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BBC journalists arrested on official visit to Qatar

A model of Al Rayyan Stadium, being built for the World Cup Credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous

A BBC news crew has been arrested in Qatar while on an official visit to the country.

The crew were among other members of the press invited to tour new workers' accommodation, following ongoing international outcry at the poor conditions faced by the men building infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.

However, the crew found themselves arrested by Qatari security services, and jailed and aggressively interrogated for two days.

In an article for the BBC, Middle East business correspondent Mark Lobel spoke of "hostile" questioning.

He wrote: "Thirteen hours of waiting around and questioning later, one of the interrogators snapped. 'This is not Disneyland,' he barked. 'You can't stick your camera anywhere.'"

In a statement, the Qatari government said: "By trespassing on private property and running afoul of Qatari laws, the BBC reporter made himself the story. We sincerely hope that this was not his intention.

"Moreover, we deeply regret that he was unable to report the real story, which is that the government and the private sector are making significant progress in efforts to improve the lives and the labour conditions of guest workers in Qatar."

Greens call for England to boycott Qatar 2022 World Cup

England's football team should boycott the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in protest over the country's human rights record, the Green Party has said.

Leader Natalie Bennett added her voice to a growing chorus of calls for the team to refuse to take part in the Gulf state-hosted event, amid anger over the gay rights and the exploitation of workers, as well as alleged corruption during the bidding process.

Qatar delegates celebrate winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup bid Credit: PA

Homosexuality is banned in the country.

In an interview with the Gay Times, Ms Bennett was asked whether England should travel to Qatar.

Personally no, that's my personal opinion. I think there are so many issues around Qatar - gay rights issues, workers' rights issues.

– Natalie Bennett, Green Party

She also called for action to address the "cultural problem" of homosexuality in sports as a whole, with athletes only coming out as gay once they have finished competing.

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England 1966 team doctor Neil Phillips passes away

Neil Phillips, the team doctor for England's victorious 1966 World Cup campaign, has died at the age of 83, the Football Association has announced.

Phillips pictured on the left with Kevin Keegan and Mick Channon in 1974. Credit: TheFA.com

Manager Sir Alf Ramsey promoted Phillips from his role as Under-23 team doctor just before the '66 World Cup as seniors doctor Alan Bass had run out of holiday and could not join up with the squad for their preparation camp in Lilleshall.

Phillips, who was born in Tredegar in south Wales, was England's team doctor for the defence of the Jules Rimet trophy four years later in Mexico and left the FA in 1974 following Ramsey's departure.

Phillips was a former director at Middlesbrough and also used to have a surgery in Redcar.

A service of thanksgiving will take place on Wednesday April 8 in Dr Phillips' home town of Malvern in Worcestershire.

The FA said: "Our thoughts are with Neil's family and friends at this sad time."

Brazil 2014 World Cup stadium in Natal up for sale

Brazil's World Cup stadium in Natal is up for sale as the company that owns it is suffering from cash flow problems following a corruption scandal.

The 2014 World Cup stadium in Natal is up for sale. Credit: PA

Natal's Dunas arena is being sold by owner Grupo OAS, with the company also trying to sell the 50 percent share it owns of the Fonte Nova arena in Salvador.

The company has struggled for months with the impact of a corruption investigation at state-controlled oil company Petrobras, which undercut the builder's access to financing.

An economic downturn, government austerity and a slumping currency has also taken its toll, leading to Grupo OAS to announce it is selling its stakes in the stadiums and other businesses to focus on the core construction business.

Uefa calls for extra World Cup spot

Germany won the tournament last time out. Credit: PA

Uefa has announced it wants an extra place to be given to a European country at World Cup finals.

Europe currently has 13 countries among the 32 final spots but Fifa president Sepp Blatter has previously urged other continents to seek more guaranteed places.

Uefa's general secretary Gianni Infantino said not only would the 13 places be protected but that Europe would fight for an extra slot.

He told a news conference in Vienna: "If you look at it objectively based on facts 19 of the top 32 ranked associations are European, the winners of the last three World Cups were European.

"So I think it's absolutely objective and fair to be asking for one more position only - in fact we could ask for more than one. To be crowned world champions you must have the best teams in the competitions."

He added: "I don't know if Fifa is trying to reduce the number, I don't think so - I cannot imagine a World Cup with fewer than 13 (Europeans) taking place. Whatever speculations and discussions the absolute minimum is the status quo."

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Fifa reject Premier League compensation for Qatar 2022

FIFA's General secretary, Jérôme Valcke, has rejected the possibility of the Premier League, and other European leagues, claiming compensation for the consequences of a November and December World Cup.

On Monday, European Club Association chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge suggested that Europe's leagues and clubs would deserve financial reimbursement for the 2022 Qatar World Cup, which promises to wreak havoc with more than 50 domestic leagues.

Valcke told a news conference in Doha after a Qatar 2022 organising committee board meeting: "It's not perfect, we know that - but why are we talking about compensation? It's happening once we're not destroying football.

Why should we apologise to the clubs? We have had an agreement with the clubs that they are part of the beneficiaries. It was 40 million (US) dollars in 2010 and 70 million in 2014.

– FIFA's General secretary Jérôme Valcke

Premier League chief feels 'let down' by Fifa and UEFA

Premier League chief Richard Scudamore has expressed his disappointment after Fifa's task force recommended staging the 2022 Qatar World Cup in November and December.

Scudamore wants minimal disruption to his Premier League schedule. Credit: Reuters

The recommendation is likely to be ratified at a Fifa meeting in Zurich next month and would play havoc with the Premier League campaign, which includes a packed schedule of matches during the last two months of the calendar year.

Scudamore feels the UEFA Champions League has been protected by Fifa's decision rather than domestic leagues such as the Premier League.

British Fifa chief against late December World Cup final

Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce will oppose any move to hold the 2022 Qatar World Cup final as late as December 23.

Boyce doesn't want the final as late as December 23rd. Credit: PA

The task force announced its recommendation for a "late November to late December" winter World Cup following a meeting in Doha, and also said that the tournament should be shortened.

Boyce, from Northern Ireland, said moving the World Cup to the winter was a "common sense" decision but that a final on December 23, which is reportedly one of the options, would be too close to Christmas and the traditional festive matches.

I think that is too close to Christmas - that's the only reservation I would have and I would like it a week earlier, but I want to wait until the FIFA executive committee meeting to hear all the details about the dates.

It will cause a lot of disruption but it is eight years away and people should have enough time to make it work.

– FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce
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