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first_imgThe 37-member FIFA Council, which makes strategic decisions for soccer’s governing body, will on Tuesday decide whether to increase the tournament from the current 32 teams to either 40 or 48, starting in 2026.Infantino, elected last February to replace the disgraced Sepp Blatter, pledged during his campaign to enlarge the tournament – a promise designed especially to appeal to the bulk of FIFA’s 211 member associations that rarely or never qualify for World Cups.Infantino now says he has “overwhelming support” for his plans.The Council’s nine European representatives seem least likely to support the change.A spokesman for the European governing body UEFA offered little enthusiasm, saying it was “currently gathering feedback from its national associations – which are the ones directly impacted by any change”.The association representing Europe’s most powerful clubs, already struggling to nurse players through long domestic seasons, last month wrote to Infantino to say that “politics and commerce should not be the exclusive priority in football”.But even if the Europeans oppose the expansion, Infantino’s comment suggests they will be in a minority.Critics argue against expansion plansCritics say it would be wrong to change a 32-team format that, in 2014 in Brazil, produced a tournament of exhilarating football, unpredictable results and few meaningless or hopelessly one-sided matches.German football boss Reinhard Grindel said on Thursday that FIFA should stick to its “tried and tested formula”, and that all of the possible alternatives had “considerable weaknesses”.Infantino has said his preferred option is for a 48-team tournament that would start with 16 groups of three teams, where the top two would qualify for a knock-out round of 32.”For this alternative, the draw would probably have to be abolished to avoid tactical behaviour in final group matches,” said Grindel.”But having extra-time and penalties in the group stage is itself problematic, adding organisational difficulties to an already higher number of matches.”Infantino has also proposed a preliminary round of 16 knockout ties, with the winners joining 16 seeded teams in a 32-team group phase.”This would lengthen the tournament by one week for half of the participating teams, and considerably increase the burden on the players,” Grindel warned.There are also two proposals for a 40-team World Cup – the first featuring eight groups of five teams in the first round; and the second with 10 teams of four, where the group winners and six best runners-up would progress.Grindel said the first choice would lead to “a large number of matches where teams would be just playing for pride”, and the latter could leave some second-placed teams waiting for up to four days to find out whether they had qualified.”Past World Cups have always been tournaments that have enthused players, spectators and sponsors alike,” he said. “So why change it?”Reuterslast_img read more

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first_imgAround 100 countries send their heads of armed forces to UN Headquarters to discuss strengthening of UN peacekeeping. (Photo UN PhotoManuel Elias)Brigadier-General Prince C. Johnson III, the Armed Forces of Liberia’s (AFL) Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS), has described the just-ended Chiefs of Defense Conference as a great learning experience for Liberia.The 2017 Chiefs of Defense Conference, which brought together heads of about 100 countries’ armed forces, and held under the theme, “Meeting the Challenges,” took place at the United Nations headquarters in New York from July 6–8, 2017.Brig/Gen. Johnson and AFL Chief of Operations – Headquarters, Colonel Daniel Holman, represented Liberia.The conference also included the participation of military representatives from the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as well as the Force Commanders of the UN peacekeeping missions in Mali (MINUSMA), Central African Republic (MINUSCA), South Sudan (UNMISS) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).According to a dispatch from Liberia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, the conference, among other things, discussed issues surrounding the rapid deployment of troops, training, soldiers’ conduct, discipline and the need to increase the number of female peacekeepers, which is placed at approximately six percent.Liberia is currently contributing a company strength of 75 peacekeepers, including eight female personnel, to MINUSMA following its service as a platoon under the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA).“We went under AFISMA serving as a platoon with Nigeria and Togo in June 2013. AFISMA was transformed to MINUSMA; and as of February 2017, Liberia has company strength of 75 personnel operating independently,” DOS Johnson explained.Johnson said experiences shared by other contributors especially Uganda, who has an all-female platoon in the DRC, will help Liberia, who recently rejoined the peacekeeping efforts after nearly 60 years to strengthen its peacekeeping capacity.He added that on the margins of the conference, he used the time to negotiate on behalf of Liberia and secured a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the United Nations that details the number and types of military personnel as well as equipment and logistical services that will be provided by the country’s armed forces.The AFL Deputy Chief of Staff said that it is a standard procedure that every contributing country including Liberia funds the deployment and upkeep of its soldiers including the provision of major logistical support and services and gets reimbursed.“We are not alone. Based on the new regulations of the UN, some changes have been done. Other countries are also negotiating their MOU. The UN has two agreements – the ‘dry lease’ and ‘wet lease.’ Liberia’s deployment is under a ‘wet lease’ agreement where we go independent and take care of our troops and then the UN reimburses us,” Johnson explained.He added that when the MOU is completed, it will state how Liberia will be reimbursed for major equipment, maintenance, troop deployment and welfare.Meanwhile, Johnson disclosed that more AFL personnel are eager to serve peacekeeping missions in accordance with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s quest “to give back”; but cannot do so now due to the terms of the negotiated MOU.“The motivation is high; the soldiers are eager; we are hopeful that after the signing of the MOU, we will be requesting an increment to a full company size of 150 peacekeepers. The military is about service, and the soldiers are ready to serve. It is just that our MOU gives us a set number,” he noted.Meanwhile, Liberia’s permanent representative to the UN, Amb. Lewis G. Brown, met with Brig/Gen. Johnson during a visit to Liberia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. On behalf of his colleagues, Johnson thanked Amb. Brown and staff for all the support during the MOU negotiation process.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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