FIFA has abandoned plans to increase the number of teams at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48.

World football's governing body said there was insufficient time to consider the proposed expansion of the tournament due to logistical concerns.

A plan backed by president Gianni Infantino had been put forward that would have seen some of Qatar's Gulf neighbours stage some of the extra matches, having conceded it would be "difficult" to host all such games in Qatar alone.

However, in a statement released on Wednesday, FIFA confirmed it would need more time to consider all possible requirements of an expanded tournament, with a deadline on the decision set for next month.

It therefore says the 2022 finals will consist of 32 teams, as originally planned.

"In line with the conclusions of the feasibility study approved by the FIFA Council at its last meeting, FIFA and Qatar have jointly explored all possibilities to increase the number of participant teams from 32 to 48 teams by involving neighbouring countries at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022," the statement said.

"Following a thorough and comprehensive consultation process with the involvement of all the relevant stakeholders, it was concluded that under the current circumstances such a proposal could not be made now.

"Additionally, FIFA and Qatar have once again explored the feasibility of Qatar hosting a 48-team tournament by in particular lowering certain key FIFA requirements.

"A joint analysis, in this respect, concluded that due to the advanced stage of preparations and the need for a detailed assessment of the potential logistical impact on the host country, more time would be required and a decision could not be taken before the deadline of June.

"It was therefore decided not to further pursue this option.

"The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will therefore remain as originally planned with 32 teams and no proposal will be submitted at the next FIFA Congress on 5 June."

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Ander ter Stegen has been ruled out of the Copa del Rey final due to a knee problem.

The Germany international missed the final three LaLiga games of the season while undergoing treatment for an issue in his right knee.

The club confirmed on Wednesday that Ter Stegen "still has discomfort" and is therefore unavailable for the match with Valencia at the Benito Villamarin on Saturday.

It means Jasper Cillessen is likely to start, despite reports suggesting he has agreed to leave the club to join Benfica in the coming transfer window.

Borussia Dortmund have signed Julian Brandt from Bayer Leverkusen for a reported fee of €25million.

The Germany international midfielder has agreed a five-year contract with Lucien Favre's side and will complete his move once the two clubs finalise the details of the transfer.

"Although Julian Brandt has played in the Bundesliga for a long time and has a lot of experience both nationally and internationally, he is still a very young professional with potential for development at the age of 23," Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said via the club's official website.

"He can be used in several attacking positions and will enrich our play with his creativity."

Brandt had been linked with a number of European clubs after a standout season for Leverkusen under former Dortmund head coach Peter Bosz.

Explaining his decision to join BVB, he said: "I am a person who sometimes decides things from the gut, and for whom a good feeling is important.

"In the case of Borussia Dortmund, I have a very good feeling.

"One of the main reasons for my change is that BVB narrowly missed out on the title last season, so there is room for improvement.

"I am very motivated and optimistic about my personal development, but especially that of the whole team."

Brandt has been a key figure for Leverkusen since 2014, having made his senior debut in the Bundesliga in February that year.

Initially a winger, he thrived in the latter part of the past season after being moved into a more central midfield role by Bosz, his seven goals and 11 assists helping Leverkusen clinch a Champions League spot.

Rudi Garcia has announced he is stepping down as Marseille coach after a disappointing season in Ligue 1.

Hired in October 2016, Garcia steered Marseille to a fifth-place finish that term, before building on that in his first full season.

The club ended the 2017-18 campaign fourth in Ligue 1, narrowly missing out on Champions League football, finishing just a point adrift of Lyon in third.

But they were unable to maintain that level this season and Garcia had been under pressure for several weeks after a top-three finish appeared to look beyond them.

With the best Marseille can hope for going into the last game of the season now being 61 points – 16 fewer than last season – and a fifth-place finish, Garcia has opted to stand aside.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, former Roma boss Garcia said: "I decided to leave.

"I proposed this solution to my president, who accepted it. If I listen to reason, I must stop this adventure. For the good of the project, it is better that we separate now."

Garcia is contracted to the club until 2021, but he will not see out the remaining two years and shall preside over his final game against Montpellier at Stade Velodrome on Friday.

Olivier Giroud has signed a new one-year contract at Chelsea, the Premier League club have confirmed.

Giroud, who joined from Arsenal in January 2018, will now remain with the Blues for the 2019-20 season.

The striker has scored a competition-high 10 Europa League goals this season and is set to face his old club in next week's final in Baku.

And he will do so with his future settled by putting pen to paper on a 12-month extension.

"I am very happy to sign a new contract," France forward Giroud told Chelsea's official club website.

"I really wanted to stay at least one more year - I have felt a part of the team, the family, since the beginning and hopefully there will be more trophies to come."

Giroud had been linked with a return to Ligue 1, with Lyon having expressed an interest in signing him on a free transfer and the 32-year-old also indicating he was open to the move.

But with Chelsea under a two-window transfer ban - which the club are appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport - they have opted to keep Giroud at Stamford Bridge.

"We are very pleased that Olivier will be a Chelsea player for another season," said Blues director Marina Granovskaia. "Since joining us 18 months ago, he has at times had to be patient and wait for opportunities, but has still been able to make a positive contribution to the team.

"Whether it is his unselfish link-up play or his 10 Europa League goals this season, he has been a crucial member of the squad and we hope he will be able to pick up a second Chelsea winner's medal in Baku later this month to accompany last season's FA Cup win."

Giroud featured in every game as France won last year's World Cup in Russia, although he did not manage to find the net for Didier Deschamps' side.

Jofra Archer and Liam Dawson have been included in the England squad for the Cricket World Cup.

Dawson was not in England's preliminary 15-man group but makes the final line-up announced on Tuesday.

Archer was also omitted from the initial squad but the Barbados-born paceman has been named after making a positive impression during England's 4-0 one-day international series defeat of Pakistan.

Joe Denly and David Willey drop out while James Vince replaces opener Alex Hales, who has not been selected due to an "off-field incident".

Dawson's inclusion comes after Denly failed to stake his claim against Pakistan, with the Hampshire off-spinner back in the international fold for the first time since he suffered a side strain during last year's tour of Sri Lanka

The 29-year-old has starred in Hampshire's run to the Royal London One-Day Cup final this year and his county colleague Vince, capped 10 times at one-day international level, adds depth to the batting ranks.

Archer's rapid rise sees the all-rounder included despite only making his international debut this month, with Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, Tom Curran and Ben Stokes the other pace options in the squad.

England are among the pre-tournament favourites due to a batting line-up packed with power, with Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow tipped to be among the stars of the World Cup.

Adil Rashid is included despite selector Ed Smith confirming the Yorkshire leg-spinner is carrying a minor shoulder injury.

 

England's World Cup squad in full:

Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Scotland have announced the appointment of Steve Clarke as their new head coach on a three-year deal. 

Clarke replaces Alex McLeish, who was sacked last month after a poor start to qualifying for Euro 2020 which included a humiliating 3-0 loss away to Kazakhstan.

The former West Brom boss was appointed by Kilmarnock in October 2017 and enjoyed an impressive first full season at Rugby Park last term, leading them to third spot in the Scottish Premiership and a place in the Europa League qualifying rounds.

Clarke won both the PFA Scotland and Scottish Football Writers' Association manager of the year awards for the 2018-19 campaign.

Scotland are assured of at least a play-off place in qualifying for next year's Euros, having won promotion from their Nations League group.

They are one of four teams level on three points in the race for the two automatic qualification spots in Group I. Clarke's first games in charge come in qualifiers at home to Cyprus on June 8 and away to Belgium three days later.

"It is an honour to be appointed Scotland national head coach and I will undertake those responsibilities with pride and commitment," said Clarke/ 

"I firmly believe we have a talented group of players who can achieve success on the international stage. I look forward to working with them and helping them to fulfil those ambitions.

"I appreciate the Scotland supporters have waited a long time for the national team to qualify for a major tournament. Now we have a Women's World Cup to look forward to in France this summer and it's my motivation to emulate the success of Shelley Kerr and her squad by leading us to Euro 2020.

"I believe we can qualify and look forward to that journey with the players and the fans, starting against Cyprus and Belgium next month."

Vincent Kompany has played his final game for Manchester City, with the Premier League champions confirming that their captain is leaving the club.

The 33-year-old played a pivotal role in City winning an unprecedented domestic treble this season, making 24 appearances across all competitions and scoring one goal - a stunning long-range strike in the 1-0 win over Leicester City on May 6.

Kompany joined City in 2008, and went on to make 360 appearances for the club, winning the Premier League on four occasions, as well as lifting two FA Cups, four EFL Cups and two Community Shields.

But he has now called time on his City career, with the club announcing on Sunday - in the wake of their 6-0 FA Cup final triumph over Watford - that the Belgium international will not be signing a new contract.

In a statement released on City's website, Kompany said:  "As overwhelming as it is, the time has come for me to go. And what a season to bow out.

"I feel nothing but gratefulness. I am grateful to all those who supported me on a special journey, at a very special club. I remember the first day, as clear as I see the last. I remember the boundless kindness I received from the people of Manchester.

"I will never forget how all Man City supporters remained loyal to me in good times and especially bad times. Against the odds you have always backed me and inspired me to never give up."

Kompany joined City from Anderlecht in August 2008, 10 days before Sheikh Mansour's takeover of the club, and became an inspirational leader in a trophy laden-period for the club, despite suffering the debilitating effect of persistent calf injuries.

"There have been many important contributors to Manchester City’s renaissance, but arguably none are more important than Vincent Kompany," said club chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.

"He defines the essence of the club. For a decade he has been the lifeblood, the soul, and beating heart of a supremely talented squad.

"A booming voice in the dressing room yet a quiet and measured ambassador off it, Vincent can be as proud of himself as we are of him."

Kompany is set to take part in City's parade of their three major trophies in Manchester on Monday and a testimonial game will take place in his honour on September 11.

Vincent Kompany has played his final game for Manchester City, with the Premier League champions confirming that their captain is leaving the club.

Bayern Munich have been crowned Bundesliga champions for a record seventh successive year thanks to a 5-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

The Bavarians had to wait until the final match of the season to retain their crown, but they got the job done by running out easy victors at the Allianz Arena to remain two points clear of Borussia Dortmund, who beat Borussia Monchengladbach 2-0.

Kingsley Coman settled Bayern's nerves with an early opener, and although a fortuitous Sebastien Haller equaliser just after half-time made things interesting, the champions ultimately cruised.

David Alaba and Renato Sanches put Bayern back in control, before Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben – making their final appearances for the club – fittingly wrapped up a comprehensive victory.

It has not all been plain sailing for Bayern, however, as they endured a troubled first half of the season, which was impacted by a couple of difficult runs to leave new coach Niko Kovac under pressure.

At the end of September, they picked up just a single point from three matches against Augsburg, Hertha Berlin and Gladbach.

They then managed only two points from clashes with Freiburg, Fortuna Dusseldorf and Dortmund, with the latter sitting pretty at the top of the table.

For several months Dortmund looked destined to end Bayern's recent domination of the Bundesliga, but Kovac's men responded brilliantly after the turn of the year, losing just one of their 17 league matches in 2019.

Among that run was an emphatic 5-0 win over Dortmund at the Allianz Arena in early April that saw Bayern usurp their rivals at the summit and they have looked in charge ever since.

Die Roten have certainly been aided by Dortmund's inconsistency with Lucien Favre's men dropping points on seven different occasions in 2019.

And there has been plenty of debate about whether Kovac is the right man to lead the club, with neither CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge nor president Uli Hoeness doing much to calm media reports claiming Bayern may opt to change coach at the end of the season.

Bayern's disappointing Champions League campaign has contributed to the speculation, as they were comfortably eliminated 3-1 on aggregate by Liverpool in the last 16.

Nevertheless, title success allows club greats Ribery and Robben to depart on a high, with Bayern set for a busy summer.

The club have been linked with several talented young players as they look to refresh the squad, while deals for World Cup-winners Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez have already been sealed.

Bayern could yet clinch a domestic double, as they will face RB Leipzig in the DFB-Pokal final on May 25.

Roger Federer has suffered a potentially significant leg injury just nine days out from the French Open and withdrawn from the Internazionali d'Italia.

The world number three had been due to face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-final in Rome on Friday.

A statement on the tournament's website said: "Roger Federer has just phoned the ATP supervisor and tournament director to announce his retirement due to a problem with his right leg."

Federer, whose only French Open title came a decade ago, had been hoping to build up some momentum on clay courts ahead of his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015.

The 37-year-old ended a three-year absence from clay-court tournaments when he featured at the Madrid Open last week, reaching the quarter-finals before being ousted by Dominic Thiem.

He had been handed a first-round bye in Rome and, after all of Wednesday's play was postponed due to heavy rain in the Italian capital, Federer had to play twice on Thursday.

The Swiss beat Joao Sousa in straight sets before saving two match points against Borna Coric and eventually advancing in a tense tie-break in the decider.

That contest, which lasted two hours and 31 minutes, may have taken its toll as Federer announced he was unable to face Tsitsipas.

"I am disappointed that I will not be able to compete today," he said in quotes published on the tournament's Twitter page.

"Rome has always been one of my favourite cities to visit and I hope to be back next year."

Mauro Icardi has reaffirmed his commitment to Inter after "repeatedly" telling the Serie A club of his desire to stay beyond this season. 

The Argentina striker took to social media on Friday to address reports in the Italian media which claimed he is angling for a move to champions Juventus.

Icardi, 26, is coming to the end of a difficult sixth season at San Siro which has seen him lose the captaincy and spend time nearly two months out of the first team amid conflicting views of an apparent knee injury.

He returned to the fold in April and has now moved to dismiss all transfer speculation.

"Since the press has recently reported news that does not reflect my thoughts and my will, I want to inform our fans that I have repeatedly informed the club of my intention to stay at Inter," Icardi said on Instagram.

"Thus, from now on, no misunderstandings of any kind will be created. I understand the interests of the press to sell fake news but I can't do anything more than to clarify things personally.

"I repeat: I have already expressed to Inter my desire to stay, because Inter is my family. Time will tell who told the truth.

"Forza Inter, always."

Icardi has scored 16 times in all competitions for Luciano Spalletti's side this term.

Inter still have two matches to play in Serie A, against Napoli and Empoli, with a victory in either match enough to secure Champions League qualification.

Roger Federer has suffered a potentially significant leg injury just nine days out from the French Open and has withdrawn from the Internazionali d'Italia.
Mauro Icardi has reaffirmed his commitment to Inter after "repeatedly" telling the Serie A club of his desire to stay beyond this season.

Massimiliano Allegri is to step down as Juventus head coach at the end of the season, the Serie A champions have confirmed.

Allegri's future had been in doubt ever since Juventus were knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Ajax.

Juve had been considered among the favourites for Europe's top competition following the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo at the start of the season, with many suggesting he was the missing piece of the puzzle after the Serie A champions reached the final in 2017 and were narrowly knocked out by eventual winners Real Madrid last term.

The loss to Ajax ended their challenge, though, and some supporters have grown frustrated with Allegri's pragmatic tactics, despite him leading Juve to an eighth Serie A title in a row in 2018-19.

After it became clear a meeting was scheduled with president Andrea Agnelli this week, a change looked likely, and an announcement on Friday confirmed Juve will begin looking for a new coach.

"Massimiliano Allegri will not be on the Juventus bench for the 2019-2020 season," a statement read.

"The coach and the president, Andrea Agnelli, will meet the media together at tomorrow's press conference - Saturday 18 May, at 1400 (local time) in the press conference hall of Allianz Stadium."

Allegri has been linked with several clubs away from Serie A in recent times, with Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea said to be interested should they opt to change coach.

He will take charge of his final home game against Atalanta on Sunday, before travelling to Sampdoria for his last match at the helm the following Saturday.

Media reports have suggested Juve's ideal candidate is Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola, while former midfielder Claudio Marchisio urged the club to go for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

With neither option looking particularly likely, however, France coach Didier Deschamps – a former Juve player – is said to be a possible frontrunner for the job.

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