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PARIS, July 16, 2018 (News Wires) — The Champs Elysees avenue is the beating heart of Paris, a magnet for millions of tourists but also a place of mass gathering when the French want to celebrate.

The emblematic avenue rapidly filled to capacity yesterday as Parisians revelled in France’s second World Cup victory. More than a million people invaded the broad thoroughfare on July 12, 1998, after France clinched the trophy on home soil.

The next day the world champions were driven down the avenue in a double-decker bus, although the crowds prevented them from going right up to the famous Arc de Triomphe.

As cherished by tourists as the Eiffel Tower just across the River Seine, the elegant avenue stretching for two kilometres (more than a mile) from the Arc de Triomphe down to Concorde Square was first laid out in 1670.

Tens of thousands of people daily throng the tree-lined artery which is home to luxury boutiques, chain stores, cafes, cinemas and high-end offices.

The Obelisk of Luxor at Concorde Square, the Tuileries Garden and the Louvre Museum are all visible from what is dubbed “the most beautiful avenue in the world”.

Every year it hosts major popular events like the traditional military parade on July 14, the Bastille Day national holiday — which this year fell on the eve of the World Cup triumph.

The Champs Elysees is also the finish line for the world’s toughest cycling race, the Tour de France, and hundreds of thousands of Parisians and tourists gather there to see in the New Year.

MOSCOW, July 13, 2018 (News Wires) - Goals scored from offside positions will be a thing of the past, at least in competitions where video assistant referees (VARs) are used, Fifa president Gianni Infantino said Friday as he hailed the success of the technology at the World Cup in Russia.

Infantino, dressed in a red volunteer’s uniform and in triumphant mood, also declared the tournament the “best World Cup ever” in an hour-long news conference.

Infantino said that, despite initial fears, the VAR system had worked well, it had reviewed 19 decisions in the 62 matches so far and had corrected 16 decisions which were initially wrong.

“This is progress, this is better than the past,” he said. “VAR is not changing football, it is cleaning football, making it more honest and transparent and helping referees to make the right decisions.”

“It is difficult to think of the World Cup without VAR, it has been certainly a more just competition and this is what we wanted to achieve.”

“The goal scored from an offside position is finished in football, at least in football with VAR,” Infantino added.

“You will never see any more a goal scored in an offside position, it’s finished because either you are or are not offside.”

He said VAR’s deterrent effect had reduced the number of direct red cards for violent play from 16 in the 1998 tournament to none this time.

“Everyone knows that, whatever you do, someone will see it... one of the 30-odd cameras will spot it and you will be sent off,” the 48-year-old said.

 

By M. S. Salama:

 

Croatia beat England 2-1 in 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia semi finals in Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia on Wednesday.

It was 5 minutes from kick off when England's Kieran Trippier netted the first goal scored from a direct free-kick by an England player since David Beckham against Ecuador in 2006.

In the the 68th minute, Midfielder Ivan Perisic scored the equaliser for Croatia from an assist by S. Vrsaljko. It was Perisic's fourth goal for Croatia in this World Cup tournament.

The original time plus a 4-minute stoppage time ended in 1-1 draw.

In the second additional time, which was marred by tiredness of both teams, Mario Mandzukic scored the second goal and the winner for Croatia in the 109th minute.

England met Croatia 8 times before this year's World Cup, of which three times in World Cup, with two matches won by England, and one ended in a 1-1 draw.

 

Croatia is scheduled to meet France in the final match scheduled for July 15.

By the Gazette Editorial Board

T

HE image of the German astronaut in the cockpit of the International Space Station enjoying live transmission of the 2018 World Football Cup games is probably the strongest depiction so far of how this sporting activity has since its inception in the 60s of the 20th Century evolved into the world’s most-favoured and largest-spread sports. Today, the number of football fans across the world is widely estimated in the range of 3.5 billion, far exceeding the figure for any other sport. Of equal importance is the fact that football has concomitantly transitioned into a complex industry with a strong economy and a prospering, though at times risky, business – a quality that has indeed added much potentials, appeal, attraction and glamour to the game. Grace be to the magical ball which has drawn the love of billions of fans in the length and breadth of the world and has motivated huge numbers of young people to aspire for distinction in playing with it according to universally-regulated rules and for ascending to global stardom. 

And in its twin capacity as a sport and an industry, football has magnificently asserted itself as an area of innovativeness, performance improvement and regulation refinement. In the process, governments and societies of the world recognised how this sporting activity has an intrinsic capacity to disseminate such lofty human and social values as selflessness, co-operation, acting in team spirit and seeking distinction only through dedicated effort, fair play, sustained training and skill refinement. So, it has clearly been on the basis of such recognition that governments of the world have sought to extend as much material and moral support as they can to encourage the spread of this beautiful sport, building stadiums and playgrounds, recruiting coaches and trainers and sponsoring national teams in regional and international competitions.

As the German astronaut enjoyed the live streaming into space, the scene on the Earth was no less fantastic. Thirty two teams were there in Russia, contending for the World Cup Russia 2018, with President Vladimir Putin himself attending the opening game together with a host of world leaders and FIFA chief. Highlights of the matches played so far may be noticeably thrilling but are indeed indicative of the very nature of sports in general and football in particular. Though led by brilliant forward Lionel Messi, Argentina was overpowered by Iceland and Messi himself missed a penalty, the 2014 Cup holder Germany failed to win in the confrontation with Mexico, a Moroccan player who came on in the stoppage-time erroneously headed a ball into his own team’s net in added time, solely causing Morocco to lose out to Iran and the Brazil vs. Switzerland match ended in a 1-1 draw though the former is a team of eminent professionals playing with world-brand clubs.

As far as the Pharaohs are concerned, they, with the magnificent and strong show they delivered in their Group A opener with Uruguay, have justly won broad local and international acknowledgement as a team of serious players, steel defenders and skilled forward liners. Their chances of winning the match or at least scoring a point had remained high until the 89th minute Uruguayan surprise header scoring. They will be facing Russia today and whatever the result of the match will be, the Pharaohs will have established their credentials as a world-brand team which deservedly qualified for the World Cup Russia 2018 – all the more so with the Pharaohs grouping a number of internationally-renowned professional footballers, especially including Liverpool striker Mo Salah, Arsenal’s midfielder Mohamed Ninni, Huddersfield Town winger Ramdan Sobhi and Greek club PAOK midfielder Amr Wardah. It’s a real and momentous win.

 

 

BRUSSELS, June 12, 2018 (News Wires) - Belgium made light of injury to Eden Hazard in their last warm-up before the World Cup, the Chelsea star limping off in the 4-1 defeat of Costa Rica in Brussels.

Hazard was forced off in the 70th minute after an apparent knock to his right ankle as Belgium sparkled against their fellow finalists with a powerful brace from Romelu Lukaku.

While Red Devil fans will have looked on concerned Hazard’s teammates and manager dispelled fears of the injury having an impact on the 27-year-old Hazard’s World Cup.

“I’m not too worried about Eden, he’s a tough guy. He gets kicked all the time, but soon gets over it,” said Lukaku.

Dries Martens, who also got on the scoresheet, tapping in Hazard’s deflected shot, added: “Eden? We’ll see, he’s strong, I reckon he’ll be okay.”

And coach Roberto Martinez declared there was “nothing to worry about”.

“He’s very strong, he just had a dead leg towards the end of the match.”

“I really enjoyed his performance. He was sharp and strong, he was majestic,” he told reporters.

Hazard’s brother, Belgium teammate Thorgan, told Belgian newspaper SudPresse: “It was a little knock. He’ll be fine. I have to say sorry as it was on one of my passes that it happened.”

SudPresse reported that Hazard boarded a private jet to London after the match with Belkium due to fly to Russia tomorrow.

Martinez’s multi-talented side, missing injured defender Vincent Kompany, were just too much for Costa Rica, who opened brightly and even took the lead through Bryan Ruiz with a slick finish.

But Belgium, who beat Egypt 3-0 last week with a world-class Hazard pulling the strings, were 2-1 up by half-time thanks to finishes from Mertens and Lukaku.

The giant Manchester United target man got his second with a powerful header after running into space with great speed.

He then set up strike partner Michy Batshuayi for the fourth and the pair did a little dance to celebrate.

This will have proved unpleasant viewing for Belgium’s Group G rivals England, Tunisia and Panama, who they face in their opening game in Sochi next Monday.

 

MOSCOW, June 12, 2018 (News Wires) - Move over vuvuzela players. The musical instrument to master for this year's soccer World Cup is the Russian spoon.

Eight years after South Africans blared away on their plastic vuvuzela horns when they hosted the contest, Russians are hoping fans at the tournament it hosts starting on Thursday will celebrate by clacking their "lozhkas" - spoons that beat out an insistent, but quieter rhythm.

Folk musicians using the traditional instruments - two wooden spoons held back to back and struck by a third - have already become a feature at official receptions.

Less skilled supporters will be able to buy an adapted plastic pair, joined at the end for easier clicking.

Designer Rustam Nugmanov got government backing to produce a line of coloured and branded "Spoons of Victory" that have been recognised as the tournament's official instrument.

"When we were choosing an instrument which is typically Russian and which reflects Russian cultural values, we had a choice of three: a treshchotka (clapper), a shaker and a lozhka," he said.

They wanted instruments that could knock out a rhythm, without totally dominating the proceedings like the vuvuzelas did before them. They also wanted to avoid the shattering rattling produced by Brazil's "caxirola" percussion instruments at the championships four years ago.

"That (the caxirola) sounds like a beehive and is a very loud instrument and also does not allow you to clap a rhythm, said Nugmanov. "We have chosen spoons."

 

 

 

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