Russia was already a disputed choice when it was handed the World Cup in a closely-watched 2010 vote that has since been tainted by bribery charges.But it was German journalist Hajo Seppelt’s documentaries on doping among Russian athletes that sparked a storm and ended up with Russia being banned from this winter’s Pyeongchang Olympic games.The row came full circle as it emerged Friday that Moscow has refused to allow in Seppelt to cover the World Cup, which kicks off next month.Berlin protested against Moscow’s decision to ban from the World Cup German journalist Hajo Seppelt who broke the story on Russia’s state-sponsored doping scandal, stoking further an already controversial tournament © dpa/AFP/File / Jens Wolf“We view this measure by the Russian authorities to invalidate Seppelt’s visa as wrong,” said German government spokesman Steffen Seibert.“We call on the Russian leadership to allow this German correspondent to enter the country to report on the football World Cup tournament.”Asked if Merkel would raise the issue when she meets Putin on Friday, Seibert said: “Let’s wait to see what this week brings.”– All eyes on FIFA –Seppelt had revealed Friday that his application for a visa, submitted by public regional broadcaster SWR, was rejected as he was apparently on a “persona non grata” list in Russia.Moscow did not specify the reason but Seppelt said the “uncovering of the state doping system has had such great impact for Russia that it felt that it needed to take such measures”.“It would be interesting to see if FIFA, which must ensure access to unfettered coverage of its tournament, would take on this case,” he told AFP’s sports subsidiary SID on Friday.Seibert also stressed the importance for football world governing body FIFA to press the case.“Free reporting of what is probably the biggest international sporting event next to the Olympics must be assured,” he said. “We are convinced that it puts Russia as a host in a bad light if the freedom of the press and of opinion is curtailed before the eyes of the world.”In a statement released Monday, FIFA said it had already approved Seppelt’s accreditation request.“We are getting more information from the Russian authorities regarding his visa process through the Local Organising Committee,” said FIFA.“Generally speaking, the freedom of the press is of paramount importance to FIFA and we always aim to provide media representatives with the best possible conditions for coverage of all FIFA events,” it added.Germany’s football federation chief Reinhard Grindel expressed confidence FIFA would take action.“FIFA has stressed the importance of press freedom. I have complete confidence that FIFA will now use its influence to allow Hajo Seppelt to report unhindered from Russia,” he told SID on Sunday.0Shares0000(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000The German government protested to Moscow over its football world cup ban on journalist Hajo Seppelt who caused uproar by his revelations of massive state-sponsored sports doping in Russia © AFP/File / FABRICE COFFRINIBerlin, Germany, May 14 – Berlin protested Monday against Moscow’s decision to ban from the World Cup the German journalist who broke the story on Russia’s state-sponsored doping scandal, stoking further an already controversial tournament.The row erupted just days before German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, who in recent years has clashed repeatedly with Western leaders on a litany of issues including the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.
0Shares0000France forward Kylian Mbappe kisses a goalpost during a World Cup training session © AFP / FRANCK FIFEMOSCOW, Russian Federation, Jul 4 – As Didier Deschamps plots another World Cup title tilt with France, Kylian Mbappe, who was not even born when his coach lifted the trophy in 1998, has become an indispensable figure for Les Bleus.It was only two-and-a-half years ago that the teenager made his professional debut, but the rise of Mbappe — the second-most expensive player in history — has been meteoric. After winning successive French league crowns with Monaco and then Paris Saint-Germain, the 19-year-old announced himself on the global stage by knocking Lionel Messi’s Argentina out of the last 16 in Russia.With Cristiano Ronaldo, a childhood hero of Mbappe’s, crashing out of the competition on the same day with Portugal, it felt like a passing of the torch to a new generation.Mbappe’s breathtaking acceleration and steely composure were used to devastating effect as he became the first teenager since Pele 60 years ago to score at least twice in a World Cup match.“I gave Kylian a new nickname, it’s 37, because he reached a peak of 37km/h (kilometres per hour) against Argentina,” said France teammate Florian Thauvin.Kylian Mbappe scored twice as France beat Argentina 4-3 in the World Cup last 16 © AFP / FRANCK FIFETo put his searing speed into context, triple Olympic 100-metre champion Usain Bolt’s career peak was clocked at 44.72 km/h during his world record run at the 2009 world championships.And while Mbappe may be the game’s new superstar, the French teenage sensation is not forgetting his roots.According to L’Equipe, he has promised to donate his World Cup bonus to organise sporting initiatives for children in hospital.He will likely find a robust Uruguay defence far less charitable, but former France defender Lilian Thuram expects Mbappe to thrive on the challenge.“He is young, and young players really enjoy themselves when the standard of the opposition increases,” said Thuram.– ‘More talent’ than Pogba –France great Thierry Henry, who followed a similar trajectory to the top as Mbappe, cited the latter’s intelligence as the driving force behind his success.“When I watch him dribble, he’s thinking,” Henry said in an interview with Canal+.“There’s something that gets me going and saddens me at times. We often speak of a player and say: ‘He’s fast, he’s tough, he jumps high’, but we never speak about a player’s brain.“He thinks when he plays, and that for me is the most important thing in a player, he uses his brain,” explained Henry.“It’s the sign of a guy who can go very far.”Ludovic Batelli, coach of the France team that won the Under-19 European Championship in 2016, said Mbappe had a rare level of maturity for someone so young.“He has this clear-headedness, this sangfroid in front of goal which is the mark of great goalscorers,” said Batelli.“It’s often acquired more in the second part of one’s career. He has it at a very, very young age. It’s what is going to allow him to become a future great.”Mbappe scored 21 goals in his first season in Paris after joining the club in a monumental deal worth an eventual 180 million euros ($210 million).Paul Pogba, one of the cornerstones of the current France side, said Mbappe has only just scratched the surface of what he is capable of achieving.“He’s got a lot more talent than me,” Pogba said of Mbappe. “And he’s not going to stop there. He’s got so much talent.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)