Clattenburg omitted again from EPL matches

Updated 06 November 2012
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Clattenburg omitted again from EPL matches

LONDON: The Premier League referee embroiled in English football’s latest racism feud has been omitted from officiating duties for the second straight weekend.
Mark Clattenburg has been accused by Chelsea of using “inappropriate language” toward midfielder John Obi Mikel in a league match against Manchester United on Oct. 28. The matter is being investigated by the police and The Football Association.
Clattenburg was stood down last weekend because of intense level of scrutiny in the wake of the allegations but the Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the organization that looks after topflight English referees, had been prepared to return him to the match list for upcoming games.
“However, having discussed this with him, we both consider that it is in Mark’s best interests that he has this week away from officiating duties while he prepares to help The FA and police with their enquiries,” said Mike Riley, general manager of the PGMOL.
The referees body has stressed that Clattenburg has not been suspended, following allegations that he used the word “monkey” to Mikel during Chelsea’s heated 3-2 loss to United at Stamford Bridge. In that match, Clattenburg sent off two Chelsea players and allowed what proved to be the winning goal by Javier Hernandez despite the striker appearing to be in an offside position.
Chelsea sent a file of evidence on Wednesday to the FA, including statements from players and staff members who they claim witnessed Mikel being abused by Clattenburg, who is one of the FIFA candidates to referee at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, managers of Manchester United and Arsenal, are among those to have come out in support of Clattenburg.
“PGMOL has one of the world’s finest refereeing groups, they are focused on delivering high officiating standards to the Barclays Premier League and the overall morale of the group remains high,” Riley said. “The relationship between players, managers and match officials has improved both on and off pitch over the last four seasons and there is every reason to think this will continue.”


Saudi Arabia hopeful ahead of opening Asian Games opening clash against Iran

Updated 14 August 2018
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Saudi Arabia hopeful ahead of opening Asian Games opening clash against Iran

  • Young Falcons hopeful of a semifinal spot.
  • Under-23 players keen on making a name for themselves in Indonesia.

JAKARTA: There is a widely held belief that to succeed in sport, you must start early.
Officials from the Saudi Arabia National Olympic Committee will be hoping it rings true this month as the Kingdom’s Under-23 football team prepares to prematurely kick-off its Asian Games campaign this afternoon in Jakarta, three days before the continent’s largest multi-sport competition officially begins.
Similar to the Olympics, the football tournament starts before the opening ceremony and finishes on the competition’s final day, Sept. 2. The fledgling Young Falcons face Iran today at the 28,000-capacity Wibawa Mukti Stadium in the Indonesian capital.
The Saudi NOC have brought a delegation of 169 athletes, including eight females, and will compete across 22 disciplines, including athletics, shooting, taekwondo and volleyball. The three-week Asian Games operate both as a continental precursor and, at times, a qualifying tournament for 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The Young Falcons made their football debut at the Asian Games in South Korea four years ago, reaching the quarterfinals in Incheon, before losing to Iraq. Their regional neighbors were inspired by legendary striker Younes Mahmoud, who had been included as one of Iraq’s three over-age players and scored twice in a 3-0 win.
Yet the impact of Mahmoud in Korea has not influenced the team’s selection. With the Saudi Pro League starting next week, coach Saad Al-Shehri has opted to forego athletes older than 23, instead selecting a squad consisting primarily of Al-Ahli development players and a smattering of Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Al-Ittihad and Al-Ettifaq-based youths.
“We haven’t brought any overage players because we are playing here as preparation for the U23 Asian Cup, which will offer qualification for Tokyo 2020,” said Faisal Almarashdi, a spokesman for the team.
“We have brought to Indonesia only players who are 21 or under as they will all be eligible for Tokyo. Many have already played at the Under-20 World Cup under coach Saad, so there was never any discussion to use the three allocated over-age slots.”
Abdullah Otayf is the model example of how Asian Games experience can help a young career. Four years ago, the deep-lying midfielder was part of the squad that traveled to Korea. This summer he was an integral part of the Green Falcons side that played at the World Cup in Russia. 
With national team coach Juan Antonio Pizzi following the competition from afar, there will be chances to catch the eye for the likes of striker Haroune Camara and midfielders Abdullah Yahya Magrshi and Ali Hassan Al-Asmari ahead of January’s Asian Cup. Both midfielders have already made their full debuts for Ahli and featured in the Jeddah club’s Champions League campaign last season, while Al-Qadisiyah’s Camara was included in Pizzi’s provisional World Cup squad before being cut from the final 23.
“These Asian Games are very important for the young players involved,” Almarashdi added.
“They are the future of the senior team so if they play well here and at the U23 Asian Cup then, we hope, they will go to Tokyo 2020. From then on the pathway to the senior team is already very clear.”  
Much like the seniors, the U23 side is both short and slight, with only two of the 10 midfielders and forwards standing above 5 foot 8 (172m). Today’s opponents Iran are not only taller and more physical, they also have, in Croatian coach Zlatko Kranjčar, a manager who knows West Asian football after short spells in Qatar and the UAE. In their most recent preparation match, Iran lost 3-2 to China. 
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, beat the UAE last week in Malaysia following a pair of friendlies against local sides. Today’s match will kick-off at 4 p.m. local time, midday in Saudi Arabia.