A leading voice at FIFA has dismissed criticism of Gianni Infantino and says personal experience has convinced him the organisation's president cares deeply about the LGBTQ+ community.

The World Cup gets under way in Qatar on Sunday and Infantino has come under fire for his staunch defence of a country that classes homosexuality as a crime.

At the end of an extraordinary press conference in Doha on Saturday, during which Infantino addressed this issue as well as other criticisms of Qatar by stating "I feel gay, I feel disabled, I feel [like] a migrant worker", he was backed by FIFA's director of media relations, Bryan Swanson. 

Swanson, a well-known figure in British media following a long stint at Sky Sports, said: "I've seen a lot of criticism of Gianni Infantino since I've joined FIFA, in part from the LGBTQ+ community.

"I am sitting here in a privileged position, on a global stage, as a gay man here in Qatar.

"We have received assurances that everyone is welcome and I believe that everybody will be welcomed in this World Cup.

"Just because Gianni Infantino is not gay does not mean he does not care, he does care.

"You see the public side, I see the private side and we have spoken on a number of occasions about this.

"I thought long and hard about whether to mention this in this news conference but I do feel strongly about it.

"We care at FIFA about everyone, we are an inclusive organisation. I have a number of gay colleagues so sitting here, I'm fully aware of the debate. I fully respect everyone's right and opinions to think differently.

"I get it but I also know what we stand for and when he [Infantino] says we are inclusive, he means it."

FIFA president Gianni Infantino slammed coverage of so-called "fake fans" as "pure racism" during his remarkable pre-World Cup address.

Infantino gave a lengthy speech on the eve of Qatar 2022, commenting on a vast range of the controversial subjects that have dominated the tournament's build-up.

One of the topics highlighted was the coverage of fans in Qatar over the past week, with teams beginning to arrive in the country.

Social media has been awash with suggestions that many of the fans pictured in parades and congregating at team bases have not been the same nationality as the team they appear to be celebrating – or, "fake", to some.

It emerged a group celebrating the England team's arrival were Indian, and Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy called the scepticism of their passion "disappointing and unsurprising".

Infantino went a step further.

"Help, don't divide. Try to unite. The world is divided enough," he told reporters. "We are organising a World Cup, not a war. Where anyone can come and enjoy. Look at the city – it's beautiful, it's happy, they celebrate.

"They went to see the teams, and what happened when they did – 'well they don't look like English, they look like Indians!'. 

"Can someone who looks Indian not cheer for England? Or Spain or Germany? You know what this is – it's racism, pure racism. Everyone in this world has a right to cheer for who they want."

The promotion of 'togetherness' was a common motif throughout Infantino's press conference, which lasted an hour and 40 minutes.

He brought it up again when asked about the validity of Iran taking part in the World Cup despite a backdrop of women's oppression in the country.

Women cannot attend football matches in Iran, and widespread demonstrations in the country were recently sparked by the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody two months ago after being arrested for not wearing a hijab properly.

It was highlighted to Infantino that FIFA's own statutes say discrimination of any kind is banned, including gender discrimination, but Infantino defended Iran's inclusion in the tournament.

Asked why England should have to face a country with such ideologies, Infantino said: "Because it's not two regimes playing each other, not two ideologies, it's two football teams. It's football. If we don't have football to bring us together… You want another World War? Okay, go ahead, without me. We have to bring people together.

"If we could go with a tournament in Iran, let's go because maybe that will change something. Of course we'd need certain guarantees, but together we can play in a tournament. In Iran there are 80 million people living.

"Do you think they are all bad? All monsters? I don't think so. How many people live in England? Are they all good?

"Do we have to exclude everyone because not everyone is good or says the right thing? We'll fight and fight to bring people together, and the more we can do that, the better it will be because no one else is doing that."

Gianni Infantino expects Qatar 2022 to be "the best World Cup in history", he told reporters on Saturday while suggesting several criticisms of the finals were hypocritical.

An extraordinary opening speech saw the FIFA president respond on a wide range of matters, claiming he had received "almost threats" around the subject of migrant workers' rights.

But Infantino's enthusiasm for the action on the pitch, which begins on Sunday, remained undimmed.

One prominent complaint has been around the staging of the World Cup in the European winter – especially with matches in some domestic leagues finishing less than a week before Qatar's opener against Ecuador.

Antonio Conte last week described England captain Harry Kane as "very, very tired" due to a relentless pre-World Cup schedule, yet Infantino suggested this issue would be worse at the end of the season.

He is of the view this tournament will set a new benchmark.

"When the players have been playing in July, they are really tired, especially the best players who play in the Champions League," he said.

"It will be an exceptional World Cup, and I think we will see the best World Cup in history."

All eight stadiums used in Qatar are within a 55km radius of the capital of Doha – and Infantino sees this as another big positive.

He added: "It will be a very compact World Cup. No travel for the teams, ideal conditions, temperatures, venues, hotels, stadiums.

"Everything is done for them to feel good and play good.

"It's also the first time fans from all countries are coming to the same place for the whole tournament. This is unique.

"When we say football unites the world, this is exactly what it is."

Infantino is confident fans will enjoy the tournament – "to the fans who don't want to watch, don't watch," he added – and his defence of Qatar as hosts went beyond merely the logistics.

Asked to reply to predecessor Sepp Blatter's description of a "mistake" in the bidding process, Infantino said: "I've nothing to answer because I was not there. At that time, I was even known as one of the biggest FIFA critics."

In an hour-long monologue at the start of his news conference, the FIFA chief detailed at length steps that are being made to improve migrant workers' rights following deaths on World Cup building sites.

But Infantino was reluctant to accept criticisms on the topic from Europe, explaining: "We know there are many illegal workers in Europe, living in conditions that aren't the best.

"Those who reach Europe or want to go to Europe, they have to go through a very difficult journey. Only a few survive.

"So, if you really care about the destiny of these people, these young people, then Europe could also do what Qatar did: create legal channels for at least a number or percentage of these workers, who can come to Europe, give them some work, a future, hope.

"In Qatar, of course, there are things that still don't work, but this moral lesson-giving is one-sided, it is just hypocrisy."

He said: "I'm European. I think for what we Europeans have been doing in last 3,000 years, we should be apologising for next 3,000 years before giving moral lessons to people."

Gianni Infantino promised that "everyone is welcome" in Qatar, but was adamant the country must not be criticised despite its questionable human rights record.

A World Cup the FIFA president believes will go down as the best in history kicks off on Sunday, with host nation Qatar taking on Ecuador.

The awarding of the tournament to Qatar, which happened in 2010, has drawn much criticism, with the Gulf state's record on human rights particularly contentious.

Male homosexuality is still a crime in Qatar, while the nation's government does not recognise same-sex marriage or civil partnerships, while campaigns for LGBTQ+ rights have been quashed.

Infantino, though, assured that people of any sexuality, race or religion are welcome in the country, as in an hour-long monologue at the Main Media Centre in Doha on Saturday, he called out what he sees as the "hypocrisy" of the western world and media, insisting that he must take any criticism, and not Qatar or the players or coaches.

"At the last World Cup I was always getting angry, because I had to deal with questions about doping, which I had nothing to do with," Infantino said.

"Here I have to deal with other topics. If you want to criticise somebody, don't criticise the players, the coaches, let them focus on football and making their fans happy.

"If you want to criticise someone, criticise me, I am here, crucify me. Don't criticise Qatar. Criticise FIFA, criticise me. But let people enjoy this World Cup.

"Do we want to continue to divide, to spit on people because they feel different, or look different? We obtain results, it's a process. Help us, don't divide, don't split.

"We have 32 teams, 33 with the referees, we have a beautiful city that wants to welcome the world. Let's celebrate and hope we can give some joy around the world."

Infantino promised he had assurances that people within the LGBTQ+ community will be welcome and secure in Qatar.

"I've been speaking about this topic with the highest leadership in the country, several times," he said.

"I can confirm that everyone is welcome. If you're a person here or there that says the opposite, well it's not the opinion of the country, and it's certainly not the opinion of FIFA.

"This is a clear requirement, everyone has to be welcome. Whatever religion, race, sexual orientation or belief that she or he has, everyone is welcome – this is our requirement and the Qatari state sticks to this.

"Yes, these legislations exist in many countries in the world. These legislations existed when Switzerland organised the World Cup, in 1954. What do you want to do about it?

"Do you want to stay home and criticise, say how bad they are – these Arabs or Muslims or whatever, because it's not allowed to be publicly gay. Of course, I believe it should be allowed, but I went through a process.

"If I asked the same question to my father, who is not here anymore, he would probably have a different answer than me, and my children will have a different answer than me.

"If somebody thinks by hammering and criticising we achieve anything, it will be exactly the opposite, because it will be provocation and if you provoke me the reaction will be bad, then the doors will be more closed, even though now the door is starting to open.

"Tolerance starts with ourselves, we shouldn’t spread aggression, we have to spread understanding."

Infantino hopes the tournament will help unite the world, claiming that is FIFA's aim.

He said: "We are a global organisation, and we want to unite the world. I am still convinced, though not sure how optimistic I still am, that this World Cup will help to open the eyes of people in the western world to the Arab world.

"We have to live together, but we have to understand we have different beliefs, different history and backgrounds, but we are in the same world. It's why you have to come here and say what you see – when you see something that is wrong, say how it can be rectified, please.

"Maybe we can help everyone to understand how we can help each other a little bit better."

Former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner can be extradited from his homeland of Trinidad to the United States to face corruption charges, a London court said today (November 17).

Warner’s lawyers argued that his extradition was unlawful but London’s Privy Council, the highest court of appeal for many Commonwealth countries, unanimously dismissed his appeal.

Suspicion and rumours have surrounded the 2010 votes by FIFA’s executive to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 edition to Qatar.

In 2020, a US Department of Justice indictment said bribes were paid to soccer officials to secure their votes for hosting rights.

The DOJ alleged that then FIFA vice-president Warner was paid US$5 million through various shell companies to vote for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup.

His role as president of CONCACAF, which organises soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean, gave him enormous influence as a powerbroker for former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter.

A former member of the FIFA Executive Committee and former CONCACAF president, Warner was suspended by FIFA in 2011 and in 2015, charged with wire fraud, racketeering and money-laundering by the US.

FIFA banned him from all soccer-related activity for life in 2015. The 79-year-old has always denied any wrongdoing.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino hopes the World Cup can provide an opportunity for a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. 

Russia were excluded from all FIFA and UEFA competitions following the country's invasion of Ukraine in February, preventing their side from competing in March's qualification play-offs for a place in Qatar.

While Russia hosted the last edition of the World Cup in 2018, the tournament could head to Ukraine in 2030 after the war-ravaged nation was invited to join a bid from Spain and Portugal.

Addressing world leaders at a Group of 20 (G20) summit in Indonesia, Infantino called for a temporary ceasefire to be implemented during the tournament, which begins on Sunday.

"Football is a force for good. We are not naive to believe that football can solve the world's problems," Infantino said.

"We know that our main focus as a sports organisation is and should be sports, but because football unites the world, this particular FIFA World Cup, with five billion people watching it, can be a trigger for a positive gesture, for a sign or a message of hope.

"Russia hosted the last World Cup in 2018, and Ukraine is bidding to host the World Cup in 2030. Maybe the current World Cup, starting in five days, can really be that positive trigger.

"My plea to all of you is to think on a temporary ceasefire for one month for the duration of the World Cup, or at least the implementation of some humanitarian corridors, or anything that could lead to the resumption of dialogue as a first step to peace.

"You are the world leaders, you have the ability to influence the course of history. Football and the World Cup are offering you and the world a unique platform of unity and peace all over the world."

Ukraine have only appeared at the World Cup on one occasion as an independent nation, reaching the quarter-finals of the 2006 edition in Germany.

Oleksandr Petrakov's side fell at the final hurdle in qualification for this year's tournament, overcoming Scotland before losing 1-0 in their play-off final against Wales in June.

Ecuador will keep their place at the 2022 World Cup after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in their favour on Tuesday, following attempts from Chile and Peru to have them thrown out of the tournament. 

Chile and Peru appealed to FIFA after discovering Ecuador had used ineligible right-back Byron Castillo in their successful qualification campaign.

The Federacion de Futbol de Chile (ANPF) provided proof that Castillo was born in Colombia and not Ecuador, as stated on his official documents.

FIFA dismissed all charges in June and again in September when the fresh evidence came to light, but Chile and Peru took the case to CAS with a further appeal.

However, the hearing on November 4 and 5 adjudged that "no violation of the rules on eligibility has occurred", leaving Ecuador free to compete in Qatar later this month.

Ecuador will, however, be deducted three points in qualifying for the 2026 tournament after being found to have used false information to obtain a passport for a Colombian-born player.

The South American nation, who face hosts Qatar in the opening game of the tournament on November 20, must also pay a fine of 100,000 Swiss Francs ($101,605).

In a statement released on their official website after the verdict was delivered, the Ecuadorian Football Federation (FEF) suggested they may themselves appeal those sanctions.

"The Ecuadorian Football Federation is analysing the next steps to follow, since it does not share the sanction imposed," the statement read.

Castillo appeared eight times in qualifying for Ecuador, including in both of their two meetings with Chile, but he did not play in either game against Peru.

Chile argued Ecuador should forfeit the games Castillo played in, having finished fourth in CONMEBOL's qualification group, while Peru felt they should have replaced Ecuador in Qatar as they finished fifth.

With only four teams qualifying automatically, Peru instead dropped into the intercontinental play-offs and were beaten 5-4 on penalties by Australia following a goalless draw.

Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay are the other nations representing CONMEBOL at the global showpiece event, which runs until December 18.

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter says hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is "a mistake".

Blatter was in charge of football's world governing body in 2010 when the Gulf nation was controversially selected to stage the upcoming tournament.

The build-up to the showpiece, which begins on November 20, has been dominated by concerns over the treatment of workers and laws that criminalise same-sex relations.

Blatter, who was cleared of fraud charges by a Swiss court earlier this year over financial misconduct allegations, maintains he never personally voted for Qatar to hold the event.

"The choice of Qatar was a mistake," he said in an interview with Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

"At the time, we actually agreed in the executive committee that Russia should get the 2018 World Cup and the USA that of 2022. 

"It would have been a gesture of peace if the two long-standing political opponents had hosted the World Cup one after the other.

"[Qatar] is too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that."

Amid a backdrop of political unrest in the build-up to Qatar 2022, FIFA president Gianni Infantino last week urged the 32 competing nations to focus solely on football matters.

"We know football does not live in a vacuum and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world," FIFA's letter read.

"At FIFA, we try to respect all opinions and beliefs, without handing out moral lessons to the rest of the world. 

"One of the great strengths of the world is indeed its very diversity, and if inclusion means anything, it means having respect for that diversity."

Qatar has been transformed over the past 12 years in preparation for the event, but Blatter – who led FIFA for 17 years – says it should be held elsewhere.

"I can only repeat: the award to Qatar was a mistake, and I was responsible for that as president at the time," he said.

"Now that the World Cup is imminent, I'm glad that, with a few exceptions, no footballers are boycotting the World Cup. For me it is clear: Qatar is a mistake. The choice was bad."

South American football confederation CONMEBOL has backed FIFA and called for participating nations to "leave controversies behind" ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.

The decision to stage the World Cup in Qatar has attracted renewed criticism on the eve of the tournament, with critics focusing on the host country's criminalisation of same-sex relationships and the conditions faced by migrant workers.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura recently wrote to all 32 nations participating in Qatar, requesting they "focus on the football".

That letter led Amnesty International to accuse organisers of brushing human rights concerns "under the carpet", while a UEFA working group of 10 European nations responded by stressing the need to "support human rights".

CONMEBOL issued a statement of its own on Monday, outlining a belief in the need for "unity in support" of the tournament. 

"CONMEBOL and its 10 member associations join the call for world football unity in support of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022," the statement began.

"A country eager to show its hospitality and warmth, magnificent sports venues and 32 prepared teams with their greatest potential, ensure a tournament that will undoubtedly go down in history.

"As few times in history, human society today needs the powerful message of sport in general and football, the most popular of them, in particular. 

"This message is powerful because it is universal, it goes far beyond political or ideological disputes, temporary disagreements and occasional confrontations. It is a message full of optimism, tolerance, inclusion, diversity, union.

"The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is the best opportunity to consolidate the values on which football is founded.

"This is especially so in the new generations, in girls, boys and young people, who hope and seek that football is not tarnished or distorted with biased or partial visions.

"The time has come to leave controversies behind and value and enjoy a true all-embracing party, eagerly awaited by the entire planet."

A UEFA working group made up of 10 European nations has stressed the need to "support human rights" at the Qatar World Cup.

The decision to stage the World Cup in Qatar has been widely criticised due to concerns over the country's human rights record, with the conditions of migrant workers and the criminalisation of homosexuality being highlighted.

Amnesty International later accused FIFA of brushing these concerns "under the carpet" after president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura called on participating nations to "focus on the football" at the World Cup.

In a statement released on Sunday, the working group acknowledged what it perceives to be "significant progress" made by Qatar, though also insisted human rights issues cannot be ignored.

"We acknowledge, and welcome, as we have done in the past, that significant progress has been made by Qatar, particularly with regards to the rights of migrant workers, with the impact of legislative changes demonstrated in the International Labour Organisation's recent reports," the statement read.

"We welcome the assurances given by the Qatari Government and by FIFA regarding the safety, security and inclusion of all fans who travel to the World Cup, including LGBTQ+ fans.

"We also recognise that every country has issues and challenges and we agree with FIFA that diversity is a strength.

"However, embracing diversity and tolerance also means supporting human rights. Human rights are universal and they apply everywhere."

The group, made up of the football associations of England, Wales, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Portugal and Belgium, also detailed the talks it has had with FIFA on the matters.

"We will continue to support the momentum for positive, progressive change and continue to advocate for a conclusive outcome and update on the two key outstanding issues we have been discussing with FIFA for a long time," the statement continued.

"FIFA has repeatedly committed to deliver concrete answers on these issues - the compensation fund for migrant workers, and the concept of a migrant workers centre to be created in Doha - and we will continue to press for these to be delivered.

"We believe in the power of football to make further positive and credible contributions to progressive sustainable change in the world."

The tournament gets underway on November 20 when the hosts take on Ecuador.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp lamented the fact the World Cup will be held in Qatar and said the media should have done more to hold FIFA to account.

The tournament is due to begin on November 20 after Qatar won the right to stage it in controversial circumstances 12 years ago, when FIFA also announced Russia as the 2018 hosts.

Those decisions came under heavy scrutiny amid allegations of corruption within world football's governing body, which has since undergone a reshuffle following the exit of embattled former president Sepp Blatter.

Critics have cited several reasons why Qatar is not a suitable host nation, with its human rights record, treatment of migrant workers and laws against same-sex relationships of particular concern.

For its part, FIFA has urged competing nations to "focus on the football", but that will do little to assuage the fears of the tournament's most impassioned critics, which includes human rights organisations such as Amnesty International.

Klopp felt it was too late to effect any change now and suggested the media should have done more and acted sooner to prevent the situation from unfolding the way it has.

"I watched an old documentary about the whole situation when it got announced that Russia and Qatar are the places for the next two World Cups," he said on Friday.

"I think it was the first time in history that they announced two in one. And the whole situation around it, we all know how it happened and how we still let it happen and no legal thing afterward. It was still hidden everywhere. And you think, wow, how could that all happen?

"It's 12 years ago and now it's here and it's coming. It has nothing to do with Qatar, they won the World Cup and it's now it's there.

"We talk about human rights in a sense of the people who have to work there in circumstances, which are, say it nicely, difficult. So, we couldn't play the World Cup there in the summer, because of the temperature. It's now pretty hot. And there was not one stadium in Qatar or maybe one.

"They have to build stadiums and nobody thought about that. I don't think everybody mentioned it that day. That is what makes you angry. How can it not? Again, I watch it from a football point of view and I don't like the fact that now players from time to time get in a situation where they have now to send a message.

"You are all journalists; you have should have sent a message. You didn't write the most critical article about it or not about it because it's Qatar. 

"Now it's there and I'll let them play the games. Let them just play the games...and don't put Gareth Southgate constantly in a situation where he has to talk about everything. I'm not a politician who has an opinion. And he's not a politician.

"He's the manager of England, let him do that and if you want to write something else about it, then do it but by yourself without asking us and all these kinds of things. And Klopp said and Southgate said, and all these kinds of things as if it will change anything. We all, you more than I, let it happen 12 years ago."

Klopp continued to rail against the lack of intervention when the tournament was first awarded and conceded this would be "different from other World Cups".

"Do you really think that we did enough in the first place? Now making a story of it when it's happened...and getting players under pressure questioning these kinds of things," he said.

"Things are organised by other people and I don't say you let it happen. But we all let it happen. At that time, everything was on the table. Everything was on the table. It was that long ago when we really could have sorted it.

"It's not to say anything about Qatar. They won the World Cup. I can understand for whatever reason, it's fine. I want a lot of things and don't get them and carry on with it. I will watch games, of course. But yes, it is different from other World Cups."

Amnesty International has accused FIFA of brushing human rights concerns "under the carpet" after president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura called on participating nations to "focus on the football" at the World Cup.

The decision to stage the World Cup in Qatar has been criticised due to concerns over the country's human rights record, with the conditions of migrant workers and the criminalisation of homosexuality being highlighted.

Less than two weeks before the World Cup begins, Infantino and Samoura wrote to each participating nation, saying football must not be dragged "into every ideological or political battle that exists".

Amnesty, who called on FIFA to create a compensation fund for workers who suffered during the tournament's preparations in May, has now hit out at those comments.

In a media release on Friday, the human rights charity repeated the demand for compensation and lamented organisers' "astonishing" failure to address the concerns of the LGBTQ+ community.

"If Gianni Infantino wants the world to 'focus on the football', there is a simple solution: FIFA could finally start tackling the serious human rights issues, rather than brushing them under the carpet," said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty's head of economic and social justice.

"A first step would be publicly committing to the establishment of a fund to compensate migrant workers before the tournament kicks off, and ensuring that LGBT people do not face discrimination or harassment. It is astonishing they still have not done so. 

"Gianni Infantino is right to say that 'football does not exist in a vacuum'.

"Hundreds of thousands of workers have faced abuses to make this tournament possible and their rights cannot be forgotten or dismissed. 

"They deserve justice and compensation, not empty words, and time is running out."

Switzerland's attorney general has launched an appeal against the acquittals of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, the former presidents of FIFA and UEFA respectively.

Blatter and Platini were cleared of all charges against them following a trial at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, with that outcome being announced in July.

They had been charged with fraud and other offences by Swiss authorities relating to a payment of 2million Swiss francs made by Blatter to Platini in 2011.

For Blatter, there were charges of fraud, misappropriation, criminal mismanagement and forgery of a document. Platini had been charged with fraud, participating in misappropriation, participating in criminal mismanagement and forgery of a document.

Both men had denied any wrongdoing and the court found in their favour.

However, the matter is not yet over, as prosecutors are challenging the court's ruling.

In a statement, the Office of the Attorney General announced it had requested for the judgement to be overturned.

It said: "We confirm that the Office of the Attorney General has appealed to the Appeals Chamber of the Federal Criminal Court within the statutory period and has applied for the full annulment of the first-instance judgement."

The statement continued: "No further information is given on the content of the declaration of appeal. The presumption of innocence applies to all those involved in the proceedings."

Brazil will be the number one side in the world when the Qatar 2022 World Cup starts next month, after strengthening their lead in the FIFA rankings.

The Selecao head into this year's tournament looking to break a two-decade hold by European nations on the sport's top prize, having been the last country from outside the continent to triumph at the South Korea and Japan 2002 finals.

Tite's side have slightly stretched their points advantage above second-placed Belgium, whom they displaced atop the list in March.

Brazil and Belgium head up an unchanged top five, with Argentina remaining at number three, World Cup holders France at four and England – who have endured a dismal 2022 – in fifth place.

The Three Lions will top the strongest group at Qatar 2022, Group B, when taken on points, with fellow nations the United States, Wales and Iran all ranked inside the top 20.

Italy, who are the highest-ranked nation not qualified for the World Cup, have forced the only move inside the FIFA top 10 as they head to sixth from seventh in a straight swap with Spain.

The Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark round out the top 10, with Germany just beyond them at number 11, ahead of 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia.

The lowest-ranked side at this year's tournament will be Ghana, who sit at 61st on the FIFA list, while hosts Qatar are in 50th place.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino offered his condolences on "a dark day" after at least 174 people were killed in a stampede at an Indonesian Premier League (Liga 1) match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya.

Police fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse rioting fans on the pitch after hosts Arema were beaten 3-2 at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang on Saturday.

East Java police chief Nico Afinta said people died after being crushed and suffocated as they ran towards the same exit, with Afinta stating that 3,000 of the approximately 40,000 spectators in attendance had invaded the pitch initiating "riots".

It was initially reported that about 130 people had lost their lives, but officials later confirmed the death toll had climbed.

The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) launched an investigation into the tragedy, while FIFA's Infantino said in a statement: "The football world is in a state of shock following the tragic incidents that have taken place in Indonesia.

"This is a dark day for all involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension.

"I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives following this tragic incident.

"Together with FIFA and the global football community, all our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, those who have been injured, together with the people of the Republic of Indonesia, the Asian Football Confederation, the Indonesian Football Association, and the Indonesian Football League, at this difficult time."

All remaining Liga 1 matches due to be staged over the weekend were suspended following the tragedy, while Arema have been banned from hosting games until the end of the season.

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