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FIFA to expand World Cup to 48 teams in 2026

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> ZURICH (AP) — FIFA will expand the World Cup to 48 teams, adding 16 extra nations to the 2026 tournament which is likely to be held in North America. President Gianni Infantino's favored plan — for 16 three-team groups with the top two advancing to a round of 32 — was unanimously approved Tuesday by the FIFA Council. It meets Infantino's election pledge of a bigger World Cup, and should help fund promised raises for FIFA's 211 member federations. With 80 matches instead of 64, FIFA forecasts the equivalent of $1 billion extra income at current rates from broadcasting and sponsor deals, plus ticket sales, compared to $5.5 billion revenue forecast for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. FIFA projects an increased profit of $640 million despite some extra operating costs and prize money for teams. FIFA's six continents should find out by May how many extra places they will each get. UEFA wants 16 European teams at the tournament, which is strongly favored to be played in North America. The CONCACAF region has not hosted the World Cup since the 1994 tournament in the United States. American, Canadian and Mexican soccer leaders have had informal talks about a co-hosting bid. Africa and Asia could be winners in a bigger World Cup with up to nine places each. They had only five and four teams, respectively, at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Still, FIFA said it expects the standard of soccer to drop compared to the 32-team format locked in for the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar. The 'absolute quality' of play, defined by high-ranked teams facing each other most often, is achieved by 32 teams, FIFA acknowledged in a research document sent to members last month. It made 10,000 tournament simulations to reach that conclusion. Instead, Infantino wants to create fervor and months of anticipation back home in the 16 extra nations which would qualify, some probably making their World Cup debut. FIFA has pointed to Costa Rica, Wales and Iceland as examples of teams which overachieved at recent tournaments. FIFA must break with soccer tradition to make its new format work after an original 48-team plan — with an opening playoff round sending 16 'one-and-done' teams home early — was unpopular. Instead, three-team groups will replace the usual groups of four to create simple progress to a knockout bracket. However, it leaves one team idle for final group games and could risk collusion between the other two teams. FIFA said it could guard against result-rigging by introducing penalty shootouts after group games that end in draws. Despite the 16 extra games, FIFA believes the current maximum of stadiums needed will stay at the 12 used by Brazil and Russia. However, the demand for more training bases and hotels means developed countries would be better equipped to win future hosting contests. North America is the strong favorite for 2026 because European and Asian countries are blocked by a FIFA rule excluding continents which hosted either of the two previous tournaments. Russia will host the World Cup next year and Qatar in 2022. South America has been focused on a centenary tournament including original 1930 host Uruguay, and African nations are seen as lacking existing capacity and unlikely to fund multi-billion dollar infrastructure spending. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

BSP profit hits record P15.3 B in 10 months

MANILA, Philippines – The profit of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) hit an all-time high P15.26 billion in the first 10 months of the year on the back.....»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 21st, 2016

Foreign investments surge to $5.9b

Net inflows of foreign direct investments jumped 25 percent in the first nine months to $5.9 billion from $4.7 billion a year ago, on sustained investors’ confidence in the economy......»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsDec 12th, 2016

Ayala profit rises 11% in 9 months

MANILA, Philippines - Ayala Corp., the country’s oldest conglomerate, registered a net income of P19.6 billion in the nine months to September, up 11 percent.....»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 12th, 2016

Belle profit grows 64% in 9 months

MANILA, Philippines – Leisure and property developer Belle Corp. reported a consolidated net income of P1.9 billion for the nine months ended Sept......»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 8th, 2016

Petron profit rises 47%

MANILA, Philippines – Petron Corp., the country’s largest oil refiner, earned P7.4 billion in the nine months ending September, fueled by strong sales and im.....»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 8th, 2016

SM Prime books P17.5-b profit

SM Prime Holdings Inc., the country’s leading integrated property company, said Monday net income rose 15 percent in the third quarter to P4.9 billion from P4.2 billion a year ago, driven by the sustained growth of shopping mall and residential busi.....»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsNov 7th, 2016

Meralco’s 9-month profit declines to P15.7 billion

Amid continuing robust sales growth, the net income of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) in nine months this year had been down 3.0-percent to P15.676 billion from last year’s P16.149 billion......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 24th, 2016

Megaworld’s GERI first-semester earnings up 37%

Consolidated revenues for the first six months of 2016 amounted to P2.86-billion, a growth of 36% from P2.11-billion during the first half of 2015. The key driver of the GERI is still its residential arm, which account for close to 75% of total revenues......»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsAug 11th, 2016

SCG posts higher profit in six months

MANILA, Philippines - SCG Philippines, a unit of Thailand’s largest cement company, registered P3.65 billion in revenues in the first half......»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsAug 1st, 2016

BPI’s profit surged 36% in six months to P12.67b

BPI’s profit surged 36% in six months to P12.67b.....»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJul 29th, 2016

Thailand-bound Pinoy boxer Melvin Jerusalem dedicates title fight to late father

WBC '9 and world Minimumweight title challenger Melvin Jerusalem leaves the country on Friday, January 20, along with coaches Edito Villamor and Michael Domingo.                                After months of training, Jerusalem feels confident going into the first title fight of his young career. Undefeated with eleven wins in as many fights the young Jerusalem is scheduled to take on  reigning WBC minimumweight world champion Wanheng Menayothin of Thailand. The defending champion also has an undefeated record of 44-0 and is now on his fifth title defense. Menayothin has held three other WBC titles since 2007.  Both Jerusalem and Menayothin have fought and won over Filipino champions Florante Condes and Jonathan Refugio. While the fight with Jerusalem could be just another one that Menayothin hopes to add to his spotless record, it’s a once in a lifetime chance a promising young fighter like Jerusalem, who's eager to make a name of his own. A win over an experienced veteran like Menayothin would open more opportunities  for the Filipino. Dedicating the most important fight of his career to his late father, Jerusalem promises to do his best and fight as long as he still can, saying “his support inspires me” and that he (Melvin’s father) “would have loved to see my first title fight for my first fight abroad”. Jerusalem added, “This is a lot of firsts for my career, and I wish he was around to see me. I guess this time he can watch me from heaven.”  The fight is set next Wednesday, January 25 in Phitsanulok, Thailand......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Durant dazzles against former Thunder team anew

em>By Janie McCauley, Associated Press /em> OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Kevin Durant dazzled against his old team once again with a season-best 40 points, and the Golden State Warriors beat Oklahoma City 121-100 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) despite Russell Westbrook's 21st triple-double for the Thunder. Westbrook had 27 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists in an improved showing from his 20-point outing on 4-for-15 shooting when OKC first faced Durant in the other jersey here 2.5 months ago and watched him dismantle the Thunder from every which way. In his two games against OKC, Durant has scored 79 points on 28-for-50 shooting. He hit seven three-pointers in the first meeting, a 122-96 Warriors rout Nov. 3 (Nov. 4 PHL time), also at Oracle Arena. Durant also had 12 rebounds Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Stephen Curry added 24 points and eight assists, and Klay Thompson had 14 points after he arrived back in the Bay Area just in time to play after a short absence dealing with a personal family matter. This one had tension, which just might be the norm from here on out when Durant faces the Thunder. There were words exchanged and stare downs, and of course a few hard fouls -- then an occasional smile to balance things out, like when Durant missed on a driving tomahawk jam and the ball shot back to midcourt. This atmosphere wasn't that much different from two days earlier when the champion Cavaliers visited Golden State's home floor and left with an embarrassing 126-91 defeat. Enes Kanter added 22 points and nine rebounds off the bench for the Thunder, who missed center Steven Adams for a second straight game with a concussion. Tied at 63 after the game was also even at halftime, the Warriors scored eight unanswered points with three’s by Thompson and Durant. Thompson scored five straight points during the exact kind of scoring flurry Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan described before the game as what makes these star-studded Warriors so dangerous. It wasn't that long ago Donovan could only watch as Golden State rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat OKC in the Western Conference finals last season. Westbrook shot just 8-for-23 this time and missed all but one of his six three-point tries, but made 10-of-11 free throws. With 4.4 seconds left in the first half, Zaza Pachulia collided with Westbrook and clobbered the OKC star in the face as the Warriors center went with his man as Kanter set a screen on Andre Iguodala. Westbrook went down and grabbed his face in obvious pain and Pachulia glared at Westbrook as he stood over him. The play went to official review before Pachulia received a flagrant 1 foul, drawing boos from the sellout crowd. Golden State outscored Oklahoma City 37-22 in the third to turn the game into another blowout on the way to wrapping up 9-1 stay in Northern California over the past 3.5 weeks. Durant posted his 11th game with 30 or more points and fifth with at least 30 points and 10 boards. As dominant as KD has been against the Thunder, the Warriors still must go to Oklahoma City on Feb. 11 and March 20 (Feb. 12 and Mar. 21, PHL time). strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Thunder: /strong> /em> Oklahoma City is 5-11 on the road against Golden State and hasn't won on the Warriors' home floor since Dec. 18, 2014. Adams wasn't with the team. em> strong>Warriors: /strong> /em>PF David West has a non-displaced fracture of his left thumb and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Golden State was tied at halftime for the first time all season. After out-rebounding the Cavs 58-35, the Warriors led the category 46-36. Golden State committed 13 first-half turnovers and 18 total. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Thunder: /strong> /em>At Utah on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) after a four-day break without a game. em> strong>Warriors: /strong> /em> At Houston on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Golden State wrapped up a stretch of more than three weeks at home that included only a bus ride to Sacramento for a lone road game in a 10-game stretch since Dec. 26 (Dec. 27, PHL time). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

PH launches $2-b global bond sale

The Philippines on Wednesday launched a $2-billion global bond sale to help finance the government’s 2017 budget and repay foreign debt......»»

Category: financeSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

For Love of Game: Valdez takes lower paycheck to play in Thailand

Local volleyball superstar Alyssa Valdez will be receiving less than what a club in the Philippines can offer her as salary playing for 3BB Nakornnont but the experience of playing and carrying the country’s pride in the Thai League is more than enough compensation. The two-time UAAP champion is more focused on learning from her stint and going back to spread the knowledge and experience she gained at home. “I think this is really big (playing abroad). It’s well known na here sa Philippines yung volley. I think we need to level up and I think one way of getting it is for players going to different countries to play and go back here and share everything,” said the 23-year-old open hitter in an earlier interview. “’Yun naman din ang goal and para maging inspiration din sa mga bata na aspiring volleyball players.”    The former Ateneo de Manila Queen Eagle was formally welcomed by the Thai squad by presenting her the team’s jersey where she will wear the no. 9 uniform – the same jersey number she wore while playing and winning three titles for University of Sto. Tomas high school in the UAAP. As for the specifics of her contract, a source from Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc., which processed her release paper to play abroad, Valdez will earn 30,000 Baht (P42,000) as monthly salary while playing for the club in the Thai League and the Thai-Denmark Super League.                 Valdez’s monthly paycheck will be way below what she had earned with her last local team Bureau of Customs during the V-League Reinforced Conference few months back. The three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player reportedly received a six-digit contract from the Transformers for the two-month tournament. Valdez flew to Thailand last Sunday and will stay there until early April. She’ll debut for 3BB Nakornnont on January 29 against King-Bangkok. Valdez also vowed to return next month to join either the Cebu or Davao tryouts for the national team that will see action in the 29th Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games.     The local volleyball phenom was a part of the national squad during the Singapore edition of the biennial meet where she was also chosen as Team Philippines flag-bearer during the traditional parade of nations.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles     .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

'Nothing is impossible. I am living proof of that.' - Milan Melindo

strong>'NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE.' /strong> This is what the new IBF interim world Jr. light flyweight champion Milan Melindo wishes to impart to aspiring boxers and champions alike. Barely two months after his impressive win over then-IBF number-three ranked light flyweight Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. at the Cebu Coliseum, Melindo has already set his sights on his next goal. In an interview with ALA Boxing, Melindo shares that he now looks forward to becoming a regular world champion. While there's no final date yet for a fight against regular IBF World Light Flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi, Melindo hasn’t stopped training since coming back to the gym a week after his most recent championship win.  “I didn’t even feel like going on a vacation for the holidays. I know I still have to train harder, I want to train harder”, Melindo added.  strong>Q: Do you feel like you need to train harder because Yaegashi’s a better fighter? /strong> strong>Milan Melindo /strong>: Yes and No. Yaegashi is a good fighter. He doesn't have the world title if he isn’t. But that is not why I am more relentless in my training after my latest fight. I realized what helped me win is the strong motivation from my past two attempts at world titles. Because of the experience, I felt a stronger will to finally win and make something out of my dreams. I want to train harder because I want more. I don’t want to go back to just dreaming of being in this level. There’s more out there, and that’s what I want now. strong>Q: How different is Milan Melindo now? /strong> strong>MM /strong>: There’s not much difference in me as a person. I am the same Milan before I won the title. I want people to know that. What I am is thankful. I am very happy to have finally won a world title for all of us. I am happy I was given the chance fight again despite my failures the past years. More importantly, I am happy with how I turned my doubters to believers. It gives me more confidence to aim higher not just for myself, but also for my gym and country. This is for all of us. strong>Q: Why do you think you succeeded this time? /strong> strong>MM /strong>: I prayed to win. I have to admit, the last fights I had, I don’t pray to win. I pray for guidance instead. I pray for our safety. I was always dependent on our training and my skills as a fighter. But this time, I prayed since I got the date and confirmation of the fight. I prayed all the time. I asked for this. I also worked so hard to win. I realized it does take everything from you to get what you really want to happen. strong>Q: What’s next for Milan Melindo? /strong> strong>MM /strong>: I want to be a regular world champion first. After that, I hope to challenge the other world champions in my division. It’s strange because before I got this title, I was only focused on actually winning it. Now that I have it in my hands, I want to achieve more. I want to get my country on top of the rankings again. It’s the reason I’ve been spending more time training instead of resting after my fight. There’s this want in me that’s keeping me on the move. Milan added that he wants to get his story out, how he failed not once, but twice, before he won his first title. He believes he can inspire other Filipino athletes. “I know not everyone gets the opportunity to big fights, that is why I am very thankful to my manager, my promoter, all the people behind ALA Gym and ALA Promotions, my coaches, stable mates that I’ve sparred with, my family, and of course our TV partner ABS-CBN Sports. Without everyone, the media, and fans who’ve always supported us fighters, I wouldn’t be able to get to where I am now. This is the motivation everyone needs and I hope, everyone finds. I hope the young fighters out there who have yet to conquer their own dreams know my story and continue to do what they believe in. I know I’ve yet to achieve mine too, but I hope they don’t give up when they fail and do their best every time they go in the ring. I hope they continue reaching for their dreams because nothing is impossible. I am living proof of that.” .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

BLOGTABLE: Making sense of Derrick Rose's ordeal with Knicks

em>NBA.com blogtable /em> Derrick Rose was fined by the Knicks for what amounts to an unexcused absence. What do you make of this whole ordeal? And what does it say about the state of the Knicks today? strong>David Aldridge: /strong> It's a puzzlement, and they don't deal with puzzlements well in Gotham. Rose had to know that this would have been a total non-story if he'd just texted any of either team president Phil Jackson, GM Steve Mills or coach Jeff Hornacek to let them know he needed the night off. So why wouldn't he? That's what's concerns me; he was indifferent to the fallout that he knew would be coming, not to mention the likely damage to his income-earning potential next summer. Does he not care if he's not playing anymore? I'm not saying that's the case, but that's what you allow people to speculate about by doing stuff like this. I don't think it means much to the Knicks because I don't think Rose is going to be there next year, and I didn't think that before all this happened. strong>Steve Aschburner: /strong> I’m not quite sure of the word, but it’s very Knicksy or Knicksish or Knicksian. Take your pick. If I’m Jeff Hornacek, I tell Phil Jackson that Rose or any other player needs to be suspended for twice as many games as he misses when going AWOL. Just as standard club policy, without pay for the whole bunch. If Jackson doesn’t concur, I sit Rose for two games in the wake of his one-game hiatus. Any self-respecting coach should, because the price paid in losing (if that happened) would be less than the price paid over the long haul from continued dysfunction. Rose -- whatever his reason for disappearing, however personally troubling -- behaved childishly by not taking 20 seconds to call or text Hornacek, Jackson or some other Knicks authority. I think he has been overserved a lot of “do what’s right for Derrick” advice since his career-altering knee injury in April 2012 and this is the latest manifestation. That stuff held the Chicago Bulls hostage for a few years and the Knicks must not enable it. strong>Fran Blinebury: /strong> No matter what the family emergency, who wouldn’t pick up the phone and call their employer? Lack of professionalism and responsibility makes for bad leadership. Especially for the guy who was crowing about New York being among the super teams a few months ago. But it fits with the Knicks, who are just a bad team. strong>Scott Howard-Cooper: /strong> em> strong> /strong> /em>The most important thing is that he is safe and his family is safe. When someone suddenly disappears like that, it’s natural for people to think worst-case scenarios, and thankfully none of them appear to have happened. So this conversation is in basketball terms. In that context, what he did was deserving of a suspension and the loss of real money, not simply a fine. Alert the team. If you don’t think you have the time during a crisis, have someone you are talking with alert the team. Have someone call your agent and have the agent alert the team. He had 30 seconds somewhere in there to text his agent, “Family emergency. Can’t get into it now. Tell Phil I will not be at the game and will be in contact tomorrow.” What does it say about the state of the Knicks today? Nothing we didn’t already know. The key read is how hard they try to keep him in free agency after this. strong>Shaun Powell: /strong>This was bizarre, which means, this was Knicks-like. You mean in this age of rapid communication Rose couldn't send a text to the front office or have someone else do it? There's more to this than meets the eye, or maybe Rose's judgment is that screwed up. Either way, this won't reflect well on him next summer in free agency. He and Joakim Noah need to have strong second halves or Phil Jackson's big offseason moves from last summer will amount to very little. strong>John Schuhmann: /strong>No matter how serious the family issue was, there's no excuse for Rose not taking the 10 seconds needed to send a text to his coach. Failing to do was a show of disrespect for Jeff Hornacek, for the organization, and for his teammates. His actions say a lot about him. The Knicks' reaction – not a peep from Phil Jackson, no suspension for Rose – says a lot about the state of the Knicks. So far, they've handled the situation almost as poorly as he has. strong>Sekou Smith: /strong> em> strong> /strong> /em>It was certainly a strange ordeal, Rose disappearing after a morning shootaround the way he did without any word to teammates or team officials. The fine works for me. And the need to be with family at a time of need trumps everything, even a Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) home game at the Garden. But there is a way to do it and a way not to do it. And Rose went about this terribly. He put his teammates, coaches and the organization in a horrible position as the rest of the public speculated as to his whereabouts. The Knicks are struggling mightily right now, on the court and beyond. This Rose affair only reveres to emphasize that fact. strong>Ian Thomsen: /strong> If there was no valid reason for Rose’s behavior, then it is a dangerous sign that the Knicks have not commanded his respect. Too much is unknown about this situation, but here’s one thing that can be said: It has been an awfully long time since the Knicks franchise was held in high esteem,and this latest incident fits into that mosaic of dysfunctionality. strong>Lang Whitaker: /strong> em> strong> /strong> /em>To me this whole saga says more about the state of Derrick Rose than it does about the Knicks. I mean, I'm not sure there's any franchise prepared for their point guard just not showing up an hour before a game starts. Clearly, we still don't know all the details, and there may be extenuating circumstances that totally warranted Rose's reaction. But from what we do understand, it would seem that Rose could/should have gotten word to someone that he was not available to play on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 11th, 2017

Hopefully may way -- Valdez on joining SEA Games national team

Former Ateneo de Manila Queen Eagle Alyssa Valdez hopes to get a compromise when Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. conducts its tryouts for the national women’s team that will see action in the 29th Southeast Asian Games. Valdez, who was a part of the PHI Team that participated in the 2015 edition of the biennial meet in Singapore, will be away for four months to play in Thailand and will not be available if the appointed head coach conducts the tryouts within the first quarter of the year. Valdez will fly to Thailand on January 15 to join 3BB Nakornnont and play in the Thai League and Thai-Denmark Super League. LVPI is set to name the national team mentor this week. The sports association is looking to form a 16-woman pool that will train as early as possible for the August 19 to 31 meet. “Ako I think as an athlete as a Filipino athlete, ‘yun din naman ang ultimate goal mo (to be a part of the national team) aside from your dreams na makapaglaro internationally,” who also played for the Nationals that participated in the Asian U-23 Women’s Volleyball Championship held in Pasig two years ago. LVPI acting president Peter Cayco earlier said that this SEA Games team will be a mix of six veterans, six young bloods and four reserves as the country guns for a medal after its last podium finish back in the 2005 Manila edition when the Pinay volleybelles snatched a bronze medal.     He also added that LVPI wants to pick players that are willing to give their full commitment to the squad. With Valdez set to play in Thailand, the three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player is looking for a way to get a nod for another tour of duty. “But if 'yung mga circumstances hindi ko rin kayang (bigyan ng time) kasi siyempre may responsibilities ka din. Kasi di ba magi-start na sila ng training? And I’m away din so ayun hopefully magawan din ng paraan,” said the two-time UAAP champion. “I think in both parties naman like Thailand wouldn’t hinder me naman (to play for the national team) for sure kung sa country naman maiintindihan nila ‘yun. Hopefully may way din (na makasali ako sa national team).” The 23-year-old hitter showcased her skills and talents during the country’s first participation in the SEA Games since 2005 and was chosen as the country’s flag-bearer marching aplomb ahead of the 600-strong Team Philippines.   Valdez wants to get another crack of representing the country. “Ultimate dream mo is to represent the country,” she said. “I would really love to do that if given a chance.”       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

Valdez promises to return to V-League after Thailand stint

Filipina volleyball superstar Alyssa Valdez will be away for four months to play overseas but promised to still see action in the next season of the V-League. Valdez is set to leave for Thailand on January 15 to join 3BB Nakornnont for the second round of the Thai League and for the Thai-Denmark Super League which will run until the second week of April. But the former Ateneo de Manila Queen Eagle said that she’ll return after her stint in Thailand to play in the 14th season of the V-League.    “Yun nga din. Well I think naiintindihan din naman nila (V-League) ang schedule so I guess if aabot or may team din na willing tanggapin ako kahit may mga ganoong circumstances OK naman ‘yun sa akin. Pero then again if wala naman Ok lang din sa akin,” said the three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player. The V-League will open in March with the staging of the Reinforced Conference. If a V-League team taps Valdez, the open hitter won’t be available until midway in the conference. “Basta no matter what kung aabot ako o hindi ako aabot. Kung may willing magpalaro sa akin, basta kung kaya lalaro naman talaga ako here,” added the 23-year-old two-time UAAP champion. Valdez last played for Bureau of Customs in the V-League Reinforced Conference, leading the young team to a runner-up finish after absorbing a Finals series sweep against powerhouse Pocari Sweat in the import-laden season-ending tournament.   But the pride of San Juan, Batangas’ contract with BoC has expired after the conference and she is open to entertain other interested clubs. Valdez played for BaliPure in the Open Conference before transferring to BoC. “Wala akong (contract sa BoC) kasi di ba new season, new year na din? So I think it’s a brand new discussion and brand new (contract) na rin,” said Valdez. Valdez debuts for 3BB Nakornnont, where she will be reunited with BoC teammates Kanjana Kuthaisong and Nattanicha Jaisaen, on January 29.         --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

FIFA set to approve bigger, richer World Cup on Tuesday

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer   FIFA is set to make the World Cup bigger and richer, even if the price to pay is lower quality soccer. FIFA President Gianni Infantino hopes his ruling Council will agree Tuesday to expand the 2026 World Cup to 48 nations, playing in 16 groups of three teams. A decision could be delayed if some Council members demand to know exactly how many qualifying places each continent will get before agreeing to scrap the 32-team format. It has been successful, popular and profitable since 1998 and is locked in for the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar. The prize of 16 extra places, and the biggest increases to Africa and Asia, has 'overwhelming' support from FIFA's 211 member federations, Infantino has said. Their promise of extra funding from Zurich could also be secured by FIFA's forecast 20 percent rise in rights fees paid by broadcasters and sponsors. 'Financially, the 48-team format is the most appealing or successful simply because the sporting element is prevailing and every match is important,' Infantino said two weeks ago. 'The decision should not be financially driven, neither in terms of revenue or costs ... but the driver should really be the development of football and boosting football all over the world.' World Cup champion Germany is not in favor. It argued that diluting the number of European and South American teams — which won all 20 titles since 1930 — could 'strengthen the imbalance' seen at some tournaments. 'The (German soccer federation) fundamentally believe that the current 32-team format is the best option,' its president Reinhard Grindel said last week. Germany has no delegate at Tuesday's meeting though Grindel is set to join the FIFA Council in May. FIFA acknowledged the risk of lower standards in a research document sent to members last month, as first reported by The Associated Press. The 'absolute quality' of soccer, defined by high-ranked teams playing each other most often, is achieved by 32 teams, FIFA said, citing 10,000 tournament simulations made to reach that conclusion. Still, Infantino promised voters more World Cup places and funding raises before his election last February. FIFA expects $5.5 billion income tied to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, though 25 of 34 sponsorship slots are unsold. The research document predicted the equivalent of $6.5 billion revenue from a 48-team tournament in the '16x3' format, which would send two teams from each group to a new Round of 32 knockout bracket. All 80 matches would play in an exclusive time slot. Currently, 64 World Cup matches have 56 broadcast slots because the eight four-team groups play their last matches simultaneously. FIFA predicts organizing costs for '16x3' rising from $2 billion to $2.3 billion, giving a potential profit rise of $640 million. Though a '16x3' World Cup would still need a maximum of 12 stadiums, the demand for 16 more top-quality training camps and hotels suggests FIFA would look for 2026 hosts with existing capacity. A North American bid from two or three of the United States, Canada and Mexico is currently favored in a contest that could start within weeks. Five options are open Tuesday, including staying with 32 teams. Infantino campaigned last year on a 40-team promise, in either eight groups of five teams or 10 groups of four teams. Neither impressed voters in recent regional meetings of FIFA member federations. When the FIFA leader first proposed 48 teams, it included an opening playoff round. The 16 winners would join 16 seeded teams in a traditional 32-team group stage. FIFA members disliked 'one-and-done' teams going home before the 'real' World Cup kicks off. It would also stretch to a 39-day event with more short-notice travel for fans. Africa and Asia could be the big winners, and FIFA hopes new teams would include another Iceland, Wales and Costa Rica — over-achieving teams and feelgood stories at recent tournaments. Still, hapless Tahiti was outclassed at the 2013 Confederations Cup, conceding 24 goals in three games. 'The goal of expanding the FIFA World Cup,' it has told members, 'is to further advance the vision to promote the game of football, protect its integrity and bring the game to all.' ___ Entry quotas for 2018 World Cup: Europe 14 (including host Russia to qualify direct); Africa 5; Asia and South America 4.5 each; North, Central America and Caribbean 3.5; Oceania 0.5. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017