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Spain to appeal 2023 Rugby World Cup ban

The Spanish rugby team was banned from taking part in the 2023 World Cup after it emerged that one of its star players during the qualifying stages was ineligible under international rules. They are set to appeal.

Spanish rugby player Ignacio Contardi scores a try.
Spain are to launch an appeal against being thrown out of the 2023 Rugby World Cup for fielding an ineligible player during the qualifying stages (Photo by Dante Fernandez / AFP)

Spain are to launch an appeal against being thrown out of the 2023 Rugby World Cup for fielding an ineligible player during the qualifying stages, officials announced Friday.

On May 5, an independent judicial committee ruled Spain had breached a World Rugby eligibility regulation by fielding Gavin van den Berg in two qualification matches.

The sanction imposed by the committee included a fine and points deduction meaning Spain had no longer qualified for next year’s World Cup in France.

Friday’s statement from World Rugby said a three-strong panel would consider the appeal, with “the hearing date to be confirmed in due course”.

South African-born prop van den Berg, who has been playing in Spain since 2018, featured in two qualifiers against the Netherlands in 2020 and 2021 but was deemed not to have served the three years of residency needed to become eligible under World Rugby rules.

What makes this case all the more remarkable is that Spain, Romania and Belgium were all sanctioned in 2018 for fielding ineligible players, paving the way for Russia to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Spain’s furious players responded to their latest expulsion by releasing a statement distancing themselves from all the “lies and inefficiency” of their national federation.

As things stand, Spain have been replaced in next year’s edition by Romania.

Portugal — the team Spain beat to seal their place at France 2023 — have taken the spot vacated by Romania in the final qualification event taking place in November.

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European football giants cancel Israel pre-season match over security

Italian footballing giants Juventus were set to square off against Spanish side Atlético Madrid in Tel Aviv this weekend but the match was postponed amid renewed hostilities in the region.

European football giants cancel Israel pre-season match over security

A pre-season friendly match between Spanish side Atlético Madrid and Italian giants Juventus which was scheduled to take place in Israel this weekend has been cancelled because of “security” concerns, the two teams announced on Saturday.

The match was due to take place at the Bloomfield stadium in Tel Aviv on Sunday but a renewed surge in hostilities in the region prompted the promoters Comtec Group to call it off.

“Due to the latest developments, the friendly between Atletico Madrid and Juventus, scheduled in Israel, has been cancelled,” said Juventus in a statement.

“Due to the current security situation, Comtec Group announces that the match between Atletico Madrid and Juventus, scheduled for tomorrow, Sunday 7 August at Bloomfield Stadium, will not be played.”

Israel hit Gaza with air strikes on Saturday and a Palestinian militant group retaliated with a barrage of rocket fire, in the territory’s worst escalation of violence since last year.

Juventus start their Serie A campaign with a home tie against Sassuolo on August 15 while Diego Simeone’s Atletico play their La Liga opener against Getafe the same day.

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