Soccer / Sports

Some players feeling down about being left out

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- After spending four years planning and prepping for the World Cup, it can be doubly devastating to go out with an injury this close to the tournament. But a number of key players are feeling that frustration after having been ruled out -- or at least doubtful -- for their teams' tournament openers.

Germany's Marco Reus was the latest to go down after tearing a ligament in his left ankle late in the first half of Germany's friendly with Armenia on Friday.

"I really don't know how to find the words to express how I am feeling," Reus told reporters. "A dream has ended from one second to the next."

Germany has several candidates to replace Reus, a 25-year-old attacking midfielder, in the lineup. His spot on the roster will go to 22-year-old defender Shkodran Mustafi. The German team was expected to begin arriving in Brazil this weekend.

Also out is French star Franck Ribery, who finished third behind Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina's Lionel Messi in voting for the world player of the year award in 2013. Ribery, also an attacking midfielder, was hopeful of playing in Brazil despite back problems. But after missing two World Cup warmups and struggling in training Friday, his roster spot was given to Remy Cabella.

France, which has nowhere near the depth of Germany, will have a much tougher time replacing Ribery, whose 81 caps are most among active French players. His 16 goals rank second to Karim Benzema's 19. Cabella has played one game for the national team, entering as a substitute.

Portugal and Uruguay, meanwhile, are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping their top players will be cleared to compete.

Ronaldo, who played for Real Madrid in the Champions League final last month, has missed Portugal's last two World Cup warmups with tendinitis in a knee and a muscle injury to his left thigh. He returned to training with the team Saturday in Miami and is hopeful he'll be ready for the team's opener June 16 opener with Germany.

Uruguay's Luis Suarez also continues to improve. He did some stretching and light running during training in Montevideo, his first on-field workout since undergoing knee surgery last month. Suarez, who led the English Premier League with 31 goals this season, is expected to accompany the team to Brazil on Monday.

Scandal grows

FIFA's executive committee, meeting in Sao Paulo, declined to publicly address the unfolding scandal in Qatar after the Sunday Times in London published new allegations that Mohamed Bin Hammam used his wealth and top-level contacts to buy support for his country's 2022 World Cup bid, which beat out one from the U.S.

The newspaper, which last week claimed the former FIFA vice president made payments totaling $5 million in exchange for votes in support of Qatar's bid, is now reporting that Bin Hammam arranged government-level talks about a lucrative gas sale for a FIFA executive in Thailand.

Qatar has denied any wrongdoing regarding the 2010 vote. FIFA released a statement Saturday in which it "reaffirmed its position of letting the ethics committee complete its work before making any comment."

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