoing surrounding the implementation of a winter break in English football. Such an introduction is unlikely to take effect until 2019 when the current television deal ends.
2. FIFA President Gianni Infantino has pledged two extra places for African teams should the World Cup be expanded to 40 teams from 2026. The expansion of FIFA’s showpiece tournament was proposed by Infantino before his election in February. An extra two places would see seven teams qualifying from the continent.
3. Former Wigan Athletic and Everton manager Roberto Martínez is rumoured to be top of Hull City’s wanted list to replace the departed Steve Bruce. Martínez will have competition from Bruce’s former assistant Mike Phelan, who is also understood to be interested in the job.
4. Wolfgang Niersbach has become the first member of the newly created FIFA Council to be sanctioned for corruption-related charges. Niersbach, the former head of the German FA and vice-president of the 2006 World Cup organising committee, has been handed a one-year ban from football for being guilt of failing to report findings about possible unethical conduct and conflicts of interests during the bidding process for the 2006 World Cup. Niersbach is considering appealing his ban.
5. Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon have signed five-year-old fan Francisco – who is battling cancer – as their official twelfth man. The club presented Francisco with a proper contract, and he was soon engaging in his first official duty for the club, leading the team out in front of 30,000 fans (WhoAteAllThePies).
6. Former England captain Bobby Moore is to have a blue plaque placed on his childhood home in recognition of the only man to captain England to a World Cup triumph. Moore has become the first footballer to ever receive a plaque. Others honoured with a blue plaque include the poet Lord Byron and German philosopher and revolutionary Karl Marx (BBC).
7. Chelsea have ousted Manchester United as the most hated club in the Premier League according to a survey commissioned by the Mirror. Nearly 10,000 fans took part in the survey which asked for their most hated and most loved clubs in the division. At the other end of the table, newly promoted AFC Bournemouth were the least hated club (Mirror).
8. New Tottenham Hotspur signing Vincent Janssen came close to leaving football entirely, the player has recently revealed. According to Janssen, he considered quitting football after being released by Feyenoord in 2013, before eventually signing for Dutch second division side Almere City. Given that he has now signed to a Premier League club for over £17million, his decision to keep at it seems to have been the right one (HITCSport).
9. Real Madrid have rejected a €10 million bid for wonderkid Lin Liangming from Chinese club Hebei China Fortune. This is despite Real having only signed Liangming for €300,000 last summer and that Liangming is yet to make an appearance in Real’s first team (Squawka).
10. And finally…Everyone loves a good crossbar challenge, and Mauricio Pochettino is no different. During a moment of light-heartedness at a recent Spurs training session, Pochettino showed that class is permanent by doing a few keepy-uppies and then volleying the ball against the crossbar, all the while giving off an impression of not being bothered (Mirror).
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