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Sepp Blatter quizzed over Qatar 2022 World Cup vote

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Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter has been interviewed by French anti-corruption police investigating the controversial vote to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Blatter, 85, was summoned to appear as a “witness” on Thursday and Friday, French police said, confirming a report in Le Monde newspaper.

The inquiry is being led by France’s OCLCIFF anti-corruption unit.

Part of its focus surrounds a 23 November 2009 dinner, nine days before the vote, at the Elysees Palace hosted by then French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sitting around the table that night were Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who became emir of Qatar on his father Sheikh Hamad’s abdication in 2013, Qatar’s then prime minister Hamad bin Jassim al Thani, and Michel Platini, then head of Uefa.

Platini is suspected of having voted for Qatar at the request of Sarkozy, an allegation he denies.

The former French football great’s vote helped determine the result of 14 votes for Qatar against eight for the USA on 2 December in Zurich.

Platini was questioned by French police over the affair in 2019 without being charged.

He told a recent edition of Le Monde that he had made up his mind to vote for Qatar “very early” on and without any pressure from Sarkozy.

Investigators are also looking at a $300 million contract with a $100 million bonus for Fifa giving the television rights for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 one in Qatar to Qatari television station Al-Jazeera, if Qatar was awarded the tournament.

Blatter’s hearing was held at the Swiss Public Prosecutor’s office in Zurich and was part of the legal process into the Qatar vote opened by France’s National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF).

Read Also: Ndidi nets as Leicester win to keep Europa League hopes alive

Blatter was Fifa president between 1998 and 2015 when he was forced to stand down and banned from football for eight years, reduced later to six, over ethics breaches.

Qatar was the surprise choice over the apparent strong favourites, the United States.

As well as the French police probe, investigations into the 2022 bidding process are being conducted in the US and in Switzerland.

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I’m in Denmark to improve myself, says youthful Mukairu

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Nigerian striker, Paul Mukairu, has expressed his excitement after his ₦900million move to former champions .of Denmark FC Copenhagen.

The 22-year-old winger dumped Turkish side Antalyaspor after three years with the former Turkish champions.

Mukairu has seen his reputation rise tremendously since he joined Antalyaspor in 2019. Within four months of his arrival in Turkey, he made it to the Antalyaspor first team, scoring three goals and assisting one in his first season.

read also:Juve reject Aston Villa’s £20.5m bid Rodrigo

He spent last season on loan at Belgian Jupiler League side Anderlecht, where he scored two goals and assisted four in 23 league appearances.

Before his departure to Copenhagen, Mukairu had already scored three goals in 20 appearances for the Scorpions this season.

The Abuja-born forward is a quick player, and although he is a winger, he can play as a striker.

The pacy forward was all smiles at his unveiling and expressed his happiness whilst stating his readiness to become better at his new club.

“I feel very happy to be here, the welcome was really nice, it was amazing. I’m so happy to be in this great club.” He told Copenhagen TV.

“I have a lot to learn, and here is a good place to improve myself with the people surrounding me”, he added.

The 22-year-old is yet to make an appearance for the Super Eagles, but if he can continue with his eye-catching displays at his new side, it would only be a matter of time before it happens.

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Arsenal gave me a ‘good slap’, says Saliba

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William Saliba has revealed how he was given a rude awakening on his arrival at Arsenal back in July 2019.

The French defender joined the Gunners from Saint-Etienne for around £27million.

But he is yet to play for the senior side and last summer was shipped off to Marseille on loan.

Now the 20-year-old has admitted his time in the reserves was like a ‘slap in the face’ and hasn’t ruled out a permanent move away from the Emirates.

He told RMC: “Before going to Arsenal, I said to myself I was going to play, I was sure, I was wondering who I would play alongside.

read also:W/Cup Qualifier: Di Maria, Martinez on target in Chile defeat

“I arrive, I play zero matches. I played for the U23s. That gave me a good slap.

“Things go so fast in football. I don’t want to think about the future. I am going to give my all. Then there will be discussions in summer.”

Reports earlier this month suggested Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta was preparing to give Saliba a chance in the senior squad next season.

The centre-back has turned in a string of impressive performances to propel Marseille to third in the Ligue 1 table.

According to L’Equipe, Arsenal are set to reject l‘OM’s attempts to make the deal permanent in the summer.

On his progress, Arteta said earlier this season: “I know that sometimes it’s difficult to explain or understand after the money that the club has spent trying to bring him in, to send him on loan.

“But a lot of things have happened to him, he’s a long-term player for us and we need to protect him as well. And giving him three or four games is not enough.”

 

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Senegal bench on Mane recovery watch ahead E/Guinea clash

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The Senegal technical bench are still monitoring captain Sadio Mane’s recovery ahead of Sunday’s AFCON 2021 quarterfinal date against Equatorial Guinea in Yaoundé.

Mane was taken off in the 70th minute of Senegal’s 2-0 victory over Cape Verde of their last 16 meeting on January 25 with a suspected concussion after earlier colliding with opposition goalkeeper Vozniha who was sent-off in the 56th minute following a second booking for dangerous play.

Senegal national team technical director Mayacine Mar told Sud Quotiden that the bench was observing both Mane and Bamba Dieng who sustained a knock in training.

Read Also: Mane and Salah on track for AFCON final showdown

“Bamba had a little knock but it’s not bad. The doctors preferred to keep him in treatment. Sadio too, but he is doing very well. He feels no pain. He will be operational for the quarter-finals. Maybe tomorrow he will resume training,” Mar said.

Mane is Senegal’s leading scorer at AFCON 2021 on two goals after scoring his second of the tournament with Senegal’s first goal in the victory over Cape Verde.

Senegal are chasing a second successive AFCON final appearance after finishing second in 2019.

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