MOSCOW — The Latest from the World Cup in Russia (all times local):
Will Smith loves Cristiano Ronaldo, won’t hear a bad word spoken against Neymar, and accepts Brazil could have done better.
Smith will perform the official World Cup song before Sunday’s final, and was asked how Brazil’s quarterfinal exit compared to his movies.
Smith says “it wasn’t ‘Men in Black’ but, you know, it wasn’t ‘Wild Wild West.’ So it was right there in the middle somewhere.”
Smith shared a lively interview session with Nicky Jam and Era Istrefi, his fellow performers of “Live It Up.”
The Hollywood star laughed when asked how he rated the acting skills of Neymar, who has been the butt of jokes for perceived diving and faking injury in games.
“I’ve been in this business way too long to answer that question,” Smith said. “I think he did a spectacular job. That’s my man.”
The coolest player at the World Cup? “I love Cristiano, I love that dude. He just has impeccable taste and style.”
England coach Gareth Southgate says he wants to make only a few changes for his team’s third-place match against Belgium.
Southgate says “it won’t be exactly the same starting 11 but we want ideally to make as few changes as possible. One or two injuries, one or two with a little illness.”
He hasn’t said who might skip the game and hasn’t guaranteed Jordan Pickford will remain in goal.
Kieran Trippier joined his teammates for training on Friday in St. Petersburg despite being forced off during extra time in Wednesday’s semifinal loss with what Southgate called “a sort of nerve problem tied into cramp.”
Southgate says despite losing to Croatia, England remains motivated by the thought of achieving the nation’s best World Cup finish since victory in 1966.
He says “we have a chance to win a medal at a World Cup which only one English team has ever done so there’s a lot of motivation for us.”
About 60 Nigerian men who say they have been trafficked into Russia during the World Cup are camping outside their country’s embassy in Moscow asking for help.
Sofiya Dukhovnaya, an activist with the anti-human trafficking group Alternativa, says the men arrived in Russia using a legal loophole posing as World Cup fans.
An agency in Nigeria sold them World Cup fan identification cards that allowed them to enter Russia without a visa and promised them work. But Dukhovnaya says once in Russia, the men realized they had been lied to and their return tickets turned out to be fake.
Nigerian Ambassador Steve Davies Ugbah spoke to the men and promised to provide them with food and shelter while he looks for a way to get them home.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino says talks over changing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar can ease tensions with regional neighbors.
Saudi Arabia has joined with other Middle East states in enforcing a hostile boycott of Qatar since June 2017.
In recent months, Infantino has supported calls to add 16 more teams to the 2022 tournament — a plan likely to make Qatar share hosting duties because it is building only eight stadiums.
Infantino says Qatar can insist on keeping a 32-team format, though he is “pretty sure that all options will be on the table.”
“Maybe we could bring those who are having difficulties communicating with each other to start dialogue,” the FIFA president said at his only World Cup news conference. “The door is slightly ajar and we will see how it moves on from there.”
The Emir of Qatar is expected to attend the World Cup final on Sunday, and Infantino sat with the Saudi crown prince at the opening game on June 14.
Asked about his in-game chatter with VIP guests, Infantino said: “When we are here we don’t speak about politics, we speak about football.”
The boys soccer team in Thailand rescued from a flooded cave this week has been invited to FIFA’s annual awards event.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino says they will be invited to come to London, where the world’s best player prize will be presented on Sept. 24.
The 12 boys and their coach were asked to attend the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday. They were unable to accept for medical reasons, after being rescued between Sunday and Tuesday to end a two-week ordeal.
Infantino says FIFA will look at involving the team in another soccer event, possibly in Thailand.