FIFA cannot publish its report into alleged corruption in the World Cup bidding process for legal reasons, according to its own ethics judge, Joachim Eckert.

A month has passed since Eckert received FIFA ethics investigator Michael Garcia's report into the decisions to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

But while many high-ranking FIFA officials, including UEFA president Michel Platini, FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne and Franz Beckenbauer, have led calls for the investigation's findings to be published in full, president Sepp Blatter has refused to disclose any part of the report - a stance backed by Eckert.

"Publishing the report in full would actually put the FIFA Ethics Committee and FIFA itself in a very difficult situation legally," the German judge told FIFA's official website. "What is more, we have to respect the personal rights of the people mentioned in the report, which in the case of the full publication of the report, would in all likelihood not be possible."

Speaking at an event in London last week, Garcia called for FIFA to show greater transparency and criticised the culture of secrecy within world football's governing body, while urging it to show leadership and publish his report.

Despite their perceived different stances, Eckert insisted that there has not been any disagreement between him and Garcia on how to address the situation, and is currently preparing a statement which he expects "to be ready by mid-November at the latest."

"Michael Garcia has never said that the report should be 100% published. He merely said that the 'appropriate' publication of his report should be authorised," Eckert said. "The deputy chairman of the adjudicatory chamber and I now have the task of drawing up this appropriate form for publication.

"Part of my current examination involves deciding what form this appropriate publication should ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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 British viewers hoping to see Luis Suarez's debut in El Clasico next weekend could miss his first kick as a Barcelona player due to UK broadcasting rules.

Suarez - a £65 million summer signing from Liverpool - is coming to the end of his lengthy ban for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini while playing for Uruguay at the World Cup and will be eligible to play in a competitive match again for the first time when Barcelona make the trip to face arch-rivals Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on Saturday, October 25.

The match is one of the most high-profile fixtures in world football, with an estimated worldwide television audience of around 400 million viewers, but that will not include viewers in the UK - for the first 15 minutes at least.

Due to British broadcasting regulations, live matches are not allowed to be broadcast between 15:00 and 17:15 local time in order to, according to the Premier League, "protect match attendances and atmosphere at all levels of the game".

As this season's first Clasico kicks off at 17:00 UK time, viewers tuning in to Sky Sports' coverage will only join the action a quarter of an hour into the match.

Given it will be the first time he can be named in a squad by Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, Suarez is unlikely to make his first start in such a key fixture, though it remains a possibility.

Suarez has not played a competitive match since the World Cup group match against Italy in June, but has featured in behind-closed-doors friendlies for Barca and international friendlies for Uruguay after FIFA partially upheld an appeal against his ban from "all football-related activity".


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Manchester City's Champions League clash at CSKA Moscow on Tuesday will still be played behind closed doors as the Russian club's appeal to UEFA over their three-game stadium ban will not be heard until October 27.

CSKA were ordered to play their next three home European matches in an empty stadium as punishment for racist behaviour by their fans during the 5-1 defeat against Roma last month.

After 70 minutes of the game at the Stadio Olimpico, supporters let off flares and threw them in the direction of home supporters, while they also unfurled racist banners.

CSKA have decided to appeal the punishment, and UEFA confirmed to The Guardian on Thursday the date of the hearing.

"October 27 - the match [against Manchester City] will be behind closed doors," a spokesman said.

The decision will come as bad news for City boss Manuel Pellegrini, who has previously said that playing in an empty stadium will not help his side.

It is a vital clash for the Premier League champions, having only claimed one point from their first two Group E matches after losing 1-0 to Bayern Munich and drawing 1-1 with Roma.

CSKA, who have been hit with three charges of racism in under a year, were also banned by UEFA from selling tickets to supporters for the return fixture at City on November 5 and fined €200,000 for their fans' behaviour.


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Morocco have denied reports that they have withdrawn as the host of next year's African Cup of Nations because of the deadly ebola outbreak in west Africa.

However, they do still want the tournament postponed, forcing a conflict with organisers. The Confederation of African Football insists the tournament, to be held between January 17 and February 8, must go ahead as planned.

The ebola virus has claimed more than 4,000 lives since the start of the year, and with around a million spectators expected to travel to watch the tournament, Morocco sports minister Mohamed Ouzzine reiterated the country's desire to for a postponement.

"Our concern is the health of Africa, and based on WHO [World Health Organisation] reports and guidelines, we have to listen," he said.

"Zero safety does not exist, but one has to take the necessary precautions so that the coming tournament will be a football feast, bringing together our African brothers, but given the current ebola situation we don't think such a feast can take place as expected.

"I don't think there is any state or any country that has the necessary capabilities to monitor, check and control the current ebola situation when faced with these numbers. This is our real problem. We don't have a problem with visiting teams, we have a problem with visitors."

It is believed at least two other countries have been asked if they can step in at short-notice if Morocco refuses to host on the original dates.

One is believed to be South Africa, who hosted the 2010 World Cup, while Ghana's sports minister Mahama Ayariga wrote on his official Facebook page that they have been approached.

"CAF wrote to us and indicated that Morocco had given strong indications they would pull out if CAF did not change the date," Ayariga wrote. "They are writing to a number of ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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Arsenal will try to land at least one key signing this January, manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed.

Wenger admitted he tried and failed to bring in "one more" player this summer, but insisted he will enter the market again once the winter window opens in the New Year.

"We have done remarkably well in the transfer window," Wenger told Arsenal's AGM. "We tried to buy one more, a defender, but we didn't find one. But we will try to rectify that in January"

Wenger is now thought to be targeting a defensive midfielder, with Sporting Lisbon's William Carvalho top of his shopping list.

Arsenal have previously been accused of failing to spend big money on transfer fees, despite recent outlays of £42.5 million and £32m for Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez respectively.

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis, however, insisted that the club would back Wenger in the transfer market if he moves to further strengthen the squad.

"It is simply not the case that we are hoarding a vast cash balance for some unspecified reason," Gazidis said. "We always have to keep cash in reserve to comply with debt calculations.

Most remaining cash after that is needed to run the club across the season, including player wages. We do try to keep a further amount of cash available for investment in the team. We try not to disclose that amount, because it would be uncompetitive."

Arsenal's squad has been hit by a string of injuries to key players, with the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Mathieu Debuchy and Olivier Giroud all suffering long-term problems in the opening weeks of the season.

Wenger however, defended his side's injury record, claiming that his international stars were suffering knocks as a result of post-World Cup fatigue.

"We have been hit hard by injuries again but, for me, they are post-World Cup injuries," he ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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Lionel Messi's father insists his son has always remained grounded throughout his career as he marks the 10th anniversary of his Barcelona debut on Thursday.

Messi came off the bench for Barca during their clash against Espanyol at the age of just 17, and has since gone on a meteoric rise to become one of the greatest players the world has ever seen.

The 27-year-old is now a four-time World Player of the Year and his 361 goals from 434 games have inspired his club to 21 trophies, including six La Liga titles and three Champions League crowns.

The Argentina captain can break yet another record on Saturday when Barcelona face Eibar as he lies just two off Telmo Zarra's six-decade-old La Liga scoring record of 251 goals.

Yet despite all the success and accolades that have come his way -- and the criticism that has sometimes accompanied it -- Jorge Messi says his son has not let any of it go to his head.

"There are times when there is too much praise and other moments when the criticism is excessive," he told Cadena Cope. "You have to stop somewhere in the middle and simply look forward.

"He reads and listens to everyone and I don't know how he does it but he doesn't attach much importance to either the good or the bad.

"People don't know him. He is a very normal lad, like any other. He spends time with his family, he has fun, he tries to enjoy life. He isn't any different."

Meanwhile, Messi Snr was at pains to stress that his son has had nothing to do with his own tax affairs which have led to an investigation into alleged fraud.

Messi and his father have been accused of defrauding the Spanish state of more than 4 million euros by filing incomplete returns for ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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The criticism aimed at Raheem Sterling this week has been enough to "upset" former England midfielder Frank Lampard.

Sterling did not start England's Euro 2016 qualifying win against Estonia on Sunday after telling manager Roy Hodgson that he felt tired.

Hodgson's decision to make this conversation public have proven controversial, with Sterling's fitness and commitment called into question. Lampard insists it is unfair to turn on the 19-year-old, who is early in his career and still to develop physically.

Lampard, a team-mate of Sterling's at the World Cup in Brazil this summer, said: "I think he is actually quite a brave boy to say, 'You know what I am not quite at my best here.'

"I am actually quite upset, not with the manager as such, but that the aftermath has been a lot of people criticising Raheem Sterling - who is probably in the top two or three players in our country and we need him to be at his best - for making quite a brave decision.

"I think we need to get behind him. Whether it is right or wrong, I don't know, but we are all individuals and he made that call."

One accusation thrown at Liverpool winger Sterling, who has become a key player for club and country over the past year, is that he is a well-paid professional who should be fit under any circumstances.

Lampard however, dismissed the money argument as irrelevant.

"I would take the money out of it," he said. "That is easily said and I hate it when money gets drawn into things, in terms of 'because he is getting paid [this] he should act like this'. It happens too much.

"The fact is, when that is your job, when you are doing it regularly, you have to make calls. I think Raheem made a judgement call on that ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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Rafael da Silva believes Manchester United could become champions again this season

United are eight points behind leaders Chelsea and so far have only faced one team who finished in the top 10 last season, but they have won three of their last four games.

Rafael believes manager Louis van Gaal's record of winning titles in Holland, Spain and Germany shows it is possible for United to finish first once they adapt to his beliefs.

"Everything takes time," he said. "It's a different philosophy. If we understand the way we are playing like we are doing, the results come and everything starts to run smoothly, we certainly have a chance of winning the title.

"Louis van Gaal is a strong coach. He admires things that are done right. He asks everybody to be on time for our sessions, we can't be late. He likes to see us training hard.

"So, he has some differences [to David Moyes & Sir Alex Ferguson], especially in terms of his philosophy, and we need to be able to adapt to it. However it's must be right because the proof is the titles that he's won."

Brushing aside rumours that his fellow Brazilian Daniel Alves could be about to replace him as United's right-back, Rafael insisted he wants to stay at Old Trafford for years to come.

Even at just 24 years old, Rafael is one of the club's longer-serving players and said he feels like a local now.

"I love my life here," he added. "It is the best place to work. I feel I've adapted to here. The first time I came here I was 15. I came here to train three or four times a year for 15 days.

"I was just 15 and now I'm almost coming up to 10 years here next July. It's a long time. I'm almost ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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Lukas Podolski has stepped up his campaign to force his way into the Arsenal team by demanding his situation at the club changes "now".

The striker has made it clear that he is unhappy with life at the Emirates and hinted at a January exit as questions are raised over his future with Germany's national team.

Podolski, 29, won his 120th cap for Germany in Tuesday's 1-1 draw against Ireland when he came off the bench at half-time, but was unable to help his side build on their 71st-minute lead via a Toni Kroos goal as they succumbed to a late John O'Shea equaliser.

Podolski's performance came under fire in the German press, with critics taking aim at his work rate and defensive contributions.

Since returning from Brazil a World Cup-winner with Germany, Podolski has found playing time hard to come by at Arsenal, his only start so far this season coming in last month's League Cup defeat to Southampton.

Speaking following the Ireland game, Podolski insisted that he wants to see drastic changes to his role at Arsenal.

"I can assess my situation, and it needs to change now - in the club," he said. "Let's see what happens now, and let's see what happens in the winter. It's clear that I am not happy right now."

Podolski, who last scored for Arsenal back in April, has already discussed the possibility of a move in the January transfer window.

Last week he told reporters that "I don't like it on the bench", to which Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger responded by saying that being a footballer "is a job where you can only be successful if you're fully committed. You cannot be half in and half out, so all this transfer speculation is not considered at all".


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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Manchester City are the most "complete" team in the Premier League, despite Chelsea sitting five points above them at the top of the table.

Chelsea have started their league campaign in impressive fashion, winning six games out of seven and only dropping points in the 1-1 draw at City.

With new signings Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas settling in quickly at Stamford Bridge, some feel the title is already Chelsea's to lose but Wenger, who has had a stormy relationship with counterpart Jose Mourinho, is refusing to rule out the reigning Premier League champions.

"I believe that maybe, going forward, City are a bit more complete," he told beIN Sports. "City are more offensive. Chelsea defensively are better, but it's very difficult to say who will be in front."

Arsenal already sit nine points behind league leaders Chelsea in eighth place after just seven games. However, despite his side's frustrating start to the season, which has brought with it four draws, Wenger insists their title chances are not over yet.

"What we want to do is be in front of both of them [Chelsea and City]," Wenger said. "[The gap] is massive - nine points after seven games, I agree completely, but it is not lost."

There is little love lost between Wenger and Mourinho, with their long-running feud infecting encounters between the two sides. Arsenal's last game before the international break was a 2-0 loss at Chelsea, with the London side ultimately proving too strong for their opponents.

The defeat meant Wenger's winless run against Jose Mourinho was extended to 12 games, and the Frenchman admits the "traumatic" result was difficult to take.

"I've watched the Chelsea game again and we were guilty of not taking the first chances which were there for us and guilty of making a defensive mistake on ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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