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.

The Ukrainian Football Association will appeal to FIFA in a bid to get Iran thrown out of the Qatar World Cup.

A statement from Ukraine’s FA on Monday confirmed its executive committee want Iran to be excluded from the tournament for "possible involvement of Iran in the military aggression of Russia against Ukraine".

Ukraine was invaded by Russia in February. The country's football team reached the final stage of UEFA's qualification play-offs but were beaten by Wales in June.

FIFA and UEFA subsequently banned Russia from playing international football.

The chief executive of Ukrainian Premier League side Shakhtar Donetsk, Sergei Palkin, last week urged FIFA to prevent Iran from competing in Qatar, suggesting Ukraine replace them.

A statement on the Ukrainian FA's website referenced the fact the executive committee had decided to appeal to the world governing body, but did not mention the possibility of replacing them at the tournament.

The statement outlined that the executive had made the decision: "Taking into account media information about systematic human rights violations in Iran, which may violate the principles and norms of the FIFA Statutes, taking into account the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 regarding the imposition of sanctions on Iran and the possible involvement of Iran in the military aggression of Russia against Ukraine, to make a request to the FIFA to consider excluding the Iranian national team from the 2022 FIFA World Cup."

Iran's opening game of the World Cup is scheduled to take place on November 21 against England.

Meanwhile, the Bosnia and Herzegovina FA has confirmed the proposed friendly with Russia on November 19 has been postponed, though the intention remains for it to be played "at a future date".

A statement read: "The friendly match between the national team of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Russia, which was supposed to be played on November 19 in Saint Petersburg, will not be played at that time.

"At today's session of the Executive Board of the Football Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the match planned for November 19 was postponed. President of NS/FS BiH, Mr. Vico Zeljkovic stated that the playing of this friendly match will be extended for some future date."

Shakhtar Donetsk have called for Iran to be banned from playing at the Qatar 2022 World Cup and Ukraine to replace them because "terrorists" should not be allowed to play in the tournament.

Ukraine was invaded by Russia in February. The country's football team reached the final stage of UEFA's qualification play-offs but suffered defeat to Wales in June.

FIFA and UEFA subsequently banned Russia from playing international football, but nations such as Iran and Belarus that have provided assistance to the invasion have avoided similar sanctions.

Ukrainian Premier League side Shakhtar on Monday urged the FIFA to prevent Iran from competing in Qatar, and to replace them with Ukraine instead.

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini is excited by the prospect of facing England in Euro 2024 qualifying, declaring "it will be nice to meet again".

England and Italy were drawn alongside Ukraine, North Macedonia and Malta in a challenging qualification group on Sunday, from which the top two will qualify automatically for the tournament in Germany.

The duo met as recently as last month, when Giacomo Raspadori's goal condemned England to relegation from the top tier of the Nations League, while Mancini also led the Azzurri to victory over the Three Lions in last year's Euro 2020 final. 

England's dismal Nations League campaign meant they – alongside world champions France – were in pot two for the draw in Frankfurt.

Although Mancini claims he expected Italy to land one of those two giants, he remains content with the draw and is looking forward to meeting Gareth Southgate's men.

"I was sure we would have one between England and France, but that's okay too," Mancini told Rai Sport after the draw.

"It's a group of five, it's doable. But there won't be simple games, they'll all have to be played. 

"It will certainly be beautiful with England, with Southgate we know each other and if it continues like this we are pretty good, I don't know if he agrees. 

"By now this challenge is a classic and, although we faced each other 20 days ago, it will be nice to meet again."

While Italy have happy memories of their recent games against England, remaining unbeaten in their last six head-to-head meetings, the same cannot be said about another of their opponents.

North Macedonia clinched a stunning win over Italy in the World Cup play-offs in March, ensuring the Azzurri missed out on a second consecutive edition of the tournament.

Mancini is urging caution ahead of that reunion, adding: "It's one of those games that happen every now and then. As we saw in Palermo, all matches must be played, even the simplest ones."

The Azzurri boss was also pleased to be drawn alongside Ukraine, declaring: "There will be some emotion... but Ukraine is still a good national team."

Gareth Southgate declared England must improve on their poor record against Italy after the two nations were drawn together in a "tough" Euro 2024 qualification group.

The teams faced each other in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley Stadium last year, with Italy emerging victorious on penalties to win their first European Championship trophy since 1968 and deny England their first major title in 55 years.

The sides also met twice in the recent Nations League campaign, playing out a goalless draw at Molineux in June before Giacomo Raspadori gave Italy a 1-0 triumph in the return fixture at San Siro in September.

The Three Lions have not beaten Italy in six attempts since a 2-1 victory in 2012, and Southgate says that run needs to end.

"England's record against Italy generally is not very good," Southgate told Sky Sports. "So we've got to improve that.

"There's not too many surprises, they've changed the team a lot for all of those different matches.

"We know the quality they have, we know the depth that they have."

England and Italy have been drawn in Group C alongside Ukraine, Malta and North Macedonia, the latter of whom knocked the Azzurri out of the World Cup play-offs earlier this year, preventing the European champions from making it to Qatar.

Southgate acknowledged the overall difficulty of the group, adding: "It's clearly a tough draw, given the quality of the opposition.

"But we've had draws in qualification that have probably been a little bit more comfortable than that, although I'd have to say Poland and Hungary in the last qualifying group was particularly tough as well, so we're used to that.

"The draws are what they are, it's how you perform on the day."

Ukraine have joined Spain and Portugal in a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup, it was announced on Wednesday.

Spain and Portugal had already joined forces with an "Iberian bid" to host but Ukraine have joined as a third host, with the bid now being referred to as a "European bid".

Reports on Tuesday revealed Ukraine's involvement, and it was confirmed on Wednesday by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) at UEFA's Swiss headquarters, with Europe's governing body backing the bid.

According to reports, the plan is for Ukraine to play host to one group in the 48-team tournament – which will be the second with expanded teams after the 2026 World Cup in North America; hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Ukraine previously hosted the 2012 European Championship alongside Poland, while Portugal hosted the same tournament in 2004. Neither has hosted the World Cup previously but Spain hosted it in 1982.

The European bid will compete with others for the rights to host the 2030 tournament, with a final decision to be made in 2024.

Currently, a South American proposal from Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Chile has been made, while it is reported a joint bid from Greece, Saudi Arabia and Egypt is also in the works.

Another inter-federation bid may involve Israel, partnering with the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain, while Morocco could launch a joint bid with other northern African nations having failed with previous bids for the tournaments in 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010.

Australia could also be an option, with reports previously indicating a joint proposal could be made alongside either New Zealand or Indonesia.

A plethora of joint bids appear to suggest that this year's World Cup in Qatar could be the final tournament to be hosted by a single nation, with the appeal of hosting the tournament in numerous countries increasing – particularly to involve those who would not be able to host a tournament individually.

The increase to a 48-team World Cup would also put further strain on individual nations to host an entire tournament, with a total of 80 matches to be played – an increase on the 64 that will be played in Qatar.

Steve Clarke believes there is more to come from his Scotland team after they earned promotion to the top tier of the Nations League via a 0-0 draw with Ukraine, leapfrogging rivals England following their relegation.

Scotland approached Tuesday's match – played in Krakow, Poland – needing just a point to top Group B1 following home wins over Ukraine and the Republic of Ireland last week.

Although they managed just one shot on target against Oleksandr Petrakov's team, Scotland produced a fine rearguard action to cling on for the result they craved – also earning a spot in pot two for October's Euro 2024 qualification draw.

Topping the table means Clarke's men are already assured of a play-off place for the next European Championship.

And with England picking up just three points from six games to finish bottom of Group A3, Scotland will begin the next Nations League campaign looking down on their old foes.

But Clarke was focused on his own side's continued development after the match, looking forward to more against Europe's elite.

"It is a big night," Clarke said. "We wanted to win the section. We wanted to show people what happened in the summer [when Scotland lost a World Cup play-off to Ukraine] wasn't us.

"We wanted to be better this week. We pressed the big button to reset and go again, and we came up with three fantastic performances, all different but all vital. 

"I sat down with my whole staff and said we had to set a different environment and be more demanding of the players, and we have to push that agenda.

"Then I sat with the players and went through what we thought we did well in the summer and what we didn't do so well.

"We gave them a lot of information to change the system and play a slightly different way. They took it on board, and we have had a really good week. 

"Now we are in pot two and in the A league – but we don't want to stop. We want to try and get better and better."

With Clarke's contract as Scotland head coach set to expire following Euro 2024, he joked that competing with Europe's finest in League A would not be his problem.

"That'll be the next head coach," he added. "My contract is up before then!"

Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhalo Mudryk believes football is "more than a game" for the people of Ukraine amid the war with Russia, while adding he is open to a move to England in the future.

The 21-year-old has caught the eye in the Champions League, scoring twice in as many matches to help his side defeat RB Leipzig 4-1 and draw with Celtic in Glasgow.

Shakhtar's matches in the Champions League are being played in Poland following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, with the nation also playing host to Ukraine's Nations League clash against Scotland on Tuesday.

Mudryk believes these fixtures are important to those who remain affected by the war and that football can make people smile.

"We must adapt because we don't have a choice. We must play because it is our work, but every day we're thinking about our Ukrainian soldiers and our Ukrainian people," he told The Times.

"I am very proud to be Ukrainian. The spirit of our country is high because in this war we can always see the great spirit of Ukraine. I feel that football is more than a game at the moment for the people of Ukraine.

"In this situation, we have a lot of sad moments, and football is one of the things that make Ukrainian people smile. We play to bring a smile on our people's faces."

On the prospect of moving to the Premier League in the future, Mudryk admitted it is something that may be on the agenda.

"Yes, yes, it is possible. The Premier League is the best league in the world and everyone wants to play in this league," he added.

Poland captain Robert Lewandowski will wear the colours of Ukraine at the World Cup in Qatar, after receiving a special armband from Andriy Shevchenko.

The Barcelona forward met Shevchenko at Warsaw's national stadium to collect the yellow and blue armband, which he will wear at the World Cup to represent Ukraine, who did not qualify.

Ukraine has been ravaged by Russia following February's invasion, with millions of citizens forced to flee the country and many have travelled to Poland, which has also hosted the Champions League matches of Shakhtar Donetsk this season.

While Ukraine will not play in Qatar, Lewandowski has pledged to display their colours when he takes to the field in a show of solidarity with those who are suffering, having met Shevchenko with Laureus Sport For Good.

"I will carry the colours of Ukraine to the World Cup. As a player and a man, I support peace and I believe such symbolic gestures matter," he said.

"I believe that as athletes we should use the power of sport for good. I'm going to take Andriy’s armband with me to the World Cup in November as a reminder that Ukrainian people are not alone and are not forgotten.

"It means a lot to me to stand here with Andriy, a footballer and a man who has used his voice and platform to influence positive change."

Shevchenko thanked Lewandowski for his pledge, saying: "For me, the captain’s armband is a symbol of leadership, strength and passion for your country. I want to pass this armband to Robert to thank him for his support, voice and platform in supporting my country and calling for peace."

Poland begin their World Cup campaign on November 18 against Mexico, then tackling Argentina and Saudi Arabia in Group C.

Ukrainian Association of Football president Andriy Pavelko has urged UEFA to omit Russia from qualifying for the 2024 European Championships.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, UEFA and FIFA jointly decided that all Russian teams, both international and clubs, would be suspended from their competitions until further notice.

That ban continues into the 2022-23 season, but Russia will be able to play friendly matches, having arranged a controversial clash with Bosnia and Herzegovina on the eve of the World Cup in Qatar.

Bosnia have faced backlash for agreeing to that game, including from current players Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko, with Pavelko also revealing he is doing "everything he can" to stop the game from going ahead.

In regard to qualifying for Euro 2024, the draw will be held on October 9 and Pavelko is determined for Russia to be excluded.

"UEFA's decision formally applies only to official competitions - therefore, it allows Russian football officials to negotiate the possible holding of friendly matches, but the Ukrainian Football Association immediately reacts to such attempts," he said in a statement.

"Recently we wrote letters to FIFA and UEFA with the demand to cancel the match between Russia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, scheduled for November 19.

"We also appealed to the association of Bosnia and Herzegovina, urging them to stand in solidarity with the entire civilised football world and refuse to participate in this match.

"There was also an appeal from our football legends to the players and coaches of the Bosnian national team to refuse to hold the match.

"An official decision has not yet been made regarding this game. But we are doing everything possible to prevent the match from taking place.

"We are taking similar actions in relation to the two friendly matches of the women's teams of Serbia U-17 and Russia U-17 in October.

"We are also currently making efforts at the UEFA level, the purpose of which is to prevent Russia from participating in the Euro 2024 selection draw, which is scheduled to take place on October 9 in Frankfurt.

"The aggressor country cannot be represented in competitions where the national teams of countries, unlike the Russian Federation, respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other states who participate."

Pavelko added that Russia should remain "completely isolated on the international stage, including football" until they "stop committing crimes" and compensate Ukraine for damages.

Arsenal and Ukraine star Oleksandr Zinchenko believes the return of top-flight football in his home country is important for "all Ukrainian people" following Russia's invasion.

Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist 1925 played on Tuesday to mark the first official game played in Ukraine since Russia's invasion six months ago.

Following that 0-0 draw, three additional fixtures took place and another two were initially scheduled for Wednesday

Football in Ukraine is not fully back to normal, however, with all matches played behind closed doors in the capital Kyiv or the west of the country, while air-raid sirens will also be used in the event of potential danger.

Sirens were heard on multiple occasions during the suspended match between Rukh Vynnyky and Metalist Kharkiv on Wednesday, Ukraine's Independence Day.

Despite the risks, Zinchenko believes allowing football to resume is a step in the right direction and can boost morale in a country that has been under siege for half a year.

"It's important for the country and all Ukrainian people because nobody was ready for this situation," he told Arsenal's official website. 

"People are still suffering and we need to fight every single day everywhere, but we need to keep going, live our lives and carry on.

"People deserve the lives they had before. I'd like to say a massive thanks to the Ukrainian Federation, and president [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy who said we needed to play our competition in Ukraine. 

"I know it's not going to have the best facilities, but we need to keep going and that's the most important thing for all Ukrainians. I can't wait and I'll watch all the games if it's possible.

"It's difficult for me to imagine how it's going to be. There could be a siren and the players need to stop at some point, but it's so important to show the rest of the world that the Ukrainian people don't give up, and in any situation, they carry on. It's all about our people."

Oleksandr Zinchenko has completed his transfer from Manchester City to Arsenal, with the Ukraine international signing a long-term deal at Emirates Stadium.

The versatile 25-year-old follows former City team-mate Gabriel Jesus in making the move from Pep Guardiola's Premier League champions to join former City assistant boss Mikel Arteta in north London.

Zinchenko's arrival is the latest major piece of business for Arsenal, as the club look to find the missing pieces of the puzzle following a resurgent 2021-22 campaign. He is thought to have signed up until the end of the 2025-26 season, with Arsenal reportedly paying an initial £30million, and £2million in potential add-ons.

The Gunners fell painfully short of a top-four finish and Champions League football last season, as Tottenham pipped them at the post, and they are making efforts to bolster prospects of an improved new campaign.

In Zinchenko, they have acquired a player who will provide strong options at left-back – his regular position for City – or in the midfield for manager Arteta.

Arteta said: "We're so happy Alex has joined us. He's a player that I personally know really well and continued to follow him after my time at Manchester City.

"Alex is a high-quality player who will give us options and versatility. It's not only about the positions he can play but as well, the versatility he will give us in attack and defence.

"Alex is a person with great human qualities and character, and I'm delighted that everyone has made this huge effort to bring Alex to the club."

Zinchenko closes his time in Manchester as a four-time Premier League champion.

City are hoping Zinchenko's replacement will be Brighton and Hove Albion left-back Marc Cucurella, with the Spain international having emerged as a key target for Guardiola.

Two major close-season targets – former Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland and ex-Leeds United defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips – joined City earlier in the window.

Shakhtar Donetsk have issued a demand for €50million (£43m) in damages from FIFA over lost transfer fees amid their player exodus following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Football's governing body previously ruled that foreign players would be able to suspend contracts and seek a new club in another country amid the war.

Shakhtar chief executive Sergei Palkin stated that agents were profiting from the situation and taking payment for deals rather than the Ukrainian Premier League club.

The club have now appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

"We had to do this because of FIFA's highly unfair ruling," Palkin told BBC Sport. "The consequences mean we will continue to lose significant income from deals we expected to close.

"We would also like to highlight that given the situation Ukrainian clubs are facing with the war, there has been little respect shown towards these clubs by FIFA.

"FIFA has not looked to protect clubs and at no stage consulted with us to find a solution - they have seemingly ignored the perilous state that Ukrainian football clubs have been facing since the beginning of the war."

FIFA's decision on June 21 gave Shakhtar and other Ukrainian clubs until June 30 to finalise sales before foreign players were able to unilaterally suspend contracts.

This has lead to several players allegedly halting pending transfers, before effectively being able to leave for free, with the club reportedly naming Manor Solomon and Tete as two such individuals.

"In absence of any reaction from FIFA, we will have no choice but to seek for damages compensation from the competent courts," added Palkin.

"I believe more meaningful support initiative to Ukrainian clubs is needed from FIFA."

Shakhtar meanwhile continue to train abroad, with the squad currently in the Netherlands, ahead of a hoped-for resumption of football back home in August.

Former Russia captain Igor Denisov labelled the ongoing Ukraine invasion a "complete horror", but fears he may be jailed or killed for speaking out.

Russia, with the help of nearby Belarus, invaded neighbouring Ukraine in late February after weeks of heightening political tensions between the two countries.

The actions of Russia have led to widespread condemnation, with financial, sporting and political sanctions imposed on the nation in an attempt to deter the attacks.

Football stars such as Oleksandr Zinchenko and Andriy Shevchenko have repeatedly called for the invasion to stop, but Denisov is one of the most prominent Russian athletes to condemn the attacks.

Former Zenit midfielder Denisov, speaking to sports journalist Nobel Arustamyan in an interview published on YouTube, is still living in Russia and acknowledged he is risking his life by opposing the invasion.

"To me, this war is a catastrophe, a complete horror," said Denisov, who captained his country and earned 54 caps between 2008 and 2016.

"Maybe they'll put me in jail or kill me for these words, but I'm telling it like it is."

The 38-year-old also revealed he has personally written to Russia president Vladimir Putin to urge the attacks to stop.

"I am a proud guy. This was after three or four days," Denisov added. "I even said to him that I am ready to go on my knees before you so that he would stop it all."

Former Russia captain Igor Denisov labelled the ongoing Ukraine invasion a "complete horror", but fears he may be jailed or killed for speaking out.

Russia, with the help of nearby Belarus, invaded neighbouring Ukraine in late February after weeks of heightening political tensions between the two countries.

The actions of Russia have led to widespread condemnation, with financial, sporting and political sanctions imposed on the nation in an attempt to deter the attacks.

Football stars such as Oleksandr Zinchenko and Andriy Shevchenko have repeatedly called for the invasion to stop, but Denisov is one of the most prominent Russian athletes to condemn the attacks.

Former Zenit midfielder Denisov, speaking to sports journalist Nobel Arustamyan in an interview published on YouTube, is still living in Russia and acknowledged he is risking his life by opposing the invasion.

"To me, this war is a catastrophe, a complete horror," said Denisov, who captained his country and earned 54 caps between 2008 and 2016.

"Maybe they'll put me in jail or kill me for these words, but I'm telling it like it is."

The 38-year-old also revealed he has personally written to Russia president Vladimir Putin to urge the attacks to stop.

"I am a proud guy. This was after three or four days," Denisov added. "I even said to him that I am ready to go on my knees before you so that he would stop it all."

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