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FIFA World Cup

By ESPN Staff

Sheikh Ahmad named to FIFA ExCo; Sheikh Salman re-elected AFC chief

Former Sunday Times journalist Heidi Blake writes in her new book 'The Ugly Game' that FIFA President Sepp Blatter made a deal with the Qatari royal family for the country to host the 2022 World Cup.

MANAMA, Bahrain -- A pair of sheikhs were the big winners on Thursday at a meeting of Asian football leaders.

Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al Ahmad Al Sabah, an Olympic powerbroker from Kuwait, was elected to FIFA's powerful executive committee, fueling speculation the former OPEC chairman could one day succeed Sepp Blatter as president of the sport's governing body.

And minutes earlier, Bahrain royal family member Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa was re-elected as president of the Asian Football Confederation.


Russia defends plan to house World Cup teams in Chechnya

MOSCOW -- World Cup organisers in Russia have defended the possibility of housing teams in 2018 in the volatile North Caucasus regions, including Chechnya.

The Chechen capital of Grozny is on a preliminary list of team bases for the tournament despite an incident in December when Islamist militants waged a gun battle with police that left at least 20 dead.

Another possible city is Makhachkala in the neighboring region of Dagestan, which also has a long-running Islamist insurgency. In recent years,...

Russia launches search for 2018 World Cup mascot

Russia has launched a competition to design the mascot for its 2018 World Cup.

MOSCOW -- Russia has launched a competition to design the mascot for its 2018 World Cup.

For the next 31 days, would-be designers will be able to submit ideas and names for the mascot through a new Russian-language section of the FIFA website.

There will be "no limits on a flight of fancy," and the campaign is targeted specifically at Russian children, World Cup organizing committee CEO...

FIFPro strongly supports adding fourth substitute

The ESPN FC team are joined by former Premier League referee Peter Walton to discuss whether or not there should be a fourth substitute allowed in matches, following Oscar's injury against Arsenal.

GENEVA -- A proposal to let football teams use a fourth substitute has been strongly supported by the global players' union.

FIFPro published a survey of its members Tuesday in response to a request from the game's rule-making board for more research. The International Football Association Board twice recently rejected allowing an additional substitute in extra time of knockout matches.

FIFPro said 84 percent of players it asked in 27 different countries want a fourth substitute, either in extra...

Russia to force out foreign players ahead of World Cup

The Russian government will bring in tough restrictions on the number of foreign players in its Premier League.

MOSCOW -- The Russian government will bring in tough restrictions on the number of foreign players in the country's top football league in order to develop home-grown players for the 2018 World Cup.

With his ministry poised to gain new powers to limit the number of foreigners in the Russian Premier League, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko says he will "cut back...