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FIFA RANKING

UEFA backs Morocco joining Europe’s World Cup bid

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UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin

Once an opponent of bidding for the 2030 World Cup with another continent, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin gave public support Wednesday to Morocco joining the European candidacy.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Ceferin said at a news conference in Lisbon after the UEFA Congress. “It makes sense to join with Morocco. Morocco is very, very close to Spain and to Portugal.”

The long-planned Spain-Portugal bid brought Ukraine on board last October. It was joined last month by Morocco, which is enjoying new status in soccer after eliminating Spain and Portugal on a stunning run to the 2022 World Cup semifinals in Qatar.

In 2018, Morocco was the losing bidder in the 2026 World Cup contest — won by the United States, Canada and Mexico — and immediately committed to trying again for the next edition.

Later that year, lawmakers in Spain aired the idea of working with the country’s North African near neighbor Morocco — to Ceferin’s displeasure.

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“Someone should say once to the politicians it’s not up to them to speak if they will be hosts of the Euros or the World Cup or not,” Ceferin said in December 2018. “I’m not in favor of cross-confederation bids.”

The landscape of soccer politics has since changed. The UEFA meeting Wednesday in Lisbon where Ceferin was re-elected by acclaim for four more years began with Portugal’s prime minister praising the multi-continent bid to European soccer officials.

“It is the best powerful message we can send to the world, to Europe, to Africa, that through football together we can move forward,” Prime Minister António Costa said in translated comments to an audience that included Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe and FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

Europe and Africa combine for a total of 109 among the 211 FIFA member federations, though bidding countries cannot vote in a contest expected in September 2024.

A South American centenary bid is being prepared by four nations including Uruguay, inaugural host of the 1930 tournament, and 2022 World Cup winner Argentina.

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Saudi Arabia’s ambitions to host soccer events has led to unconfirmed speculation of a 2030 bid with Egypt in Africa and Greece in Europe. It is unclear how UEFA would approve a member federation joining a rival bid.

Spain and Portugal once faced opposition from a United Kingdom-Ireland effort to be the sole European candidate for 2030 that Ceferin had long insisted on. The UK and Ireland bid was later steered toward bidding to host UEFA’s 2028 European Championship which it is expected to be awarded in September.

Ceferin tried to clarify Wednesday he was reluctant to support a cross-continent bid “before I knew we will have only one candidate from Europe.”

UEFA also set up a potential showcase for its 2030 World Cup bid to voters by announcing Wednesday its next annual congress will be held in Madrid on Feb. 8.

-AP

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Loss to Mali may have pushed Nigeria down in latest FIFA ranking –

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Super Eagles Fly To Bouake On Tuesday -

The 2-0 loss to Mali last week in Morocco may have caused the Super Eagles to drop from last month’s 28th position to 30th as the latest FIFA ranking was released Thursday morning.

But despite the drop in global ranking, the Super Eagles are still third in Africa behind Morocco and Senegal.

The Nigeria versus Mali match was just one of the 174 games at the last international window. Nigeria played two matches, one of which Nigeria won one, a 2-1 defeat of their traditional rivals, the Black Stars of Ghana.

According to a press release by FIFA, the matches, played all over the world had a significant effect on the current  World Ranking, most notably within the top ten.

Argentina (1st) continue to lead the way ahead of France (2nd), but Belgium (3rd, up 1) have returned to the podium at the expense of England (4th, down 1). Brazil (5th) complete the top five, but Portugal (6th, up 1) are now knocking on the door. The Netherlands (7th, down 1) have slipped one place, whereas Spain (8th), Italy (9th) and Croatia (10th) have all held on to their positions.

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The USA (11th, up 2), Colombia (12th, up 2), Ukraine (22nd, up 2) and Poland (28th, up 2) have all made progress up the ranking, as have Czechia (36th, up 4), Palestine (93rd, up 4) and Kyrgyz Republic (100th, up 4), all of whom have taken the biggest strides among the top 100 teams.

It is outside of the top 100, however, that the biggest movers are to be found. Libya (114th, up 6) and Afghanistan (151st, up 7) have made impressive progress, but it is Indonesia (134th, up 8) who are the biggest climbers on the back of their two victories over Vietnam during FIFA World Cup 26 qualifiers.

Finally, the performances of Qatar (34th, up 3) and Comoros (117th, up 4) are also worthy of mention as both teams are now currently in their highest-ever position in the ranking.

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FIFA RANKING

Super Falcons down two places but retain continental lead

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Super Falcons down two places but retain continental lead

The first FIFA ranking of the women’s national teams for 2024 appeared was officially released by world football governing body, FIFA on Friday, 15 March.

Nigeria went down two places from the rankings, going from 32nd to 34th position but maintain their lead on the continental.

In the African rankings, the Nigeria are followed reigning African champions, South Africa who moved one place up the world rankings to 51st.

Morocco are third on the continent, while occupying position 58 in the world. The Copper Queens of Zambia moved an impressive five spots to position 65.

World champions, Spain retain their lead in the global rankings.

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FIFA RANKING

Super Falcons down two places but retain continental lead –

Published

on

Super Falcons down two places but retain continental lead

The first FIFA ranking of the women’s national teams for 2024 appeared was officially released by world football governing body, FIFA on Friday, 15 March.

Nigeria went down two places from the rankings, going from 32nd to 34th position but maintain their lead on the continental.

In the African rankings, the Nigeria are followed reigning African champions, South Africa who moved one place up the world rankings to 51st.

Morocco are third on the continent, while occupying position 58 in the world. The Copper Queens of Zambia moved an impressive five spots to position 65.

World champions, Spain retain their lead in the global rankings.

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