By DAN KARELL
The field of 32 for the 2014 World Cup is set.
Uruguay became the final nation to qualify for the World Cup after its scoreless draw with Jordan in the second leg of the AFC/CONMEBOL playoffs, finishing with a 5-0 aggregate score in the South American nation’s favor at Estadio Centenario in Montevideo.
Despite the scoreline, Uruguay came out with a strong starting lineup featuring Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez as well as the introduction of Diego Forlan in the second half. However, La Celeste were missing the final touch, as Cavani sent multiple chances from inside the box over the bar while Diego Godin hit the woodwork from close range. For Jordan, it was an impressive draw on the road but not enough to secure qualification.
Suarez finishes qualification with 11 goals, tied with the Netherlands’ Robin Van Persie and Belize’s Deon McCauley for most in the world.
Here are some more stories to start your Thursday:
RIBERY RULED OUT OF GERMAN CLASICO
Franck Ribery’s participation in France’s two playoff matches with Ukraine last week has cost him a place in the Bayern Munich side ahead of its top-of-the-table meeting with Borussia Dortmund.
The French winger, who helped lead his nation to World Cup qualification in dramatic fashion, returned from international duty with a broken rib and has been ruled out of the upcoming clash with Dortmund on Saturday. In addition, his status for Bayern’s Champions League match with CSKA Moscow on Wednesday is in doubt.
“I’m obviously gutted, because I was desperate to play in the big game in Dortmund,” Ribery told Bayern Munich’s website. “But I’m sure the team can do it without me this time.”
While Ribery will miss out, German international Jerome Boateng has been declared fit for the match. The loss of Ribery is just the latest in a series of injuries that have taken some of the star power out of the match. Dortmund will be without Neven Subotic, Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer, and Ilkay Gundogan, while Bayern won’t have Ribery, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Holger Badstuber, or Xherdan Shaqiri.
BLATTER CALLS QATAR WORK CONDITIONS “UNACCEPTABLE”
With pressure from the media and human right’s organizations growing, FIFA has responded to the global outcry over alleged worker’s rights abuses taking place in Qatar.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter called the current situation in Qatar “unacceptable” following a meeting with the presidents of the German trade union and international trade union and urged Qatar to conform improve conditions.
“Economic and political leaders must contribute to improving the unacceptable situation in Qatar,” Blatter told FIFA. “That is why I welcome the initiative shown by the DFB and ITUC because together we can achieve change. I am convinced that Qatar is taking the situation very seriously. These very discussions about Qatar show just what an important role football can play in generating publicity and thus bringing about change.”
Qatar has recently been accused of refusing to let workers leave the country and denying them wages, essentially holding them against their will. The most high-profile case involves French soccer player Zahir Belounis, who reportedly can’t leave and hasn’t been paid by his club in two years.
VALDES OUT UNTIL JANUARY
Barcelona has added a new member to its injury list.
In addition to the already-injured Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez, goalkeeper Victor Valdes returned from international duty with Spain with a calf injury, one that’s serious enough to keep him out for the next six weeks.
The 31-year-old goalkeeper was injured in the 80th minute of Spain’s 1-0 defeat at South Africa on Tuesday, with Spain’s third-string goalkeeper Pepe Reina needing to replace the second-half substitute Valdes.
Without Valdes, Barcelona will look to 38-year-old goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto, who hasn’t played a competitive first-team game this season. The injury could force Barcelona to accelerate plans to sign a new goalkeeper, with Valdes announcing last summer his intent to leave Barcelona at the end of this season.
Adidas has extended its deal with FIFA to be the organization’s official partner, supplier, and licensee for the World Cup and other FIFA events through 2030. (REPORT)
Ireland’s head coach Martin O’Neil is considering following his predecessor and scheduling a friendly match or two for a second summer in a row in the United States. (REPORT)
Borussia Dortmund has signed free agent center back Manuel Friedrich as cover with both of their starting central defenders injured. (REPORT)
Reports in Italy state that one of the richest men in the world, Chinese businessman Wang Jianlin, is nearing a move to buy out Italian Bank UniCredit’s 30 percent stake in AS Roma. (REPORT)
Arsenal is waiting to hear whether its Champions League match next week against Napoli will be played in front of an empty stadium after crowd trouble in Napoli’s last home match. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Do you see Uruguay rebounding and playing well in the World Cup? Do you see Ribery’s injury costing Bayern? Do you believe FIFA is doing enough about the situation in Qatar?
Share your thoughts below.