Insider Notes: Muller embraces horse breeding; CONCACAF event changes
Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller said in an interview on the Planet Fútbol Podcast this week that he and his entire team need to improve across the board starting with Wednesday’s game against PSV after a three-game winless stretch that included a Champions League loss at Atlético Madrid. But here’s an interesting thing about Müller: He said that earlier in his career he would be totally consumed by watching soccer, even away from the game.
But ever since he married his wife, Lisa, an equestrian rider, Thomas says he has watched less soccer on TV as they have spent time breeding horses together. He says that helps him get away from the daily pressures and perform better on the field.
Listen to the full interview with Muller below:
Here are a few more insider notes from around the soccer world:
Montagliani has combined Copa talks, eyes changes to World Cup qualifying, CCL
After speaking with CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani of Canada, a few interesting things emerged regarding the confederation and its future.
One, he had some informal talks with CONMEBOL officials last week about future combined Copa América tournaments and says formal talks would need to start in early 2017 if there’s interest on both sides.
Two, he does support changing CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in the next cycle to give more games to smaller countries, but he says he doesn’t want to take away the big USA-Mexico qualifiers that already take place. And three, look for a change in the next cycle of CONCACAF Champions League so that the bigger teams in Mexico and MLS don’t have to play as many group-stage games. He wants CCL to become a bigger event than what we’ve seen.
Another CONCACAF source–not Montagliani–said one possibility for CCL is having a “pre-qualification” that feeds into a 16-team main tournament.
As it stands in the 2016-17 edition, two MLS teams (Vancouver Whitecaps, New York Red Bulls) have clinched places in the quarterfinals, while two more (FC Dallas, Portland Timbers) are playing for their tournament lives this week–the same week they are playing for the MLS Supporters' Shield and a berth in the MLS playoffs, respectively.
CONCACAF to do away with third-place game for Gold Cup
One source with knowledge of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup says next summer’s tournament will have a couple of changes.
The final will be on a Wednesday night (July 26) instead of the weekend, and it’s likely that there will be no third-place game this time around. The verdict on the third-place game in 2015 (in which Panama beat the U.S. on penalty kicks) was that it wasn’t worth repeating in the future. After taking a five-tournament hiatus from hosting third-place games, CONCACAF had reinstated it for 2015.
Gold Cup host cities for 2017 are expected to begin being announced next month and the schedule will likely be revealed in March. The tournament will start on July 7.
Mexico is the reigning champion and beat the U.S. last October in a battle of the two most recent Gold Cup winners for the right to go to the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Brazilian journalists explain influence of Mexico fan chant on Brazil supporters
FIFA recently penalized the Mexican FA for the fifth time in the past year for its fans’ homophobic chants on goal kicks. FIFA also recently fined the Brazil FA for the same types of anti-gay chants.
Here’s what’s fascinating about the Brazil chants: Brazilian journalists say that the anti-gay chants in their country didn’t start until World Cup 2014, when Brazilian fans were exposed to the same chants by Mexican fans who had traveled in large numbers to Brazil for the World Cup. This is one custom that is going viral in the worst way possible, and not just in Brazil and Mexico but in other countries as well.
The Mexican federation said it was going to appeal the latest fine from FIFA, arguing that "in the specific context the chant is not discriminatory."