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Spain miss out on Rugby World Cup after appeal rejected

Spain will not figure at next year's Rugby World Cup in France after their appeal against disqualification for fielding an ineligible player during qualifying was rejected, World Rugby announced on Monday.

rugby world cup spain
It is the second time that Spain have missed out on World Cup qualification on these grounds. (Photo by LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ / BELGA / AFP)

After examining new evidence brought by the Spanish federation, an independent appeal committee “dismissed the appeal”, World Rugby said in a statement.

“In accordance with World Rugby rules, the decision of the independent appeal committee is final and cannot be appealed again,” it added.

The ruling confirmed that Romania will take Spain’s place at next year’s tournament while 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.

South African-born prop Gavin 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.

It is the second time that Spain have missed out on World Cup qualification on these grounds.

In 2018, along with Romania and Belgium, they were were sanctioned for fielding ineligible players, paving the way for Russia to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

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FOOTBALL

Ukraine to join Spain and Portugal in 2030 World Cup bid

War-torn Ukraine will join Spain and Portugal in a bid to host the 2030 World Cup, presidents from the three countries' football associations announced on Wednesday.

Ukraine to join Spain and Portugal in 2030 World Cup bid

The original proposal was made public two years ago and the Spanish football association (RFEF) said in a statement the idea was backed by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.

“The Royal Spanish Football Federation and the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) have incorporated the Ukrainian Football Association (UAF) into the Iberian Bid to organise the 2030 World Cup,” RFEF said in a statement.

“With the full support of Aleksander Ceferin, the Iberian bid incorporates the federation chaired by Andriy Pavelko in order to build bridges and project a message of unity, solidarity and generosity from all of European football,” it added.

Portugal hosted the 2004 European Championship while Ukraine was a joint host with Poland of Euro 2012.

“The example of tenacity and resilience set by the Ukrainian people is inspiring,” the FPF said.

The FPF added that the joint bid “aims to contribute through the power of football to the recovery of a country undergoing reconstruction”.

It added that the terms of Ukraine’s role in the bid “will be discussed and defined in due course”.

It follows the announcement last month from an Egyptian official that Egypt, Greece and Saudi Arabia are in talks to jointly host the 2030 World Cup.

In August, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay launched their bid to host the event — which is the centenary of the first World Cup, held in Uruguay — with the hope of bringing the global showpiece back to its first home.

The 2026 edition has already been awarded to three countries — Canada, Mexico and the United States.

More than half of the 21 World Cup finals already staged have been in Europe but later this year Qatar will host the finals, the first time they have been played in the Middle East.

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