DOHA, Qatar — United States midfielder Tyler Adams is more frightened of spiders than he is of England.

Before both teams meet at the World Cup on Friday, Adams revealed what scares him most – and it’s not the prospect of coming up against one of the tournament favorites.

England beat Iran 6-2 in its opening game in Qatar on Monday, and the U.S. tied 1-1 with Wales.

Adams, who plays in the Premier League with Leeds, accepts Gregg Berhalter’s team is the underdog, but says the game holds no fear for him.

“England are still a big team at the end of the day, but the intimidation factor? I wouldn’t say there’s many things out there that intimidate me, other than spiders,” he said. “So it’s fine for me, but obviously I’ve got to play against all those big players, so I’ve done it before.

“But we also want to show what we’re capable of and that U.S. soccer is developing and growing in the right way.”


England reached the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup, and made it to the final of last year’s European Championship but lost to Italy in a penalty shootout.

The 1966 World Cup champion is among the teams tipped to challenge for the trophy in Qatar and provided a demonstration of its strength in the rout of Iran.
A win for the U.S. would be seen as a major upset.

“I think that in a lot of games people would probably say we are the underdogs, but we carry that with pride,” said Adams. “It doesn’t mean anything to us to be underdogs, to be favorites.

“It’s obviously a huge opportunity to fast track the impact that we can have. These are the games – high pressure, a privileged moment to step on the field against some of these guys. We respect them and there’s probably mutual respect between both teams and when you get a result in a game like this, people start to respect Americans a little bit more.”

FRANCE: France’s sports minister has encouraged her country’s World Cup team to make a symbolic gesture in support of human rights, after FIFA’s clampdown on the “One Love” armband.

“Is there still a way our French team can continue to express its commitment to human rights? The answer is yes,” Amelie Oudea-Castera told French television channel Public Senat. “The Germans showed it.”


Germany’s players covered their mouths for the team photo before their opening World Cup match on Wednesday. The gesture was a response to FIFA’s effective nixing of seven European teams’ plans to wear armbands that were seen as a rebuke to host nation Qatar and its human rights record.

French players will be “free to express themselves,” in the coming weeks, Oudea-Castera said. “They share these values too … and it’s important that they represent them.”

The French team released a statement before flying to Qatar, saying the players supported NGO’s working to protect human rights and that all the players and staff members had made a collective donation toward them.

“The players have already made a statement saying how we feel,” France midfielder Matteo Guendouzi said Thursday in Qatar. “We’re not indifferent about this situation. But we’re here to play football and enjoy ourselves on the field.”

Forward Marcus Thuram said he respected what the Germans did.

“As Matteo said we have done something (with a donation),” Thuram said. “If they think they defended a good cause then that’s a good thing.”
Defending champion France beat Australia 4-1 in its first World Cup match on Tuesday. The team plays its next Group D match Saturday against Denmark.


WALES: The Welsh soccer federation said FIFA has offered assurances that fans wearing rainbow symbols will be allowed at Friday’s World Cup game against Iran.

The federation had asked FIFA for clarity on reports some Wales fans were stopped from taking rainbow bucket hats and flags into the team’s World Cup opener against the United States on Monday.

“FIFA has confirmed that fans with Rainbow Wall bucket hats and rainbow flags will be allowed entry to the stadium,” the Welsh federation posted Thursday to social media.

The Rainbow Wall is Wales’ LGBTQ supporters’ group.

The federation added that all World Cup venues have been “contacted and instructed to follow the agreed rules & regulations.”

FIFA confirmed that it has been in contact with the Welsh federation and reiterated the long-standing guarantees from the Qatari authorities that LGBTQ symbols would be allowed into the eight World Cup stadiums. However, the governing body has no authority over stadium security, which is controlled by the local organizing committee.


Rainbow imagery, a symbol of LGBTQ rights, is frowned upon in a country where same-sex relations are criminalized.

In April, a senior Qatari security official overseeing tournament preparations suggested fans carrying rainbow flags could have them removed to protect them from possible attacks.

NETHERLANDS: Coach Louis Van Gaal was taken by surprise at a World Cup news conference when a Senegalese reporter told the Dutchman he was a longtime admirer.

“I don’t have any question for you. It’s just an opportunity to tell you I’m a fan since 3 years old,” Papa Mahmoud Gueye said. “I love you.”

The 71-year-old Van Gaal, sometimes viewed as a stern-faced, taciturn and obdurate figure in soccer, broke into a huge smile before responding.

“I’m going to give you a big hug after this, because I like that you say this and I mean that seriously,” Van Gaal said through an interpreter. “Because people don’t often say this to me. So we’ll give each other a big hug afterward.”


Van Gaal kept his word, moving down from the stage and beckoning the reporter with his hand to join him in a warm embrace.

The 28-year-old Gueye works for Senegalese publication

Gueye told The Associated Press it was an honor to share such a touching moment with Van Gaal, a storied and highly innovative coach who has led teams like Ajax, Barcelona and Manchester United.

“He’s one of the greatest figures in football,” Gueye said. “He was also happy to see that there are people who love him, and he said to me `Let’s give each other a hug.”‘

Gueye said Van Gaal has earned an unfair reputation over the years as being grumpy.

“That’s not really the case. From a distance people generally think that’s he’s not cool,” Gueye said. “But he’s a smiley character and he laughs with everyone. And he’s one of the best coaches in the world.”

The Netherlands beat Senegal 2-0 on Monday.

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