FIFA has outlined how the Qatar 2022 World Cup draw will be carried out, including the basis for seeding.

The draw is scheduled to take place in Doha on Friday, April 1, by which time 29 of the 32 participants will have been confirmed for the tournament, which is set to run from November 21 to December 18.

World Cup qualifying continues this week, with 17 places still up for grabs for a place in Qatar.

World governing body FIFA confirmed hosts Qatar will be among the first seeds, along with the seven top-ranked qualified countries according to the FIFA men's world rankings, which will be next issued on March 31.

"The countries occupying positions 8-15 in the ranking of the qualified teams will be allocated to Pot 2, while the 16th-23rd best-ranked qualifiers will be placed in Pot 3," FIFA added in a statement.

"Finally, Pot 4 will include the qualified teams in positions 24 to 28, plus three placeholders representing the two winners of the intercontinental play-offs and the remaining UEFA play-off winner.

"The intercontinental play-offs will be contested on 13-14 June in Qatar, with the AFC representative facing the CONMEBOL representative and the CONCACAF representative taking on the OFC representative, per the draw held on 26 November 2021.

"The final team to qualify through the UEFA play-offs will also be determined in the May-June international window, as per the decision taken by the bureau of the FIFA organising committee on 8 March."

The nations currently occupying the top seven places in the FIFA men's world rankings are Belgium, Brazil, France, Argentina, England, Italy and Spain, though this could change when the list is updated at the end of this month.

Portugal are currently in eighth spot, and would therefore take Italy's place in pot one should they qualify as both are in the same European play-off qualifying path.

Marco Verratti has come to the defence of his Paris Saint-Germain and Italy team-mate Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The goalkeeper came in for criticism following PSG's recent Champions League elimination at the hands of Real Madrid, in particular for his error that led to Karim Benzema scoring the Spanish side's first goal at the Santiago Bernabeu in an eventual 3-2 aggregate loss for the Parisians.

Donnarumma has conceded six goals in his last two club appearances, but ahead of Italy's World Cup qualifying play-off against North Macedonia, Verratti wants Azzurri fans to remember his performances during the run to winning Euro 2020.

"We need to be confident. Thursday will be an important match against a team that deserves to be here," Verratti told a news conference.

"As we did during the Euros, we have to go far with enthusiasm and desire.

"Each of us has different stories with our clubs, then here, we have to give everything. With the national team we have always managed to move forward."

It was put to the 29-year-old midfielder that players from PSG and Juventus who were knocked out of the Champions League could bring their dented confidence with them, and he was specifically asked about Donnarumma's mood.

"When you walk into Coverciano [Italy's training complex], you forget everything that happened before, the defeats with our clubs, and you remember what we did last year," Verratti retorted. "We are back to talking about the victory of the European Championship, it's different.

"He [Donnarumma] is sorry for his error against Real Madrid, but Gigio is a special guy. He was already back working the next day with the same enthusiasm.

"Let us not forget what he did for Italy during the Euros. He is one of the best goalkeepers in the world."

Donnarumma played seven games at the rescheduled tournament last year, making 10 stops at a save percentage of 71.43, conceding four goals and making key penalty saves from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in the final shoot-out against England to clinch the trophy at Wembley Stadium.

Italy are looking to make amends having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and Verratti insists they will "give everything" to get to Qatar.

"We are accustomed to playing under this kind of pressure," he said. "We know it's a very important moment and we cannot afford to be out of the World Cup, but the only thing I know is to work, give my best and do everything there is.

"When Roberto Mancini arrived [in 2018], we were a broken team and he took us to win the European Championship. He worked on our minds above all, now we are a completely different side and we will do everything to go to Qatar."

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini expressed his optimism for World Cup qualification as he called on his Euro 2020-winning side to prove the doubters wrong again.

The Azzurri failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup but followed that up by winning the delayed European Championships last year.

Italy are now staring at a familiar fate, however, after not progressing through their World Cup qualifying group, leaving them having to beat North Macedonia in Thursday's play-off semi-final to keep their Qatar 2022 hopes alive.

Mancini's side would then have to negotiate past Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal or Turkey in the final, but the former Manchester City boss spoke optimistically before the clash with North Macedonia in Palermo.

"We should not take the first game for granted. It won't be easy and, in case we win, we'll have four days to prepare for the final," he told reporters at a news conference on Monday.

"We have built a solid base, we are positive and we must think that everything will go well. We have two tough games ahead. We were not supposed to be here, but it happens to struggle sometimes.

"We must continue playing as we've always done. We didn't reach our targets by coincidence. We didn't want to play these games, but the lads are feeling well and that's important.

"I am optimistic because I have players who won the Euros starting from nothing when nobody believed in it. We must think about what we did to have more self-confidence, the team is solid and with quality.

"Our target is to win the World Cup, and in order to do it, we must win the next two games. We want to go to the World Cup to win it."

Mancini has handed maiden call-ups to Luiz Felipe and Joao Pedro, while Lorenzo Insigne and Nicolo Barella made the cut despite underperforming for their clubs.

Gianluigi Donnarumma, whose second-leg blunder proved costly in Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League last-16 loss against Real Madrid, is another familiar face among the Azzurri ranks, and Mancini is backing in the players he has selected.

"I am not worried, they [Insigne and Barella] have always done well with the national team," Mancini said when asked about the pair's form with Napoli and Inter respectively.

"Of course, there are highs and lows during a season. [Giorgio] Chiellini is feeling quite well and it's good that he played a little. 

"He probably won't play two games, but we'll talk and decide together. He knows his condition and he will tell me if he can play two games in five days.

Pressed whether Donnarumma's form was concerning, Mancini responded: "Absolutely not, it's better to have him with us than against."

Mancini also has Domenico Berardi and Gianluca Scamacca to call upon in his frontline, though he is slightly light on numbers at the back due to injuries, with right-back Giovanni Di Lorenzo having to be replaced in the squad by Mattia De Sciglio.

"Berardi and Scamacca are doing well, but I can't reveal the line-up today. We'll make our assessments starting from tomorrow. Except for defenders, the others are feeling quite well," Mancini said.

"I don't think there are big problems in midfield and attack."

England intend to use the World Cup in Qatar to highlight concerns around the host country, but Gareth Southgate says they must be "realistic" as any demonstration will be "complicated" and "different to taking the knee".

Qatar's poor human rights record has been a concern during the build-up to the 2022 finals.

The nation's stance towards women and the LGBTQ+ community was widely raised as an issue before FIFA awarded it the 2022 tournament. Since then, during preparation for the finals, the deaths of thousands of migrant workers have been reported, although Qatar's organising committee disputed what it called "inaccurate claims" around the number of fatalities.

England – semi-finalists in Russia in 2018 – have qualified for the World Cup and plan to make the most of their platform.

However, manager Southgate suggested it was unlikely the Three Lions would follow the example of Norway, who wore T-shirts in qualifying calling for "human rights on and off the pitch".

Indeed, Southgate explained it was difficult to come up with the right response after learning of female and LGBTQ+ fans who were staying away.

Describing that as "a great shame", Southgate said: "We stand for inclusivity as a team, and it would be horrible to think some of our fans feel they can't go because they feel threatened, or they're worried about their safety."

Detailing England's thought process, he continued: "I don't think it's something where we're just going to be able to come out with a statement that will satisfy everything.

"This is different to taking the knee and the importance we felt on that. We're not saying this is any less important.

"We feel the World Cup is an opportunity to highlight some of these issues and we have a platform to be able to do that. We've also got to do that in a responsible way.

"I'm not sure that just wearing a T-shirt makes a difference. I don't totally know what we can do in every aspect to make a difference.

"I think we have to be realistic about what that might be. We're going to a country that FIFA decided where this tournament was going to be played: it's culturally different and religiously different.

"So, there are some things we're not going to be able to affect. Maybe there are some things that we can affect.

"If we can and we think they're worthwhile, then we'll try to do that. Without a doubt, one of the priorities in my mind is our own fans and how they're going to be dealt with in particular, but there may be other issues.

"I don't think any of us are complacent about any of it. I'm certainly taking it very seriously. I want to make sure the players are protected, I want to make sure they are able to use their voice in the right way, but I also don't want them to be used with broader agendas at play, perhaps.

"So, it's going to be complicated. And I think we're going to get some criticism whatever we do, but we're going to try to do the best that we can."

A request from Russia to freeze the ban on its football teams in FIFA competitions has been turned down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

CAS made a similar announcement on Tuesday regarding UEFA competitions, and this latest decision all but confirms that Russia will not be a part of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with their qualifying play-off semi-final due to be played next Thursday.

Russia had been scheduled to face Poland, but FIFA instead handed their opponents a bye to the final of their play-off route.

Poland will now play either Sweden or the Czech Republic – with that semi-final on March 24 still set to go ahead – for a place at Qatar 2022.

Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic each announced they would refuse to play Russia due to the ongoing events in Ukraine.

The Russian Football Union lodged an appeal to CAS after its clubs and national team were banned from all FIFA and UEFA competitions "until further notice".

The joint-decision taken by FIFA and UEFA followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine three weeks ago.

Russia "categorically disagreed" with the ban and submitted its appeal, while also seeking an initial stay of execution.

However, CAS confirmed on Friday that it has rejected that request, confirming that "the Challenged Decision remains in force" during proceedings.

A media release from CAS read: "The President of the Appeals Arbitration Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected the request filed by the Football Union of Russia (FUR) to stay, for the duration of the CAS proceedings, the execution of the FIFA Council's decision to suspend all Russian teams and clubs from participation in its competitions until further notice (the Challenged decision).

"Accordingly, the Challenged Decision remains in force and all Russian teams and clubs continue to be suspended from participation in FIFA competitions. The CAS arbitration proceedings continue. A Panel of arbitrators is currently being constituted and the parties are exchanging written submissions. No hearing has been fixed yet."

Russian football chiefs have failed in an attempt to suspend the ban on their teams appearing in UEFA competitions.

The Russian Football Union (FUR) lodged an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after its clubs and national team were banned from all FIFA and UEFA competitions "until further notice".

The joint-decision taken by FIFA and UEFA followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine three weeks ago.

Russia "categorically disagreed" with the ban and submitted its appeal, while also seeking an initial stay of execution.

However, CAS, which has yet to announce a schedule for the appeal hearing, has refused to put UEFA's sanctions on hold.

"The challenged decision remains in force and all Russian teams and clubs continue to be suspended from participation in UEFA competitions," CAS said in a statement.

Spartak Moscow were Russia's only remaining representative in European club competition at the time of the decision, with opponents RB Leipzig receiving a bye to the Europa League quarter-finals.

Tuesday's CAS announcement only applies to UEFA competitions. Russia are hoping to overturn a FIFA ban that would potentially allow them to play in the World Cup.

Russia were due to face Poland in a qualifying play-off semi-final later this month, but FIFA instead handed their opponents a bye to the final.

Should Russia fail in their challenge to that ruling, Poland will face either Sweden or the Czech Republic – with that semi-final on March 24 still set to go ahead – for a place at Qatar 2022.

Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic have each announced they will refuse to play Russia due to ongoing events in Ukraine.

Russia captain Artem Dzyuba asked to not be included in the national's team's latest squad due to his family ties to Ukraine.

Last month, Russia began an invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, much to the fury of the international community.

The response has been to hit Russia with wide-ranging sanctions, which have impacted Russian businesses and high-profile individuals.

There has also been a major reaction in the sporting world, with all Russian clubs and national teams banned from FIFA and UEFA competitions "until further notice", meaning their senior men's team's World Cup play-off is cancelled.

But the Russian Football Union (RFU) has appealed the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), with Russia still holding out hope of facing Poland later this month.

With that in mind, Russia coach Valery Karpin still named a squad for the upcoming international window, though Dzyuba – who plays for Zenit, the club owned by majority state-controlled energy company, Gazprom – will not be present.

Karpin said: "We did meet with Artem at the end of Zenit's pre-season training camp, but, of course, there were no promises for a mandatory call. This applies not only to Dzyuba, but to all players.

"On Sunday, we talked to Artem on the phone, he assured that, as he said at the meeting, he really wants to play for the national team.

"But now, due to the difficult situation in Ukraine, where he has many relatives, he apologised and asked for family reasons not to call him to this gathering.

"We agreed that we will stay in touch with him and will follow his performances for Zenit."

 

The Russian Football Union (RFU) has confirmed it is appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) following the suspension of its teams by FIFA and UEFA.

Russian clubs and national teams were banned from all FIFA and UEFA competitions "until further notice" on Monday.

This decision followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine last week, which prompted rivals of its football team to vow they would not play Russia.

Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic – opponents and potential opponents in the 2022 World Cup play-offs – threatened to withdraw from qualifying until FIFA and UEFA made the joint-announcement.

But the RFU, which "categorically disagreed with" its suspension and hinted at a challenge "in accordance with international sports law", has formalised an intention to appeal through CAS.

The ban, the RFU claims, "did not have a legal basis".

And Russia still hope to take part in the play-offs for the Qatar finals later this month, wanting a swift appeal process in which the RFU will also pursue compensation.

Russia had been set to host Poland on March 24, and the RFU's statement added it would ask for competitions its teams had been participating in to be delayed if a challenge could not be accelerated.

"The Russian Football Union will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne against the decision taken by FIFA and UEFA to suspend the Russian national teams from participating in international competitions," the statement read on Thursday.

"As part of a single lawsuit against the two organisations, the RFU will demand the restoration of all men's and women's national teams of Russia for all types of football in the tournaments in which they took part (including in the qualifying round of the World Cup in Qatar), as well as compensation for damage, if its presence is established.

"In order to ensure the possibility of participation of Russian teams in the next scheduled matches, the RFU will insist on an accelerated procedure for considering the case.

"If FIFA and UEFA refuse such a procedure, a demand will be put forward for the introduction of interim measures in the form of suspension of FIFA and UEFA decisions, as well as competitions in which Russian teams were supposed to participate.

"The RFU believes that FIFA and UEFA did not have a legal basis when deciding on the suspension of Russian teams. It violated the fundamental rights of the RFU as a member of FIFA and UEFA, including the right to take part in competitions.

"In addition, the decision to withdraw the national team from qualification for the 2022 World Cup was made under pressure from direct rivals in the play-offs, which violated the sporting principle and the rules of fair play.

"The Russian Football Union was also not granted the right to present its position, which violated the fundamental right to defence.

"In addition, when making decisions, FIFA and UEFA did not take into account other possible options for action, except for the complete exclusion of participants from Russia from the competition.

"Other details of the appeal, including the timing of the hearing of the claim, will be reported additionally."

Aleksander Ceferin is confident FIFA will soon abandon its plans for a biennial World Cup, which he considers "a no-go for everyone in football".

FIFA, led by chief of global football development Arsene Wenger, has been pushing for its showpiece international tournament to take place every two years, rather than every four.

The idea has been met with widespread opposition by others within football, however – particularly in Europe and South America.

And although the world governing body has publicly continued to pursue the change, UEFA president Ceferin says it has now accepted it cannot happen.

"A biennial World Cup is a no-go for everyone in football," Ceferin said at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit on Thursday.

"I am glad FIFA has realised that as well. I had a discussion with FIFA's president about it yesterday.

"We cannot say football on other continents cannot be developed, but we should be aligned, and it should not hurt European and South American federations.

"We have discussions, but as far as I am concerned, a biennial World Cup is off the table. I am sure we will come to a solution with FIFA soon."

The Russian Football Union (RFU) has responded to the ban of Russian teams by FIFA and UEFA, saying it "categorically disagrees with" and could yet challenge the decision.

The two governing bodies have suspended Russian teams from club and international competitions until further notice, denying them entry to the 2022 World Cup and Women's Euro 2022.

Spartak Moscow will be removed from the Europa League, where they had been set to face RB Leipzig in the last 16.

The sanctions were imposed on Russia on Monday following Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine last week.

A subsequent statement from the RFU suggested it could investigate avenues for an appeal "in accordance with international sports law".

It read: "The Russian Football Union categorically disagrees with the decision of FIFA and UEFA to suspend all Russian teams from participating in international matches for an indefinite period.

"We believe that this decision is contrary to the norms and principles of international competitions, as well as to the sporting spirit.

"It is obviously discriminatory in nature and harms a huge number of athletes, coaches, employees of clubs and national teams, and most importantly, millions of Russian and foreign fans, whose interests international sports organisations should primarily protect.

"Such actions divide the world sports community, which has always adhered to the principles of equality, mutual respect and independence from politics.

"We reserve the right to challenge the decision of FIFA and UEFA in accordance with international sports law."

FIFA and UEFA have banned Russian teams from club and international competitions, denying them entry to the 2022 World Cup and Women's Euro 2022.

The decision means Spartak Moscow will be removed from the Europa League last 16, where they were due to face RB Leipzig.

UEFA has also ended its relationship with Gazprom, the Russian state-owned energy giant that was a major sponsor of the Champions League.

A joint statement from FIFA and UEFA read: "Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine.

"Both presidents [Gianni Infantino and Aleksander Ceferin] hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people."

The sporting world has called for sanctions to be imposed on Russia following Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine last week.

Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic – Russia's World Cup play-off opponents – all announced an intention to boycott their fixtures, although FIFA's initial sanctions allowed the Russian Football Union to put forward a team playing under a different name and flag in a neutral location.

But this FIFA decision was widely criticised, including by players' union FIFPro, which wanted more than "the lightest of sanctions" and said Russia's continued involvement in international competition was "not a possibility".

That was a view shared on Monday by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which said Russian and Belarusian athletes should be excluded from sporting events to "protect the integrity of global sports competitions".

FIFA subsequently changed its stance in a joint-announcement with UEFA, ruling Russia – hosts of the 2018 World Cup – out of tournaments including this year's two showpiece events in Qatar and England.

Russia were set to face Poland and then either Sweden or the Czech Republic in World Cup qualifying, while they had already reached the Women's Euros, drawn into a group with Sweden, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

FIFA and UEFA have banned Russian teams from club and international competitions, denying them entry to the 2022 World Cup and Women's Euro 2022.

Athletes and officials from Russia and Belarus should be prevented from taking part in all international sporting competitions, the International Olympic Committee said.

In a statement issued on Monday, the IOC's executive board accused the governments of Russia and Belarus of a "breach of the Olympic Truce" following the attack on Ukraine.

Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine last Thursday, with neighbouring Belarus effectively used as a staging post for Russian military.

The IOC accepted athletes from both countries did not deserve to be punished simply for the actions of their governments. However, because the war in Ukraine prevents many Ukrainians from taking part in sporting events, the IOC said they were left with "a dilemma which cannot be solved".

It added: "The IOC EB has therefore today carefully considered the situation and, with a heavy heart, issued the following resolution:

"In order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants, the IOC EB recommends that International Sports Federations and sports event organisers not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions.

"Wherever this is not possible on short notice for organisational or legal reasons, the IOC EB strongly urges International Sports Federations and organisers of sports events worldwide to do everything in their power to ensure that no athlete or sports official from Russia or Belarus be allowed to take part under the name of Russia or Belarus. Russian or Belarusian nationals, be it as individuals or teams, should be accepted only as neutral athletes or neutral teams. No national symbols, colours, flags or anthems should be displayed."

The IOC's announcement is expected to hasten a decision from FIFA over whether Russia will be allowed to compete in the World Cup play-offs in March.

Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic all declared they would not play against Russia due to the Ukraine conflict, but world football's governing body initially chose only to ban the country's anthem and flag from matches and order them to play as the Football Union of Russia (RFU).

Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev was confirmed as the new leader of the ATP world rankings on Monday, becoming the first man since Andy Roddick in 2004 to become world number one other than Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray.

FIFA has confirmed Russia must compete in their upcoming matches as the Football Union of Russia (RFU).

The order from world football's governing body comes in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which began on Thursday, with fighting having escalated over the weekend.

FIFA has been put under increasing pressure to sanction Russia, with UEFA having already stripped St Petersburg of this season's Champions League final, while the football associations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic all jointly outlined their refusal to play Russia.

This cast doubt over next month's World Cup qualifiers, with Poland set to face Russia in a play-off semi-final, with the winner of that match to play either Sweden or the Czech Republic for a place in Qatar.

On Sunday, FIFA confirmed Russia would have to play under a neutral banner of the RFU, similar to how the International Olympic Committee had the country's athletes represent the Russian Olympic Committee following a state-sponsored doping scandal.

Russia's flag cannot be displayed, nor can their anthem be played, and all of their home matches must now take place at a neutral venue, behind closed doors.

A statement read: "FIFA would like to reiterate its condemnation of the use of force by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. Violence is never a solution and FIFA expresses its deepest solidarity to all people affected by what is happening in Ukraine.

"FIFA calls again for the urgent restoration of peace and for constructive dialogue to commence immediately. FIFA remains in close contact with the Ukrainian Association of Football and members of the Ukrainian football community who have been requesting support to leave the country for as long as the current conflict persists."

"With regard to the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers, FIFA has taken good note of the positions expressed via social media by the Polish Football Association, the Football Association of the Czech Republic and the Swedish Football Association and has already engaged in dialogue with all of these football associations. FIFA will remain in close contact to seek to find appropriate and acceptable solutions together."

However, FIFA's sanctions do not go far enough, according to Polish FA president Cezary Kulesza, who tweeted: "Today's FIFA decision is totally unacceptable.

"We are not interested in participating in this game of appearances. Our stance remains intact: Polish National Team will NOT PLAY with Russia, no matter what the name of the team is."

FIFA's sanctions followed on from the English FA confirming it would boycott any upcoming matches against Russia for the foreseeable future, at any level.

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