Lionel Messi not winning the World Cup with Argentina would be unfair, according to goalkeeper Oscar Ustari.

Messi has won everything on offer during his time as a Barcelona player – the Champions League, LaLiga, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup, Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is yet to taste senior success in an Argentina jersey following a runners-up finish at the 2014 World Cup, having also reached back-to-back Copa America finals in 2015 and 2016.

A two-time Argentina international, Pachuca goalkeeper Ustari warned against doubting captain Messi – the country's all-time leading goalscorer.

"I have no doubt that if Messi isn't world champion, football will be unfair," Ustari told Radio Mitre.

"Doubting Messi is nonsense. Things can go well or not, but I can tell you that I have seen him crying like a child because of what was happening in the national team. It's very difficult to be in his shoes.

"I remember that in the 2011 Copa America [Argentina were eliminated by Uruguay in the quarter-finals] I was recovering from my knee and, when they lost, I went to see Messi at the Ezeiza venue and I saw him like I had never seen him before, devastated."

Michel Hidalgo, France's Euro 1984-winning coach, has died aged 87.

Hidalgo spent eight years in charge of Les Bleus after previously working as assistant, and he presided over their first ever major title success before stepping aside for Henri Michel.

Following Hidalgo's death, which was confirmed to France Info by his family, a post from the official Twitter account of the FIFA World Cup read: "France has lost one of its greatest figures.

"Michel Hidalgo was the brains behind the exhilarating side that reached the WorldCup semi-finals in 1982 and won Euro 1984. RIP and 'merci' for the memories, Michel."

France hosted Euro 1984, sailing through their group thanks to wins over Denmark, Belgium and Yugoslavia, before then seeing off Portugal in the semi-finals.

Second-half goals from Michel Platini and Bruno Bellone secured France a 2-0 win over Spain at the Parc des Princes in the final, as Les Bleus lifted a major international trophy for the first time.

Two years prior to that success, Hidalgo took France to the semi-finals of the World Cup, where they were beaten on penalties by West Germany after a 3-3 draw.

As a player Hidalgo represented Le Havre, Reims and Monaco, where he featured for nine years and also spent the early part of his coaching career.

Hidalgo's most recent job in top-level football was with Marseille, where he was a popular director of football for five years until 1991, going on to work as a pundit.

March 22 is probably not a date that is circled in the calendars for South Africa cricket fans and Steven Gerrard.

Those of a Proteas persuasion will remember it as the day their rotten luck at Cricket World Cups began.

Whereas for Liverpool legend Gerrard it was the afternoon the red mist descended in one of the biggest club rivalries.

We take a look at the major events that happened on this day in sport.

 

1906 - The first rugby union international between France and England

The Parc des Prince hosted the inaugural Le Crunch as England defeated France 35-8, beginning a 16-game winless run in the fixture for Les Bleus.

A 24-17 victory for France in the Six Nations last month gave them their 41st win in the 106 meetings between the two nations.

England have beaten Les Bleus on 58 occasions, including in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals in 2003 and 2007. 

1992 - Proteas eliminated from Cricket World Cup in farcical fashion

No one does Cricket World Cup semi-final heartache quite like South Africa.

There was the dramatic 1999 tie against Australia that resulted in the Proteas being eliminated due to an inferior net run rate at the Super Six stage. Then, six years ago, Grant Elliott's heroics helped New Zealand reach the final.

But perhaps nothing compares to the farce of 1992, when South Africa fell foul of new rain rules.

When the heavens opened and play was stopped, South Africa needed 22 runs from 13 balls to beat England.

However, when they returned, the implementation of some bizarre rules meant they required an insurmountable 21 off one delivery. The rules were soon scrapped, but that was no shred of comfort to South Africa.

 

2015 - Steven Gerrard sent off 38 seconds after coming on against Manchester United

It was a case of 'Gone in 38 seconds' for Liverpool captain Gerrard five years ago as he made an unforgettable immediate impact.

Shortly after coming on as a half-time substitute in the Premier League match at Anfield, Gerrard stamped on Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera, prompting referee Martin Atkinson to send him off the field moments after he had arrived.

"I need to accept it; the decision was right," Gerrard told Sky Sports after. "I've let down my team-mates and the fans."

United, who were leading 1-0 at the time, claimed a 2-1 victory thanks to Juan Mata's brace.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread disruption with the global sporting schedule, but you can still get your fix if you know where to look.

Whether you are in self-isolation or practicing social distancing, in a way it has become easier than ever to watch sport as you pass the time.

Some of the biggest leagues and governing bodies have reacted to the global crisis by providing free access to a back catalogue of content.

We run down the best places to look if you're missing sport.

 

FIFA OPENS UP ARCHIVES

From Saturday, FIFA are making full match replays of over 30 games from World Cup and Women's World Cup history available.

The matches appear set to be available until football is back up and running in most countries.

 

A SWISH OFFER FROM THE NBA

Basketball fans rejoice. The wait for the playoffs may go on longer than anticipated, but the NBA is offering free access to the premium League Pass subscription service until April 22.

You can view full replays and highlights from all games played in the 2019-20 season, as well as classic matches.

 

NO LONGER BEHIND GRIDIRON BARS

If the NFL is more your thing, then why not use their Game Pass until the end of May?

You can watch full-length games or condensed versions, while the 'Hard Knocks' and 'A Football Life' series are available on demand, too.

 

MORE FROM THE STATES

Maybe ice hockey is what you are missing most. If so, the NHL.tv is free to all until April 30.

There is also the MLB Vault YouTube channel, which will provide you with hours of classic baseball games.

 

MISSING MESSI?

If you are in Europe, there is the option to watch Rakuten TV's 'Matchday - Inside FC Barcelona' and 'MessiCirque' documentaries without charge. (They also have over 150 films available on a free channel.)

Until the Premier League returns, Manchester City has opened the doors to the CITY+ subscription service. All you need to do is sign up for long-form, in-house content, historic games and full match replays.

 

FOR THE GAMERS OUT THERE...

If re-runs don't sate your appetite to help fill the hours, you can try out the full version of the Football Manager 2020 computer game via the Steam app until 15:00 GMT on March 25.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) chairman of selectors Roger Harper has insisted the door remains open for all players ahead of the T20 World Cup, leaving the possibility for the inclusion of the likes of veteran players like Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo.

Recent statements in some quarters had suggested that the team had moved past the veteran Windies batsman, who holds the record for the most career runs in T20 cricket with 13,013.

Gayle has not played a T20I for the Windies since March 2019 but has continued to feature for various T20 leagues around the world.  Bravo returned to the West Indies T20I side after over three years out of action, to play against Ireland at home in January and then the Sri Lanka T20Is earlier this month.

“I think all available players are part of our plan at this point,” Harper said on the Mason & Guest radio show in Barbados, making specific reference to comments made by former Windies opening batsman Philo Wallace earlier this week.

“At this point, we’re still trying to find out what’s our best combination, the best composition of the team…and seeking opportunities to determine that,” he added.

“Come the last month or so prior to the World Cup, we’ll have to try to really narrow that down so the players can all get used to playing together, and understand how each other performs in different situations, and each person understands what their roles are and how to go about it. But at this point, everyone that’s available will be considered.”

Both players are expected to take place in the upcoming IPL tournament.

Rugby World Cup winner Francois Louw has announced he will retire at the end of the season following a nine-season spell with Bath.

Louw has enjoyed an illustrious career that has seen him represent Western Province, the Stormers and Bath at club level, while also earning 76 international caps for South Africa.

The 34-year-old brought down the curtain on his Springboks career in November on the back of their World Cup triumph in Japan and is now to call time on his club career.

Louw has made 134 starts in 140 appearances for Bath and told his club's official website: "Bath is a city that we call home now.

"My family and I have settled here, and representing the club so many times has been one of the many highlights of my career.

 

"While this has been an incredibly tough decision to make, the time does feel right to face a new challenge. 

"Right now, however, my focus is with Bath, and I will give everything to the club as our sights are set on making the play-offs and winning further silverware."

Bath's director of rugby Stuart Hooper led the tributes to Louw, who has qualified as a financial advisor ahead of a second career.

"The contribution he has made to our club cannot be overstated," Hooper said.

"I have had the privilege of being by his side as a player and working with him now as director of rugby, and his experience, commitment and world class skill has been a mainstay of Bath for nine seasons. 

"He gives absolutely everything, every single time he pulls on the Bath colours - whether on the training ground or on matchday - and we cannot ever ask for more than that."

West Indies legend Brian Lara believes the upcoming IPL could prove a key barometer for veteran players like Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo, who could be looking for one last hurrah at the ICC T20 World Cup later this year.

At the ages of 40 and 36, the players are in the twilight of their careers and currently on the fringes of the West Indies squad looking to prepare for the upcoming tournament.  Lara is, however, convinced that a successful IPL campaign could put the players back in the mind of the selectors.  The tournament, the former batting star insists, will not only test their current form but also their longevity by providing a grueling schedule.  The near one-month tournament could see teams play as many as 17 matches, with a minimum of 14 during the short period.

“I think the IPL is going to be a huge point or signal for who is actually going to carry on. It’s still going to be five months after the IPL for the World Cup,”
Lara said in a recent interview with bdcrictime.

“Fitness levels are very important, but a gruesome tournament like the IPL is going to tell the West Indies selectors who are the players that they really need going into the last four months of preparation for the World Cup,” he added.

 

 

Coronavirus continues to have a huge impact on the sporting calendar. 

Further measures to prevent the spread of the virus were taken on Monday, affecting a plethora of sports and leagues.

More events were subject to postponements, while the sight of games taking place in empty arenas will be a common one in the coming weeks.

Here we look at the sporting decisions announced on Monday as the world attempts to tackle the outbreak.

 

Italy - All sporting activity in Italy was suspended until April 3 by the country's Olympic Committee, in a decision pending government ratification. In a statement, the committee conceded it does not have jurisdiction over international competitions such as the Champions League and Europa League.

France - Ligue 1 games are now required to be played behind closed doors or with a limit of 1,000 fans until April 15. Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League last-16 second-leg clash with Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday will be contested behind closed doors at the Parc des Princes.

France - The Six Nations finale between France and Ireland, due to take place at the Stade de France on Saturday, is postponed. England's game with Italy was already off, meaning it is unclear when the winner of the competition will be determined. Scotland's game with Wales in Cardiff is on, and Gregor Townsend's men can move into first place with a win. England and France are level on 13 points, with Ireland on nine having seen two games postponed.

United States - The ATP's Indian Wells Masters and WTA's Indian Wells Open were both cancelled following a confirmed case of the virus in Riverside County, California.

United States - According to ESPN, the NBA is to hold a conference call with the 30 team owners and governors to discuss the next steps for how it handles the spread of the virus in the USA, where there have been 213 confirmed cases.

Asia - FIFA confirmed the AFC qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, which were scheduled to take place in the international windows of March 23-31 and June 1-9, have been postponed.

Switzerland - Basel announced on Monday that the second leg of their Europa League tie with Eintracht Frankfurt, set to be contested on March 19, cannot be played at their St Jakob Park home due to coronavirus-related restrictions. Switzerland's top-flight, the Super League, is suspended until March 23.

Japan - The postponement of the start of the Nippon Professional Baseball regular season was confirmed at a media conference on Monday.

United States - IndyCar is not expecting any impact on its 2020 schedule as a result of the outbreak.

France - Rugby League side Catalans Dragons are waiting for an official decision from the Perpignan prefecture or government regarding Saturday's Super League game with Leeds Rhinos after the country's ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

The upcoming AFC World Cup qualifiers have been postponed due to the spread of coronavirus.

FIFA announced on Monday that, following consultation with the AFC and Asia's member associations, matches scheduled to take place in the international windows of March 23-31 and June 1-9 will take place at later dates.

A statement from FIFA added: "However, in order to support the member associations concerned, and provided that the safety of all individuals involved meets the required standards and that the member associations due to play each other mutually agree, the match(es) may still be played during the international windows of March or June 2020, but always subject to prior approval from both FIFA and the AFC."

Hosts Qatar are already qualified for the 2022 World Cup. Syria, Australia, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Qatar, Japan, Vietnam and Turkmenistan top the groups in the second round of AFC qualifying.

There have been 109,343 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, with 3,809 deaths. China, the source of the outbreak, has 80,904 confirmed cases, South Korea has 7,382 and Iran 6,566.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has rejected former UEFA president Michel Platini's appeal against his ban from all football-related activity.

Platini was initially given an eight-year ban for receiving a "disloyal payment" of two million Swiss francs (£1.3m) from then FIFA president Sepp Blatter in 2011. 

The former France captain had that reduced to six years in 2016 and further cut to four years following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Platini, who has served his ban, was unsuccessful with a Swiss Federal Court appeal and the ECHR has now ruled his punishment to be "justified" and his challenge as "inadmissible".

The judgement stated: "The Court found in particular that, having regard to the seriousness of the misconduct, the senior position held by Mr Platini in football's governing bodies and the need to restore the reputation of the sport and of FIFA, the sanction did not appear excessive or arbitrary.

"The domestic bodies had taken account of all the interests at stake in confirming the measure taken by FIFA, subsequently reduced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). 

"Lastly, the Court noted that the applicant had been afforded the domestic institutional and procedural safeguards allowing him to challenge FIFA’s decision and submit his arguments in his defence."

FIFA responded to the verdict by declaring it will continue to seek money owed. 

A FIFA statement read: "FIFA has taken note of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to reject the appeal of Mr. Platini, which the Court considered to be manifestly ill-founded. 

"This judgment is in line with the decision of FIFA’s Ethics Committee, which was confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sports and also by the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

"FIFA will continue to seek restitution of the CHF 2 million unduly paid by former FIFA President Joseph Blatter to Mr. Platini back in February 2011."

Platini and Blatter, who also had his ban reduced to six years, have continually denied any wrongdoing.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mohamed Salah will face off in the second round of qualifying for World Cup 2022, with Gabon and Egypt drawn in the same group.

Salah's Egypt and Aubameyang's Gabon will join Libya and Angola in Group F in the second phase of African qualifying for the finals in Qatar.

Group D pits Cameroon and Ivory Coast together along with Mozambique and Malawi, while Nigeria will face Cape Verde Islands, Central African Republic and Liberia in Group C.

Africa Cup of Nations holders Algeria will meet Burkina Faso, Niger and Djibouti in Group A, while 2019's beaten finalists Senegal were drawn with Congo, Namibia and Togo in Group H.

Group G sees Ghana and South Africa pitted against Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.

The group phase runs from March 2020 until October next year, with the 10 group winners drawn into five two-legged knockout ties to be played next November.

 

Groups in full:

Group A: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Djibouti
Group B: Tunisia, Zambia, Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea
Group C: Nigeria, Cape Verde Islands, Central African Republic, Liberia
Group D: Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Malawi
Group E: Mali, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda
Group F: Egypt, Gabon, Libya, Angola
Group G: Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia
Group H: Senegal, Congo, Namibia, Togo
Group I: Morocco, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan
Group J: Congo DR, Benin, Madagascar, Tanzania.

 

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the 2010s in terms of individual awards and moments of pure inspiration.

Future generations will look back on this past decade as a period obsessed with the two generational talents - their often-exaggerated rivalry exacerbated by spending such a long time on opposite sides of the Clasico divide.

But, while Ronaldo and Messi have filled more column inches than any other player on the planet, there are plenty of others who have been world leaders in their respective positions.

Having looked back over the last 10 years, using Opta data for inspiration, we have selected a Team of the Decade. But who makes the cut?

Is David de Gea selected in goal? Does Luis Suarez join Messi in attack? Has Virgil van Dijk done enough for inclusion? Find out below...

OMNISPORT TEAM OF THE DECADE

Manuel Neuer

There is not much more Manuel Neuer could have achieved over the past 10 years. For much of that time he has been one of the globe's most dependable goalkeepers, even if he has shown signs of decline since a spate of foot injuries. A veteran of seven Bundesliga title triumphs and a World Cup winner with Germany, Neuer boasts a save percentage of 74.2 per cent and has comfortably the most clean sheets (139) this decade in the German top flight.

Dani Alves

Has there ever been a better right-back than Dani Alves? The Brazilian stands to leave an impressive legacy, not just through his thrilling style of play, but with his record-breaking trophy haul of 43 after captaining Brazil to Copa America success this year. Despite being a right-back, he claimed 67 assists in league action through the 2010s, though his greatest contribution came in LaLiga with Barcelona, for whom he set up 51 goals. Marcelo (48) is the closest to him, but he has played 77 times more than the current Sao Paulo star.

Vincent Kompany

Although a brilliant player at his best, it is understandable to suggest Vincent Kompany never reached his ceiling due to injuries. Nevertheless, the Belgian will go down as a Premier League great such has been his impact with Manchester City, with whom he enjoyed four title wins. Kompany recorded 83 Premier League clean sheets in the 2010s, just 10 fewer than record-setter Kyle Walker, who has played 57 more matches. His leadership qualities have been missed by City this season.

Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos is a player who often polarises opinion, but he's one of only three players to have been at Madrid for the entire decade, so he must be doing something right. An undisputed leader and fierce competitor, Ramos is a big-game player like few others and boasts a goal-scoring record even many midfielders would be happy with, having netted 43 times in LaLiga since the start of 2010, more than any other defender. Over the past 10 years, he's helped Los Blancos to a remarkable four Champions League titles, while he won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 with Spain.

Jordi Alba

At his best, Jordi Alba was almost unstoppable. The flying left-back became a staple and key outlet for one of the great Barcelona teams, with his driving runs – on or off the ball – often creating havoc. A master at making a darting run into the box before cutting a pass back to create a chance, Alba has 38 LaLiga assists to his name for Barca, a record bettered by only Dani Alves and Marcelo among defenders. He gets the nod ahead of his Madrid counterpart as his assist haul is from 72 fewer matches.

Luka Modric

The only player to break the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi Ballon d'Or duopoly, Luka Modric has enjoyed a wonderful decade. A vital part of the Croatia team that enjoyed an historic run to the 2018 World Cup final, Modric also played a big role in Madrid's incredible Champions League domination. Toni Kroos (11,260) is the only midfielder to have completed more passes in LaLiga than Modric (10,759), while he laid on 42 assists and created 522 chances.

N'Golo Kante

If there was an award for the most likeable player of the decade, N'Golo Kante would surely be a frontrunner. Sadly there is no such thing, so he'll have to contend with inclusion in this team. Arguably the key cog in Leicester City's remarkable Premier League title win, Kante followed that up with similarly impressive form at Chelsea and with France, winning the World Cup with Les Bleus last year. He has made 912 tackles and interceptions in the Premier League, putting him fifth among players with 200 appearances or fewer this decade, and each of those who rank higher have played at least 20 matches more.

David Silva

When David Silva leaves Man City at the end of the season, there will inevitably be a debate as to whether he can be regarded the Premier League's greatest 'import'. That this will even be suggested tells you the impact he has had. No one gets close to Silva's record of 89 Premier League assists in the 2010s, with the Spaniard almost certainly the most consistent creator the division has seen in the past 10 years. He was similarly important for Spain until his post-World Cup retirement last year, having previously lifted the trophy in South Africa in 2010 and at Euro 2012, eventually accumulating 125 caps.

Lionel Messi

Where does one even begin with Lionel Messi? If any single player has defined the 2010s – from an individual perspective – in world football, it is surely the Barcelona talisman. In LaLiga, Messi has amassed 505 goal involvements (369 goals, 136 assist) in 343 matches since the start of the decade, routinely carrying Barca to victory. He has won every trophy possible with the Blaugrana over the past 10 years and claimed five Ballons d'Or, with his 2019 victory giving him a record-breaking sixth. Although now 32, he remains frighteningly decisive – all that eludes him is international success with Argentina.

Robert Lewandowski

A long list of immense strikers have starred throughout the 2010s, but arguably chief among them – Ronaldo aside – is Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski. Having moved from Borussia Dortmund, whom he helped turn into Champions League contenders, the Poland international has developed into a remarkable all-round striker. In 307 Bundesliga games he has 221 goals from 1,163 attempts, meaning he scores every 5.2 shots – by contrast, Ronaldo needs 6.4 efforts per goal. Although he is yet to win Europe's elite club competition, there is little doubt the Pole appears to be getting better with age having already notched 19 league goals this term, just three short of his total for 2018-19.

Cristiano Ronaldo

In the somewhat tiresome 'Ronaldo or Messi' debate about which superstar is "better", the former can at least point to his international successes with Portugal as something that sets him apart, having lifted Euro 2016 and the 2018-19 Nations League. That is just the tip of the iceberg for his brilliance in the 2010s, however. Across spells with Real Madrid and Juventus, Ronaldo has scored 335 league goals and laid on 95 assists. With Los Blancos he helped inspire four Champions League successes, also winning a couple of LaLiga titles. What a privilege it has been to see Ronaldo and Messi in the same era.

Martin Peters, who was part of the England team that won the 1966 World Cup on home soil, has died aged 76.

The midfielder scored England's second in a 4-2 final win over West Germany at Wembley, joining West Ham team-mate Geoff Hurst – who famously grabbed a hat-trick in a thrilling game that went to extra time – on the scoresheet.

Peters had helped the Hammers lift the European Cup Winners' Cup the previous year and spent over a decade with the London club, eventually leaving in 1970 after over 300 appearances.

His departure to Tottenham made transfer history, as he became Britain's first £200,000 player in a deal that also saw Jimmy Greaves move in the opposite direction.

Nicknamed 'The Ghost' for his ability to get into scoring positions unnoticed, Peters lifted the League Cup twice with Spurs, with a UEFA Cup triumph in 1972 sandwiched between those triumphs.

He also played for Norwich City and Sheffield United, where he had a brief spell in charge in 1981, and made 67 appearances for England, scoring 20 goals during his international career.

"It is with profound sadness that we announce that Martin passed away peacefully in his sleep at 4am this morning," a statement from Peters' family, released via West Ham's website on Saturday, read.

"A beloved husband, dad and grandad, and a kind, gentle and private man, we are devastated by his loss but so very proud of all that he achieved and comforted by the many happy memories we shared. 

"We will be making no further comment and kindly ask that the privacy of our family is respected at this extremely difficult time."

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) will appeal against a ruling that has led to the country being banned from global sporting events for four years.

RUSADA was declared non-compliant with World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA] standards over inconsistencies in anti-doping data discovered during an investigation.

Athletes will not be able to compete under the Russian flag at the 2020 Olympics or the 2022 Winter Games, while Russia's place at the 2022 World Cup is also in jeopardy.

WADA said on December 9 it had given Russia three weeks in which it could launch an appeal, and RUSADA supervisory board chairman Alexander Ivlev was quoted on Thursday as confirming there would be a challenge to the decision.

"I think it will be in the next 10-15 days," Ivlev said, according to Russia's TASS news agency. "Then the ball will be on the side of WADA, and the situation will develop in the legal field."

The case is set to be reviewed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Despite Russia's ban, individual athletes from the country are still set to be able to enter global competitions under a neutral flag, as was the case for 168 Russians at the 2018 Winter Olympics when the country was banned.

Russian president Vladimir Putin reiterated on Thursday his opposition to the punishment.

Speaking in his annual marathon news conference, Putin said: "With regard to WADA and the WADA decision, I believe that this is not only an unfair decision, but also not consistent with common sense and law."

Putin also said he was confident one global sporting event coming to Russia in 2022 would go ahead as planned.

"I think that the World Volleyball Championship will still be held in Russia, despite the decision of the World Anti-Doping Agency," he said.

"It seems to me we should calmly wait for the final decision, in particular the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, in order to understand in what position we are in.

"But the Russian athletes were preparing and will prepare for all competitions."

France coach Didier Deschamps is not yet thinking about attempting to retain the World Cup after signing a new contract.

Deschamps agreed a new deal on Tuesday that takes the coach through to the end of Qatar 2022.

France will first attempt to follow their successful campaign at Russia 2018 by claiming European Championship glory for the first time since 2000 next year.

Les Bleus were runners-up at Euro 2016, with Deschamps hoping to go one step further than their defeat to Portugal on home soil.

"It is an honour for me to be the coach of France," Deschamps told a news conference. 

"You know the attachment I continue to have for what this jersey represents.

"Sincerely, I thank the [French Football Federation] president [Noel Le Graet] for his confidence. The quality of our relationship is very important to me.

"There are still many things to do. Many have already been done. We are world champions in title. We are judged by the results.

"I am happy in my job. I have the best French players, with a remarkable state of mind. There are still beautiful things to do.

"Qatar is very far away. The goal is the Euros… My energy and that of my staff are focused on it."

No team has retained the World Cup since the great Brazil side featuring Pele won the tournament in 1958 and 1962.

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