FIFA official admits ‘certain risk’ to match-fixing at World Cup

The New York Times published part one of a two-part series on Saturday that looked at incidents of match-fixing in the months leading up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and FIFA officials quoted in the report admit the soccer tournament in Brazil this year is also subject to a “certain risk.”

The report begins with details of a Singapore-based company scheming to fix friendlies in South Africa before the country hosting the World Cup. It goes on to explain that soccer is the sport most looked-at by fixers because of the “action it generates on the vast and largely unregulated Asian betting markets.”

More from the Times:

“Fixers are attracted to soccer because of the action it generates on the vast and largely unregulated Asian betting markets. And if executed well, a fixed soccer match can be hard to detect. Players can deliberately miss shots; referees can eject players or award penalty kicks; team officials can outright tell players to lose a match.”

Ralph Mutschke, FIFA’s head of security, admitted as much, saying in the Times report that the tournament set to kick off in Brazil in June is coveted by match-fixers because of the huge betting volume it generates:

“The fixers are trying to look for football matches which are generating a huge betting volume, and obviously, international football tournaments such as the World Cup are generating these kinds of huge volumes. Therefore, the World Cup in general has a certain risk.”

The European Union’s police intelligence agency, Europol, said in the report that there were 680 “suspicious matches” held throughout the world from 2008-2011. Among those that were deemed to be perhaps corrupted by match-fixing include World Cup qualifying matches and those played in “Europe’s most prestigious leagues and tournaments.”

The second part of the Times investigation will be published on Sunday.

After final inspection, 3 Brazil World Cup stadiums worry FIFA

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FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke expressed his concern about preparations at three of the 12 World Cup stadiums during his final inspection of host cities.

During a two-week trip that ended Thursday, Valcke sent warnings to organizers in Natal, Porto Alegre and Sao Paulo, which will host the World Cup’s opening match in two weeks.

He said it was a ”race against the clock” in Natal and there was a lot ”yet to be done” in Porto Alegre. In Sao Paulo, FIFA requested a second test event at the delayed Itaquerao Stadium that will host the Brazil-Croatia match on June 12. It is unlikely, however, that the venue will be tested at full capacity.

Local authorities are not expected to allow the sale of tickets at the test event for some of the temporary seating that was recently added to the venue, meaning the first time the 68,000-seat venue will be at capacity will likely be during the World Cup match.

Valcke said he was pleased with the work underway in the other nine host cities, including Curitiba, which earlier this year was nearly excluded from the tournament because of chronic delays.

Valcke’s final stop on Thursday was in the northeastern city of Salvador, where he said there was ”no time to waste” but praised the commitment of local organizers to make sure everything will be ready in time.

The game in Salvador on June 13 will be a much-anticipated rematch of the 2010 final, when Spain beat the Netherlands for the title in South Africa.

”All must be perfect that day,” Valcke said on Twitter. ”Pleased with Salvador’s commitment to work with our on-site team to finalize remaining works for fans, media & teams.”

Also Thursday, there was progress on plans for fan fests at Salvador and Recife. Salvador officials announced they reached a deal guaranteeing the organization of its fanfest, the FIFA-required event that allows fans to watch matches on large screens for free in public areas.

Organizers at Recife had been looking for private partners to promote a fanfest without having to spend public money, and Valcke said a solution had been found.

Valcke said he was pleased with the work at Recife’s Arena Pernambuco, saying it was ”on track for hosting” matches.

”Installations are taking shape really well here,” he said.

The Arena Pernambuco was one the six stadiums built for last year’s Confederations Cup, the World Cup warm-up tournament. FIFA wanted the other six venues completed by the end of 2013, but none met the deadline.

One of the stadiums that weren’t ready in time was the Arena das Dunas in Natal, which Valcke visited on Wednesday.

”Still lots to be done for (hash)WorldCup fans & media,” he said. ”We need full commitment from all parties in Natal to ensure all will be in place & tested.”

Last week, he posted: ”we cannot waste a single minute” in Porto Alegre ”otherwise the quality for fans & broadcasters will be jeopardized during the (hash)WorldCup.”

In Sao Paulo, Valcke warned that it was ”vital” another test event was scheduled to help ensure problems can be avoided during the high-profile opening match.

FIFA 14 Ultimate Team: World Cup, Kick-Off Modes Delayed

EA has delayed the launch of FIFA 14’s Ultimate Team: World Cup and World Cup Kick-Off Modes because of “unforeseen issues,” according to a post on the EA forums.

“Knowing that our players have been so excited for these new modes made it a tough decision,” the announcement reads. “However, as we progressed through final testing we encountered unforeseen issues that would affect all users who downloaded the update, so it’s important to address them first before release.”

n the five years since Ultimate Team’s introduction, the feature has garnered a huge following by FIFA players –– IGN took an extended look at the mode’s introduction and evolution. Ultimate Team: World Cup will allow players to build a team from scratch using the rosters for the upcoming World Cup tournament. Kick-Off World Cup, which was scheduled for release today on PS4 and Xbox One, will add the 32 World Cup teams to non-competitive play.

EA promised an update later in the day as to the status of the issues affecting the World Cup modes.

Brazil to win 2014 World Cup, says Goldman Sachs

NEW YORK (TheStreet) – After crunching the numbers, economists at Goldman Sachs (GS_) believe host nation Brazil is FIFA Coins the odds-on favorite to win the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Goldman’s analysis also shows that if Brazil’s star players Neymar, Dani Alves, Oscar and Hulk can pull off a World Cup win, there are strong odds stock markets in the country will outperform global indices in the month after a victory. A second place finish, however, should have investors running for the hills.

After conducting a regression analysis on about 14,000 international football matches since 1960, and accounting for explanatory variables such as performance at previous World Cups and whether a country is playing at home, Goldman said in a Wednesday client note Brazil is the favorite to win the World Cup. Brazil is currently fourth in the Coca-Cola/FIFA World Rankings.

Goldman gives Brazil 3:1 odds of winning the World Cup and a 48.5% probability of victory. Argentina comes in with the second highest odds at 9:2 and a 14.1% probability of winning. Other teams with a chance include Germany with 11:2 odds or a 11.4% probability of winning, and Spain at 13:2 odds or a 9.8% probability of victory.

The lowest odds in this year’s World Cup go to Costa Rica at 3000:1, or a 0% chance of victory. Other teams with a 0% probability of winning include Cameroon, Japan, Iran, Honduras, Ghana and Algeria.

The United States, captained by Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey, is given 250:1 odds by Goldman Sachs, or a 0.5% probability of winning the World Cup. [TheStreet: “We like the sound of those odds!”]

The report, Goldman’s fifth since the 1998 World Cup in France, was conducted by chief economist Jan Hatzius, U.S. economist Sven Jari Stehn, and Donnie Millar.

This year’s report is Goldman’s first without former asset management Chairman Jim O’Neill, who invented the bank’s World Cup guide and also coined the phrase ‘BRIC,’ an acronym used by economists and investors to denote the world’s four major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Brazil Beats Argentina

Goldman predicts that Brazil, Germany, Argentina and Spain will reach the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup and that Brazil will beat Argentina by a score of 3-to-1 in the Cup final.

However, Goldman said on Wednesday it would update its model daily during the World Cup. It is also worth noting that Goldman incorrectly predicted Brazil would win the 2010 World Cup. Spain, the team Goldman gave the second highest odds, won.

Goldman’s Dream Team

Clients of Goldman Sachs selected Brazil’s Neymar, Lionel Messi of Argentina and Portuguese sensation Cristiano Ronaldo as the three best forwards in this year’s World Cup.

The dream team, as voted by Goldman clients, also includes Eden Hazard of Belgium, Andres Iniesta of Spain, Franck Ribery of France, Dani Alves of Brazil, Sergio Ramos of Spain, Thiago Silva of Brazil and Philipp Lahm of Germany. German goaltender Manuel Neuer was voted as the top net minder by Goldman clients. Read more:http://www.abmmo.com/gold/FIFA-14.html

World Cup Group G Preview: Can U.S. navigate Group of Death?

 

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Group G was the headliner when the balls were picked and the draw was announced back in December. And not only because it featured the United States. It was considered the “Group of Death” by many neutrals, as all four countries have experience in the knockout stages – and all four have the talent to get back there this year. Germany are one of the favorites to win the trophy, while Portugal have perhaps the world’s most recognizable player. Throw in the presence of the United States and the most successful African side in recent World Cups, and it’s a must-watch group.

The teams

Germany: Always one of the trophy contenders, Germany were bounced in the semifinal of both the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. Once again, though, they are a major threat to win the championship. They didn’t lose in the qualification stage, scoring 36 goals in 10 games. There is talent and depth across the board, with the starting XI far from set due to the quality from which Joachim Loew has to choose. There are veterans, there is youth – and there are very few weaknesses. A fourth World Cup for Germany is certainly not out of the question.

Portugal: Ranked No. 3 in the FIFA World Cup rankings, Portugal are hoping to follow the recipe they used in Euro 2012: struggle through qualification and then make a deep run once the competition begins. They lost in penalty kicks to Spain in the 2012 semifinals, and have the personnel to advance to at least the quarterfinals again. All eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo, as he will look to carry his country in the competition. Without his hat-trick against Sweden in the second leg of the UEFA playoffs back in November, Portugal might not even be here.

United States: The storylines surrounding the USMNT’s run-up to the World Cup changed completely when manager Jurgen Klinsmann announced the 23-man squad he was taking Brazil. As you’ve heard by now, Landon Donovan – the best U.S. national team player ever – was left out of the team. Suddenly, the expectations and pressure on Klinsmann has grown. It’s not something he hasn’t felt before, though. When Klinsmann first took over at the helm of the USMNT, he lost four of his first six matches. However, they lost just one of their final nine qualification matches and finished atop the Hexagonal group. They won’t be the most talented team in Group G, but they’re still a tough-minded group that makes up for playmaking limitations with impressive workrate. Without Donovan, Jozy Altidore needs to regain the form he had during qualification, while someone needs to step up as a consistent threat in the midfield. The defense has some questions, too, especially against the speed of some of their group opponents.

Ghana: The United States’ arch nemesis. The Black Stars have knocked the USMNT out of two straight World Cups, while also making impressive runs in each one. In 2006, they reached the knockout stage before losing to Brazil – then took it a step further in 2010, advancing to the quarterfinals before falling in penalty kicks to Uruguay. They had the best goal differential of any African team in qualification, scoring 18 goals in six games – before taking care of Egypt over the course of two legs, 7-3. There are well-known players throughout midfielder, led by Michael Essien, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Kwadwo Asamoah. Don’t count them out.

The key players

Mesut Ozil: Germany have a long list of playmakers and attackers at their disposal, but Ozil is the one that makes it all happen from his position as the No. 10. Widely regarded as one of the best attacking midfielders in the world, Ozil has had an up-and-down campaign since leaving Real Madrid for Arsenal back during the summer transfer window. He led Germany in goals and assists during qualification.

Cristiano Ronaldo: One of the top two players in the world, Portugal’s hopes lie entirely on the shoulders of Ronaldo. He is capable of carrying them to big wins, as evidenced by the aforementioned three-goal performance against Sweden in the second leg of the UEFA qualifying playoff. Ronaldo has netted 50 goals this season for Real Madrid, and will need more of the same in the World Cup.

Michael Bradley: Bradley missed time in April with an injury, but he has returned for Toronto FC and will be an integral part of the USMNT midfield when they go to Brazil. His decision to leave Roma for the MLS raised some eyebrows, but he was able to get plenty of minutes to prepare for the World Cup. He’s a box-to-box midfielder who transitions effectively from defense to offense.

Asamoah Gyan: Back in 2012, Gyan announced he was retiring from international football. He was coming off a missed penalty kick in the African Cup of Nations that led to Ghana’s 1-0 semifinal loss. Two years earlier, Gyan missed a penalty kick in extra time against Uruguay – forcing a penalty shootout that Ghana lost. But he’s back in the squad and is also the captain. Not surprisingly, he was Ghana’s leading scorer in qualification.

How the group should play out

This should be fun. Two of the top three countries in the FIFA rankings, plus the United States and perhaps the most potent African squad. Storylines like Jurgen Klinsmann facing the team he used to manage, the United States against the country that has knocked them out of back-to-back World Cups, and Cristiano Ronaldo looking to cement his spot in international soccer lore. Germany is the favorite to win the group, although the opening match between Germany and Portugal could determine how each side plays going forward. The United States can’t afford to lose their opener against Ghana, but I think their outside backs will have a world of trouble against Ronaldo in the second match and Germany’s attackers in the third match. I’m going with Germany to win the group and Portugal to advance to the knockout stage.

Spain Star Diego Costa Risks Missing FIFA World Cup

Spain’s Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa risks missing next month’s World Cup after doctors warned Monday that a hamstring injury will force him to rest for two weeks.

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Costa, 25, left the pitch after nine minutes of his club Atletico Madrid’s Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday after having urgent treatment on the thigh-tear.

“He is not better. He is at best the same as before that match,” said Doctor Pedro Guillen, head of the Cemtro clinic where the Spain team sent the player for a scan.

“He still has a grade-one strain in his right hamstring and needs to rest for at least two weeks,” the doctor told radio station Cope.

European and world champions Spain play their first World Cup group match against the Netherlands on June 13.

“He could be there, but it will depend on his progress,” Guillen said. Spain manager Vicente del Bosque has put off naming his full squad to monitor the fitness of Costa and other key players from Atletico and Real Madrid after Saturday’s final.

Real won the clash in Lisbon 4-1 after extra time. Del Bosque has named three forwards — David Silva, Fernando Torres and Pedro Rodriguez — in a 19-man squad for a friendly match against Bolivia on May 30.

He will finalise his World Cup squad after that match, potentially adding Costa and seven other Atletico and Real Madrid players to the long list before whittling it down to 23.

Spain face Chile and Australia in World Cup Group B along with the Netherlands – their opponents in their 2010 World Cup final triumph.

Sterling: I Want To Show What I Can Do

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After his breakthrough season with Liverpool, Raheem Sterling wants to carry that form to the World Cup with the Three Lions.

The 19 year old wants to prove that he is a team player on the world’s biggest stage and make an impact for Roy Hodgson’s men in Brazil.

“I just want to train hard on the training pitch to show the manager I am capable of working for the team and to show I am a real team player,” said Sterling.

“Hopefully I can go out there and show what I can do. If I get a chance to go on the pitch, I will not overdo it at all.”

“I will just try to play my normal game and hopefully then I can kick on.”

Sterling then spoke of the last World Cup in 2010 and recalled what he was doing when his club captain Steven Gerard gave England the lead against the United States.

“I think I was at home eating some pizza with friends when he scored the opening goal,” said Sterling.

“I have to pinch myself every day at Liverpool, playing with the likes of Steven, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.”

“Sometimes I go home now playing FIFA with them but at the same time it is a dream come true, really, and I am just looking forward to playing with the likes of Steven in this World Cup.”

FIFA warns fans about re-sold World Cup tickets

FIFA has told fans buying World Cup tickets from unauthorized sellers that they could be barred from stadiums.

Three weeks from the opening match, FIFA said Thursday that it “cancels tickets discovered as illegally sold or re-sold with the bearers risking not being permitted entry.”

FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil said some fans have already been affected.

“Over the last few weeks we have unfortunately seen more and more people leaving our ticket centers disappointed as they failed to collect their tickets purchased through unofficial websites,” Weil said in a statement.

FIFA said its website is the “only legitimate source” for tickets, including a re-sale section for buyers unable to attend.

Football’s governing body did not identify “companies, websites and individuals” it said was “offering tickets to unsuspecting fans through unauthorized resells at exorbitant prices.”

The Stubhub website was offering tickets made available by buyers priced from $2,300 for the Brazil-Croatia game on June 12 in Sao Paulo. Viagogo’s cheapest offer was for $1,149.

FIFA said it is a crime in Brazil “to sell or supply a ticket for more than the face price,” and it has provided information to prosecuting authorities.

“The efforts are not limited to Brazil but applied on an international scale in engagement with local authorities in relevant jurisdictions and in particular in close collaboration with consumer protection authorities, which have far-reaching and efficient legal resources,” FIFA said.

Almost 3 million tickets were made available for the 64 matches. Adding seats for guests FIFA 14 Coins PS4 and media, the total World Cup stadium capacity is expected to exceed 3.3 million.

FIFA Demands Another Test Game at World Cup Opening Stadium

View of the Arena Corinthians stadium during the Brazilian league match between Corinthians against Figueirense in Sao Paulo on Sunday. It’s the first official competitive match in the stadium which will host six games in the FIFA World Cup 2014 including the opening match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12th. EPA

SÃO PAULO—FIFA, soccer’s governing body, has ordered one more test game at the stadium in São Paulo that will host the opening match of the World Cup after problems surfaced over the weekend at the venue’s inaugural match.

The Arena Corinthians held its first official match on Sunday between the Figueirense and Corinthians soccer teams as part of the Brazilian National Championship tournament.

Not all the seats required for the World Cup were installed in time for Sunday’s game, prompting FIFA to ask for another test. FIFA requires the venue to seat 68,000 spectators but only 40,000 were used for Sunday’s match. The other 28,000 seats are temporary and will only be used during the World Cup.

The second test game will take place on May 29 between Corinthians and Cruzeiro. The match had previously been scheduled for May 28 at another, smaller stadium in São Paulo, according to Brazil’s Soccer National Confederation, CBF.

Some problems arose during Sunday’s test game because of an unfinished roof that forced many fans to scramble for covered seats because of heavy rain.

Part of the roof that will cover the rest of the seats at the stadium won’t be finished until after the World Cup, according to the local media.

Journalists and fans also reported problems using cellphones and gaining access to the Internet at the stadium during the match.

The difficulties underscore growing concern that Brazil won’t be prepared to host the world’s biggest sporting event, which starts on June 12. FIFA Secretary Jerome Valcke on Monday asked Brazilian organizers to stage another match on May 29, according to CBF.

Mr. Valcke, who has expressed frustration with Brazil’s preparations in the past, used his Twitter account Monday night to explain why he thinks another match is needed.

“A test event does not compare to the scale, needs and global attention of the opening match of the World Cup,” Mr. Valcke said. Arena Corinthians “still needs 100% from everybody to guarantee necessary structures are in place for the opener.”

The exact number of seats not yet installed wasn’t revealed by the stadium’s owner. Andrés Sánchez, former Corinthians president and the manager of the project, wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Arena Corinthians has suffered numerous construction delays, including one after a fatal incident last year when a roof structure collapsed and killed two workers.

Several other Brazilian World Cup stadiums have reported problems as well. In Cuiaba, the capital of Mato Grosso state, a fan ran onto the field during a game between Santos and Atlético Mineiro over the past weekend, showing a lack of security in a country famous for fights, many times violent, between fans of local soccer teams.

The Cuiaba stadium has also been late installing all of its nearly 43,000 seats, though that work has now been finished according to local organizers.

Stadiums in the southern Brazilian cities of Curitiba and Porto Alegre and in the northern city of Manaus are still finishing work on access sidewalks outside those venues.

Critics have said Brazil erred in constructing so many arenas across a country the size of the continental U.S. The country has spent $3.6 billion to build or remodel the 12 stadiums, most of which are behind schedule and over budget.

Public support for the World Cup in Brazil has slipped amid anger at the government for not adequately spending on basic services like education and health services.

The federal government has said that stadium costs were shared with state and municipal governments, along with construction companies, which in certain cases assumed part of the added costs and will gain the rights to operate some services at the stadiums after the World Cup.

FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 groups and teams

As Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) World Cup is just around the corner buy fifa 14 ultimate team coins, lets we have a look at the Groups of the World Cup.

FIFA World Cup 2014 is schedule from June 12 to July 13 at Brazil. The preparation of the world cup in the South American county already on the rise, teams from all over the world preparing to start their world cup campaign.

The teams from 32 countries are appearing in the World Cup, which are divided into 8 groups which are as under.

GROUP A:

Host Brazil, Croatia, Mexico and Cameron

GROUP B:

Defending Champion Spain, Netherlands, Chile and Australia

GROUP C:

Colombia, Greece, Cote d’lvoire and Japan

GROUP D:

Uruguay, Costa Rica, England and Italy

GROUP E:

Switzerland, Ecuador, France and Honduras

GROUP F:

Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria

GROUP G:

Germany, Portugal, Ghana and USA

GROUP H:

Belgium, Algeria, Russia and Korea Republic

World Cup 2014 countries: Fifa world rankings

Spain are justifiably most people’s favourites to lift the World Cup in Rio as Vicente del Bosque’s reigning champions continue to occupy top spot in the Fifa world rankings ahead of Germany, Portugal and hosts Brazil.

Argentina, who are many people’s dark horses to go all the way with the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria in their squad, are currently ranked a surprisingly low seventh, behind South American rivals Colombia (fifth) and Uruguay (sixth).

Belgium, who have entered what some are calling a golden era of rich young talent, are also tipped to do well, although the Fifa rankings have them 12th in the world, a place behind Roy Hodgson’s England. However, any team possessing the likes of Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany and Moussa Dembele will not remain outside the top 10 for long.

The highest ranked team in the world rankings who won’t be present in Brazil are Ukraine.

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