Category: Football

What is VAR, how does it work and what are the biggest problems?"

What is VAR, how does it work and what are the biggest problems?

In a remarkable display of sportsmanship, Cristiano Ronaldo urged the referee to reverse a penalty decision awarded to Al Nassr during their AFC Champions League match against Persepolis. Widely recognized as one of the most prolific goal-scorers, Ronaldo surprised the online community with his selfless gesture on Monday. Despite his team, Al-Nassr, facing Persepolis in a crucial Asian Champions League encounter, Ronaldo convinced the referee to overturn the penalty decision initially given when he went down in the penalty box.

Although Al Nassr’s appeal for a penalty was initially denied when Ronaldo appeared to be tripped in the visitors’ area, the Portuguese forward admitted to the referee that there was no foul. The official, after consulting VAR, decided to cancel the penalty in light of Ronaldo’s honesty. Persepolis, a two-time runner-up, had a goal disallowed at the beginning of the second half, and Ronaldo, later making a sharp turn inside the Persepolis penalty area, saw his low shot miss the target.

During the early stages of the second half, Nassr’s captain, aged 38, seemed to sustain a neck injury when Beiranvand landed on him while claiming a high ball. Ronaldo, showing signs of discomfort, was substituted in the 77th minute.

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Looking ahead, Nassr is set to face arch-rivals Al Hilal in a highly anticipated top-of-the-table clash in the Saudi Pro League on Friday.


Can you explain VAR, its functioning, and highlight the major challenges associated with it?

Can you explain VAR, its functioning, and highlight the major challenges associated with it?

While VAR is intended to enhance the accuracy of on-field refereeing, recent high-profile incidents have triggered complaints from clubs and their personnel. Manchester United’s Erik ten Hag contested multiple decisions in their Champions League loss to FC Copenhagen, including the contentious red card for Marcus Rashford.

Notably, domestic matches have seen their share of VAR controversies. Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta criticized what he deemed “unacceptable” errors by both on-pitch and VAR officials in a loss to Newcastle, and Wolves’ Gary O’Neil has persistently voiced his dissatisfaction with VAR-related outcomes.

The controversies include disputed penalties, contentious red cards, and VAR’s role in crucial moments. Ange Postecoglou suggested that clubs contribute to prolonged stoppages by consistently complaining about decisions. However, opinions on VAR decisions remain highly subjective, with one manager’s criticism contrasting another’s justification.

While most VAR issues involve subjective decisions, there have been instances of clear mistakes. A notable example was Luis Diaz’s goal for Liverpool against Tottenham, initially ruled out for offside, then allowed to stay disallowed despite VAR processes showing he was onside, attributed to a “significant human error.”

Despite these challenges, VAR has had successes, with many correct decisions going unnoticed amid the controversies. The Premier League reported an increase in correct decisions from 82% before VAR to 94% in the 2019/20 season.

VAR reviews occur in four match-changing situations: goals, penalty decisions, direct red-card incidents, and mistaken identity. The process involves constant monitoring by VAR officials at Stockley Park, who can recommend overturning, a pitchside check, or continuation of play. Referees can accept or review VAR recommendations, maintaining a balance between on-field decisions and video assistance.


Son Heung-min is pained by losses but expresses deep satisfaction with Tottenham’s playing style.

Tottenham captain Son Heung-min acknowledges the sting of recent defeats but implores the team to adhere to Ange Postecoglou’s playing style. A comeback win by Aston Villa compounded Spurs’ woes in November, turning them from Premier League leaders to a squad grappling with three consecutive losses and a growing list of absentees.

While taking an early lead against Villa, Spurs struggled to maintain the relentless attacking style Postecoglou advocates. Son emphasized the need for better control when ahead and minimizing mistakes that have disrupted their tempo in previous games. Despite creating chances and playing in a manner that pleases him, Son expresses the deep hurt of losing, particularly at home.

As Tottenham braces for a challenging trip to face Manchester City, Rodrigo Bentancur’s ankle injury adds to their concerns. Yves Bissouma’s return from suspension provides some relief, but the squad remains stretched, with Postecoglou acknowledging the need for everyone present to contribute.

On the opposing side, Villa’s clinical display, led by goals from Pau Torres and Ollie Watkins, propels them to fourth in the Premier League. However, manager Unai Emery remains cautious, emphasizing the long season ahead and the need to stay focused on upcoming challenges, including fixtures against Legia Warsaw and Bournemouth.


Aston Villa Soars to Fourth Place; Spurs Pays Tribute to Venables

Aston Villa Soars to Fourth Place; Spurs Pays Tribute to Venables

Ollie Watkins propels Aston Villa to fourth in the Premier League, overcoming a 2-1 deficit against Tottenham. The day honors former boss Terry Venables. Unai Emery’s team, initially trailing to Giovani Lo Celso’s first goal of the season, stages a comeback with Pau Torres equalizing before halftime. Watkins seals the victory with his 12th goal of the season. Villa surpasses Tottenham, now in fifth place after their third consecutive defeat. Despite challenges, Postecoglou’s side displays resilience. Emery’s impact since taking over last season is evident, with Villa sitting just two points behind league leaders Arsenal. The match pays tribute to Venables, featuring a minute of applause and both teams wearing black armbands. Tottenham initially dominates, but Villa responds, highlighting the progress under Emery and fueling hopes for a top-four finish.

In the 22nd minute, Tottenham’s enterprising play bore fruit when a Villa clearance from a corner reached Lo Celso at the edge of the area. His powerful strike deflected off Carlos, securing a deserved goal.

Villa seemed to respond immediately as Watkins headed in from Digne’s cross. However, a lengthy VAR review disallowed the goal due to a tight offside call against Watkins.

Kulusevski came close to extending Tottenham’s lead with a curling shot, and Son Heung-min’s goal was also disallowed for offside. Despite their attacking prowess, Tottenham was exposed defensively, and Villa capitalized just before halftime.

Douglas Luiz’s free-kick found Torres unmarked, and the Spanish defender headed the ball past Vicario. The goal stood after another prolonged VAR check.

Villa came close to seizing the lead early in the second half when Vicario fumbled Leon Bailey’s shot, only to recover and secure the ball after it rebounded off the post.

In the 61st minute, Emery’s team exploited Tottenham’s defensive vulnerabilities once again to take the lead. Watkins executed a smooth one-two with Youri Tielemans, dissecting the shaky Tottenham defense before clinically slotting the ball into the far corner from 12 yards.

Pedro Porro nearly provided an instant equalizer, but Martinez’s full-stretch save denied him. Villa continued to pose a threat, with Digne’s free-kick requiring a solid save from Vicario, and Watkins narrowly missing a header.

Martinez made crucial saves against Johnson and Hojbjerg, and Son’s goal was disallowed for offside, concluding a frustrating afternoon for Tottenham.

Meanwhile, Manchester United compounded Everton’s woes with a 3-0 victory, featuring Alejandro Garnacho’s spectacular overhead kick. This defeat leaves Everton entrenched in the Premier League relegation zone. The match marked Everton’s first since receiving a 10-point deduction for financial rule breaches, sparking a disgruntled response from the home crowd at Goodison Park, where thousands of placards labeled the Premier League as “corrupt” (AFP).


Alejandro Garnacho, the winger for Manchester United, might have netted the standout goal of the year.

Alejandro Garnacho, the winger for Manchester United, might have netted the standout goal of the year.

In the early moments of the Manchester United versus Everton clash at Goodison Park Stadium, spectators witnessed a live masterpiece unfold in the third minute, courtesy of Alejandro Garnacho.

Positioned near the right corner of the box, Garnacho anticipated a precise cross from Diogo Dalot. Charging forward, he executed a flawlessly timed jump, connecting with the ball mid-air to score a spectacular bicycle kick. Everton’s goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, futilely reached for the top corner as the ball found the back of the net.

This breathtaking goal propelled Manchester United to a 1-0 lead, eliciting a euphoric reaction from Premier League viewers on that Sunday. Adding to the excitement, Garnacho celebrated the feat with Cristiano Ronaldo’s iconic “Siuuuu” gesture, further electrifying the atmosphere.


PSG netted five goals against Monaco before their Champions League showdown with Newcastle United.

PSG netted five goals against Monaco before their Champions League showdown with Newcastle United.

Defending champions Paris Saint-Germain showcased their dominance with a resounding 5-2 victory over Monaco in Ligue 1 on Friday, further solidifying their position at the league’s summit. Ousmane Dembele marked his inaugural goal for

PSG in spectacular fashion during this triumph. Goncalo Ramos initiated the scoring for PSG, but a goalkeeping error by Gianluigi Donnarumma allowed Takumi Minamino to equalize swiftly. Kylian Mbappe, facing his former club, restored PSG’s lead with a penalty, while Dembele and Vitinha sealed the deal with two exceptional goals within three minutes in the second half.

Although Folarin Balogun pulled one back for Monaco, substitute Randal Kolo Muani secured PSG’s victory in stoppage time. Paris has now triumphed in seven of their last eight Ligue 1 matches, propelling them four points ahead of second-placed Nice. Monaco, on the other hand, remains in third place, trailing the leaders by six points.

Despite missing captain Marquinhos and rising midfield talent Warren Zaire-Emery due to injuries sustained on international duty, PSG, under coach Luis Enrique, demonstrated remarkable resilience. Enrique emphasized the significance of the players’ attitude after the international break, praising their preparation for the game with just one day of training.

This victory serves as a crucial morale boost for PSG as they gear up for a pivotal Champions League clash against Newcastle United. The outcome of this upcoming match could determine PSG’s fate in the group stage of the elite European

competition. Luis Enrique acknowledged the importance of winning against a formidable opponent like Monaco and expressed optimism about their prospects in the upcoming challenging fixture.

Notable changes in the PSG lineup included starts for Nordi Mukiele at left-back and Fabian Ruiz in central midfield, with Portugal striker Ramos preferred over Kolo Muani at center-forward.

The match featured several key moments, including Donnarumma’s howler that gifted Minamino the equalizer and Mbappe’s successful penalty against his former team. Dembele’s agility and skill were on full display as he scored his first goal for PSG since joining from Barcelona in August. Vitinha added to Monaco’s woes with a well-curled strike, securing PSG’s victory.

Monaco, despite their efforts, faced defensive challenges, conceding crucial goals that hindered their title aspirations. Coach Adi Huetter acknowledged the team’s mistakes and the level of PSG’s quality, emphasizing the need to rectify errors to compete at the top of the league.

In summary, PSG’s convincing win against Monaco serves as a statement of their strength in Ligue 1, setting the stage for a critical Champions League encounter with Newcastle United.


Messi exits amid chaos as Argentina triumphs over Brazil in qualifiers.

Messi exits amid chaos as Argentina triumphs over Brazil in qualifiers.

In a heated 2026 World Cup qualifier, Argentina secured a 1-0 victory against Brazil. However, pre-match crowd issues led to a delayed kick-off, intensifying tensions at Rio’s Maracana Stadium. Brazilian police intervened forcefully, dispersing Argentine fans and heightening the volatile atmosphere.

Amid the chaos, Argentine players worked to pacify the situation. Goalkeeper Emi Martinez went as far as confronting a baton-wielding Brazilian police officer, reflecting the heightened emotions surrounding the match.

In a development following Lionel Messi’s eighth Ballon d’Or win, he and his teammates briefly exited the field, expressing reluctance to play amidst the chaos. Messi was quoted by AFP as saying, “We’re not playing, we’re leaving.”

After a roughly 30-minute delay, both teams returned to the field amid continued tension. The first half saw no clear-cut chances as frequent fouls disrupted the game’s flow. Bookings were handed out to players from both sides, including Brazil’s Raphinha for an arm-to-face incident and Argentina’s Rodrigo De Paul for rough challenges.

In dedicating his eighth Ballon d’Or to Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi highlighted the significance of the award. Brazil faced challenges in creating scoring opportunities, with their first shot on goal occurring in the 38th minute—Gabriel Martinelli’s attempt cleared by Argentina’s Cristian Romero.

The second half saw a more positive approach from Brazil, but Argentina seized the lead in the 63rd minute with Nicolas Otamendi’s headed goal from a corner delivered by Giovani Lo Celso. Brazil’s struggles persisted, and substitute Joelinton received a red card in the 82nd minute for an off-the-ball incident with De Paul.

Brazil faces adversity, suffering their third straight defeat in World Cup qualifiers, an unprecedented event in their football history. The loss also signifies their first-ever home defeat in a World Cup qualifier. Meanwhile, Argentina’s triumph solidifies their position atop the South American qualifying standings, boasting 15 points from six games. In contrast, Brazil now resides in the sixth position with seven points from six games.

In celebration of Diego Maradona’s birthday, we reflect on the legacy of the “greatest footballer of all time.”

Currently, Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador outpace Brazil in the points table. Despite this, the five-time world champions have ample time for recovery, as the South American World Cup qualifiers extend until September 2025.


Croatia Secures Spot in Euro 2024, France Held to a Draw by Greece.

Croatia Secures Spot in Euro 2024, France Held to a Draw by Greece.

Croatia secured the last automatic qualification spot for Euro 2024 on Tuesday, while Wales settled for a play-off position. In Group D, Croatia sealed their spot with a 1-0 win against Armenia in Zagreb, thanks to Ante Budimir’s header. Meanwhile, Wales drew 1-1 with Turkey in Cardiff, leaving them in the play-off race.

Croatia’s journey to automatic qualification seemed uncertain after October losses to Turkey and Wales. However, their victory made them the 21st and final automatic qualifier for the 24-team tournament in Germany next June and July.

Luka Modric, the veteran captain, expressed, “We deserve to be at the Euro, and we have a lot of time now to prepare for what awaits us there.”

Wales now heads to the play-offs in March, and a draw on Thursday will determine if they face Finland, Ukraine, or Iceland in the semi-finals. A win would set up a final decider against Poland or Estonia, with three qualifying spots available in the play-offs. Wales previously qualified for the World Cup last year through a play-off victory against Ukraine.

In other matches, France drew 2-2 with Greece, denying them a perfect record in Group B. Randal Kolo Muani, Kylian Mbappe-rested, put France ahead, but Greece responded through Tasos Bakasetas and Fotis Ioannidis. Youssouf Fofana’s strike leveled the score, and France was denied a late winner due to a disputed goal-line incident.

The Netherlands, having already qualified, dominated Gibraltar with a 6-0 victory. Calvin Stengs scored a hat-trick, while Mats Wieffer, Teun Koopmeiners, and Cody Gakpo also found the net. Romania won 1-0 against Switzerland in Group I, and Israel triumphed 2-0 against Andorra, with Belarus defeating Kosovo 1-0.

The Euro 2024 final draw is scheduled for December 2 in Hamburg.


Potential Tragedy: Messi Post Brazil-Argentina Match

Potential Tragedy: Messi Post Brazil-Argentina Match

Following pre-match altercations at Maracana Stadium, Argentine captain Lionel Messi and teammates intervened as police clashed with away fans, including players’ acquaintances. Messi, 36, expressed concern over the violence, citing similarities to past incidents and the potential for tragedy.

“The situation was alarming; the police’s actions were aggressive,” Messi remarked. “We had to act to prevent an unfortunate outcome. Our priority was calming the chaos for the families and bystanders present, overshadowing the match’s significance.”

The incident occurred before the Brazil-Argentina fixture.

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The chaos ignited when opposing fans clashed behind one goal during national anthems at Rio de Janeiro’s stadium. Police rushed at Argentina’s supporters, wielding batons, prompting some to retaliate by hurling torn-out seats at law enforcement. As tensions escalated, a few fans sought refuge on the pitch.

Both Argentina and some Brazil players intervened, attempting to pacify the situation. Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez even attempted to disarm a police officer holding a baton.

Afterward, the players exited the field briefly. They returned when authorities managed to segregate Argentina fans, allowing the game to commence after a 30-minute delay.

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The turmoil unfolded two weeks following a clash between fans of Brazil’s Fluminense and Argentina’s Boca Juniors ahead of the Copa Libertadores final, also hosted at Maracana – akin to South America’s Champions League.

Brazilian skipper Marquinhos, joining Argentine players to calm the stands, expressed concern for distressed families and children in the stands. “On the field, it was perplexing and frightening,” he shared.

Despite the chaos, former Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi secured a 1-0 victory for the reigning world champions, Argentina.

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Newcastle’s Joelinton received a red card during Brazil’s defeat, marking their first home World Cup qualifier loss. The five-time World Cup champions have faced three consecutive qualifying defeats, placing them sixth in the South American table, trailing leaders Argentina by eight points, currently occupying the final guaranteed spot for the 2026 finals.

Despite the significant win, Argentina’s coach Lionel Scaloni, who previously led his nation to World Cup victory in Qatar a year ago, hinted at potential resignation.

Argentina requires a coach with utmost vitality and wellness,” stated the 45-year-old, in charge since 2018. “I need to pause, reflect deeply. There’s much on my mind at this moment.


Watch: Lionel Messi Shocked as Police Use Batons on Argentina Fans During World Cup Qualifier Against Brazil

Watch Lionel Messi Shocked as Police Use Batons on Argentina Fans During World Cup Qualifier Against Brazil

Lionel Messi led his teammates into the tunnel following violent clashes between police and fans before kick-off. World Champions Argentina secured a narrow 1-0 victory against rivals Brazil in a heated World Cup qualifier at Rio de Janeiro’s

Maracana. The match, scheduled to begin at 9:30 pm local time (00:30 GMT Wednesday), faced a roughly 30-minute delay due to confrontations between supporters of both teams in the stands. Amidst the disturbances, Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez attempted to intervene, even trying to jump into the seating area to address a Brazilian police officer wielding a baton.

A tweet from Messi Xtra (@M30Xtra) on November 22, 2023, captured the tense moments during the World Cup qualifier between Argentina and Brazil. Several Argentina players approached the disturbances in an apparent effort to appeal for calm, with Captain Lionel Messi eventually leading his teammates into the tunnel.

Messi was heard saying, “We’re not playing, we’re leaving,” as they exited the pitch. A verbal altercation between Messi and Brazil winger Rodrygo Goes, who had seemingly labeled the Argentina players as “cowards,” added to the intense atmosphere.

In the first half, three Brazil players received bookings, and the tension escalated when Joelinton received a straight red card for an off-the-ball clash with Argentina midfielder Rodrigo De Paul, with Brazil already trailing 0-1.

Argentina took the lead in the 63rd minute when defender Nicolas Otamendi headed home from Giovani Lo Celso’s corner. Messi later clarified that he took his teammates off the field to try and calm the situation. After checking on their families and those close to them, the team returned to the pitch.

This historic win marked Argentina’s first in a World Cup qualifier on Brazilian soil. In contrast, the loss left Brazil, five-time champions, in sixth place with seven points from six games. Both teams entered the match following defeats against Colombia (2-1) and Uruguay (2-0), respectively.

(With AFP Inputs)


Mexico and Jamaica stage late comebacks to secure qualification for the 2024 Copa América.

Mexico and Jamaica stage late comebacks to secure qualification for the 2024 Copa América.

Mexico secured their spot in next year’s Copa AmĂ©rica with a dramatic turnaround, as Edson Álvarez’s 11th-minute goal in second-half stoppage time helped El Tri beat Honduras 4-2 on penalty kicks. The match had reached an aggregate score of 2-2 in the home-and-home series, with Mexico coming from behind after trailing 2-0 from Saturday’s match in Tegucigalpa. CĂ©sar Huerta’s penalty kick, which he was allowed to retake twice due to early goalkeeper movement, sealed the victory.

In another compelling qualifier, Jamaica overcame a 2-1 home loss in the first leg against Canada to win 3-2 in Toronto, securing their place in the Copa América with a 4-4 aggregate score and a 3-2 advantage in away goals.

The 2024 Copa América, set to take place in the U.S. from June 20 to July 14, will see Argentina defending their title. The draw for the tournament is scheduled for December 7, and the 10 South American nations have already secured automatic berths.

Additionally, the U.S., Mexico, Jamaica, and Panama advanced to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Nations League, which will be held on March 21 in Arlington, Texas. The matchups are likely to feature the U.S. against Jamaica and Panama against Mexico.

In Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, Luis ChĂĄvez’s free-kick goal and Edson Álvarez’s late strike helped Mexico overcome Honduras. The subsequent penalty shootout saw Mexico emerge victorious, securing their place in the Copa AmĂ©rica.

At Toronto, Jamaica’s Shamar Nicholson scored twice to overturn Canada’s lead, ultimately winning 3-2. Despite a late penalty kick conversion by Canada, Jamaica advanced on away goals.

The qualifier showcased thrilling moments and determined performances, setting the stage for an exciting Copa América in 2024.


Argentina secures a 1-0 victory against Brazil in World Cup qualifying following a delayed start due to crowd violence.

Argentina secures a 1-0 victory against Brazil in World Cup qualifying following a delayed start due to crowd violence.

In Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium on Tuesday, fans gathered with anticipation to witness what was likely Lionel Messi’s last match in Brazil, a superclasico in World Cup qualifying against the hosts. However, the focus shifted from Messi’s potential brilliance to NicolĂĄs Otamendi, who scored the sole goal in Argentina’s 1-0 victory after a fan brawl had initially delayed the game.

This victory marked a historic moment as the World Cup champions handed Brazil its first-ever home defeat in World Cup qualifying, further adding to Brazil’s woes with their third consecutive loss in the round-robin tournament under new coach Fernando Diniz.

Messi’s departure from the pitch in the 78th minute was accompanied by a mix of jeers and applause from Brazilian fans. The Maracana was adorned with children wearing Barcelona and Inter Miami shirts, paying tribute to Messi’s illustrious career.

Despite being unable to breach one of his last barriers in the sport at the Maracana by scoring against Brazil in a World Cup qualifier, Messi and Argentina returned home at the top of the South American qualifying standings, offering their fans another memorable victory at the historic Rio de Janeiro stadium. This triumph echoed their success two years prior when Ángel di Maria secured the Copa America title with the only goal in an empty Maracana.

The pre-match violence, erupting shortly after the national anthems, led to a 27-minute delay in kick-off. Messi and his team spent 22 minutes in the locker rooms, and at least one fan left the stadium with a head injury. Rio police reported the arrest of eight individuals due to the brawl.

The intensity spilled onto the field in the initial 20 minutes, with the referee penalizing Brazil with fouls. Subsequently, the tension eased, allowing Argentina to avoid direct confrontations.

Brazil had its chances, including Raphinha’s free kick in the 38th minute and Cristian Romero’s goal-line save for Argentina six minutes later. The host nation continued to apply pressure after the break, with Rodrygo forcing a close-range save from goalkeeper Dibu Martinez in the 54th minute.

However, Argentina’s breakthrough came in the 63rd minute when Otamendi, rising above Brazilian defenders, headed in a corner kick. Despite Brazil’s attempts, the goal proved decisive.

In the 81st minute, Brazil’s Joelinton, a substitute, was sent off after pushing Rodrigo de Paul. As the match concluded, Brazil fans chanted “ole” for every touch of the Argentinians, while visiting supporters celebrated on the pitch.

With 15 points from six matches, Argentina leads the 10-team South American qualifying competition, followed by Uruguay and Colombia. Brazil, with seven points, faces the prospect of ending the year in sixth position. The 2026 World Cup will feature 48 teams, providing direct entry for the top six South American teams, with the seventh-place team having a chance in an intercontinental playoff.

In other Tuesday matches, Colombia won 1-0 at Paraguay, Uruguay beat Bolivia 3-0 in Montevideo, and Ecuador topped Chile 1-0. The seventh and eighth rounds of South American qualifying are scheduled for September after the next Copa America edition in the United States.

For more soccer updates, visit AP Soccer.

Mauricio Savarese, The Associated Press


Kick-off of Argentina-Brazil World Cup qualifying match delayed by 27 minutes due to fan clashes in the stands.

Kick-off of Argentina-Brazil World Cup qualifying match delayed by 27 minutes due to fan clashes in the stands.

In Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium on Tuesday night, the commencement of the South American World Cup qualifying match between Argentina and Brazil faced a 27-minute delay due to a brawl erupting among fans.

Policemen at the scene intervened using batons to disperse clashes between supporters of both teams. The confrontations resulted in parts of seats being thrown, hitting some spectators behind one of the goals. One fan left the stadium with a head injury, bleeding.

In response to the turmoil, Argentina players urged calm among the spectators before seeking refuge in the dressing room. Goalkeeper Dibu Martinez personally approached the Argentina fans, requesting the police to quell the violence.

Argentina communicated to their Brazilian counterparts that they would only resume play once the situation was under control. After spending 22 minutes in the dressing room, the team returned and engaged in a three-minute warm-up before the game finally commenced.

As the match got underway, a significant police presence surrounded Argentina fans in the stands, and additional security measures were implemented on the pitch. Policemen congregated around the section capable of accommodating approximately 3,000 fans.

Despite the stadium being at full capacity with all 69,000 tickets sold, Brazil fans, who initially jeered and applauded Lionel Messi before the altercation, later chanted against him upon his return to the pitch.

While Brazil players remained on the field, warming up as they awaited the return of their Argentine counterparts, the atmosphere remained tense.

Preceding the match, numerous Brazil fans had shown appreciation for the Argentine star, with many children donning Messi jerseys from his previous clubs, Barcelona and Inter Miami.

In the South American World Cup qualifying standings, Argentina leads with 12 points in five matches, while Brazil occupies the fifth position. Both teams had suffered defeats in their previous games in the round-robin competition featuring 10 teams.

For more soccer updates, visit AP Soccer or follow AP Sports on Twitter.

Mauricio Savarese, The Associated Press


Brazil versus Argentina Starting time, team updates, and all essential details for your information.

Brazil versus Argentina Starting time, team updates, and all essential details for your information.

In a highly anticipated showdown, Brazil welcomes the reigning world champions, Argentina, to the iconic Maracana, marking their first encounter since the last year’s World Cup. Lionel Messi and his triumphant Argentine squad head to Rio with the coveted bragging rights from their recent World Cup victory in Qatar, adding to their previous conquests in the Copa America against Brazil and a significant win at the Maracana the preceding year.

While Argentina revels in their historic success, Brazil finds itself under mounting pressure, striving to secure a spot in the 2026 World Cup. The Selecao has faced setbacks in their last two qualifying matches—a 2-0 loss to Uruguay last month and a 2-1 defeat to Colombia just days ago—resulting in their current fifth-place standing in the table, trailing Argentina by five points. A repeat of Argentina’s Copa America triumph at the Maracana tonight could plunge Brazil into a crisis.

Here’s the essential information you need to know:

When is Brazil vs Argentina? The match kicks off at 00:30 GMT (UK time) on Wednesday, 22 November, at the Maracana in Rio.

Can I watch it? Unfortunately, the match is not available for broadcast or live streaming in the UK.

What is the team news? Brazil faces a significant setback with Vinicius Jr ruled out until the New Year due to a hamstring injury sustained in the recent loss to Colombia. With Neymar, Casemiro, and Richarlison already sidelined, the hosts await

a late decision on Gabriel Jesus’ fitness. Lionel Messi, despite a fitness scare, is available for Argentina. Lisandro Martinez is the main injury absence, and the world champions may see several changes after their Friday defeat to Uruguay, with the potential return of Lautaro Martinez, Angel di Maria, Julian Alvaraz, and Marcos Acuna to the starting lineup.

Predicted line-ups: Brazil: Alisson; Emerson, Marquinhos, Gabriel, Marquinhos, Lodi; Douglas Luiz, Bruno Guimaraes; Raphina, Rodrygo, Jesus, Martinelli.

Argentina: Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuna; Fernandez, Mac Allister, De Paul; Di Maria, Alvarez, Messi.

Brazil 1-1 Argentina


Watch India vs Qatar FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers Live Streaming and Telecast Details

Watch India vs Qatar FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers Live: Streaming and Telecast Details

India vs Qatar FIFA World Cup 2026 Live Stream: India’s Men’s Football Team Set for Second Round Qualifier Clash against Qatar

India vs Qatar FIFA World Cup 2026: The India men’s football team is gearing up to face Qatar in their upcoming second-round Qualifier match on Tuesday, in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. India, buoyed by their recent 1-0 away victory against Kuwait on November 16, aims to challenge Qatar, who are expected to be the favorites. India surprised many by holding Qatar to a goalless draw in their 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Doha, despite facing relentless attacks.

When is the India vs Qatar FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier match scheduled to take place?

The India vs Qatar FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier match is set for Tuesday, November 21.

Venue for India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier:

The India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier match is set to take place at Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

Kick-off Time for India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier:

The India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier match will commence at 7 PM IST.

Live Telecast Details for India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier:

Catch the live action on the Sports 18 Network for the India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier.

Live Streaming Options for India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier:

Stream the match live on the Jio Cinema App and Website for the India vs Qatar, FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier.


FIFA WC 2026: Iran Dominates Hong Kong 4-0, Late Goals Sting Depleted Visitors

FIFA WC 2026: Iran Dominates Hong Kong 4-0, Late Goals Sting Depleted Visitors

In their World Cup opener, Hong Kong faced a tough 4-0 defeat against Iran, whose late goals embellished a match where Jorn Andersen’s resilient team frustrated the dominant home side for extended periods.

Despite Sardar Azmoun’s quick brace putting Hong Kong at a disadvantage within 15 minutes, Andersen’s depleted squad held their ground. However, Iran, with a relaxed defense, sealed a comfortable win. The hosts now prepare for a challenging game in Uzbekistan next week.

While Iran missed several opportunities in the second half, Mehdi Taremi’s goal in the 87th minute and Ramin Rezaeian’s stoppage-time strike secured an emphatic 4-0 victory, leaving Hong Kong with a harsh defeat.

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Andersen landed in Tehran missing key players like Everton Camargo, Helio Goncalves, and Fernando, all from Brazil. Employing strategic tactics, he surprised Iran by sending Shinichi Chan for the pre-match press conference but benching the versatile Kitchee player. Michael Udebuluzor, plagued by hamstring issues, had a brief substitute appearance, likely saved for the next winnable fixture against Turkmenistan.

Further raising eyebrows with his lineup, Andersen deployed Li Ngai-hoi, typically a center-back, as a left-back, hinting at a possible goalkeeping shift with 24-year-old Tse Ka-wing favored over the experienced Yapp Hung-fai.

Youngsters like Poon Pui-hin (23) and Southern’s 32-year-old Mahama Awal earned their first competitive international starts alongside Matt Orr in a three-pronged attack. Midfield saw the debut of the aggressive Lam Hin-ting, aimed at disrupting Iran. Six players from the under-23s’ Asian Games campaign featured in the starting lineup.

Though Andersen wasn’t entirely reshuffling the deck, facing a formidable opponent like Iran, positioned 129 spots above Hong Kong in FIFA rankings, highlighted the glaring gap between the teams, evident in Iran’s scoring dominance.

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Azmoun, currently on loan at Roma from Bayer Leverkusen, struck the first goal past Tse after 12 minutes, capitalizing on Mohammad Mohebi’s precise cross. He swiftly netted another, courtesy of a setup from prolific Porto striker Taremi. Despite the threat of conceding more, Hong Kong’s defense held firm, frustrating Iran’s attempts with solid defensive play, exemplified by Yue Tze-nam’s crucial tackle on Mohebi in the penalty area towards the end of the first half.

Andersen’s squad struggled to trouble Iran’s goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand. Even after making substitutions in the 64th minute by introducing Chan, Law Tsz-chun, and Philip Chan Siu-kwan, they couldn’t create significant opportunities.

Iran missed chances, including Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s off-target shot and Azmoun’s wide attempt, highlighting Hong Kong’s resilient defense. However, Iran’s late goals by Taremi and Rezaeian secured a 4-0 win.

In another Group E match, Uzbekistan bounced back from conceding to Turkmenistan in the first half, securing a 3-1 victory in Ashgabat.

Next, Hong Kong faces Turkmenistan, while Iran travels to Uzbekistan.

Elsewhere in Asian World Cup qualifiers, China rallied to win 2-1 against Thailand in Bangkok, relieving pressure on coach Aleksandar Jankovic.


Unearthed Potential Arsene Wenger Sees Indian Football's Golden Opportunity

Unearthed Potential: Arsene Wenger Sees Indian Football’s Golden Opportunity

Renowned Football Figure Arsene Wenger Collaborates with AIFF and FIFA for India’s Football Future

Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, engaged in productive talks at Football House, meeting heads of national academies. Discussions with AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey and Acting Secretary General Satyanarayan M centered on launching the AIFF-FIFA Academy for youth development in India.

Wenger’s FIFA Talent Development Scheme team is in India for a three-day visit, culminating in inaugurating the AIFF-FIFA Academy in Bhubaneswar on November 21, 2023, marking Wenger’s maiden visit to the country.

AIFF President expressed gratitude, acknowledging Wenger’s invaluable football expertise, hoping for sustained involvement in India’s Talent Development Scheme.

Chaubey emphasized not merely developing Indian football but etching a global presence, leaving a mark in world football’s narrative—a sentiment echoed by all present at Football House on November 20, 2023.

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Mr. Wenger expressed his enduring fascination with India, emphasizing his global football improvement goals. Highlighting India’s vast population and untapped potential, he voiced optimism, citing incredible qualities that fuel his belief in the country’s football prowess. Eager to contribute, Wenger’s motivated team aims to expedite India’s football growth, foreseeing substantial progress in the near future.

Drawing parallels, Wenger recalled Japan’s football evolution from his experience in 1995 to their presence at the World Cup in 1998, stressing the transformative power of an effective talent development scheme when initiated early.

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How will football evolve by 2030? Envisioning the necessary skill set for that time remains speculative. However, the cornerstone lies in technical prowess. Football hinges on technique; hence, it’s crucial to furnish players aged five to 15 with superior technical abilities. Simplistically, fostering a close relationship between the player and the ball is paramount. Other facets can be honed subsequently. This fundamental aspect stands as a vital foundation.

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Here’s where our focus lies—to assist in cultivating technical excellence in young players. Our program’s initiation involves talent identification and the amalgamation of the finest talents,” he explained.

Delving into India’s prospective aspirations, Mr. Wenger highlighted the country’s untapped potential. “Consider the immense possibilities if we execute our strategies effectively. My primary aim is to persuade individuals that there exists an untapped gold mine in this region, awaiting full exploration, exploitation, and encouragement.

England Stifled in Disappointing Draw in Final Euro Qualifier

England Stifled in Disappointing Draw in Final Euro Qualifier

England Secures Top Seeding for Euro 2024 Despite Draw in Skopje

Although already qualified, England’s quest for a top seeding at Euro 2024 was confirmed in Skopje, maintaining consistency following their recent lackluster performance against Malta in a 2-0 win.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Southgate noted, “In both matches, we’ve assessed different players while aiming for victory. It’s an advantage for us to learn from these games ahead of March.”

Controversy arose when debutant Rico Lewis conceded a penalty at the end of the first half, allowing North Macedonia’s Enis Bardhi to capitalize after England’s goalkeeper Jordan Pickford initially saved the spot-kick.

England leveled the score in the 59th minute when Phil Foden’s corner, under pressure from Harry Kane, deflected off Macedonian Jani Atanasov.

The single point secured England’s spot in pot one for the Euro 2024 draw, having amassed 20 points from eight qualifying matches as one of the top five group winners.

England’s Disappointing Finish in Skopje against North Macedonia”

Former England goalkeeper Rob Green criticized England’s lackluster performance in Skopje, contrasting it with their earlier 7-0 victory against the same opponent at Old Trafford in June. Green described the game as “rushed” and lacking in quality.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Green expressed, “Two disappointing performances to conclude the campaign. After the equalizer, North Macedonia created problems, and England faced their own challenges.”

Initially showing promise, England had opportunities with Declan Rice hitting the post and Ollie Watkins missing a free header in the opening minutes. However, controversies emerged, including a possible penalty call against Harry Maguire for a challenge on Elif Elmas.

The penalty given to North Macedonia just before halftime, after referee Filip Glova consulted the monitor following Rico Lewis’s challenge on Miovski, appeared harsh on England.

England had a goal disallowed for offside early in the second half, with Jack Grealish’s timing mistimed, before eventually equalizing through Harry Kane’s involvement in Jani Atanasov’s own goal from Phil Foden’s corner.

Despite England’s late efforts, they struggled to breach North Macedonia’s defensive setup throughout the match.

Reflecting on the game, Southgate acknowledged, “We aimed to score more goals, but North Macedonia proved resilient. They held Italy to a draw and made it challenging for us.

Southgate Finds a Bright Spot in Teenager Lewis’s Debut for England

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In a positive turn for Southgate, teenager Lewis marked his debut for England, becoming the country’s 20th youngest player, just a day before his 19th birthday.

The versatile Manchester City player, who made his club debut less than a year ago, showcased his abilities in both defense and midfield for Pep Guardiola’s side this season. At the Tose Proeski Arena, playing from left-back, Lewis demonstrated his agility by firing a shot over the bar within the first three minutes.

Despite conceding a penalty and earning a yellow card, Lewis rebounded impressively, forcing Macedonian goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski into a remarkable diving save just before halftime.

Southgate praised Lewis, stating, “He performed excellently. His adeptness in receiving the ball in tight spaces stood out. His courage in possession and resilience after a setback, not of his making, were commendable.”

Lewis’s unique playing style and adaptability intrigued Southgate, highlighting his exceptional ball retention and ability to thrive under pressure as valuable assets.

Additionally, Kyle Walker became England’s 126th captain, temporarily filling in for Kane until the Bayern Munich forward appeared in the second half.

England concludes their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign undefeated and is set to encounter Brazil and Belgium in friendly matches come March.


Benjamin Mendy's Lawsuit Against Man City for Unpaid

Benjamin Mendy’s Lawsuit Against Man City for Unpaid

Mendy’s Employment Tribunal Claim Cites ‘Unauthorized Wage Deductions’ Amid Rape Charges; Acquitted in 2021

Benjamin Mendy Initiates Multi-Million-Pound Claim Against Manchester City Over Unpaid Wages

Former Manchester City defender, 29-year-old Benjamin Mendy, has recently lodged a significant claim with the Employment Tribunal. Mendy alleges ‘unauthorized wage deductions’ following his 2021 charges of rape and sexual assault.

In July, Mendy was acquitted of all charges in a retrial at Chester Crown Court. Earlier, he had been found not guilty on some counts, but a retrial was initiated due to the jury’s inability to reach a verdict on two charges.

The claim seeks compensation for wages owed until the conclusion of Mendy’s contract in June 2023. Nick De Marco KC, representing Mendy, confirmed the filing of the claim on behalf of the current Lorient player.

A statement from De Marco KC read: “Nick De Marco KC (instructed by Laffer Abogados, Madrid) is representing former Manchester City player Benjamin Mendy in a multi-million-pound claim for unauthorized wage deductions.

“Manchester City FC Allegedly Withheld Mr. Mendy’s Wages After Charges, Despite His Acquittal, Until Contract End in June 2023. Employment Tribunal Expected for Claim.”

There was no comment from Manchester City when approached by Sky Sports News.

Mendy, who became the Premier League’s costliest defender with City’s ÂŁ52m acquisition from Monaco in 2017, contributed to three league titles and was part of France’s victorious 2018 World Cup squad.

His last appearance for City was in August 2021; he currently represents Lorient in Ligue 1


Italy Clinches Euro 2024 Spot vs Ukraine, Advances as Group C Runner-Up, Chasing Reigning Champs England

Italy Clinches Euro 2024 Spot vs Ukraine, Advances as Group C Runner-Up, Chasing Reigning Champs England

Italy Secures Euro 2024 Spot Despite Ukraine Challenge

In a pivotal clash, Italy needed just to avoid defeat against Ukraine, their previous encounter’s 2-1 win giving them an edge, to secure their place in next summer’s finals. The high-stakes match in Leverkusen, Germany concluded in a goalless draw, ensuring the Azzurri’s qualification.

Although Ukraine, in third place, now pins their hopes on the March playoffs, the passionate support amid the ongoing conflict fueled their determination. Despite appeals for a stoppage-time penalty, dismissed after Mykhailo Mudryk’s challenge from Bryan Cristante, Italy held on.

The Italian side, guided by Luciano Spalletti, ensured their eighth consecutive European Championship appearance, poised to defend their crown in Germany. Meanwhile, England had already secured qualification, drawing their final Euro 2024 qualifying match unbeaten.

Addressing the challenging backdrop, Ukraine boss Serhiy Rebrov emphasized the players’ struggles amid the ongoing war.

“In this atmosphere, it is not easy to work,” Rebrov stated. “But we understand we are presenting as a very strong country, and I think today on the pitch all the players showed that we have character and that we fight for our country.”

Ukraine, having previously taken points off England, started energetically, with Heorhiy Sudakov’s attempt testing Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma. The game saw an intense back-and-forth, including a spectacular save by Anatoliy Trubin to deny Nicolo Barella during the opening exchanges.

The Azzurri Show Resilience Against Ukraine; Italy’s Qualification Confirmed

Italy gradually asserted dominance, with Trubin denying Frattesi’s attempt and Raspadori narrowly missing Chiesa’s cross. Donnarumma’s swift recovery after a fumble secured Italy’s grip as tension mounted at BayArena, ultimately resulting in Italy holding firm.

Luciano Spalletti, Italy’s recent head, acknowledged the team’s achievement: “We deserve a moment of recognition. The competition intensifies now; the real excitement begins.”

In other Monday fixtures, the Czech Republic and Slovenia secured their qualifications. West Ham’s Tomas Soucek contributed to the Czech Republic’s 3-0 victory over Moldova, securing their spot in Group E behind leaders Albania. Despite qualification success, Czech boss Jaroslav Silhavy resigned post-qualification.

Slovenia, finishing as Group H runners-up to Denmark, clinched their place with a 2-1 win against Kazakhstan.