Kigali, Oct 26 (AP/UNB) — FIFA President Gianni Infantino says he is pushing for support of new competitions despite Europe's opposition because it is his duty to protect the "relevance of football."
On the eve of the soccer governing body's council meeting, Infantino revealed other investors are interested in backing a revamped Club World Cup and a new worldwide Nations League. So far, only a consortium featuring Japan's SoftBank that has offered $25 billion in guaranteed revenue has been identified.
But European soccer's federation remains a thorn in the side of Infantino, who wants council members on Friday to agree in principle to replace competitions that lack commercial appeal. UEFA clubs are opposed to adding more games to their schedule, especially any that threaten the popular Champions League.
"I really think we have to think out of the box to think about new models to preserve football and the relevance of football and the structure of football," Infantino said in an interview with The Associated Press and New York Times on Thursday afternoon.
"I don't think there is anything that dramatic or wrong to discuss about competitions, to discuss about how to commercialize these competitions," he said. "I don't understand this hype."
The relationship between FIFA and UEFA was tense ahead of Friday's meeting in the Rwandan capital.
UEFA representatives discussed walking out of the meeting when the new competitions are discussed, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. But FIFA officials late Thursday floated the possibility to UEFA of a task force being created to explore the merits of the new formats, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the conversations were private.
As successor to Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president of 17 years, Infantino said he is championing "modern ways" in the world's most popular sport. That includes scrapping the Club World Cup in its current, unappealing annual seven-team format and the Confederations Cup, which is a little-regarded World Cup warmup tournament.
But several council members were irritated by Infantino's secrecy surrounding the proposal for the new competitions — particularly the financials.
"Maybe (there is) some misunderstanding," Infantino said. "I don't know what the reasons are and I'm still confident that we will find the right kind of solution."
Infantino wants members, at least, to back the idea of the global Nations League and a bigger, annual Club World Cup or quadrennial version.
"He is not already lost or not," Infantino said of UEFA head Aleksander Ceferin. "I am confident we can speak."
But Infantino said he has not spoken to Ceferin in a few months despite both of their governing bodies being based in Switzerland.
"We don't agree ... so far on essentials," Infantino said. "This isn't the end of the world. You can have opinions and agree we have different interests. ... Hopefully everyone, or a majority, sees and agrees (the new competitions) are something that will benefit football. Then if it doesn't then you do something else."
The lack of consensus prevented Infantino from calling a special council meeting to secure the backing he hoped to get ahead of the World Cup in Russia. He even wrote to council members warning a "change in the financial terms" could result from not accepting the full proposition.
A 60-day negotiating period with a consortium of investors, who Infantino has not publicly named, expired in May.
"Maybe that hindered a proper discussion about (the new competitions) but (the offer) was there," Infantino said.
Infantino is now trying to take the focus off the finances heading into Friday's meeting.
"It's not all a question of 25 billion," he said. "The question is do we want to do something for club football and national team football on a worldwide basis."
In briefing documents for the council meeting, FIFA assured council members that government-issued funds won't be allowed to be part of any joint-venture consortium involved in the new tournaments.
"There were several discussions with several other potential investors, not state funds or anything similar but private global companies," Infantino said. "We will see what, if anything will be decided on Friday, and then if something will be decided we will see what kind of offers we can get after that."
UEFA officials have been informed the consortium featuring SoftBank could withdraw from negotiations if progress is not made in Kigali, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
Asked about the other offers beyond the $25 billion proposal, Infantino said: "Nothing was rejected nothing was concretized."
Sherpur, Oct 25 (UNB) – Defending champions Rising Star Club made a good start in the Saif Power Battery Sherpur District Football League beating Durbar Tarun Sangha by 2-1 goals in the opening match at the Shaheed Darog Ali Poura Park here on Thursday.
Captain Kabir and Morshed scored one goal each for the winners while Hannan netted the lone goal for the losers.
Earlier, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Sherpur John Kennedy inaugurated 11-team league at a function, chaired by District Football Association (DFA) President Manik Dutta.
Dhaka, Oct 25 (UNB) – Bangladesh’s trailblasing golfer Siddikur Rahman signed for a flawless five-under-par 67 and stayed a one-shot behind to grab the lead with Thai player Suradit Yongcharoenchai after the opening round of the US$400,000 Panasonic Open India (POI) on Thursday.
The 33-year-old Siddikur, a two-time Asian Tour (AT) winner, returned with a bogey-free round highlighted by five birdies and shared the second slot with local hopes Ajeetesh Sandhu and Tapy Ghai.
Siddikur has an impressive track record at the par-72 in a 6935-yard Delhi Golf Club course where he won his second AT title in 2013, finished inside top-10 on four occasions of his five attempts in the POI and secured six top-10s in other AT events.
“It was an excellent day out there. I hit the ball good and my putting was great as well… I don’t think there’ll be any changes in my game plan moving forward. I hope to continue playing the same way I did today,” said Siddkur.
“I’ve a lot of great memories on this golf course. I won on this course five years ago and I’ve played well here on several other occasions. I always think about all these good memories whenever I come to play here. It always inspires me,” the star golfer of Bangladesh added.
Placing 97th on the latest Habitat for Humanity Standings, Siddikur needs to put together a strong showing at the POI to boost his Merit rankings where he needs to finish inside top-60 at the end of the season to retain his playing rights for 2019.
Among other Bangladesh’s golfers, Shakhawat Hossain Sohel -- won PGM Miri Championship in September in Malaysia for his maiden Asian Development Tour (ADT) title - and Zamal Hossain Mollah - the joint 7th place finisher in an ADT event AB Bank Bangladesh Open at home in May – carded matching even-par 72 opening to share the 46th place with 14 other golfers.
Another Bangladesh player, Dulal Hossain, carded four-over-par 76 to share the 104th place with four other golfers.
Chattogram, October 25 (UNB) - The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) on Thursday announced a 12-member BCB Eleven to play a three-day practice match against touring Zimbabwe from October 29-31 at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium here ahead of the two-match Test series including pacer Shahadat Hossain Razib.
The first of the two-match Test series against Zimbabwe will begin on November 3 at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium while the 2nd Test will be held at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur on November 11-15.
BCB Eleven: Fazle Mahmud Rabbi, Mizanur Rahman, Nazmul Hossain Shanta, Zakir Hossain, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Ariful Islam, Afif Hossain, Nurul Hasan Shohan, Ebadat Hossain, Abu Hider Rony, Rubel Hossain and Shahadat Hossain Razib.
The BCB also announced a 15-member squad on Thursday for the two-match Test series against Zimbabwe naming all-rounder Mahmudullah Riyad as captain in absence of injury grabbed regular captain Shakib Al Hasan.
Bangladesh Test squad : Mahmud Ullah (Captain), Imrul Kayes, Litton Kumer Das, Mominul Haque, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taijul Islam, Abu Jayed Chowdhury Rahi, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Mohammad Mithun, Khaled Ahmed and Nazmul Islam Apu.
Paris, Oct 25 (AP/UNB) — Next year's Tour de France will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the showcase race's iconic yellow jersey.
With France emerging from the carnage of World War I, the Tour offered its beacon of hope to the war-ravaged nation. In 1919, the race leader's yellow jersey — which has become cycling's most iconic symbol — was introduced.
"It came straight out of the trenches, born from the rubble of a wounded France," Tour race director Christian Prudhomme said Thursday, unveiling the route for the July 6-28 race. "A light was needed, a color which can be seen better than any other, in the dust, in the night. A beacon was needed to guide France toward resurgence."
Joining Prudhomme on stage were five-time Tour winners Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.
"It's the most important jersey you can wear," the 73-year-old Merckx said.
Only four riders, including Jacques Anquetil, have won five Tours. Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven titles for doping.
"Over the century, the yellow jersey has left its mark. It's experienced everything, the biggest exploits, the biggest champions," Prudhomme said. "It also has also experienced the lies. (A total of) 266 champions have had the honor of wearing it."
British rider Chris Froome will try to win his fifth title next year, but will have to depose his Team Sky teammate Geraint Thomas over the 3,460-kilometer (2,145-mile) race. It features seven flat stages for sprinters, five hilly ones for all-arounders, seven mountain stages — five of with summit finishes — one team time trial and one individual time trial.
The big climbs start in the Pyrenees before hitting the Alps.
The Tour has less of the Hors Categorie (Beyond Classification) climbs than before. Those HC climbs are the most grueling. Instead, the race has more of the Category Two climbs — which are noticeably less difficult and favor attacking strategies.
"Our ambition is not to make it more difficult but to make it more varied," Prudhomme said. "(More) Incentive to attack."
Sky has won six of the past seven races, often controlling them in the mountains by easily repelling attacks. This has given the team an aura of invincibility and the race a predictable tone.
With closer racing needed, the two time trials combine for a relatively low 54 kilometers (34 miles), meaning specialists such as Froome have less chance to gain significant time advantages.
The race begins with a flat stage for sprinters around the city of Brussels and stays there the next day for the 27-kilometer (17-mile) team time trial.
After leaving Belgium, the Tour snakes through the Champagne and Lorraine regions. Stage 4 for sprinters starts in Reims — the Champagne-producing city where 25 French kings were crowned in its cathedral.
With the race leaving the Alsace region, Stage 7 is the longest at 230 kilometers (143 miles) and made for sprinters. The next day's stage is a hilly one, with several short but sharp climbs from Macon to Saint-Etienne.
The first rest day is July 16 in Albi in southern France, followed by a sprint stage before the Tour enters the high Pyrenees. Stage 14 on July 20 features finishes with a climb up the Tourmalet pass, one of the most famed in Tour history.
Riders tackle three days of Alpine climbing on stages 18-20, featuring an ascent up the famed Galibier and imposing Iseran — standing 2,770 meters (9,100 feet) — and culminating with a relentless 33.4-kilometer (20.7-mile) trek up to the ski resort of Val Thorens.
After the weary peloton is flown toward Paris, the race ends the next day with its processional showcase stage on the Champs-Elysees.