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  • 14 Jun
    ZURICH -- FIFA President Gianni Infantino hit out on Friday at attempts to undermine the World Cup in Russia, saying he will not judge the country on the investigation which documented a state-sponsored doping program that included soccer.Infantino told The Associated Press it was still very good working with Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who has been accused of personally intervening to cover up a doping case of at least one foreign footballer in the Russian Premier League.The details emerged in a report authored by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, who was attending an ethics conference at FIFA HQ as Infantino conducted a 30-minute interview with the AP.McLarens report cast doubt on Russias suitability to host sporting events, with the International Olympic Committee temporarily withdrawing its backing for competitions in the country.Its not my job to judge this report, Infantino told the AP. As president of football my concern has to be on football matters, has to be on doping in football.If there are elements on doping and football, then FIFAs bodies will deal with that.There appears no risk of Russia losing the 2018 World Cup, with only nine months until the doping-tainted nation hosts the Confederations Cup, which serves as the warmup event.We should see this as a chance rather than trying to be negative, Infantino said. We should see the World Cup in Russia as a chance for FIFA but also for Russia to show itself in a positive light as an organizer and a welcoming country.Lets work in a positive sense in this direction rather than trying to undermine this event.McLaren also found that 11 positive doping cases of Russian footballers were made to disappear.Mutko, as well as being sports minister, leads the countrys soccer federation, and sits on FIFAs ruling council. He was banned by the IOC from attending the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last month based on McLarens findings, but he retains Infantinos backing.We have committees in place. Whatever evidence Prof. McLaren has, he will send it to the ethics committee of FIFA, and they will instruct or not a case, Infantino said. As long as this doesnt happen I will certainly not participate in any speculation or any problems.I am working with the people who are there, who are legitimately elected ... he has been working in terms of the organization of the world, as far as I can judge, in an excellent way so far. So, for me and for us, it is certainly very good to continue working with him.Here are other issues Infantino addressed seven months after being elected FIFA president:---OLYMPIC FOOTBALLInfantino was pleased with the enthusiasm for the womens event in Rio de Janeiro but questioned the future viability and worth of the mens competition.This is something everybody speaks about in the football circles and also in the Olympic circles but nobody dares raise the topic, Infantino said. But at the end nobody is really happy with that event because the international match calendar is already congested. There are no free dates.Clubs are not obliged to release players for the Olympic mens competition, where countries are only allowed three players over the age of 23.Its not really a youth competition but its not really a top competition, said Infantino, who didnt attend the finals in Brazil. The players are not happy, the clubs are not happy, the federations are not happy.So if nobody is happy there must be something wrong. We really need to look at that ... I dont have the solution.BREAKAWAY LEAGUESThe threat of Europes elite clubs breaking away to form a wealthy Super League re-emerged over the last year, leading to England, Spain, Germany, and Italy each securing an extra guaranteed place in the Champions League.Some UEFA members are unhappy that the governing body caved into the powerful clubs.Infantino, who was UEFA general secretary before succeeding Sepp Blatter at FIFA, said nobody has ever put a gun to my head when negotiating with Europes big leagues.Infantino warned that everybody knows the consequences of splitting to form their own competition. Players participating in such a league, outside of a FIFA structure, could face being banned from featuring for their countries in international competitions.TROUBLED STARTInfantino has endured a rocky start to his first seven months in power, going through a FIFA ethics investigation before being cleared of any misconduct relating to use of private flights and improperly accepting gifts.Infantino said he was still working to rebuild trust in FIFA and overhaul the Zurich-based organization.When you have to embrace such significant reforms, its obviously normal you get some blowback and turbulence, Infantino said. Custom Golden Knights T-shirts . "It doesnt get any better than that," Giambi said. "Im speechless." The Indians are roaring toward October. Giambi belted a two-run, pinch-hit homer with two outs in the ninth inning to give Cleveland a shocking 5-4 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night, keeping the Indians up with the lead pack in the AL wild-card race. 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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Frank Gore doesnt see turning 30 as a bad thing, even if its the age when most NFL running backs start to decline. If anything, the San Francisco 49ers career rushing leader has embraced the milestone and sees it as another means of motivation. "I love it," Gore said Thursday outside of the 49ers locker room. "I feel like every year its something with me. I have to overcome everything, every year. Now that Im 30 I just have to keep working and training hard." Not that Gore has ever needed extra incentive. Whether it was being bypassed in the 2005 draft when he was the sixth running back selected or the string of injuries hes endured and overcome since then, Gore has always felt the need to prove people wrong. The 49ers clearly know Gores value and have limited his participation in the off-season workouts, including this weeks three-day minicamp. San Francisco hopes the time off will help keep Gore fresher for the regular season. Hes topped 1,000 yards in six of the past seven years, but hes also had a tendency to wear down late in the season. Since the end of the 2009 season, Gore has failed to record a 100-yard game in the months of November and December. He rebounded to top that mark twice in the playoffs last season, including in the 49ers Super Bowl loss to Baltimore when Gore ran for 110 yards and a touchdown. That wasnt enough to silence the critics. And when Gore turned 30 on May 14, the doubts seemed to increase. Even his spot on a recently released list of the top 100 players in the NFL didnt sit well with the ninth-year veteran. Gore was No. 32. "They said hes turning 30 and he might not have (any) more left," Gore said. "I like that type of stuff. Whenever (the 49ers) let me get on the field, Im going to go hard and prove everybody wrong again." Just when Gore will be on the field is the question. While hes done some light individual work, the 49ers have not let him take part in any on-field practices.dddddddddddd. He was a spectator at practice Thursday and likely wont put on pads until San Francisco opens training camp in July. That led to speculation that Gore might be nursing an injury. But when questioned about it on Thursday, Gore was as elusive as he has been on the field. "Im cool, Im good," he said. "Im just listening to (head trainer Jeff Ferguson). He told me he didnt want me doing anything right now, and Im listening. Im just getting my body back. I want to be fresh whenever I get back on the field." Keeping Gore fresh is critical considering the health of some of San Franciscos other running backs. Kendall Hunter, the top backup behind Gore, is still mending from a torn Achilles tendon he suffered last season. Rookie Marcus Lattimore, one of the teams two fourth-round draft picks, is also trying to come back after an injury-filled college career that included a career-threatening right knee injury in 2012. Gore and Lattimore have formed a kinship of sorts because of their similar histories. Gore suffered serious injuries to both knees while in college before rebounding to become a four-time Pro Bowl running back for the 49ers. "Hes a good kid," Gore said of Lattimore. "I went through the same thing, being one of the best backs at the school and getting drafted late in the rounds and you dont know if you could get back to (being) you. Im pulling for him." Notes: First-round draft pick Eric Reid was held out of practice with an unspecified minor injury, according to coach Jim Harbaugh. ... Wide receiver Brandon Carswell, who was signed on Wednesday, suffered a torn ACL. ... Anquan Boldin, the 49ers prized off-season acquisition, was on the field but did not take part in the full-team scrimmage portion of practice. ' ' '