Muslim cleric called on Fifa to ban Christian players from making sign of the cross

A muslim cleric has called on the football body, Fifa to ban Christian football players form making the sign of the cross after scoring or coming onto the pitch. According to the Sun Mohammed al Arefe asked FIFA’S governing body step in to outlaw the prayer symbol.

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Al Arefe wrote: “I have seen lots video clips of athletes, soccer players running, shooting and when they win they make the symbol of the cross on their chests and my question is do FIFA’s rules not forbid this.

Emmanuel Adebayor of Real Madrid performs the cross symbol after scoring Also the Sun report that controversy erupted after Real Madrid agreed to remove a Christian cross symbol from its kits on sale in the Middle East. The Spanish club, which is sponsored by Dubai-based Emirates airline, has its kits made by a company named Marka in the region.

Marka’s Vice Chairman Khaled al-Mheiri said: “We have to be sensitive to other parts of the Gulf that are quite sensitive to products that hold the cross

Cristiano Ronaldo climbs into the top 10 international goal scorers of all time

World Footballer of the year and business man, Cristiano Ronaldo has broken another record!

The Portuguese  star scored two goals against Hungary last week, his 69th and 70th goal for his country, Portugal, and then followed it up with another goal against Sweden his 71st, which automatically put him among the top 10 highest goal scorers for national sides in the history of football.

Russia 2018: Brazil becomes first team to qualify for FIFA World Cup

On Tuesday Brazil  became the first side to seal their place at the FIFA World Cup finals in Russia next year. Their 3-0 win over Paraguay, along with defeats for Argentina and Uruguay, means they cannot finish lower than fourth in South American qualifying. Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho, FC Barcelona striker Neymar and Real Madrid’s Marcelo scored Brazil’s goals. Neymar also missed a penalty kick as his side moved nine points clear of second-placed Colombia.

Newsmen report that the victory was Brazil’s eighth straight win under coach Tite. Paraguay, meanwhile, find themselves five points off the top four with only four games remaining. Two-time World Cup winners Argentina face a battle to qualify for Russia with their 0-2 loss to Bolivia in La Paz leaving them fifth, a point behind Chile. They will have to do so without forward Lionel Messi.

The FC Barcelona player has been banned for four international matches for directing “insulting words’’ at an assistant referee during last Thursday’s 1-0 win over Chile. Uruguay, who were beaten 2-1 by Peru in Lima on Tuesday, are third. The team that finishes fifth will face the winners of the Oceania group in a two-legged play-off.

BREAKING: Lionel Messi Banned For 4 Games

The Argentine was punished for directing “insulting words” at an assistant referee in Thursday’s 1-0 win over Chile.

Messi, who scored the only goal in the qualifier, was angered when he was flagged for a foul, waving and shouting at the assistant in response.

He was also fined £8,100.

He will miss his country’s next four competitive fixtures.

Argentina are third in South American qualifying, with the top four teams advancing to next summer’s finals in Russia. There are left with five matches to play.

Russia 2018: Brazil could qualify today

Brazil will qualify for the FIFA World Cup holding next year in Russia if it beats Paraguay in Sao Paulo. To advance, the South American group leader needs a victory and a few other results to fall its way. But win or lose, Brazil is heading for the World Cup in Russia with five rounds of qualifying remaining.

Second-placed Uruguay faces a winnable match at Peru, and fourth-placed Colombia has a real test at fifth-placed Ecuador. Sixth-placed Chile welcomes last-placed Venezuela in Santiago, hoping to climb back into qualifying position. With five rounds to go, Brazil has 30 points  more than enough to secure a spot in previous World Cups. Uruguay has 23 and Argentina 22.

With Brazil almost sure to advance and Venezuela, Bolivia and Peru struggling at the bottom that leaves six teams fighting for the three remaining automatic spots for Russia. Another South American team could also advance in a playoff. After the impressive thrashing of Uruguay 4-1 in Montevideo, Brazil is so close to the World Cup spot that many players are already looking for new challenges as Brazil chases it sixth World Cup title.

For the spot to be assured, Brazil needs to beat Paraguay and see Venezuela overcome Chile in Santiago. Also, Colombia needs to get its first win at Ecuador in 20 years. Even if the “official” qualification doesn’t come, there will surely be a party at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo. Coach Tite, who has won seven straight games in qualifiers since he took over in September, had his best days at Corinthians.

He won two Brazilian championships, one Copa Libertadores, and the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup title after a 1-0 victory over England’s Chelsea in Japan. Defender Fagner, also a Corinthians player, will replace suspended Dani Alves. “I feel no pressure, I want to enjoy every moment of this,” Fagner told reporters. If he doesn’t do well, Tite has already brought Sevilla’s Mariano for a test.

 

JUST IN: El Amrani CAF secretary-general quits

The African Football Confederation (CAF) secretary-general, Hicham El Amrani, resigned on Sunday without giving an explanation.

The 37-year-old Moroccan revealed his decision in a letter to African national football associations.

His move is probably linked to the defeat of long-serving Cameroonian Issa Hayatou by Malagasy outsider Ahmad Ahmad in the CAF presidential election this month.

El Amrani was a Hayatou loyalist, constantly defending his boss, who ruled African football for 29 years, against public and media criticism.

He became secretary-general, initially on an interim basis, in 2010 when Egyptian Mustapha Fahmy moved to global football body FIFA.

Ahmad, who will serve a four-year term, is scheduled to meet CAF staff on Monday at the Cairo headquarters of the 60-year-old organisation.

Defoe marks comeback as England beat Lithuania 2-0

 

Sunderland star man Defoe marked his international comeback with a goal as England toiled to a 2-0 victory over Lithuania in a forgettable World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Sunday.

Defoe, 34, was making his first England appearance since November 2013, having been recalled by manager Gareth Southgate, and he marked his return with the opening goal midway through the second half.

Substitute Jamie Vardy added a second goal as England tightened their grip on first place in UEFA qualifying Group F in Southgate’s first home game as permanent manager.

His side are now the last team in European qualifying yet to have conceded a goal.

Defoe’s strike, the Sunderland veteran’s 20th in 56 caps, was an obvious high point and second-half substitute Marcus Rashford delivered an impressive cameo.

But the stubbornly unadventurous nature of Lithuania’s approach to the game, which made for a soporific match, meant there was little to shout about from an England perspective.

The game was preceded by the laying of wreaths and a minute’s silence in honor of the four people killed and over 50 injured in Wednesday’s terror attack in London.

Having tested out a 3-4-2-1 system in the mid-week 1-0 friendly defeat in Germany, Southgate reverted to a back four and his side were quickly on the front foot, with Adam Lallana prominent.

The Liverpool midfielder saw a deflected shot caught by Ernestas Setkus and then produced a clever pass down the inside-right channel for Defoe, whose shot was blocked by the Lithuania goalkeeper.

Defoe’s penalty-box cunning was one of the reasons Southgate picked him over Vardy and he vindicated his manager’s call by putting England ahead in the 22nd minute.

Raheem Sterling slipped past Egidijus Vaitkunas on the left before rolling in a cross that Defoe planted into the net for his first international goal since March 2013.

He threatened to notch a 21st England goal moments later, thudding a shot wide from range.

Joe Hart, captain for the day, had been a virtual bystander, but the England goalkeeper was almost embarrassed in first-half stoppage time.

The assistant referee’s flag stayed down despite Nerijus Valskis appearing to be blatantly offside and the Lithuanian forward managed to head the ball past Hart, obliging John Stones to hack clear.

As England continued to labour in the second half, they were given another let-off when Vykintas Slivka was unable to find a way past Hart with a free shot from just inside the box.

Short of an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain shot that Setkus parried, England were offering little in attack and in the 59th minute Southgate turned to his bench, sending on Vardy and Rashford.

Vardy took just seven minutes to find the net, steering a shot between Setkus and his left-hand post after Lallana delicately flicked Kyle Walker’s pass into his path.

England continued to dominate, but could not add to their lead despite Rashford’s best efforts.

Vardy lobbed over from Rashford’s pass and Eric Dier headed wide from a Rashford corner, before the Manchester United striker embarked on a sinewy run that culminated in a sprawling save by Setkus.

Nigeria remain Africa’s number one: FIFA Women’s Rankings

The Super Falcons,  have moved up one place on the monthly FIFA Women  world rankings to 34, retaining their place as the top-ranked African side.

The rankings released on Friday showed Nigeria as having amassed 1613 points to maintain their status as African champions, with Ghana their nearest African side on the rankings at 45th.

Cameroon, who lost to Nigeria in the final of the 2016 African Women Championship they hosted, are 47th on the rankings and Equatorial Guinea are 50th.

In the overall rankings, England have moved back up to fourth, overtaking Canada to equal their best ever position.

Germany have replaced world champions U.S. as the number one team.

England came third at the SheBelieves Cup competition earlier in March after a 1-0 win over the U.S. and defeat by European and Olympic champions Germany.

Northern Ireland rise four places to 55th, Wales move up one to 33rd and Scotland stay 21st.

It is the first time since March 2015 the U.S. have been replaced at the top of the table.

England Women will host Italy and Austria in April — their final home matches before the Euro 2017 finals this summer.