Saudi Arabia Wants World Cup Tourney Every 2 Years ... FIFA to Decide

You down for a World Cup tournament every 2 years instead of 4?!

That's how Saudi Arabia wants to get down ... with officials formally proposing FIFA change the WC schedule -- for both the men's and women's tourney -- ASAP.

Don't get too excited ... even if the proposal is well-received Friday at FIFA's giant meeting of its 211 member federations, it could take YEARS to implement.

In fact, Saudi Arabia is first requesting FIFA launch a "feasible study" to see how shifting the World Cup to every 2 years would affect players, countries, and major soccer organizations around the globe.

The most compelling argument, it seems, is the money -- with the AP reporting the men's World Cup brings in around $6 BILLION in broadcasting and commercial deals.

Not too shabby!

Look, it's not the first time the 2-year plan has been pitched -- former FIFA president Sepp Blatter brought it up back 1999 ... and FIFA vice president Alejandro Dominguez brought it up again in 2018.

But, money talks ... and FIFA has been open to making significant changes lately.

Remember, FIFA agreed to expand the 2026 World Cup to 48 teams ... a big change from the usual 32.

Stay tuned ... and get your vuvuzelas ready!

Belize Soccer Team Held Up By Heavily Armed Insurgents In Haiti .. In Terrifying Video


10:30 AM PT -- The team is rebounding well from Monday's terrifying incident ... players and coaches got in an outdoor workout Tuesday, stretching, jogging and getting some cardio in.

Ian Gaynair/Facebook

You can see the guys look to be in good spirits ... with some even rockin' smiles on their faces!

The Belize men's national soccer team was stopped by gunmen in Haiti just minutes after it had arrived in the country for a World Cup qualifier -- and video from the scene is beyond troubling.

The Belize national team officials said in a statement Monday they were making their way from the airport to their hotel 3 days prior to their big soccer match ... when a band of armed insurgents on motorcycles pulled them over at gunpoint.

You can hear the soccer players in the bus describing the demands the insurgents were making -- "They said, 'Pull over or else!'"

The footage shot from inside the team bus shows dozens of men -- some armed with large firearms -- order the driver to pull to the side of the road, despite the team having a 4-man police escort.

Belize officials said cops were forced to "negotiate" with the men in order to leave unharmed -- and, thankfully, they were allowed to move forward with no one getting hurt in the confrontation.

No word on what the team had to give the men in order to leave.

Waiting for your permission to load the Facebook Post.

"The situation is one that the team should have never faced," team officials said after the incident, "but we are pleased to report that our Jaguars, although shaken by the terrible experience, are safely at their hotel."

The team added it's "currently in contact with respective authorities from FIFA and Concacaf and are doing everything possible to get them to safer grounds."

"It is unfortunate that our Jaguars faced such a traumatic experience."

Belize is slated to play Haiti in Port-Au-Prince on March 25 -- a key game for Belize as it attempts to qualify for the World Cup (set for 2022 in Qatar) for the first time ever.

Originally Published-- 7:25 AM PT

Russia Banned from 2020 Olympics, World Cup ... Over Doping Scandal

The Russians are OUT at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo AND the 2022 World Cup -- at least for now -- because they're HORRIBLE cheaters, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

WADA has voted unanimously to hit Russia with a 4-year ban from all major international sporting events ... including the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup.

Here's why ... WADA officials say Russian authorities TAMPERED with a laboratory database in an effort to cover up HUNDREDS of potential doping cases involving Russian athletes.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said last month the investigation revealed "flagrant manipulation" of the lab data.

Now, The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has 21 days to appeal the ban -- and Russian officials have strongly suggested they will fight the punishment.

WADA President Sir Craig Reedie is digging in his heels -- saying in a statement, "For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport.

"The blatant breach by the Russian authorities of RUSADA's reinstatement conditions, approved by the ExCo in September 2018, demanded a robust response. That is exactly what has been delivered today."

It's not the first time Russia has been accused of cheating and banned from the Olympics -- they were blocked from the 2018 Winter Games after a similar doping scandal.

North Korea Plays South Korea In Empty Stadium ... For World Cup Qualifier

North Korea faced off with South Korea in a historic soccer World Cup qualifier ... but nobody saw it -- 'cause North Korea didn't allow fans in the stadium OR a TV broadcast.

The meeting between the two teams on Monday -- which ended in a 0-0 tie -- was surreal ... it was reportedly the first match between the two national squads in Pyongyang EVER.

But ... North Korean officials reportedly put massive restrictions on who could view the game -- with no TV coverage, no fans in the stands and no journalists allowed.

Check out the pics ... it's straight-up eerie.

Of course, North Korea and South Korea have a tense relationship ... the two countries are technically still at war -- and reports say everything surrounding the match was strained.

According to international reports ... the South Koreans were forced to leave their cell phones at the South Korean Embassy -- and communication to and from the game was nearly impossible.

As for fans who wanted to follow the match ... their only option to watch it live consisted of brief posts about the match on FIFA and Asian Football Confederation websites.

But, North Korea will reportedly hand over a DVD of the game to South Korea this week so it can broadcast the match to its fans on tape delay at a later date.

Backlash over the blacked-out match has been strong in South Korea ... with many fans upset over the lack of coverage.

As for soccer ... unclear how the tie will impact each team's chances at a spot in the 2022 FIFA World Cup -- but the squads will reportedly have to rematch in an away location next June.

U.S. Soccer Prez The Women Make More Than The Men ... But Bring In Way Less!!!

The President of the U.S. Soccer Federation is responding to the pay gap lawsuit filed by the U.S. Women's National Team ... saying he has proof the women actually make MORE than the men despite bringing in WAYYY less money.

Remember, the USWNT sued the Federation back in March for gender discrimination -- claiming,  "The female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts."

Now, U.S. Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro is responding in an open letter ... essentially saying he hears what the women are saying -- but the numbers don't back up their claim.

"U.S. Soccer has, over the past decade, paid our Women’s National Team more than our Men’s National Team in salaries and game bonuses, and we continue to make unprecedented investments in our women’s program," Cordeiro wrote.

Cordeiro included a "fact sheet" that spells out his case and explains ...

"From 2010 through 2018, U.S. Soccer paid our women $34.1 million in salaries and game bonuses and we paid our men $26.4 million -- not counting the significant additional value of various benefits that our women’s players receive but which our men do not."

Cordeiro says the Men and Women have different pay structures based on how they negotiated their Collective Bargaining Agreements ... including more guaranteed pay salary for the women and different ("more robust") benefits packages.

The men CAN earn larger bonuses ... but they're guaranteed nothing, according to Cordeiro.

Corderio also says when you break down the revenue generated by each team, the men come out on top ... by far.

"From 2009 through 2019 -- a timeframe that includes two Women’s World Cup championships -- the Women’s National Team has earned gross revenue of $101.3 million over 238 games, for an average of $425,446 per game, and the Men’s National Team has earned gross revenue of $185.7 million over 191 games, for an average of $972,147 per game."

"More specifically, WNT games have generated a net profit (ticket revenues minus event expenses) in only two years (2016 and 2017). Across the entire 11-year period, WNT games generated a net loss of $27.5 million."

Still, Cordeiro says, "U.S. Soccer does not view these as losses, but rather as an important investment in our Women’s National Team and in the long-term growth of women’s soccer."

Molly Levinson -- a spokesperson for the U.S. Women's National Team -- is responding to the letter ... essentially saying it's a crock of BS.

"The numbers USSF uses are utterly false which, among other things, inappropriately include the NWSL salaries of the players to inflate the women’s players compensation."

She adds, "Any apples to apples comparison shows that the men earn far more than the women. The fact is the women’s team requested the same compensation structure as the men have, so they would be paid equally for equal performance."

"The USSF fact sheet is not a 'clarification.' It is a ruse."

"Here is what they cannot deny. For every game a man plays on the MNT he makes a higher base salary payment than a woman on the WNT. For every comparable win or tie, his bonus is higher. That is the very definition of gender discrimination. For the USSF to believe otherwise, is disheartening but it only increases our determination to obtain true equal pay."

"If the USSF cannot agree to this at the upcoming mediation, we will see them in the court of law and the court of public opinion"

USWNT's Ashlyn Harris $40,000 Bling ... My World Cup Celebration!!!


A World Cup trophy wasn't enough bling for Ashlyn Harris ... the USWNT stud decided to get iced out to celebrate the championship too -- coppin' $40,000 worth of diamonds!!!

TMZ Sports has learned the goalkeeper hit up Greg Yuna at their NYC Diamond District store after winning the World Cup earlier this month to get some drip.

We're told Ashlyn came away with two pieces -- a gold diamond Cuban necklace and a matching bracelet -- and they're AWESOME!!!

The necklace has 200 grams of gold with 25ct diamonds. In the bracelet, we're told there's 100 grams of gold and 15ct diamonds.

All total, the bill was $40k ... but, don't worry, Ashlyn can afford it -- reports say she earned more than $100K for the World Cup run ... and got $23,000 more kicked in thanks to Secret's donation!!!


Team USA's Rose Lavelle $23k from Secret ... 'Step In Right Direction'


Team USA soccer star Rose Lavelle says she's stoked about that $23k bonus check from Secret deodorant, but explains there's A LOT more work to be done! 

As we previously reported, Secret cut a $529k check to the USWNT Player's Association to help close the pay gap between the men's team. Each player will essentially walk away with $23k. 

So, when we saw Rose -- the 24-year-old phenom who scored that amazing 2nd goal in the World Cup final -- we asked how she felt about companies like Secret trying to help out. 

"I think it's great," Lavelle told us while walking around Washington D.C.

"I think it's a step in the right direction, but I think there's always work to be done."

We also asked Rose if there was ANY chance the team would be willing to end the feud with President Donald Trump ... but Lavelle seemed genuinely stumped.  

"I don't know," Lavelle said while chuckling at the question .... "I have no clue!"

While Rose acknowledged it would "be cool" for the team and POTUS to find a away to get along, she didn't seem too optimistic about it.

Remember, USWNT captain Megan Rapinoe said there was no way the team would go to the "f*cking White House" to celebrate the World Cup victory with Trump because she claims he's a divisive person who's bad for the country. 

Procter & Gamble to USWNT How's About Half a Mil for a Pay Raise? ... Effort to Close Wage Gap

Megan Rapinoe and the rest of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team are getting a bump from an unlikely source ... Procter & Gamble is vowing to fork over more than half a mil as a step toward equal pay.

The giant consumer goods corporation -- which supports U.S. Soccer through its Secret deodorant brand -- took an ad in The New York Times Sunday, calling on the U.S. Soccer Federation and others to pay the female players as much as the men.

Then, they upped the ante by promising to donate a cool $529,000 to the team to help close the wage gap after the USWNT won the World Cup this year. That's about $23k for each of the 23 players on the team ... not a bad bonus all things considered.

P&G's ad reportedly read, in part, "Let's take this moment of celebration to propel women's sports forward. We urge the US Soccer Federation to be a beacon of strength and end gender pay inequality once and for all."

This, of course, follows the women beating the Netherlands 2-0 in the championship game last week ... but with seemingly little to zero movement to get the ladies paid as equally as the men, who don't win nearly as often as the women do. Tons of folks -- including Rapinoe herself -- have been calling on U.S. Soccer and FIFA to balance things out, but their pleas appear to be falling on deaf ears thus far. 

And, just to give you a sense of the difference in pay -- reports say the women's team have contracts that guarantee them salaries of about $100k, with bonuses thrown in for wins. The men, meanwhile, reportedly have a pay-to-play structure, with much larger payouts for wins, and even guaranteed money for losses. 

According to The Washington Post -- which claims to have seen and analyzed these contracts -- a professional female soccer player would make just 89% of what her male counterpart would make if they both played and won 20 exhibition games. If they lost all of them, the pay would be equal at $100k. When it comes to FIFA ... their prize money to the winning teams for their tournaments has a discrepancy between men and women of about 10.5%. 

So in short, yes ... the women make less than the men here in the States. P&G is trying to rectify that though ... and urging the powers that be to do the same. 

Megan Rapinoe Pimp Walks Off the Plane ... In Return to USA


The champs are here ... AND THEY BROUGHT THE BOOZE!!!

Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and the rest of the U.S. Women's National Team just touched down in New York City on Monday after winning the World Cup ... and they're clearly ready to party!!

Rapinoe pimp walked off the jet onto a waiting red carpet with a glass of booze in hand -- SWAAGGGGG!!!

The scene was awesome ... the women were singing "We Are the Champions" and showing off their medals and trophy while wearing "World Champions 2019" shirts. 

At one point, one of the players screams out, "I love America!"

Morgan was feelin' herself too ... she grabbed Rapinoe's cup and took a sip for herself!

Of course, the women are still celebrating their 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in France ... where they secured their second straight World Cup championship.

They're in New York now to continue the party -- a victory parade is set for Wednesday morning in Manhattan.

As for if a White House visit is on deck, don't bet on it ...

U.S. Women's National Soccer Team Alex Morgan Twerks In Locker Room After World Cup Win

3:10 PM PT -- The USWNT were ecstatic after winning the World Cup, and you can tell ... just check out star forward Alex Morgan twerking in the locker room afterward. She's surrounded by her teammates, most of whom are wearing champagne goggles, and they're cheering her on. Gotta love it!


2:21 PM PT -- Megan Rapinoe snuck a smooch in with her girlfriend, Sue Bird, after winning it all Sunday. Looks like Sue was up in the stands and met Meg halfway from down on the pitch. Talk about a picturesque moment, right? 

The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team are champions once more -- beating the Netherlands 2 to zip ... and proving yet again, they're the best in the biz.

Despite the score, it was a pretty close game throughout -- that is, until Alex Morgan was awarded a penalty kick after a Netherlands defender kicked her foot dangerously high in the box. After a VAR review, the ref blew the whistle and signaled a PK. 

Megan Rapinoe took the shot -- and, of course, sunk it into the back of the net. The game continued at 1-0 for a while until midfielder Rose Lavelle made a beautiful play up the field and took a strike that the top of the box that made its way past the goalie. 

Lavelle's goal put the USA up 2-0, and it stayed that way for the rest of the game ... despite some scary moments from the Dutch side that could've equalized things. 

Nothing went in for 'em though, and the USWNT went on to secure their second straight championship in 4 years. They went undefeated during this year's run to to the final.

Rapinoe -- a longtime vet, and one of the team's captains -- was given the prestigious Golden Boot award for scoring the most goals (6) in the least amount of time on the field. Her teammate, Morgan, scored the same number of goals and had the same number of assists, but got more playing time than MR ... so she got the silver boot.

Rapinoe is just the second American woman to win the Golden Boot -- the first was Michelle Akers in 1999. 

Cheers to the Women's National Team on holding it down for the U.S. of A -- here's hopin' the men take a cue as they play in their own championship later Sunday.

Alex Morgan Tea Backlash is Proof There's Double Standard Between Men and Women

10:31 AM PT -- Sophie Turner just shouted out Alex Morgan on her Instagram story, saying she's "really f***ing proud" of Alex's World Cup performance and bashing Morgan's haters. Check it out ... Sophie signs off with an epic sip herself.


USA soccer star Alex Morgan is upset that people are upset with her for daring to be brash after her team defeated England in the World Cup and she pretended to sip a cup of tea.

Morgan just said, "I feel that there is some sort of double standard for females in sports," adding, "to feel like we have to be humble in our successes and have to celebrate, but not too much or in a limited fashion. You see men celebrating all over the world in big tournaments, grabbing their sacks or whatever it is. And when I look at sipping a cup of tea, I am a little taken aback by the criticism." 

Alex went on to say her gesture was in-part an homage to "Game of Thrones" star Sophie Turner, who famously offers opinions on Instagram stories and ends with the phrase, "And that's the tea" as she sips from a cup.

The women's team -- which can we say is awesome -- is famous for their play and their after-play, notably Megan Rapinoe's comments that she's not at all interested in trekking to The White House to visit Donald Trump

Originally published -- 7:55 AM PT

Megan Rapinoe Mocks Alex Morgan Celebration Critics ... 'Wah, Wah, Wah!!!'

Team USA superstar Megan Rapinoe has 3 words for the people criticizing Alex Morgan's "tea cup" celebration during the World Cup ...

"Wah, wah, wah!"

Morgan stuck her pinky out and pretended to sip some tea after scoring the winning goal in the semifinal against England on Tuesday ... and some people considered it "distasteful."

Rapinoe -- who had her own iconic celebration after scoring against France in the quarterfinals -- is calling B.S. on the criticism ... saying, "we're at the World Cup. what do you expect us to do?"

"This is the biggest stage, the biggest moment. I don't think anyone truly believes that we disrespect the game or disrespect our opponents," the co-captain said.

"We work hard, we like to play hard and we like to have fun and enjoy ourselves and these are the absolute biggest moments to do that."

"We have the utmost respect for England and every team that we faced and every team that we will face forever and ever. That's just part of the DNA of the squad."

Rapinoe's been outspoken throughout the World Cup -- getting President Trump's attention after saying "I'm not going to the f*cking White House" ... with POTUS saying she should focus on winning.

Well, the team's doing just that ... and will play in the World Cup Final on Sunday.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Politics Aside Today ... I'm Watching World Cup Action!!!

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is taking a break from her jam-packed schedule ... to root on the U.S. Women's Soccer team in their HUGE game against England.

Sources close to AOC tell TMZ ... she plans to get in front of a TV at 3 PM ET as the USWNT takes the pitch in the World Cup semifinals.

Obviously, the NY Representative will be cheering for a big victory, and we're told AOC's also following through on her recent invite to Megan Rapinoe and her fellow soccer stars to visit the House of Representatives when the World Cup's over ... win or lose.

Our sources say her team's contacting reps for USWNT today to set it up, officially. We're told the invitation includes a trip to the nation's capital to meet with AOC and House leadership.

The team will also get a full tour of the Capitol Building, including the House Chamber, and get a rundown on the history of the landmark.

As we reported, Rapinoe made it VERY clear she will not visit Donald Trump at the White House if the U.S. wins. The president responded by saying "Megan should WIN first before she TALKS!" ... adding that she "should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team."

Trump did extend an invite to the team, though ... also win or lose. It has yet to be accepted.

Of course, Rapinoe responded to the criticism by scoring TWO goals in the quarterfinal game against France, and AOC tweeted out a House invite to Megan and the team afterward.

Rapinoe responded, "Consider it done."

Wacky Women's World Cup Fans ... Gooooals!

We are one week away from the FIFA Women's World Cup Finals, but before we can even think about that we've got to show you what some of the true futbol fanatics look like! 

From kooky costumes to outrageous headgear, these dedicated supporters in the stands have been cheering on their teams since the start ... I mean who wouldn't want fans like this? Talk about goals! 

Take a good look at the faces in the crowd by rolling through our gallery of wacky Women's World Cup fans ... see the iconic looks from the folks getting noticed for supporting in style!

Kickin' it into high gear!

Old news is old news!
Be First!

Get TMZ breaking news sent right to your browser!