Wolfsburg vs. Bayern

EA Sports and FIFA 15 present a basic showdown of Friday evening’s Rückrunde opener (kick-off 19:30 GMT / 20:30 CET) amid champions FC Bayern München and second-placed VfL Wolfsburg. Simply bang on the video aloft to acquisition out who comes out on top.

To get you added in the affection for what promises to be a agitative appointment to kick-start the additional bisected of the season, we’ve aswell called a few statistical tidbits surrounding the bout at the Volkswagen Arena for your delectation:

Wolfsburg’s endure defeat at home came adjoin FC Bayern (6-1 on 8 March 2014). It was aswell their heaviest anytime home defeat in the Bundesliga.

Since that defeat, the Wolves accept gone 14 amateur after accident at the Volkswagen-Arena (ten wins, four draws).

Wolfsburg accept already won adjoin the alliance leaders already this season, assault Bayer 04 Leverkusen 4-1 on Matchday 4.

On 13 September 2003, Schweinsteiger denticulate his aboriginal anytime Bundesliga ambition adjoin Wolfsburg. He has aswell denticulate added goals adjoin Wolfsburg (six) than adjoin any added club.

FC Bayern München enjoyed their second-best Bundesliga Hinrunde ever, accumulating 45 credibility (in 2013/14 they had 47) and aperture up the better anytime gap amid aboriginal and additional at the amid date of the division (11 points).

Wolfsburg are additional to Bayern in the accepted season’s standings but aswell in the 2014 agenda year, accepting won 64 credibility compared to the Bavarians’ absorbing 91.

Qatar World Cup workers ‘on 45p ($0.76) an hour’

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Workers constructing a FIFA 14 IOS Coins stadium for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are being paid as little as 45p ($0.76, 0.57 euros) an hour, British newspaper The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

The newspaper said that some of the 100 labourers working on the 40,000-seat Al-Wakrah Stadium were working for up to 30 days a month and earning less than pound sterling4.90 per day.

Stadium workers also told The Guardian that their passports were being held by their manager, in an apparent contravention of the organisers’ own welfare charter.

A spokesperson for the Qatar World Cup’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy told The Guardian: “There are challenges with calculation of overtime pay and hours, and we are working with the contractor to rectify any non-compliance.”

A report in the paper on Monday said that some labourers had not been paid for over a year and were living in squalid conditions.

The supreme Committee said it was “actively looking into the matters raised by the Guardian concerning the contractor Amana,” in a comment cited by Al-Jazeera news channel website.

The committee “takes allegations of labour regulation violations very seriously,” it said according to the state-owned network.

“Since we first bid to host the FIFA World Cup we have worked tirelessly to ensure and improve the welfare of workers and to be a catalyst for sustainable social progress,” it added.

Qatar is spending around pound sterling134 billion on infrastructure ahead of the tournament, but it has been accused of human and labour rights violations over its treatment of migrant workers, most of whom come from Asia.

Doha has rejected charges that construction workers are being mistreated and has announced a series of measures to improve their conditions.

In May, Qatar announced it would abolish a controversial ‘sponsorship’ system, which leaves foreign workers at the mercy of their employers.

The International Trade Union Confederation warned in June that as many as 4,000 workers could die in construction site accidents by the time the 2022 World Cup kicks off.

Martinez the deal sealer, says Besic

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Everton signing Muhamed Besic said manager Roberto Martinez was key to his transfer to Goodison Park.

Midfielder Besic, 21, rose to prominence at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, as he represented Bosnia-Herzegovina in their maiden finals appearance.

Besic moves to Everton from Hungarian side Ferencvaros, and the 12-time Bosnia international said his decision to join the Merseyside outfit was largely thanks to Spanish boss Martinez.

“The most important reason why I signed for Everton was Roberto Martinez – I think he is a fantastic coach,” Besic told evertontv.

“I know Everton is a really traditional club and the supporters are fantastic here. I think it is the biggest step for me after leaving Hungary.”

Besic’s first assignment at the World Cup was keeping a check on three-time Ballon d’Or winner and eventual Golden Ball holder Lionel Messi.

And the German-born Besic said he felt his performance in the fixture against eventual finalists Argentina in Rio de Janeiro – a fixture Bosnia lost 2-1 – thrust his name into the headlights.

“I think my style is suited to playing in the Premier League and I think this is the best league in the world,” he said.

“It will be difficult for me because we have fantastic players but I think, with the help of the coach, I will do my best.

“The World Cup was really important and I think the most important game for me was the Argentina game. I think I did a good job and many clubs were looking, including Mr Martinez.

“I can play anywhere [in defence or midfield] but I think I will play as a central midfielder for Everton.

“I enjoy playing in midfield because I get to see a lot of the ball and I think it is my best position.”

Besic joined Everton on a five-year deal, for a reported transfer fee of £4million.

Bethlehem draws more than 52,000 fans to FIFA World Cup SoccerFest

If you were lucky enough to be able to watch the World Cup at Bethlehem’s SteelStacks, you were in good company.

ArtsQuest announced recently that more than 52,000 soccer fans were in attendance for this summer’s FIFA World Cup SoccerFest and Viewing Party.

ArtsQuest aired more than 60 World Cup matches on its outdoor screens from June 12 through July 13.

More than 29,000 fans came out to watch the U.S. team, with a capacity crowd of 10,000 packing in for its match against Portugal on June 22, according to a news release.

The Bethlehem event was even recognized on ESPN during its coverage of the World Cup that showcased viewing parties around the world. ESPN also reported that the Portugal vs. U.S. match was the most watched non-football event in its history.

“The overwhelming success of the SoccerFest and Viewing Party at SteelStacks was not only validation of the Lehigh Valley’s passion and support of soccer, but also a conduit for igniting the love and passion for soccer in future generations,” Greg Ramos, executive director of Lehigh Valley United soccer club, said in the release.

As a result of the response from the community, members of the SoccerFest and Viewing Party Planning Committee are looking into the possibility of continuing the event for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which is set for June 6-July 5.

FIFA’s World Cup bid report delayed

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FIFA’s report into alleged corruption during the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups has been delayed by several weeks as FA chairman Greg Dyke will give evidence to UK Government MPs regarding the awarding of the latter tournament in Qatar.

FIFA said the ethics committee’s investigatory chamber expects to submit its report, led by prosecutor Michael Garcia, “by the first week of September.”

In June, Garcia set a target of late July to deliver his confidential report to ethics judge Joachim Eckert. The investigation file will be used by Eckert to decide on possible sanctions against nine bidders which competed to host the next two tournaments.

Russia and Qatar won hosting rights in December 2010 following votes among FIFA’s executive committee. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said that only his ruling board, and not Eckert, has power to overturn a vote and order a re-run.

Qatar will host the prestigious tournament in eight years’ time but the decision has been plagued by allegations of corruption and bribery.

As well as Dyke, the UK Government’s Culture Media and Sport (CMS) select committee will also hear from Sunday Times journalists Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert.

The newspaper reported in June that Qatari football official Mohamed Bin Hammam made payments totalling three million pounds in return for support for the Qatar bid.

Qatar denies any wrongdoing and claims Bin Hammam always acted independently of the campaign.

Dyke, who was appointed FA chairman in March 2013, has been highly critical of FIFA in the past and has given his backing for a re-vote should the corruption allegations be proven.

The CMS examined allegations of corruption in 2012 and called for a full, transparent investigation. FIFA ethics investigator Michael Garcia is finalising a report into the bidding processes for the World Cup in 2018, won by Russia, and 2022.

Garcia is expected to submit his findings at the end of July with any decision regarding a re-vote to rest with FIFA’s executive committee.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who was involved in England’s 2018 bid, admitted in June that he had misgivings about the campaign.

“My memories of that bidding process are not happy memories in terms of the way the whole thing was arranged and the role of FIFA,” Cameron said at the time. “There is an inquiry under way, quite rightly, into what happened in terms of the World Cup bid for 2022.

“We should let that inquiry take place rather than prejudge it.”

Despite an unforgiving climate and a lack of suitable infrastructure, Qatar defeated bids from South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States to win the 2022 vote.

Australia and Japan have already backed calls for the bid to be re-run. The CMS committee will also examine the FA’s role and engagement with UEFA and FIFA Coins in the international game.

English FA keeps up pressure on FIFA over Qatar

FIFA should review the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar if an investigation shows that corruption played a part in the winning bid, English Football Association Chairman Greg Dyke said on Tuesday.

Appearing before a parliamentary committee, Dyke said FIFA should publish in full a report into the bidding process for 2018 and 2022 being compiled by American lawyer Michael Garcia.

However, Dyke played down talking of stripping Russia of the 2018 tournament because of political tensions over Ukraine.

Garcia, who has been leading a FIFA ethics committee investigation into allegations of corruption surrounding the award of the 2022 World Cup to the Gulf state, will submit his report in September.

“If Mr Garcia shows that there have been corrupt activities, the whole thing should be reconsidered,” Dyke said.

Dyke said he was convinced that the tournament would not be held in June or July if it was played in Qatar because of the intense heat, with a move to a cooler time of the year like November or December a certainty.

Dyke played down suggestions that Russia could be stripped of the World Cup as a punishment for the downing of a passenger plane over Ukraine last week which Western nations have blamed on separatists backed by Moscow.

“I think there will be a World Cup in Russia,” Dyke told reporters after the hearing.

He had earlier told lawmakers that a decision to move a World Cup should not be based on “one week’s events”.

BLATTER TO STAY

Dyke said he believe that FIFA President Sepp Blatter would be re-elected if he stands again next year despite corruption allegations surrounding world football’s governing body.

Blatter has been head of FIFA since 1998 and is expected to seek another term.

“If he runs again he will win,” Dyke said, adding that European distaste for the methods of the 78-year-old Swiss was not shared in other parts of the world.

Dyke said that England, which lost out to Russia in the bidding for 2018, would focus on hosting European events for the time being.

He said Blatter’s dislike for the British media, which has led campaigns to expose FIFA corruption, made it impossible to win a World Cup bid.

“Mr Blatter’s view of the English media is such that he says why would you want to take it to England?” the former head of the BBC said.

The plain-speaking Dyke jokingly compared FIFA to a one-party state, in comments unlikely to endear him to Blatter.

Referring to a meeting of FIFA’s congress in Sao Paulo he attended in June, Dyke said it was “like something out of North Korea at times – hail to the leader.”

Garcia’s World Cup bids report delayed

FIFA prosecutor Michael Garcia’s report into alleged World Cup bidding corruption has been delayed by several weeks.

FIFA says the ethics committee’s investigatory chamber expects to submit its report ”by the first week of September.” In June, Garcia set a target of late July to deliver his confidential report to ethics judge Joachim Eckert.

Eckert will use the investigation file to decide on possible sanctions against nine bidders which competed to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. Russia and Qatar won hosting rights in December 2010 votes of FIFA’s executive committee.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said that only his ruling board, FIFA Ultimate Team Coins and not Eckert, has power to overturn a vote and order a re-run.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo Top Online Searches During FIFA World Cup 2014

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He may not have been able to deliver the World Cup to Argentina but Lionel Messi topped the Google search results for forwards during the just-concluded event in Brazil along with Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo. (Related: World Cup final breaks social media records)

“Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi may have not performed to the expectations of fans this World Cup, but online search trends reveal that they retain the top spot when it comes to being the best strikers in the World Cup,” Google said in a release. (Also read: Argentina press lauds team)

There were more than 2.1 billion tournament-related searches on Google. For the record, Germany won their fourth world title beating Argentina 1-0 in the final which was decided in extra time.

American Tim Howard, who made 15 saves during the tournament, was the most searched goalkeeper beating Germany’s Golden Glove winner Manuel Neur.

Coming to defenders, football fans searched the Brazilian star pair David Luiz and Thiago Silva more than any other in the event.

Moving to the midfield, the Japanese-Chilean duo of Atsuto Uchida and Gonzalo Jara along with German’s Sami Khedira and Italian veteran Andrea Pirlo were the most searched.

German soccer boss says players’ ‘gaucho’ dance not disrespectful

Germany's players celebrate with the World Cup trophy after the 2014 World Cup final against Argentina at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro

The head of Germany’s national soccer association said on Wednesday that German players celebrating their World Cup triumph did not intend to be disrespectful when they performed a dance that poked fun at their defeated opponent Argentina.

During victory celebrations in front of fans in Berlin on Tuesday a group of players stooped low and chanted “This is how Gauchos walk, Gauchos they walk like this”, before jumping up to shout: “This is how Germans walk, Germans they walk like this!”

There was little outcry in Argentina but sports newspaper Ole said: “The Gaucho dance performed by the Germans … caused unease in our country.”

Some German media criticised the dance too. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper said it was a “nasty satire” with which the players damaged Germany’s image as a tolerant country, Tagesspiegel newspaper said it was “tasteless” and Tageszeitung said it was “disrespectful”.

Wolfgang Niersbach, president of the DFB football association, said the dance was “in no way meant disrespectfully”, adding that it was a “spontaneous” expression of the players’ joy.

“They are all absolutely decent and fair sportsmen who don’t make fun of anyone but just wanted to celebrate wildly with the fans,” he said in a statement on the DFB’s website.

“We’re sorry if this came across the wrong way or was misunderstood by some people.”

He said he would write a letter to Argentine FA (AFA) president Julio Grondona and make clear to him that the routine was not meant disrespectfully.

Lionel Messi’s World Cup consolation prize: the cover of FIFA 15

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Lionel Messi is the global cover star for EA Sports’ FIFA 15, marking the third consecutive year the Argentine has graced the front of a soccer video game, and the seventh overall.

Messi, awarded the World Cup 2014 Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player despite Argentina losing in the final on Sunday, appeared on the cover of FIFA 13 and FIFA 14. (He also appeared on the cover of 2012’s FIFA Street). He was the cover star for Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer for three editions, 2009 to 2011.

Messi, widely considered the best player in the world, became an “EA Sports Football Ambassador” in 2011, making his cover selection again somewhat expected. He scored 28 goals for FC Barcelona this past season and then four in the World Cup.

FIFA 15, which launches Sept. 23 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, is experimenting with “emotional intelligence” to create more lifelike reactions in its players. It also will add more advanced team tactics and ball physics. For more on FIFA 15, see Polygon’s preview from E3 2014.

Germany World Cup heroes return to huge fan party

Germany’s World Cup-winning team returned home to share the country’s fourth title with WildStar Gold huge crowds of cheering fans on Tuesday.

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The team’s plane touched down at Berlin’s Tegel Airport midmorning after flying low over the “fan mile” in front of the landmark Brandenburg Gate.

Captain Philipp Lahm led the team off the aircraft with the trophy held aloft, to cheers and a chorus of “Football’s Coming Home” from fans on the airport’s viewing terrace.

He was followed by midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, draped in a German flag and sporting a bandage under his right eye, the result of a cut in the 1-0 win over Argentina in the final on Sunday.

From the airport, the team set off for downtown Berlin in a bus painted with the years of Germany’s World Cup victories: The previous occasions were in 1954, 1974 and 1990.

The team climbed aboard an open-top truck for the last part of the trip to the Brandenburg Gate, inching its way forward through cheering crowds.

Forward Lukas Podolski posted a selfie with Schweinsteiger and the trophy. He tweeted: “The Cup is in Berlin!!!”

Mario Goetze, who scored the winner in the final, tweeted: “Wow, what’s going on here … AMAZING!”

The “fan mile” started filling up hours before the arrival, with some waiting overnight to get a place at the front.

“This time, thank God, we have the cup with us,” Schweinsteiger told ARD television. “It will only sink in for us in the next few days.”

The team’s plane was about an hour behind schedule, as its departure from Rio de Janeiro was delayed after a luggage truck hit the aircraft and damage to the paintwork had to be inspected.