RYAN Giggs has expressed his sadness that he will not be at the 2022 World Cup after standing down as Wales manager with immediate effect.
Giggs has been on leave from his post since November 2020 and faces a domestic violence trial in Manchester on August 8.
Wales qualified for their first World Cup in 64 years earlier this month under Robert Page, and 48-year-old former Manchester United star Giggs has now confirmed that he will not be in Qatar this winter.
In a lengthy statement, Giggs said: “After much consideration, I am standing down from my position as manager of the Wales men’s national team with immediate effect.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to manage my country, but it is only right that the Wales FA, the coaching staff and the players prepare for the tournament with certainty, clarification and without speculation around the position of their head coach.
“As has been well publicised, I have pleaded not guilty to the criminal accusations being heard at Manchester Crown Court.
“Whilst I am confident in our judicial process, I had hoped that the case would have been heard earlier to enable me to resume my managerial responsibilities. Through nobody’s fault the case has been delayed.”
“I do not want the country’s preparations for the World Cup to be affected, destabilised or jeopardised in any way by the continued interest around this case.
“I have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed some unforgettable moments during my three years in charge of the national team.
“I am proud of my record and will cherish those special times forever.”
Giggs, who was appointed Wales manager in January 2018, led the Dragons to Euro 2020 – their second major tournament in four years.
But the tournament was delayed 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic, and his assistant Robert Page took charge at last summer’s tournament as Wales reached the last 16.
Giggs added: “It has been a pleasure to work with such well-established, senior professionals, and it has given me immense pride to watch so many young players progress into the national squad and flourish in the red colours of our country.
“I am touched and grateful to our passionate supporters for following us all over the world.
“To see nearly 3,000 of our loyal, travelling fans in Baku for the European Championship qualifier against Azerbaijan made me appreciate the sacrifices people make to watch our nation play.
“I am sad that we cannot continue this journey together because I believe that this extraordinary group will make the country proud at our first World Cup since 1958.
“I would like to thank the chief executive Noel Mooney, his predecessor Jonathan Ford, the board of the FAW, plus the many people behind the scenes who work tirelessly to help our national team and for the support they have given me during this difficult time in my personal life.
“It is my intention to resume my managerial career at a later date and I look forward to watching our national team alongside you in the stands.
“Finally, I would like to wish the players, the staff and the supporters at the FAW every success at the World Cup and in the future.”
Giggs is accused of controlling and coercive behaviour against his former girlfriend Kate Greville between August 2017 and November 2020.
Giggs is also accused of assaulting Ms Greville, causing her actual bodily harm, and of the common assault of her younger sister, Emma Greville, at his home in Worsley, Greater Manchester, on November 1, 2020.
He has denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Giggs had been due to face trial in January, but it was put back seven months due to the backlog of court cases following the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Football Association of Wales acknowledges the personal statement released by Ryan Giggs on 20 June 2022,” the FAW said.
“The FAW places on record its gratitude to Ryan Giggs for his tenure as manager of the Cymru men’s national team and appreciates the decision he has taken, which is in the best interests of Welsh football.
“The full focus of the FAW and the Cymru Men’s National Team is on the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year.”