Zimbabwe and Nepal have been readmitted by the ICC after suspensions for political interference were lifted.

The world governing body stripped Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) of full member status in July after state-owned enterprise the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) suspended the board.

SRC acted after issuing a directive that the governing body's elective annual general meeting would be suspended amid allegations over the nomination process and the violation of ZC's constitution, along with "various other controversies".

The ICC has now cleared Zimbabwe to regain member status following board meetings in Dubai.

Zimbabwe will be able to feature in the ICC Men's Under-19 Cricket World Cup in January and compete in the ICC Super League next year.

ICC chairman Shashank Manohar said: "I would like to thank the Zimbabwe Sports Minister for her commitment to the reinstatement of Zimbabwe Cricket.

"Her desire to work in support of Zimbabwe Cricket was clear and she has unconditionally complied with the conditions set down by the ICC Board. Funding to Zimbabwe Cricket will continue to be on a controlled basis as part of a collective effort behind getting the game in Zimbabwe back on an even keel."

Nepal has also been added as members on a conditional basis three years after they were suspended for breach of the ICC regulations that prohibit government interference and require free and fair elections.

Manohar added: "Given the progress made in Nepal, a transition plan will now be developed for the Cricket Association of Nepal to support full compliance with Associate Membership criteria, which will also involve controlled funding."

Jackson Hastings has been included in Great Britain's 24-man squad for the tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

The Australian-born Hastings, who qualifies through a grandparent born in Plymouth, is rewarded after a stellar season with Salford that saw him lead the Red Devils to the Super League Grand Final, though they lost to St Helens in Saturday's showpiece.

Super League's newly crowned Man of Steel could form a half-back partnership with Blake Austin, another born in Australia but available for selection via an English relative.

Wigan Warriors full-back Zak Hardaker is also among the list of names for the first Lions tour since 2006.

Saints quartet Lachlan Coote, Jonny Lomax, Luke Thompson and Alex Walmsley will be on the trip too, though club colleagues Morgan Knowles, James Roby, who had withdrawn from contention before the Grand Final, Tommy Makinson and Mark Percival were all unavailable.

Coach Wayne Bennett had already confirmed 11 of the touring party through the England squad for the upcoming World Cup Nines tournament.

"It was pretty tough actually, with a lot of players in contention. A couple of guys got injured and that’s taken a bit of the pressure off, and given a couple of other guys opportunities," Bennett said.

"I think we’ve got a pretty good squad which is more than representative of the best players in the game in England and Australia."

Great Britain, who will be captained by James Graham, face a Tongan Invitational XIII on October 26 in New Zealand before a two-Test series against the Kiwis in November.

The tour concludes with a one-off game against Papua New Guinea, which takes place in Port Moresby on November 16.

 

Great Britain squad in full: James Graham (St George Illawarra Dragons) Blake Austin (Warrington Wolves) John Bateman (Canberra Raiders) Tom Burgess (South Sydney) Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves) Jake Connor (Hull FC) Lachlan Coote (St Helens) Oliver Gildart (Wigan Warriors) Zak Hardaker (Wigan Warriors) Jackson Hastings (Salford Red Devils) Ryan Hall (Sydney Roosters) Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves) Josh Hodgson (Canberra Raiders) Jack Hughes (Warrington Wolves) Josh Jones (Salford Red Devils) Jonny Lomax (St Helens) Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants) Joe Philbin (Warrington Wolves) Luke Thompson (St Helens) Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers) Alex Walmsley (St Helens) Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders) Gareth Widdop (St George Illawarra Dragons) George Williams (Wigan Warriors).

Roger Federer has confirmed he will play at the 2020 Olympic Games, revealing his "heart decided" to compete again.

The Swiss will be aiming to secure a third medal next year in Tokyo; he struck gold playing alongside Stan Wawrinka in the men's doubles in Beijing in 2008, then collected silver in the singles tournament four years later in London, falling in the final to home favourite Andy Murray.

Federer, 38, also represented his country at the Olympics in 2000, losing out in the bronze-medal match to Arnaud Di Pasquale, and 2004, but missed Rio 2016 while recovering from a knee injury.

The 20-time grand slam champion announced his decision to compete again after an exhibition match against John Isner staged in the host city for next year's Games.

"I've been debating with my team for a few weeks now, months actually, what I should do in the summer time [of 2020] after Wimbledon and before the US Open," he said, according to the Olympic Channel website.

"At the end of the day my heart decided I would love to play the Olympic Games again.

"I carried the flag twice for Switzerland in Athens and Beijing, I've got a gold and a silver, and I would love to play again so I'm very excited."

Federer has won three titles on the ATP Tour this season, while he finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon after reaching the last four at the French Open.

Bundee Aki will play no further part in Ireland's Rugby World Cup campaign after being hit with a three-week ban for a dangerous tackle on Samoa's Ulupano Seuteni.

Referee Nic Berry showed the powerful centre a red card in the 29th minute of Saturday's 47-5 hammering of Samoa, which secured Ireland's place in the quarter-finals.

Aki sought to have the red card overturned but the referee's decision was upheld by a disciplinary committee meeting on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old's past record saw the original starting point of a six-week suspension reduced to three, but that means Aki will not face New Zealand in the last eight, nor can he play in the semis or final should Ireland get that far.

Lyon have confirmed the appointment of Rudi Garcia as head coach on a deal reportedly running until June 2021.

The former Lille, Roma and Marseille boss replaces Sylvinho, who was sacked last week less than five months on from succeeding Bruno Genesio.

Laurent Blanc and Jose Mourinho were linked to the role, but a recruitment panel headed up by sporting director Juninho Pernambucano and including Gerard Houllier "unanimously" agreed on Garcia.

The 55-year-old won a domestic double in charge of Lille in 2010-11 and led Marseille to the Europa League final two seasons ago.

His appointment comes as something of a surprise given his chequered history with Lyon president Jean-Michael Aulas.

In April 2018, Aulas blasted the "arrogance" of the then-Marseille boss, who suggested Lyon got preferential treatment from referees, amid a battle between the clubs for Champions League qualification.

Juninho said: "I chose Rudi Garcia because he is a fighter who, like us, has the ambition to win titles and succeed on the European stage.

"He is an experienced coach who has already won trophies. During my various interviews, I had a real football connection with him. We speak the same language in terms of tactics and style."

Garcia stepped down from his position with Marseille at the end of last term.

He will be presented to the media at a news conference on Tuesday.

Alexis Sanchez could be sidelined for "two to three" months after sustaining a potentially serious ankle injury, according to Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda.

Sanchez was substituted late in Chile's goalless friendly draw with Colombia on Saturday after suffering what the Football Federation of Chile described as a "dislocation of left ankle peroneal tendons".

The forward, who is on loan at Inter from Manchester United, will undergo further tests in Milan, with Rueda suggesting he could be out of action for the foreseeable future if surgery is required.

"If the club operates, we could be without him for two to three months," he told a media conference. "It is a pity. He had been regaining form for his club and played in the Champions League.

"Now we have to wait for these crucial hours to know what decision the club will take."

Sanchez has scored one Serie A goal since leaving United for Inter, his sole strike coming in a win away to Sampdoria, during which he was sent off.

Steven Gerrard would have loved the opportunity to play under Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.

The Reds icon scored 186 goals in 710 appearances for his boyhood club before switching to MLS side LA Galaxy in July 2015.

Klopp replaced Brendan Rodgers in October of the same year and Gerrard – who now manages Scottish Premiership side Rangers – admits to wondering if he should have stayed at Anfield longer to work with the German. 

"I always had little thoughts as I've gone along," he told Sky Sports. "Should I have stayed at Liverpool? Should I have signed a year extension?

"Maybe I might have been able to have that cameo under Jurgen Klopp as maybe a squad player.

"These things always cross my mind but, look, I made decisions. I am very proud of my Liverpool career; I am very proud of where I am up to now in my management.

"I want to give that my full focus and keep trying to learn and grow and improve and see where that journey takes me now.

"But, of course, you always have little moments. Imagine if I'd stayed at Liverpool a bit longer and maybe I'd bumped into Jurgen Klopp, as someone who could maybe have given him 10-15 minutes off the bench.

"Of course, it has crossed my mind. I would have loved that."

Klopp's side have started the season in blistering form and have an eight-point lead over Manchester City in the Premier League after winning all eight of their games, while Gerrard's Rangers are top of the Scottish Premiership. 

Cheslin Kolbe and Herschel Jantjies are expected to be fit for South Africa's Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Japan on Sunday.

Livewire wing Kolbe missed the 66-7 rout of Canada last Tuesday after taking a knock to his ankle in the victory over Italy, while scrum-half Jantjies has been nursing a strained hamstring.

Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus on Monday revealed both players should feature at Tokyo Stadium.

"Internally our team has already been announced and they will both be in the team," said Erasmus.

"We will have our first full training session in preparation for Japan tomorrow. We expect them to come through the training session so I would say they are 99 per cent ready."

Erasmus was full of praise for the host nation after the Brave Blossoms reached the last eight for the first time by beating Scotland on a weekend that saw the country hit by the devastating Typhoon Hagibis.

"The first thing is that it's really tough not to like Japanese people," he said.

"The way they have embraced all teams – not just South Africa – on and off the field, and adopting you as a city, putting on South African jerseys and making you feel at home is something special which I have never experienced in my life before.

"The way they have handled the typhoon – and I know there have been lots of losses in terms of lives and in different ways – and we send our condolences from South Africa and the Springboks to those people.

"But, again, it shows the strength of Japanese people to still host a game; play a game and beat a team like Scotland.

"However, while saying that, we are playing for our country and we want to try and win the World Cup and for the next week unfortunately Japan is the enemy for one week.

"We love the country, we love the people, but we have to try and beat them, and we have to play really well to beat them because they are ranked six or seven in the world and they deserve it.

"It's going to be a really, really tough match for us this Sunday."

Liverpool's trip to Old Trafford on Sunday highlights the growing gap between the Premier League leaders and rivals Manchester United.

Alex Ferguson famously declared he would knock the Reds "off their perch", a goal he achieved in some style by leading United to a lengthy period of domestic dominance, but there is no doubt who is on top now.

Liverpool are yet to drop a point this season with their winning run in the Premier League standing at 17 games, building an eight-point cushion over defending champions Manchester City.

United, meanwhile, sit two points above the relegation zone in 12th after losing 1-0 away to Newcastle United last time out, a result that increased the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Sunday's Manchester meeting offers Liverpool a chance to secure more bragging rights and their players dominate the Omnisport combined XI ahead of the game.


Goalkeeper: ALISSON

Injury has kept Alisson on the sidelines for most of the season so far, but he could return from a calf problem at Old Trafford. David de Gea has looked vulnerable at times this season and he probably should have saved Patrick van Aanholt's late winner for Crystal Palace in August. Alisson was named The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper in September and it is hard to argue with that assessment given the transformative impact his arrival from Roma has had on the Reds.


Right-back: TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has made a promising start to life at United but, while he is extremely strong in the tackle, Trent Alexander-Arnold offers much more in attack. The Liverpool right-back created the decisive goal in last season's Champions League comeback for the ages against Barcelona, his quick corner enabling Divock Origi to strike the final blow. Few players, let alone those just 21 years old, would have seen the opportunity or had the quality to pull it off.


Centre-back: JOEL MATIP

There is perhaps a case to be made for Harry Maguire, one of the few bright spots in United's campaign, but Joel Matip has taken his game to a new level this season. He is a key part of the tightest defence in the league this season, with Liverpool having only conceded six goals. And when Matip sat out the Champions League group game against Salzburg, Alisson's deputy Adrian was beaten three times.


Centre-back: VIRGIL VAN DIJK

There can be no arguments here, with Virgil van Dijk one of the first names on a combined XI team sheet. The Netherlands international cost a world-record fee for a defender when he eventually made the move from Southampton, but that £75million now looks like money well spent. Van Dijk has led Liverpool's defence to the Champions League title and a long-awaited Premier League crown could well follow this season.


Left-back: ANDY ROBERTSON

Similarly, Andy Robertson is a no-brainer at left-back despite Luke Shaw's improvement over the past year or so. The Scotland captain is arguably the finest player in Europe for his position now and was a superb bargain buy at just £8m from Hull City in 2017. His clash with Lionel Messi in the early stages of the Champions League semi-final at Anfield set the tone for the Reds' comeback.


Central midfield: FABINHO

It took time for Fabinho to settle after joining from Monaco, but the former right-back is now a key cog in Liverpool's relentless winning machine. It is impossible to leave him out of the combined XI given United's offerings as midfield protectors include mediocre options such as Fred and Scott McTominay.


Central midfield: PAUL POGBA

There is a spot for Paul Pogba, though, despite the World Cup winner remaining something of an enigma. Pogba was United's top scorer in the Premier League last season, also providing a team-high nine assists. He may not always hit top form, but at his best the ex-Juventus star remains an elite performer. Pogba could add an extra gear and more quality to Liverpool's occasionally one-paced midfield.


Central midfield: JORDAN HENDERSON

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson completes the midfield, providing experience and leadership. The England international is still underrated by some, but Henderson showed his importance to the Reds at the end of last season when he was utilised in a more advanced role by Jurgen Klopp. He displayed a fresh dimension to his game with creativity and incision in the final third.


Right wing: MOHAMED SALAH

Yet to hit top form this season, Mohamed Salah is another mandatory pick for Liverpool after his stunning goalscoring exploits since joining from Roma. The Egypt star has hit 77 goals in 116 appearances for the Reds, making Chelsea's decision to allow him to leave Stamford Bridge in 2016 look rather foolish. Salah's selfish streak may sometimes appear to annoy team-mates, but his individual brilliance can carry Liverpool through tight games.


Striker: ROBERTO FIRMINO

Leading the line is Roberto Firmino, with the Brazil forward's incredible energy, work rate and ability to operate between the lines giving Liverpool a platform to thrive. With Marcus Rashford having only scored once since the opening weekend it is impossible to argue for the United striker here, with the England international's confidence having looked very low of late.


Left wing: SADIO MANE

With eight goals in all competitions this term, Sadio Mane is Liverpool's top scorer in 2019-20 and he is another Red it is impossible to leave out of a combined XI. Senegal star Mane is one of the many ex-Southampton players to have flourished at Anfield and though Anthony Martial has sporadically impressed for United, he is not quite in the same league.


Substitutes

On the bench there is more room for United talent as De Gea and Maguire would be included. James Milner's versatility makes him a must, while the midfield drive offered by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Georginio Wijnaldum would see them be useful subs. If fit, Martial would join Champions League final hero Origi as forward options.

Leeds United are considering investment by the owners of Paris Saint-Germain that could help the club "compete with Manchester City", according to owner Andrea Radrizzani.

The Italian – who took charge of the club from Massimo Cellino in May 2017 – says he is considering three investment proposals for the Championship outfit. 

He has confirmed one is from the owners of Ligue 1 champions PSG, Qatari Sports Investment (QSI), who were linked with a potential takeover at Elland Road earlier this year.

The others are from a Leeds fan based in the United States and the owner of an unidentified Italian club.

"I have been approached by more than 20 parties and I have selected these three," Radrizzani told The Times. "The option of Qatar Sports Investment – first of all they are friends; we have had a good relationship for a long time.

"Secondly, they have the possibility to allow this club to compete with Manchester City, so for the fans that could be a fantastic opportunity.

"The second is based in America, he's a big fan of Leeds United since he was a child, and I like that.

"Another one is the owner of an Italian club. With another club you can create synergy to be more competitive and to target the Premier League. We could maybe get a loan to increase the quality of the team."

Leeds – who were relegated from the Premier League in 2004 – are fifth in the Championship, having picked up 20 points from their opening 11 games.

Johnny Sexton is baffled by "strange" criticism of Ireland and assures they have belief that New Zealand can be dethroned at Tokyo Stadium on Saturday.

Joe Schmidt's side put a shock defeat to Japan behind them to finish second behind the hosts in Pool A with three wins out of four.

Ireland will face defending champions the All Blacks in the quarter-finals this weekend and World Rugby Player of the Year Sexton is surprised with the reaction to their performances in the tournament.

"There's been some negativity around us and we'd feel that's been pretty strange," the fly-half said.

"It's just something that we get a sense of. You get texts saying, 'Keep the head up, we're still behind you.' And you get a feeling that there are some things out there that aren't great. 

"We know things weren't great but it's funny some people trying to compare things to 2007 when they just scraped past Namibia - and we have just beaten Russia 35-0. How there can be comparisons there I'm not quite sure - and in totally different conditions."

Sexton says two victories in the past three encounters with the defending champions have given Ireland confidence they can beat Steve Hansen's men when it matters most.

"We know they're the best team in the world. We can take a little bit of confidence from the fact that we have got that monkey off our back and we've done it a couple of times, which gives us that belief," he added.

"It will be very special if we can get a win because often in a November series they're tired, they've got holidays coming up and maybe they've had a little bit of an excuse.

"But this week they'll be throwing their best at it out there. We've got to concentrate on getting the best version of the Irish team out there and we'll see if that's good enough."

Franck Ribery says the affection he feels for Fiorentina has justified his decision to shun transfer interest from the Premier League.

The former France international was linked to Sheffield United and clubs in the Middle East after leaving Bayern Munich as a free agent at the end of last season.

Fiorentina won the race for his signature and have reaped the benefits, with winger Ribery named Serie A's Most Valuable Player for September following a string of standout performances for Vincenzo Montella's side.

"I had other contacts, in England and also in Italy, but there was a spark with the Fiorentina executives," Ribery told Corriere della Serra.

"When I agreed to come to Florence I couldn't know that it would be love at first sight, but that's how it has been since the evening of the presentation. That night was special and I will always carry it with me.

"Speaking with [sporting director Daniele] Prade and [consultant Joe] Barone, even with coach Montella, I felt warmth and confidence in me."

The 36-year-old departed Bayern at the same time as long-time team-mate Arjen Robben, who decided to retire aged 35.

"I don't know," Ribery responded when asked how much longer he might have left in the game.

"I came here because I'm hungry and I want to be able to win something. But the future cannot be foreseen."

Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Thabang Moroe has issued a rallying cry and declared these are "exciting times" just a day after the Proteas suffered a record Test defeat to India.

India won by an innings and 137 runs - their biggest margin of victory against South Africa - in Pune on Sunday to wrap up the series with a match to spare.

Virat Kohli's side took the opening match by 203 runs and the tourists will have to show a vast improvement in order to avoid a whitewash in Ranchi.

Moroe has called for fans to back Faf du Plessis' side in a transitional period in a new era following the departure of head coach Ottis Gibson and the retirement of key players.

"It was always going to be a difficult challenge taking on the top team in the world – certainly under their own conditions – in India at a time when we have introduced a new team structure," Moroe said.

"In the past two years we have had to bid farewell to some of the great names of international cricket such as AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn who between them played nearly 450 Test matches for the Proteas.

"You don't replace that kind of experience overnight and we need to give a new generation time to settle.

"These things take time and I am confident that we will already see improvement in our next Test series when England are our visitors during the festive season. I am sure that our supporters will rally behind them on home turf. 

"These are, in fact, exciting times for South African cricket with new names and faces coming to the fore. Our talent pipeline has produced the likes of Aiden Markram, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Zubayr Hamza over the last few years and our development systems are clearly in good shape.

"There is a huge incentive on our young players to put pressure on the incumbents. There is nothing like good competition for places that brings out the best in all."

Melbourne Storm officials met Nelson Asofa-Solomona on Monday after launching an investigation into an incident involving the forward in Bali.

Footage on social media appeared to show the New Zealand international being embroiled in a street brawl at the weekend.

The NRL Integrity Unit and the Storm are investigating the incident and Melbourne will establish the facts before deciding whether to take any action.

A Storm statement said: "CEO Dave Donaghy and representatives of the club's football department staff, including a player wellbeing and welfare manager, met with Nelson in Melbourne today [Monday] as part of the club's investigation.

"Storm has provided an update to the NRL Integrity Unit. Storm will be looking at all the facts involved in this incident and will reserve its position on any possible ramifications until every aspect has been properly assessed and considered.

"The RLPA [Rugby League Players Association] has been consulted and will continue to be engaged through the process."

An NRL spokesperson said: "Melbourne Storm advised the NRL Integrity Unit of an incident involving a player on holidays Bali.

"The Integrity Unit is working with both the Storm and the player to determine what has happened. The Integrity Unit takes these matters very seriously."

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