Privatization of sports clubs welcomed to bring quality shift in Saudi sports

Updated 23 November 2016
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Privatization of sports clubs welcomed to bring quality shift in Saudi sports

RIYADH: The Cabinet decision approving privatization of sports clubs in the Kingdom enthused sports lovers, analysts and businessmen alike, as they welcomed the decision on Tuesday, which they described as a good move to bring a quality shift in Saudi sports, and promote more sports clubs.
The Cabinet meeting, chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman here on Monday, approved the privatization of premier football league clubs. The General Authority for Sports will stipulate the regulations and conditions governing how these sports companies will carry out their activities.
Moreover, it approved formation of a committee to supervise the completion of the club privatization stages, to be headed by the president of the General Authority for Sports, and members comprising the deputy minister of economy and planning, commerce undersecretary for systems and regulations, in addition to representatives of the Finance Ministry, the Saudi Arabian Football Association, and the Professional League Association.
Majed Abdullah Al Hedayan, legal affairs in-charge at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Arab News, “With this decision we are assured of a way of switching sports institutions of full reliability to professionalism, more competitive sports, and a better future of sports organizations to create internal investment opportunities, contribute to the creation of permanent jobs, and help to stimulate physical activity and creativity to achieve sustainable development in sports to meet the public’s aspirations and expectations.”
He said sports clubs have been given considerable attention in recent years, and attempts were made to revive these institutions, enhancing their role in society, which, unfortunately, did not keep pace with the required progress at the national level, as they were not commensurate with the needs of young people, who represent a large proportion of our society.
Abdurrahman Inayat, a sports enthusiast, said sports and entertainment form an important part of the Vision 2030, as the ambitious plan asserts that the two aspects represent the main pillars of a quality life; therefore, the government pledges to provide a rich experience and reach the citizen’s expectations. This decision would encourage the sports sector, and allow it to contribute to the national economy and help diversify income sources with the private sector, he added.
Commenting on the decision, Fawwaz bin Khairi Al-Hakami, an associate professor for sports sciences at King Saud University, said that the Cabinet decision is a mega-stimulus for investment as it copes with the economic diversification drive contained in Vision 2030. It is expected that private investment in sports clubs will generate thousands of jobs, he added.
Salman Al-Malik, of the Saudi Arabian Football Association, told local media that the privatization decision was a positive step and a quality leap for sports in the Kingdom. The privatization move is a historic decision that will positively be reflected on sports clubs, in particular, and sports, in general, he added.
Appreciating the decision, sports investors speaking on local TV went on to suggest that an inventory of assets of the sports clubs should be made before the privatization process.


Ozil’s resignation sparks Germany racism storm as Ankara cheers

Updated 13 min 4 sec ago
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Ozil’s resignation sparks Germany racism storm as Ankara cheers

  • After months of silence over a controversial photograph with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May Ozil erupted on Sunday
  • The Arsenal midfielder posted a stinging four-page statement taking aim at German Football Association (DFB) bosses sponsors and the media

BERLIN: Mesut Ozil’s decision to quit playing for Germany unleashed a racism storm in Berlin on Monday, but earned the applause of Ankara with a Turkish minister hailing “a goal against the virus of fascism.”
After months of silence over a controversial photograph with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May, which sparked questions about his loyalty to Germany, Ozil erupted on Sunday.
The Arsenal midfielder posted a stinging four-page statement taking aim at German Football Association (DFB) bosses, sponsors and the media.
Ozil, a key member of the squad which won the 2014 World Cup, blamed the DFB management, in particular its president Reinhard Grindel, for failing to side with him against his critics.
“In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Ozil wrote.
The 29-year-old said he was true to both his Turkish and German origins and insisted he did not intend to make a political statement by appearing with Erdogan just before the World Cup finals.
“I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish,” said Ozil, who was repeatedly singled out for criticism after Germany’s woeful performance at the World Cup saw them crash out after the group stages.
Ozil’s explosive statement, in three separate postings on Twitter and Instagram, was hailed by Erdogan’s government, which has championed a campaign against what Ankara sees as growing Islamophobia in Europe.
“I congratulate Mesut Ozil who by leaving the national team has scored the most beautiful goal against the virus of fascism,” Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul wrote on Twitter.
But it was met with a mix of dismay and outrage in Germany. The German Football Association (DFB) rejected claims of racism made by Mesut Ozil against their president Reinhard Grindel in an angry resignation letter.
“We reject the notion that the DFB is associated with racism,” read a statement.
“The DFB stands for diversity, from the representatives at the top to the boundless, day-to-day dedication of people at the base.”
Underlining that sports brings a lot to integration in a country, Chancellor Angela Merkel said she respects Ozil’s decision.
“The chancellor values Mesut Ozil highly. He is a great footballer who has contributed a great deal to the national team,” said Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer, adding that he has “now made a decision that must be respected.”
Justice Minister Katarina Barley wrote on Twitter that it was an “alarm bell if a great German footballer like Mesut Ozil no longer feels wanted in his country or represented by the DFB.”
Cem Ozdemir of the Greens party also voiced dismay that “young German-Turks now get the impression that they have no place in the German national team.”
At the same time, Ozdemir, who himself has Turkish roots, said Ozil “did not live up to his function of setting examples” by failing to distance himself from the hard-line Turkish leader.
Germany’s best-selling newspaper Bild led the charge of criticism against Ozil, calling his statement a “whiny resignation” and said he heaped “criticism on everyone but himself.”
Bild, which has for weeks called for Ozil to be dropped from the starting team, also rejected his claims that his Turkish origin and Erdogan photo have been used by some media to pander to the far-right.
“Ozil’s world view here is dangerously close to Erdogan and his despots,” charged the tabloid-style daily.
The photo, which was published on Turkey’s presidential website and the Twitter feed of the ruling party, came just before the June 24 polls Erdogan won to claim sweeping new powers.
Ozil has insisted that “it wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country.”
For Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, “all parties in the affair should engage in some soul-searching. I see few here who have really behaved correctly.”
Born and raised in Gelsenkirchen, Ozil has scored 23 goals and made 40 assists in 92 appearances with Die Mannschaft. He is third-generation German-Turk and counts among more than three million people of Turkish origin in Germany.
The DFB has so far stayed mum. In a first reaction from his former teammates, defender Jerome Boateng wrote on Twitter using the Turkish word for “brother“: “It was a pleasure, Abi.”
Former DFB chief Theo Zwanziger warned that the debacle was a “serious blow to the integration efforts in our country that goes beyond football.”
For Tagesspiegel daily, the entire affair was a “watershed for sports, politics and society.”
While noting that Ozil’s thinking that the Erdogan photograph could be non-political was “naive,” it said the fiasco had far reaching consequences.
“Ultimately, Ozil did not fall because of Grindel but because of a heated, populist mood in Germany,” it said.
“The danger exists because many who also have family roots in other countries or culture, can understand Ozil’s mood. And this needs to be countered quickly and decisively.
“Because more is at stake than just the future of the German national football team.”