Duarte Gomes feels the future of VAR is "bright" despite the issues it has seen since its introduction.

The 2018 World Cup was the first competition to have VAR implemented, with the Premier League introducing it for the 2019-20 campaign.

It has been much-maligned in some quarters, though, particularly with fans who feel it has slowed games down and even got decisions wrong in some cases, such as Luis Diaz's incorrectly disallowed goal during Liverpool's loss at Tottenham earlier in the season.

Despite the teething problems, former FIFA referee Gomes still feels VAR's implementation has been a success, though he concedes it still has issues.

"I believe the future is bright for VAR," Gomes told Stats Perform. "I can see improvements in many situations, but I can also see some failures, which I believe is still normal at this level.

"The introduction of VAR, I believe it's the most important change in referees in history, so sometimes it takes time.

"They have to be fast and accurate and it's not easy. Sometimes they have to get the best image from the technician. So it's a growing process. But so many good decisions have been made, especially when it comes to offsides, goals. What is allowed or correctly validated after VAR. Also, violence that the referee cannot see on the pitch and happens very clearly."

Much of the frustration with VAR, at least in England, has centred on the perceived move away from only correcting clear and obvious errors, which was highlighted as the primary reason for its introduction.

Gomes agrees it should only be used for less subjective decisions, saying: "I believe that VAR should be exclusively used for very factual decisions. For example, like goalline technology on the goals or offside technology or with the line, that's very yes and no, black or white.

"When you have grey areas like pushing and holding and maybe a hand, maybe not. You have to change this. I think it will be better."

Gomes believes one area that could be improved would be to have officials whose sole role is VAR, rather than the current system of having referees and assistant referees in the VAR room.

"As for now, we have the career of an assistant referee," Gomes added. "We should have a career only for the VAR.

"They get their information only by having the decisions evaluated on TV on the screen. They should be professional at that, they cannot be referees and VARs at the same time."

Fans have a right to be concerned over the proposed introduction of blue cards in football, according to former FIFA referee Duarte Gomes.

Football lawmakers IFAB announced this month it would trial the implementation of blue cards, which would see players sin-binned for 10 minutes should they commit dissent or a cynical foul.

The announcement was met with concern, with the Premier League stating it would not be part of any trial, while FIFA also distanced itself from the proposals.

Gomes understands the concerns, although he also feels the introduction of blue cards could help to clamp down on dissent in the game.

"Yes, I understand fans' worries," Gomes told Stats Perform. "I understand that they are very emotional sometimes.

"They are very close to their teams, which kills the clarity in their minds. That's perfectly normal, and they have some right to be worried because this is something very strong.

"I think the idea is to prevent more things happening, not to be punished all the time. Maybe we pass the message in the first matches with a yellow, with a blue card, and then the players understand that when they go out for 10 minutes, they will be out of the match without participating.

"They will hurt their teams because they will be with one less player, and it will change a lot. So, this will be the good part, to make a statement to tell them 'don't do that'."

Gomes compared the proposals to VAR, which has undergone many teething problems since its introduction, saying: "I am sure that at this point, in what concerns for example, VAR, everybody with some distance and some clarity can say it was a very good measure because thousands and thousands of situations were corrected using VAR. So maybe this will happen with the blue card."

Gomes has reservations of his own, though, particularly in regards to how impacted teams will potentially look to shut the game down to get through their numerical disadvantage without their chances of victory being hurt.

"We need to balance that, because maybe one solution can create many problems for the referee and become the opposite of the spirit that is trying to be done," Gomes said.

Another worry is the impact of the blue cards on the tempo of the game, which is already under the spotlight with VAR. Gomes shares this view, too.

"I do have some worries about breaking time," Gomes continued. "Again, making the game less fluid and impacting on the emotions of people, because the match will depend on 10 and then 11 and then 10. And it stops and somebody will have to count the 10 minutes.

"There may be a small problem concerning the spectacle, so let's wait and see."

Gomes also highlighted football's uniqueness as a sport in relation to the intensity of emotion as another reason for fans' concerns, adding: "We cannot compare any other indoor sports that have the blue card with football, which is very different in the bigger atmosphere with lots of emotions involved, many, many people.

"Football is very peculiar, very sensitive, it's a world phenomenon, and when you want to change something, you have to do it very carefully, not to hurt the match, not to hurt the spectators, the emotions, but also the players and the teams, and the referees."

Embattled former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, of Trinidad and Tobago, believes his “nightmare is over,” after the United States Supreme Court and a lower court threw out the convictions of two defendants linked to football corruption in September last year.

According to a January 27, 2024 New York Times article, these rulings “cast doubt on the legal basis for a host of prosecutions” surrounding those involved in scandals coming out of the December 2015 raids on FIFA officials in Zurich, Switzerland.

In June 2011, Warner, who was then provisionally suspended by the world football governing body for alleged corruption, resigned from all his international football posts. Warner was one of 14 top FIFA officials and corporate executives to be accused of corruption, fraud and money laundering while he was FIFA vice-president.

Warner was later indicted in 29 charges of corruption in the US in 2015. Extradition proceedings against him remain on hold.

In an interview with i95.5FM last Thursday, Warner said the court’s ruling to toss the convictions of an ex-21st Century Fox executive and sports marketing company on corruption charges in a case involving FIFA has him feeling relieved.

That September case, according to the New York Times, is one in which “the two defendants benefited from two recent Supreme Court rulings that had rejected federal prosecutors’ application of the law at play in the soccer cases and offered rare guidance on what is known as honest services fraud.

“The defendants in the soccer trial had been found to have engaged in bribery that deprived organizations outside the US of their employees’ honest services, which constituted fraud at the time. But the judge ruled that the court’s new guidance meant that those actions were no longer prohibited under American law.”

On this decision, Warner declared his agreement.

“I am in firm agreement with the US Supreme Court statement on the matter. I always knew the US were wrong to attack and destroy FIFA and destroy people’s lives just because they didn’t get a World Cup venue,” Warner said, referring to the US' failed 2022 World Cup bid.

That World Cup bid was won by Qatar, but several FIFA officials, including Warner, were accused of accepting bribes.

“It is utterly ridiculous for people to be imprisoned and to be charged for being a member of a private organisation as FIFA, and to be charged by the US government on what they did or did not do during their stay in FIFA,” Warner argued.

“I am feeling relieved. My life has been destroyed, my family’s life has been destroyed and I have spent tonnes of money on this matter. All I did was to tell FIFA that it is time to change the paradigm of giving the World Cup to Europe and South America. I said to them, ‘just go to the Middle East’.

“It is this that has caused me to be where I am today. The irony is that people in the Middle East, thanks to my efforts and others, Qatar (which hosted the World Cup in 2022) has produced one of the best World Cups this world has ever seen. So, I feel vindicated in a sense for what I have done, but the price that I have paid for that is overbearing,” he added.

The French footballers’ union is considering taking legal action over changes to football’s international calendar which it says are impacting on players’ physical and mental health.

David Terrier, the vice-president of the UNFP, claims FIFA has introduced a 32-team Club World Cup to an already congested calendar without proper consultation, and says its actions are driven by “a thirst for money”.

Terrier’s comments to the PA news agency follow a warning from Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Maheta Molango in December that the stage had been reached where “people are ready to take legal action” over this issue.

Terrier said: “Faced with the refusal of FIFA and UEFA, faced with the addition of competitions, the drastic increase in injuries, mental fatigue which is hitting more and more players, what other answer can we give than to initiate legal proceedings which will allow us to stop the headlong rush promoted by FIFA in its thirst for competition and – no one is fooled – for money?

“It is necessary that it stops. We are already studying at the UNFP the possibilities offered to us to bring the calendar issue before the courts. We can’t be blamed for not trying to find a solution through dialogue.

“The international calendar is adrift and it is up to us to bring it back to port as quickly as possible using all means at our disposal.”

PA understands any legal action taken by UNFP would not be directly against FIFA.

Terrier said the current schedule was “insane” even without the new-look Club World Cup, which is set to take place in the United States in the summer of 2025.

Terrier called on others to support players on this issue, adding: “What I don’t understand, apart from the words of the coaches, some too rare presidents and the medical profession, why (unions and) the players, are the only ones fighting against disruption of the calendar.

“Because this also impacts clubs, whose players are more often injured, and the national leagues which, as in France, are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain TV rights that live up to their expectations.

“It must be said that the repetition of matches ultimately harms the quality of the show and neither the broadcasters nor the spectators are fooled.

“Today and tomorrow will be worse, everyone loses. So why are we the only ones to fight? It’s incomprehensible.”

Domestic leagues are understood to be assessing their legal options in regard to the Club World Cup, over concerns of the direct impact it will have on start dates for their competitions and indirectly on the value of television rights, with only a finite amount of broadcaster cash available to spend.

Paris St Germain will be France’s sole representatives in the Club World Cup, and their president Nasser Al Khelaifi is the president of the European Club Association which has endorsed the tournament.

A FIFA spokesperson said: “The decision to enlarge the FIFA Club World Cup is in line with FIFA’s Vision as the tournament will provide a relevant platform for clubs from all continents, giving them the opportunity to compete on the world stage, thus taking club football to the next level.

“This is also in line with FIFA’s objective of making football truly global by having clubs competing at the highest level.

“The enlarged FIFA Club World Cup, which is supported by the European Club Association (ECA) and will take place once every four years, also fits into FIFA’s key objective to have meaningful football matches, while also recognising that many regions need more competitive football.

“When it comes to player welfare, it’s worth stressing that the FIFA Club World Cup replaces the FIFA Confederations Cup which was last played in 2017. FIFA has not simply ‘added’ a new competition but also annulled one.”

Trinidad and Tobago's Football Association (TTFA) recently took a step closer to a return to self-governance when members voted unanimously in favour of revising statutes to its constitution, as stipulated by FIFA.

The revision took place during an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) hosted by TTFA at the Home of Football in Couva.

Revision of the existing constitution was mandated by FIFA in order to effectively dissolve the TTFA’s normalisation committee, which was installed in March 2020 to replace the elected executive, led by William Wallace.

With this latest development, the highly anticipated election to install a new TTFA executive will take place before March 31, when the normalisation committee’s tenure ends.

All 30 eligible members voted in favour of the changes at the meeting, where FIFA and Concacaf officials observed. The recent EGM was arranged after FIFA declared that the proposed TTFA statutes “(fully comply) with the requirements and standards of FIFA and Concacaf,” and are therefore endorsed by both.

The elected administration was controversially taken over by FIFA after the world governing body said it observed “grave violations of FIFA statutes,” and other problems within the TTFA, such as debts, which put it at risk of insolvency.

As such, the normalisation committee was installed by FIFA primarily to run day-to-day business; settle debts; make recommendations for constitutional amendments to align with FIFA statutes; and to call the TTFA elections, of which it would oversee.

TTFA general secretary Amiel Mohammed said a copy of the new statutes “will probably be published on (TTFA’s) website this week.”

“There are many provisions (to assist) in ensuring there is accountability and prudent financial governance as per policies, controls and signing authority,” Mohammed told T&T Newsday.

The voting structure has been amended and slate elections have been introduced. The executive committee will consist of nine members.

T&T Premier Football League Tier One clubs (maximum of 12) have a delegate and two votes each, along with the top six clubs from the second tier at the end of the most recent campaign.

Each of the regional associations and T&T Women’s League Football also have two votes and a delegate, while the remaining associations: beach soccer, futsal, referees, coaches, Secondary Schools Football League, Primary Schools Football League and the Veterans Football Foundation of T&T, all have one vote and delegate.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has called for the implementation of an automatic forfeit of games for teams whose fans commit racist abuse after the “totally abhorrent” incidents at Udinese and Sheffield Wednesday.

AC Milan’s players walked off the pitch after France international goalkeeper Mike Maignan reported hearing monkey noises coming from a section of the crowd at the Stadio Friuli.

Coventry’s Kasey Palmer said he received similar abuse similar abuse at Hillsborough and their 2-1 win was stopped for several minutes while the match officials spoke to both managers.

Milan’s players eventually returned to secure a 3-2 victory in added time but Infantino said there should be harsher punishments.

“As well as the three-step process (match stopped, match re-stopped, match abandoned), we have to implement an automatic forfeit for the team whose fans have committed racism and caused the match to be abandoned, as well as worldwide stadium bans and criminal charges for racists,” he said in a FIFA post on X.

“FIFA and football shows full solidarity to victims of racism and any form of discrimination. Once and for all: No to racism! No to any form of discrimination!

“The events that took place in Udine and Sheffield on Saturday are totally abhorrent and completely unacceptable. The players affected by Saturday’s events have my undivided support.

“We need ALL the relevant stakeholders to take action, starting with education in schools so that future generations understand that this is not part of football or society.”

Maignan said something had to change as racist abuse has been part of football for too long.

“This shouldn’t exist in the world of football, but unfortunately for many years this is a recurrence,” he told Milan TV after confirming he heard fans making monkey noises.

“With all the cameras present and sanctions for these things, something must be done to change things.

“We all have to react, we must do something because you can’t play like this.”

Milan and city rivals Inter have both publicly supported Maignan, Serie A said it “condemns all forms of racism”, while France striker Kylian Mbappe said “enough is enough”.

“You are very far from being alone Mike Maignan. We are all with you. Still the same problems and still NO solution. Enough is enough. NO TO RACISM,” Mbappe posted on X.

Former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright applauded the “solidarity” in the Milan side and urged teams to “keep walking off” when they hear abuse and called for stronger sanctions.

He wrote on X: “We did ‘playing through it’ and nothing has changed. Points deductions needed, the fines are pointless.”

However, Coventry midfielder Palmer admitted he was sceptical things would change in the game, also writing on X: “Racism is a disgrace… it has no place in the world, let alone football.

“I’m black and proud and I am raising my three kids to be the exact same. I’ll be honest, it feels like things will never change, no matter how hard we try.

“Couple fans doing monkey chants don’t define a fan base – I appreciate all the love and support I’ve received.”

Coventry owner Doug King and manager Mark Robins condemned the abuse and offered their full support to Palmer, while Sheffield Wednesday said they were “shocked and saddened” by the alleged incident and anyone found culpable will face “the strictest possible sanctions from both Sheffield Wednesday and the law”.

The European Super League's pledge to stream all matches for free is unsustainable and merely a ploy to coax fans into supporting the project.

That is the view of finance expert Dan Plumley, who does not see how a breakaway competition could offer enough prize money to earn the support of clubs while showing games for free. 

Despite a backlash from fans, players and media thwarting the Super League's attempted launch in 2021, the project reared its head again this week with a reworked format being announced.

After the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled FIFA and UEFA "abused a dominant position" in blocking the Super League two years ago, the competition's organisers, A22 Sports, revealed a new format for the tournament, which is still supported by Real Madrid and Barcelona. 

The plan features promotion and relegation across three tiers and also includes a promise to make all games free to stream, but Plumley doubts whether that is possible.

"Everything we've seen throughout history would point to the fact that won't be sustainable, which is where the finances and the distribution models get interesting," he told Stats Perform. 

"We've seen the proposed format of the new ESL but we've not seen the financial distribution mechanisms, we've not seen where the money's coming from and if you are going to promote a free-to-air model through a streaming service, that obviously looks good for the fans.

"But at some point you have to have some form of broadcaster to be able to generate prize money and to generate the finances of the competition. 

"Everything I've seen throughout the years would suggest that you can't go that long without a decent broadcasting deal or big commercial and sponsorship partnerships." 

Asked whether the promise of free coverage was purely intended to get fans onside, Plumley added: "Yeah, for sure. 

"You've probably made the most relevant point there, which is how much people are paying currently for sports subscription content. 

"Talking from a basis of us being located in the UK, it's not cheap. If you want a Sky Sports subscription, a TNT Sports subscription, the Amazon one… it does become quite costly for the fans. 

"So to have something that is free at the point of consumption is obviously a hook for fans to come on board with it. 

"I think we've clearly seen the backlash in the UK with the English clubs and many English fans. 

"Even if it is free-to-air and dependent on the clubs that would be involved, I think some would still turn around and say: 'No, thank you very much. Even if it's free, I'm not interested'. 

"But there is a whole range of international fans out there that follow European football and follow some of these clubs. Maybe some of those are interested. 

"You look at it through your own lens, but you also have to look at it through the lens of others. Obviously it's a ploy to try and get some positivity on board by offering it free-to-air."

Plumley said the only way the project could succeed financially with a free-to-air model was through the potential involvement of a state wealth fund.

"I think where you might see some shift in the future, and this might start to make it bigger than Europe, is will we see sovereign state wealth funds or private equity consortiums get involved with the financing of the competition, to enable them to show some free-to-air content?" Plumley said.

"In the 2021 project, it was supposed to be financed by JP Morgan and we saw that American influence, we've seen an explosion in Saudi Arabian football in the last couple of years. 

"Do one of those other big players in the market get involved in the future? I think all those questions are a little bit up in the air at the minute. 

"At some point, you have to start talking about broadcasting deals because there's only so much free-to-air content you can give away if you're going to be putting a load of prize money on the table."

International club football faces a potentially fragmented and uncertain future after UEFA and FIFA regulations giving them the right to block new competitions such as the European Super League were ruled to be contrary to EU law.

Here the PA news agency takes a closer look.

What has happened?

The 15 judges comprising the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice had been asked to decide whether UEFA and FIFA’s moves to block the formation of the European Super League in 2021, and then sanction those clubs involved, breached EU competition law.

The court found those rules to be contrary to EU law, and that UEFA and FIFA had abused a dominant position in the market by not having suitable conditions and criteria which could give rival promoters access to the market.

What does this mean?

Let’s start with what it doesn’t mean. The court stresses that the ruling does not necessarily give approval to the European Super League as it was proposed in 2021. What it does appear to do is to give companies like A22 the right to pitch a new football competition and for their application to be judged on criteria which are “transparent, objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate”.

Why is this a shock?

Because last December the Advocate General in the case gave a non-binding opinion which found UEFA and FIFA’s rules allowing them prior approval were compatible with EU law. In 80 per cent of cases an AG’s opinion is followed in the final ruling – this case is therefore one of the exceptions. Grand Chamber rulings are binding and cannot be appealed.

What has the early reaction been?

UEFA issued a statement noting the judgement but insisted it did not see it as an endorsement or validation of the Super League project. It is also confident that its authorisation rules for new competitions issued in 2022 are “robust” and comply with European law.

Super League promoter A22 is jubilant, with chief executive Bernd Reichart promising “free viewing” for fans of Super League matches though it is not immediately clear whether he means in stadiums or on TV. Real Madrid, one of the clubs who initially proposed the breakaway, claimed “European football is finally in the hands of the clubs, players and fans. Our destiny belongs to us,” while Barcelona feel the verdict “paves the way for a new elite level football competition in Europe by opposing the monopoly over the football world”.

Does this mean a Super League will happen?

No, it simply says UEFA’s rules governing access to the market were found to be contrary to EU law. A court judgement does not mean a Super League is inevitable – for a start it requires clubs to be willing. Premier League teams are looking forward to sharing in a £6.7bn bonanza in their next domestic television deal, and the new independent regulator is set to impose licensing conditions precluding clubs from joining certain competitions.

And aside from clubs, the first iteration of Super League in 2021 was deeply unpopular with English fans. A22 faces a huge PR battle to convince supporters of the merits of any new competition it proposes.

Football agents’ fees linked to international transfers in the men’s game reached an all-time high in 2023, according to new data published by FIFA.

Agents earned 888.1million US dollars (£701.6m) from such deals, the sport’s global governing body found.

The figure represents a 42.5 per cent increase on last year and is up by more than one third on the previous record set in 2019, FIFA said.

English clubs were the single biggest contributors to this year’s record total, spending 280m US dollars (£221.2m) on agents’ service fees, with Saudi Arabian clubs the second-highest spenders as buyers on 86m US dollars (£68m).

FIFA’s report excludes domestic transfer deals such as those involving Moises Caicedo, Declan Rice and Kai Havertz, so the true amount earned by agents in the year will be substantially higher.

New regulations which would cap agents’ fees have been ruled to be in breach of UK competition law.

The Football Association had been due to introduce the new domestic rules – which closely mirror new FIFA agent regulations at international level – from October 1, but a legal challenge was launched by four player agencies.

That challenge sparked arbitration proceedings, and while the full decision has not been published, the FA announced on November 30 that the tribunal had ruled the fee cap to be anti-competitive.

FIFA’s rules have also been challenged in other jurisdictions. A district court in Dortmund granted an injunction preventing certain aspects of the new regulations – including the fee cap – being applied to any deal where any party – agent, club, player or coach – had a link to the German market.

In the summer, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) indicated its backing for the legitimacy of the FIFA regulations.

In its 89-page award, the CAS panel noted: “FIFA did demonstrate that the prospect of higher agent service fees incentivises agents to generate more transfers, which in turn produces a series of negative effects on the market of football agent services.

“Therefore, capping agent service fees is appropriate to remediate or mitigate the negative effects highlighted by FIFA.”

Under the new rules, agents working on transfer deals where a player’s salary is due to be over 200,000 US dollars a year would have their fees capped at six per cent of the annual excess above that amount where they have represented the player and the buying club, or three per cent if they represented one of those parties.

Agents representing the selling club will be entitled to a fee equivalent to 10 per cent of the transfer compensation.

The FIFA report also found that agents’ fees in the women’s game exceeded one million US dollars for the first time. The number of deals involving agents reached a record 125, an increase of more than 20 per cent compared to 2022, and the fees totalled 1.4m US dollars (£1.1m).

Saudi Arabia's emergence as the sole bidder to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup is no surprise and could be part of a major power shift to affect football in the next few years.

That is the view of sports finance expert Dan Plumley, who also says FIFA will find it difficult to avoid political questions when Saudi oil company Aramco becomes the governing body's highest-paying sponsor.

FIFA confirmed in October that Saudi Arabia was the only country to submit a bid to host the 2034 World Cup before the deadline, making a second tournament in the Gulf a mere formality.

The announcement came less than a year after the 2022 tournament was held in Qatar, a decision which was roundly criticised due to the country's poor human rights record and criminalisation of same-sex relationships. 

Saudi Arabia's bid to host football's most iconic tournament comes after the state's Public Investment Fund took direct control of four Saudi Pro League clubs, attracting big names including Karim Benzema, Neymar and Sadio Mane to a league which already contained Cristiano Ronaldo.

Plumley foresees the country emerging as a football powerhouse over the next decade, with the World Cup playing a major role in that vision.

"I don't think it's a surprise, I think that you can see the power shift, the dynamics changing in world football," he told Stats Perform of the 2034 bid.

"We've obviously seen it off the back of the recent Qatar World Cup, and you could see the narrative of Saudi Arabia's direction of travel with what they're doing with the Saudi Pro League.

"[It's] linked to their Vision 2030 project as a country and how they're trying to pivot away from oil and look at other ways to generate revenue in the future, on top of the World Cup being – alongside the Olympics – the biggest sporting event on the planet. 

"It's quite clear that was always going to be in their sights. I don't see that as any real surprise.

"I think there's a long waiting time now: when you look at the plans they've got for the Saudi Pro League, and couple that with hosting a World Cup, there's a lot of ifs. 

"But we could be looking at a significant power shift in world football in six to 10 years' time."

Just a few weeks after Saudi Arabia emerged as the sole 2034 bidder, it was reported that the nation's state-owned petroleum company Aramco was set to become FIFA's largest single sponsor, which critics have suggested amounts to a conflict of interest.

Asked about the prospective deal, Plumley said: "This is a much wider question around the governance of the sport, and I think you can draw some parallels to the situation in English football with the independent regulator.

"Part of the reason for the independent regulator is because people have not been happy with the Premier League being self-governing, being judge, jury and executioner.

"But that same kind of conversation is happening at UEFA levels, and it's been happening at FIFA levels for a number of years. 

"They are the ultimate governing body of world football. In that regard, it's very difficult to do anything else within the governance framework, because that's where we stop. 

"People will always draw parallels to the companies connected with that, and the way in which event hosting is done, where the World Cups are going and who the sponsors are. 

"There's been numerous conversations about that throughout history, it's now just positioned in a slightly different way because we're in slightly different territory.

"You can't avoid the politics of it, whether we like to or not. It's much bigger now than football and I think that's what you keep coming back to, [the fact that] there's a lot going on in the market that transcends the game on the pitch."

A racism case involving the Republic of Ireland has been closed by FIFA due to insufficient evidence.

A Republic of Ireland Under-21 substitute was allegedly racially abused as he warmed up during a friendly match against Kuwait Under-22s in Austria on June 19.

The Irish players walked off the field in response to the alleged incident and the match was abandoned.

The PA news agency reported in September that the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) had submitted a formal complaint concerning the matter to FIFA, but football’s world governing body FIFA has now confirmed that the case has been closed.

The FAI said at the time of the alleged incident: “The comment was heard by a number of Ireland players, who reported this immediately to match officials as well as to members of the Ireland and Kuwait team staff.

“Due to the nature of the remark made and with no affirmative action in relation to it from our opponents, the game was abandoned. FAI staff and players were fully in support with this decision.

“The FAI has offered its full and unequivocal support to the player who was subjected to racism and to his team-mates. The FAI does not tolerate any racism towards any of our players or staff.”

The FAI has been approached for comment regarding the closure of the case.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has previously spoken about his organisation’s determination to tackle racism.

Speaking in June, prior to the Republic of Ireland allegation, Infantino said: “(Racism) is a football-related problem and we mustn’t look for excuses like, ‘It’s society’s problem, therefore, it’s fine in football’.

“In the world of football, we must act in a very forceful way.”

He added: “There is no football if there is racism. So let’s stop the games.

“The referees have this opportunity in FIFA competitions as we have this process for stopping the game, and actions have to be taken at every level, at national level as well. Everyone has to understand this and we will go, together, until the end.”

FIFA has issued sanctions on discrimination cases in the past, with the football associations of Ecuador, Mexico and Serbia given partial or full stadium closure orders and hit with fines in relation to misconduct by their supporters at last year’s World Cup in Qatar.

As part of the Social Media Protection Service, teams and players at that tournament were offered access to software that – with the account holder’s permission – could automatically and instantly hide abusive and offensive comments on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube only.

Through the moderation element of the service, a total of 286,895 comments were hidden from public view before the targeted recipient or their followers had to see their contents.

Jamaica has been selected by FIFA to be included in its Talent Coach Programme. Jamaica was chosen from the one hundred and fifty-eight FIFA Member Associations who applied.

As part of the FIFA Talent Development Scheme (TDS), FIFA is rolling out the Talent Coach Programme to actively assist Member Associations (MAs) with support on the ground.

Under the umbrella of the TDS, this initiative aims to accelerate elite youth player development by increasing contact time for the most talented players of a country and guiding, advising and mentoring the local coaches who are working directly with those players.

FIFA will fund the Head of the local National Academy, Dan Cooke, for two years as well as the Talent Coach Project.

This is a major milestone for Jamaica's football as they aim to revamp their youth national programme.

The National Academy will accommodate boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 16 years of age.

"I’m extremely happy about this development," said John Wall, Head of Talent Identification at the Jamaica Football Federation.

“What this means is that we can create the best possible environment to generate improvement. I hope we can set a new benchmark on how to develop our domestic talent and create the best possible environment for both boys and girls. Our aim is to create an environment that nurtures future Champions League winners and World Cup winners. It’s about time that Jamaica begins to fulfil its potential," concluded Wall.

The JFF is currently going through a rigorous talent identification process which will continue until the end of December.

Former FIFA referee Duarte Gomes has leapt to the defence of VAR amid the furore surrounding Liverpool's Premier League defeat to Tottenham, calling the technology's introduction "the best thing to happen to football". 

The use of VAR is a hot topic in the English top flight again after Luis Diaz was incorrectly denied a goal in Liverpool's 2-1 loss to in-form Spurs.

Darren England – the VAR official on duty at the time – misunderstood the on-field call to chalk the goal off for offside, inadvertently clearing an incorrect decision.

Liverpool have reacted furiously to the incident, which played a part in their first defeat of the season, with boss Jurgen Klopp suggesting the game should be replayed on Wednesday.

However, Gomes – a retired Portuguese referee who officiated in FIFA and UEFA competitions between 2002 and 2016 – says the ability of those using the technology is the issue, not the technology itself.

Speaking to Stats Perform at the Thinking Football Summit, Gomes admitted officials were still adapting to the technology but said it had already righted "thousands" of incorrect decisions.

"I don't have the slightest doubt that it's the best thing that's happened to football and to referees for decades," Gomes said.

"I know that we have a big, long way to run yet. It's not perfect, far from that. People who work with VAR are also learning and they are focused always on their careers as a referee on the pitch. 

"The process of decision-making was completely different, and then you put them in a room with many screens and tell them to decide in a different way they have to adjust. 

"As with everybody, there are some people who have more competence than others. We are now on that trail to try to be there. 

"Nevertheless, in factual decisions, let's say, for example, offsides or with goal-line technology, I believe that around the world, thousands and thousands of goals have been saved or cancelled correctly after VAR. 

"So yes, it's good for football. It's a Ferrari, you just have to have the right driver to be there.

"I've made many mistakes with the human eye; penalties, decisions, yellow or red cards, things that I missed. VAR could help me a lot. I would have been a better referee if I had it."

Gomes also believes, however, that technology cannot become all-invasive in football, emphasising the need to preserve the emotional nature of the sport.   

"I'm a little concerned about AI in the future, of course also in refereeing matters. I believe it will have an important role," he added.

"Sitting here right now, I don't know if I will have a different way of thinking in 10 years. We are always adjusting, but I believe technology should always help until the point that humans decide.

"Human first, technology after, not the other way around because football is for people. It's played for people, with people, and refereed with people, and that's what gives the emotion.

"If you become very technological, it's very difficult to have an emotional sport and then it will lose many of its values, so yes, technology is always to help, not as a substitute for the referee."

Gomes also feels the rise of social media has had a major impact on the levels of abuse received by officials. In a high-profile incident from last season, Roma boss Jose Mourinho was given a four-match ban by UEFA for angrily confronting referee Anthony Taylor after his team lost the Europa League final.

"I believe it's getting worse because social media gives the right to everybody to criticise, especially the ones who didn't do it with a public voice before," he said.

"Football is a social phenomenon and it's unique because it can put you in a very emotional state, sometimes an irrational state, which is worse. 

"You cannot ask people to be reasonable when they have their emotions so strongly attached to their teams and their competitions. 

"Sometimes you have to let the balloon go down a little bit and then ask them for some tolerance again. Nobody wants to hear the explanation of law one or law two, [but] you have to do it slowly, you have to try and try."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has described the behaviour of Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales as “inappropriate” – but called for FIFA’s investigation to be allowed to run its course.

Rubiales has refused to quit for kissing Spain player Jenni Hermoso after their World Cup final win over England on August 20.

All of Spain’s 23 World Cup winners, plus another 58 players, have said they will not represent their country until Rubiales has left his post.

Rubiales, 46, was provisionally suspended by world governing body FIFA on Saturday for an initial period of 90 days pending an investigation into his conduct in Sydney after Spain’s victory.

The president grabbed his crotch in the stadium’s VIP area in celebration, when he was stood metres away from Spain’s Queen Letizia and her teenage daughter.

Ceferin, head of Europe’s governing body, feels the full disciplinary process must be allowed to be completed without added distraction, but admits change must follow.

“I am a lawyer and one of the vice-presidents of FIFA. His case is in the hands of the disciplinary body of the international federation. Any comments I might make would feel like pressure,” Ceferin told French media outlet L’Equipe in his first public comments since the incident.

“I just have to say that I am sad that such an event overshadows the victory of the Spanish national team.

“We should change things. I had a meeting today with Laura McAllister (vice-president of UEFA) to find ways to change the way we behave. We must do more.”

Ceferin added: “Of course, what he did was inappropriate. We all know it. I hope he knows that was inappropriate.

“This is enough for the moment because the disciplinary committee will decide.”

In his current role with the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Rubiales is also a vice-president of UEFA.

Ceferin said: “He is suspended from all his functions, everywhere. There is no need to suspend it twice.”

Rubiales and the RFEF have also been ordered not to contact Hermoso either directly or through intermediaries.

Hermoso has accused the RFEF of a “manipulative, hostile and controlling culture” and said Rubiales’ kiss was “an impulse-driven, sexist, out-of-place act without any consent on my part”.

The Spanish Football Federation is also reportedly considering whether it has grounds to sack World Cup-winning head coach Jorge Vilda, who is still in the post after most of his coaching staff resigned in protest against Rubiales.

The president was applauded by Vilda after repeatedly insisting that he would not quit at the RFEF’s extraordinary general meeting last Friday. The federation is said to be exploring options over whether they can sack the head coach.

The RFEF regional heads have also called for Rubiales’ resignation, while members of the Spanish government have added their voices to those demanding he step aside.

On Monday, Rubiales’ mother Angeles Bejar announced she was going on hunger strike over the “inhuman” treatment of her son and locked herself in a church in Motril.

According to Spanish media outlet Marca, the priest of the Divina Pastora parish confirmed Rubiales had convinced his mother to leave the church and seek medical treatment at hospital, with her feet swollen and also suffering from fatigue.

Luis Rubiales is a "caveman" who must be forced to resign as president of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) following his conduct at the Women's World Cup final, says former Italy striker Carolina Morace.

Rubiales has been widely criticised for his behaviour following Spain's 1-0 win over England in Sydney, having grabbed and kissed Roja star Jennifer Hermoso on the lips during the celebrations. 

Hermoso said she "didn't like" the kiss during an Instagram live broadcast from inside the dressing room, and FIFA has since opened disciplinary proceedings against Rubiales – who was also seen grabbing his crotch while stood next to Spain's Queen Letizia and her daughter.

Rubiales was expected to announce his departure at a press conference on Thursday, only to refuse to resign during an extraordinary speech.

"A social assassination is being carried out, they are trying to kill me. For the last five years, I have suffered persecution," Rubiales said, adding: "A consensual peck is enough to get me out of here?"

In a joint statement released later on Friday, Spain's World Cup winners said they would not play any games while Rubiales remained in post, increasing the pressure on him to leave. 

Morace – who scored over 100 goals for Italy before managing the team between 2000 and 2005 – was repulsed by Rubiales' behaviour, telling Stats Perform: "I saw a caveman in the stands with attitudes that we in women's football don't want to have. Let him keep those for the men's football. 

"I think everyone distanced themselves from the attitude he had. I'm sorry that there have been people who have started to say, 'but the player has not reported it, so maybe it's a loving gesture'. 

"Her first reaction was disgust. Of course then the president went there to talk to her and tell her what to do. 

"Then when the whole controversy came out, Hermoso went back to saying certain things. Let's say she is free again. It was so clear that things went that way. 

"There are also people who defended him. No way. I'm happy because Spain is a serious country and therefore politicians have reacted in a certain way. 

"Now if this president doesn't resign, I hope the sponsors distance themselves from the team and from what's happening, but I think he will be forced to resign."

This is not the first controversy to rock women's football in Spain. Last year, a group of 15 players refused to represent La Roja under head coach Jorge Vilda, who was supported by the RFEF and subsequently took just three of the rebels to the World Cup. 

Some reports alleged Spain's players were forbidden from locking their doors at hotels ahead of games, which Morace views as another sign of outdated attitudes prevailing at the RFEF.

"There have also been attitudes from the coach who expects the girls from Spain to sleep with the door open," Morace added. "This is madness. It is normal that he had 15 players against him. 

"I would never ask my players to keep their doors open. How dare you? I mean, those aren't 12-year-old girls. They are adults and keeping the doors open means you can come in whenever you want."

FIFA president Gianni Infantino also attracted criticism for telling female players to "pick the right battles" and "convince" men of the validity of claims for equal pay last week. 

For attitudes towards women's football to be modernised, Morace believes more women must assume roles at the top of the game.

She added: "There were women of a certain type in FIFA who no longer work in FIFA, like Tatjana Haenni who has now become responsible for the American professional league, and Mayi Blanco who is also responsible for events. 

"In my opinion we went back 10 years by sending them home, we had to start again from there. That was a good starting point, now we're back. Now Infantino has to tell us what we have to do. 

"He must choose the right people to make a movement grow, but they must be people who are inside the movement and who believe in the movement, not people taken from outside and brought in."

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