Alphonso Davies could face an agonising wait to see if he will be able to feature at the World Cup after sustaining an apparent hamstring injury.

Bayern Munich full-back Davies, who along with Lille striker Jonathan David is one of Canada's leading lights heading to Qatar, was forced off in the 64th minute of Saturday's Bundesliga clash with Hertha Berlin.

The 22-year-old was holding his right hamstring as he walked gingerly off the field to be replaced by Lucas Hernandez.

Canada, who will be co-hosts in 2026, have qualified for just their second World Cup, having last appeared at the tournament in 1986. They have been drawn in Group F alongside Belgium, Morocco and Croatia.

Romelu Lukaku will not play again for Inter before going to the World Cup with Belgium, Simone Inzaghi has confirmed.

Lukaku's return to San Siro on loan this season has been disrupted by injury.

The Chelsea striker has been limited to just 255 minutes of action across five appearances in all competitions, starting three matches and scoring once.

Lukaku made his comeback from a thigh problem against Viktoria Plzen late last month but was quickly ruled out again.

Coach Inzaghi was initially hopeful Inter would see Lukaku before the Serie A season breaks for the World Cup, but he has now accepted defeat.

The Nerazzurri play Juventus on Sunday, then both Bologna and Atalanta next week.

Lukaku will hope to feature when Belgium begin their Qatar 2022 campaign against Canada on November 23.

Speaking ahead of the Derby d'Italia, Inzaghi said: "We will be without him, without [Danilo] D'Ambrosio and with [Alessandro] Bastoni to evaluate because he had a fever.

"It is normal for a coach to want to have all his weapons, but we know that playing so much there are difficulties in organising with all the team.

"Lukaku will do another test next week; unlike last time, I can say that I don't think he will be there for the last game.

"I'm sorry, because he worked so hard to be there. We will wait for him after the break, because we know he can give us a great hand."

Inter are sixth in Serie A and Juve eighth heading into Sunday's game, but Inzaghi does not believe their title hopes are on the line.

"We know how much it matters, but we also know that there are 25 games to go," he said. "In a week, there will be a break for the World Cup, and then there will be more than one round.

"We know how important it is, but also how long there is until the end. Tomorrow is very important for both [teams], yes."

Ben Chilwell said his "dream" was in tatters after the Chelsea left-back was knocked out of contention for England's World Cup trip.

The former Leicester City defender suffered a hamstring injury in the closing seconds of Chelsea's Champions League game against Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday.

He underwent scans on Friday, and the results showed a "significant" problem, Chelsea announced.

It comes after Chilwell recovered from a cruciate knee ligament injury to reclaim his place in the Blues team and show he could have been an asset for England.

While his club said only that 25-year-old Chilwell was "expected" to miss the tournament in Qatar, the player himself added the finality by conceding there was no chance he would make Gareth Southgate's squad.

He wrote on Twitter: "Following my ACL injury I worked so hard to make sure I was ready for the World Cup. It has always been a dream of mine.

"Unfortunately, this won't be possible following my scan results. I'll do all I can to get back playing for Chelsea ASAP. Thanks for the messages of support."

Chilwell's Chelsea and England team-mate Raheem Sterling sent a message of sympathy, posting: "Prayers up for my guy Chilly. Minor setback, major comeback."

Edinson Cavani is set to miss Valencia's match against Real Sociedad on Sunday as he battles an ankle injury just two weeks out from the World Cup.

The Uruguay forward joined Valencia at the start of this season after his Manchester United contract expired and has scored four goals in seven LaLiga games.

However, the 35-year-old's hopes of having an impact at his fourth and likely final World Cup have been hit by a recurring ankle problem.

Valencia have tried to protect Cavani, who has completed 90 minutes only once this season.

But that full shift against Mallorca last month was followed by an early withdrawal against Barcelona, with the striker replaced after just 18 minutes.

Cavani missed training on Saturday, and Valencia coach Gennaro Gattuso accepted it was "difficult" to see how he could face La Real.

"He's not right," Gattuso said. "He has had problems in the ankle for a long time."

 

Cavani at least has a little time to get fit to feature for Uruguay, whose Qatar 2022 opener is not until November 24 against South Korea.

But Gattuso insisted the player's primary focus was featuring for Valencia, dismissing the idea he was sitting out only due to the spectre of the World Cup.

"I've played three World Cups, none of them in December," the coach said. "I've always been a little scared, but I didn't think about whether I was going to get injured.

"Cavani's problem is his ankle. He's playing with great responsibility, but it's something that he's carried for a long time."

Xavi believes Lionel Messi could finally get his hands on the World Cup in Qatar, tipping Argentina alongside Brazil as favourites to land the trophy.

The closest Messi has come to being a World Cup winner was when Argentina were beaten by Germany in the 2014 final.

His unprecedented seven Ballon d'Or successes underline Messi's individual greatness, but he is missing the most valued team prize of all.

Winning the Copa America with Argentina last year gave him a first major title in senior international football, with Argentina getting the better of Brazil at the Maracana in the final.

Now, at the age of 35, and in his final World Cup, Argentina captain Messi goes again, with former Barcelona team-mate Xavi strongly rating the Albiceleste's chances.

"Argentina and Brazil are a step ahead of everyone else," Xavi said on Friday.

"I see them very strong as a team, also with individual players, physical and in terms of tactics and strategy as well, they're two great teams.

"I think they're a step ahead of some of the best European teams right now. But in a World Cup you can never know. Everything can become complicated."

Xavi, a World Cup winner in 2010 with Spain and now head coach at Barcelona, added: "The European teams are very important: Spain, France, even England, have got very strong national sides, but I think Brazil and Argentina are a step stronger."

Brazil are five-time World Cup winners but have not triumphed since Ronaldo's eight goals drove them to 2002 glory, while Argentina have carried off the trophy twice, in 1978 and 1986.

Messi, surprisingly, has never scored in the knockout rounds and is four goals behind Gabriel Batistuta, Argentina's World Cup record scorer (10 goals).

European teams have dominated the World Cup in recent times, with Italy, Spain, Germany and France winning the last four editions.

Jamie Carragher has accused FIFA of putting players in a "disgusting" position by planting the Qatar World Cup slap bang in the middle of the club season.

For most players involved, the tournament will be taking place while their domestic leagues are put on hold, after it was decided Qatar would not be able to host in the usual June-July time slot, due to its climate.

It means the leading lights of the game are playing important club games just days before the opening matches of the World Cup, knowing an injury, even at a minor level, could scupper hopes of being involved.

Former Liverpool and England defender Carragher said a World Cup in November and December is "absurd" and "has succeeded in compromising every major football competition this season, including their own showpiece event".

He said there would "almost be a perverse sense of justice" if stars of the game suffer minor injury blows in the coming weeks that rule them out of the World Cup, due to the tournament's "indecent timing".

But Carragher suspects those that pushed for Qatar to host would not feel responsible, saying: "To them, elite footballers are like cattle. They get well paid and should get on with it, regardless of the psychological and physical consequences."

Carragher pointed to the example of Raphael Varane coming off in tears for Manchester United against Chelsea last month, putting his France prospects in doubt.

He wrote in the Telegraph: "It is disgusting that players are being put in such a position, and they are at their most vulnerable right now as they are expected to go full throttle in the final weeks before joining their national team.

"In normal circumstances, the squads would already be at the pre-tournament training camp, the fine-tuning under way before the opening ceremony."

Carragher added: "The decisions at the top have materially enhanced the risk of injuries. That was inevitable when the World Cup was arranged in mid-season. Everyone with even the slightest understanding of the demands upon a top-level footballer knew that."

The 44-year-old Carragher spent a decade in and around the England squad, at a time when John Terry and Rio Ferdinand were usually ahead of him in the pecking order.

He still won 38 caps and went to the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and believes the upcoming tournament taking place in Qatar casts shame on the game.

Carragher argues football's authorities made a major error by voting to give the World Cup to a country with a widely criticised human rights record. Critics have pointed to Qatar's treatment of LGBTQ+ people, and the death of many migrant workers on construction sites ahead of the tournament.

"Qatar must be the tipping point," Carragher added. "This can never happen again and there are already signs of professional players mobilising to ensure it never will. FIFA and other national bodies must be forced to act as well as listen.

"The 2022 World Cup symbolises FIFA's ultimate power. They pushed ahead, ripping up the football calendar knowing nothing could stop them."

Chelsea boss Graham Potter admits every player with World Cup aspirations is in "a tricky position" as domestic football continues just days before teams fly to Qatar.

The Blues are waiting on news of Ben Chilwell's hamstring injury, as he headed for a scan on Friday amid fears the muscle is torn, which would rule him out of England's plans.

Potter understands players have concerns about suffering injuries at such an unfortunate moment, but will demand his squad hold nothing back in Sunday's Premier League meeting with Arsenal.

Chelsea striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is poised to face his former club, and unlike many of his team-mates does not need to worry about the World Cup, which starts on November 20, having retired from international football within months of Gabon failing to qualify.

Asked about possible fear of World Cup hopefuls getting hurt, Potter said in a press conference: "I don't think it's fear. I just think it's part of the challenge.

"It's very difficult to play Premier League football or Champions League football and go at it half-hearted. That's pretty much impossible. At the same time, there's a World Cup a couple of weeks away, so it's a tricky position for everybody."

Chelsea needed to wait for swelling to reduce before sending left-back Chilwell to be assessed, and Potter did not sound positive about the defender's England prospects.

"We all saw the nature of the injury," Potter said. "I can't say it looks positive, but until we get the scan it's difficult to say. At the moment we're just hopeful and fingers crossed, and from there we see how to get him back fit and strong. It's disappointing, of course."

Aubameyang's exit from Arsenal in February, when he moved to Barcelona, came after an apparent falling-out with head coach Mikel Arteta, as the former Gunners captain lost his first-team place.

After a short stint at Barcelona, Chelsea jumped at the chance to bring Aubameyang back to England, and Potter concurred it would be "an interesting one" for the 33-year-old this weekend.

"I don't think we should make it about him," he added. "I think it's about the team. He's an important part of the team and for us to get the result we want takes everybody, not just one person.

"I understand the interest is about him because it's Arsenal and there's a narrative about that. But as a team and a group we have to do well ourselves."

As for whether Aubameyang has anything to prove to Arsenal, for whom he scored 92 goals across all competitions, Potter suggested not.

"I don't think so. I think he's looking forward to the game, excited for it," Potter said. "He's been pretty normal from what I've seen, he's quite a quiet guy, but I'm sure come matchday he'll be determined."

Potter praised Arsenal's support for Arteta, who came under pressure in the early stages of his tenure, describing the backing the Spaniard has received as "a really good example of how success can come".

Former Brighton and Hove Albion boss Potter is still learning the ropes at Chelsea, but he had success against Arsenal during his time with the Seagulls, winning three of his six Premier League games against the Gunners (D1 L2).

Chelsea will hope that boosts their prospects, given they have lost three of their last four league games against Arsenal, more defeats than they had experienced in their previous 17 in the rivalry.

Moreover, Arsenal have won on their last two league visits to Stamford Bridge, as many victories as they achieved in their previous 16 visits.

League leaders Arsenal have not won three in a row at Stamford Bridge since April 1974, but that could change on Sunday.

Gerard Pique's retirement brings one of the most distinguished careers in Barcelona and Spain footballing history to a conclusion.

Pique won eight LaLiga titles and the Champions League three times with Barca, while helping his national team lift their first World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship two years later.

The Los Cules great has decided to call it quits at the age of 35 after Barca's next match, against Almeria on Saturday, having turned out for his hometown club over 600 times.

A number of high-profile names have hailed Pique since the announcement, including the likes of Patrick Kluivert and Fabio Cannavaro, while former centre-back partner Carles Puyol called it a "privilege" to play alongside him.

A Barca legend

Pique will retire as a Camp Nou legend, with only four players featuring more times for Barca than his (614), those being Lionel Messi (778), Xavi (767), Sergio Busquets (694) and Andres Iniesta (674) - all of whom helped form part of the dominant Barca team in the 2010s alongside Pique.

Pique started in Barca's youth ranks but left for Manchester United in 2004, where he won the Premier League and Champions League in the 2007-08 season.

However, Pique returned to Barca in 2008 and has won 422 of his 614 games in all competitions since.

He lifted 30 titles with the club in what was the most successful period in Barca's history.

A rock for his national team

Pique also made his mark at international level, earning 102 caps for Spain between 2009 and 2018 and becoming one of just 13 players to feature 100 or more times for La Roja.

Pique played every minute of the final as they overcame the Netherlands 1-0 after extra time to lift their first World Cup in 2010, before Spain went on to win the 2012 Euros by routing Italy 4-0 in the final.

He scored five goals for Spain, all against different opponents, including three in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

European great

Only Sergio Ramos (135) made more Champions League appearances as a defender than Pique (128), while he scored the joint-most goals for a defender in the competition with Roberto Carlos (16).

Perhaps his best Champions League season was the 2008-09 campaign when he finished with the most ball recoveries (90), while only Xavi (967) completed more passes than him (695).

There are just four players with more Champions League titles, Karim Benzema, Dani Carvajal, Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo, all of whom are on five.

Mason Mount described Ben Chilwell's hamstring agony as "tough to watch" and hopes his Chelsea and England team-mate can recover in time to feature at the World Cup.

Left-back Chilwell was forced from the field during stoppage time in the Blues' 2-1 win over Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Wednesday.

With the Qatar 2022 finals less than three weeks away, Chilwell faces a race to prove his fitness for England boss Gareth Southgate, deepening what is already becoming a defensive crisis for the Three Lions.

Mount was left fearing the worst for Chilwell, but he remained hopeful it may not be as serious an injury as it looked at first glance.

"We don't know how bad it is, but that was tough to watch," Mount told Chelsea's official website. "We saw his reaction and that never looks good.

"As soon as you feel something and to not even think about the ball, it's tough. We know what's coming up, hopefully it's not too bad and he can be back as soon as possible because we need him as well."

While Chilwell's place on the plane now looks in doubt, one player who has given his tournament prospects a shot in the arm is Raheem Sterling.

The England winger broke his Blues drought with a goal in the midweek win, and Mount was delighted to see Sterling on the scoresheet for the first time since September.

"It's brilliant for Raz," Mount said. "He took his goal very well. He doesn't think about how many games he goes without scoring.

"He's so focused on helping the team and getting in the right positions. It will come for him, we know how good he is."

Chelsea next play Arsenal on Sunday in the Premier League. England will play their opening World Cup game against Iran on November 21.

Germany forward Timo Werner is out of the World Cup after suffering an ankle ligament tear while playing for RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Werner down injured in the first half following a challenge from Shakhtar Donetsk's Taras Stepanenko, and was substituted after attempting to continue. 

The 26-year-old was replaced by Emil Forsberg in the 19th minute and Leipzig went on to win the game 4-0, securing their place in the round of 16.

Leipzig on Thursday announced Werner will not play again this year, stating in a tweet: "Timo Werner suffered an ankle injury last night in the win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

"Scans today in Leipzig showed that he has unfortunately torn the syndesmosis ligament in his left ankle and will therefore be out for the rest of 2022."

Since making his debut in 2017, Werner has scored 24 goals in 55 matches for his country.

He rejoined Leipzig in August after two seasons with Chelsea and has scored nine goals in 16 matches for the Bundesliga club, but will not be boarding the plane to Qatar.

The news is a blow to Germany head coach Hansi Flick as he prepares for his first major tournament in charge since replacing Joachim Low, with their opening game against Japan on November 23.

Jurgen Klopp will be the Premier League manager who benefits the most from a mid-season World Cup, according to former Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

The Reds manager has been a firm opponent of the Qatar 2022 finals being slotted into mid-season, which has happened because the climate in Qatar made it unfeasible to stage the tournament in its usual June-July slot.

Klopp said earlier this season it was taking place "at the wrong moment for the wrong reasons", but his message has changed in recent times, with Klopp optimistic the break from Premier League duty could help Liverpool.

He said his team "will be different" once the domestic season resumes, with Liverpool having six weeks without a game between their November 12 clash with Southampton and the December 26 trip to Aston Villa.

The likes of Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota will have time to recover from injuries, and Klopp's squad is not loaded with players who are likely to be first choice for their countries at the World Cup. For the likes of Mohamed Salah, who did not qualify with Egypt, there will be a break from the treadmill of game after game.

To an extent, it will be like a bonus pre-season spell for Klopp and his players, a time to recharge and refocus, with last year's quadruple push having sapped many at Anfield, particularly the late-season anguish of missing out on the Premier League and Champions League titles.

"I think fighting for four trophies and all the games that they had really took its toll," Friedel told Stats Perform.

"They've also had some injuries, they have players that are going to be leaving for the World Cup. And I think for all the clubs in the Premier League, this World Cup break – not really a break – but the World Cup is going to help them the most.

"I think after the World Cup, you're going to see a completely different Liverpool team. But I think just the injury, suspensions and mental fatigue have been the main things."

Former United States shot-stopper Friedel had a three-year spell at Liverpool from 1997 to 2000, and also played in the Premier League for Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Tottenham.

It was Liverpool who gave him his big break in England, and he has been taken aback to see Klopp's team struggle as badly as they have done this season, despite their 2021-22 exertions.

They face Spurs on Sunday, when Friedel is bound to have split loyalties. After 12 rounds of Premier League games, Liverpool have won four, drawn four and lost four, to sit ninth in the table, after consecutive defeats to Nottingham Forest and Leeds United.

"[I've been] really surprised. But they've got one of the world's best managers, got one of the best squads. They had a lot of games last year, a lot of tired minds, a lot of tired legs, and they've had injuries and suspensions this year," Friedel said.

"I'm not worried about Liverpool at all. They should keep rolling with who they have and how they play. They'll come out of it and they'll be consistent again, and I couldn't say enough nice things about Jurgen Klopp and what he's done for the club."

He holds the belief Liverpool can still finish in the top four, to earn Champions League football next season.

"I think they're going to be there," Friedel said. "There's always a team from the bottom that comes up."

He says the sale of Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich and arrival in his place of Darwin Nunez always meant there would be a transition period.

"When big players come and go, that happens all the time at clubs," Friedel said. "I would say [it is having] more of an impact as it's taking a little bit longer for Nunez to have consistent form.

"Losing a player happens. Once Nunez finds his feet, and I know Liverpool also have the ways and means to go out in the transfer market again, they'll get that position right."

Beth Mead has stated her opposition to the men's World Cup going ahead in Qatar, with England's Euro 2022 hero saying it shows there is "no respect on a lot of levels".

With the Qatar 2022 finals beginning on November 20, players are poised to depart within days for the finals.

Qatar's human rights record has been widely criticised, with its treatment of groups such as the LGBTQ+ community and migrant workers particularly highlighted by campaign groups

Mead, who is in a relationship with her Arsenal team-mate Vivianne Miedema, said the tournament was one she would not "be backing or promoting".

Qatar was awarded the World Cup in December 2010 after a vote of FIFA members, to the disbelief of many in the game.

Officials from Qatar have strenuously denied allegations of corruption in the process, while saying the tournament will be a force for good in the country, and now they will get the world stage for football's most prestigious event.

Mead told BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour: "For me, from the minute it was announced I thought, 'I mean, it's not the best idea'.

"The way they think and how they go is the complete opposite to what I believe and respect, and although I'm cheering for the boys who are going to play football there, I still don't believe it's the right place."

Mead was player of the tournament and Golden Boot winner in England's women's European Championship triumph, and she will hit the global stage next year when Australia and New Zealand co-host the Women's World Cup.

She is disappointed that a country with Qatar's rights record got to this point in being given such a platform by football's authorities.

"But unfortunately money talks," Mead said, "and the situation even of the stadiums being built and the amount of people who have passed [died] because of that, it's not an ideal situation, and it's not something I will be backing or promoting at all, but unfortunately it is going ahead.

"Just disappointing, I guess, in that sense of there's no respect on a lot of levels, even though it's a game of football."

Jurgen Klopp believes it is unfair to expect players to engage in political protests at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.

The decision to host the tournament in Qatar – where male homosexuality is illegal – has long been criticised due to concerns about the country's human rights record.

England's Harry Kane will be among eight European captains to wear a distinctive heart-adorned armband at the tournament, in order to raise awareness of the OneLove campaign against discrimination.

Meanwhile, tennis great Billie Jean King has called on players to act as "influencers" in Qatar, but Klopp believes handing down that level of responsibility is unjust.

"I understand 100 per cent that we talk about it," Liverpool manager Klopp told Sky News after receiving the Freedom of the City on Wednesday. 

"But it's not fair to talk now to the players and give responsibility to them, because it's more than 10 years ago that other people decided [to host the World Cup in Qatar], and we all accepted the decision.

"I watched documentaries recently about the election of Russia [in 2018] and Qatar, so it's not about this generation of players to say now that 'we don't go' or 'we don't do that'.

"These are the players. The tournament is in Qatar. The players go there and play the game. 

"The decision was made by other people and if you want to criticise anybody, then criticise the people who made the decision. Not the sport, not the competition and for sure, not the players. 

"It's not fair that we expect from them that they go there and make big political statements or whatever. It's just not fair."

Klopp did offer his support when asked about the OneLove campaign, but reiterated his belief players should not be expected to protest the initial decision to stage the tournament in Qatar.

He said: "That's absolutely fine, but what I don't like is that we expect them [the players] to do something. They go there to play football. The big tournament was organised and planned by other people."

Last week, Australia's players launched a campaign to highlight World Cup host Qatar’s human rights record.

Graham Potter fears for the fitness of Ben Chilwell after the Chelsea full-back limped off against Dinamo Zagreb, just 19 days before England start their World Cup campaign.

Denis Zakaria scored what proved to be the winner just 30 minutes into his Chelsea debut after Raheem Sterling had cancelled out Bruno Petkovic's seventh-minute opener on Wednesday.

Chelsea congratulated one another with muted celebrations at the final whistle, though, after Chilwell was helped off the Stamford Bridge pitch by the Blues medical team following a hamstring injury.

Head coach Potter conceded the left-back's injury looks "not great" and leaves both Chelsea and England concerned over the left-back's fitness.

"Not great, he pulled up like that when he turned – not positive at the moment," Potter said of Chilwell's injury after the 2-1 Champions League win.

"It's a blow for us after an otherwise positive game, to see him pull up like that is not a great sight.

"Fingers crossed when we get it scanned it isn't as bad, it can be not as severe, but clearly we are disappointed."

Potter became the first Chelsea boss since Roberto Di Matteo, who won the competition in the 2011-12 season, to go unbeaten in his first five Champions League games in charge.

The Blues had already secured progression to the knockout stages as Group E winners, but delivered a performance that matched Potter's expectations in their final group game.

"I'm really pleased to get the win. I thought Denis was really good, he played with enthusiasm, he got forward and I'm really pleased with him. It was a great debut," Potter told BT Sport.

"The worry would be if you're not creating the chances. Our intent was good, our play was good and the quality was there from the players.

"We got a win, we got a performance. We're a work in progress but we can be pleased with our Champions League performance."

Zakaria became the 15th player to score on his Champions League debut for Chelsea, with what was his first attempt for the club, though he was made to wait for his chance for the Blues after joining on loan from Juventus in the last transfer window.

"Very, very difficult I have to say. I like to play and always want to play," Zakaria told BT Sport when asked about the wait for his debut.

"When you have to see your team-mates from the bench it is not easy but I was always behind the team and was waiting for my chance. Today it came and I took my chance."

Chelsea host Arsenal in Sunday's crunch Premier League clash and Zakaria hopes an impressive debut will work him another start, adding: "I hope so but I think that is a question you will have to ask the coach!"

Tennis great Billie Jean King believes it is "important" for people to go to the World Cup in Qatar and "be an influencer" amid ongoing concerns over the country's human rights record.   FIFA's decision to allow Qatar to host the World Cup has faced persistent criticism, with concerns cited over the human rights standards in a country where same-sex relationships are prohibited.   England captain Harry Kane will be among eight skippers to wear a distinctive heart-adorned armband at the tournament, raising awareness for the OneLove campaign against discrimination   King has been a regular promoter of equality, helping to secure equal prize money at tennis' four majors, and outlined her support for Qatar, where she would not be against hosting the WTA's Billie Jean Cup.   "I probably would be because, first of all, the WTA went there years ago," the 78-year-old responded when asked if she would allow her tournament's finals to be held by the World Cup hosts.   "I get a lot of different people coming to me saying 'why would you play there the way they treat women?' But personally, I think it's important to show up and be an influencer.   "I think it's delicate, no question. But I think it's important to go if you get the opportunity and everything else fits too, not just go there for money or whatever."

Qatar faced more scrutiny after an Amnesty International report in 2021 alleged thousands of migrant workers were exploited, with the country's government denying those claims but acknowledging problems.

King is no stranger to the Middle East either, having supported the WTA Finals being played in Doha, where she said the tournament created opportunities for female tennis players.

"We were there four or five years and I think it helped," the American added. "When I went there I did a clinic for the kids but only for the girls.

"Somebody was left-handed, which is sinister to them, and this mother was saying she hoped her left-handed daughter could one day become a champion and get rid of that stigma.

"These are the kind of discussions you can have when you're physically there. So I'm big on going actually, even if I know it's a fine line of how you do it."

The World Cup starts in 18 days when Qatar face Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor.

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