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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

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.

  

EUROPE:

13 places

• European qualifying home page

Qualifying for 2018 sees seven groups of six nations and two groups of five. 

Russia...

Brazil manager Tite: Corrupt CBF officials should be punished

Brazil manager Tite says his work with with the Selecao is limited to coaching.

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazil's national football coach said on Monday that anyone at the Brazilian Football Confederation found guilty of corruption should be punished.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Adenor Leonardo Bacchi -- known universally as Tite -- was asked about ongoing corruption investigations of the CBF.

Tite said his work is limited to coaching.

"That is the contribution I can give," he said. "Those parallel situations that happen, not only in football but in our society, those...

Lionel Messi, Argentina's media boycott backed by Diego Maradona

Lionel Messi scored a stunning free kick and provided two assists to lift the Albiceleste to a much needed win over Colombia.
Alejandro Moreno talks how Brazil and Argentina are looking following the latest round of World Cup qualifiers.
Craig Burley doesn't put much stock into FIFA's world rankings and says it doesn't necessarily evaluate nations accurately.

Diego Maradona has come out in support of Lionel Messi and the Argentina players over their decision to boycott the media.

Argentina captain Messi announced after last week's 3-0 home win over Colombia in a 2018 World Cup qualifier in San Juan that he and the rest of the squad would not speak to the press until further notice because they felt they were mistreated -- with an allegation made by one journalist about Ezequiel Lavezzi the final straw.

Asked about Messi's decision, the 1986 World Cup...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Edgardo Bauza refutes claims that Lionel Messi decides Argentina XI

Alejandro Moreno talks how Brazil and Argentina are looking following the latest round of World Cup qualifiers.

Head coach Edgardo Bauza refuted claims that Lionel Messi has a strong hand in the Argentina national team selection.

Messi scored a free kick and assisted two goals in Argentina's 3-0 CONMEBOL victory over Colombia last week in a World Cup qualifier, before leading the teammates to a media boycott after the game.

The reason given by the team was allegations from the media that Ezequiel Lavezzi was left out of the Colombia match because he was caught smoking cannabis.

Despite speculation that...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Lionel Messi paid Argentina's security staff during dispute with AFA - reports

Alejandro Moreno talks how Brazil and Argentina are looking following the latest round of World Cup qualifiers.
Lionel Messi reportedly stepped in to help Argentina's security staff.

Lionel Messi paid Argentina's security staff out of his own pocket during a dispute with the nation's football federation, according to reports.

The Argentina Football Association has been in turmoil for over two years following the death of longtime chief Julio Grondona, and FIFA took control in June after president Luis Segura was charged with fraud.

Former coach Gerardo Martino reportedly was not paid for six months before the Copa America this summer, while Olympic team coach Julio Olarticoechea...