Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 23rd 2018 Contents sports A27
Friday, February 23, 2018
48 teams World
England might be the first and last team to be holders of the
Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups.
FIFA is looking to merge the youth tournaments won last
year by English boys to create a 48-team competition, em-
ulating the expansion of the main World Cup. Officials are
exploring the merits of an age cut-off at 18 or 19.
The women’s youth tournaments could also be combined
to create a single 24-team event under plans that were
considered in a meeting of the governing body’s com-
petitions committee two weeks ago.
The proposals were discussed by FIFA President
Gianni Infantino with some member associations
during summits in Mauritania and Nigeria this
FIFA told The Associated Press the proposals
form part of an ongoing review of competitions
two years into Infantino’s presidency that has
already seen the main World Cup expanded
from 32 to 48 teams from 2026.
If eventually approved, there would be a far
bigger jump in size for the U17 and U20 World
Cups, with each biennial event for boys cur-
rently featuring 24 teams.
A single, potentially annual, 48-team
youth competition would not pose the
same logistical challenges faced by the ex-
panded senior World Cup as doublehead-
ers in stadiums would mean fewer venues
FIFA is trying to streamline the interna-
tional youth soccer calendar that also saw
England teams compete at three European
youth championships last year in U21, U19
and U17 categories.
England won the European U19 title be-
tween triumphs at the U20 World Cup in
South Korea in June and the U17 World Cup
in India in October.
The U20 competition was known as the FIFA
World Youth Championship until 2005 when
Lionel Messi helped Argentina win the 15th edition.
Banned Blatter backs
Morocco 2026 Cup bid
Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has endorsed Moroc-
co’s 2026 World Cup bid while banned from soccer roles for
Blatter tweeted yesterday that “Morocco would be the log-
ical host! And it is time for Africa again!”
The 2010 World Cup was staged in South Africa.
Referencing the rival joint bid from the United States, Can-
ada, and Mexico, Blatter tweeted “co-Hosting rejected by
FIFA after 2002.” That’s when the World Cup was in South
Korea and Japan.
Blatter’s 17-year reign as FIFA president ended in disgrace
in 2015 amid the fallout from American prosecutors charging
dozens of soccer officials with corruption, including World
Cup vote buying.
Torres could be on his
way out at Madrid
MADRID—It seems Fernando Torres’ time as an Atletico
Madrid player is coming to an end.
One of the club’s most beloved players, Torres has lost
favour with one of his biggest allies at the club.
Coach Diego Simeone, a longtime supporter of the for-
mer Spain striker, says he will not go out of his way to
try to keep Torres.
The surprise revelation left fans wondering
about the future of Torres when his contract ends
at the end of the season.
Torres hasn’t had a major role in his
latest stint with the club but remains
cherished by fans. He repeatedly de-
clares his affection for the team he
grew up cheering for and joined at 11,
and publicly says he hopes to end his
career with Atletico.
But Simeone on Wednesday gave a
blunt “No” when asked if he would
try to keep Torres as hard as he was
trying to keep Antoine Griezmann.
“Being fair to myself, I obviously
said ‘No,’” Simeone said. “I say ‘ob-
viously’ because I think about the
team. The question made to me
clearly wasn’t about the team, and
the difference is that I think about
the team and about the club.”
Simeone’s reasoning is under-
standable. The 33-year-old Torres
is noticeably past his prime. The
26-year-old Griezmann was named
the third-best player in the world be-
hind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ron-
aldo only two years ago.
But Simeone’s response about Torres
was still unexpected, and one he likely
could have avoided if he wanted to. Simeone
recently said if he was an Atletico fan he would do
everything possible to support Griezmann and try to keep
him at the club for as long as possible.
The France forward, who reportedly received offers
from many other top European clubs, was jeered by Atlet-
ico fans after a slump earlier this season, and didn’t hide
his dissatisfaction with the criticism.
Torres, meanwhile, has been on good terms with the
fans despite not having helped much on the field in recent
He has five goals in 27 appearances this season. A year
ago, he scored 10 from 45 appearances, and the season
before he had 12 from 44 matches with Atletico.
In this photo taken Thursday March 2, 2017, Atletico Madrid’s
Fernando Torres is helped by team mates as Deportivo La
Coruna’s Alex Bergantinos, top right, calls for help after they
clashed with their heads during a La Liga soccer match at the
Riazor stadium in La Coruna, Spain.
PICTURE AP/CARLOS PARDELLAS
FILE: This is a Saturday, October 28, 2017 file photo of England’s
football team celebrating with the trophy after winning the FIFA
U-17 World Cup in Kolkata, India. (AP) PICTURE AP/ANUPAM NATH
FIFA explores merging U-17 & 20 tourneys
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