World Cup briefing: Saudi Arabia squad land safely after plane engine catches fire

Croatia forward Nikola Kalinic is sent home and Brazil question use of VAR

Russia vs. Saudi Arabia World Cup group A
Saudi Arabia line up for the World Cup group A clash against host nation Russia
(Image credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Flight drama for Saudi squad

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) has issued a statement saying its squad landed safely after an engine on the team plane had a “technical failure”.

Saudi Arabia, who play Uruguay tomorrow in World Cup group A, were flying to Rostov-on-Don when an engine caught fire mid-flight, Sky Sports reports.

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Saudi player Hatan Bahbir said on Twitter that the squad had “arrived safely” and were “all fine”. Bahbir added: “It was a simple malfunction.”

SAFF also tweeted: “The Saudi Arabian Football Federation would like to reassure everyone that all the Saudi national team players are safe after a technical failure in one of the aeroplane engines that has just landed in Rostov-on-Don airport, and now they’re heading to their residence safely.”

Saudi Arabia’s match against Uruguay starts at 4pm tomorrow. They lost their opening group fixture 5-0 against host nation Russia.

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Kalinic sent home by Croatia

Nikola Kalinic has been sent home by Croatia after he refused to come on as a substitute during the 2-0 group D victory against Nigeria on Saturday.

The Guardian reports that the striker had claimed he was not fit to play. Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic confirmed Kalinic had left the squad.

Dalic said: “During the Nigeria encounter, Kalinic was warming up and was supposed to come on in the second half. However, he then stated he wasn’t ready to come on due to a back issue. The same thing happened during the Brazil friendly in England, as well as before the practice session on Sunday.

“I have calmly accepted that, and since I need my players fit and ready to play, I have made this decision.”

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Brazil question VAR

The Brazilian Football Confederation (BFC) has asked Fifa to clarify how the video assistant referee (VAR) was used during the 1-1 draw with Switzerland on Sunday.

ESPN reports that Brazil are questioning if VAR was used to check two second-half incidents: a push on defender Miranda when Switzerland scored and a foul on Gabriel Jesus that could have led to a penalty.

A BFC statement said: “These two actions constitute clear errors by the referee, which thus should form part of the reviewable decisions that are analysed through VAR.”

ESPN says the confederation “wants to know whether the plays were reviewed in any way”.

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