Wantaway Liverpool forward Sadio Mane deserves to be in contention to win the Ballon d'Or, says Patrick Vieira. 

Mane, who has been widely linked with a move to German champions Bayern Munich after Liverpool announced the signing of Benfica attacker Darwin Nunez, scored 23 goals as the Reds won the EFL Cup and FA Cup last season.

He was also decisive as Senegal claimed their first Africa Cup of Nations title in February before leading his national team to World Cup qualification the following month. 

Those exploits have led to suggestions he could compete with Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema to be named the world's best player later this year, and Arsenal legend and Crystal Palace manager Vieira thinks his wide-ranging abilities put him in contention.

"Sadio Mane is part of the new generation of attackers who knows how to do everything," Vieira told the Diambars Institute, a football academy in Senegal.

"He scores goals, he knows how to defend, he knows how to run in depth. He is a hard worker in the field. 

"He is one of the modern attackers. For me, he should be considered for the Ballon d'Or.

"He is one of those great players who can win it. I saw him every weekend in the Premier League and for me, he is one of the great European strikers."

Having won six trophies in a six-year spell at Anfield, Mane is expected to move to Bayern in the current transfer window, perhaps as a replacement for Barcelona-linked striker Robert Lewandowski.

Asked about such rumours, Vieira said Mane will make the best decision for his career. 

"I think he has his head on his shoulders to make the best decision," the Frenchman added.

"Should he stay or go? It's up to him to make that decision. But he is a player that I admire in relation to his talent as a footballer, but also in relation to his talent as a man."

Real Madrid will see a "totally different" Eden Hazard next season, according to Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, who says the winger is "obsessed" with succeeding at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Having joined Madrid in a blockbuster £103.5m deal in 2019, Hazard has struggled in Spain, making just 48 appearances in LaLiga for the club - 20 of which have come from the bench.

Hazard has only recorded 10 league goal involvements in that time (four goals, six assists), and was a virtual spectator as Carlo Ancelotti's men won LaLiga and the Champions League last season, starting just seven league games.

But the 31-year-old impressed for Belgium during the recent international break, and was adamant he will get back to the player he was after assisting Kevin De Bruyne's goal in a recent 6-1 win over Poland. 

Martinez agrees that prediction, and believes the winger's goal of winning the World Cup in Qatar this year will provide an additional motivation when he returns to Madrid.

"Eden Hazard is in the best period of his career," Martinez told radio programme El Larguero.

"I was surprised by the state of mind and physical condition he was in in June," he said. "Real Madrid fans are going to see a totally different Hazard.

"He is obsessed with succeeding at Real Madrid. He has not thought about changing his objective. He wants to win the World Cup."

Meanwhile, Martinez's own future as Belgium boss has been questioned in recent months, with the former Everton man failing to lead the Red Devils' so-called "golden generation" of stars to tournament glory since taking charge in 2016.

The 48-year-old recently said he will not discuss any prospective new contract with Belgium until after the World Cup, but has now refused to close the door to coaching the Spanish national team in the future.

"I'm always open to any project with real belief behind it," he said.

Belgium and Spain could potentially face off in the round of 16 in Qatar, with Martinez's men facing Canada, Morocco and Croatia in Group F and Luis Enrique's team drawn alongside Germany, Japan and Costa Rica in Group E.

David Beckham says the timing of the World Cup in Qatar could provide England with an advantage as Gareth Southgate's men look to end a 56-year wait for major tournament success.

The Three Lions reached the semi-finals in Russia four years ago and lost on penalties to Italy in last year's Euro 2020 final.

A poor June resulted in a pair of defeats to Hungary sandwiching draws with Germany and Italy in the Nations League, but England are still tipped among the favourites for World Cup glory.

Beckham featured in three World Cups during a glittering international career that saw him win 115 caps, but success evaded the England sides he played in.

But with England kicking off their Group B campaign against Iran on November 21, Beckham says the timing of the tournament could suit Southgate's team.

"Personally I feel, for our team, it's a huge opportunity," he told former England and Manchester United team-mate Gary Neville on The Overlap podcast. 

"Like you said, we never did use it [fatigue] as an excuse [in previous tournaments], but truth be told, we came to the end of a gruelling season in the Premier League – the toughest league in the world, and you are tired, you do want a rest.

"You don't have that time to recover from a tough season. But these players are coming into this tournament at a time where they're at their peak, they're in the middle of their season, there's no reason and no excuse for them not to be at the top of their game.

"For our players, this is a huge opportunity. We have a young team, an exciting team, we have a manager that has been with these players for a long time.

"I really love watching this England team play, they're exciting, they play with passion, they play like they want to be there. It's something that, as an England fan, that's what you want to see.

"All of a sudden, our fans have come together behind this team again. For a moment, I'd say the fans – I wouldn't say they fell out of love with the national team, but there was a disconnect. 

"[Now] there's a connection. And I think Gareth's done an incredible job with this team."

Beckham also hailed the current Three Lions side as particularly likeable, praising the likes of Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling for their off-field efforts to engage with fans on racism and other social issues.

"There's an excitement within this team," he continued. "I talk about these players, and they're more than just footballers. 

"What I love about this generation of players, particularly in England, is with the power they have on the field, they're trying to make change off the field.

"I see the work that Marcus has done, I see the work Raheem and other players have done, the good that they're doing outside the game is exceptional, using their platform to help other people and make change. 

"The fact they are now helping other people and helping educate people on racism, the stuff they go through every single day, they are making change and that's why I love this group of players and this generation."

Harry Maguire has defended under-fire England boss Gareth Southgate after a 4-0 defeat to Hungary, claiming he remains one of the best managers in international football.

Maguire, who came on as a late substitute with England 3-0 down at Molineux on Tuesday, says the loss was "unacceptable" but insisted the Three Lions can make a big impact at the World Cup this year.

England are facing the threat of Nations League relegation after taking just two points from four Group A3 games, following up draws against Germany and Italy with their heaviest home defeat since a 5-1 hammering by Scotland in 1928.

A failure to win any of their four games this month also leaves England on their worst run since June 2014, when they went without a victory in five games during a month which saw them finish bottom of their group at the 2014 World Cup under Roy Hodgson.

Hungary also became the first team to score four goals in an away match against England since their historic 6-3 triumph at Wembley in 1953, leading Southgate to come under fire from supporters.

Chants of "you don't know what you're doing" were aimed at Southgate by home fans during the hammering, but Maguire says he remains the right man to lead the team in Qatar later this year.

"Gareth is the most successful England manager since Sir Alf Ramsey in 1966," the defender told the Sun. "We all can't wait to work with him and the backroom team again at the World Cup.

"His managerial record is as good as anyone currently out there in international football.

"There's no reason why we can't do really well and our goal is to improve on our previous tournaments and make the country proud.

"We deserved more from the first three [Nations League] games, but against Hungary on Tuesday it wasn't acceptable.

"We all know that. Everyone needs a break now and a recharge. The spirit in the camp has been great, despite the results."

England face just two more Nations League contests – versus Germany and Italy in September – before they open their World Cup campaign against Iran on November 21.

Paul Pogba would be an "excellent" acquisition for Juventus should the Bianconeri manage to re-sign the former Manchester United midfielder, according to Italy legend Marco Tardelli.

Pogba, who spent four trophy-laden years in Turin between 2012 and 2016, has been strongly linked with a return to Juventus after his United departure was confirmed.

No United player registered as many Premier League assists (38) or chances created (231) as Pogba during his six-year spell at Old Trafford, although his second spell at the club ended in disappointing fashion, with the 2018 World Cup winner playing just 1,354 minutes of domestic league football last season.

Tardelli, who won five Serie A titles with Juventus during his playing career, insisted that while returning to a former club is always difficult, Pogba would be an ideal signing for coach Massimiliano Allegri.

"I believe that returns are always difficult, because there are higher expectations," Tardelli said, quoted by ANSA. "But it is an excellent acquisition."

Tardelli said Juventus needed to sign players who could make "an important contribution in every department". The squad is set for an overhaul, after finishing fourth in Serie A for a second successive season, having won the title in each of the nine previous campaigns.

 

The fact there are unusually few prominent Italian players at Juventus may not be helping the national team, who missed out on qualification for the World Cup and sit third in Nations League group A3 after winning just one of their first four games.

None of the five players to have played the most Serie A minutes for Juventus in the 2021-22 season (Wojciech Szczesny, Matthijs de Ligt, Juan Cuadrado, Alvaro Morata and Adrien Rabiot) are Italian, with Manuel Locatelli sixth on that list.

Roberto Mancini's Italy endured a disappointing international break in June, being thrashed 5-2 by Germany on Tuesday having begun the month with a 3-0 reverse to a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina at Wembley, and Tardelli also believes the Azzurri are missing an elite forward.

"There is a block of foreigners [at Juventus] more than anything else," Tardelli said. "[Italy forwards Gianluca] Scamacca and [Giacomo] Raspadori play for Sassuolo, a team with little international experience.

"We lack a champion, especially in the advanced department, a player who manages to invent a pass, not strictly the number nine.

"If you don't score a goal there is always a problem, but I have faith in Scamacca, I also had it in [Ciro] Immobile but, if you don't show signs, you are criticised.

"Mancini is doing an excellent job; he is trying to find young people, and he has done it well in some cases. We need to have patience and hope to find a champion like [Francesco] Totti, like [Roberto] Baggio or like [Alessandro] Del Piero, because now I don't see him yet."

Club Brugge star Noa Lang suggested he is unaware of Milan transfer advances, but would be open to a move "to take the next step" amid reported interest from Arsenal as well.

Lang scored seven goals in 37 Belgian Pro League appearances in the 2021-22 campaign as Brugge lifted their 18th league title in history and third in a row.

The 22-year-old also appeared in all six of Brugge's Champions League outings, though the Belgian side won just one in a tough group with Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig.

Featuring in Europe only served to further the value of Lang, who is said to have long been a target of Arsenal, along with Premier League side Leeds United.

Reports in Italy indicated Serie A winners Milan are also interested in the forward, but he assures no agreement has been reached with Stefano Pioli's side.

"There is no agreement with AC Milan or anything. I don't know where this kind of news comes from," Lang told Belgian newspaper HLN.

"If I have to report to Club Brugge again, I will do so with all my love. I love the club and will give the full 100 per cent."

The Netherlands international expressed his desire to move on from the Belgian Pro League, though, as he looks to impress Louis van Gaal ahead of the World Cup later this year.

"The agreement with Brugge is that it must come to a transfer, both parties agree on that. I want to continue to develop and so I have to take a step," he added.

"But I'm not afraid of that, I have to keep developing myself. If I go to a bigger club, I will probably become a better footballer. Then I train and play with a higher intensity. I only see benefits towards the World Cup.

However, Lang believes the thinking behind Van Gaal's selection has changed, with the Netherlands coach open to picking players who may not always be playing for their club.

"The national coach has abandoned his vision, as he says himself," he continued. 

"But then again: if I go to another club, I also want to play a lot. I have to enforce that myself. Whether it is at the top or just below."

Zinedine Zidane has always been a man focused on Real Madrid and France and therefore would not take the Paris Saint-Germain role should it become available.

That is the message from Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who briefly discussed the potential vacancy at PSG should reports prove to be true that Mauricio Pochettino will depart.

Pochettino lifted the Ligue 1 title with PSG in the 2021-22 season, his first trophy as a coach, but failed to deliver in the Champions League, falling to a last-16 exit against Madrid.

European glory remains the main goal for PSG's QSI ownership, with the understanding that Pochettino and the Ligue 1 giants have held discussions and agreed to part ways.

Zidane emerged as a frontrunner for the PSG job before Pochettino was appointed, but the preference of the 49-year-old remains to be seen.

Many believe Zidane is eyeing the France job should Didier Deschamps' Les Bleus role become available after the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

Zidane managed Madrid for two spells between 2016 and 2021, winning 11 trophies with Los Blancos – the second most successful manager in the club's history.

The Les Bleus great has also lifted PSG's much-desired Champions League crown on three occasions as a coach, with three consecutive successes in Europe's premier club competition between 2016 and 2018.

But Perez, speaking to the El Chiringuito programme in Spain, finds it hard to envisage PSG securing the services of Zidane.

 

"Zidane at Paris Saint-Germain? I don't know, but he's always been a man for Real Madrid and the French national team," Perez said. 

"That's what I know about him. But maybe he's now in a different situation."

Christophe Galtier, Julen Lopetegui and Marcelo Gallardo are also said to be among the favourites if Pochettino expectedly departs.

Mexico star Luis Romo conceded his side are "not at the best level" after a frustrating 1-1 draw at Jamaica in the CONCACAF Nations League.

Leon Bailey opened the scoring for the hosts after just four minutes on Tuesday when he headed Shamar Nicholson's cross home.

Jamaica could have doubled their lead soon after, but Nicholson was denied by the crossbar, allowing Mexico a lifeline after a tepid start.

Mexico capitalised on that opportunity in additional time in the first half, with Romo finishing past Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake.

However, Gerardo Martino's side could not find a winner in the second half, leaving them a point behind leaders Jamaica, who have played a game more in their Nations League group.

With the World Cup in Qatar just five months away, Romo admitted his country have been far from their best but backed them to deliver at world football's historic tournament.

"Inside we realise that we have to overcome everything, the criticism we must take. We know that we are not at our best or maximum level, but we are very aware of what we can achieve," he told TUDN.

"A World Cup and an opportunity to make history motivates us a lot."

Mexico were somewhat fortunate to not fall behind again in the second half, with Kevin Alvarez making a goal-line clearance after the break.

El Tri arguably deserved to share the points, though, after forcing numerous saves from Blake in the final 45 minutes, and Romo believes Mexico may have even deserved to win.

"In the second half we got stuck," Romo added. "I think we deserved a bit more."

Coach Martino was left satisfied with June's internationals nevertheless.

"All the players adapted well to this training camp. It is complicated to work with 38 players, and they did well," he told reporters.

"Each match had situations that will help us analyse the future."

Mexico are not next in action until August 31, when they face Paraguay in a friendly in Atlanta.

Former Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has backed Germany to win the World Cup in Qatar later this year due to Hansi Flick's swift impression at the helm.

The 2014 winners became the third defending champion in a row to be eliminated at the group stages in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, following on from the previous early exits of Spain in 2014 and Italy in 2010.

Joachim Löw retained his managerial position, with his contract due to last until after the Qatar World Cup, but requested an early end to his spell last year and departed his position following the European Championships.

While Low's 15-year stint in charge heralded success, a poor final year saw Germany smashed 6-0 by Spain in the Nations League before exiting Euro 2020 at the hands of England after a 2-0 defeat in the last 16 of the competition.

Flick took charge in September last year and led to an immediate improvement, becoming the first Germany boss in history to win their first six matches and comfortably securing qualification for this year's World Cup.

A drubbing of Italy in the Nations League on Tuesday once again displayed Germany's credentials and Schwarzer believes they're the team to beat in November when the World Cup begins.

"I think this World Cup, Germany with Hansi Flick at the helm, are genuine favourites and I say that Germany is generally always regarded as one of the teams that could go and do something," he told Stats Perform.

"But they're, for me, stood right up there with being a genuine favourite of winning this World Cup because they've got an amazing manager.

"Someone that's got the belief and support of all the players and has changed the German national team literally overnight exactly like he did with Bayern Munich when he took over after Nico Kovac had a disastrous period at Bayern the season, and then go on to win everything that's possibly there to win. 

"I've got a feeling he's able to do the same thing with Germany right now."

New Zealand head coach Danny Hay has slammed the refereeing as "absolutely atrocious" and says FIFA let them down in their 2022 World Cup playoff defeat to Costa Rica on Tuesday.

The All Whites missed out on World Cup qualification with a 1-0 loss to the Ticos in Doha in the inter-confederation playoff after Joel Campbell's third-minute goal.

New Zealand had a first-half Chris Wood goal controversially disallowed by the VAR along with a penalty shout turned down, while Kosta Barbarouses was sent off after video consultation in the 69th minute.

Hay lamented FIFA's decision to appoint UAE referee Mohammed Abdulla as well as his performance in the crucial game.

"They have let us down in putting somebody in charge who has clearly not officiated at this sort of level," Hay told reporters after the game.

"When we saw the announcement and then we looked at what Australia and Peru had last night with good, quality European officiating [Slovenian Slavko Vincic], I thought FIFA have made a mistake there in such an important game."

Hay added: "If I'm being honest. I thought some of the officiating was absolutely atrocious.

"The disallowed goal was two players battling for the ball. The foul could have gone to Matt Garbett to start with. Obviously VAR got involved and overturned that."

Veteran New Zealand defender Winston Reid, who previously played for West Ham United and Brentford, echoed his coach's sentiments.

"My general concern, I wish FIFA for a game like this would have given us someone more experienced. But that's the way it is," Reid told Sky TV.

"There were some decisions that just didn't go our way, unfortunately.

"But that's part of football and that's what happened today. It's just disappointing."

Roberto Martinez said his future as Belgium head coach will only be discussed after the World Cup later this year, having watching his side beat Poland 1-0 in the Nations League.

Michy Batshuayi's first-half header helped Belgium to their second win of this Nations League campaign, although they still trail the Netherlands by three points in Group A4 after being thrashed 4-1 by Louis van Gaal's men in their opening game earlier this month.

Results such as that one, as well as Belgium's failure to lift a major trophy despite producing a supposed 'golden generation' of talent, have led to suggestions Martinez's job could be under threat.

But the former Everton manager will only entertain questions over his future after leading the Red Devils to the World Cup in Qatar.

"That will be the right decision [to discuss the future after the tournament]," he said. "Not for me as a coach, but for Belgian football. 

"Everyone can be sure, my only will and wish is that we will see Belgium as strong as possible at the World Cup.

"I want to make the fans as proud as possible. All my work will go into this in the coming months.

"We'll see after the World Cup. In international football, it is logical that you look at it from major tournament to major tournament. There is nothing strange about that."

Belgium will face Canada, Morocco and Croatia in Group F in Qatar, having finished third in Russia in 2018.

Martinez's team were comfortable for long periods against Poland, limiting their hosts to just two shots on target and only allowing Robert Lewandowski one attempt throughout the game.

But Belgium almost conceded a dramatic equaliser when Karol Swiderski twice went close in the dying stages, and Martinez was delighted with the character his team displayed when clinging on for the win.

The Red Devils have claimed seven points from their first four Nations League games this month, and the coach believes the matches have proven valuable as they build towards their trip to Qatar.

"We defended well and showed a lot of personality," Martinez said. "It is even more satisfying to win like this than [if] it was a simple victory. 

"These matches were used to gather information for the World Cup, and we got it. 

"The results weren't always good, but perfection doesn't exist. Not in football and not in life. The reaction after Wales [a 1-1 draw last week] was there. I remember that."

Costa Rica were outplayed by New Zealand in their inter-confederation World Cup play-off on Tuesday but clung on to a 1-0 advantage to reach Qatar 2022.

In a winner-takes-all match between the fourth-placed side in CONCACAF qualifying and the OFC stage winners, Joel Campbell struck the decisive goal after just three minutes.

The former Arsenal forward squeezed between two New Zealand defenders and bundled a first-time finish past Oli Sail.

Rather than tee up a straightforward Costa Rica victory, though, that goal preceded a sustained backs-to-the-wall effort as the All Whites dominated.

Chris Wood thought he had netted a precious equaliser late in the first half, only for a VAR review to spot a foul earlier in the move.

And another video referral in the second period saw substitute Kosta Barbarouses' lunge on Francisco Calvo upgraded from a yellow card to red, leaving New Zealand with a mountain to climb.

They continued to control the contest but could not score the leveller that would deny Costa Rica their place in Qatar, joining Spain, Japan and Germany in a tricky Group E.

Los Ticos – going to their sixth World Cup and third in a row – begin their campaign against Spain in Doha on November 23.

New Zealand head coach Danny Hay has urged his players to "seize the moment" by producing an upset against Costa Rica to claim the last remaining World Cup finals spot.

The two sides face off at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Tuesday for the right to return to Qatar later this year and join Germany, Japan and Spain in Group E.

A total of 31 countries have qualified for the global showpiece following Australia's penalty shoot-out win against Peru on Monday, leaving one place up for grabs.

New Zealand enter the intercontinental play-off clash as underdogs as they sit 101st in the latest FIFA rankings, 70 places below their Central American opponents.

The All Whites cruised through the extended qualifying process, racking up 5-0 and 7-1 wins along the way, but now face undoubtedly their toughest test yet in Costa Rica.

Whereas New Zealand have only ever qualified for two World Cups, and none since 2010, Costa Rica have qualified five times and are seeking a third straight finals appearance.

Hay's side are in a relaxed mood, though, with the 47-year-old glad that all the pressure is on the opposition.

"The world's media have basically written us off, given us no chance," Hay said at his pre-match news conference. "They're 31 in the world playing against 101 in the world. 

"I'm sleeping pretty well. I'm not sure their coach will be, though.

"We've got a great group. They're injury-free, they’re in a good space mentally, that’s why we need to seize the moment now. This really is our moment, this is our time."

New Zealand have been boosted by the return to fitness of captain Winston Reid, who had been struggling with a groin injury.

They have warmed up for Tuesday's match with a 1-0 defeat to Peru and goalless draw against Oman, both of those games being friendlies.

Costa Rica have lost just one of their past nine matches, meanwhile, but head coach Luis Fernandez Suarez is not taking New Zealand for granted.

"We'll make sure that the group is strong mentally," he said. "New Zealand are a team that like to make things dangerous. 

"They are a team that from the back with their goalkeeper almost always playing inside, from the beginning to the last third, with one of their advantages being aerial football.

"But for every situation or attack New Zealand present, we have prepared something to respond to it."

Awer Mabil has declared his crucial penalty in Australia's shoot-out victory against Peru was a "thank you" to the nation that took his family in after they fled Sudan.

The 26-year-old gave Australia the lead in sudden death with his side's sixth penalty, then watched on as Andrew Redmayne denied the South Americans as the Socceroos secured a spot in a fifth consecutive World Cup.

That will now signal a remarkable journey for Mabil from a Kenyan refugee camp to the showcase finals in Qatar later this year, and he dedicated his penalty to the nation that took in his family in 2006.

"I knew I was going to score. It was the only way to say thank you to Australia on behalf of my family," he said after Monday's match, which finished 0-0 after extra time.

"I was born in a hut, a little hut. My hotel room here is definitely bigger than the hut, the room we had as a family in that refugee camp.

"For Australia to take us in and resettle us, it gave me and my siblings and my whole family a chance at life.

"That's what I mean by thanking Australia for that chance of life, that chance of opportunity they allowed my family."

Mabil was born in a Kenyan refugee camp after his family fled conflict in Sudan, surviving on one meal a day as a child, but found a distraction in football and hopes his contribution can inspire other refugees.

"I scored, a lot of my team-mates scored, everybody played a part and maybe that refugee kid played a big part," he said.

Australia complete Group D for the World Cup alongside France, Denmark and Tunisia, with their opening game falling on November 22 against Didier Deschamps' defending champions.

The introduction of Artificial Intelligence-driven semi-automated VAR offside technology remains on course to be used at the World Cup in Qatar.

That is the message from The International Football Association Board (The IFAB), the organisation that determines the laws of football.

Offside decisions using VAR have been taking up to four minutes, with the technology aiming to cut the decision down to three or four seconds by providing faster information.

Chelsea were the first Premier League side to experience the technology during the Club World Cup in February, just two months after the initial semi-automated system made its debut.

The IFAB continues in its discussions with FIFA as to the implementation of the upgraded VAR system, with the aim to utilise the offside technology at the upcoming World Cup in November.

"It looks very good and very promising," FIFA president Gianni Infantino told a news conference on Monday.

"Our experts are looking into [the trials] before we take a decision on whether it will be used for the World Cup or not."

FIFA's head of refereeing Pierluigi Collina, added: "My personal opinion is that I'm very confident we can go ahead with this. We want to achieve accuracy, quicker decisions, also more accepted decisions.

"We have seen in matches where the semi-automated offside was implemented these objectives were achieved.

"It uses the same process as goal-line technology, and we have seen that is very well accepted by the football community, nobody comments on this.

"We are confident that the same reaction, in terms of acceptance, can be given to the semi-automated offside."

The Premier League is expected to introduce the technology, if successful at the World Cup, in the 2023-24 season.

Trials are also in the works to give attacking players the advantage in offside situations, with Collina revealing the rules are under consideration.

"We are considering that a very marginal offside is not that relevant to be punished in modern football," Collina added.

"So we are running this experiment. Unfortunately, the competitions where these trials were allowed were suspended or abandoned for almost two years due to the pandemic.

"So now we have tests going on in [youth football] in the Netherlands, in Italy and in Sweden and certainly we will come to conclusions once we have evidence and figures from these trials."

The IFAB also confirmed it was investigating how to reduce time-wasting, with the ball usually in action for just 54 minutes of a 90-minute match.

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