Countdown to Brazil: Iran's players told not to swap jerseys

Clint Dempsey will captain the US squad. (USATSI)

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Four weeks! That’s it. That’s how long soccer fans have to wait before Brazil and Croatia kick off the World Cup from Sao Paulo. 

Don’t worry, socceroos, we’ll keep you entertained until then.

US breaks camp: US training camp commenced on Wednesday from Stanford University, and Jurgen Klinsmann defended his decision to invite 30 men, instead of the 23 whom he felt would be traveling to Brazil. For one, it invites competition, which is always healthy, especially with the looming World Cup stage. But could we see a couple injuries in the build-up the tournament? Perhaps, but do you think Portugal or Germany is going to play at less than 120 percent? 

More pragmatically, Klinsmann doesn’t seem to know which 23 he’d take if forced to choose.

“The reason why we took 30 is because we aren’t sure yet, simple as that. We want to see them come in and compete for the spots. We have 50-50 cases all over the place going on, so the best thing for us coaches is to look at first-hand, see them in training, see where they’re at right now, and then make the decision three weeks down the road.”

One other interesting note from California: It was 90 degrees yesterday during the team’s training session, 20 degrees warmer than average. That heat will be similar to what they face in Brazil.

We’ll have the latest each day on what transpires in Palo Alto.

Another disturbing report from Qatar: In March we reported that up to 4,000 immigrant workers could die in preparations for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The Qatar government paid for an independent law firm to investigate the conditions for immigrant workers tasked with building the lavish stadiums, and it found that 964 immigrants from Nepal, India and Bangladesh had died in 2012 and 2013, including 246 from heart attacks. The report offered 62 (!!!) recommendations to amend (re. overthrow) the current labor system in Qatar. It’s worth your time.

Spain loses midfielder: Thiago Alcantara, a 23-year-old midfielder on Bayern Munich, won’t be playing for defending champion Spain this summer, even after he was named to the preliminary squad. Alcantara has been battling a ligament injury, but Spain’s star-studded midfield has plenty of depth to recover.

Nasri considering international retirement: In light of yesterday’s news that France’s Samir Nasri, who plays his club football for Man City, was snubbed for the second time from the national team, the 26-year-old is said to be contemplating international retirement.

“I need to think a little bit during the holiday, what will be my future in the national team, because missing two World Cups is hard for a player,” The Guardian reported. 

Australia’s WC slogan said to be “lamest of all-time”: The socceroos are in a brutal group with Spain, Chile and the Netherlands. There’s little chance they’ll be “hopping their way into history.” Yikes. 

No souvenirs for Iran?: It’s commonplace in soccer to trade jerseys with an opponent. It's both a cool tradition and a sign of respect. But apparently Iran’s players were told not to trade their jerseys with players from Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina or Nigeria since they don’t have jerseys for every game.

“The players have to be economical with the shirts,” Iran’s football president said. Um … one stadium being built for the tournament costs $900 million dollars. Surely someone, somewhere, can find a little extra cash.  

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