Lilian Thuram has revealed his disbelief at seeing son Marcus spit in the face of a Bundesliga opponent.

Borussia Monchengladbach striker Marcus Thuram picked up a six-match ban from the German Football Association (DFB) after his outrageous act towards Hoffenheim's Stefan Posch.

The 23-year-old has been hit in the pocket too, being fined a month's wages by Gladbach after the incident in the second half of Saturday's 2-1 home defeat, with a further penalty of €40,000 levied by the DFB.

The sixth match of the suspension has been suspended by 12 months, with the young French forward now facing the task of repairing his tarnished reputation.

He insisted it was not a deliberate act but apologised to Posch, and Thuram also had some explaining to do to his famous father, a World Cup and European Championship winner with France.

Speaking to RCI Guadeloupe, Lilian Thuram said: "It's completely understandable what is happening in the media. I myself was watching the match, I was extremely shocked.

"I even asked myself the question of whether that was really my son.

"Afterwards, I had his explanation, which is to say that he was raging with anger, and so he insulted the opponent and without actually doing it on purpose, he had saliva which came out.

"What he wants is for people to remember that it's unintentional because he says himself, 'But Dad, I wouldn't want people to think I'm capable of spitting on someone on purpose because it doesn't make sense'."

Retired former Juventus and Barcelona defender Thuram explained Marcus had called younger brother Khephren, who plays for Nice, from the dressing room to explain the situation.

It remains to be seen whether the incident and the adverse attention affects Marcus Thuram's hopes of playing for France in the delayed Euro 2020 finals next year.

Lilian Thuram said his Germany-based son would have to tolerate the sanctions against him, adding: "He accepts - and I think it's normal - that he should be punished because indeed, it is a gesture that must not exist on the football field."

Rugby World Cup 2023 hosts France will face New Zealand in the pool phase, while reigning champions South Africa have been paired with Ireland and Scotland. 

France and three-time winners New Zealand are joined in Pool A by Italy, plus qualifiers from the Americas and Africa regions. 

Ireland and Scotland faced each other in the 2019 tournament in Japan and will lock horns again as rivals in Pool B, which also contains the current holders in the Springboks. 

Pool C has a sense of familiarity to it, Wales, Australia and Fiji once again grouped together, as was also the case last year. 

And in Pool D, England coach Eddie Jones will face his former team in Japan plus Argentina, who beat New Zealand for the first time in their history last month.

Twelve teams have so far qualified for the tournament, with eight more to be determined by November 2022.

Tournament organisers will announce fixtures and venues in February 2021.


Pool A: New Zealand, France, Italy, Americas qualifier, Africa qualifier

Pool B: South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Asia/Pacific qualifier, Europe qualifier

Pool C: Wales, Australia, Fiji, Europe qualifier, final qualifier winner

Pool D: England, Japan, Argentina, Oceania qualifier, Americas qualifier

England will face Robert Lewandowski and Poland in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Gareth Southgate's side have been drawn in Group I, also alongside Hungary, Albania, Andorra and San Marino.

World champions France are in Group D with Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kazakhstan.

The Netherlands headline a tricky Group G, which also includes Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia and Gibraltar.

Croatia, the beaten finalists two years ago, are in an intriguing Group H with Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta.

Spain will face Sweden, Greece, Georgia and Kosovo in Group B, with Portugal in Group A along with Serbia, the Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan.

Belgium, the world's top-ranked side, face Euro 2016 quarter-final opponents Wales, and Germany will meet Romania and Iceland.

The matches will take place from March to November next year, with the 10 group winners advancing automatically to the finals in Qatar and 10 runners-up heading into the play-offs.

World Cup 2022 UEFA qualifying draw:

Group A
Portugal
Serbia
Republic of Ireland
Luxembourg
Azerbaijan

Group B
Spain
Sweden
Greece
Georgia
Kosovo

Group C
Italy
Switzerland
Northern Ireland
Bulgaria
Lithuania

Group D
France
Ukraine
Finland
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Kazakhstan

Group E
Belgium
Wales
Czech Republic
Belarus
Estonia

Group F
Denmark
Austria
Scotland
Israel
Faroe Islands
Moldova

Group G
Netherlands
Turkey
Norway
Montenegro
Latvia
Gibraltar

Group H
Croatia
Slovakia
Russia
Slovenia
Cyprus
Malta

Group I
England
Poland
Hungary
Albania
Andorra
San Marino

Group J
Germany
Romania
Iceland
North Macedonia
Armenia
Liechtenstein

Owen Farrell hailed England for digging deep to beat France in a tense Autumn Nations Cup final clash at Twickenham.

Eddie Jones's side triumphed 22-19 after extra time thanks to a sudden-death penalty from Farrell against an inexperienced France side missing 25 senior players.

Les Bleus led by seven points with four minutes of normal time remaining, but a last-gasp try from Luke Cowan-Dickie and a Farrell conversion prolonged a contest that was eventually settled by the captain's boot.

It was a difficult outing for Farrell, who missed four penalty attempts – the most he ever has in a Test match – including one effort that struck the post early in extra time.

However, the Saracens star held his nerve at the critical moments to seal England's eighth consecutive Twickenham victory over France and become only the sixth man to record 1,000 points in Test rugby.

He told Amazon Prime Sport: "We probably didn't come out of the blocks in the first half but the performance when we were on the back foot, and to keep giving me chances to win the game... it took a while! I thought the boys were excellent.

"To be fair, they gave me a few chances of winning it and I didn't quite make them. I was just thankful we got the win. The boys deserved it after that second-half performance.

"Of course there will be stuff to work on, especially in that first half, and of course there's always stuff to get better at and that will be highlighted. 

"But I thought the attitude we came out with in the second half, and when we were under pressure a bit towards the end to get that try and take it into extra time, and to get us two shots at goal to get us two chances to win it, I thought it was a great effort.

"It's been a good nine weeks together. We feel like we've grown again and it's not too long before we get back together again."

England's man of the match Billy Vunipola praised France for a clinical and disciplined performance in which they converted all five penalty kicks and won 10 turnovers to England's four, missing only 20 of 149 tackles.

"They were outstanding, they challenged us all over the pitch," Vunipola said. "They are a great team and we are lucky we came out on the right side of the result.

"Eddie reassured us we can do this. It is another trophy and we keep improving, trying to be the greatest team in the world."

Owen Farrell scored the decisive points as England came from behind to defeat an understrength France 22-19 in sudden death extra time and win the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup.

England captain Farrell missed four of his nine kicks at goal but was successful with a conversion after the 80th minute and a penalty in the second additional period as Eddie Jones' side avoided a chastening Twickenham defeat.

Les Bleus were without 25 key players due to an agreement with Top 14 clubs limiting the amount of times they could select any player during the extended Test window, forcing them to turn to members of their Under-20 World Cup triumphs of 2018 and 2019.

Brice Dulin touched down in the first half and the successful kicking of Matthieu Jalibert and Louis Carbonel gave France a seven-point lead with four minutes remaining.

However, Farrell added the extras following Luke Cowan-Dickie's late try and he made up for a miss two minutes into extra time to end the game after 96 enthralling minutes.

Farrell put England into an early lead after France's front row collapsed in a scrum but he hooked his next effort from the tee to the left.

France stunned the hosts in the 19th minute when fly-half Jalibert darted between Jamie George and Farrell before teeing up Dulin to cross on the left wing.

Jalibert added the extras and, after Elliot Daly split the posts from 46 metres, he sent through a pair of penalties to put Les Bleus up by a converted try.

England went extremely close to getting that before half-time, but France's defence held up impressively through 13 phases on the try line before Ellis Genge lost the ball forward.

The hosts upped the pressure following the restart and, after Farrell was successful with one of his next three penalty attempts, Carbonel added three points with a penalty.

Carbonel got another with the help of the upright but Farrell quickly replied and was then successful with the clock in the red after replacement Luke Cowan-Dickie span over from a driving maul.

Farrell had a chance to win the match in the second minute of extra time but his kick hit the right upright and bounced back across the face of the left post.

But after Maro Itoje won a penalty in the second additional period, Farrell made amends from wide on the left to secure the trophy for England.

Anthony Watson will start in place of the injured Jonathan Joseph in England's only change for Sunday's Autumn Nations Cup final with France, who have been forced to field a second-string side.

Joseph sustained a calf injury in England's 24-13 victory over Wales last weekend as Eddie Jones' men made it three Pool A wins from three games in the inaugural competition.

Bath Rugby team-mate Watson, who returned from an ankle injury against Wales, has been selected on the right wing in a back three that includes Elliot Daly and Jonny May.

Max Malins and Joe Marchant are back among the replacements, with flanker Jack Willis being left out of the squad entirely.

"We're looking forward to this final, playing France and having another chance to win a trophy this autumn," said Jones, who guided his side to Six Nations success in October.

"This has been another positive learning week with tough, hard training and we're looking forward to getting on the pitch in front of our fans and playing a good game of rugby."

England's starting XV boasts more than 800 caps, which is in stark contrast to depleted opponents France.

Les Blues are without a number of key players due to an agreement between the national side and French clubs over playing limits.

Yoram Moefana has been drafted in for his first international start in place of Jean-Pascal Barraque at outside centre.

That is one of six changes made by head coach Fabien Galthie for the match at Twickenham that will see 2,000 fans back in attendance as coronavirus restrictions are eased.

Alivereti Raka, Selevasio Tolofua, Hassane Kolingar, Pierre Bourgarit and Baptiste Couilloud are also recalled, the latter to captain the side in Baptiste Serin's absence.

France reached the final by topping Pool B with wins over Scotland and Italy after being handed a 28-0 walkover victory against Fiji in their opener.

England team: Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell (c), Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Jonny Hill, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, Max Malins, Joe Marchant.

France team: Brice Dulin, Alivereti Raka, Yoram Moefana, Jonathan Danty, Gabin Villiere, Matthieu Jalibert, Baptiste Couilloud (c); Hassane Kolingar, Pierre Bourgarit, Dorian Aldegheri, Killian Geraci, Baptiste Pesenti, Cameron Woki, Anthony Jelonch, Selevasio Tolofua.

Replacements: Peato Mauvaka, Rodrigue Neti, Uini Atonio, Guillaume Ducat, Sekou Macalou, Sebastien Bezy, Louis Carbonel, Jean-Pascal Barraque.

Italy have been confirmed as hosts of next year's Nations League finals, with Roberto Mancini's team drawn against Spain in the first semi-final.

UEFA confirmed on Thursday what was already widely known as it declared that Group A1 winners Italy would put on the tournament.

Games will be played in Milan and Turin, with San Siro staging the final.

Italy and Spain will play the first semi-final at San Siro on October 6, followed a day later by FIFA's top-ranked team Belgium taking on World Cup holders France at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.

The third-place play-off in Turin and the final in Milan will both take place on Sunday, October 10.

France gained a measure of revenge for their Six Nations defeat to Scotland by earning a hard-fought 22-15 triumph in Sunday's Autumn Nations Cup fixture at Murrayfield.

Defeat in the Scottish capital back in March denied a formidable Les Bleus side a Grand Slam and ultimately the title as they finished second behind England on points difference.

But a gutsy defensive effort from a Scotland side aiming to win a sixth straight match was not enough to deny France this time around.

The excellent Virimi Vakatawa scored the game's only try and Thomas Ramos kicked 14 points for a France team now favourites to finish top of Group A.

France's reward for a sprightly start was a couple of Ramos penalties, the second brought back for offside after Vakatawa was ruled not in control of the ball when trying to ground for a try following a footrace to the corner.

But it was soon Scotland's turn to apply the pressure at the breakdown with Duncan Weir nailing a pair of kicks to level things up.

A Matthieu Jalibert drop-goal and a Ramos penalty were answered each time by Weir, who nailed a 42-metre effort to tie the game again, while expert defence withstood French pressure at the line just before half-time.

For all Scotland's fine work in defence it was a simple move off a scrum that allowed Vincent Rattez to come in off the wing and free Vakatawa to score despite a valiant effort from Stuart Hogg shortly after the restart.

Scotland replied quickly with a Weir penalty but another three-pointer from Ramos – shortly after Gael Fickou was denied on the left flank – kept the hosts at bay.

The hosts had one last chance to snatch something with a penalty after the allotted time but Hogg wastefully kicked the ball dead to bring the final whistle.

Olivier Giroud is worried about his lack of playing time at Chelsea and admits he will have to make a decision over his future in January if the situation does not change. 

Striker Giroud has yet to start a Premier League game for Frank Lampard's side this season, instead restricted to four substitute appearances in the competition. 

The France international was also on the periphery of the first team in the previous campaign, though did become more involved when the action resumed following the coronavirus-enforced break. 

However, the signing of Timo Werner – coupled with the continued presence of Tammy Abraham in the squad – has increased the competition at Chelsea, leaving the 34-year-old facing a dilemma. 

Giroud still believes he can contribute but, looking ahead to the delayed Euro 2020 tournament next year, has raised concerns over his lack of playing time. 

"Even if some people talk about my age, I still feel very good physically. I have a lot of desire and freshness, and what makes a career last is also the head," Giroud said in an interview with Telefoot. 

"We would like things to be a little easier, but we are built in adversity. And as my buddy [Laurent] Koscielny often says, 'I am the best when I am back against the wall'.

"It's worrying. I thought I still had a role to play at Chelsea, but my playing time is getting reduced a lot. It's going to have to change, or else make a decision.

"I am clear-headed about my situation - I will have to make a decision in January. I hope to make the right one, as I have always done" 

Giroud has played just 36 minutes in the league so far in the 2020-21 campaign, during which his only start came in the EFL Cup defeat away to Tottenham in September. 

He still remains a key component for the world champions under Didier Deschamps, scoring twice in last week's 4-2 victory over Sweden in the final round of Nations League fixtures. 

Deschamps discussed the former Arsenal frontman's future during the November international break, telling RTL: "Olivier Giroud knows it - the situation he's in today cannot drag on forever. Before March he will have to find another situation than this one."

David Beckham's Inter Miami have been linked with a move for Giroud, while Inter were rumoured to be interested in bringing him to Serie A back in January.

Matteo Guendouzi says he was hurt by falling out of favour at Arsenal and needed a move to reignite his career. 

Guendouzi joined Hertha Berlin on loan for the 2020-21 season before the transfer window closed in October. 

The midfielder was left out in the cold by Gunners boss Mikel Arteta following an incident with Brighton and Hove Albion striker Neal Maupay late last season. 

However, Guendouzi is enjoying a new lease of life in the Bundesliga and hopes to force his way into the France squad. 

He told Telefoot: "I needed to have fun on the pitch, to regain confidence and that's what Hertha offers me. It really is a choice I made. 

"In the space of two seasons, I have played more than 80 games with Arsenal. When you play less, you start to think and it hurts." 

Under-21 international Guendouzi has been an unused substitute for the world champions on four occasions and the ambitious 21-year-old is hungry to make his mark at senior level.

On his previous experiences with the national team, he added: "It was a dream since I was little. Being part of it was wonderful.

"I still have in the back of my mind to earn a lot more selections, and to be important in the future."

Kingsley Coman wrapped up a 4-2 win for France in the Nations League on Tuesday as he punished a Sweden side who were chasing an equaliser to retain League A status.

Sweden sent goalkeeper Robin Olsen up for a late free-kick as they tried to salvage a draw that would have relegated Croatia, who lost 3-2 to Portugal, but Dejan Kulusevski's delivery was cleared and Coman slotted into the empty net on the break.

Viktor Claesson had put the visitors in front at the Stade de France inside four minutes, but Olivier Giroud equalised before Benjamin Pavard turned the game around in the 36th minute.

Substitute Kylian Mbappe teed up another for Giroud just 70 seconds into his return from injury, before Coman killed the game with the final kick after Robin Quaison's 88th-minute strike gave Sweden hope.

France have been awarded a 28-0 bonus-point win over Fiji in the Autumn Nations Cup after their match was called off due to coronavirus complications.

The two teams had been set to meet in Vannes last Sunday in the new tournament, a replacement for the scrapped autumn internationals due to the global pandemic. 

Three days before the game, Fiji revealed two members of their travelling party had tested positive for COVID-19 and the contest was cancelled the following day when a further four cases affecting close contacts in the squad were reported.

Fiji's match with Italy in round two - set to take place in Ancona on Saturday – remains under review, with a decision likely after additional rounds of testing.

"Whilst no fault has been apportioned to Fiji Rugby, the competition rules provide that if a team is primarily responsible for a match not taking place, a 28-0 victory will be awarded to the opposition that could have played the match," Six Nations Rugby, who are organising the competition, said in a statement.

"We wish the affected Fiji players well as they continue their recovery and are working closely with the Fiji team, to ensure that they are able to field a competitive team against Italy." 

France will belatedly play their first match when they face Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday.

Kylian Mbappe is fit to feature in France's Nations League clash with Sweden on Tuesday but Anthony Martial is an injury doubt. 

Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe sat out Saturday's 1-0 win over Portugal, as well as last week's 2-0 friendly loss to Finland, because of a hamstring issue. 

However, he took part in full training on Sunday and is now in contention to play a part in the meeting with Sweden at the Stade de France. 

"Kylian is fine - he took part in the collective training session yesterday," France boss Didier Deschamps said at Monday's pre-match news conference. "He will also take part in the session today. 

"I will then take the time to discuss with him to see if he starts or if he comes into play from the bench. These are the two options with their advantages and disadvantages.  

"I will decide on what is best for the team and for him. He had two weeks without playing, but he really wants it. He wants to be there tomorrow, and if all goes well, he will be." 

Martial, however, may not be fit for the visit of Sweden, with Deschamps confirming the Manchester United forward trained separately from the group due to a back problem.

The 24-year-old started against Portugal and had more shots than any France player, though he failed to beat goalkeeper Rui Patricio with any of his three on-target attempts. 

He has now failed to score with each of his last 22 shots for France but captain Hugo Lloris insisted his team-mate offers a lot more to the side than just goals. 

"If he is here with us it is because the coach shows confidence in him," Lloris said. "He has adapted very well to the team thanks to his personality and his qualities as a player.  

"The coach has given him confidence. He made the defensive efforts, coming to help [Benjamin] Pavard down the right-hand side, so that means he has the right frame of mind." 

Mbappe and Martial's lack of fitness could see Olivier Giroud start, despite Deschamps recently raising concerns over the striker's lack of playing time at club level. 

Giroud has made just three appearances for Chelsea in the Premier League this term, all of them from the bench, and his national team boss has raised the prospect of the country's second-leading scorer finding a new club in the January transfer window. 

"The situation is not good for him. It is for him to sort - he will decide," Deschamps said. "But compared to the France team, psychologically and physically for him too, he has every interest in having playing time.  

"I hope that by January he will have more playing time. After that, he will stay or not. He knows what I think about it - I've told him, although I don't forget what he has done for us and might still do." 

France have already made certain of top spot in Group A3 ahead of their concluding fixture against Sweden, who are level on points with Croatia in the battle to avoid relegation.

Didier Deschamps confirmed Kylian Mbappe would be fit for France's clash against Sweden after they reached the Nations League Finals.

Mbappe missed Saturday's 1-0 win over Portugal in Lisbon, having also been sidelined for the friendly defeat to Finland due to a hamstring injury.

However, while France have booked their spot in the Nations League Finals, Mbappe is set to be available to face Sweden on Tuesday.

"He will be there, he is keen and he is ready," Deschamps said.

France have played two of their nine Nations League games without Mbappe, winning both while scoring five times.

With the Paris Saint-Germain star, they have won four of seven while netting at just one goal per game.

N'Golo Kante's 53rd-minute winner against Portugal sealed top spot in Group A3 for world champions France.

Deschamps was pleased with his side's performance, saying they proved they were still among the best.

"It's one of the great games that we played. We can say that, thanks to the quality of the team opposite," he said.

"This proves the quality of the French national team, the ability to respond present in big games with great control, facing such an opponent.

"It's a great pride for me to see the players like that. It was not easy for some of them in the preparation.

"We had to be present. They did it. It’s a great satisfaction."

France's opening Autumn Nations Cup match has been cancelled due to a further four positive coronavirus cases involving opponents Fiji. 

The two teams had been set to meet in Vannes on Sunday in the new tournament, a coronavirus-enforced replacement for the scrapped autumn internationals due to the global pandemic. 

However, Fiji, who on Thursday revealed that two members of their travelling party had tested positive for COVID-19, have now reported further cases affecting close contacts with the squad. 

Without any room in the schedule for the fixture to be rearranged, the result will be decided on Monday, with the likely options a 0-0 draw or a 28-0 bonus-point win for France. 

Fiji's match with Italy in round two - set to take place in Ancona on November 21 - is also now placed into doubt.

"This was a difficult and disappointing decision, but it was the only possible outcome following today's test results," Ben Morel, chief executive of tournament organisers Six Nations Rugby, said in a statement.

"Whilst we've all been eagerly awaiting this match, the welfare of our players and their support teams remain our number one priority.

"In this instance, it is impossible for the Fijians to field a competitive team and we have no other option but to cancel this match. I want to thank the Fijian and French Unions for their collaboration and wish the impacted athletes a speedy recovery."

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