20 Nov 2022

France striker Benzema ruled out of World Cup with injury

2:45 pm on 20 November 2022

France striker Karim Benzema has been ruled out of the World Cup in Qatar after suffering an injury in training, the French football federation said.

Karim Benzema of Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League match between Real Madrid and Celtic FC at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Apo Caballero/DAX Images/NurPhoto) (Photo by DAX Images / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP)

Karim Benzema of Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League match between Real Madrid and Celtic FC. Photo: DAX IMAGES

The Ballon d'Or winner, who has been struggling with a muscle problem, was forced to leave defending champions France's training session on Sunday.

"I am extremely sad for Karim who had made this World Cup a major objective. Despite this new blow for the French team, I have full confidence in my group. We will do everything to meet the huge challenge that awaits us," said coach Didier Deschamps in a statement.

France, already without influential midfielders Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante because of injury, open their campaign against Australia in Group D on Wednesday.

Heart scare gave Eriksen new appreciation of family and football

Denmark playmaker Christian Eriksen said his recovery from a heart attack on the field some 18 months ago had made him appreciate being alive and enjoying his young family but also made a World Cup return special.

Eriksen's collapse on the field at the start of the European Championship in June last year was a distressing event that shocked the watching world, as he lay receiving life-saving treatment, but it provided Denmark with an emotive momentum that catapulted them to the semi-finals without their best player.

Eriksen's career looked to be over but, after being fitted with a device to regulate his heart, he returned to play within six months and is again leading Denmark's hopes at a major tournament.

He said the cardiac arrest had altered his priorities.

Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in Qatar for opening ceremony

Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, arrived to Doha on Sunday to attend the 2022 Qatar World Cup's opening ceremony on Monday in a show of Gulf solidarity after a three-year regional dispute ended last year.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman during his meeting with officials at the defence ministry headquarters in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on September 27, 2022.

Mohammed bin Salman Photo: Handout / Saudi Press Agency / AFP

Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Thani, the deputy of Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, was at the reception of Prince Mohammed upon his arrival to Doha, the Amiri Diwan of Qatar said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt had severed ties with Qatar from 2017 to January 2021 over accusations that Doha supported "terrorism" - a reference to Islamist groups. Doha denied the charges.

Riyadh and Cairo have since led efforts to mend ties and appointed ambassadors to Qatar, while Abu Dhabi and Manama have yet to do so. All but Bahrain have restored travel and trade links.

Prince Mohammed visited Doha late last year in his first official trip to Qatar since he was named crown prince in 2017.

The World Cup is being staged in the Middle East for the first time, with Doha hoping the event will bring various economic benefits which it aims to share with Gulf neighbours.

- Reuters