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FIFA reform chief defends Blatter

FIFA World Cup
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2018 World Cup qualifying - how it works

The qualifying process for the 2018 World Cup began on March 12, 2015 with preliminary ties between the 12 lowest-ranked nations in Asia.

Chiquito Do Carmo of Timor-Leste had the honour of scoring the very first goal on the road to Russia in a 4-1 victory at home to Mongolia.

There are 31 places up for grabs, joining hosts Russia.

The draw for the main sections of qualifying takes place on Saturday, July 25, 2015.

EUROPE:

13 places

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018...

 By Nick Miller

World Cup qualifying draw for Russia 2018 yields mouthwatering matchups

ESPN FC's Mark Donaldson and Steve Nicol break down Scotland's World Cup qualifying group, where they'll meet an old frenemy in England.
ESPN FC's Alexis Nunes and Alejandro Moreno break down the CONCACAF and UEFA World Cup qualifying draws.

With FIFA's World Cup qualifying draw now firmly in the books, Nick Miller analyses the biggest early storylines on the three-year march toward Russia.

Is an 'easy' group good for England?

The last time England were involved in a draw for an international competition, FA chairman Greg Dyke drew a finger across his throat to signify that he wasn't, to say the least, too happy with how tough it would be. Not this time, though, with England getting just about the perfect draw, against a selection...

 By PA Sport

FIFA medical committee to discuss Chelsea doctor row

The ESPN FC crew discuss Chelsea's underwhelming performance against Manchester City, who were led by key performances from Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho's treatment of the club's team doctor Eva Carneiro is to be raised in FIFA's medical committee meeting next month, it has been revealed.

Caneiro's role at the club has been downgraded after Mourinho criticised her and head physio Jon Fearn for rushing on to the pitch to treat Eden Hazard in the opening match of the Premier League season -- the player had to leave the field as a result, meaning Chelsea were temporarily down to nine men against Swansea.

Mourinho called...

Michel Platini curiously quiet in bid to replace Blatter as FIFA president

UEFA President Michel Platini refused to speak about his candidacy to be the next FIFA President at a press conference in Monte Carlo, Monaco, but said he had "his UEFA hat on."
Former South Korean FA president Chung Mong-joon has vowed to fix "corrupt" FIFA after formally announcing his bid to replace Sepp Blatter at the helm of world football's governing body.
The former French international captain is favoured by many to take over as FIFA president after Blatter steps down. His former French international teammate, Luis Fernandez, speaks his praises and supports his decision to run for the position.
Michel Platini refused to get drawn into questions about his bid to become the next FIFA president.

MONACO -- The media crowded into Monaco's Grimaldi Forum hoping to hear the front-runner -- among confirmed candidates, at least -- in the race to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president in February speak for the very first time and got -- nothing.

Big fat zero, or just about.

UEFA President Michel Platini held his traditional seasonal kickoff news conference on the banks of the Mediterranean a day after the Champions League group draw but made it very clear he wasn't going to answer any questions...

 By PA Sport

Michel Platini to leave UEFA in 2019 if FIFA presidential election bid fails

The former French international captain is favoured by many to take over as FIFA president after Blatter steps down. His former French international teammate, Luis Fernandez, speaks his praises and supports his decision to run for the position.
ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno and Brian McBride discuss the controversial comments made by potential FIFA reformist, Francois Carrard, who called the game in the US, "an ethnic sport for girls in schools."
Without pointing the finger directly, the 79-year-old has claimed that in the past, one continental federation had tried to exert a dominance over the others.
Former South Korean FA president Chung Mong-joon has vowed to fix "corrupt" FIFA after formally announcing his bid to replace Sepp Blatter at the helm of world football's governing body.

Michel Platini has announced he will step down as UEFA president in 2019 if he fails to win FIFA's top job in next year's election.

Platini appeared at a UEFA news conference in Monaco on Friday but refused to speak in any detail about his campaign for the FIFA presidency -- a move likely to prevent any suggestion that he is using UEFA resources in his bid to succeed Sepp Blatter.

UEFA has already complained about an apparent smear campaign emanating from FIFA's headquarters and Platini, who had...