Brazil to play Green Falcons as Saudi Arabia host Neymar and Co.

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Neymar and his Brazil teammates will head to Riyadh in October to face Saudi Arabia and then play fierce rivals Argentina in Jeddah. (AFP)
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Turki Al-Sheikh, the president of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority, with the Saudi Arabia players. (SPA)
Updated 08 September 2018
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Brazil to play Green Falcons as Saudi Arabia host Neymar and Co.

  • During the next international window, the Green Falcons will face Brazil in Riyadh on October 12
  • Match is part of a four-team series being hosted in the Kingdom, which also includes Argentina

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia hosting Argentina and Brazil in a four-nation tournament in October has been hailed as the best possible preparation for for the 2019 Asian Cup in January for the Green Falcons.
During the next international window, the Green Falcons will face Brazil in Riyadh on October 12, while local fans will get a taste of one of the fiercest and biggest rivalries in world football when the Samba Boys and Argentina meet in Jeddah four days later.
“We have just signed a four-star international tournament in early October with the participation of Brazil, Argentina and the Saudi Arabian team in addition to a fourth team that will be announced soon,” Turki Al-Sheikh, the president of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority, said on Friday.
The country’s leading sports official wants Egypt to complete the quartet. “As president of the Arab Football Federation, I hope that Egypt will be the fourth team.”
Whether the Pharaohs enter or not, the mini-tournament is good news for fans in Saudi Arabia.
“The most important part is that this gives the team the best kind of test for the Asian Cup,” an official from the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) told Arab News.
“We saw at the World Cup that we need as much quality international experience as possible and there can be nothing better than playing Brazil in front of what should be a sell-out crowd in Riyadh.”
Saudi Arabia have reasons to be optimistic ahead of the tournament. Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi is not only from Argentina but he led Chile to the 2016 Copa America title. His knowledge of South American football should provide even more of an advantage to the hosts.
“These are the kinds of games that coach Pizzi wants,” added the official. “We don’t want to arrange games against weaker teams that we can defeat comfortably, we want a real challenge.

“Not only that, but having Brazil at home gives all players in the league real incentive to try and get into the team and play against some of the best players in the world, such as Neymar. And it is also a great chance for the fans to see the same stars in the flesh.”
Brazil are happy with the arrangement. The five-time world champions had already arranged for the Saudi Arabia test but did not want to travel back to South America to take on Argentina. Staying in Saudi Arabia is also much easier for the Brazil’s European-based players, who will make up an even greater percentage of the squad than usual.
While the Brazilian federation has agreed not to call any players from the four Brazil Cup semifinalists — Flamengo, Corinthians, Palmeiras and Cruzeiro — the SAFF expects both teams to bring all their stars for the trip, though Argentine maestro Lionel Messi is currently on a break from international football.
The tournament also marks another international sporting event in the Kingdom. The GSA have recently organized the Riyadh marathon, the Italian Super Cup final, the Royal Rumble in WWE as well as motorsport events and chess championships. Football remains the most important field however.
“It is commonplace for nations seeking to build a global presence in football to establish new competitions or stage high profile matches,” Simon Chadwick, Professor Sports Enterprise at Salford University in the United Kingdom told Arab News.
“Qatar did it in the run-up to them winning the World Cup vote in 2010, and China has done it recently with a new international tournament. 

“Such initiatives raise profiles, provide an opportunity to prove one’s expertise, and engage key stakeholders in football. As such, we should therefore expect more of the same from Saudi Arabia as the country seeks to become a leading football nation.”
Abdel Ezzat, who resigned as SAFF’s president in August in order to prepare for a run at the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation next year, added: “The country is going through an important change. Football can be a catalyst for change. My country can play an important role in football.
“Football is about growth and if you don’t grow economically, socially, technically, you will not be moving,” Ezzat added. “It’s not enough for us to be in the World Cup.”
Saudi Arabia, who take on North Korea, Lebanon and Qatar at the Asian Cup in January, start preparations for the tournament with another South American test against Bolivia on Monday before traveling to Amman in November for a friendly with Jordan.


Chelsea handed two-year transfer ban by FIFA

Updated 17 min 11 sec ago
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Chelsea handed two-year transfer ban by FIFA

  • Ban is punishment for breaking rules on registering under-age players.
  • The Blues refute the findings of the FIFA disciplinary committee and will appeal.

LONDON: Premier League club Chelsea have been banned from signing new players in the next two transfer windows as punishment for breaking rules on registering under-age players, FIFA said on Friday.
It means the club — who immediately said they would appeal the decision — will be unable to make signings until the end of January next year.
“The disciplinary committee sanctioned Chelsea with a ban on registering new players at both national and international level for the next two complete and consecutive registration periods,” FIFA said in a statement.
In addition, Chelsea were fined 600,000 Swiss francs ($600,000, 530,000 euros) and given a period of 90 days to regularise the situation of the minor players concerned.
The ban does not prevent players being released by the club and it does not apply to Chelsea’s women’s and futsal teams.
Chelsea have been given three days to appeal against FIFA’s decision, which could prove highly damaging, for example preventing the club from signing a replacement for Eden Hazard if the star player leaves the club.
“Chelsea FC categorically refutes the findings of the FIFA disciplinary committee and will therefore be appealing the decision,” said a statement on the club’s website.
“Initially, Chelsea FC was charged... in relation to 92 players,” it added. “We welcome the fact that FIFA has accepted that there was no breach in relation to 63 of these players, but the club is extremely disappointed that FIFA has not accepted the club’s submissions in relation to the remaining 29 players.”
The move follows a FIFA probe into Chelsea’s signing of foreign under-18 players, including the club’s former forward Bertrand Traore, a Burkina Faso international who now plays for French Ligue 1 club Lyon.
Traore signed professional forms for Chelsea in 2013 at the age of 18 but was not registered until January the following year.
French website Mediapart, quoting documents from Football Leaks, reported that FIFA found evidence that Chelsea had supplied misleading information about Traore’s signing and that he had made more than 20 appearances for the club at different age levels despite not being registered by the Football Association (FA).
FIFA said Friday it was also fining the Football Association 510,000 Swiss francs for breaking the rules on signing minors.
The world governing body gave the FA a period of six months to update its processes concerning international transfers and the registration of minors.
The FA responded on Twitter, saying: “The FA notes the decision of the FIFA disciplinary committee published today. The FA has cooperated fully with FIFA’s investigations, although we have raised some concerns with FIFA regarding its disciplinary processes.
“The FA intends to appeal the decision. We will however continue to work with FIFA and Chelsea in a constructive manner to address the issues which are raised by this case.”