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The Danish Football Association suggested a blanket withdrawal from FIFA as their German counterparts revealed they were threatened with significant sanctions if they wore the OneLove armband at the World Cup.

Denmark, alongside the likes of Germany and England, were among several European nations to commit to wearing the armband to promote an anti-discriminatory message in Qatar.

The decision to host the World Cup in Qatar has attracted severe criticism due to the country's stance on same-sex relationships, as well as the treatment of migrant workers.

However, the teams backed down from donning the armband ahead of their opening games at the tournament amid suggestions their captains would be booked upon kick-off.

FIFA's apparent unwillingness to permit an anti-discriminatory gesture has been met with stern opposition, and Danish Football Union (DBU) president Jesper Moller is in favour of a strong response.

"There are presidential elections in FIFA," Moller said. "There are 211 countries in FIFA and I understand that the current president [Gianni Infantino] has statements of support from 207 countries. 

"Denmark is not among those countries, and we're not going to be either.

"[Leaving FIFA] is not a decision that has been made now. We have been clear about this for a long time. We have been discussing it in the Nordic region since August. 

"I've thought it again. I imagine that there may be challenges if Denmark leaves on its own, but let us see if we cannot have a dialogue on things.

"I have to think about the question of how to restore confidence in FIFA. We must evaluate what has happened, and then we must create a strategy – also with our Nordic colleagues."

The DBU's threat comes as German Football Association (DFB) president Bernd Neuendorf suggested a yellow card was not the full extent of the sanctions FIFA had threatened to apply.

"Today, I can say here, we also got an answer from FIFA that goes exactly in this direction. That means the referee would have to react," Neuendorf said.

"FIFA has expressly stated in its letter that it reserves the right to appeal to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee in the case of such offences, in inverted commas, i.e., the wearing of the armband, which could then impose further penalties, so to speak. 

"This has been expressly confirmed in writing."

The fitness of Son Heung-min has dominated the agenda in South Korea over the past three weeks and his availability for their World Cup opener against Uruguay remains in the balance.

The Tottenham striker suffered a fractured eye socket in the Champions League clash with Marseille on November 1 - an injury that has kept a nation on tenterhooks ever since.

He has worn a mask in training since undergoing surgery and was pictured heading the ball for the first time in training on Monday. Coach Paulo Bento has been happy to keep fans guessing, placing a gagging order on the Koreans discussing Son's injury with the media.

In the unlikely event he doesn't make it, it will create a headache for Bento given the strength of Korea's other attacking options.

Hwang Hee-chan has yet to score in 11 appearances for Premier League strugglers Wolves this season while Hwang Ui-jo has fared similarly at Greek side Olympiacos.

While Korea fret over the status of their experienced striker, Uruguay can count on at least one of theirs.

Although Edinson Cavani may miss out due to an ankle injury, Luis Suarez is fit and raring to go in what will be his final World Cup.

It may be his swansong at this level but former Uruguay forward Diego Forlan does not believe that will give the 35-year-old extra motivation.

Forlan told El Pais: "For Luis, just putting on the Uruguay shirt is motivation enough. He's always going to want to do things right because that's his nature. He won't have extra motivation because it's his last World Cup."

South Korea and Uruguay are joined in Group H by Portugal and Ghana and Forlan is aware of the importance of the opening game.

He added: "I think Uruguay are looking good. We have an even group, although we are always competitive.

"The first game is key, especially as it's an even group and then we play Portugal, who I think are better than they were at the last World Cup."


Uruguay - Luis Suarez

Suarez may no longer be the scourge of European defences following his move to Nacional, but he has continued to find success, helping his boyhood club to the Uruguayan title. MLS seems his next move, and he will be hoping to put himself in the spotlight with some trademark feisty displays in Qatar.

Suarez needs one more goal to equal Oscar Miguez's record of eight by a Uruguayan at the World Cup.

South Korea - Son Heung-min

It seems inconceivable that Son won't start in the mask he has donned in training since arriving in Qatar.

The 30-year-old could become just the second Korean to score at three separate World Cups, after Park Ji-sung, if he can find the target in the 2022 edition.


Even if Son is passed fit, the odds are weighted in Uruguay's favour.

Stats Perform's AI model gives the South Americans a 56.2 per cent chance of victory at Education City Stadium with South Korea's chances of claiming three vital points are rated at just 18.9 per cent. If Korea can get off to a good start then a draw - which comes in at 24.9 per cent - is a possibility.

History certainly favours Uruguay, who have won all four of their World Cup matches against Asian nations, keeping a clean sheet in three of those.

Croatia fell well short of expectations as they produced an unimaginative performance in a 0-0 draw by Morocco in their World Cup Group F opener on Wednesday.

Zlatko Dalic's men – the runners-up four years ago – were strong favourites at Al Bayt Stadium but crafted few opportunities of note, the stalemate handing the early initiative to Belgium ahead of their clash with Canada.

In the stands, Croatia were so outnumbered they essentially resembled an away team, but Morocco's superior backing did not translate in to on-pitch dominance and were lucky to still be level at the break after Nikola Vlasic went close.

Dejan Lovren saw another reasonable chance go begging early in the second half, but otherwise Croatia failed to take advantage of their considerably greater share of possession.

Initially Croatia struggled to cope with the intensity of Morocco's pressing, but the Atlas Lions did not possess the quality to convert their bluster into meaningful chances.

Neither side had a great deal of joy in that regard.

However, on the stroke of half-time Morocco were grateful for the intervention of goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, who crucially blocked Vlasic's prodded effort from point-blank range after Borna Sosa passed into the danger zone.

That proved a teaser of the improved action to follow early in the second half.

It began with Dominik Livakovic keeping out a Noussair Mazraoui header, and a few minutes later Sofyan Amrabat made a vital block to stop Lovren picking out the bottom-left corner.

In the end, Morocco's deep defence ultimately got the better of Croatia's blunt attack as they held on to a commendable point.

FIFA's Disciplinary Committee has opened an investigation over alleged homophobic chanting from Ecuador fans during their opening World Cup match against Qatar.

The South Americans were 2-0 victors against the hosts on Sunday, where it has been reported homophobic chants were directed towards rivals Chile.

Chile had accused Ecuador of fielding an ineligible player, Byron Castillo, during qualification for the tournament, with the 27-year-old left out of Ecuador's squad to prevent any further controversy.

Ecuador retained their spot at the World Cup but were issued a fine and handed a points deduction for their qualifying campaign for the 2026 tournament.

The are now also facing a FIFA investigation.

"The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has opened proceedings against the Ecuadorian Football Association due to chants by Ecuadorian supporters during the Qatar v Ecuador FIFA World Cup match played on 20 November," a statement read.

"The proceedings were opened on the basis of article 13 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code."

LGBTQ+ rights have been at the forefront of the World Cup as homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

Seven nations, including England and Germany, had planned for their captains to wear the OneLove armband during the tournament.

However, the decision from each of the countries was taken not to do so after FIFA threatened to book captains if they broke regulations and made their own statements on social issues, rather than following guidelines from the game's governing body.

Son Heung-min is comfortable having to wear a protective mask in order to play against Uruguay, with South Korea coach Paulo Bento confident his star player is fit.

Tottenham forward Son sustained a fractured eye socket in Spurs' clash with Marseille at the start of November, casting doubt over his participation in Qatar.

However, he was named in Bento's squad and has returned to training wearing a mask in order to shield the injury from further damage.

Korea open their Group H campaign against Uruguay on Thursday, and Bento has confidence that Son has fully recovered, though conceded there is an element of risk.

"Sonny can play, yes. He will be able to play," Bento said.

"I think the fact that he would be wearing a mask is not an inconvenience for him, it's rather natural.

"We have stuck to the plan since we arrived here, also the way we integrated him into our group shows that it has been natural, except in the final training stages.

"We will see how it will be. Our hope is that he will feel comfortable to the greatest extent possible, and we will use the best strategy so he can feel at ease during the game.

"He knows and we know that we cannot rule out any risks."


Son is Korea's joint-leading World Cup goalscorer, having scored three times in the competition, and he is aiming to become only the second player from the nation to score in three separate editions of the tournament after Park Ji-sung.

While Korea are heavily reliant on Son to lead their attack, Uruguay are blessed with three exceptional forwards in the form of veteran campaigners Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, along with Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez.

"With our strikers, our plan is to put a good performance in the first game, that's for sure. We are very much excited with what we can produce," said Uruguay coach Diego Alonso.

"We have peace of mind because we have goalscoring opportunities, flexibility not only with our strikers, we are good defensively and this will make us a very competitive team."

While Alonso would not apply extra pressure on his team, captain Diego Godin says Uruguayan players always have "big shoes to fill".

"The qualification round had ups and downs but we achieved our goal," he said.

"The World Cup is an objective but it is still far away, but this history and this shirt requires us to win. We have very big shoes to fill when we are representing our country."

Korea boss Bento, meanwhile, also stressed that Suarez, Cavani and Nunez are not the only players his team have to worry about at Education City Stadium.

"I would say Federico Valverde is a fantastic player," he replied when asked about the Real Madrid midfielder. 

"Together with [Kevin] De Bruyne he's one of the best midfielders in the world, a player who can actually win the game.

"Collectively they are very strong, and we have to cope with the power they have as well as the individual skill sets."

Switzerland will be looking to extend an impressive unbeaten streak across opening World Cup encounters when they face off with Cameroon at Al Janoub Stadium in Group G on Thursday.

The Swiss arrive at Qatar 2022 having not been defeated in their first match of the tournament since a 5-0 loss against Germany in 1966.

What is more, they will be hoping to reach the knockout stages for the third successive time, after last-16 finishes at Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018.

They will  be relying on experienced heads as they meet African opposition for the second time at the World Cup too, having last faced Togo at Germany 2006.

Vice-captain Xherdan Shaqiri may have bowed out at European club level to play in MLS, but he has been directly involved in 48 per cent of their 23 goals in their last four major tournaments, with eight goals and three assists.

In his fourth World Cup, the attacking midfielder says his nation are unfancied in a group alongside Brazil and Serbia, but added: "There are always underdogs who maybe surprise.

"So we will see which team this is going to be. I hope Switzerland is one of them."

Cameroon arrive at their eighth World Cup, the most among African nations, while they have only been outscored by Nigeria among teams from their continent at the competition.

But they have lost each of their previous seven World Cup matches, a record only beaten by Mexico's nine consecutive defeats between 1930 and 1958.

One man hoping to make a difference for Rigobert Song's side will be Bryan Mbeumo, with the former France youth international only switching his allegiance in August.

"I've always wanted to play a World Cup since I was young," he stated. "Just to walk around the pitch with a big crowd and other stuff would be amazing. It's going to be crazy inside me."


Switzerland – Breel Embolo

The Cameroon-born forward was his side's top scorer during qualifying, with three goals to his name. He scored twice during their Nations League matches in September too and the Monaco attacker will hope he can carry that form over to the World Cup

Cameroon – Vincent Aboubakar

If there is a man with unfinished business among their ranks, it will be the Al-Nassr man, fresh from eight goals at the 2021 African Cup of Nations. The forward has failed to register a single shot on target during four previous World Cup matches, and will hope to break his duck.


With a cast-iron record in both recent tournament results and opening World Cup matches, Switzerland will be fancied to seal victory in this first game against Cameroon.

According to Stats Perform's AI model, Yakin's side have a 56.5 per cent chance of winning the game, compared to Cameroon's 18 per cent. That said, both teams could well prove tougher to split, with a 25.5 per cent chance of a draw instead.

Garang Kuol became Australia's youngest World Cup star on Tuesday but noted the "big difference" he must bridge in order to regularly rub shoulders with the likes of Kylian Mbappe.

Kuol, who at 18 years and 68 days old was the ninth-youngest player in the tournament's history, was brought on as a 73rd-minute substitute moments after the final goal in the Socceroos' 4-1 opening defeat to holders France.

The highly talented winger – already confirmed as a Newcastle United signing ahead of a January move – enjoyed a few bright touches yet saw a significant gap to his opponents.

Kuol did not start a single A-League game for Central Coast Mariners, although he scored six goals in 326 minutes from the bench.

Meanwhile, Mbappe was France's star man as they took the title in Russia 2018 four years ago and appears to be in the mood to repeat the feat.

"You could see the level that they're at," Kuol said afterwards.

"They're 6ft 4[in] people who are as quick as me, so there was a big difference between me and some of those players. Only hard work will get me to that level.

"I think it was a good taste to see the level the players are at. Some play in the Premier League, some play in the Champions League, so it was good to get that taste of the level."

Mbappe in particular was relentless after a slow start had seen Australia lead through Craig Goodwin in the ninth minute.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward scored the third goal before creating the fourth for Olivier Giroud, having also had a role in the second – again scored by Giroud.

Mbappe had 19 touches in the Australia box – the most by any player in a World Cup match since 1970 – and completed three dribbles.

Australia right-back Nathaniel Atkinson endured a torrid time, not helped by the introduction of attacking France left-back Theo Hernandez after his brother Lucas was injured attempting to prevent the Socceroos goal.

Atkinson was dribbled past twice and gave away possession on 12 occasions, including an error leading to France's second.

"It's obviously the first time I've come up against this type of opposition in my career," Atkinson said.

"Obviously, I've taken full responsibility for the second goal, but the beauty of the tournament is you can't dwell on it because you've got another game to fix it in three days.

"It's a good experience. It's an eye-opener. There's a reason [Mbappe] is earning 200million [Australian] dollars a year and I am where I am, but that's something to look forward to.

"It's good to come up against this calibre. You know what to work on. I know what to fix; I've played that scenario 50 times over and I could probably come up with 50 different solutions. That's football. I'm disappointed.

"It's just the physicality of the guy. The pace... it's not hidden how quick that guy is – you give him one step and he's gone.

"As a team, you can always come up with a plan, but sometimes if it's one-v-one and he gets the better of you, it's a learning curve.

"You can get your confidence up with getting a few challenges in, but there's a reason why he's one of the top three players in the world."

Australia are not giving up hope, inspired by Saudi Arabia's sensational defeat of Argentina earlier on Tuesday.

"Anything can happen," Atkinson added. "You see what Saudi did against Argentina.

"We've come up against the world champions, and there's a reason for that. They're a good footballing team. We can take confidence from the way we played early on in that game."

Lucas Hernandez will miss the rest of the World Cup, and likely the remainder of the season, after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

France were dealt a huge blow by injuries ahead of their campaign in Qatar, which began with a 4-1 rout of Australia on Tuesday.

Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kante, Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku were all ruled out before the tournament started, and now Didier Deschamps has lost another key player.

Hernandez suffered the injury nine minutes into the win over Australia, as he went down clutching his right knee after being turned by Matthew Leckie in the build-up to Craig Goodwin's opening goal.

Deschamps and Hugo Lloris both conceded after the match that it did not look positive for the Bayern Munich defender, and France have now confirmed the 26-year-old's ruptured his ACL.

Given the extent of his injury, Hernandez will miss a chunk of the rest of the 2022-23 campaign when it resumes after the World Cup.

"Like the whole group, players and staff, I am extremely sorry for Lucas," said Deschamps.

"We are losing an important element. Lucas is a warrior and I have no doubt that he will do everything possible to return to the game.

"I know him well. Courage, he will have it, that's for sure. On behalf of the group, I wish him the best possible recovery."

Didier Deschamps has defended his decision to substitute Olivier Giroud in France's World Cup win over Australia, delaying his bid to become France's all-time leading goalscorer outright.

Giroud equalled Thierry Henry's record of 51 goals for France with a brace on Tuesday, helping Les Bleus fight back to post a 4-1 win in their Group D contest.

However, the striker was replaced by Marcus Thuram in the closing stages, meaning he will have to wait until Saturday's meeting with Denmark for another chance to seize the record for himself. 

Deschamps was defensive when asked why he withdrew Giroud in his post-match press conference, responding: "Would you like to take my place and be the coach? 

"Olivier Giroud did what he does best, he scored goals. You have to manage a lot of things as a coach.

"We have another match in four days and we'd already scored four goals, so sometimes it's good to give someone else a chance and give him a rest.

"You tend to talk about records a lot, he tends to focus on what he does on the pitch. 

"He was very effective tonight, which is great for him, he's useful with the way he links up with the other attackers in our team."

As well as claiming a slice of France history, Giroud – aged 36 years and 53 days – became the second-oldest player to score a World Cup brace, after Roger Milla did so twice at the 1990 tournament when 38 years old.

France initially looked unlikely to make a positive start to their World Cup defence, with Adrien Rabiot having to cancel out Craig Goodwin's opener before Giroud took centre stage.

Deschamps was pleased with Les Bleus' response to going behind after witnessing other sides fail to fight back in the tournament's opening round of fixtures.

"I think we began the match well, we linked up well in the first few minutes but we let in a goal which we should have avoided," Deschamps said.

"It was tough, but in the second half we showed a lot more confidence, we created a lot more chances and scored four goals, so of course that is good. We could have scored more, but it's a very good beginning.

"The first match is always vital, so I have to congratulate the team. We saw some earlier games where teams were unable to respond, but we did. We showed strength of character."

Tuesday began with one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history as Saudi Arabia beat Argentina 2-1, but Deschamps said that surprise result had no bearing on France's approach.

"The players saw that match, but you have to focus on the opponent that's in front of you," he added.

Olivier Giroud feels "blessed" to have matched Thierry Henry's France goalscoring record with a brace against Australia that marked his first World Cup goals since 2014.

Giroud was a key part of the France side that won the title at Russia 2018, but he failed to score across seven matches.

The Milan striker's only previous World Cup goal had been the opener in a group-stage rout of Switzerland eight years ago, a meagre return from 12 appearances in the competition.

But Giroud never doubted himself, insisting after Tuesday's double in a 4-1 win he had not received the same level of chances in 2018.

He accrued 1.7 expected goals from five shots at Al Janoub Stadium, having had chances worth just 1.2 xG across the entirety of the previous World Cup.

"Not really," Giroud replied when asked if he was relieved. "I just try to bring what I can do to the team.

"When I get the opportunity, I try to always put it in the back of the net. This time, I couldn't miss, because I received great balls.

"If you watch the World Cup 2018, I didn't get as many chances as I would hope. Those were different kinds of games. It's very good for confidence for the next stage."

Giroud's second goal from a Kylian Mbappe cross was his 51st for France, matching Henry's record return.

"I don't like to speak about myself," Giroud said. "I will say that we started the competition well. It was massively important to win this first game.

"We started the game in not the best way, but we've shown a great character and we bounced back straight away, which was very important.

"Personally, obviously, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be next to Titi Henry now."

He added to TF1: "It's a source of great pride, I don't intend to stop there. I hope to continue in the competition so that I can help the team achieve our goal."

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