TIME Late Greats

Remembering Chuck Bednarik, the NFL’s Iron Man

Chuck Bednarik, of the Philadelphia Eagles.
AP Chuck Bednarik, of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Playing the full 60 minutes on offense and defense, the Philadelphia Eagles bruiser helped secure one of pro football's most thrilling title games

I’ll bet Chuck Bednarik sneered at the glitzy name the National Football League pinned on its championship game in 1967: the Super Bowl. To Bednarik, the Philadelphia Eagles star from 1949 to 1962, a football game was not a piece of crockery deigned by Andy Warhol. It was trench warfare every Sunday afternoon, in the Iron Age of professional football. And Bednarik, who died Saturday at 89 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was the NFL’s Iron Man.

No. 60 was also the 60-Minute Man, often playing both offense (center) and defense (linebacker) for an entire game—including the title skirmish against Vince Lombardi’s legendary Green Bay Packers, on Dec. 26, 1960, which brought the Eagles their most satisfying championship, and their last to date. More than a half-century later, Philly fans of advanced age remember that game as the pinnacle of civic pride, the Billy Penn’s hat of sporting events, and a testament to the city’s working-class grit as exemplified by “Concrete Charlie” Bednarik.

The son of a Bethlehem, Pa., steelworker from Slovakia, Charles Philip Bednarik had a body built for the game—6 ft., 2 in., 235 lb., back when that was mastodon-size—and the requisite remorseless dedication. A two-way star at Bethlehem’s Liberty High School, Chuck enlisted in the Army Air Force and spent the war flying 30 combat missions over Germany as a B-24 waist-gunner. Back home, he played four seasons for the University of Pennsylvania in its brief college-football glory and finished third in the Heisman Trophy vote. In 1949 he became the Eagles’ first draft pick and made All-Pro in eight of his 14 seasons. As much punishment as he dished out, Bednarik could take even more: he missed only three games in his pro career.

With the blue eyes and brutal demeanor of actor Charles Bronson, another rock-solid, coal-country son of Eastern Europeans, Bednarik personified the Eagles as dominant enforcers. Fans saw the players not as faraway star athletes but as guys doing a tough job with honor—in a way, our cops—and for not much money. Signed by the Eagles for a $10,000 salary and a $3,000 bonus, Bednarik never made more than $27,000 a year. The “Concrete Charlie” nickname didn’t refer to his remorseless blocking and tackling; he had to take an off-season job selling concrete to make ends meet.

No question, though, that Bednarik was an artist of legitimate violence: no dirty plays, just the brick-wall force of an immovable object. The words on his plaque in the Pro Football Hall of Fame—”rugged, durable, bulldozing blocker … a bone-jarring tackler”—are almost an understatement, especially to anyone who has seen footage of the November 1960 game in which he leveled Frank Gifford, the Hollywood-handsome running back for the New York Giants, knocking him out of the sport for a year and a half.

A famous Sports Illustrated photo shows Bednarik seeming to exult over the prostrate Gifford. Fifty years later, Bednarik denied the charge—while emphasizing his team’s proletarian underdog status. “I wasn’t gloating over him,” he said. “I had no idea he was there. It was the most important play and tackle in my life. They were from the big city. The glamor boys. The guys who got written up in all the magazines. But I thought we were the better team.” Class resentment aside, that tackle secured a win against the Giants and propelled the Eagles to their Boxing Day title game.

It happens that 1960 was a crucial year for pro football. On the 23rd ballot, the NFL elected a compromise candidate, Pete Rozelle, as commissioner. Moving the league offices from Philadelphia to New York, Rozelle established franchises in Dallas and Minneapolis. The NFL launched this expansion to ward off its feisty rival, the American Football League, which began operations that fall. Six years later, when the NFL swallowed the AFL, creating the Super Bowl, it was well on its way to becoming America’s sport and a multi-zillion-dollar behemoth.

On the day after Christmas in 1960, though, the Big Game was only so big. It was not played in some balmy city with two weeks of walk-up hype; the team with the best division record served as host. The Eastern Division–winning Eagles didn’t have their own stadium; they were tenants at Penn’s Franklin Field. (Bednarik played all his home games, college and pro, in the same place.) Since Franklin Field had no lights, the match started at noon, so that a sudden-death overtime game, like the one two years before between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants, would not be called on account of darkness.

Fans had bought all 67,325 seats for the Eagles-Packers contest, yet the game was blacked out on local TV. You had to drive to New Jersey to watch it. Or you could do what I did as a teenage Philly sports fan: take a train to the stadium and buy a ticket from a scalper. The official price was $8; outside the gates, I paid $6. It was a long time ago.

The Packers would become the most successful franchise of the ’60s, winning five championships, including the first two Super Bowls. But in 1960, quarterback Bart Starr, halfback Paul Hornung and fullback Jim Taylor were figures of promise, not legend. Still, the 8-4 Packers were significant favorites over the 10-2 Eagles. Philly’s squad might have been found at a Germantown garage sale: 12 of the 22 starters were castoffs from other teams. And their wins seemed feats of green magic. In six of their games they were behind entering the fourth quarter; they won six by less than a touchdown. How could their luck hold against the surging Pack?

Playing on a field with some frozen patches and a few puddles where snow had melted, Green Bay penetrated the Philadelphia red zone four times but mustered only six points, because Lombardi, as he later acknowledged, was too greedy for touchdowns. At the start of the fourth quarter, the Eagles trailed 13-10. Ted Dean, one of the team’s three black players, returned a kickoff 58 yards. Later he took a handoff from quarterback Norm Van Brocklin for five yards and the go-ahead score.

In the game’s last minute, the Packers had advanced to the Eagles’ 22-yard line. Starr lobbed a short pass to Taylor, with nothing between him and the end zone—and victory—but Concrete Charlie. Bednarik wrestled Taylor down at the 10 and sat on him as the final seconds ticked away mercilessly. Eagles 17, Packers 13. “You can get up now, Taylor,” Bednarik finally growled. “This damn game’s over.”

A Sports Illustrated photo, taken moments later, shows mud-caked No. 60 with a rare smile as he shakes Starr’s hand and wraps his other paw around the much smaller, defeated Taylor. It never got better for the Iron Man. And for many Philly fans, like this one, it never got as good.

Even in retirement, Bednarik held true to his truculence, criticizing modern pro athletes as “pussyfooters” who “suck air after five plays” and “couldn’t tackle my wife Emma.” He also dismissed the few two-way stars, like Deion Sanders and Troy Brown because, as wide receivers and defensive backs, they weren’t jolted by hard contact on every play, as he had been back in the day.

We should be grateful that the steelworker’s son didn’t soften in his later years; he never tired of being Chuck Bednarik. That’s why his fitting eulogy should be the cartoon that Rob Tornoe drew of Concrete Charlie’s final play: bulldozing his way into Heaven by ripping open the Pearly Gates. For the Iron Man, this damn game is never over.

TIME College Basketball

Notre Dame Coach Says Mother Died on Morning of Butler Win

Butler v Notre Dame
Jared Wickerham—Getty Images Head coach Mike Brey of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish watches during the first half against the Butler Bulldogs during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on March 21, 2015 in Pittsburgh.

Mike Brey called the game "a tribute to her"

In his press conference following Notre Dame’s 67-64 overtime win over Butler in the Round of 32 on Saturday, Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey revealed that his mother died of a heart attack the morning of the game.

Betty Brey was 84. The Notre Dame coach said he felt that “she was definitely with us down the stretch” and called the game against the Bulldogs “a tribute to her.”

A distinguished swimmer, Betty Brey was a member of the 1956 U.S. Olympic team. More from Notre Dame’s official website:

[Brey’s] father Paul was a high school athletics director in Maryland, while his mother, the former Betty Mullen, was the women’s swim coach at George Washington, and perhaps the family’s most accomplished athlete. She attended Purdue University and swam for the AAU team in West Lafayette while attending school. For a time, she held the world record in the butterfly events and competed with the U.S. team at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. She is a member of the Indiana Swimming Hall of Fame located in Indianapolis.

His mother also was a Purdue majorette and was present in Notre Dame Stadium on Oct. 7, 1950, when the 19th-ranked Boilermakers upset the top-ranked Irish 27-14 in football.

Brey said he’ll travel to Florida on Sunday to celebrate his mother’s life with his family and watch the Kansas-Wichita State game together.

The Irish will play the winner of that game in the Sweet 16 on Thursday in Cleveland.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Boxing

Mayweather Rejects Deal on $5 Million Drug Test Fine Ahead of Pacquiao Fight

Robyn Beck—AFP/Getty Images Boxers Floyd Mayweather Jr, left, and Manny Pacquiao gesture during a press conference on March 11, 2015 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency still has an agreement to randomly test both fighters

An adviser for Manny Pacquiao says that WBC and WBA welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather declined an agreement to a fine of $5 million if either fighter failed a drug test before or after their May 2 fight in Las Vegas, reports ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael.

According to Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Knocz, both parties have agreed to the terms of the fight, and the United States Anti-Doping Agency also has an agreement to randomly test both fighters, but the two sides were still discussing terms in case one of the fighters tested positive for any banned drugs.

“They have made derogatory statements for years about Manny [supposedly using PEDs], and now we challenged them by asking for the $5 million fine, and they refused to do it. It’s disheartening,” Koncz said.

Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe called Knocz an “idiot,” saying that Pacquiao’s advisers should have put those specific terms in the contract and that Knocz is just trying to generate publicity.

“Michael Koncz is an idiot, and Manny Pacquiao should be ashamed to have him as his representative, in my opinion,” Ellerbe told ESPN.com. “It’s obvious he didn’t read the contract. Why would he have his fighter sign something he was not happy with? The deal was negotiated up and down by his promoter [Bob Arum of Top Rank] on behalf of Manny with Floyd and Mayweather Promotions, and it’s been well documented in the media for quite some time.”

Koncz said the terms of the fine weren’t in the original fight contract because Pacquiao’s side wanted to get the fight signed and didn’t want to disrupt the negotiations.

“If Manny Pacquiao tested positive, it is going to cost him a whole lot more than $5 million,” Ellerbe said. “All parties signed a contract agreeing to every term. Where has this idiot Koncz been? It sounds like he didn’t read the documents they signed. No wonder why his fighter is always confused.”

Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs), an 11-time world champion, and Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs) will square off in a welterweight world unification bout at the MGM Grand.

The fight was signed last month after years of back and forth. Talks between Mayweather and Pacquiao picked up steam in late January, when both attended the same Miami Heat game, were seen talking to each other and reportedly met at a Miami hotel after the game to discuss a deal.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Basketball

Wisconsin Player Gives NCAA Stenographer a Surprise Spelling Test

Nigel Hayes, Frank Kaminsky
Charlie Neibergall—AP Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes speaks during a news conference for an NCAA college basketball tournament third round game, March 21, 2015, in Omaha.

Turns out the professional typist can spell "cattywampus"

Here’s a March Madness match-up that no one saw coming: Wisconsin vs. NCAA stenographer.

Sophomore Nigel Hayes rattled off some huge words in a playful test against the tournament’s stenographer, tasked with transcribing their press conference Saturday in advance of Wisconsin’s game against Oregon, ESPN reports. Hayes and some teammates curiously chatted with the stenographer about her responsibilities the night before, the Associated Press adds.

“Before I answer that question, I would like to say a few words: cattywampus, onomatopoeia and antidisestablishmentarianism,” Hayes said, according to the stenographer, who spelled the words correctly. “Now, back to your question.”

When asked about his unexpected words, Hayes explained his fascination with the stenographer’s job. “She does an amazing job of typing words, sometimes if words are not in her dictionary, maybe if I say soliloquy right now, she may have to work a little bit harder to type that word,” Hayes said, “or quandary, zephyr, Xylophone, things like that, that make her job really interesting.”

On Saturday night, Hayes tweeted a “job-well-done” to the stenographer.

Read next: Here’s Who Wins March Madness in the Classroom

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME College Basketball

N.C. State Stuns No. 1 Villanova to Advance to Sweet 16

NC State v Villanova
Jared Wickerham—Getty Images Desmond Lee #5 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack celebrates after making a shot and getting fouled with teammate Beejay Anya #21 during the second half against the Villanova Wildcats on March 21, 2015 in Pittsburgh.

N.C. State stuns Villanova 71-68 to advance to Sweet 16

(PITTSBURGH) — The rims seemed tight. So did Villanova.

The Wildcats missed so many shots — gimme layups, uncontested jumpers, airballed 3s — that it was no surprise the first thing to fall was their Final Four target.

No wonder it came to this: The ‘Cats were the first to go from a top seed to No. 1-and-done.

North Carolina State, a program that authored one of the early chapters on March shockers, can add another stunner to the list: The Wolfpack are back in the Sweet 16.

“We came out today with the feeling that everybody expected us to lose to a one seed,” said forward BeeJay Anya, “but we believe in ourselves and that we’re good enough to beat anybody in the country and we went down and did it.”

N.C. State attacked one of the top teams in the nation for 40 minutes, playing with a chest-thumping swagger that helped them stun Villanova 71-68 on Saturday night.

N.C. State guards Cat Barber and Desmond Lee shared a long embrace after the buzzer as their teammates danced around the court in celebration.

Barber turned to Lee, pounded his chest and yelled, “all heart!”

No, this wasn’t quite as meaningful as Jim Valvano’s mad dash looking for somebody — anybody — to hug after the Wolfpack won the 1983 national championship. But the Wolfpack (22-13) have designs on their own big March run and will move on to Syracuse, New York to play the winner of the Louisville-Northern Iowa game.

Lacey led them with 17 points, Barber had 13 and Malik-Adbul Abu had 13 points, 12 rebounds and absolutely destroyed the Wildcats inside.

The Wildcats (33-3) saw a 16-game winning streak end and have not reached the second weekend since 2009.

The Wildcats come up empty after storming their way to pair of Big East titles and a 41-point victory in the NCAA Tournament opener.

“I know we have to answer to the fact that we did not get to the second weekend again,” coach Jay Wright said. “We have to own that. But it’s not going to define us within our program. It’s going to define us outside of our program and we accept that.”

Dylan Ennis was nearly inconsolable, his arms crossed over his head in disbelief. Ennis missed a 3-pointer after an N.C. State turnover with 20 seconds left that would have put the Wildcats ahead.

Darrun Hilliard scored 27 points and gamely rallied the Wildcats in the final minutes. He hit 3-pointers that brought them to within four, within two with 41.1 seconds left and 69-68 with 1.2 seconds left.

Ralston Turner sealed the win with free throws and N.C. State was back in the Sweet 16 for only the third time since 1989 (2012, 2005). They hadn’t defeated a top seed since that memorable night in 1983 when they upset Houston.

Yet for the all the Wolfpack did right to keep the ‘Cats on their heels, they never went on that decisive run that would have ended a comeback threat. Barber lost the ball and N.C. State’s ninth turnover led to Josh Hart’s three-point play with 3:51 left.

The Wolfpack didn’t have to win with authority, though — they just had to win.

Desmond Lee’s three-point play stretched the lead back to seven and put them minutes away from the signature win under coach Mark Gottfried. Wins over Duke, North Carolina and Louisville in ACC play let them know they could knock off the elite.

“We respect Villanova, but we’ve seen good teams,” Gottfried said. “We’ve seen a lot of them in our conference. You see them about every night. So a league like that prepares you for games like tonight.”

Gottfried also has a knack for pulling off March upsets — he led eighth-seeded Alabama to a win over No. 1 Stanford in the second round of the 2004 tournament.

The Wildcats have one more March failure to tack on the list. They shot a season-high 63 percent in the tournament opener against Lafayette. Against the Wolfpack, they fired ‘em early in the shot clock, got stuffed at the rim and twice airballed 3-point attempts.

These were the top-seeded Big East champs?

In the first half, the Wildcats missed a whopping 20 of 28 field goals. Hart, the Big East tournament MVP, played just 4 minutes after he was whistled for two fast fouls.

“I don’t think missing those layups or those easy baskets really fazed us, it was just our decision making in taking them,” Hilliard said.


NC State: The Wolfpack did not attempt a free throw until there was 2:27 left in the first half. … N.C. State held a 45-32 edge on the boards. … The Wolfpack missed 8 of 11 3-pointers.

Villanova: The Wildcats shot 31 percent (19 of 61). … The Wildcats have not won more than one game in the NCAA Tournament since 2009.


The Wolfpack had four players reach double-digit scoring and two of them had double-doubles. JayVaughn Pinkston scored 13 and was the only other Wildcat to crack double digits. Four players averaged double digits in the regular season.


NC State: Will play the winner of Louisville-Northern Iowa game in the Sweet 16.

Villanova: Season finished.


NBA Star Steve Nash Announces His Retirement

Steve Nash
Lisa Blumenfeld—Getty Images Steve Nash of the Los Angeles Lakers drives the ball upcourt during a game against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on Feb. 11, 2014 in Los Angeles.

He averaged 14.3 points, 8.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game

Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash announced his retirement from the NBA on Saturday after 18 seasons.

The 41-year-old hinted at retirement earlier this month when he told TSN Radio 1040 in Vancouver, “the NBA game is just a touch too far for me.”

• ​Remembering Michael Jordan’s first comeback 20 years ago

In October, it was announced that Nash would miss the entire 2014-15 season due to recurring nerve damage in his back.

The two-time MVP last appeared in 15 games for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2013-14 and previously said he expected this season to be his last.

Nash wrote a post about his retirement for The Player’s Tribune.


Nash appeared in 1,217 games for the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Lakers. He averaged 14.3 points, 8.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game and holds a 49% career field goal percentage and a 42.8% three-point percentage.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME wrestling

Mexican Wrestler Dies After Hit in the Ring

Other wrestlers continued fighting before realizing Ramirez wasn't moving.

Mexico’s Pedro Aguayo Ramirez, a popular member of the country’s ‘Lucha Libre’ wrestling world, died Saturday after a blow during a bout in Tijuana. He was 35.

Ramirez was fighting Oscar Gutierrez in a team matchup when he was apparently hit in the neck and went limp against the ropes, the Associated Press reports. Referees and other wrestlers continued fighting for several minutes before realizing Ramirez wasn’t moving.

The local prosecutor’s office said he was taken to a hospital nearby and pronounced dead at 1:30 a.m. Ramirez began wrestling as a teen, following his after father, a well-known wrestling personality.

TIME Football

Football Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik Dies

Chuck Bednarik Eyes The Opposition
Robert Riger—Getty Images Chuck Bednarik (#60) of the Philadelphia Eagles eyes his opponants as Charlie Conerly (#42), quarterback for the New York Giants prepares to take the ball during a game, late 1950s.

"Concrete Charlie" epitomized the tough-guy linebacker

(PHILADELPHIA)—Chuck Bednarik, a Pro Football Hall of Famer and one of the last great two-way NFL players, died early Saturday, the Eagles said. He was 89.

Bednarik, known as “Concrete Charlie,” epitomized the tough-guy linebacker and also was an outstanding center for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1949 to 1962. He is best remembered for a game-saving tackle at the 9-yard line on the final play of the 1960 title game, and it was typical Bednarik. He threw Green Bay running back Jim Taylor to the ground and refused to let him up while the final seconds ticked off as the Eagles held on for a 17-13 win.

“Everybody reminds me of it and I’m happy they remind me of it,” Bednarik once said. “I’m proud and delighted to have played in that game.”

He died at an assisted living facility in Richland, Pennsylvania, following a brief illness, the Eagles said in a statement.

Bednarik, who frequently criticized modern athletes, said he played on all but two kickoffs against the Packers and could have kept playing if he needed to, unlike today’s players who “suck air after five plays.” He missed only three games in his 14-year career.

The tackle on Taylor actually was the second hit that season that drew headlines. Earlier in 1960, he knocked out New York Giants running back Frank Gifford with a blow so hard that Gifford suffered a concussion and didn’t play again until 1962.

An iconic photograph captured Bednarik pumping his fist over Gifford’s prone body, though the linebacker insisted he wasn’t gloating. He said he didn’t notice what happened to Gifford after the hit and only saw that he had fumbled and another Eagle recovered the ball.

Bednarik was the last NFL starter to play regularly on both offense and defense until Deion Sanders did so for Dallas in 1996. Sanders’ achievement hardly impressed Bednarik.

“The positions I played, every play, I was making contact, not like that … Deion Sanders,” Bednarik said. “He couldn’t tackle my wife. He’s back there dancing out there instead of hitting.”

Born May 1, 1925, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Bednarik flew 30 combat missions over Germany as a gunner during World War II. He then played center for Penn from 1945 to 1948, and was selected first overall in the 1949 NFL draft by the Eagles.

In 1950, he was All-NFL as a center, then he was voted All-NFL as a linebacker in 1951 through 1957, and again in 1960.

Bednarik, whose gnarled fingers in retirement stood as a reminder of the ruggedness of his profession, said he never made more than $27,000 in a season and supplemented his income by selling concrete, earning his nickname. At one point, he pawned his championship ring and his Hall of Fame ring.

In early 2005, when the Eagles won the NFC championship and had Philadelphia in a Super Bowl frenzy, Bednarik was bitter enough to root for the Patriots in the Super Bowl. He later apologized to owner Jeff Lurie and was a welcomed visitor at training camp and other alumni functions.

“Philadelphia fans grow up expecting toughness, all-out effort and a workmanlike attitude from this team and so much of that image has its roots in the way Chuck played the game,” Lurie said in a statement released by the team.

The Maxwell Football Club presents an award in Bednarik’s honor to the defensive player of the year in college football.

Bednarik is survived by his wife, Emma, and five daughters —Charlene Thomas, Donna Davis, Carol Safarowic, Pam McWilliams, and Jackie Chelius, as well as 10 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

TIME Football

Former NFL Player Darren Sharper Charged With Rape in Nevada

Former NFL star Darren Sharper appears at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles
Nick Ut—Reuters Former National Football League star Darren Sharper appears at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles, March 23, 2015.

Sharper already has plea deals in New Orleans and Los Angeles

Former NFL safety Darren Sharper has been charged with rape in Las Vegas, the Associated Press reports.

He faces two counts of rape for allegedly sexually assaulting two women in January 2014 when they were impaired. He will have another hearing in the case on April 3.

Sharper, 39, has also been accused of rape in Los Angeles, Phoenix and New Orleans. He has been in jail in Los Angeles since February 2014 on charges that he drugged and raped a pair of women at a nightclub in 2013.

In December 2014, Sharper was indicted in New Orleans on two counts of aggravated rape and a count of simple rape. He also faces federal drug charges in Louisiana for allegedly drugging the women. A conviction on the rape charges could carry a life sentence without the possibility of parole, probation or suspension of sentence.

Sharper reached a plea deal in the New Orleans and Los Angeles cases Friday, according to the New Orleans Advocate. The agreement “appears to be part of a global deal to wrap up all of the cases against Sharper,” the Advocate reports.

He is also accused of drugging three women and raping two of them in Phoenix. In April 2014, a police detective testified that Sharper’s DNA was found on the leggings of one of his alleged victims.

Sharper played 14 seasons in the NFL with the Packers, Vikings and Saints. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro selection.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Soccer

Winter World Cup Coming to Qatar in 2022

The Chalifa International Stadium (pictured during preparations for 2022 FIFA World Cup) in sporting complex Aspire Zone in Doha, Qatar on Jan. 20, 2015.
Havlik Petr—AP The Chalifa International Stadium (pictured during preparations for 2022 FIFA World Cup) in sporting complex Aspire Zone in Doha, Qatar on Jan. 20, 2015.

The final match of the tournament is scheduled for Dec. 18

The FIFA executive committee confirmed the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be played in November and December with a Dec. 18 final.

FIFA also announced that it has agreed in principle to hold the tournament during a reduced 28-day window.

Last month, FIFA recommended the tournament be played later in the year because of the extreme heat during the summer months in Qatar.

FIFA has been criticized for rescheduling the tournament into the middle of the club season. In February, FIFA announced that it will not compensate European clubs that have their seasons disrupted by players participating in the World Cup.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter previously said he wanted the final to be played no later than Dec. 18 as the championship game is traditionally held on a Sunday.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

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